Lizards and Wizards
It was great to be a reptile in the hot Pandokian summers that buzzed with flies and other delicious winged prey that she casually and effortlessly caught with her long swift tongue.
The large smooth black iron ore composite boulder on which she lay was her favourite sunning spot.
At most times the fluid in her veins and arteries felt as if it was comprised of millions of tiny jagged-edged icicles that moved lethargically yet painfully through her large scaly green body.
Her blood heated up swiftly when Old Sol was high in the sky, but like the rock beneath her, as was the nature of all metallic substances, cooled just as rapidly whenever a cloud passed over.
Being a cold-blooded creature, Drazil Nogard absolutely loathed the approach of the long harsh winters for which Pandokia was so frustratingly renowned.
Drazil hadn’t always been a cold-blooded creature. An unfortunate incident had placed that misfortune upon her in the form of a very powerful Nolavian curse.
She had once inadvertently caught and eaten a baby Nolavian tibtit, an unattractive fairy-like creature that she had mistaken for an oversized dragonfly.
“Yous cold-blooded monst’r!” the mother had screeched at her. “Cold-blooded murd’rer yous be!” Drazil had tried to explain the situation to the incensed tibtit, but the hysterical creature was beyond all means of consolation. “Death be ta good fer da likes o’ yous! Cold-blooded yous are! Cold-blooded yous be! Cold-blooded fer effer ‘n’ effer!”
The tibtit had only recently recharged her powers at the Wolli-Wypeew Tree in the middle of the Charcoalwood Forest, so that Drazil immediately began to suffer its terrible effect.
Feeling pretty bad about the whole situation (You would probably too if you had mistakenly eaten someone’s baby), she had decided to accept her fate and get on with her life.
But the curse had been placed on her in the middle of an unusually long heat wave. It was only when Aunty Autumn stretched her long cold spindly fingers into Pandokia that Drazil realized how awful her predicament truly was.
“A reverse curse?”
“That’s right,” said Noel Emahc, Drazil’s second cousin thrice removed.
“The only way to get fixed is with a reverse curse,” reiterated Red Namalas, Noel’s elder sister. Like her brother, she was able to change the colour of her skin, but for some strange reason preferred to remain bright scarlet in hue.
“How…who would know how to perform such a procedure?”
“The three brother wizards of Nolava, of course!” exclaimed Namalas
“Nolava? The place is swarming with those despicable tibtits!”
“Ever since Drazi, the great sorcerer scattered the enchanted Wolli-Wypeew seeds upon the fertile soil of K’cigam Valley, Nolava has become a place of magic and mystery.”
“I know the legend, but I thought it was only possible for magic to be performed within the confines of Nolava, within the great barrier of the K’calb Plateau?”
“So have we all. She must have been a very powerful tibtit. The fact remains, Nolava is the only solution to your dilemma. That or learn to hibernate.”
“It’s only a two day’s journey from here,” added Noel encouragingly. “Besides, the exercise should help to keep you warm.”
Two days later Drazil found herself at the entrance to the deep and narrow pass that snaked its way through the K’calb Plateau. At midday of the third day the crevice widened to reveal the green Nolavian landscape. She rushed into the welcoming sunlight, which had been blocked by the high walls of the rock face, and sighed in relief as her blood warmed.
“Nolava, land of magic and mystery!” she said loudly to herself. “Where will I find your three brother wizards?” Then, like some dark death shroud, a stifling sadness descended upon her. Softly she added, “And if I do, why would they want to help me, a lowly lizard?”
By late afternoon she reached the outskirts of a large forest. A sense of menace rubbed at her already frayed nerves. For over an hour now she had become aware of an unusual stillness. No buzzing insects or even birdsong could be heard. She frowned in disgust at the ominous-looking light-trapping foliage of the huge trees, and was contemplating to circumnavigate the wooded area when the silence was broken by a strange sound. It was an awful wailing, like none she had ever heard. It had a mystical melancholy to it that almost pulled her towards the source, somewhere deep inside the forest.
Reluctantly she entered the shaded area, following the plaintive cry until she came to a brook of crystal clear water. Being thirsty she decided to take a drink but spat out the water as it was much too salty.
“How can this be?” she asked herself. “Only the sea could be so briny.”
The words were scarcely asked when she saw the reason sitting further upstream.
The large unsightly creature sat upon the wooden bridge lamenting huge tears into the stream below.
Against, what she felt was, her better judgment she decided to find out why the creature was crying so bitterly.
She crept closer before meekly saying, “Hello.”
The hideous monster immediately stopped weeping and raised its head. Looking about it frowned and said, “Is someone there?”
Swallowing an enormous lump in her throat she said, “Me, Drazil.”
The beast quickly stood up, a worried look upon the frightful countenance. “Drazil? Were you a servant of Drazi Wrerecros? Where are you?” He stared intently into the speckled shade. “Are you invisible?”
“No, I’m just an ordinary Pandokian lizard. I can blend in with my surroundings by changing colour.” She crawled forward into a patch of sunlight. “See!”
“Yes,” said the beast relaxing. “What are you doing here?”
“I heard you crying and wondered what was wrong. I thought maybe I could be of help. I know I’m just a small ordinary lizard, but…”
“Wonderful!” exclaimed the ugly creature interrupting Drazil. “You have already helped me!”
“Yes, I was mournful because I was lonely. My terrifying features have caused every creature for miles around to flee the area. You are the first living thing that I have seen in ages, let alone conversed with.”
“That is the saddest thing that I have ever heard. What sort of creature are you?”
“An ogre, of course. Don’t you know an ogre when you see one? A very hideous, but also very sad and lonely ogre.”
“That’s terrible!” said Drazil crawling closer to the ogre.
The anxious frown suddenly returned to his face and he blurted, “You lied to me! You’re no ordinary lizard. I sense the unmistakable aura of tibtit magic about you!”
“Ah yes, that would be the tibtit curse that was placed on me. The very reason for my journey to Nolava. I have come seeking the three brother wizards in the hope that they may use the reverse curse on me.”
“Frawd’s great hairy beard!” he roared. “Not another damnable victim of those wretched tibtits? The sooner we discover and destroy the source of their powerful magic, the better it will be for all Nolavian’s.”
“Pandokian’s as well!”
The ogre smiled and walked off, deeper into the woods, down the pathway leading from the bridge, “Come with me, I might be able to help you.”
“Really?” shouted Drazil scurrying after the enormous figure.
“Only Nilbog is able to perform the reverse curse effectively, but I have a few tricks of my own that can help you on your quest to find him.”
“The eldest of the three brother wizards. Each has his own speciality. Nilbog’s is the reverse curse.”
They came to the edge of the forest and Drazil gasped at the awful spectacle that stretched out for miles and miles in front of them. As far as the eye could see, where was once a lush wooded area, now lay a sterile blackened landscape of burned trees.
“What happened here?” she asked.
The ogre’s eyes became sad. “A great and terrible battle was fought here. This was the result.”
“A single battle caused all this destruction? The armies must have been great in number to have caused so much damage.”
“No, there were only four combatants.”
“Only four? Impossible!”
“Not impossible, for they were all very powerful.”
“Who were they?”
“Drazi Wrerecros and the three brother wizards.”
“The same Drazi that planted the great Wolli-Wypeew Forest?”
“The very same. Drazi was far more powerful than the three, but when they realized that he gained his great power from the Wolli-Wypeews they proceeded to destroy the forest. They wiped them all out, every last one. This is all that remains of his Wolli-Wypeew Forest. Only, now it is called the great Charcoalwood Forest. But their ploy had worked, for with their combined strength and Drazi’s depleted, they finally managed to defeat and destroy him.”
“They killed the great Drazi?”
“Yes, but when his end was close, he shook a clenched fist at them and vowed that his servants would one day avenge his death.”
“But I thought that all of Nolava got its magical powers from the Wolli-Wypeews. If this is now the situation then I would be wasting my time to seek out the three brother wizards. And by your telling, it would seem as if they are not the most pleasant of people to be around.”
“The true source of Nolavian magic lies in its very soil. Drazi used the unique properties found in the Wolli-Wypeews because he found that only their roots were capable of drawing up and refining the magical energy on which he thrived. The magic is still here. Trust me, or else I would not be able to help you as I intend to.”
“What are you planning to do?”
“You’ll see,” he said walking out into the black desolation. “Follow me.”
They shortly came upon a large clearing in the Charcoalwood Forest. In the centre was an enormous sturdy stone structure.
“This was once the stronghold of Drazi Wrerecros,” said the ogre moving towards a large entrance portal. “His secret place of secrets. His residence prior to the great battle.”
