Gratuitous over-explanation. Enjoy!
The Sword of Shrenlen
I thought it would be an ordinary day. I tough winning a trip to Florida would be fun. I didn’t even think twice about danger. This is how it began.
My name is Ash. I live in an unknown town in California. Its called Vista. It is actually a suburb of San Diego. It’s a middle-sized city. Lots of trees and grass. It’s neat here.
I live in a large brick house uptown. It has brown bricks and white trim. In back is a swimming pool even though I am afraid of deep water. In front is the yard. It’s great thanks to my dad.
My family is pretty cool. My dad is an architect and my mom is a travel agent. My dad is the one who designed our house and my mom is the one who found our nice city.
I have two brothers and a sister. My brothers Eric and David are 8. My little sister Elaina is 2. I’m 14.
Let me tell you more about myself. I play a guitar and the drums. I also do a lot of skate boarding. I play basketball too.
Well on like the last day of school we got to have a free day. I was bored of playing basketball and beating everyone so I stayed in to go on the web. As soon as I logged on the screen flashed “WINNER!” I was so surprised I fell out of my chair! When I got up from the painful fall the screen had changed yet again to a screen filled with boxes. They said stuff like we want your name, age, address, and phone #. After I filled in the boxes the screen changed to a screen with a map. All 50 states were there. I looked at them all and narrowed out my choices. After a moment I chose Florida. It was a cool state. It had the swamps and the parks. I wanted to see it all.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I just won a trip to Florida. How cool! Justina, my worst enemy, walked up to me.
“Hey Ash!” she yelled. “Congratulations on winning the trip to Florida.” O.K. something is wrong. Justina has never complimented me on anything before. She hates me. She has totally made my life miserable popularity wise. Why was she complimenting me now?
“What do you want?” I asked.
“Nothing! I mean honestly Ash I wouldn’t have to win a trip to Florida because my allowance alone could pay for it.” She laughed shrilly. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll see you next year.” I really hoped I wouldn’t see her again.
When I got home I told my parents about the trip I got. It was pretty cool that I won it. Unfortunately it was bad for my parents because I could only take one of them. I didn’t take either of them. Instead they decided to come on there own money. That was a good thing for me because I wouldn’t have to break their hearts.
So it was set. I was planning to go to every cool place in existence on the Florida peninsula. But it really didn’t matter. I wouldn’t ever get a chance to go to any of those places.
One week later I was on my first airplane trip. I was kind of nervous about it but my Grandfather “Grampa” reassured me it would be okay. He was a pretty cool guy. He had a lot of stories that were interesting. I usually hung on every word.
Well, I relaxed and waited for the plane to land in Florida. It was strange to be in a 3-hour later time zone. I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t wake up on time. We were almost late for our appointment at the winner office. They just made sure I was eligible for the trip and we were set. So after my late breakfast of pancakes and eggs we got on the road.
“Let’s go to the Florida Keys.” Wailed Eric.
“No, Disneyworld.” Complained Elaina.
“Wait, This is Chris’ trip and he gets to pick.” My dad was a fair person.
“I say the swamp.” I had no interest in the swamp but I had a feeling…
Our travel guide for the swamp showed us the history of the place and all that. Then I saw her. It was Justina. Was she stalking me or something? This made me mad.
“Ash, what a coincidence.”
“Yeah is that supposed to be good?” I asked sarcastically.
“Of course stupid.” She called me that a lot.
So Justina hung out with me all day, well sort of, on the bus to the swamp, on the trail, at the swamp. Even with the beautiful glistening trees and the great view she was annoying. She was talking about alligators and how we shouldn’t have to travel to see them. She was lazy but could throw a punch. I learned this the hard way. I was joking about her and she hit me in the face and stomach. I took the blame hoping she wouldn’t ruin my social life but she did.
After a while of walking I saw something. It was a shining object. After a minute of pondering I decided to go get it. I started to run toward it.
“Where do you think your going?” She was very strict about rules.
