The Castle of Despair
Written by Renee Babin
The wind whipped her black hair around as she soared.
“Come on, Blaze! You can do it!” Blaze, Zoe’s dragon, raced the clear sky with his tongue hanging out like a puppy.
Zoe Nemeth was a wizard that practiced good magic. Zoe flicked the blue streak away from the rest of her black hair, one of the many things that set her apart from the other wizards. Not only that, but her black cape distinguished her as a high status authority; one who had been accepted by the elders. Zoe had impressed them with her agility; her small, nimble-like body made it easy to dodge attacking spells. Zoe laughed, shivering slightly in the sharp wind that made her cape billow around her. Her leather gladiator sandals didn’t help. Underneath her cape, thankfully, Zoe wore a thick black thermal suit-waterproof, and against a small flame, fireproof too.
Zoe stopped mid laugh her forest green eyes widening.
What Zoe saw wasn’t good. A menacing, charcoal-black cloud was hanging ominously over a small house in the middle of the village of Laage. It was unusual because a black cloud could only mean one thing-necromancy, or dark magic, was being practiced. What troubled Zoe was that everyone in Laage practiced only sorcery, and necromancy was prohibited in the area.
“Shhh, Blaze! Land there,” she pointed to a dock “quietly.”
Her jet-black dragon plopped down as quietly as a rhino charging through the underbrush. Zoe jumped off and gave him stern instructions. “Sit.” Blaze sat, shaking houses and making rubble on the ground shift. “Stay.” Her dragon whimpered and its coal colored eyes widened. “I’ll be right back!” Zoe pulled the hood to her ankle length cape on and dashed off towards an ally which was spread throughout the town. As Zoe weaved her way passed houses, she saw the dark cloud spreading rapidly, like a hound after a bone.
Zoe peered into a frosted window, and without being able to see successfully, she wiped her arm across it.
From outside the window, she heard “I-I-I-I don’t know...”
“Do it! It will be better for everyone.” Was that a second voice?
“Why do you want me to practice dark magic anyways?”
The voice replied, suspicious.
“Because it is more powerful and can accomplish more things than good magic. Can you make a buffet dinner for 30 with magic? Can you clean the dishes in a split second with good magic? Can you teleport with good magic?”
Zoe peered through the window and gasped. A man known as Scalandus was convincing the town’s people to practice necromancy. Zoe had read documents about Scalandus and his ancestors (it was her job as a black coat wizard to know everyone in town as well as their backgrounds) and they did not have a good criminal record! Zoe watched, helpless, as Scalandus went from house to house explaining convincing and pressuring people to practice what used to be frowned upon.
Zoe looked into another house, and realized it was her Aunt Zelda’s house!
“No. I won’t practice your silly dark magic, even if it is ‘more powerful’!” Yes! Go Aunt Zelda!
“Well, if you really insist…” Sacaldus whipped out his wand which was vine green with dark lines and a black tip. “Then I will make you!” With a flash of electricity, a spell shot out from his green wand.
NO! Zoe desperately thought for a way to stop him but saw how useless it was. There are different types of wands: cheap brown ones, affordable red ones, and expensive, powerful blue ones like Zoe’s. There are green wands, but she had never seen one in real life, she had only read about them in story books for they were very powerful and very rare. Apparently, Scalandus had one.
Aunt Zelda was the witch of Kellersee cove. If Scalandus got her to practice dark magic, no matter why, he will become all powerful!
“You are the last one I need,” he crackled as he stroked his wand like a pet. Zoe looked up and saw the threatening cloud spreading to her Aunt’s house. “Now I can rule the world!”
Rule? More like drool.
Thunder rumbled in the distance but Zoe ignored it. “The Septor of the Ancients I recovered from my ancestor’s reach can only be activated if everyone in this town practices dark magic. Once the septor is functioning, it will make me ruler of the world!”
“Yes Master.” Aunt Zelda mumbled like a zombie, completely unaware of what the evil man in front of her just said.
“OH!” Zoe yelped. She had just realized something she could to ruin Scalandus’s plan. “What was that?” Scalandus turned his head from her Aunt to the window, walked over and squished his beaky nose against the glass. Underneath the window sill, Zoe sat shivering. “Hmm…” Scalandus opened the window and looked down but saw nothing. “Must have been my imagination.”
