Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Nineteen: The Naim Games (Continued)
Previously: In an effort to show the naims that anyone could be a storysmith, Zack decided to hold a contest.
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Zack walked out to the middle of the field. He was petrified. He loved to pretend, loved to do funny voices and act crazy and make his friends laugh, but this was different. He’d been unsympathetic the night Gina froze up at the Mid-Mid (Middleton Middle School) Promotion Ceremony, but now he understood. Twenty thousand naims were staring at him, and the only way he would get through this was to become someone other than himself.
“Hey-fah, Master Zaggy!”
“Welcome to the first ever Naimian’s Greaty-est Storysmith contest!” He directed the crowd’s attention to the south end of the field where sixty Root Naims entered carrying ten big planks of virgin rainbowwood. They squeezed past Bulgy and his thugs, who’d installed themselves as guards. Were those spears they were holding?
Root Naims of all ages cheered, and then, unseen by Leaf Naims on the opposite side of the field, Zack slipped his greatcoat off one shoulder, exposing his red root patch. The Root Naims went wild. Now they knew Master Zaggyzim was on their side!
The Leaf Naims were confused. What was going on? Just as they were craning to see what the Root Naims were reacting to, Zack yelled, “Hey-fah!” They responded half-heartedly. He directed their attention toward the north end of the field whence sixty beaming Leaf Naims strode carrying ten gorgeous planks. They had to pass through an opening made by Lyffwin and her gang of self-appointed pike-wielding centurions. Zack roused them to an even greater frenzy than the Root Naims, and then, unseen by the Root Naims, slipped his greatcoat off one shoulder, revealing a blue leaf patch! Cheers rattled the foliage—Master Zaggyzim was on their side!
Once the twenty planks had arrived at the middle of the field, Zack directed the Semi-Finalists to enter. Again the crowd went wild, but this time they needed no coaching. Each Semi-Finalist was stationed at a plank.
“As Master Storysmith, I have discovered twenty awesome new storysmiths!”
The crowd was confused; how could there be more than one storysmith at a time?
“And now you shall see for yourselves.” Zack circled the panic-stricken Semi-Finalists. “Look deep and find the story in the wood!” As he passed, he whispered into each upturned ear, “You have starhar. You can’t fail!”
Silence engulfed the clearing.
After several minutes, Tuber said with joyful astonishment: “I…I see a story!”
The crowd on both sides gasped.
“Yes?” said Zack. “What do you see, Storysmith Tuber?”
“A star falling from the sky.”
Zack looked at the spot Tuber was pointing to: there was a bright knot of white, spiraling across a dark blue background that did indeed look like a shooting star. In fact, it suddenly seemed as though it could be nothing but. “Yes! Tuber speaks traith!”
The crowd exploded with excitement.
Tuber continued: “An’ a GarKellish Sorcerer is trying ter change its path, but is not able.” Knowing laughter erupted as the crowd began to imagine the vain GarKellish Sorcerer, deluded as GarKellish Sorcerers tend to be, into thinking he could move the very heavens. Even the Leaf Naims were laughing.
Tuber grinned—this was the most attention the humble old root hair inspector had ever gotten. But then his expression changed. “It’s a story a’ pride, pride as kills an’ makes all ter suffer in th’ end.”
A wiry middle-aged naim loped onto the field, assuming the role of the Sorcerer. With a twisted stick he commanded the heavens to do his bidding.
Two dozen naims suddenly dashed into the clearing, becoming shooting stars and falling all around him. Others became wind, turning him round and round till he was hopelessly dizzy, and then swooping him up and carrying him off. Other naims, both Root and Leaf, began to pour out into the open…
…ready to pretend the story to life!
Thoughts: Have you ever created something, and then watched it take on a life of its own?
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