There are dozens of characters in The Camelot Kids. The loyal pet goldfish, Mr. Boo, who was given a mechanical body so he could take over as manager of Merlin’s shoppe (he’s good with people). Hector, the chauffeur with a secret that will shock Simon out of his socks. Uncle Victor, the man with an agenda…dozens of characters!
But Rukkush… Rukkush is awwwwwesoooooome.
You may have seen some of the tiny peeks at Rukkush that I’ve been doling out. You know the ads and banners like the one at the top of this post — with the peacock-looking eyes staring back at you?
Yeah, that’s Rukkush. And here he is…
Rukkush is not on Merlin’s side. As you’ll see in this excerpt, he’s on a mission to take the old wizard out. Frankly, his beef appears to be justified… oh, just read the excerpt and you’ll see for yourself.
The set-up: Simon visits the old home of Lancelot – a small stone hut on the corner of New Camelot. The door hasn’t been opened in 1000 years. A crowd of curious citizens has just watched him open the dusty, creaky door. Now, Simon inspects the interior. It’s cold, damp and creepy and… well, read on…
Excerpt from The Camelot Kids
What happened next was a blur of sounds and pain. Simon tried to pull his hand away. At the same time, Russ and Josh hollered and pulled him to the ground. There was a flash of red light and a loud slam, like a heavy door being kicked closed.
Simon was on the floor, the two guards on top of him. The room would have been pitch black if it weren’t for Maille. She was standing at the shut door with her glowing red wand raised. She pointed it at someone behind Simon, but he couldn’t see whom as his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“It’s about time you showed up,” came a crackling voice from the shadows.
“Come out where we can see you,” Maille snarled. “I’m warning you, I know how to use this!” She lifted her bat-wand higher. The red light near the tip began swirling. It was an impressive sight to Simon. But the stranger chuckled. It was a dry laugh, disdainful. Simon sat up, trying to see his attacker.
“I’m sure you do, girl. But I know how to use mine too.”
And with that, a tall, thin man emerged from the darkness. His skin was wrinkly white, and his eyes were hollow, devoid of life. Long, stringy hair, like straw, ran down his back and shoulders. His fingernails were as long as the fingers they grew from. He wore leather armor that creaked and scraped as he moved closer. The man opened his mouth and an empty smile crept across it.
“I’d imagine I’m not looking very well, after a thousand years in this pig sty.”
Russ and Josh had their small blades drawn and ready. Simon felt naked without a weapon, but found the courage to speak.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Rukkush. Apprentice and prisoner of Merlin.”
Maille hesitated. Rukkush let his grin get broader. “I’m Merlin’s apprentice,” she finally said.
“Ah. He’s taking girls now. He must be getting desperate on the other side of that door. Well, then, you are his prisoner as well.”
“Are you saying Merlin locked you in here?” Maille asked.
“Indeed. Who else would have the power to do so? I’ve been sitting in that chair right there for the last hundred years, by my count. I lay in the bed for three hundred years before that. I’m afraid Lancelot was not a big reader, so I haven’t had even the smallest of comforts to tide me over. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had visitors who ended up being a figment of my imagination. Perhaps you are only in my head, too. I’m a bit mad, as I’m sure you’ll understand. Not to mention betrayed.”
His smile disappeared and a chill swept the room. He raised a twisted, rotting wand of his own. Maille unleashed a ball of light like the one she’d used on Caradoc. But it was instantly doused like a raindrop in an inferno. Rukkush’s arms swept forward and Maille was thrown against the door.
“That wasn’t very nice, was it, Russ?” Josh said, as Maille let out a moan.
“Not at all, Josh.”
“All right then. In Lancelot’s name!”
And with that, the two boys ran at the ghoul with their swords raised. But Rukkush made quick work of Josh, throwing him against the exact same spot he’d thrown Maille, as if it were target practice.
Russ slipped through and managed to cut their attacker’s chin with the tip of his blade. There was an awkward silence as Rukkush glared at the boy.
Russ swallowed hard. “Oh, there’s hell to pay now, isn’t there?” In a split second, the third of the three kids lay unconscious near the door.
