|I hurried to Headmaster Ambrose’s house. I had just completed an important quest. He greeted me and gave me some gold as a reward. Then he took out a gold key. It sparkled and shimmered in the light. There was a crocodile carved into it, and it looked as if it was very old. “I need you to go to Krokotopia, Saffron,” he said.
“Kroko-what?” I said, confused.
“Krokotopia. It is another world in the Spiral. As I was saying, I need…”
“Wait…there are more than one world in the Spiral?”
“Of course! Grizzleheim, Marleybone, and Dragonspyre, just to name a few. I will need you to explore Krokotopia for me. One of my spies told me Malistaire is interested in something called the Krokonomicon, and he also mentioned something about an “Order of the Fang”. You have to find out what this means. Here is the key.” He held out the ancient key to me. I hesitated, not knowing if it was safe, then accepted it.
“But how do I get there?”
“Go to Bartleby. He will explain.” I left his house and went to Ravenwood, where I met the giant tree, Bartleby. “Hello, Bartleby!”
“Hello, Saffron,” he said in his raspy, deep voice. “What brings you here?”
“I need to go to Krokotopia.” I showed him the key.
“Ah, already? Merle told me he would send you soon. Very well, I will explain. Do you see this carving I have under my face?” I nodded.
“It looks a little like a door.”
“It is. Go through it, and you will see a portal in the middle of the room. Go up to it, choose the world you want to visit, and you will be teleported there. Do you understand?”
“I guess.” I opened the door and walked into a room. I followed his instructions and appeared inside another room, but this one had carvings of sphinxes and sarcophagi on the walls, along with ancient Egyptian-looking paintings. A salamander stood by the door. “Hi,” I said to him.
“Hello!” he said enthusiastically.
“Who are you?” I said.
“I am Tinu Bhak’mal.”
“Err…no offense, but what are you?”
“Hmm? Oh, you must be from that place…what do they call it…”
“Yes, Earth. They don’t have magic there, do they?”
“Well, I am a mander. Someone said there is something on your planet called a salamander or some such name that looks similar to us.”
“Yeah. Except you can talk.”
Tinu muttered under his breath, “Animals that can’t talk?” and said, “Fascinating!”
I said a quick goodbye and walked out of the room. Outside was a desert with more manders and even some dogs! I walked up to a dog and introduced myself. He said his name was Sergeant Major Talbot and told me to go help Professor Winthrop in the Pyramid of the Sun. I guessed that was the giant pyramid I saw behind him. I walked into it and saw that it looked exactly like one of the Egyptian monuments I had visited back on Earth. When I reached Professor Winthrop, he gave me a bunch of quests to talk to people and defeat enemies. And that is how I began my adventures in Krokotopia. One day I received a quest to defeat some Nirinis. I followed the Quest Helper into the chamber and walked up to one. My friend Cheyenne Goldspear joined me in battle. We battled the Nirini, but just before we defeated him, another one appeared on the battlefield. That was pretty normal for Krokotopia, so we prepared to fight him. Suddenly another Nirini appeared, and then another and the battlefield was filled. The enemies’ side began to grow, and before we knew it there were about ten Nirinis standing across from us, their massive tails beating the ground like gigantic drums. “S…Saffron?” Cheyenne stammered. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” I replied, my eyes wide with fear.
“How are we going to fight all these enemies?”
“Let’s just flee.” I looked around for the familiar flee button I had used many times before, but it wasn’t there.
“I know. We’ll just have to hope for the best. Come on, we can take them.” But I knew those were false words. There was a reason there were only supposed to be four enemies at once. We prepared to fight the Nirinis, but the biggest one walked off his circle and up to us. He allowed himself a hoarse, evil laugh.
“We do not wish to battle you, wizards. We are only here to take the girl. Come peacefully, and no harm will come to you…yet.” He smiled almost lovingly as he gazed at his dagger, then glanced back up. “Well? Are you coming?” Cheyenne and I looked at each other as if to say, “Who is he talking to?” He pointed at me, and said, “Come with us, and your friend goes free.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“Do not ask silly questions, girl.”
“I’m not coming!”
“Then you leave us no choice.” He brandished his dagger and went back to the circle. The Nirinis followed his example. I was starting to wonder if this was a bad idea, but Cheyenne and I prepared to fight them. The battle went on for what seemed like hours. My health dropped low a couple times, but I quickly healed myself. Finally we were both below 100 health. I had no more healing spells left. I fell to my knees with exhaustion. It was all for nothing. We would be captured and taken to god-knows-where, and we’d probably be imprisoned there forever. No. I wouldn’t let that happen. I concentrated every ounce of my remaining energy into my wand. I let go with all the strength I had left. I only saw flashes of what happened next. Blinding golden light burst from my wand, and the Nirinis disintegrated into the ground. I fell down, drained of all my energy. Cheyenne rushed over, accidentally stepping on my hand as she did. That woke me up!
“Ow!” I said.
“Sorry!” she said. “Are you okay?”
“I think so.” I got up and stretched out. “Yeah, I’m good.”
“Let’s go back to Headmaster Ambrose.” I nodded, and we teleported back to Wizard City. We rushed into his house and told him all about what had happened. When we finished, he stroked his mustache thoughtfully, then nodded and said, “Well, that’s certainly interesting. Are you okay, Saffron?” I nodded. “Well, you should both get some rest after what has happened. Hopefully nothing like that will happen again.” We walked out of the house and teleported to our own. I sank into my soft bed and immediately fell into a deep sleep. That night I dreamed of homicidal crocodiles.
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