“I’m going to go get that thing over there.” I replied. It was still shining. That was kind of weird. When I got there I found it was a sword. It was still in it’s sheath. I thought that was cool. I wrote my name on the space and strapped it on. It was really cool. Just my size too. What a coincidence.
After a while Justina punched me in the ribs and I found 5 min. had gone by.
“You idiot,” Justina yelled, ”we are lost and the group probably doesn’t notice.
“Chill out Justina, the way back is right back…” When I turned nothing was there. There was no sign of a trail. Justina started whimpering and I looked for the trail.
“It has to be here somewhere.”
“Ash, you are the biggest idiot in the world.” She was pretty mad.
“Listen Justina, you didn’t have to come with so if you are blaming me for your problems then stop.” She sat back down to think. ”Listen we need to help each other to get back to the group. Or we could sit and get eaten by alligators.” This got her attention. ”Okay but let’s go quickly.”
We started to walk in an easterly direction. I wasn’t sure if it was the right or wrong way to go, but I had a good feeling about it. My watch said it was 4:00 PM but it looked more like 7:00 PM. plus it was getting dark quickly. It wasn’t cold so I didn’t get scared of freezing.
“Ash where do you think they are?” she asked.
“I’m not sure,” I replied. ”But I think this is a good way to go.”
Soon it was too dark to travel so we decided to stop.
“I’ll take the first watch.” I said. “Then I’ll get you up to watch so I can sleep.”
“What do we need to watch for?” She asked.
“Duh, Alligators, Crocodiles, and the group.”
We made some beds of moss and grass so that we’d stay warm. I sat on a rock to keep a look out. I didn’t see anything for a while but I guess it was because I was studying the sword. It was light and strong. Like titanium or something. I wondered if it’s previous owner missed it. Oh well, finder’s keepers.
Wait! What was that? There was a rustling in the leaves a way off.
“Justina,” I whispered, “Justina, wake up.”
“Huh?” she was still groggy, “what’s going on.”
“I heard a noise. Sounds like an animal, there, did you hear it?”
“Yeah,” I could sense fear in her voice. ”What could it be?” I didn’t have a chance to answer, because it attacked! We started running for our lives from a giant lizard thing. It was huge. It had a large tail and big claws. It was slow but could actually move faster than us with the shrubs in our way. Then she had to trip. She had tripped over a fallen tree and got knocked out cold from the fall. I couldn’t leave her for the beast thing but if I went back it would get me. I decided to go back anyway. I picked her up and tried to carry her. But I couldn’t carry her faster than that thing. So I decided to fight it. After all I had the sword. Now it was time for it to go to use. It was only 50…40…30…20 feet away! At the last minute I jumped out of the way holding out the sword. It cut it in the arm. Then we faced each other. I let it attack first. We had a fight with its claws and my sword. It lasted for a minute. Then it hit me flying against a tree. I hit it painfully. Then got up and delivered the finishing blow. But strangely instead of choking out some dying cry or even falling over it disappeared.
“That was weird.” Justina was up again! “Where did it go?”
“I don’t know but I’m glad it’s gone.”
“Yeah, I think I’ve had it with running for the day.”
“Your right let’s rest.” I just realized how much the fight took out of me.
Justina’s head had a cut on it. Her hair was matted with the blood.
“Do you want me to fix up your head?” I asked.
“Sure,” She sounded like she was hurt. I must’ve reminded her about it. I got out my first aid kit and started to work on it.
“Ouch!” She yelled, “ stop hurting my head.”
“I told you it would hurt a little.”
“You call this a little?”
“Just hang on I’m almost done.”
“You know you looked really good fighting that thing back there. You usually back down instantly when someone bigger than you confronts you but today you sort of showed me you were a lot stronger than you look.” That made me feel really good. She has never complimented me before.
“Thanks, I guess I never have shown that side before.”
For a moment I think I smiled for once in a long time.
We decided to continue on in the same direction like before.
Justina was quieter than before. I guess she was just shaken up from the preceding events.