Rukkush poked at his wound and examined the dark blood. “Ah, excellent. Blood. I suppose this is actually happening then. Exciting. Now, we have some time alone before one of Merlin’s brutes breaks through that door…”
Rukkush began to wander around the room. He seemed deep in thought.
“Why is it,” he finally asked, “that Merlin allowed you through this door, when he knows I’m in here waiting for revenge?”
Simon wasn’t going to answer. He sensed he was being pulled into a trap. The way Rukkush was pacing, keeping his distance, and smirking made Simon suspect something else was going on.
“So it’s silence, is it? Fine. That will do. Let me tell you then, so you don’t need to guess. This is the first of many tests for you boy. He’s told you of your bloodline, I’m sure. No need to answer. I know it to be true. Yes, he’s told you of your bloodline and, in so doing, he’s given you a half-truth. That’s more than I ever got from him, so be thankful.” He chuckled, but there was no mirth in it.
“He threw you into this particular arena because you’re tied to a future he believes will unfold no matter what happens here. And, of course, because he does not want to face his past.” Rukkush sighed. “But now that you are here, my long wait is over.”
There was a loud pounding on the door. Rukkush swiftly walked up to Simon and took his chin in his hand. He leaned in so close that his breath covered Simon’s face.
It smelled like nothing.
“Seek the truth, boy, and be prepared to die for it.” The door blew off its hinges, bathing the room in sunlight.
Rukkush turned to dust in an instant.
With that, Simon’s vision went blurry. His knees gave out and he fell to the floor. Silhouetted figures rushed at him. He felt someone lift his head into their lap.
His last thought before he passed out was, “I’m not comfortable in this bedroom.”
You can buy The Camelot Kids: Book One now!
Red is… complex.
From the moment he and Simon meet in The Camelot Kids, they hit it off, notwithstanding some awkward moments.
Indeed, Red is the only person who even tries to get to know Simon when he first arrives in Graham Academy, a private school near his Uncle Victor’s home.
But Red also appears to be a fearful kid.
He scampers away at odd times. He talks to himself a lot. Simon, always one to stick with a friend, doesn’t think much of it.
But he should trust his gut more…
Here’s the set up for the following scene from The Camelot Kids: Simon’s first day in his new school, Graham Academy, is not going well. He’s late for everything. He’s already a gossip magnet, and no one will look at him much less talk to him. Except for one girl, Gwen. She helps him find his next class just in time.
Simon does his best to get her attention throughout the class, but she just joins the rest of her classmates in ignoring him. Little does he know, Simon is on the verge of a friendship that will change his life forever…
Excerpt from The Camelot Kids
As he gathered his books, he noticed a small boy with pitch-black hair, and the reddest ears he’d ever seen, sitting at a desk near the back of the class room. It was the kind of red you see in candy stores and comic books. The boy gave him a look as if he were sizing him up for a fight. But that was ridiculous. The kid was so small that a fight with a kitten could go either way.
“Hi,” Simon said.
“Her name is Gwen and you might as well give up now.” The kid spoke in a high, squeaky voice with a heavy Scottish accent.
“The girl you were dancing in yer chair to see all class long. You should be careful. That’s the kind of thing kids look for in this class so’s they can use it against you later.”
“Kind of like you’re doing now.
“Kinda, yeah. I’m James. But people call me Red.”
“Do you like being called Red?”
Red squinted. Simon worried that he’d gone too far, too fast. He tended to do that with people sometimes. What business was it of his what this guy called himself?
“Never really thought about it,” Red finally said. “I guess not. But I’m used to it, so call me Red.” Simon didn’t have much left, but he gave his best smile.
“Good to meet you. I’m…”
“Simon, yeah. The guy who took the heat off me. Now that yer here they can start dumping you head-down in the garbage pails and leave me alone.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Simon wondered how much a ticket back to New York would cost.
“If you want to get out of here with some sense of dignity you better not go through the front door of the school.”
“But that’s where my ride home is.”
“I’m just sayin’. Do what you wanna. It’s not like I’d know anything about it, being that I’ve found a way to survive here for two years.”
“Sorry. It’s a long walk home, though.”
“Where you live?”
“Falcon Castle.” Red’s ears glowed purple. His eyes got wide and even teared up a little. “What’s wrong?”