“That’s amazing!” exclaimed Drazil. “Does anyone stay here now?”
“I do! Welcome to my home.”
She quickly followed him inside and gazed around in wonder. “Are those his books?”
“Yes, everything is pretty much the same as how he left it.”
“Have you read any of them,” she asked before realizing that he probably couldn’t read. Who had ever heard of a school for ogres?
“I’ve read them all many times over. That is where I learned the spell that I intend to use to help you.” Drazil appeared concerned. “No need to fear. I am very proficient with the spell. I’ve performed it many times before.”
“On who? You said that you’ve scared everything away for miles.”
“Are you hungry,” asked the ogre ignoring the question. “I’ll make us some hot broth for the chilly night ahead.”
“Do you have a name,” asked Drazil before using her long tongue to lap up the broth in the bowl the ogre had placed in front of her.
“I do, but it’s been such a long time since anyone has called me by my name that I had almost forgotten it. Ergo! My name is Ergo!”
“Well Ergo, you are a mighty fine chef. This broth is absolutely delicious.”
“Thank you, Drazil,” smiled Ergo wryly. “I’ll have to take your word for it never having tried it myself.”
“What?” exclaimed Drazil hastily lifting her head away from the bowl. “Why not? What did you put in it?”
“Just a few ingredients from Drazi’s potion room down the hallway. The main ingredient being powdered batwing.”
“You tricked me!”
“I had to! Would you have eaten the batwing broth if I had told you it contained mystical properties?”
“Probably not!” she answered angrily. “What have you done to me?”
“You’re going to love it. Trust me. You’ll thank me in the morning.”
“Ooh!” she moaned clutching at her stomach. “My belly is starting to ache something awful.”
“The pain is an unfortunate side effect, but it will move from your stomach area to the sides of your body before finally moving into your shoulder blades. Try not to scratch when the itching starts. I can promise you that by morning all manner of discomfort will have passed away completely. It will be best if you try to get some sleep.”
Ergo was awakened by ecstatic whoops and cries coming from outside the enormous stone building. He smiled knowingly as he exited the large entrance into the bright morning sun. Shading his eyes with a large cupped hand he gazed into the sky above the Charcoalwood Forest.
There she was, soaring and gliding as though she had always had those wings attached to her back.
Looking down from the great height she saw Ergo waving a good morning to her. This was not a good morning, this was the best morning ever. She dipped, rolled and dived towards the ogre, maneuvering between the blackened trees with such expertise and precision that one would almost think she had been doing it for years. Breathless, she alighted upon the wooden pinnacled roof of the old well.
“Ergo, this is the most amazing gift that anyone has ever given me. I’ve always wondered what it must be like to fly like a bird, to soar above the trees. The feeling of freedom is so intense it’s indescribable. I don’t know how to thank you. How can I ever repay you?”
“You seem to forget that this is my way of repaying you; my expression of thanks for the pleasure of your company.”
“I shall never forget your kindness, Ergo. This promise I make to you. Even if I should fail to find Nilbog to cure me of my cold-blooded condition, I shall frequently return to visit you here in the Charcoalwood Forest. Never again will you have to fear the dread of extended loneliness. As long as we both shall live you will have a friend in Drazil Nogard.”
Ergo felt a tear welling in his large eye. I hope you all success with your quest, but if you should fail to find Nilbog you can now do the next best thing.”
“And that would be?”
“Why, doing as the birds do, of course - fly south for the winter.”
Drazil smiled. “If all goes well, I shall see you again soon. Where do you suppose I should begin my search for this Nilbog?”
“In the Nil Bog, of course.”
“The Nil Bog?”
Ergo pointed into the distance. “Where the Charcoalwood Forest Ends the Nil Bog begins. Good luck and a safe journey.”
“Wait till Noel and Namalas see me now!” shouted Drazil to the gathering storm as she soared over the Charcoalwood Forest. “How jealous they’re going to be!”
As if in answer to the shout, a bright thunderbolt streaked across the darkening sky, followed by a loud rumble.
Soon the rain started to fall. Small erratic drops at first, but before long had developed into a hard constant downpour.
Drazil flew towards where the K’calb Plateau ran parallel to the Charcoalwood Forest.
She had hoped that the crags and overhangs would protect her from the persistent barrage, but unfortunately the icy wind threatened to blow her against the treacherous rock face.
Cold and disillusioned she landed upon a high wide ledge that cut back into the solid black stone of the cliff. Huddling in a corner with her wings wrapped tightly about her she shivered, praying that the storm would quickly pass.
At first she imagined her mind to be playing tricks on her when she saw the flickering firelight bouncing on the wall in front of her.
“That’s not reflected lightning,” she thought aloud before moving cautiously along the ledge towards the orange glow. Ahead, the ledge widened in front of the entrance to a large deep cave. Drazil could clearly see that the glow originated from far inside the enormous cavern.
“A fire,” she said softly to herself. “A nice warm fire. They say, ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire.’ But surely where there’s fire there must be someone or some thing that started it?”
“WHO IS IT!” boomed a loud and terrible voice from the bowels of the cavern.
Drazil’s long body tensed. “Just a lonely lizard, sir,” she answered timidly. “Just a very cold and lonely lizard seeking shelter and warmth from the terrible storm.”
“What is your name?”
“Drazil, sir. I mean no harm.”
There was a long silence. Then the voice spoke again. This time it had a certain nervousness in its timbre. “Drazil? Were you a servant of Drazi Wrerecros?”
“No sir, I’m just an ordinary Pandokian lizard seeking a cure to my tibtit curse.”
“Nilbog’s great yellow eyes!” cursed the voice. “Yet another victim of accursed tibtit magic! The sooner we find and destroy the source of their infernal power, the better!” The voice had once more become assertive and confident. “Let me get a better look at you! Come closer so that you may warm yourself.”
“Oh, thank you kindly!”
As Drazil walked deeper into the cave, she thought it best not to fly, the orange glow increased in intensity. She was finally surprised to find that the flickering glow was not produced by a single fire, but by the countless flames of many candles that literally lined the floor and walls of the rough cavern.
In the centre of this elaborate ambient display sat a small creature at a very large wooden desk. The candlelight glinted ominously from his large eyes as he stared at the approaching lizard.
“You’re no ordinary lizard!” The voice had become smaller as well; no longer amplified by the acoustics of the funnel-shaped cavern. “You obviously flew up here?”
“I used to be a normal lizard, but…”
“But Ergo helped to give you some wings,” interrupted the small figure swatting at a swarm of fireflies that were buzzing about in front of his large red nose.
“Yes, how do you know that?”
“He is the only one in all Nolava able to perform that specific charm quite so effectively. You’re pretty lucky to have run into him. Most just stay out of his way; find him too grotesque and fearsome to be starting any conversation.”
“That is the awful truth,” said Drazil flapping her wings and landing on the desk in front of the small man. “It is also the reason he gave me these wings. A gesture of his appreciation for my company.”
“Hmmm, I should probably visit the brute more often, but I’ve been so busy studying this book that I borrowed on my last visit, that the passing of time has escaped me.” He swatted at the fireflies again. “Of course it would be much easier if these infernal insects were not consistently troubling my studies.”
“You are studying one of Drazi’s books?”
“Yes, I am also quite proficient at casting a spell or two. I recently managed to perfect Drazi’s eternal flame candle, now I’m trying to see if this book contains anything on insect repellents. These Nolavian fireflies have a strange attraction towards my large red shiny nose. I think they may believe it to be some sort of matriarchal entity. Ah, dear! What am I to do?”
“Maybe I can help?”
“A lizard’s diet consists mainly of insects, and as I have not eaten anything since Ergo’s batwing broth, I’m feeling rather famished. All the flying I’ve done today has worked up an enormous appetite.”
“Wait!” shouted the small man, but it was too late. Drazil’s long tongue shot out, trapping a rather large specimen on the end of the sticky appendage. “Oh, dear!” he lamented watching Drazil starting to munch at the winged morsel. “You should not have done that!”
“Nolavian fireflies have real fire inside their bodies!”
“Yow!” shouted Drazil as the searing heat singed her sensitive tongue. She spat the masticated remains of the insect onto the desk, and watched amazed as the tiny heap sputtered and smoldered. “From now on, I’ll have to remember that things are very different here in Nolava.”
“I needed the fireflies to perfect my eternal flame candles. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to keep lighting new candles each time the old ones burn down? The fireflies have certain fireproof properties.” He pushed a large bottle across the table. “I have made a special potion from them that I incorporate into the wax. Unfortunately the little buggers breed like…well, like flies. Now I can’t seem to be rid of them.”
