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By Andrea Buginsky
Average 4.8 STARS
During a time of celebration for The Chosen, a mysterious force appears on Phantasma, threatening to destroy Nature and all of her creatures. Will The Chosen find and defeat this force, and save Nature before it's too late?
Along their journey north through Phantasma, Red continued to feel the shift in nature he and the other shamans and druids felt earlier when the sky darkened. He lit his meditation staffs to commune with it more and more whenever the group stopped to rest and eat. He heard Silvor explain to Halli this is how shamans communicated with nature.
“When they light their staffs and meditate, they become one with nature and can talk with the plants and animals around them.”
Red saw the look of fascination on Halli’s face. Since he never performed it on their mission to defeat Prince Gastle, Red knew this was the first time Halli saw it. He didn’t communicate with nature then because everyone already knew the situation.
When Red finished lighting the staffs, he meditated and communed with some of Nature’s creatures in the area. When he came out of his deep meditation, he looked worried. Silvor placed his hand on his shoulder.
“What is it, Red?”
Red looked at Silvor, but didn’t really see him. He was far away. But he heard what Silvor asked him. “They’re terrified,” he whispered.
The rest of the group listened, and tried to figure out what Red saw.
“Just tell us what you saw,” Silvor encouraged him.
Red grew quiet, and closed his eyes. He could still see the visions the children of nature put in his mind like they happened right now.
“Everything’s on fire. Nature is dying. Someone needs to save her.”
Striker spoke up. “Is it Gastle? Did he return from the Underworld after all?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s not a monster causing the destruction.” Red paused and opened his eyes, wide “It’s us!”
Everyone watched him, horrified.
“What do you mean?” Halli whispered.
“All of the destruction we caused fighting off Gastle and his armies. We destroyed so much, good and evil, that it caused Nature to become unbalanced. She doesn’t know one from the other anymore. She’s very sick, and she needs help.”
“Do you know what caused the shift in the North?”
“It’s Nature herself. She’s unstable. Right now, her highest concentration is to the North where she’s supposed to be in preparation for the Winter Solstice. But the unbalance confused her. She’s caused more and more destruction with the huge amount of wind and snow she created instead of just enough for the Solstice. Everything is dying.”
“Can something be done?” Silvor asked.
“Perhaps. I think we’d better continue our travels and seek out more information. Hopefully we can find a solution.”
“Maybe we should head back to the Castle and speak to Queen Laurali about this,” Striker said. “She said she wanted to be informed at once when we found out any information. We’re close enough; if we turn back now, we’ll be there by the end of the day tomorrow. We can always head back this way and continue our journey to the North once we fill her in on the situation.”
“No, it would take too long,” Red said. “I can send some of the creatures here to the Castle to inform the shamans and druids there. They can fill the Queen in on the situation. We need to head north and find Nature.”
“Very well. We’ll continue to head north and see what else we can find out,” Striker replied.
“But what do you think could be going on?” Kaidyla asked. “What can possibly be strong enough to reach Nature on such a level and prevent her from performing the Solstice?”
They all debated what could be causing the situation, but Striker put a stop to it. “There’s not much point debating it now. Not until we learn all we can about the situation. Once we reach the North and seek out Nature we’ll be able to understand more of what’s going on and find a way to fix it. If what Red said is true, she must be very sick and we’ll need to figure out how to heal her before she destroys all of Phantasma. If we are to save our world, we must find and heal her before the Winter Solstice.”
“I agree,” said Red. “Everything Nature’s children told me indicates if we don’t fix the problem before the Solstice, our world could be destroyed.”
“That gives us six weeks to head to the North, find Nature, and heal her. Any ideas?”
“I have an idea,” Red answered, “but I won’t know for sure until we get there. I think if Halli and Lumina both work together on their healing spells, Lumina’s druid power should help concentrate Halli’s power to work directly on Nature. It could take several attempts and many hours. Halli and Lumina, I should warn you, you could both become exhausted doing this. You must take breaks occasionally to get your strength back and recharge your powers. It could be very brutal for both of you. Are you up for it?”
“Absolutely,” Halli stated at once. “We’re ready.”
Lumina nodded in agreement.
Red meditated again and communicated with the creatures in the area. Deer, squirrels, birds, and other small animals slowly approached him with their ears stuck straight up. They watched him intently, then turned and headed in the direction of the Castle of the Elves.
After he meditated and communed with the creatures, Red carefully distinguished the staffs and took them down. Everyone packed up from their stop and continued to ride north. They started out quietly; they knew it would take them several days to enter the region to the North, and Polard, where Nature would be. They didn’t know what they would find once they got there, but by the way things looked in their region of Phantasma, Polard wouldn’t be any better. They expected it to be much worse, and they knew it would be very cold, which they prepared for. They included plenty of warm clothes in their packs.
Red saw Halli’s pack included her family’s mace and the shield with the Queen’s crest engraved on it, both of which she received just before she left for her first mission with The Chosen several months ago. Red was happy to see she had them with her. He knew if they battled on this second quest, both would give her the strength and wisdom she would need to heal everyone. They all knew they would need her to heal them along the way, possibly several times. After all, several foul creatures live in Phantasma and would not easily let them pass through on their way to the North.
When everyone was packed up and ready to go, Red led them onto the road north, toward Polard.
A few hours after the group left the campsite, they came across a bridge which separated their region of Phantasma from the ogres’. Unfortunately, there was no other way to take them to the North other than to pass through it. They hoped they could simply stay on the path and cross through, but when they reached the bridge two of the area’s inhabitants seized them.
“Who dares cross the bridge to Ogreville?” one of them asked.
“I’m Striker, leader of The Chosen.”
The ogre snarled. He knew of the group, and their heroic defeat of Gastle. He knew they caused destruction to so many of his clansmen on their journey to Gastle’s kingdom. It didn’t matter to them that in the end they saved Phantasma. They wouldn’t let them pass easily.
“You are not welcome here. Go away, or face my wrath.”
“I don’t wish to battle you,” Striker said. “But if we must in order to pass through your land, we will.”
This only enraged the ogre and his friend more, and they snarled while they raced toward the group. The Chosen didn’t hesitate. Bolts of frost, fireballs and other spells flew through the air from Red and Silvor’s spells and pummeled into the ogres. Arrows followed the spells when Striker and Kaidyla shot their bows at them. Lumina transformed into a ferocious bear and ran toward them with Sampson and Delilah on her heels. The three attacked the ogres when they reached them.
Chaos erupted when everyone attacked at once, and the ogres ran forward to take on the group. Halli stayed back and healed the group when the ogres returned the attacks. It didn’t take long for The Chosen to take out the two ogres and move forward, and they crossed the bridge into their land.
Most of their journey through the village was quiet and incident free, and the group hoped they could pass through the rest of the way to the northern border without trouble. But trouble came.
Once word of the guards’ deaths traveled through the village, more ogres came out to find their attackers. When they saw The Chosen ride down the main path, they knew the group was responsible for the attacks. The ogres came out and attacked in full force.
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