“I didn’t realize you were that Sharp family. His castle is bad news, friend. Everything I heard is that it’s haunted at best and filled with maniacs and monsters at worst. I’d rather sleep in the forest, if you ask me.”
“Nah, it’s just my uncle’s place. He has a bunch of dogs, is all.”
“That’s what you think they are? You ever seen one of these supposed dogs?” Now that Simon thought about it, he hadn’t. He’d thought he’d seen a dog in the room with the weapons, but it was too dark to see. It had sure sounded like a dog. What else could it be? “My allowance is on them being not-dogs.”
“Then what are they?”
“You tell me,” Red shrugged. “Yer the one living there.” He started to unwrap a candy bar and munch on it as he passed by Simon. “I’ll show you the safe way out of here if you wanna know.”
Simon sighed and followed. Red walked close to the wall as they wove through the halls. He peered around corners before he turned them. Finally, after a lot of sideways glances from other students, they passed through a small door to the outside. Simon stuck close as Red worked his way down a steep hill. They didn’t stop until they’d entered a thick forest behind the academy. The sun made barely a dent here, with large dark shadows giving way to weak rays of white light. Simon had the sense the ground beneath their feet wasn’t all that solid, as if jumping up and down would send them falling into an abyss.
Red started to work his way through the trees. “No one comes back here except people who are running from something.”
“Yeah, I can see why. How can you even tell where you’re going?”
“Oh. Great,” Simon said.
“Relax, Wendy Worrywart! We’ll use the trees when we need ’em. I climb like a spider!” Red struck a pose like a tiny, dippy Spider-Man.
They worked their way through the shin-grabbing brambles and found a trail. In the distance, Simon could make out the school’s front entrance where Hector’s car was parked, waiting for him. The red-haired jerk was hiding behind a shed, probably waiting for Simon to emerge from the school.
“His name’s Chester,” Red muttered. “Second meanest person in town behind his mother. His goons are the dumbest ones in class, which also means they’re the strongest around here.”
“Best of the worst.”
“Exactly. You know the type, I guess.”
Simon thought of Billy, back in New York. He wondered how he was holding up. Hopefully he wasn’t on Brad’s radar. “Yeah. We have them in New York too. But I mostly found ways to avoid them.”
“Now you have to start all over again, huh?”
Red sure was a bundle of fun.
Simon’s new friend climbed tree after tree to keep an eye on the overgrown path. They barely spoke for the entire trek, which left Simon some time to think about how ridiculous it was that he’d somehow escaped St. Mary’s for good, and yet there he was, tearing up his knees on Scottish thorns just to avoid another bully. Was he any better off here? The fact that he didn’t know the answer worried him. Should he start thinking about how to break out on his own?
After an hour, they started a descent into a small valley. Simon spotted Falcon Castle peeking over a nearby hill.
That’s when he got that feeling again. The one he’d had in New York so many times before.
Like the Gates of Weird had been thrown open.
Red seemed jumpy all of a sudden. He licked his lips like a lizard and didn’t blink. They pushed their way out of the trees, and stopped at the edge of a road.
Abruptly, Red backed up.
He tripped on a rock and fell on his butt. “I’m not getting any closer!” He shook his head, frantically.
Simon wasn’t sure what the outburst was all about. It wasn’t as if he were going to force Red to come along.
“Okay, sure, no problem. You okay?”
But Red just stared at him.
“Uh, so see you tomorrow…”
Red watched from the ground as Simon walked off. When Simon looked back he was gone.
So there he was, alone on the road, with the light fading. It was too quiet for his comfort. A bird sang on occasion, but that was it. As he got closer to the castle he realized that he might have a hard time getting past the estate gate since he wasn’t with Hector. But he’d figure something out. He always did.
Simon took a moment to admire the nearby grounds. The area was beautiful, but still. Nothing moved in the green of the ground or the vast gray sky. It was as if the entire world was doing its best to not disturb his uncle.
As he climbed the steep road to the gated entrance, he could feel eyes on him. He had company. He was sure of it. He took a deep, fortifying breath and turned fast. A dark figure stood on the road, around twenty yards away.
Simon backed up a couple of steps.
The person ran toward him.
It was Maille, the girl from the airport. She held a baseball bat in one hand. It glowed bright orange as she raised it over her head.