Drazil’s eyes glowed with realization. “Can this potion of yours endow the user with the fireflies’ fireproof properties?”
“That is its chief function.”
“May I try it?”
“Are you quite sure? I’ve never tested it on a living organism.”
“Sure, after Ergo’s batwing broth, I’m ready for all types of adventure.”
“Very well,” said the little man jumping down off the chair. “I’ll fetch you a bowl.”
Only now did Drazil actually see how small the man was. He was barely half the height of the desk at which he had been sitting. His beard was so long that he had to part it down the middle and then tuck one half under each arm to prevent himself from tripping over it.
“What are you?” asked Drazil as she gazed curiously at the strange little figure, her head tipped to one side.
“Don’t you know a dwarf when you see one?” asked the dwarf seeming insulted. He lifted a small bowl from a low shelf and returned to the desk. Using a number of books, he had built a set of stairs next to the chair, which he easily climbed to reach his seat. The chair also had some large volume books stacked on top of it. The dwarf sat down on the top book and pulled the bottle of potion towards himself. He popped the cork and poured a generous measure of the liquid into the bowl. “My name’s Frawd. F…r…a…w…d.” he spelled his name whilst pushing the bowl towards Drazil. “‘Frawd is no fraud,’ is my motto. Drink up and see for yourself.”
A few hours later Drazil lay on her back, in a corner of the cave, moaning in anguish. She rubbed at her bloated belly.
“I warned you not to overdo it,” chided Frawd. “But you had to go and eat every last one of those fiery fiends. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s great to be able to study again without having to constantly swat away those annoying gnats.”
“I couldn’t help myself,” she groaned. “They were just so delicious. Like eating something hot and spicy. I can hardly believe it, but I’m actually feeling too warm. I haven’t had this sensation since the tibtit cursed me.” She rubbed her forehead. “Look, I’ve even managed to break a sweat.”
“Hmmm,” muttered Frawd pensively. “I think I might have a temporary solution to your cold-blooded condition. He studied the prostrate reptile intently before lifting the point of her tail.”
“You have? What is it?”
“It’ll have to wait until morning. It requires that you do some more eating, and I would surmise that you are in no condition at the moment to partake in any more victuals.” He pushed the tip of her tail into the flame of one of the candles. “Do you feel any pain?”
“Only in my aching stomach.”
“Excellent! It would seem that the potion has now managed to affect every single cell in your body. You are now totally fireproof.”
“Will the spell last?”
“As long as you remain in Nolava the potion will continue to retain its potency. Once you leave the confines of the K’calb Plateau, the effect will slowly, but surely, fade.
“And my wings?”
“But if that is so, then why did the tibtit curse not wear off after awhile?”
A sadness seemed to descend upon the dwarf. “There is some magic that can never be undone. Some spells are permanent…forever. This normally happens when the one casting the spell is in a heightened emotional state at the time of performing the charm.”
“That would certainly explain it,” said Drazil as she recalled the absolute rage that had flashed in the mother tibtits eyes when she had placed the curse upon her. “But what of the reverse curse? I was led to believe that it would undo the effects of that terrible charm.”
“The reverse curse can’t remove your condition, it can only cause the original curse to act out its complete opposite. For instance, if I cursed someone to be sick, they would become healthy. Someone to be poor, they would become rich. Ugly would become beautiful. So on and so forth.”
“Then that would mean that someone cursed to be cold-blooded would become…?”
“As you were originally warm-blooded, I guess you would now become hot-blooded.”
“But would that not kill me?”
“Now that you’re fireproof, I guess not,” laughed Frawd. “Good thing you happened to meet me before you found Nilbog.”
“Good thing that I prefer the heat to the cold, as well.”
They both laughed loudly.
The next morning Drazil found Frawd asleep on top of a large book into which he had been jotting down notes.
“Ahem!” she coughed.
The dwarf awoke and gazed bleary-eyed at the lizard. “Morning already?” Drazil nodded. After yawning and stretching he muttered, “Sorry, I was up most of the night recording my new findings regarding the fireproof potion.”
“It’s a beautiful morning. No wind and the storm has expended itself. Ideal weather for flying. I must leave now whilst the perfect conditions prevail.”
“I understand,” said Frawd walking down the staircase of books. “Before you go, allow me to perform one last service.” He removed one of the unlit eternal flame candles from a shelf and, with a small amount of effort, pulled the long wick free from the centre. “Here,” he said holding it out towards Drazil, “Swallow this whole starting at one end, but leave a short piece protruding from your mouth.” Drazil obeyed unquestioningly. “Now,” said Frawd reaching for one of the lit candles, “As soon as I light the tip of this wick you must swallow it down as quickly as possible.” Once again she did exactly as she was told.
“It’s working,” she beamed. I can sense the wonderful heat in my belly. Already the coldness in my blood is dissipating.”
“As long as you have that eternal flame burning in your stomach, it should help you to endure the cold. Try not to do anything that might cause it to come out.”
A small ball of flame suddenly belched out of Drazil’s mouth, singeing the Dwarf’s bushy eyebrows. Startled, he fell backwards onto his rear.
“Whoops!” exclaimed Drazil patting her lips. “Excuse me, but I still seem to be suffering from a slight bit of indigestion.”
“My goodness me,” said Frawd regaining his composure as he lifted himself off the cavern floor. “That is a rather unexpected side effect! I must immediately make a note of it in my book!”
Drazil had once again set off in the direction of the Nil Bog. She was amazed at how large the Wolli-Wypeew Forest had been. She was busy considering how great the power of the three brother wizards must be, especially to have destroyed such a vast woodland, when she thought that she had viewed a flash of green in amongst the perpetual blackness of the Charcoalwood Forest.
She dove and circled back, and was almost about to believe that her imagination had played tricks on her when she heard what seemed to be the sound of a choir singing a strange hymn. Then she realized that it was actually the chanting of a great many tiny voices.
“Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros!” came the hypnotic hum from below.
She decided that it would be best to approach the sound with caution. Landing some distance from the chanting noise, she carefully crawled towards the unusual cacophony.
Peeping around one of the large blackened trees she stared in total fascination at the scene in front of her.
In the centre of a group of large trees stood a single smaller tree. Its vibrantly green leaves and bark contrasting against the surrounding starkness of the charred Wolli-Wypeews.
In a frenzied state, hundreds of tibtits were fluttering and dancing about the tree that soon begun to radiate an aura of pulsating light from its main trunk. The tibtits bathed in the glow of the resonating power until they themselves began to emit the same warm radiance from their tiny amber-hued and naked bodies. Drazil mused how they almost took on the semblance of large Nolavian fireflies.
In a trance-like state, they repeated, “Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros!” Over and over they chanted the strange mesmerizing words. The words must have been hypnotic, for Drazil did not become aware of the tibtit patrol hovering over her head until one of them started shouting.
“A spy! A spy! A spy!” he screamed loudly and annoyingly.
Within seconds the air above her was filled with the entire company of the bizarre ritual.
“I knows dis one,” screeched one of the female tibtits angrily. “Even wid dem new wings I’d still be knowin’ ‘er.”
“Who be she, Larommi?” asked a male tibtit hovering to her right.
“Dirroh, my love, dis be da very same cold-blooded monst’r dat be eatin’ our poor liddle ‘elpless Gniht!” wailed Larommi
“Be dis true, monst’r?” asked Dirroh glaring intently at the wide-eyed Drazil. “Answ’r me!”
“It was just all a very big misunderstanding!” nodded Drazil nervously. “I thought…”
“Den yous must be punish’d to da full extent o’ da tibtit book o’ law,” interrupted Dirroh. “We must takes ‘er before da High Tibtit Council! Binds ‘er up real good ‘n’ tight!”
“But, I’ve already been punished with a most terrible curse!”
“And gags dat flapping yap o’ ‘ers as well!” shouted Larommi.
“Removes da gag from da prison’r, but be sures to be keepin’ ‘er tightly restrain’d,” sang Yorel Dabdab, chief overseer of the Tibtit High Council. He waited until the deed was done before continuing. “Prison’r, what be yer name?”
“Drazil Nogard, sir. I’m just an ordinary lizard from Pandokia. I tried to explain that this is all just one big misunderstanding.”
“Drazil? I knows dat you be no servant of da great Drazi Wrerecros, but I also be knowin’ dat yous be no ordinary lizard. I sense strong Nolavian magic widin yous, and just be lookin’ at dem fings on yer back. I ain’t nev’r seen a flyin’ lizard afore.”
