Chapter One The Beginning
“Here in the land of Luralye, magical creatures flourished. They played all day in the green grass, under the purple sky. As the fluffy blue clouds floated by, and the golden river babbled to itself, the Necrions sang and danced in the red puffle flowers.
Now what are Necrions, you may ask. They are furry creatures with small snouts that resemble a teddy bear’s nose. They are brightly colored, and have long, thin tails with a puff of fur on the end. Their color gets brighter when they are happy and dimmer when they are sad. Their favorite food is the gumdrop bushes. They love to climb peppermint trees and chase the orange Tuku Birds.
Lord Bardwin, a powerful wizard, is the kind, wise, and fair ruler of Luralye. He is fairly tall and a bit lanky. He is several thousands of years old, but looks to be in his forties. His bald head shines through his wizard’s crown. He protects Luralye and all its inhabitants. Everyone loves him, except the Snarflinches.
Snarflinches are evil, goblin like creatures. They live in caves in the Black Mountain, and use Necrions to create a power source for their inventions. The waste from creating this power is called glop. It is green, glowing, toxic, and smelly. They almost destroyed Luralye from glop pollution. After repeated warnings to stop glop production failed, Lord Bardwin banished them to the Dark Land.”
The children sat in their desks reading from a history book. They all squirmed, waiting for the class to be over. Hampton, their teacher, sat behind his desk watching for anyone not doing his or her work.
“Boy, is this boring,” Jason complained as he closed his book. “Can we go and chase the Tuku Birds now? You know, we could study why they like being chased so much.”
“No,” Hampton, their teacher, barked. “This is your history study time. You must read the material. It will be on the test next week. You of all people can not afford to fail. Besides, there is nothing about the tuku birds that we do not already know. The tuku birds just like playing silly games. Now get back to work.”
Jason slumped in his chair, and then slowly opened his book. He ran a hand through his short, black hair.
Daniel leaned over to Jason and whispered, “Don’t sweat it. Hampton has been more of a pain than usual lately.”
Jill flipped her long blond hair out of her face and added, “Every since that meeting with Lord Bardwin, Hampton has been pushing us to learn about the Snarflinch exile. Do you think there is a connection?”
“Oh, maybe Lord Bardwin is planning on letting them come back to Luralye,” Kelly said dreamily. “That’s why he wants us to learn about them, so that we can understand them.”
“That is not likely,” Jason laughed. “It’s more likely that he would want us to keep an eye on them in case they start making glop again.”
“They do not make glop,” Daniel stated. “They make the power source. Glop is just a by product. Did you not pay any attention in class? Anyway, I don’t think Lord Bardwin will be letting them back into Luralye any time soon.”
“Well, if you four don’t pipe down and do your work, I am going to throw you into the Swampy Gorge,” Hampton interrupted. He was standing behind their desks, an annoyed look on his face. “Then you will not have to worry about whether the Snarflinches will be coming back or not.”
“Hampton, what did the Snarflinches do that got them kicked out?” Jason asked, mostly to change the subject. “The book is not completely clear. It had to be worse than just a little pollution.”
“It was not just a little pollution,” Hampton answered. “There was so much glop that all of Luralye was in danger. It flooded the land, killing everything in its path. Several species became extinct from the destruction. So many Necrions were killed to make the power source that they too almost became extinct. Eighty percent of Luralye became a wasteland, and with very few Necrions left to heal the damage, this kingdom was on the verge of becoming extinct. They still managed somehow to pull off the Great Healing of Luralye.”
Kelly gushed, “Wow, I never knew Necrions were so important. I thought they were just cute.”
“Now who has not been paying attention in class,” Jason said. “We learned last week that the Necrions keep the land healthy and make things grow. That is why they are protected.”
“Well, I was absent last week,” Kelly huffed. “Besides, my aunt said that they are protected because it is wrong to kill cute, fuzzy things.”
“Your aunt is a dork,” Jill said.
“That is quite enough,” Hampton barked. “We will finish this discussion tomorrow. Homework for tonight is to read the first three chapters. Class dismissed!”
With a sigh of relief, the children gathered their books and headed out of the classroom. They chattered as they headed home.
Many people had forgotten what had caused the Snarflinches to be exiled. Much time had passed since the Great Glop Incident, and few remained from that time.
There were some, however, who remembered it well. Deep in the Dark Land, the Snarflinches planned their revenge. From their caves in the Black Mountain, they spent many years plotting to destroy Luralye for shunning them.
In a cave deep inside the Black mountain, General Gazid, the Snarflinch leader was meeting with his council.
“Gentlemen, I’m so glad you could join me,” General Gazid said to the other Snarflinches around him. “I would like to discuss my plans for solving all our problems. As you know, we have been stockpiling glop until we can find a satisfactory means of disposal. We certainly do not want our new home looking the way our last one did when we left.”
General Gazid circled the room around the table the others sat at. “We have also burned for revenge against those ungrateful twits in Luralye.” General Gazid raged while smashing a fist on the table. “We had tried to make their lives better with our inventions, and all they did was whine about the glop and those hairy rats we use to make the power source. Lord Bardwin then sent US into exile just to shut them up!”
“I have found a way to solve both problems.” The General waved a hand in the air, looking smug. “My new invention, the glop machine, will pump all the glop into Luralye. The pollution will weaken everyone enough that rounding up the remaining Necrions should be no problem. Once we have them, they will be added to the breeding farms we are building to create a never ending supply of power.”
“That is a fine plan, General,” Bekar said. “When will we begin construction of this machine?”