Welcome to today’s peek into the world of The Camelot Kids!
Today’s sneak peek at Russ and Josh has a special place in my heart. The boys are best friends, always together and always, well, blabbing. Between the two of them there isn’t a discussion unturned. If they’re not trying to get to the bottom of why cats don’t respond to whistles then they’re devising ways to test their theory that melted chocolate will flow just fine through the park fountain.
Here’s an excerpt from a scene with Josh and Russ, best friends to each other and loyal buddies to Simon.
The set-up: Simon has just had a disastrous first day in New Camelot. Day two isn’t shaping up to be much better, until he gets to know some of the other boys.
Simon woke to the sounds of rattling steel and heavy boots stomping out the door.
“What’s going…” he said, half-asleep. The darkness of the room was barely interrupted by the moonlight that crept through the high, slim windows of Wellwoven.
“Been trying to wake you for five minutes, sir,” Russ said, as he followed Josh out the door. “Better not be late again. Hector doesn’t like us making the same mistake twice.”
“Thanks,” Simon said. He threw on his armor as best he could, but it wasn’t so natural to him as it was to the others. He ended up running after the second-to-last last boy out, still rearranging some straps that, for the life of him, he couldn’t find a use for.
He followed the flow of kids down the hallway until the sound from the waterfall surrounded them. But before they reached Tapper, the boys and girls turned left to walk down a set of wide stairs. Everyone filed into a large circular dining hall.
Simon had never seen anything like it.
Large posts reached high to the arched ceiling, which was buttressed by equally massive beams. They must have been made from the biggest trees ever, Simon thought. Fireplaces burned the chill out of all four corners of the hall, casting a warm glow over everyone seated at the table.
And the table! It was the most impressive of all— a single giant, round surface with dozens of slightly curved benches around it, most filled with kids talking with their mouths full of breakfast. Along the walls were several arched windows, lined with ivy. They framed the grounds outside and the mountains in the distance. The first sign of the sun poked up behind them. It was going to be a beautiful morning.
Dozens of castle employees scrambled about, keeping the plates piled high with bacon and the cups filled to the top with juice. One lady kept the staff motivated, barking out polite but firm orders like, “Section 8 is drowning in eggs, while 6 hasn’t even smelled them yet, dear!” The servers bowed slightly as they passed her. She was an impressive woman, three hundred pounds if she was an ounce. Her face was kind but her eyes had a focus to them that kept everyone on their toes. She saw Simon staring at her and gave him a nod and a smile.
He spotted Russ and Josh waving at him. He waved back, which seemed to get a lot of attention, because the chatter began to quiet down. The boys and girls stared at him, some whispering. Simon felt like turning around and going back to bed, but he forced himself to step forward. The floor was smooth cobblestone that clicked under his boots. By step number three, it was the only sound in the hall. He slipped into a spot on Josh’s and Russ’ bench as fast as he could. He smiled and shrugged, not sure what to say.
“Well that was awkward,” Josh said. Simon laughed and some other boys joined in.
They enjoyed some succulent dishes, quiet conversation, and the view of the mountains. No one nearby was showing contempt for Simon so far. In fact, Russ and Josh were joined by some other kids who went out of their way to include him in the conversation.
“Nellie was pretty as a pie, you ask me. I don’t know what she sees in that doofus,” said a fair-skinned, slightly unhealthy looking boy. “He didn’t even pay attention to her the whole time.” The most life he had in his face was in his eyes, which were trying to get a look at this Nellie, who sat across the hall.
“Ooooo. Sam is smitten with a new girl today,” Josh teased him. He leaned in close to Simon and whispered, “He falls for a new one every week.”
“Cut it out, Josh,” Sam said, getting some much-needed color in his face.
“A true romantic,” said Russ. Some of the guys laughed, their mouths full of buttery bread and bacon.
“A true moron,” came a deep voice from farther down the table. Simon remembered the speaker as one of the large boys who had helped Gawain to his feet after the fight the day before.
The nearby kids dipped their heads down. They didn’t want trouble. Simon would have done the same a few days ago, but not here. He’d have none of that here.
“Who are you?” Simon asked curtly.
“I’m your worst nightmare,” the kid mumbled to his friends. The posse laughed. Simon noticed that Gawain was in the middle of them, but he wasn’t acknowledging the conversation at all. He just kept eating his porridge.