There was suddenly a hubbub amongst the large crowd of tibtits that had gathered to witness the proceedings. The name of ‘Ergo’ was repeatedly heard coming from the gathered masses.
Yorel continued with his enquiry. “Yous be a spy fer dem Doogie brudders, ain’t yous?”
“Don’t be playin’ da dumb an’ innocent wid us. Dem Doog brudders sent yous fer sure.”
“Are you referring to the three brother wizards?”
“Ah! Yous sees! I tol’ yous! She’s in cahoots wid dem three evil brudders!”
“That’s not true! I have never met any of the brothers.”
A loud cacophony suddenly erupted from the crowd.
“Silence!” shouted Yorel.
“To be honest,” added Drazil, “I am actually on a quest to find Nilbog, the eldest of the three.”
“And why would yous be doin’ such a ting den?”
Drazil was about to answer, but started to stutter when she realized the implications of that damning reply.”
“I can tells yous why!” shouted Larommi fluttering forward. “She wants dat despicable Nilbog Doog ta be usin’ his damnable reverse curse upon da charm dat I placed on ‘er scaly ‘ide.”
“Dis be all very insignificant,” shouted El Birroh, the second chief overseer. “Da fact remains dat she be seein’ us rechargin’ our magical pow’rs at da last of da Wolli-Wypeews. Dat crime alones be punishable by death.” Shouts of agreement filled the air. “We all be knowin’ what would happens if dem Doogies gots da word abouts our most ‘oly of trees, ‘specially now dat it be finally developin’ da seed pods after all dese many long years since we be plantin’ dat last seed. Da last seed dat we found in da hand of our fallen master. Dem Doogie brudders never knewed dat da great master be transferrin’ his very life essence inta da last seed dat we be findin’ in his cold clutch’d fist. Now, when da new seeds reach maturity, da great master wizard shall be once again returnin’ ta us. Den we, his faithful servants, shall spread da new seeds ‘cross Nolava. Da Wolli-Wypeew Forest shall once again be standin’ proud an’ mighty. Once again we shall be havin’ da op’tunity ta be rulin’ all o’ Nolava and beyond. All praise be ta da master, da great Drazi Wrerecros!”
“Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros!” chanted all the tibtits present.
Drazil felt her heart sink. This time there would be no escaping the wrath of the tibtits.
“Silence!” called Yorel. “To be sure dat ‘er death be certain, an’ dat da safety o’ our most ‘oly o’ trees be preserved, I be requirin’ dat all tibtits present recite da death chant!” He walked over to Drazil and held an open hand towards her sad expression. “Drazil Nogard, it be da decision of da Tibtit High Council dat, afore da sun be settin’ ‘pon dis day, dat yous will die. Death afore dusk!”
“Death afore dusk! Death afore dusk! Death afore dusk!” repeated the entire congregation holding out their hands towards Drazil.
“It be done!” shouted Yorel. “The prison’r will surely die by da settin’ o’ da sun jus’ as sure as dat sun is ta be a settin’. Do not be removin’ ‘er restrains, but leaves ‘er in peace till da coldness o’ death be a comin’ ta takes ‘er.”
“No!” shouted Dirroh angrily. “Dat be too nice a death for da likes o’ dis monst’r! She be deservin’ far worse. I say we burns ‘er wid da fire!”
“No!” pleaded Drazil attempting to sound as desperate as possible. She knew that if they threw her in a fire that it would do her no harm, but it would certainly burn away the fetters that kept her restrained. She might then have just the slightest possibility of making her escape. “Please! Anything else but fire! I hate fire!”
“No!” shouted Larommi. “Fire is also too good for da likes o’ dis one! I say she also be made ta feel what it be like to be catch’d and gobbl’d up by a long sticky tongue. I say we feeds ‘er ta Gorf.”
“But,” frowned Dirroh, “She be far too bigs for ol’ Gorf ta be feedin’ on?”
“Not if we be shrinkin’ ‘er down all teeny an’ tiny like, she won’t!” said Larommi with a fiendish smile. “I’ll use da shrinkin’ charm on her big scaly ‘ide. I’ll makes ‘er even smaller than us wee tibtits.”
“Yeah!” Echoed all the tibtits, “Let us be givin’ ‘er ta grisly Gorf!”
Larommi held out a hand towards Drazil. “Shrink! Shrink! Shrink!” she gleefully charmed.
Almost immediately, Drazil felt the fetters start to loosen as her body began to diminish in size.”
“’Old ‘er!” shouted Yorel. “We can’t afford ta ‘ave ‘er escape wid da knowledge o’ our most ‘oly o’ trees.”
The two tibtit guards that had been standing behind Drazil grabbed onto her. They had to constantly readjust their grip as she continued to shrink. Finally one of the guards held her tight within his clutched fist.
“Here,” said Larommi handing the guard a long piece of thread. “Binds ‘er wid dis.”
The guard proceeded to wind the cord around the entire length of her body. “Good, now she be lookin’ like some caterpillar dat spun hisself inta a cocoon. Only der won’t be any budderfly comin’ out o’ der, now will der?”
“Now let us be givin’ ‘er a taste o’ ‘er own medicine!” shouted Dirroh. “Takes ‘er ta da Nil Bog and be feedin’ ‘er ta Gorf. Dat ugly ol’ toad gonna likes da present we be bringin him taday.”
The guard, accompanied by several spear wielding tibtits, flew out over the slime-caked surface of the bog. They alighted upon a large, round, flat-topped stone. The guard placed Drazil in the centre and fluttered off. The rest of the group surrounded Drazil. With their backs to her, they faced towards the murky waters of the Nil Bog. Banging the blunt end of their spears upon the hard surface they began to chant, “Gorf! Gorf! Gorf!”
The hundreds of tibtits, hovering safely above, that had come to witness the execution, joined in with repeating the chant.
After a short time an area of water, just a few feet from the large stone, began to undulate. Great slimy bubbles burst lethargically onto the dark surface.
“Look!” shouted Yorel pointing, “Grisly Gorf be a comin’!”
They all fell silent. The spear-wielding tibtits lifted into the air as, what seemed to be an enormous rounded rock, rose from beneath the surface, Black mud sliding down the smooth sides.
Drazil gasped in horror as two red bulging eyes opened on either side of the dark slimy mass and glared hungrily at her. Then, with a calculated malevolence it began to move towards her. Only once the creature had clumsily clambered onto the flat-topped stone did she realize that she was looking at the biggest bullfrog that she had ever seen. Of course, her perception was greatly affected by the newly shrunken state of her body. Instinctively her body changed colour to match its surroundings, but this only made matters worse. She had taken on the hue of the long beige thread that was tightly wound around her body. Now, as she struggled to loosen her fetters, she appeared to the frog as some tasty wriggling maggot - and next to adult flies, maggots are a frog’s favourite food.
The frog moved closer and opened its wide clam-shaped mouth. Drazil gazed in terror as she could see the large, mucous-tipped, tongue quivering in excitement. She knew only too well how swift and deadly a tongue like that can be.
She filled her lungs to bursting and decided to scream one last loud and intense vociferation of protest to her captors and executioner.
What happened next was surprising and shocking to all present - including Drazil herself.
A searing plume of flame surged out of her throat, scorching the frog and setting her fetters aflame.
The startled Gorf leaped high into the air before disappearing beneath the safety of the cool, dark water.
“That’s another note for Frawd’s book!” she shouted to herself as she felt the tightness around her body relax as the thread turned to ash. “But if I don’t get away from these terrible tibtits, he’ll never know about it!” She quickly jumped into the air flapping her wings.
“She be gettin’ aways!” screamed Larommi hysterically.
“After ‘er!” shouted Dirroh frantically.
“Be quicks about it!” added Yorel concernedly. “Our most ‘oly tree is at stake!”
Realizing that she was now much smaller than the tibtits, and that her wings were still stiff from being tied up, she immediately headed for the thickest part of the brush that dotted the Nil Bog. If she was not able to outfly the tibtits she might lose them between the tangled foliage.
Deeper and deeper into the bog she flew. Every now and then she glanced back over her shoulder to see if her hunters were gaining. She smiled in relief to see that although they were still on her tail, the numbers had dwindled to only a few. With a little more time and effort she might be able to shake the remaining pursuers. If they did manage to catch up to her, she would attempt to dissuade them with one of her fiery screams. She was still wondering if she would be able to repeat her new found talent indefinitely when the worst possible thing occurred. As she was glancing backwards she failed to see the large spider web strung across the forked branch between which she had planned to dodge. An instant later she found herself trapped in the sticky gossamer net. The more she struggled to free herself, the more entangled she became.
She heard high-pitched laughing and turned her head to see that two tibtits had landed on a branch above her.
