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Adventure Kids Fantasy

Just because it was 4 PM and Ricky Smart was home from school, didn’t mean he was having fun. The rain pouring outside precluded any outside activity, and he was reduced to sitting in his room. The books had been read and the games had been played; there was nothing in his room that could draw his interest. The persistent raindrops pelting his window frustrated him; the gray sky outside made him depressed and wistful.

Looking at the comic book in his hand with disgust, he tossed it aside, and looked at his bed. He almost never took naps during the day, but what else was there to do right then? He walked over to the bed and plopped down in it, hoping that his dreams would be more interesting than his reality.

He was almost out cold when he began to hear footsteps walking up the stairs. He could sense that one of his parents was coming into his room.

“Ricky?” Jenna Smart looked at her son, “Are you taking a nap?”

“Yes Mom. There’s nothing else to do. It’s raining.”

“The rain just stopped. Why don’t you go out and play?”

Ricky looked up from his bed and glanced out the window. Indeed, the rain had stopped. It was still rather grey outside, and he knew that everything would still be muddy and wet, but he didn’t care. Springing out of his bed, he walked over to his desk and consulted his Adventurer’s Journal to see what quests he had pending or not finished yet.

At the top was the objective he had found for himself the previous day: retrieve the Amulet from the Tower of Syrinx. There were other items on there that he had not yet started, but confronting the monsters in the Castle’s Upper Chamber and solving the mystery of the sounds that came from the Elders’ Quarters at night would have to wait.

The Tower of Syrinx was only one of many that stood in the Plain of Frontmoor, to the west of the Castle of Smart. It wasn’t the tallest tower, or the one with the most fearsome beasts in it, or even the hardest to gain access to. But it certainly was a sight to be remembered. The sun shined on its silver dome sixty stories above the hill its foundation was built on, and it gleamed bright enough for any ship to use as a beacon from miles away. Not that there were any ships to be found nearby; the nearest body of water was the River Moses and it was not even in the same province.

“That shiny amulet will be mine by sundown,” Robin Ricky proclaimed as he dashed out of the front entrance of the Castle of Smart into Frontmoor Province.

He examined the items in his toolbelt to make sure he had everything he needed for the climb. Grappling hooks – check. Energy potion – check. Crossbow for warding off predatory ravens – check.

He jumped up the wall of the tower and thrust his hook into the grey stone bricks of the outer wall. He did likewise with the hook in his other hand, a little higher up. And so his ascent had begun.

Jenna eyed her young son through the window in the kitchen where she was finishing putting away the dishes. She watched him scale the thick elm tree that stood in the front yard by the street, using a small rope and holding a toy gun and a box of apple juice. He really needs to stop throwing his frisbee up into that tree, she thought, shaking her head with a slight grin.

The climb immediately proved difficult, but Robin Ricky was not one to be deterred. He continuously threw his grappling hooks up the wall, ascending the Tower slowly but at a steady pace. He had much endurance in his body and in his spirit, as this was not his first ascension and he knew he could pull it off. He took out his energy potion and took a slight sip that would energize him for the going ahead. Gazing around the sky, he saw ravens flying in the distance, but none that were close enough for him to worry about.

After a few more minutes, the top of the Tower was within his reach. The prize that he was pursuing could be seen inside a curved window. He threw one of his hooks up into it, but it bounced off the stained-glass pane and struck him in the head, thankfully not with the pointed end.

“Ouch! You dumb hook! Why do you always go through windows only when it gets me into trouble?”

Robin Ricky swung around the Tower, hoping to find an open window this time. This time the glass pane was slightly ajar, and there was a wide enough crack for him to push through. He threw his hook inside, pushed himself up closer to the sill, and pulled himself up into the tower.

He landed into an ornate but empty room – colorful tiles on the walls and floors, a bookshelf filled with dozens of aging tomes, and a small wooden table on which sat the Amulet of Ultimate – the trophy that he would obtain from this cursed construction. Somehow the Amulet always ended up in these towers, when it wasn’t sitting on the top of the Castle. Sometimes it would be found at a place so high up he could not attain it by himself and would have to beseech one of the Elders to retrieve it for him.

But this time obtaining the Amulet was easy. There were no ogres in the Tower of Syrinx, no dragons, and no evil wizards or mages. Even the ravens had left him alone. He grabbed the Amulet and climbed out the window, scaling down the wall rather than jump, as this Tower was among the taller buildings in the province. He could not safely jump down it, at least not until he grew some more, which the Elders insisted would happen with time provided he drank his Milk and ate his Vegetables.

