“I’ve got the firewood, Quirin,” Gretel
shouted, dropping the wood in a pile on the ground. “Quirin? Sindri, where
did Quirin go?”
Sindri sat under a tiboloth tree reading a book. It’s long, ropey branches
hung down to the top of her head. Tangerine orange flowers, perfumey and
sweet popped up among the blue-green leaves. “Oh, yes, dear, he asked me
to tell you to run ahead and find him. He wants to see that building you
told him about. Go on and look for him. He’s not gone far.”
Gretel picked up the small branches and sticks she’d gathered and carried
them with her. She saw Quirin standing in the middle of the bridge,
looking out on the Pimbo River. The tide was out, leaving puddles and a
lot of seagulls and sandpipers hunting for crabs and periwinkles. “Are you
going to sleep on the bridge with me tonight?” Gretel said, surprising the
“Gretel, there is something wrong. It feels as though a life force has
left the island. I fear someone’s hurt back at Luba and I fear it is
Gordinth.” Gretel didn’t speak, but stood in silence next to the man,
looking at the setting sun reflecting off the puddled water. The incoming
tide brought enough to cover the muddy bottom. She didn’t know what to say
to him. A few minutes later she picked up her wood bundle, looked around
for the place she wanted to spend the night and dropped the pile. She kept
herself busy building the fire, sensing Quirin’s need to be alone.
After the fire burned bright and flickered in the kisses of the gentle
breeze, he came and sat down next to her. “Gretel, we need to hurry and
get the dragons. While I sense something wrong, I also sense a new
beginning, a new strength…a new wizard. Are you ready to show me this
She jumped up and reached for his hand. Together they walked across the
bridge and over to the other side of the river. About a hundred yards from
there they came upon the building.
“It is impressive,” Quirin said. “I think you’re right. This must have
been the palace.”
“It doesn’t have a throne in it. All that’s in there are lots of statues
of warriors wearing helmets and things. If it was the king’s palace, then
why isn’t there a throne?”
“You’ve got a point there, Gretel. Perhaps it was his war room, the place
he went to meet with his generals to plan battles. The Utherians were a
fierce, battling tribe.” He looked up. “Ah, I see they also decorated with
gargoyles, like the French.”
“Let’s go inside before it gets dark,” Gretel said, leading him up the
When they reached the top, Quirin noticed the pillars. “They’ve got to be
twenty feet in diameter. Imagine the amount of time it took to transport
just one of these pillars here.”
“I told you this building wasn’t destroyed,” Gretel said. “Why is this
the only building standing?”
Marti and Claring, who were exploring the ruins, saw Gretel and Quirin
standing at the top of the steps. “Gretel! Quirin!” They climbed, joining
“Did you get to see the libraries and the cathedral?” Gretel smiled at the
“We saw nothing but rubble, Gretel. Some of it is very impressive though,
but nothing looked like this.” Claring gazed at the building. The sunset
colored the white marble with a tinge of pink.
Quirin rubbed his hands up and down one of the columns. “Look at this,
Claring, Marti. It’s the finest Italian marble. There’s not even a battle
scar on them. Amazing.”
“It’s all so grand,” Marti said.
They walked into the building. “I think we need torches.” Using his wand,
Quirin gave the others each a lit torch. They looked around the massive
Quirin sensed danger. “This is most unusual.
There’s no sign of furniture of any kind, just these statues. Not one of
them is damaged, nor do any of them show signs of neglect. There’s not a
drop of dust on them. I don’t feel comfortable in here. We need to leave
Something clanged and bumped against the wall at the back of the room.
“What was that, Quirin?” Gretel jumped in fear.
“I’m not sure. Let’s go.”
“I agree with Quirin. They’re something strange going on in here.” Claring
moved his torch from side to side. “Make the room light up, Quirin. I
can’t see much with this torch.”
The wizard raised his hand. The room, instead of dark and shadowy, lit up
like it was midday. “I’ve seen enough. Let’s get out of here.” Quirin
scanned the huge room.
