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A Short Story: Calarook's Castle

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It was a hot summer day as I sat down next to my sister in the front yard. On hot days like these, we like to get popsicles and sit under a tree so we’re in the shade and just relax. It’s a nice way to get a break from playing games nonstop.

My sister is a couple years younger than me, and a ball full of energy. She loves running around playing tag and such without even taking a breather. I honestly don’t know how she does it.

I let out a sigh, happy to finally be relaxing. For a few seconds I forgot about the red popsicle I was still holding in my hand. I felt something cold drip down from it and looked to see it had started melting.

I quickly licked up all of the sugary substance that I could, and found myself staring at the clouds. There weren’t many, but the few that could be seen were all bright white and formed into several strange shapes.

I closed my eyes and felt the sun’s heat baking my body. I was probably going to be sunburned after staying out for so long, but it didn’t bother me too much. I love the great outdoors.

I sensed a shift in my surroundings, and opened my eyes to discover I was no longer sitting beside the tree, but on my feet in the middle of a forest. I had no memory of how I got there, and my clothes were completely changed. Instead of the T-shirt and khaki shorts I had been wearing before, I was in a long sleeve shirt and pants, with a holster at my belt and a sword in my hand.

I wondered for a split second where I had gotten a sword from, but the thought was pushed from my mind when an arrow flew not an inch from my face. I was lucky it didn’t hit me, and my memories started coming back to me. Of course, how could I forget? I had been taken from my homeland and thrown through some strange portal to this fantasy world by Calarook, one of the greatest wizards of all time. Not only was he one of the most powerful, but also one of the most evil. With plans to take over the world like every other cliché villain, he has an army of the undead under his command. Day after day, he sends skeleton warriors to innocent villages and captures civilians only to turn them into more brainwashed zombies that he can control.

And I, at this exact moment, was fighting a horde of them. The skeleton fighters are just like normal living people, some fight using archery and others with swords and axes. However, the main two things that make them different is the fact that they are literally skeletons wearing armor, and that they have no mind of their own. You could stand on the other side of a cliff and they’d eagerly walk right off of it in an attempt to get to you.

I wasn’t alone in my battles, though. On my journey I met several people that tagged along to help. Ava is a skilled archer and talented at brewing potions that heal wounds in the matter of seconds. Marco is a learning mage that can cast a few basic spells useful during the heat of battle, though sometimes his attacks misfire and can cause some hilarious reactions. Then there’s Ray, always wearing his goggles, and throwing explosives everywhere he goes. I like to consider him our demolition expert.

With my sword drawn and my companions not far behind me, I ran out of the tree line into the opening that allowed us to see Calarook’s castle towering above us. This is it. This is what we have been fighting day and night to arrive at.

The castle was made of pure metal, and was huge to say the least. Thanks to Marco hijacking one of Calarook’s warriors and sending it in as a spy, I knew exactly where his throne room was located. I looked behind me as Ava stationed herself in a tree and began unleashing her arrows upon the crowd of skeletons below. In Marco’s direction were several blasts of ice and lightning, exploding the warriors into small bits of bone and armor. Creating a distraction, just as we had planned.

I turned to Ray and gave a slight nod, signaling him to let out his explosive fury. Without hesitating, he threw a special bomb towards the massive gate to the castle. It created a huge explosion, sending rubble flying everywhere. Sometime during the blast, he snuck off to join the battle. As my friends kept the undead warriors busy, my job was to infiltrate the palace and end Calarook’s reign for good.

Taking a deep breath to calm my nerves a little, I ran inside without a glance back. The map we had drawn of the palace fresh in my mind, I ran down several hallways, turning this way and that with precision, avoiding several of the booby traps Calarook had set up.

It didn’t take me long to reach his throne room. I kicked the heavy doors open and walked in, weary of any more traps that might come my way. Sure enough, there sat the magnificent wizard on his throne made of gold. His long, black beard stretched for a good two or three feet. He had a mischievous grin on his face, as if he had been expecting me to make my way there.

I pointed the tip of my sword at him. “Calarook. Surrender now or forever pay for the pain you have caused this kingdom!”

“Ah, you ignorant child,” the wise man slowly rose from his throne, and in a few long strides he was already standing half an inch from the end of my sword. “You already know I swore to never go down without a fight, and there is no way it would be physically possible for one man with a sword to defeat me.” He lifted his hand, and without anything touching me I felt myself be lifted from the ground.

My heart was racing, and adrenaline was pumping through my veins like crazy. Still, I willed myself to remain calm. I let a smirk break through on my face. “Actually, no. I think you’re the ignorant one.” My friends and I had discovered long ago that he had been using his powers to spy on us and learn our tactics. Once we found out, we’d make random excuses to go off into different groups, forcing him to have to choose one to watch at a time. Slowly and silently, we trained using different techniques than we had before, working on creating this plan for months in order to overthrow him.

The realization seemed to dawn on him as I pointed my sword at his chest. I chanted the single spell Marco had taught me a long time back, that I have only been able to master very recently. The sword began to glow, and shot a beam of light through his chest. A split second later, I fell to the ground and Calarook lay motionless.

Slowly getting to my feet, I yelled out victoriously. Months of fighting, and it was finally over. However, I couldn’t get a strange feeling of dread out of my chest. I looked out a nearby window and saw the skeleton army had gone completely still, my friends cheering in victory.

I turned once again only to see Calarook back on his feet. “Nice try, young one,” a grin filled with evil spread across his face, “but you haven’t gotten rid of me yet.” His image started to morph, growing bigger, his limbs changing. Before I knew what was happening, a black dragon towered above my head, looking down at me with angry yellow eyes.

I pushed the shock away as fast as I could, and raised my sword, ready for the fight of my life.


I started running forward, not registering the call of my name.

...J...ack… Jack...

The voice was steadily growing louder, sounding very familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on it. I tried pushing it away, knowing it must have been Calarook playing mind games with me again-


My eyes shot open and I saw my sister staring at me.

“Your popsicle is melting all over your hand!” She grabbed my arm and held up my hand, which was covered in red stains from the long-forgotten frozen treat.

I blinked, clearing my head of the images I had been picturing before. A smile broke across my face. “Oh. I didn’t even realize. Thanks, haha!” I took a bite out of the half-melted popsicle, my sister sitting next to me again with an over dramatic sigh.

I really have quite the imagination… I need to make sure it doesn’t make me zone out in class like that again by the time school starts in a few months.

© 2021 L Ryder

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