Meanwhile, Zoe scuttled to Blaze. “You will not believe it! Scalandus has forced everyone to practice-” Blaze nudged her gently, looking at her with confused eyes as if to say: Calm down! Breathe! “Okay. Scalandus recovered an ancient Septor and he needs everyone in this town to practice dark magic in order to activate it. When it is working properly, it will help him rule the world! He just made Aunt Zelda practice dark magic by putting a spell on her!” Blaze stood up and paced back and forth, worrying. “I need to destroy the Septor before he forces me practice dark magic too! I am the only one left!” Blaze lowered his head to the ground for her to hop on his scaly back.
“Okay. Go to the Castle of Despair near the jagged mountains where Scalandus lives.” Blaze took off into the darkening sky. Please, Zoe pleaded, looking up. I know there is someone up there, and if you can hear me, please help us! Zoe looked ahead and saw the gloomy castle in the distance. Its spikes looked intimidating and the bats around it gave it a movie effect. Blaze flew lower and lower until he landed.
“Go back to town.” Zoe commanded. Blaze’s head drew back in shock. “I don’t want you go get hurt. I will fly back, remember?
I am now officially a black-cape wizard.” Blaze walked over to the cliff they had landed on and looked back questioningly. “I will be alright. See you later!” Blaze took off, flapping his massive wings.
Zoe looked over her shoulder a last time, and began creeping towards the great castle looming over her. She crept around the whole house before making the decision to crawl through an open window. “Wow.” Zoe was not, and would never be ready to see the inside of the house. There were cobwebs and dust everywhere, hinting that Scalandus didn’t take care of his home very well. She took one step and froze. “Darned boards.” With every step she took, the floor creaked. Step… Creak… Step… Creak… Argh!
Zoe ran over to a door that looked like it led into the rest of the house just as the front door slammed.
“I know you’re in here, Zoe Nemeth, black-cape wizard.”
A voice said mockingly. Zoe didn’t even have a chance to turn before Scalandus was right at her side. “Wha-? How-?”
Zoe stuttered the thoughts and questions jumbling in her head.
“I won’t kill you-yet,” Scalandus said with a gleam in his eye.
“I like to play with my prey a little bit first.” Zoe whipped out her wand from its leather sheath hidden in the sleeves of her flowing black cape, her hands shaking knowing that she was no match for the powerful wizard in front of her. “Hahaha! You are so funny, Zoe. Let’s play.” Scalandus pointed his wand at her and a spell came soaring towards her.
“Schild!” Zoe yelled. A shield appeared just in time and instead of hurting Zoe, it destroyed the shield. “Ah. Reflexes. Try this one!” Scalandus threw another spell. “Einfrieren!” he threw a freezing spell at her. In response, she threw a fire ball spell. “Feuer!”
Zoe deflected him.
“You little pest. This has gone on long enough! Scalandus threw a throwback spell and knocked Zoe off her feet. “Folgen.” Zoe was unable to resist following Scalandus to his dungeons because of his follow spell. “Werfin. Throw her in that one. I think the rats aren’t as bad.” Scalandus laughed to a skinny, hunched over wearwolf that looked at her with bulging yellow eyes. Zoe was thrown into a cell and lay there, not moving. “Now, all I have to do is wait for you to die and then the whole town will be under my spell and I will rule the world!” He walked away, his heels clicking against the stone floor.
Zoe struggled to keep her eyes open on the floor of the cold, metal jail cell. I need to stop him! She thought. Zoe closed her eyes.
I need to stop him…
to be continued...
Sam ran towards the library, his white hair and pale skin distinct against the shadowy, black buildings. He looked up to see his cousin’s dragon flying above him, and his face creased up in worry. Earlier that day, he had been walking home from wizardry and witchcraft school when he was stopped by the frantic dragon.
Sam burst through the doors of the library and rung the bell impatiently, tapping his foot as it emitted a sharp 'PING!'
“Isaac!” Sam called, searching for the young man.
“I'm back here! Just putting some books back on the shelves.” Sam heard a faint reply.
“Isaac! Zoe’s dragon is here!” Sam called. Isaac was one of the only people he trusted, and told his secrets to. He had friends at school, but they just wouldn’t understand the things he had problems with, especially like this one.