When they turned to leave at least a dozen of the statues blocked their
way. Each held a weapon in front of their helmeted and shielded bodies.
“Quirin, I’m scared. Where did those come from? How did they get there?
Who moved them?” Gretel clung to his cape.
Marti and Claring stood in front of her to guard and protect her. “Let’s
go the other way. There might be a back door,” Claring suggested, but when
they turned to go the other direction, a line of stone warriors blocked
their way again. “It looks like we’re surrounded. Stay close to me,
The sound of stone and twisted metal scraping together frightened her. She
saw the warriors raise their axes, swords, and daggers. “They’re alive,
Quirin. How can they be? They’re made of stone? Are they going to kill
The group watched the warriors. They were
indeed alive, though still stone. Their eyes shone with mustard yellow
light, dim, but moving. “This will be Darmantha’s work. I’m certain of it.
He must know where we are and what we’re trying to do,” Marti said.
“Darmantha can make statues come to life? What kind of a wizard is he?”
Gretel shook with fear and ran into Marti’s arms.
“A very evil one, Gretel. I need time to think.” Quirin, grateful the
warriors moved slowly, raised his wand. “Senobi Gardina Tooloona,” he
shouted, waving it back and forth. A wall of fire grew around them,
attempting to protect them from the warriors. He removed the light, so
they could find protection. The flames provided enough.
“They can’t burn, Quirin. They’re made of stone!” Gretel’s fear grew when
she saw the stone men moving through the fire like it wasn’t even there.
“See, they’re still coming.”
“Try something else.” Claring shouted.
“Tibsi Ullana Farbitos!” This time a wind gathered and blew around them in
“It’s a tornado and we’re in its eye. Do you think that will keep them
away from us?” Gretel tried to think of what to do. A rush of courage
swept through her. “Quirin, make me a piece of rope. I’ve got an idea.”
Quirin waved his wand and a long piece of wound rope appeared in Gretel’s
“Thanks. Make it so that the wind won’t hurt us.”
Quirin nodded and waved his wand.
“Is it done? Am I safe in the wind?”
Quirin nodded again.
“Good. Do something to get their attention. Run over there and make a lot
of noise. When they come after you, I’ll run the other way.”
“Gretel, what are you thinking of doing?” Marti feared for her life.
“No Gretel, let one of us go.” Claring reached to stop her.
“I’m scared, but I can to do this. I’m the smallest. I have to do this.
Stay here. I’ll be all right. You’ll see soon,” she said.
Quirin kept the wind howling and the three men moved to the other side of
the room. They started shouting, making animal noises, like a wild herd of
trumpeting elephants, a tribe of hungry lions, and laughing hyenas.
Gretel almost started to laugh. When she saw the warriors gravitate to
where her friends stood, she ran the other direction. She took the rope
and darted in front one of the rows of the warriors as they moved closer,
draping the rope across their feet and legs. She then dashed behind the
statues and did the same. Once she was sure all the warriors were standing
inside the rope, she ran outside and wound the rope around and around the
marble pillars. The rope went taught. Her first thought was to run back
over the bridge to find Sindri, but then she realized there wasn’t enough
time. She ran back to help the others. “Gretel, thank goodness you’re
Marti sighed with relief when he saw the girl.
“I only can do one row of them, but at least we’ll get the ones blocking
our way out. Make the tornado stronger so they can’t get us.”
“What did you do, Gretel?” Marti saw her smiling.
Gretel watched as Quirin did as she asked. The powerful noise of the wind
nearly deafened them, but it stopped the statues from getting any closer.
“Quirin, I need something to pull the rope really tight so they’ll trip
and fall. I need ten huge elephants.”
“You’ve got them.” Quirin waved his wand and
Gretel couldn’t hear him with all the noise, but knew what he’d done.
Before Marti could stop her, she shouted,
“I’ll be right back.” She disappeared, hidden in the blowing dust. She
spotted the silhouettes of ten gray elephants with huge tusks standing
near the entrance. “War elephants. Thanks, Quirin.” She took the rope and
gave it to the elephant. Elephants, I know you can hear and understand me.