“I guess I’ll call you Mumbler, then,” Simon said, not sure where he was getting the courage to stand up to this guy.
All the big kids lost their grins, glanced at each other and nodded their heads.
They stood up quickly, in perfect unison. The backs of their legs knocked the long bench over. All the other boys on the bench, including Simon, were on their backs in a split second.
Gawain was standing along with the other big kids, but he’d grabbed his plate and was still eating from it as if nothing were happening.
Simon was about to sit up when a foot came down on his chest. It was Mumbler, who appeared very self-satisfied. The back of Simon’s head hit the stone floor. The big kid removed an armored glove from his hand and was about to slap Simon with it when Gawain snagged his wrist.
“We play fair around here,” Gawain said. Mumbler jerked his arm away and put his glove back on. Gawain leaned into Simon’s field of vision. “At least some of us do.”
The posse walked through the door to the grounds outside, laughing and giving Mumbler pats on the back. Gawain lifted the bench back into place and sat down by himself to work on a new bowl of porridge.
Russ grabbed one of Simon’s hands and Josh took the other. They pulled him up. All of them stared at their plates of tasty food.
“The Mumbler is Eric,” Russ said softly, probably wanting to break the humiliating silence. “He fancies himself Gawain’s righthand man. That would make him second in command among us trainees.” Russ glanced over at Gawain, who still ate as if he’d just been introduced to food, then whispered. “No one’s sure if Gawain even likes him, though.”
“You could have taken him if he hadn’t cheated.” Sam was jiggling his left knee nervously.
“There’s no such thing as cheating,” Simon said. The words came to him automatically. “The enemy will win any way he can. That means you have to think like him. As long as you’re on the right side of things, that’ll guide you.”
The boys didn’t know what to say for a moment. Even Simon pondered what he’d said, as if someone else had spoken with his voice.
Then Russ asked, “So being right is the only thing that separates us from the enemy?”
Simon was surprised at all the eyes on him. “I don’t know about that, but I lost because I didn’t act on stuff I knew.”
“Like what?” Josh asked.
“Like he’s bigger than me and that all his friends are bigger than me. I knew he didn’t like me from the second I saw him, so I was a target. Me and everyone I’m with. I knew the only thing that bound me to him in any way, actually, was the seat we sat on. It was a weapon he could use against me.” The boys nodded. “The thing that surprises me is that he had the move coordinated with the other guys.”
“Yeah, they pull that trick sometimes,” Russ said. “But usually without provocation.”
“I know the type.” Simon said.
If you think you know Merlin, it may be time to meet The Camelot Kids’ Merlin.
He’s a hair over 7-feet-tall.
His torso pushes 4-feet-wide.
He’s 3276 years old.
He’s not a people person.
Merlin’s love of England is the force behind his immortality. He won’t rest until the prophecy of King Arthur‘s return comes to pass. Now, as he senses danger surrounding his beloved New Camelot, Merlin gathers the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table. But since when was an army of teenagers a good idea? Merlin has defeated dark wizards, angry elves and dragons 145X his size. But can he handle The Camelot kids?
In this excerpt, Simon is on his butt, with his head between his knees. He’s been training with the notorious knight Hexter all morning and he feels like hurling. But when he raises his eyes he finds that the training arena is empty. A moment ago, it was teeming with teenagers, onlookers and about two dozen talky chickens.
Excerpt from The Camelot Kids
Simon stood quickly and lifted his training sword in front of him. He turned in circles for a moment, watching out for any movement. He had a sense that things weren’t right. Something dangerous was nearby.
“Who’s there?” He felt silly for talking to no one. It was probably teatime or something, and he’d passed out and missed everyone leaving. He imagined that they’d stepped over his unconscious body, laughing.
Merlin’s humongous shape emerged from the castle’s shadows. His stick click-clacked on the cobblestones.
“Put that thing down before you hurt yourself,” the wizard said.
Simon lowered his sword, but his instincts told him not to. Ever since the sword fight, when his muscles had done things they’d never done before, Simon felt heavy, wary. He saw the world as one big adversary.
“Where did everyone go?”