“What? Zoe’s dragon… which means Zoe’s here too, right?”
Isaac’s worried face came into view from behind a shelf.
“No! I don’t know where she is, but she must be in big trouble if her dragon left her! I’m going over to Laage to find out what’s wrong.”
“Okay. I’ll tell your parents. You go and find out what’s wrong. Keep in touch with Wave Wand!” Isaac hurried over to his large, mahogany desk and began searching for his keys.
“Okay! I’ll video you as soon as I find her!” Sam replied, jogging out the door and returning to his cousin's dragon, Blaze.
Sam grabbed onto one of Blaze’s many scales as the dragon ran and jumped up into the air. His powerful wings strained as they pulled them higher into the warm twilight. Sam looked back to see Isaac pushing his thick glasses up his short nose, and dropping books all over the sidewalk in his haste to leave.
“C’mon, Blaze!” Sam urged the black dragon. He was anxious, trying to figure out why Zoe, his cousin, had abandoned her dragon. She was a Black Cape wizard – a high status of authority in the wizard world. She would never get in trouble for practicing necromancy, or dark magic.
“I hope she...” Sam didn’t finish the thought, his words lost in the roar of wind as they soared through the clouds. Blaze was getting ready to land, out stretching his sharp, curved claws.
Blaze hit the ground at full speed, making Sam cut himself on one of Blaze’s scales.
“I see Zoe hasn’t trained you any better than last year…”
Sam grumbled as he put his hand to his mouth to stop the bleeding. Noticing he couldn't hear anything, Sam looked at Blaze, giving him a confused glance.
“Where is everybody?” Sam looked around at the usually busy port. There was a black cloud hovering above the houses in the town. Suddenly, a person appeared in front of an ally way, engulfed by shadows of the small town.
“Excuse me?” Sam peered, trying to see a face. The person walked out and he smiled slightly, trying to sound welcoming.
“Hello.” Sam recognized the face instantly as the person stepped into the dying light of the sun.
“Aunt Zelda!” Sam ran over to hug her. She felt oddly cold and hard, like a dead body that had been in a grave. “Are you well?”
He asked, concerned. He began to feel a dark sinking feeling in his stomach. What was going on?
“I am fine. What are you doing here? You should leave immediately.” She muttered lowly, her face twisting into a malicious snarl.
“What? I’m not leaving. Aunt Z - “ Suddenly, she lunged for him, her regularly grey eyes turning a dark red color.
“ARGH!" Sam pulled out of her tight grip and raced towards Blaze, eyes alight with fear.
“Come back here, boy!” The woman charged towards him, gaining speed at an unnatural rate. Her hands curved, almost claw-like.
Sam panicked, searching for an escape. Noticing his only way out, Sam vaulted off a crate and landed on top of the dragon just as he took off.
“Where’s Zoe? Take me to Zoe!” Sam questioned Blaze furiously, still staring apprehensively at Aunt Zelda. Apparently, Blaze knew where Zoe was because he took off in the night sky.
After a few minutes of flying in high altitudes, Sam saw it.
“Woah….” Sam stared, awestruck at the giant castle looming above him on an island. It was very tall, and it looked like a shadow next to the moon. Towers branched off of different parts of the building, giving it a gangly, almost delicate appearance.
Blaze dipped and landed next to a big tree.
“Is this where Zoe is, Blaze?” Sam looked around him at the scene. Zoe must be inside, needing help!
“I’ll be right back, Blaze. I’m going to get Zoe. Stay here.”
Sam started walking and felt the earth shake underneath him at every step. He turned around to see Blaze’s eyes gazing into his with a terrified expression.
“It’s okay. I will come back, I promise.” Sam patted the black dragon’s head in comfort. Blaze sat down and sighed, but obeyed him.
Sam went up to the door and rang it, seeing as the door was locked and there were no other entrance points on this side.
Just as he was about to go around the back, someone answered the door.
“Hello?” A tall, skinny man with a crow like nose answered the door.
“Hello. I was… uh... wondering if I could ask you a few questions for… um… school.” Sam improvised.
Suddenly, a pain, as sharp as a knife shot through his head.
