“What?” Rachel blurted.
“Señor, you know how much we love this school and respect you as a principal. But how do you expect us to bring back the Golden Leaf when it could be anywhere? And what about danger? Who knows what obstacles we will face?” I explained.
Señor Ramirez stood up and bore his eyes into us. “Hear me out before you overthink the situation and make a decision. Look Marco, your combat skills with a sword and shield are second to none in your weekly classes. Zak, your martial art skills are the best in the whole school. How many tournaments have you won consecutively? And Rachel, your archery ability is unrivalled. Your coaches have told me you haven’t missed a single target yet. It’s remarkable how you have perfect accuracy. With the combination of all your abilities, you three make a dangerous force. Obviously I can’t leave my job here straightaway which is why I’m asking you. Now, do you really want this school to shut down? Or do you want to save it? The choice is yours.”
Señor Ramirez really wasn’t leaving us with much choice. He was asking us to venture into the unknown, yet I was somewhat excited more than I was frightened at the prospect.
“What’s the name of this person who stole it?” I asked.
“What about our weapons? And how are we going to travel to Lower New York Bay?” Rachel probed.
“First, I need to know whether you’re saying yes or no to this quest,” Señor Ramirez replied sternly.
I looked at Zak and Rachel, and we nodded to each other in mutual agreement. We couldn’t allow our school to shut down, nor could we allow the Golden Leaf to be in the hands of someone else.
“We will do it. For the good of Tranquillity Valley High School,” I declared firmly.
Señor Ramirez stood up and walked around his desk to face us from up close.
“I’m proud of you three. Now wait right here and I’ll be back,” he said, smiling and patting my shoulder.
RING! RING! RING!
The alarm bell blared around the school, signalling the start of the first lesson of the day. Students exploded into the school corridor, as they pushed and shoved past each other to get to their lesson on time.
Peering through Señor Ramirez’s office door, I smiled at Zak and Rachel having realised that there was no need for us to be drowned in the jam-packed corridor. After all, we were about to endeavour on a quest to save the school.
“What are your thoughts?” Zak asked, breaking the unsettled silence as the uncertainty of what lay ahead loomed over us like a ghastly shadow.
“Señor Ramirez has a point. We do make a dangerous team. And if luck is on our side, we will locate Stingray Island,” Rachel said, with an injection of positivity.
“I don’t want school to shut down, so we have to bring the Leaf back home from this Drago,” I added.
“We honestly don’t know what’s in store for us,” Zak said apprehensively.
“You’re right. We are taking a leap into the unknown but guess what?”
Zak looked at me. “What?”
“We have each other, and I think that’s the most important thing. As long as we have each other’s backs, I honestly don’t care if we go to the ends of the earth and battle through mythical creatures and monsters. Honestly,” I said firmly.
Zak nodded and smiled, uplifted and encouraged by my words.
The office door swung open, and the bellowing sound waves from the hectic corridor poured in. Señor Ramirez quickly slammed the door shut and walked over to his desk with a black duffle bag. Ink cartridges, mini staplers, hole punchers, loose sheets of paper, folders and pens lay haphazardly on his desk and with his right arm he swept aside the paraphernalia, crashing them to the floor. He placed the duffle bag on the desk and unzipped it. We surrounded it, eager to see what was inside.
He pulled out a dark brown bow and a black quiver filled with incisive, streamlined arrows and handed it over to Rachel. She inspected the polished rims of the bow in awe and picked the arrows out of the quiver, holding it above her eyes and scrutinising it one by one.
“Wow,” Rachel gasped. “This is the best set of bow and arrows I’ve ever held.”
Señor Ramirez nodded and rummaged through the duffel bag. He pulled out a black watch and carefully gave it to me as I weighed it up in my hands. It was heavier than I expected. I was astonished by the intricate detail as I was hooked by its clean circular glass face and thick black leather strapping, along with the golden colour of the hands on the clock. I placed the watch on my left wrist and clipped the strapping together.
“This is incredible,” I said in awe.
“Press the button to the left side of the watch face,” Señor Ramirez urged.
Intrigued, I pressed the button. And what I saw in my hands was beyond my belief.
A sword in my left hand. A shield in my right hand.
Zak and Rachel stared at what I was holding, as astounded as I was.
I held the sword above me. I saw my reflection in the sword’s silver blade and the leather grip made it really comfortable to hold, whilst the brown shield’s spherical form instilled a sense of protection and strength within me.
“Bet you weren’t expecting that at all,” Señor Ramirez chuckled.
I nodded, still lost for words as I absorbed the sheer sophistication of the watch and the sword and shield.
“Now press the button to the right side of the watch face.”
I pressed it. The sword and shield completely vanished.
“Unbelievable,” I breathed, shaking my head.
