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by Margo Fallis
Chapter 18

“There they are. That rotten kid. He’s probably got a pocket full of jewels. I don’t want no stupid kid winning.” Pussel snorted and wiped his nose.

“There’s a blarkee with them. Blarkee! I want no part of that, win or lose.” Nomg backed off into the trees.

“Coward.” Pussel crept forward, moving towards the sleeping group. With great care and steadfast hands, he pulled the jade from Xander’s pocket. After searching for more and finding nothing, he went back to the woods.

“Did you find something precious?” Nomg ran up to Pussel.

“Just a worthless bit of jade. The kid has nothing. All that worrying and he’s as poor as he ever was.” Pussel pointed to a clearing and the two snuck off.

                                    *  *  *

 Xander felt the sun’s rays on his face. He yawned and stretched. His legs ached from being curled up all night under Siggy’s weight. “Morning. Time to get up. Today’s the big day.”

Siggy and Toast yawned.

“I think I should go to Appleworth alone. I can’t say what the group will do if I walk into the village with a blarkee and a plumtuggle.” Xander glanced at the others.

Toast’s head fell. “You don’t want us with you? Are you ashamed or embarrassed of us?”

“No, that’s not it. You two are the best friends I’ve ever had in the whole world. I just don’t want anyone to hurt you.” Xander looked in the direction of the village.

“We’re willing to take that chance. We  want to come and see those cutthroats who rubbed us of everything precious.” Toast folded her arms.

“I’m coming too.” Siggy folded hers and nodded her head.

“All right. I won’t argue with you. Follow me.” Xander led them through the woods to the clearing. A crowd of people gathered around.  The other men were there too, with their bags. “Are you too sure you want to come?”

Both Toast and Siggy nodded.

“Follow me.” Xander stepped into the clearing. Gasps of horror rolled through the group. “Don’t be afraid. The blarkee is harmless. She’s with me.”

“What’s he doing here? He’s nothing but an orphan rugrat. Get lost.” Yok snarled at the boy. “Take your freaks with you and be gone.”

Grazan, the wizard, lifted his arm. “Be still. Boy, what is your explanation.”

Xander moved toward the wizard. “I heard about your quest and wanted to prove I could do it too. I would have too, if these men hadn’t robbed me.”

“He’s lying,” shouted Blumb. “Send him away.”

“I’m not lying. I had diamonds and rubies and amethyst and a Goobagog crystal ball, but I was robbed, by them.” Xander pointed at the men.

Mumbles and shouts roared through the group.

“Quiet. Let’s see what everyone brought with them.” The wizard hushed the crowd. “Zog Arnith and Yok Cumqul, what did you two bring back?”

The two men stepped forward and emptied their bag at Grazan’s feet. “Diamonds. They must be the most precious thing in the land.” Zog boasted with pride.

“And you two, Wilpo Ermix and Vem Gumk. What do you have to show for yourselves?” The wizard waited for them as they pushed through the crowd.”

“Dear Wizard,” Wilpo began, “we found a pendant in a cave. It dates 1000 years before the founding of this village and has a good-sized ruby in the center.” He put it down near Grazan’s feet.

“I see. Quite rare a find that is. Tupi Isxom and Smov Kwing. Please step forward with your items.” Grazan watched the two grubby men come closer.

“Your wizardship, Tupi and I found a buried treasure, probably left behind by some Irigin pirates long ago. Sapphires.” Smov dumped them out on the ground. “Have you ever seen such jewels in your life.”

The crowd was awestruck by the find.

“I see. Very good find indeed. Irigin pirates were notorious. You were lucky to come across these.” The wizard coughed. “Pussel Aomei and Nomg Evcom, you are next.”

The two moved quickly, standing next to Tupi. “We found this rare piece of jade, your wizardship, along with assorted precious jewels.” Pussel turned to Xander and sneered.

“Lovely jewels, rare, precious; an obvious gold mine of wealth here.” Grazan’s eyes sparkled with admiration.

“They stole some of those from us,” Xander shouted.

“Don’t be a fool boy. You could never find anything like this. You’re just an orphan.” Nomg lifted his arm as to hit Xander.

Siggy growled and snarled. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”

Nomg put his arm down.

“Larf Zicwo and Jix Dkor? I don’t see you two. Are you here?” Grazan searched the crowd.

“We’re right here.” Larf dumped out his bag next to Nomg’s. “We found some precious jewels, a diamond, an amethyst and topaz, and even some gold nuggets, but the best and most rare thing is a Goobagog crystal. Isn’t it amazing.” He held it up in his hand.

“Those are our jewels, Grazan. They stole them from us. We got the Gooobagog crystal from Clanci. Larf and Jix stole it. They are all thieves.” Xander’s anger raged, turning his face bright red.

“Everyone can see you’re a liar, boy. You’re accusing us all of stealing. Be off with you before someone sits on you.” Jix burst out laughing and ran toward Xander, who fell backwards on his bottom.

Laughter roared through the crowd.

“Enough. Blumb Tibtung and Deji Sleqx. Show me what you brought back. Deji dumped his bag of silver and opals on the ground and pulled an emerald out of his pocket. Blumb showed the wizard a bag of golden nuggets, each the size of a sugarapple.

“I have seen your jewels, gold and precious things.” Grazan turned to Xander. “Xander Qigma, show me what you brought back.

            All eyes turned to the boy.

            “I have a story to tell. Toast here is a plumtuggle. She helped me without even thinking of danger she might be in. She encouraged me and stood by me. She’s my best friend. I failed her. I encouraged her to help me steal a bag of rubies from two of the men. We dropped it in the lake near the waterfall. We went through danger, but we had a lot of fun and met some wonderful friends, like a dragon named Cinder and her family and Siggy, the blarkee. She saved our lives. I don’t have jewels and I’ll be poor for the rest of my life monetarily, but I have something more precious than anything money can buy. I’ve got friends. I also write in my journal.” Xander pulled it out of his pocket. “You can read it, Grazan. It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it.” He turned to his new friends. “Come on Toast, Siggy. Let’s go to the woods and find something to eat.”

Grazan opened the journal. “Wait, Xander.” He turned the pages and examined the drawings. “Xander, come here; and bring your friends.”

Xander, Toast and Siggy stood in front of the wizard. “You, my young boy, have discovered the greatest treasure in the land, a friend. I was hoping the men might discover that, but they were overcome with greed and selfishness. Take your jewels and gold and be off with you all.” Each man picked up his bag and left, head hung in shame. Their families followed, leaving the wizard alone with the three. “Xander, this journal is amazing. It is so detailed. I am going to make this book a cover of fine leather and jewels and put it in a glass case for all to see and remember, if you’ll let me. I will go and retrieve the rubies from the lake and take them to their rightful owner. This bag is yours.” He handed the boy the large bag.

“What’s inside it?”

“Xander, you must look and see.” The wizard pulled out his wand, flicked it and the bag opened.

Xander pulled out a cape and a wand. “What is this?”

“I want you to train to be the next wizard. I need someone like you, with kindness, remorse and gratitude. You will live with me in my castle and you can write more books I will teach you magic.” Grazan smiled at the boy.

“What about my friends?” Xander turned to Toast and Siggy.

“They will come too. We’ve lots of room for good friends.”

                        *  *  *

And so it went. Xander became the next wizard of the Land of Waterberry. Siggy and Toast stayed by his side, friends forever.



Irigin Pirates – A group of pirates that sailed the seas around the Land of Waterberry, centuries before, pillaging and plundering.

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