“Dat be dat!” shouted one. “She be finish’d fer sure now!”
“Looksee! Looksee!” shouted another. “Da creepy crawly is a comin’.”
Drazil watched horrified as a large black spider with bright red stripes on its side descended, head first, towards her. She filled her lungs to bursting before releasing a long fiery scream at the approaching monster. Engulfed in flame, the creature paused. When the fire dissipated, Drazil stared in shock and amazement to see that the spider and its web had remained totally unscathed.
“No!” shouted Drazil in disbelief. “How?”
“Dat be one o’ dem red ‘ips crawlies!” shouted a tibtit giggling. “Dey be likin’ ta be catchin’ an’ eatin’ da Nolavian fireflies. Dat’s why dey an’ der webs be all fireproofs demselves!”
“Dat right, girly!” added the other. “You not gonna be burnin’ yer ways out o’ dis one.”
“I forgot how different things can be in Nolava,” lamented Drazil as she watched the spider approaching. Within seconds the creature had twisted, rolled and spun her into a new cocoon. “Not again! Just when I was almost free!”
“It would be makin’ no difference!” shouted the tibtit. “You anyways dead afore the sun be settin’ taday! And dat be very soon!”
“Dat right, girly!” laughed the other. “No tanight or tamorrows fer yer scaly ‘ide!” he turned to his companion and beckoned, “Come, let us be tellin’ da good news ta Yorel an’ da rest. Dey sure gonna be happy ta be hearin’ from us!”
The tibtits darted into the reddening sky, whooping as they went.
“Not long before the sun goes down and puts me out of my misery,” moaned Drazil to herself. “I sure hope it happens before the spider decides to eat me.”
“Don’t give up so easily!” said a booming voice from behind her. “I would have helped you earlier, but thought it best to conceal myself until those pesky tibtits had left.” Drazil struggled to turn her head in the direction of the sound. At first she thought that the moon had already risen as she gazed at a large bright yellow orb, but when it winked she realized that she was gazing at someone, or something’s, enormous eye. A colossal green hand moved towards her and then very carefully and gently plucked her from the spider’s web. As she was raised up high, her view of the strange creature became clearer. She found herself looking at a face that was as green as new Pandokian grass. “Hello, little one,” said the jade countenance. “Who are you?”
“I’m Drazil, sir! Thank you for rescuing me from that awful spider.”
The green creature suddenly became anxious. “Drazil? Were you a servant of Drazi Wrerecros?”
“No, sir!” She was about to tell the giant that she was just an ordinary Pandokian lizard, but realized that that statement was now very far removed from the truth. “I used to be a simple, plain Pandokian lizard, but Nolavian magic has changed me into what you now see before you. The tibtits have turned me into a puny little bug.”
“Ergo’s great warty nose!” cursed the green creature. “Another damnable victim of those wretched tibtits? The sooner we discover and destroy the source of their powerful magic, the better.”
Drazil smiled widely. “I happen to know the secret to their source!”
“You do?” queried the strange life form, his large yellow eyes becoming even larger.
“It is the very reason why the tibtits were trying to kill me.”
“Then we have much to discuss. Come, I will take you to my hut for safety and a meal. It lies in the middle of this treacherous quagmire. Only I know the correct route to travel. One false step and you’ll be sucked down beneath the black mud forever.”
“But, I can fly!”
“You can?” he asked removing the last stands of webbing from Drazil and studying the diminutive creature in the palm of his hand. “You can!” he exclaimed on noticing her wings. Well, how about that? Never seen a lizard with wings before. You must have crossed paths with my brother Ergo?”
“Ergo is your brother?”
“Yes, my youngest brother.”
“That is not possible! Ergo is an ogre and you are a…what are you?”
“A goblin, of course. Have you never seen a goblin before?”
“How is it possible for an ogre and a goblin to be brothers?”
A look of sadness came over the large emerald-hued face. “In Nolava many things are possible, but I shall tell you the whole story over a hot meal when we get to my hut.”
Now it was Drazil’s turn to take on a sad appearance. “I’m afraid I don’t have much time.” She fluttered into the air and gazed towards the reddening sun as it fast approached the horizon. “I am doomed by the setting of the sun.”
“A tibtit curse?”
“Yes, and only Nilbog Doog’s reverse curse could have helped me.”
“Can help you,” corrected the goblin rushing off. “Follow me!”
“Do you know where to find him?” shouted Drazil hastily following the green creature as he moved along at an uncannily swift pace.
“Of course, now hurry!”
“Where?” she asked shouting into the large pointy ear as she struggled to keep abreast of the goblin as he bounded and leaped from one dry patch to another.
“Right here!” he smiled shouting. “I am Nilbog Doog. Better known as Nilbog of the Nil Bog.”
“You!” exclaimed Drazil. “But that’s not possible!”
“I will explain it all, but for that to happen we must first make sure that you survive beyond the setting sun, and by the looks of it we don’t have much time left.
They came to a large piece of dry land, and after passing between some thick brush, a small, thatched-roof hut came into view.
“Wait here!” shouted Nilbog as he dashed inside. Moments later he reappeared with a large rolled scroll. He unfurled it onto the ground, placing large stones upon each corner to keep it securely in place. “Right, are we ready to begin?”
“What must I do?” asked Drazil worriedly. “Do I have to eat some sort of mystical broth or drink a magic potion?”
“All this spell requires of you is to close your eyes and believe.”
“Yes, it will only work if you have full confidence in the charm.”
“Very well,” she said shutting her eyes tight. “Begin!”
Nilbog raised his hands into the air and began to recite:
“That what was wanted
Let now be stunted
Take what was worse
Reverse the curse
One extreme to the next
Yet troubling remains ‘pon the hexed
One stream flows into another
Hated enemy now fated lover
Trickle becomes a mighty river
Full moon wanes to merest sliver
From hither to thither
Crawl to slither
From this to that
Fowl to bat
The thorn to rose
Black to white
Dark to bright
Knit to split
SO BE IT!”
There was a long uncomfortable silence before Drazil desperately asked, “Is that it?” She cautiously opened an eye. “Is it done?”
Nilbog pointed a long finger at Drazil and sternly asked, “Do you believe in the power of the reverse curse verse?”
“I do!” she answered sincerely and then loudly repeated, “I do! I do! I do!”
“Then by the setting of the sun,” he said turning to gaze as the last rays of sunlight winked away beneath the horizon, “I hope that you have told the truth?”
Drazil suddenly fell to the ground crying out, “A great pain is coursing throughout by entire body. The hurting is almost more than I can bear!”
“If you truly believed, you have nothing to fear! Then what you are experiencing is not the agony of death, but rather the sting of change that is necessary as the curse begins to reverse.”
Drazil again closed her eyes and screamed. It was a long high-pitched scream that culminated in a fearsome roar. Through the haze of pain she became aware that she had increased in size and was continuing to do so.
When the frightful agony eventually subsided, she opened her eyes to find that she now towered above a small hut and an even smaller, wide-eyed goblin. The little green creature was staring in alarm at the burning brush beyond his hut.
“Did I do that?” asked Drazil concernedly.
“I’m afraid so!” answered Nilbog scratching his head. “That is a very interesting talent that you have. Another magical gift from one of Nolava’s residents?”
“Yes,” she nodded, “An unforeseen side effect of a dwarf’s magic.”
“Interesting! Well, I’m just very grateful that you didn’t inadvertently set fire to my home as well.”
“Me too!” exclaimed Drazil excitedly. “The reverse curse worked! How can I ever repay you? I’m just so happy to still be alive!”
“It would also appear that the reverse curse has done its job in more ways than one?”
“Yes, it would appear that my increase in size as well as my new hot-blooded condition have both added a terrible potency to my fire spewing ability.”
“This dwarf that gave you this power, would his name by any chance be Frawd?”
“The very same! ‘Frawd is no fraud’ is his motto. Do you know him well?”
“Of course, Frawd Doog is my brother.”
“You, Ergo and Frawd are the Doog brothers? The three brother wizards? How is that possible?”
A tear welled up in Nilbog’s large yellow eye. “We weren’t always what we now are. Once we were three normal human beings. But we sought to be different. We were young and naïve back then in Pandokia. Back when we first heard tales of a powerful sorcerer that resided in Nolava. His name was Drazi Wrerecros.
“We set out on a journey to find the great Drazi. We hoped to gain knowledge from him. Perhaps he would accept us as his apprentices; teach us the many secrets of the dark arts.
“After a very long search we finally found his home near the edge of the mighty Wolli-Wypeew Forest. We found his home but not him.