“Oh, I sent them home. It’s a clever little trick I picked up in India.” Merlin’s eyes lit up. Simon could almost hear the smile in the old man’s words. “You did well today.”
“Yeah. I was real chivalrous.”
“What’s wrong with you?” In an instant, Merlin had turned combative again.
“Nothing… My dad once said that praise from Merlin had a price.”
Merlin chuckled. Simon’s gut relaxed a little. The wizard put his hand on Simon’s shoulder and led him out of the courtyard.
“I do have a reputation for getting my way. But let me give you some context, Simon. I’m several thousand years old. That requires a strong body and a strong mind. It would be very easy to go mad after all I’ve seen.”
They stepped into the castle and Merlin grabbed a torch from the wall. “Actually, I have gone mad a couple of times.” His voice softened. “But one thing always pulls me out of the darkness. One thing keeps me focused and strong. Did your father tell you what that is?”
Merlin stopped abruptly and looked at the wall, up and down.
“Do you have a chainsaw?” he asked Simon.
“Um, not on me.”
“Bother.” The wizard furrowed his brow. He raised his staff, held it sideways and shook it. Suddenly, Merlin was trying to stay on his feet as the weight of his walking stick threw him off balance. Except it wasn’t a staff in his hand anymore. It was a chainsaw.
Without a word, the old man lifted the huge thing, yanked on the cord and revved it up. The explosive sound of the tool forced Simon to cover his ears. Merlin shoved the saw into the stone wall.
Except it wasn’t stone.
It looked like stone, but the surface splintered like wood, white chips flying everywhere. Merlin laughed, maniacally, as he carved out a door shape. The whole scene made Simon want to run to his bed and hide under the covers.
Merlin stepped back, turned off the chainsaw and handed it to Simon, who immediately dropped it because of its weight. The wizard stood still in the uncomfortable silence, looking at the large rectangle cut he’d made. His hair was a wispy mess, long strands of it falling over his face and sticking straight up.
Then the rectangle fell down into the hall with a thud.
“The door has moved since I last used it,” he said, as if that would explain everything. Merlin slipped into the hole he’d made in the wall and gestured for Simon to hand him his saw back.
Except it was a staff again.
“Thank you,” Merlin said in a way that made it very clear that he was enjoying Simon’s exasperation.
They took a step into a narrow spiral stairwell that curved down into darkness.
“As I was saying. The one thing that keeps me focused and strong is Camelot. My home. It has deserved better for more than a thousand years and now, in the midst of great danger, its time has come.”
“What danger?” Simon asked. But Merlin didn’t answer. “Where are you taking me?”
“To the dungeons. Should be fun.”
That didn’t calm his nerves any. “What’s down there?”
“Someone who is the key to finding our enemy’s weakness.”
“He’s a weird one, though,” came a girl’s voice from behind Simon, startling him. It was Maille.
“Don’t do that!” Simon barked.
“What? What’d I do?” Maille shrugged her shoulders.
“You snuck up on me!”
“I’ve been here the whole time, excuse me very much.” But her cocky smirk gave her away.
“Enough bickering!” Merlin barked. “We don’t want the prisoner to hear. It would give him an edge we can’t afford.” When they hit the bottom of the stairwell, Merlin lit a wall of torches with one wave of his walking stick. They passed empty cells that Simon would not have wished on an enemy, of which he had a number, growing by the hour.
At the end of the long, stone hall was a cell with a small flame’s light flickering through its bars.
The prisoner was hard to see, just a slight figure in the corner, whimpering like a caged animal.
Simon recognized him immediately.
And check out these previous character introductions:
Caradoc the troll
Welcome to the latest peek at a character from The Camelot Kids. If you missed the Maille Rose peek, check it out.
Caradoc may look like something out of a nightmare, but… well, who am I kidding, he IS something out of a nightmare!
But the troll is complex. He’s one puzzle after another. When we first meet him, he’s as mean as he is ugly. But as Simon gets to know him, he spots a pleasing trait or two.
In the following scene, Maille Rose, Simon and Caradoc are searching New Camelot for some missing gold. They suspect two mischievous faeries have teamed up and hidden the gold in the town’s granary. Their suspicions are correct.
But they’ve forgotten one important thing. It’s Friday. And Rule #2 in the “Care of Faeries Handbook” clearly states:
Don’t let a faerie meet a faerie on Fridays.