“Zak, I have a pocket knife for you but your main weapon is your martial art skills. But I have some protective clothing in here for all of you. Just in case,” Señor Ramirez informed, as he brought out three identical pairs of clothing and passed it around to us. “As you can see, it’s a very boring set of clothes. Joggers and a jumper, all plain black. But on the inside, there’s a protective layer that would help lessen the impact of any blow. Hopefully, that situation doesn’t arise but I have taken the necessary precautions.”
Señor Ramirez leaned on his desk and folded his arms.
“Now listen to me carefully.”
“You will head off in the afternoon. I have arranged a taxi for you which will drop you off at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan that I’ve reserved for you. The Benjamin. I’m sure you’ve heard of that five star hotel. You can stay there for the night. Tomorrow you will begin your journey to Lower New York Bay. It’s a twenty mile journey. Stingray Island is somewhere around there. Take public transport and stay in crowded places. Be careful of the people around you. And most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, trust each other and each other only. No one else,” he explained. “Go to one of the changing rooms, get changed, get freshened up and go to the canteen where the chefs have prepared you three a good meal.”Señor Ramirez stood up strai
Just as we arrived, the lift door opened and a couple walked out, holding hands and laughing. We entered the lift and I pressed the button for the third floor, where our room was.Even the lift was special. An Alpana themed golden wallpaper ran around the lift and the black marble floor was sparkling in the bright in-built light. The lift door opened and we walked slowly down the corridor, taking in the unique designs and patterns of the walls and ceiling. “This is the room,” Rachel said.
“Come on!” Rachel screamed.I tried again, this time barging into it with my shoulder. The door remained shut.“Wait, I’m going to use my knife to open the lock. Face the guards,” Zak said hurriedly, as he inserted his blood-soaked knife into the keyhole.Rachel and I squared up to the guards, as they closed in on us.12 feet… 11 feet… 1
Having hiked infinite miles, hopped on and off buses and taken four gruelling train journeys, we finally reached the coast of Lower New York Bay, as the Sun began to settle. In front of us, the vast Atlantic Ocean sparked in the dazzling sunset. In the distance, I managed to see a faint silhouette of a few mountains, surrounded by rocks and forests. Zapped of our energy and strength, we slumped on a nearby bench.“Is that the place?” I asked, squinting and pointing out in the direction of the silhouette.“Looks like. We made it guys,” Zak sighed tiredly.I heard footsteps from my left coming towards us. A dockworker. His cl
We jumped off the ship to be greeted by thunder. Dark clouds in the night sky obscured the glinting moonlight, our only natural source of light. The sky rumbled, clearly sending a message to us that we should leave while we had the chance. Adrian and Zak took out their torches as we stepped through the rocks and pebbles of the cold ocean and onto the beach. I felt a gentle drop of water on my head and looked up. Rain. Gaining momentum. By the second. Then, I felt a slight breeze, which grew in intensity and it was only within moments that we began to experience an intense tornado. Rusty leaves, sand grains, and water particles exploded from the ground, causing an aggressive whirlwind that sunk our hearts and zapped us of our confidence. “Guys, listen to me carefully. Let’s get underneath a tree, find some wood and make a fir
We managed to find a safe spot to sleep and recuperate just off the beach. Rachel’s bruised ankle was now swollen whilst I struggled to push the sight of my best friend disappearing right before our eyes out of my mind “Get up, you two. New day, fresh start!” Adrian said, trying to sound enthusiastic. The morning air felt as hot and heavy and moist as steam, as the scorching Sun’s radiance beat down on the island’s inhabitants. Bees and dragonflies buzzed around the bushes and trees, whilst birds chirped and flew around elegantly. The beaming sun rays reflected off the waves, emitting splashes of heat, as it gently caressed the coast. &nbs
Bringing the three of us back to reality was the hunger that was growing in the pit of our stomachs. Our minds had been so preoccupied with the tiger, Zak going missing and Rachel’s ankle that we had forgotten about our own health. Looking around in this vast island with the rocky plains and towering trees obscuring our far-sighted vision, finding food seemed impossible.“Adrian, what do we do about food?” I asked.Adrian laughed, his laugh echoing around the island. I looked at Rachel, puzzled.“Look over there, just look,” Adrian said, smiling. He pointed out to the ocean to our impressive cruise ship. “Guys,
We turned in the direction of Zak’s spine-tingling scream. But, still nothing. Nothing that hinted at Zak’s whereabouts. The irregular screaming continued, which sent us panicking and constantly swivelling round to locate him. Especially in the eerie silence of night time, Zak’s voice sounded all the more chilling, his shrill shrieking echoing around the island like a ghost tormenting us.“Where on earth is he?” I shouted.“I don’t know!” Adrian replied.“Wait, shut up both of you!” Rachel cr