After about an hour of so we came upon a pyramid. Now I knew there was something wrong. There are no pyramids in Florida, but I still wanted to check it out.
As we walked up to it I noticed an armed guard.
“If you answer this riddle correctly you may pass. If you answer incorrectly you will fight me. You may leave if you do not answer.” He said this gruffly, almost unintelligible. “What is bright and colorful. It comes with the rain and is a circle.”
“A rainbow.” I answered quickly.
“That is correct. You may pass.”
I felt like I had made a really big accomplishment, but I had no idea what I was getting into.
We walked in and found a torch early in the tunnel. Its light was sufficient enough for us to get through.
After a while I found a light ahead. We started to walk faster to get there. Finally we made it to the door.
Inside it was beautiful. There was a large pool with a fountain and piles of gold all around. The walls had blue sapphires studded into the marble. It truly was a beautiful place.
Here is when Justina got greedy. She went directly for the gold.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a man said from across the room. “If you don’t earn that stuff you will die.” He said it expressionlessly.
Then he turned to me, ”Now Ash, I have been waiting for you though. My name is Ravenair.” That was weird that he knew my name. “ How do you know my name?” I asked.
“The sword, of course.” He replied, “ The sword tells me everything I need to know.”
“Where am I?” I asked.
“You are in Shrenlen,” he stated blankly.
“And where would that be?” Justina asked.
“It’s not on Earth if that’s what you mean. We are in another place. It’s called Shrenlen.”
“Well, let’s get to the point shall we.” Justina spoke up.
“As you wish. Ash here has been chosen to be tested on a number of things. First he will face three of his greatest fears and then a final test will be given. They are different for each person.” This made me nervous.
“Well let’s get started.” He said.
“Already!” I yelled.
“Yes, I get a lot of people coming in, and I can’t miss them.”
So we followed Ravenair down a few corridors into a less decorative room where we met a girl. She was really young and really beautiful. She wore a tank top and a pair of baggy jeans. That was strange, most people from where I came from wore that stuff.
“Hi, I’m Sonya.” Her voice instantly made me like her. Before I noticed, I was hanging on every word she said.
“Why do you where the same things as we do?” Justina asked.
“Because I come from the same area as you do,” she answered. “I passed the tests and became a guide.”
“So what is my first test?” I asked.
“I believe it to be a fear of heights…”
As soon as she said this I was shot way up to the top of the room. It was the scariest thing I ever experienced up to this point. All I had was a ladder to use to get down.
I saw Justina laughing at the bottom of the pillar I was on. She made me so mad I got on the ladder climbing down as fast as I could. I didn’t realize how high up I was until the ladder started to sway. I grasped the ladder until my knuckles turned white. I was really scared of falling but I was not going to let Justina think I was a wimp. I started climbing down slower than before but with more confidence.
Towards the end I heard a snap. The ladder was breaking! I started to climb down faster than ever, but I was too late. I couldn’t hold it. I fell and fell. Then I hit the ground with a hard thud.
“Ash, are you Okay?” Sonya asked.
“I take that as a no.” Justina answered.
I tried to get up but it hurt so I rested for a while. Then I got up.
“Will you be all right?” Sonya asked.
“Yeah, but I need to rest.”
“Okay, I will have a bed made for you.” Sonya said.
In an instant a bed appeared in the middle of the room.
“Magic is really useful especially when an emergency happens.”
“How did you do that?” Justina asked.
“Oh this,” she sounded almost as if she didn’t know what Justina was talking about, “I just picked this up from Ravenair.”
“Then can you help my back!” I yelled.
“Oh, I almost forgot.”
She said a chant and pointed to my back. Instantly I felt relief.
“Now you can do your next test.”
I waited and after a while the floor turned to water leaving only three platforms. One that I was standing on and one that Sonya and Justina stood on plus one with a flag on it. My fear of water. Did I mention I also feared sharks? I was about to give up but I thought about it then redecided.
I dove into the water headfirst. Then I swam to the surface.
“Hey, I’m swimming!” I yelled.