“We decided to build ourselves a hut close to his stone dwelling and wait for his return. Each day we would visit his place in the hope that he had arrived back from whatever journey he had taken.
“Many months passed and still Drazi Wrerecros failed to make his appearance. Eventually we decided that he must surely have met his demise at the hand of some unforeseen fate. And so we breached the great wooden door that barred entrance to his place of secrets. Inside we found all his books and other wizardry paraphernalia. It was all covered in the dust and cobwebs of many years. So we cleaned up the place and claimed it as our own.
“It took time, but soon we began to understand the writings and their applications. Each day we taught ourselves new charms. Each day we practiced the new charms. For some strange reason, we found that each of us was better at certain enchantments than others. We, therefore, each built up our own personal array of potent spells. As you already know, Ergo’s forte is the ability to endow the power of flight. Frawd always had a fascination and aptitude with all manner of spells regarding fire. Mine was the power to undo many of the blunders that they frequently caused. Ergo once attempted to help Frawd overcome his chronic hair loss problem. The spell worked, but instead of hair, Frawd began to grow feathers all over his balding head. It took some time, but I eventually managed to formulate the proper cure.
“After studying many of the books that lined the shelves, I one day came across a smaller book hidden in a crevice of the wall behind the rest. It did not contain the same notes as the rest, detailed steps to formulating spells. No, I soon came to realize that it was the writings of a personal diary. In it I read of Drazi’s plan to plant a vast Wolli-Wypeew forest. How he had learned to tap into the energy supplying power of those special trees. With that amount of power at his disposal he would be able to make his will known and obeyed, not only in Nolava, but across the entire inhabited world. He would rule the world with an iron fist. Any that chose to be foolish enough to oppose his will would be instantly destroyed.
“But there was one major obstacle that stood between him and his plan of absolute world domination. The one enemy of all that exists. The one thing powerful enough to destroy all things. Mighty mountains have fallen beneath its power. Even suns have been forced to cool by its inevitable influence. Do you know this enemy of which I speak?”
“No,” said Drazil shaking her head. “Who could possibly have such a great and terrible power?”
“Time,” answered Nilbog. “Time is the one enemy to whom we must all eventually succumb. But it was also the one thing that Drazi needed for his plan to work. At the point of his writing the entry into the diary, he had only just begun to plant the seeds of the Wolli-Wypeew forest. The K’cigam Valley, at that time, consisted of wide open plains of long green grass that waved sensually in the warm breezes of the Nolavian summers. It would take many years for the trees to reach maturity; many years for the trees to become a mighty forest.
“Drazi was not a patient man. He did not have the tolerance to suffer the waiting of his plan.”
“What did he do?” frowned Drazil.
“According to the diary, he spoke of seeking out a servant to help him. A servant that would be gullible enough to grant him the constant protection that he would be needing.”
“Why would such a powerful sorcerer need protection?”
“Because he had decided to place a charm upon himself. A spell that would have the semblance of death, but was actually a deep sleep. He had decided to cheat time by passing through it in a dreamless coma-like state. He could actually retard the aging process during this prolonged slumber. And, if all went according to plan, he would have enough power at his disposal on awakening to even attain immortality.
“I showed the diary to my brothers and we all came to the same fateful decision.”
“You had to destroy the Wolli-Wypeew Forest.”
“Correct! We had no idea where Drazi was or even who the servant was that he had chosen to protect his slumbering form. We also had no idea how long we had before he awoke to fulfill his devious scheme. What we did know is that the Wolli-Wypeew Forest had long since reached maturity.
“Frawd was the greatest help in destroying the forest. He used a number of different fire spells to rain down scorching devastation upon the forest.
“We had almost completed the task when we heard a
frightful scream from the sky. We stared in shock as a dark-clad figure with
eyes that glowed like two fiery coals levitated above us. He menacingly pointed
a long staff in our direction.”
“Drazi Wrerecros!” exclaimed Drazil who was now starting to find the goblin’s story most intriguing and entertaining.”
“Drazi Wrerecros,” nodded Nilbog. “We had not counted on the fact that the servant would be able to wake him up from his slumber in the event of an emergency.
“‘Who are you!’ hissed Drazi down at us with the malevolence of a coiled serpent. ‘Why have you destroyed my great forest?’
“‘We are Nilbog, Frawd and Ergo,’ I answered bravely. ‘We are the Doog brothers, but many in Nolava have now come to know of us as the three brother wizards. And we, most fortunately, have gained knowledge of your nefarious plan to dominate the world.’
“‘Wizards? You think yourselves wizards because you are able to perform a few minor charms? Allow me to demonstrate to you the power of a true sorcerer.’
“Drazi’s first attack on us, because it was the most unexpected, was also to be the most devastating. We had been standing together when the bright blue sphere of crackling eldritch energy shot from the tip of his staff and engulfed us all. In mere moments we had all been transformed into the miserable creatures that we still remain to this day.
“A great battle then ensued, but we were eventually able to overcome and destroy him. Fortunately for us, Drazi’s extended slumber had left him in a weakened state and he had underestimated the extent to which we had mastered the dark arts. We pressed our advantage until he finally lay mortally wounded between the blackened remains of his once mighty Wolli-Wypeews. With his fist tightly clenched he vowed vengeance upon us.
“‘From this day forward you shall be a goblin, a dwarf and an ogre. And so you shall remain until your deaths at the hand of my servant. Only by removing the power of my servant will it be possible to undo the curse, but that is a feat that you shall never accomplish. My secret helper shall attack you at a time when you least expect it. He shall destroy you! All three of you! On that day my death shall be avenged. Today, you may have won the battle, but I shall yet endure to win the war.’
“Then he closed his eyes and died. After that we immediately proceeded to destroy the remaining trees of the Wolli-Wypeew Forest, making sure that not a single green twig or seed remained. Never again would the threat of Drazi Wrerecros be able to cast its terrible dark shadow across the land.”
“But I am afraid that that is exactly what is about to happen!” exclaimed Drazil excitedly.
“What?” said the goblin disbelievingly. “Impossible!”
“It’s true! And I happen to know who the secret servant of Drazi Wrerecros is.”
“You do! Who?”
“It’s the tibtits!”
“A tibtit? Ridiculous! One tibtit could never pose any serious threat to us.”
“No, not just a single tibtit! It’s the entire swarm of those evil uglies. They worship him as if he’s some sort of god or something.”
“Of course,” remarked Nilbog as a wave of realization passed over him. “It’s so obvious, yet it never crossed our minds that there might be more than one.”
“And as I said before, ‘I know the source of their power.’”
“It would seem we have much to discuss,” said the goblin slapping his hands together. “Let us discuss it over a bowl of my delicious deewgob soup. I just happen to have some simmering over the fire at the moment, but I believe I’ll have to make more.” He looked at Drazil’s large body. “A lot more. I’ll fetch the biggest cauldron that I have and you can use that talent of yours to help bring it to the boil.”
“You had better take that precious document of yours inside,” said Drazil pointing at the large scroll. “We wouldn’t want me to accidentally set fire to it.”
“Oh, that?” said Nilbog casually. “That will have to stay. It’s actually the recipe for my deewgob soup.”
“Do you recall what I said about having to believe in the reverse curse for it to work?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Well, would you have believed that it was going to work if I had just recited the verse out there in the middle of some smelly bog?”
“Hmm, probably not,” said Drazil pondering deeply upon the issue. “I suppose not!”
“Of course not,” smiled Nilbog. “A bit of flair is always necessary to help convince the unfortunate victim. I’ve performed it often enough to know the best procedure to follow. As you already know, those wretched tibtits are extremely particular to the placing of bothersome curses.”
“Have you ever tried the reverse curse on yourself?”
“What help would that be? The reverse curse is only able to do the exact opposite of the original charm. And who knows what the reverse of being turned into a goblin might be? I might be changed into pond slime or something even worse. Our single hope is to destroy all of Drazi’s power sources. Only then may we have a chance to undo his terrible charm. For some strange reason, even though we destroyed him, his influence is still strongly felt.”
“Are you quite positive that he was destroyed?”
“Of course! We all saw him die on the place he fell in the middle of the forest.”
“Did you bury the body?”
“No, after we had finished destroying the rest of the forest, we were unable to find his body again.”
“You must remember that the forest is very big, and there are many wild animals that could have dragged him off.”