*         *         *

The time was approaching 6 o’clock and Ricky knew that the Nourishing Ritual would be at hand. He would have to report back to the Castle of Smart where the Elders would be holding a feast for the three of them. Word around the castle grounds was that the matronly Elder known as Street would be preparing a meal of pork chops with applesauce. The patriarch named Book would be arriving from his daily conquests sometime around 6.

Ricky returned to the castle entrance with the Amulet of Ultimate in hand, as it would be a sightly prize to display to the Elders at the feast. Elder Street spotted him in the castle mezzanine as soon as he set foot past the hall from the entrance.

“Go wash up for dinner, sweetie,” Street informed him. “Your father will be home soon.”

“Very well. If you desire cleanliness at the Ritual, I shall indulge you.”

Robin Ricky was keen not to displease the Elders that evening. Following the Nourishing Ritual, if darkness had fallen outside the Elders usually decreed that he was to remain inside the Castle. But Ricky’s thirst for adventure was not satiated by the mission he had embarked on that afternoon. His quest for the Amulet had been unopposed and was mostly devoid of challenge. That night he was going to set out for something far grander, which would test his mettle and his manhood.

He was going to attempt to scale the Forbidden Towers, located in the Faron province beyond Backmoor, to the east of the Castle. They were a set of foreboding edifices that stood so high into the heavens that he could not even see their roofs. Such daunting structures had to contain treasures of immeasurable worth. And, he was now adept enough in his climbing prowess that scaling them was within his grasp.

But, the height of the Towers was not the only risk he faced by attempting them. The Elders of Smart had decreed long ago that he was forbidden to climb them, that doing so was dangerous to life and limb. He would have to wait until after the Nourishing Ritual, when the Elders will have retired to the Chamber of Life to recuperate for the evening.

The Ritual commenced on time, at 6:30 that evening, with Ricky eagerly partaking in the supper that Elder Street had prepared. Elder Book was present as well, and inquired the young Smart about his activities that day.

“I ascended the Tower of Syrinx and obtained the Amulet of Ultimate!”

“The – what?”

“His frisbee,” Jenna informed her husband.

“It’s not a frisbee! It’s a priceless artifact that has mystical powers, which I don’t even know of!”

“Okay Ricky, I’m sure it is. Just try to stop throwing it up into the trees, okay?”

The rest of the meal continued in silence. No one in the Castle of Smart had much appetite for conversation that evening, least of all the youngest whose thoughts were occupied with the evening’s quest.

As soon as the Elders retired into the Chamber of Life, the youngest Smart returned to his Chamber to gather his supplies. He would need the same equipment used in the day’s earlier ascent, plus a Lantern for seeing in the dusky sky. There was still light to be had outside of the Castle, but he knew that it would soon recede, and so he scrambled back downstairs and made his way to the back door.

“Be back inside before dark,” Street informed him from her throne in the Chamber of Life.

Drat, thought Ricky, as he realized that he would have a limited time to complete his quest before the Elders came searching for him. This would have to be a quick mission. He ran out of the door to the province located behind the estate, Backmoor. The mostly prairie province was much larger than the Frontmoor Province he had spent his day in earlier, but had no clearly delineated boundary between it and the heavily forested Faron Province beyond it. The woods were thick, with a canopy of leaves that sheltered the forest floor during the budding seasons, and made for a dense darkness at night. That made Ricky’s lantern all the more essential as he ventured into the woods where the Forbidden Towers stood.

The Towers were situated in the middle of the Province, not far from the Moses River that flowed nearby and divided Faron from Lannister Province. For years they had tempted Ricky; enticing him with their statuesque and majestic properties. He stood at the base of one of the Towers, and jumped from the ground to begin his ascent. The night was fast approaching; he hoped that he could reach the top before requiring the use of his lantern, and especially before the Elders came looking for him.

The climb was slow but steady, as Ricky made use of the lessons he had learned from scaling the other towers in the land. By the time he had climbed to sixty feet above the ground, he was already higher up than he had ever been climbing a tower unassisted.

“Ca-caw!” Suddenly he heard the cries of a crow from the distance. He switched on his lantern and twirled his head rapidly to detect where the sound came from. He also held his crossbow at the ready. Whatever beasts were out to get him, they probably were there to protect something important.