“Construction is already underway,” General Gazid sneered. “It should be completed in three days. We will begin pumping glop as soon as it is complete.”
“My, you have been busy,” Durix exclaimed. This should be quite a sight.”
Later that evening, Lord Bardwin held a meeting with the Elders. “We have received word from our spies that the Snarflinches are planning to flood Luralye with glop in three days.” Lord Bardwin said. “We must take action immediately.”
“My Lord,” Elder Marshal said, “Are we sure the children are ready for such responsibility?”
“I think they are as ready as we can expect from ones so young,” Lord Bardwin answered. “Besides, we have no choice. We are out of time.” Turning to the page, he said, “Please send in the children.”
Everyone in attendance looked very solemn as the summoned children came forward. The children had not been told the reason they were summoned before the Elders, so they were quite scared.
“Greetings,” Lord Bardwin said. He was sitting in a large chair at the end of the room. The Elders lined each side of him. “You have been summoned because we have a mission for you. Although you are very young, you are the only hope for our kingdom. You have the skills needed to succeed.
I have received word that the Snarflinches intend to flood Luralye with glop in three days using a machine they designed to pump the glop into our kingdom. If they are not stopped, all of Luralye will be destroyed.
Your mission will be to travel to the Dark Land, and destroy the glop machine.”
“Sir,” Jason interrupted. “I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, but how are four kids going to fight a Snarflinch army and stop a machine all by ourselves?”
“You will not be alone,” Lord Bardwin assured him. “You will be guided by Bane, a Snarflinch who has been working for me since before the banishment. You will also be accompanied by three Hargins and five Necrions.”
“Sir, if I might,” Daniel squeaked nervously. “I can understand the Snarflinch guide, but how are flying zebras going to help us? And shouldn’t all the Necrions stay here so that you can protect them?”
“Young man, those ‘flying zebras’ can be quite useful,” Shara, Elder and Queen of the Hargins, spoke up. “You never know when they could be needed.”
“I did not mean any disrespect,” Daniel managed to choke out weakly. He looked quite frightened. “I just think that thirteen is an awful lot of people to go on a mission. Shouldn’t we keep it to a small number of people?”
“I assure you that we have thought this through very carefully,” Diny, the head Elder said. “We feel that, although the number is large, you will need each and every person on your quest.”
“Go to Lyn’s house,” Lord Bardwin ordered. “She will give you the supplies you need for your mission. You will leave for the Dark Land in the morning. Meet at the stables one hour before sunrise in the morning. At that time I will introduce you to the other members of your party.”
The children discussed their mission while walking to Lyn’s house. They were still a bit shocked that they had been asked to go on such a dangerous and important quest.
“Okay, the Hargins might be cool, but why do we have to take along the Necrions?” Jason asked his friends as they walked to Lyn’s house.
Kelly piped up, “I think it’s swell, having the cute puff balls to play with while we travel.” She skipped along happily, dreaming of the fun she would have with the Necrions.
“You would,” Jill rolled her eyes. “This is a dangerous mission. We could get killed, and we have to baby sit those fuzz balls,” she said as she kicked at a rock.
“Once again, I was the only one who did my homework,” Daniel quipped, shaking his head. “I read that when Necrions are really happy, their color gets so bright they glow. This is useful for lighting up dark places, blinding nocturnal predators, and lulling Boggers to sleep,” he counted the uses on his fingers as he named them.
“You are just full of knowledge, aren’t you?” Jason teased. He crossed his arms, trying to look serious. When he failed, he started giggling.
“Hey, don’t blame me for being smarter than you,” Daniel answered, shoving Jason playfully. “Maybe if you had studied and did your homework instead of chasing the Tuku Birds, you would know something too.”
“You are both silly boys,” Jill chimed in. “Come on, we have to go and get our stuff. I sure hope we get some good weapons.”
“I hope we can talk our way out of fighting,” Kelly said as she clutched her chest. “You know I can not stand violence!”
“But I thought I saw you squash a bug yesterday,” Daniel teased.
“You know very well that I did not hurt that bug,” Kelly thundered. “I let him go outside. I bet he has a wife and thousands of kids to go home to.”
“We’re here,” Jason said, stopping in front of a large home. It had just gotten dark out, and the place looked spooky.
Lyn’s house looked like it was made from junk, there was so much piled up around the walls. She was known as the person to go to when you needed something. No matter what you are looking for, Lyn will surely have it.
The inside had even more piles that reached the ceiling. There were clothes, tools, weapons and armor, and even food.
“It’s about time you showed up,” Lyn blasted. She looked much the same as her house; a dress made of many rags, stringy hair, and mismatched shoes. “I have all of your things packed for you.” She said while leading them to a back room.
On a table were four large backpacks. Beside the table were several bundles. “How are we going to carry all of this?” Jason asked.
“You will only carry the packs. The bundles will be carried by the Hargins,” Lyn answered, her hands on her hips. “Isn’t that why they’re going?”
“Honestly, we don’t know,” Jason confessed. “We were just told that they might be useful.” He shifted from foot to foot nervously.
“Well, they can carry quite a load,” Lyn said. “And several riders along with the load of supplies. I wouldn’t be gallivanting around without one.”
“What are we supposed to do with all this stuff tonight?” Daniel asked as he surveyed the bundles.
“Load the bundles on the cart outside and take them to the stables,” Lyn said. “Someone will load them on the Hargins in the morning. Then take your packs with you and go home. You should be in bed already. You have to be up very early tomorrow.”