Sam? He heard a voice in his head. SAM! Sam froze. He was getting a Thought Message, a quick way for Wizards to communicate. Sam quickly stopped thinking of anything and stood still, so the person couldn’t hack into his thoughts.
Sam! Stop blocking me! It’s Zoe!
“Is anything the matter?” The man asked, his beady eyes looking at him suspiciously.
“um… I.. uh…” Sam studdered.
Sam! The voice sounded weak and faint. Get inside the castle. Steal the sceptre. I am - Zoe’s voice stopped suddenly, Sam listened hard, trying to capture her voice again.
“May I come in?” Sam asked pleasantly. “It’s very cold out here.”
“Why of course.” The old man smiled as if it hurt him to do so.
Sam walked inside and immediately felt uncomfortable.
There were cobwebs everywhere and dust an inch thick on the furniture. Sam sneezed.
“You may call me Scalandus.”
“Thank you for letting me in, Mr. Scalandus, sir.”
Sam looked around, trying to find where Zoe was.
Zoe!! He ‘projected’ with his mind. No reply.
“May I have some water?” Sam asked.
“Just a moment please. You may sit here on the couch and warm up by the fire until you are warm enough to be on your way.”
His wrinkled old face turned and seemed annoyed.
As the man left, Sam dashed to the stairs and took them two by two.
Zoe? He Thought Messaged.
Sam looked in every room upstairs and couldn’t find her.
He ran back downstairs and looked for more stairs.
“If you’re looking for the dungeon where your cousin was kept, it’s over here.” A young man stepped out from the stairs going down, holding a wand pointed at Zoe.
“Isaac! Why are you here? I thought you were going to tell my parents I had gone to help Zoe.” Sam thought back to when he told Isaac that he was going to find Zoe.
“After you told me you were going to find your very powerful wizard relative, I immediately made a call and told Scalandus you were coming with that dragon.” He spat. Sam stared with horror at his so-called friend. He had betrayed him! All those secrets and problems, they had been a waste. Isaac was a traitor, and Sam didn't even realize.
Sam racked his brain for what he could do, sorrow in his eyes as he calculated his next move.
“Sie Vergessen!” Sam pointed his hands at Isaac and a spell shot towards the librarian.
“Ah!” Isaac screamed and then suddenly looked confused.
“Where am I? And... Who are you?”
“Oh, here’s the door sir.” Zoe pulled the thoughtless man to the door. Sam sighed with relief, noticing that she had been in the cell behind himself. “You were just leaving to go…”
“Join the circus!” Sam interjected.
“Well, thank you. I’ll just be on my way.” Isaac walked off.
“Come on, Zoe!”
Sam tugged his cousin's sleeve, pulling her towards the outside. They raced through the house, and jumped onto the big dragon, who was already prepared to fly into the air.
“Help!” Zoe cried out, and Sam felt his fingers slip. Zoe's sleeve was lost from his grasp, as another person yanked her back towards the castle.
“Aunt Zelda!” Sam yelped. Her eyes were glowing and her grip was getting ever tighter on Zoe’s arm.
“Stop!” Zoe cried. “You’re hurting me!”
“What do you want?” Sam said.
“The sceptre. Give it to me. NOW!” Zelda roared.
Thunder rolled across the sky, lightning following, lighting up the atmosphere with a harsh yellow glow.
“Sam! You found the sceptre? Destroy it! It’s causing her this trance!” Zoe screamed, tears in her eyes as she fought to pull her arm away.
Sam grabbed the sceptre he found in a room and smashed it onto the ground. Shards of glass exploded everywhere, and the air was filled with a red flash.
“Whats going on?” The witch looked around, confused, as the red flash does away.
Zoe rubbed her arm where a bruise was forming, and crescent shaped nail marks were red and sore.
“You were under a spell that caused you to turn evil.”
Zoe explained, still rubbing her arm.
"Me? Turn e-" Zelda's reply was cut off by a new voice that sent chills down the three wizards' backs.
"Why hello there," rasped Scandalus, trailing his pointed wand along his fingertips. "So sad we have to end like this."
"What do you mean?" whispered Zoe, her voice trembling.
Scandalus let out a sharp bark of laughter.
"Prepare to die."
to be continued...