“What if Drazi was able to transfer the last of his waning life force into the last Wolli-Wypeew seed clenched in his fist at the moment of his death? What if the tibtits had found his body and the seed? What if the tibtits had planted that seed and then taken Drazi’s body back to their village for safekeeping? The same safekeeping they had provided all the years during Drazi Wrerecros’ extended slumber. What if they used their magic to preserve his body; preserve it until the last Wolli-Wypeew that contained his life force had reached maturity? What if it was then possible for that life force to be transferred back into the shell of his waiting preserved body? So, what if Drazi was not completely destroyed in the battle and now patiently awaits to be resurrected by his gullible and foolish servants?”
“Those are a lot of ‘what ifs’!” said the goblin with a concerned cast upon his emerald countenance.
“Yes,” nodded Drazil slowly and sternly, “But what if all those ‘what ifs’ just happen to be true?”
Drazil was not able to maneuver her large frame with the same ease as before, but what she lacked in maneuverability she had certainly made up for in speed.
They had left early, just before the sun had risen. At noonday, after a short stop at the K’calb plateau, they were circling over Ergo’s dwelling.
The ogre gazed up nervously as the enormous winged creature circled above, but felt a great sense of relief when he noticed the two small figures riding on its back.
“Is that you Drazil?” he asked as she landed in front of him. I thought the only problem you had was your cold-bloodedness? I must admit that for a moment there, my own blood had turned to ice. I almost believed that Drazi Wrerecros’ servant had finally come to make good on his threats.”
“I unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, ran into an angry swarm of tibtits before finding Nilbog.”
“Greetings, brother Ergo!” said the goblin dismounting.
“Greetings, brother Ergo!” said the dwarf dismounting.
“Welcome, brothers!” The Ogre sounded slightly peeved. “It has been some time since your last visit.”
“And what has prevented you from visiting us?”
“Maybe the fact that I don’t know a safe way to either climb the cliffs of the K’calb or cross the smelly black mud of the Nil Bog.”
Frawd forced a smile. “It is good to see you again.”
“And what is so good about gazing upon a hideous ogre?”
“An ogre with a beautiful heart!” said Drazil quickly.
“She’s right,” nodded Nilbog. “You were always a better person than Frawd and I. Always willing to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate that crossed our path.”
“Now none even dare to walk the same path that I have traveled!”
“We know that, Ergo!” said Frawd placing a hand on the ogre’s arm. “That is why the curse on you has been the hardest of all. Don’t think that we never realized that fact.”
The sincerity in the voice seemed to calm Ergo’s annoyed demeanor.
“We have good news for you,” said Nilbog. “Drazil has discovered who Drazi Wrerecros’ servant is, as well as the source of the tibtits power.”
“It will not be easy to find it again,” said Drazil. “The Charcoalwood Forest is very big. But I do know that it lies between Frawd’s cave and the tibtit village.”
“We shall return to my cave to get a bearing,” said Frawd excitedly. “Come, get on!”
“On her back?” asked Ergo concernedly.
“Yes, it is a most exhilarating experience.”
“But, I’m afraid of high places!” moaned the Ogre. “Why do you suppose I have always refrained from using the wing charm on myself? Besides, I’m probably too big and heavy for her to lift off the ground.”
“Nonsense!” shouted Drazil stretching her wings. “I could carry ten more like you with ease! Now hop on quickly. We haven’t a moment to lose. If the tibtits find out that I survived their curse, they will do everything in their power to stop us.”
“Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros!” chanted the tibtits frantically as they moved around the Wolli-Wypeew tree. The many fires that they had built around the tree reflected ominously golden from their otherwise shiny black, staring eyes.
They had placed the reclining figure of the ancient sorcerer on a stone altar that had been constructed close to the tree. It had taken time and much effort to move the wizard’s hollow shell all the way from the tibtit temple in the village where it had been carefully attended to for many years.
“Be it not too earlies to be performin’ the revival procedure?” asked El Birroh concernedly. “We shoulds not be allowin’ da nosiness of one silly lizard ta be upsettin’ our plans. We shoulds not be lettin’ impatience now ruin whats we be hopin’ fer all dis long time.”
“The time is perfect! shouted Yorel Dabdab above the commotion. “Looks, the pods of the Wolli-Wypeew be now very close to maturity. If we revives the great Drazi now, in a week or so he will be able to witness the pickin’ an’ spreadin’ of da first seeds. He will also be ables to be usin’ his great power to help protect da tree until da time of da pluckin’ arrives. And looks,” he said pointing into the sky, “A full moon ta be blessin’ da proceedings.”
For a fleeting moment, a large dark shape suddenly obscured the bright glow of the large yellow orb.
“Dids yous be seein’ dat?” asked El turning to look at Yorel. The expression of concern was answer enough. He turned to the masses of tibtits and shouted, “Be startin’ da revival procedure. Be quicks about it. We may be havin’ an unwanted visitor!”
The tibtits joined hands, creating a long chain that reached from the tree to Drazi’s body. “Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros! Drazi Wrerecros!” chanted the tibtits even more frantically than before. The tibtit touching the tree began to glow brightly. Then the glow started to move down the row, each tibtit glowing brightly for a brief moment until it reached Drazi and was seemingly absorbed into his still corpse.
Yorel moved to the reclining figure and gazed down at the unmoving form. “Nothing!” he shouted loudly. “Keep repeating the process until he is fully energized; until his total life force has been returned to him.” After three more glows had been absorbed, Drazi’s fingers began to twitch. “It’s working! Keep it up!”
“Move away from the tree!” said Ergo loudly as he stepped out of the darkness.
“We want to thank you!” said Nilbog appearing from behind a large charcoal tree. “We were almost about to give up our search because of the darkness, but then your fires and wailing led us right to you!”
“Step away,” said Frawd appearing from behind the Wolli-Wypeew. “I have no wish for any of you to be harmed when I rain down fire upon this abominable plant!”
The tibtits started to wail even louder as the three brother wizards approached the altar.
“It be dem damn Doogie brudders!” lamented Yorel. “Don’t be listenin’ to dem! Continue with the revival procedure!”
“Drazi Wrerecros!” exclaimed Ergo gazing down at the convulsing figure. “I thought we killed him all those years ago?”
“And so we did, but it would appear that the tibtits are planning to revitalize him,” answered Nilbog. “Drazil’s assumptions have been correct.”
“It would also seem that we have arrived just in time to prevent this great evil from once again rising to threaten the land!” shouted Frawd raising his arms into the air. “Yorel, tell your people to move away from the tree! Any that chose to remain near it will be destroyed along with it!”
“Stops him!” cried El. “Stops him afore he be completing da charm!”
“Even your combined powers will be no match for the three of us!” shouted Nilbog.
“Dat’s what a fools like yous be tinkin’! We knows dat we only needs to be stoppin’ dat damnable dwarf is all! Everybody be attackin’ dat Frawd fella now! Use yer spears ta be pokin’ his eyes outta his hairy head! Kill dat dwarf!”
Like an angry swarm of hornets the tibtits descended upon the unprepared dwarf. He covered his face and fell to the ground rolling about.
Ergo and Nilbog sent a flurry of blue energized spheres at the tibtits, but no sooner had they knocked some away from the surging mass above the screaming dwarf when more had taken their place.
It was beginning to seem as though the tibtits would prevail in stopping the dwarf from performing his charm when a terrible scream was heard from above. An enormous ball of flame fell from the sky, striking the Wolli-Wypeew. In an instant it was turned into a roaring conflagration. Moments later a second ball of fire struck; this time the tree exploded in a shower of sparks and cinders.
All the tibtits first stared, wide mouthed, before falling to the ground and wailing. They kicked and screamed and cried, appearing as some macabre swarm of fallen flying ants that were attempting to lose their wings.
There was a great rush of wind as Drazil landed beside the fallen Frawd.
“How are you?” she asked folding her enormous wings against her side. “Did they cause you any damage?”
“I’ll be fine,” said the dwarf standing up and dusting himself off. “Between fireflies and tibtits, it would seem that I seriously need to find an insect repellent charm.” He gazed at the smoldering remains of the last Wolli-Wypeew tree. “Did you do that?”
Drazil smiled and nodded. “Another entry for your book.”
“Look!” shouted Nilbog pointing towards Drazi Wrerecros’ corpse. The figure began to blacken and solidify until it had become like the surrounding Charcoalwood Forest. “I sense that Drazi’s sorcery has been destroyed forever!”
“So do I,” added Ergo.
“Master!” shouted Yorel reaching out towards the darkened figure. As his fingers touched the face, it crumbled away into a fine dust. “No!” he shouted falling to his knees. “All the time and effort for naught! He looked up and pointed a condemning finger at Drazil and the three brother wizards. “We shoulda destroyed yous all one by one a long times ago. You shall pay for this! All of you! Especially you, lizard!”
Drazil moved towards the screeching tibtit leader.