“Ca-caw!” This squawk was louder. Ricky frantically scaled up the tower wall, flinging his grappling hooks up the stone surface as fast as he could. But he was starting to get fatigued, which is where the energy potion he held came in handy. After a quick swig, he was finally getting close to the top. He was now high enough to see the tops of the trees that surrounded the Forbidden Towers. The sun had almost completely retreated below the horizon, the sky was a rich purple hanging over the dark canopy of leaves, and Ricky appreciated the sight even more because of the effort and bravery it took to take it all in.

“CA-CAWWW!!!!” Now the squawking was quite loud, and accompanied by the sound of a fierce flapping of wings. Ricky tried to put it out of his head as he rappelled around the tower to see if there was anything of note at the top.

“Well, fiddlesticks. Who would build a tower for no purpose?”

He was disappointed at the revelation, but now he knew what was up there. Robin Ricky started climbing back down slowly, taking care to make sure his grip on the tower wall was secure before moving back down further. He was too high up to see the ground but could see the wall just fine, and some of the other towers and the trees that surrounded them. But he could not see much else around him.

Suddenly, he felt the prick of claws on his arm. It startled him, nearly throwing him off balance, but he reset his grip. However, he was soon thereafter whacked in the head by a flying object that felt feathery and sharp at the same time.

“Ouch! What the – “

He turned his head and shone his lantern, and that’s when he came face to face with the dreaded Griffon. It was hovering only a few feet in front of him, its claws pointing up and directing at him, its wings flapping with manic intensity. And its large yellow beak beckoned at him, letting him know it meant business.

“Face me, murderous beast!” Ricky pulled out his crossbow and pointed it at the beast. “I am not afraid!” But the Griffon was too fast for the draw. It flew straight towards him with such speed that it collided with the rappelling adventurer and nearly knocked him off balance for the second time.

“You asked for it! This means war!” He fired a shot at the bird but it missed, flying below the target and falling uselessly to the ground. He loaded up another arrow but it also was to no effect; the Griffon turned about and flew toward him again, causing him to drop the arrow into the dark void again.

“Hold still and let me shoot you!” He began loading up another arrow and was starting to break a sweat, for his ammo supply was quite limited. As the Griffon flew back and readied another charge, Ricky fired his arrow at the bird. This time, it zoomed toward it and struck it in the face.

“Ha ha! Ask and you shall receive! Have another arrow, Griffon!” The feathered beast was not amused by the projectile, and now its eyes glowed with red fury. The next charge happened too fast for the bow to respond. The beak struck Ricky right in the face, causing him to cry out in shock and pain. “OWWWWW! Feathered bastard!”

He quickly summoned another arrow, held it up to aim at the bird’s face, and fired again. This time the projectile struck right between the eyes – the perfect shot, just when it was needed most. Ricky rejoiced at his adversary’s croak of pain, and took advantage of its stunned state to quickly scramble down the tower and away from the fight. It worked – the Griffon did not pursue him further, instead taking flight in pursuit of smaller, less combative prey.

After a few more minutes, Ricky’s feet safely touched the ground. His mission complete, he ran from the woods back to the Castle, eager to make it inside before the Elders came searching for him.

*         *         *

Robin Ricky ran outside the next morning before 8 AM, eager to get an early start on his next mission. Lannister Province, which name he learned from a television show that his parents forbade him to watch, was located in the farthest reaches of the Smart Kingdom. It was beyond the forest of Faron Province and across the River Moses. Ricky had hiked there many times before, but it seemed like there was always something new to discover. He was excited because today he was going not to explore, but to leave his imprint there, forever.

He ran past the Backmoor Province, weaved through the trees of Faron on his way to the River, and hopped the large stones across the River to land inside of Lannister. The trees were the same as in Faron, but thinned out as he ventured further east, till he reached a small clearing. Standing in the Mystical Forest Grove, he put his hand in his pocket and fished out a handful of maple seeds.

There were five of them, and he placed each one on the ground roughly ten feet away from each other, so that they formed the shape of a star. He took out a small shovel, and dug five small holes deep enough to entomb each seed in the ground. A cupful of water from the nearby river irrigated each mound, and then the planting was complete.

Ricky looked at his handiwork with satisfaction. He had started the construction of the New Towers of Lannister. Someday they would be tall enough to explore, and majestic enough to hold things of beauty and wonder. His career as an explorer would not be ending anytime soon.

April 02, 2022 01:05

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08:58 Apr 07, 2022

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