I need you to grab this rope with your trunks and pull it as hard as you
can. Hurry please.”
They understood and obeyed. The first elephant
lifted his trunk and stretched the rope taut. The others wrapped their
trunks around it and pulled.
Gretel said, “That’s it. Keep pulling. I’ve
got to go back and help the others. Stay here until I come back.” She ran
inside and saw the first row of warriors fall forward, crashing and
breaking to pieces as they hit the floor. “Hurry, Quirin, Marti, and
Claring! Hurry before the others start throwing their spears.” The wind
died down. A few helmets rolled across the floor, landing near Gretel’s
Marti ran between the broken pieces of marble,
tripping on helmets and axes strewn across the floor. A sword, thrown by
the other group of warriors in the back of the room, whizzed past his ear,
nearly taking it off. Arrows flew towards them.
“Duck!” Claring shouted when an arrow hit the
back of his shoe. Luckily it didn’t penetrate the sturdy leather. “Keep
low and head for the door.
Amid a flurry of wooden, feather-veined arrows
and flying weapons, they reached the safety of the elephants.
Gretel turned to see the soldiers moving
toward them. “They’re still coming. These are war elephants, like in the
days of Hannibal,” Gretel remembered her history. “They can charge them
down and stomp on them!”
With a flick of Quirin’s wand the trumpeting
elephants dropped the rope and charged into the now quiet war room,
stomping and smashing the statues to pieces. Ten minutes later they
emerged, covered in white dust.
Gretel smiled. They looked like ghosts. Good
elephants. Thank you. The huge creatures lifted their trunks and blew the
dust off their faces.
“Stay here.” Claring went inside and came out
carrying a helmet. “Looks like the great warriors are now piles of marble
dust, thanks to these beasts.”
Quirin said, “No, Claring, thanks to Gretel.”
Marti looked at the helmet. “How did all this
happen? Statues coming to life? Elephants and tornadoes? Let me guess,
Quirin sat down on one of the steps. “I’m
afraid Darmantha’s been busy. Not only has he set this trap up for us, but
he’s killed Gordinth.”
“What? How do you know that?” Marti didn’t believe it.
“No!” Claring wept.
“Quirin? How did he kill Gordinth? How do you
know?” Gretel didn’t want to believe it, but sensed it was true, as did
Marti and Claring.
“I feel it. When a wizard dies, other wizards
feel them leave their heart. We’re all connected, we wizards. We’re part
of each other. I felt him. I also feel a new wizard entering my heart. I’m
not sure who it is, but I think our Crispin and Gordinth have been busy
during our absence.” Quirin hung his head.
Claring sat down next to him. “We’d better get
those two baby dragons and head back to Luba and see for ourselves. If
what you say is true, Crispin must be terrified.” He looked at Gretel and
Marti. “Gretel needs sleep. Let’s leave in the morning. We should be at
Darmantha’s hideout before nightfall tomorrow.”
They walked down the steps. “Wait! What about
the elephants? You can’t leave them here!” Gretel rushed back up the
“Actually, Gretel, they’re quite happy here.
This island is just what they need. They can roam about freely and once we
rid ourselves of Darmantha and his sidekicks, they can live in safety and
peace forever,” Quirin said. “They have no more worries about battles and
Gretel watched the elephants blowing dust all
over the place. Will you be all right?
Yes, Gretel. We will find happiness here. It’s
a place where we can raise a family. The gentle gray giants made their way
down the steps and disappeared into the darkness of the night forest.
“I’m tired. I want to go to sleep.” Gretel
yawned. They crossed the bridge and came to her fire. It still burned. She
threw a few more branches on it. “I’m sleeping here. Good night.” She lay
down on her blanket. The others, sensing no danger, left her and went to
“She’ll sleep well, Marti. Don’t worry. I’ll
keep a watch.” Quirin winked at Marti, who nodded and prepared his bed for
the night under the stars.