“Beware, Yorel!” she glared down at him. “Do not make me angry, for when I am angry I scream!” Yorel’s rage turned to utter terror as the giant beast gazed down at him. “Beware of making threats against those more powerful than you, especially now that your great source of power is no more. Instead, be grateful that we have chosen to spare your life as well as those of the rest of your irritating kind. Let me give you a warning that you would be wise to obey. If you or any other tibtit should ever again choose to place any of your damned curses upon anyone, I shall return to raze your village to the ground. When I am done, the Charcoal Forest shall be a far prettier sight to gaze upon.
“I understand your pain and anguish, but with time you will see that it was all for the best. The sorcerer chose you as his helpers because he knew that he would be able to easily manipulate you into obeying him. He gained your confidence and control over you by promising you great power, but you were foolish never to see that he was only using you in order to further his own interests. Nilbog has irrefutable proof of this in a diary written in Drazi Wrerecros’ own hand. You have been no more than children playing with fire. Inevitably you have injured both yourselves, as well as those around you. Be content in knowing that there was absolutely no way that Drazi would have allowed you to share in his power. You were merely puppets that he was using to accomplish his evil plan.” She turned to the three brother wizards. “Come, let us be away from this place.”
The wizards quickly climbed onto her back. “Know this, too!” she turned shouting at all the tibtits present. “I shall no longer be called Drazil Nogard of Pandokia. That name only seems to bring to mind the great evil that was once Drazi Wrerecros. Spread the word throughout the land, from this day forward I shall be known as the Dragon Lizard of Nolava. Let all those who have evil intentions fear my wrath. As long as I live, never again will the strong be allowed to take advantage of the weak.”
Drazil began to flap her wings violently, as she did the remains of Drazi Wrerecros were blown and scattered to the four winds.
The four sat in the bright morning sunlight outside Ergo’s dwelling.
“We all felt it,” said Ergo dejectedly. “Drazi’s power and influence have been destroyed forever.” The other two brothers nodded in agreement. “Then why have we remained in these changed forms? Why are we unable to undo the charm?” The other two brothers shook their heads miserably in unison.
“Perhaps you just need to find the right charm to perform the cure?” said the Dragon Lizard trying to cheer up the three brother wizards.
“Don’t you realize that we have spent all these years going through Drazi’s books in the hope of finding a way to undo the curse?” said Frawd.
“I thought that Nilbog was the expert at undoing unwanted charms?”
“It could take forever before I discover the correct spell to use,” said the goblin. “Till then, Ergo, Frawd and Nilbog shall continue to remain an ogre, dwarf and goblin.”
“Of course!” exclaimed the dragon, a glimmer of realization in her eye. That’s it!”
“What is?” asked Ergo.
“I think you should try that reverse curse of yours on yourselves?”
“I already explained the danger of doing that!” chided Nilbog.
“But, what if Drazi had tricked you by using a form of the reverse curse on you? What would happen if there had been no prior curse to be reversed?”
“Impossible, then his eldritch bolt would not have had any effect.”
“I think not!”
“Why do you say that?”
“Have any of you ever met another ogre, dwarf or goblin?”
“No!” said all three in unison.
“Has it ever occurred to you why not?”
“No!” repeated the three.
“Maybe, because there aren’t any other ogres dwarfs or goblins in Nolava, or even in the rest of the world. You are the only ogre, dwarf and goblin in all existence.”
“How can you be so sure of this?” asked Frawd. “And what makes you think that Drazi was using a form of the reverse curse when he struck us with his eldritch bolt?”
“I would have thought by now that the answer was quite obvious. Ergo, Frawd and Nilbog when spelled backwards are ogre, dwarf and goblin.”
“It’s good to be ourselves again,” beamed Ergo gazing up at the dragon. “And we all have you to thank.”
“That would not be so, if the three of you had not been kind enough to help me first,” smiled the Dragon Lizard. “Your compassion and consideration have benefited us all.” She gazed towards the bleak landscape of the Charcoalwood Forest. “Perhaps we should all show our appreciation by performing a very important task.”
“What would that be?” asked Nilbog.
“Replanting that forest with a non-threatening variety of flora.”
“Excellent idea!” shouted Frawd excitedly. The Charcoalwood Forest is far too a depressing sight to gaze upon. I propose that we plant Doowder trees. They grow big and they grow fast!”
A message was sent throughout Nolava, requesting the help of all parties capable of lending assistance in planting the new forest. On the first day of spring a great mass of people and strange creatures, including tibtits, gathered along the edge of the great Charcoalwood Forest. Each carried a satchel filled with the large seeds of the Doowder tree.
That day would forever be celebrated as ‘Doowder Day’ by all Nolava.
Many, many years passed in the land of Nolava. The Doowder Forest grew strong and the Doowder Forest grew tall. The legend of a great battle between four great wizards that had caused the destruction of a vast forest was all but forgotten. The trees of the Doowder forest were immense. So large in their round were they that some people carved their homes into the bases of the trees. Those that were more energetic, had even chiseled away the interior to form spiral staircases that wound all the way to the top where they built for themselves vast tree top dwellings.
The people that dwelt in the Doowder Forest became known as the Doowderlings. They were a kind and gentle race that neither did nor wished harm upon any other beings. The simple magic that they practiced was merely to aid in making their daily tasks just a slight bit easier to accomplish.
A Doowderling youth by the name of Ruhtra Nifle had been forced to flee his village when a troop of soldiers, commanded by Nhoj, the Wizard King of Nolava, had raided their village in search of supplies and men for their campaign into the outer world. If all went to plan, then Pandokia would be only the first of many to fall under the new king’s iron fist. Nhoj had used the opportunity, when King Drahcir had gone on a knowledge-seeking pilgrimage beyond the K’calb, to usurp his brother’s most coveted throne.
Ruhtra had never ventured so far or so deep into the Doowder Forest alone. By the stifling darkness, he guessed that he was now close to the K’calb Plateau where the cliffs blocked out the sun’s late afternoon light. He was looking behind, to make sure that none of the soldiers had managed to follow him, when he ran into a large warm scaly mass. He backed away slowly, hoping to get a better view of the strange enormous thing that lay before him.
Instead, it was the huge peculiar entity that took a look at Ruhtra.
His blood turned to ice as the large reptilian orb opened lethargically and gazed down upon his shivering frame.
“Hello, little one. What brings you so deep into the Doowder Forest?”
Ruhtra had wanted to run, but the kind tone in the voice had somehow convinced him to remain fixed where he stood.
“Who are you?” he nervously asked. “What are you?”
“I am the Dragon Lizard of Nolava!” she proudly answered.
“The Dragon Lizard?” he queried, gaining some confidence. “I have heard ancient stories that tell of a Dragon Lizard that was once Queen of all Nolava. They tell me there are still statues of her in the gardens of the Great White Palace.”
The Dragon Lizard smiled as she reminisced. “Ah, yes! That was ages ago, in a time when I had deemed it necessary to rule the land for awhile.”
“Back then, there were many who chose to abuse the great and wonderful power that the soil of Nolava is able to endow upon its inhabitants. During my rule I managed to bring peace and contentment to what was once a land ravaged by the power hungry entities that sought only to increase their own power at the expense of others. It made no matter to them what strife and sorrow they caused to others with their schemes to get what they wanted.
“Power has the unfortunate property of corrupting those that are not familiar with the proper means of utilizing such a great and wonderful gift. Some, unfortunately, derive pleasure out of exploiting and suppressing those that are deemed weaker than themselves. It was only once I felt that it was safe for all of Nolava that I choose to relinquish my authoritative influence in support of a new democratically chosen monarchy. Strangely enough, at the time, the masses all favoured that I remain in power, but I had had my fill of rulership. I sought a more mundane existence, a time of less responsibility where I could appreciate the smaller things in life. So, although I refused their offer to remain queen, I did make them this one important promise, which was also a warning. ‘Should a powerful force ever again arise to threaten the peace and stability, then the Dragon Lizard would once again return to remove that menace from the land.”
“But the legend of the Dragon Lizard has been told for many a century. How is it possible that you yet live?”
“The answer to that is simple. When the tibtits cursed me to ‘die by dusk,’ the power of the reverse curse rescued me from certain death, but also made me invincible against the ravages of time. I am now an immortal.”
“The eternal saviour of Nolava!” said Ruhtra proudly.
“Yes,” said the Dragon Lizard pondering upon the statement. “I suppose I am.” Then she frowned at the haggard little figure. “You have yet to tell me, what brings you so deep into the Doowder Forest?”
A wide smile stretched across the small Doowderlings beaming face.