Enjoy this excerpt from The Camelot Kids!
Caradoc slipped in the key and opened the door. Torches on the wall lit up slowly as they entered. Simon found himself in a huge cave, packed with grain.
“This feeds the whole city year round,” Maille explained. “Let’s hope that floating rodent didn’t do anything to our food supply. Okay, start looking.” Maille walked into the grain piles and started sifting through with her hands. Caradoc and Simon looked at each other. Maille glanced over her shoulder and rolled her eyes.
“For the gold! It probably hid the stash in here somewhere. The vents in the roof are meant to aerate the grain, but I bet they make it really easy to smell gold from a long ways away, too.”
“We have to find the gold under all of this?” Simon asked.
“Unless you have a better idea,” she answered, readying herself for a new argument with Simon.
“Can’t you use, like, I don’t know, a spell or something?” Simon plead.
“A grain-moving spell? Oh, sure! That’s magic 101!”
“Fabulous!” Caradoc smiled and clapped his hands together.
“She’s being sarcastic, Caradoc,” Simon said. He started digging.
“Wait a minute,” Maille muttered. Her eyes darted around the cave. She smirked. “I could try something. Stand back, guys. Way, way back. This might get ugly.” Simon and the troll stood behind her. “If anyone else is in here with us, you’d better show yourself now or you’ll be getting much smaller in about ten seconds!” This made Simon and Caradoc back up a little more.
Maille didn’t move for a moment. Then she started to breathe heavily, pulled out her bat-wand and uttered the ugliest words Simon had ever heard.
A red haze shot out from her wand and covered the mounds of grain. Slowly, the piles began to peel away. As more grain moved, the cavern filled with an excruciatingly loud sound, like a billion locusts swarming down on them. The top two feet of grain slid across the room and rested against the far wall. Finally, the grain settled and the sound died down.
Maille was winded. She sat and put her head between her legs.
“What was that?” Simon asked, stunned.
“The Peeler. It’s meant to skin dead animals. Figured I’d give it a shot.”
“Splendid!” Caradoc shouted. They glanced up to see if the spell had yielded anything.
Indeed, across the cave was a single point of golden light flickering in the torchlight. But before they could take a step, two færies swept down from the shadows, blocking their way.
“Outta the way, ya varmints!” Caradoc roared. When the faeries just hovered there, getting uglier by the second, Caradoc’s angry face turned into Caradoc’s really worried face. “What day is it?” Caradoc asked, quietly.
“Friday,” Maille and Simon said together.
“Uh-oh,” all three muttered.
And right in front of their eyes the two færies bleated something and went at each other with a viciousness that would have done cats proud. The two disappeared into the grain with a thud. Then there was silence.
Caradoc and Maille started to back away. “Where are you going?” Simon said. “They took each other out! The coast is clear.”
“Simon! Back away!” Caradoc hollered.
Out of the grain emerged a much larger færie. More specifically, it was the two færies melded together. It had four eyes and four wings, though they were quickly becoming one big, revolting monstrosity. The four eyes became two and the creature shrieked in pain, swelling, mutating with every second that passed.
The party of three were almost backed up to the door when a roar of anger filled the cave. The faerie was only around five feet tall, but equally wide. Its gigantic fangs made Caradoc squeak in fright.
Then it came for them.
Maille reached for her wand but Simon knew she’d be too slow to match its speed. At a full sprint, he grabbed the bat from her hand, twirled on his feet and swung with all his might.
The færie flew back as fast as it had sprung forward and hit the far wall hard. It lay still. Within seconds it had transformed into two pixies again. They were sprawled over each other, out cold.
“Home run!” Maille yelled, arms raised. Caradoc started running for the door again. “Caradoc, where are you going?”
“You told us to run home!” Maille and Simon laughed.
“It’s a baseball term,” Maille said, twirling her bat.
Caradoc tried to chuckle but he didn’t think it was funny.
“You grab my bat again and I turn you into a booger,” Maille said to Simon, with a wink.
The troll slowly approached the shiny object jutting out of the grain. He felt the edges of a large golden box and heaved it up as if it were cardboard. Opening it revealed a messy pile of golden leaves.
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