“Now go to the flag.” Sonya yelled.
I started to swim to the flag. When I got about halfway there I saw the streak of white. It was a great white shark. That was the other part of my fear. I tried to outswim him but I didn’t go fast enough. It was 1 foot a second against 30 feet a second. You can guess I lost. It came fast but I was prepared. I had the sword and I used it. When it came I tried to hit it in the eye but that didn’t really work. I hit it but it got my arm. He swam off allowing me to pass. My arm was bleeding freely but I pressed on to my goal. It was painful but I did it. I got the flag and the water lowered.
“Oh, let me heal your arm.” Sonya said.
She touched the broken skin and it healed.
“Now for the third test.”
I waited and waited and waited. I didn’t notice anything weird, but I saw them. There were millions of spiders on the walls and the floor.
“Just stay still for five minutes and it will end.” Sonya yelled. Justina was screaming horribly because she too had a fear of spiders.
So I sat there and let the spiders crawl all over my body. I hoped they weren’t poisonous. I stood there as the spiders swarmed all over my body, which was shivering with nervousness. You wouldn’t believe the mental strain of trying to stand there motionlessly. Strangely it only seemed like a minute, but they were leaving!
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Your next test is coming up.” Sonya replied.
After they left a dark figure with evil wings and a skull face under a hood appeared. He had an evil fire in his eyes. His scythe was gleaming in the light. It was the Grim Reaper.
“Time to challenge me.” He said.
“How would I fight you?” I asked.
“A one on one fight with your sword and my scythe.” He answered.
“Okay let’s get it on.” I said with a big head. I felt I could take on anyone after fighting a large monster and a shark. How hard could this be?
Immediately the fight started. Strike up, down, to the right, to the left. It was one clang after another. After a while of this I was hit in the leg. It was bleeding pretty badly, but I got back up. I attacked with renewed force. Attacks after attacks were issued in the fight. Then with a little luck I hit him in the arm. He fell over and didn’t get up. I wasn’t sure if I won or not but I didn’t have a chance. Ravenair walked down the stairs into the room.
“That man there is not the Grim Reaper like you think. He is a former friend of mine. His name is Valkire. He is a wizard like me, but instead of getting people to conquer their fears he makes them fear.” He really sounded angry. I walked to Valkire and sure enough it was a mask under that hood. I took it off and it was an elderly man. He got up and confronted Ravenair.
“So you are still trying to help people aren’t you? If I were you I would go to the evil side. You know that evil is taking over don’t you? Why don’t you give up? You can’t win.”
“I’m not a quitter Valkire and you know it.”
After about one second Valkire threw his hands up in the air and screamed. The whole place was falling apart.
“Run!” Ravenair yelled, “he’s going to destroy the place!”
We all started running for the door. Ravenair lifted his hands to the sky and the destruction slowed considerably. We ran and ran. We ran past the beautiful room. Then we ran into the last corridor. Then she had to trip for a second time. Justina fell hard on her knees.
“Run Ash, Go! Don’t worry about me.”
“Shut-up Justina. Just let me carry you.” I picked her up and ran.
The extra weight caused a fatigue that spread throughout my body. I kept pushing on trying to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. My body gave out. I couldn’t carry her any longer. I stumbled and fell over. I could only hope that she got out after I fell into a deep slumber.
I awoke in a bed in a hospital. I recognized the Red Cross. I was in a room and Justina was on the other side. She was surrounded by people. I noticed them as my family and hers.
“What about me?” I croaked out.
Gasps and shouts of joy filled the room. Then just a bunch of unintelligible questions came. I just told them a bunch of lies. I didn’t feel like anyone would believe me. So I spent a few days in the hospital then they released me. I went home and back to school In September and Justina and I became good friends. During winter I began to wonder what had happened to the sword. For Christmas I opened a long narrow package. You can guess what was in it. If you can’t it was the sword. Justina and I talked about it a lot. We can’t explain most of the things like why we can’t go back to that place or where Sonya and Ravenair went but I have a feeling we will find out.