THE WAY TO THE STONE by Tanner, Age 9
copyright 2014 shanticake.com
I-O-I-O, My name is Ninaah and I have translated this astounding story of my quest for stone from Toobada, my native language. I live on Ladabath, and e
ven though we have many mountains, they are just made of clay. We have no stone here, except for one mysterious rock. I went looking for it, but a group of three black market dealers wanted to get it first. This is my story.
I was at a qiuin match when I heard some shady things. I heard something about a stone. Of course, we have no stone here on Ladabath, so I thought the guys were crazy. Later, I found a book at the bookstand with myths of the stone, leading me to believe that there WAS one rock on our planet. I’m a space explorer and I’ve been looking for a planet of stone, so I thought if I found it, I might be able to use it as a sample on my expeditions. Little did I know those shady men wanted to get it first to sell it to a museum.
Anyway, I had packed a sack of some of my favorite food, like inio (peanut butter and raw fish with apples), plus some butter for dessert, and started off on my quest. I had gone about a ginin (which is close to a mile), when I realized I did not know what rock looked like. So I went back and got the book. Some descriptions said it was very sharp and could sink. One said it was hard and could float. I decided to look for something that was sharp, hard, looked like it could float, but sinks.
On the winding path, I came to a big river. I took a drink. The river filled right back up, just like always. I spotted a canoe. Thank goodness I didn’t have to carve one, as I thought I would. Of course, my best friend Hokano could have conjured one, because he has a wand. I don’t want a wand, because of all the magic rules. I walked down the riverbank to the canoe. The book said the stone was riverside, so I figured I might try my luck here first.
After paddling all day and all night, I did not find a stone, but I did see a tree. Of course I did, we have a
bunch of trees here. But this was a very special tree. It was the Tree of the Way. I hoped it would show me the way to the stone, but it only does that to people it likes. I let the tree scan me, then it said something unusual. It said, “I will NOT show you the way, but I WILL guide you to someone who knows the way. You need directions, not direction.” Then the tree pointed (according to my handy compass) one house to the West.
I was surprised to find that the tree sent me to Hokano’s house. Hokano was just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. We greeted each other with the traditional I-O-I-O. His house was very unusual. It didn’t have ceramic walls and arched halls like most houses on Ladabath did. It was made of wood, plus some dirt and some metal from the metal stands at the market. Hokano’s son was about to be sent to the army and Hokano was scared. But fear was against the rules of magic. Luckily I knew how to calm him down. I decided to distract him, and finding the stone was the perfect way! Maybe that’s why the tree sent me here.
Hokano said he only knew which river the stone was on, but not the exact place. And he didn’t even know the way to the river. We knew the Riverous Gracious was in the South. The problem was the South is very cold. I had not thought of this possiblilty, and had not even packed a sweater. Hokano said he had two.
As we were about to cross the border into the South, I spotted an elf hiding under a lump of clay, covered in
snow. Elves are very rare. Only 43 elves live in the south, and they’re never over the border, they like to be really cold. I asked him what he was doing there. He looked startled! “I, I…” He said, trembling over his words. “I ran out of my town. I crossed a frozen river, but it was thin ice and it collapsed as I was running away. Elves can’t swim, so the buggins stopped chasing me.” He sniffed. “Have you come to put me back there for punishment?”
“No.” I said. “But you look like you know these parts pretty well. Can you direct us to the Riverous Gracious?”
“It’s three ginin from here, South Southeast. First go until you reach grass, that way, then turn left. Go until you reach the Stuck Ship Lake. Tiptoe so you don’t wake the giant snails. You do NOT want them to slime you, or you’ll never reach the river. Step on the ice, don’t worry, it’s sturdy, but watch out, make sure you don’t run into any ear-skaters. After you pass the ear-skaters, you’ll see the stuck ship, which is how the lake was named. Climb up the ma-”
“Wait a minute! Those directions are TOO complicated!” I said. “I think you might have to come with us. What’s your name anyway little elf?”
“Uh..M..Uh..M…Machoey is my name but I just can’t go back to my home. I will be beheadded!”
“Yikes!” I said. “Elves have harsh punishments. What did you do?”
“I stole a very expensive food. The best in the land. They call it a red-whiter.”
“The Riverous Gracious isn’t near your home is it?”
“No, but it is near the hole where my people get water. But they get their water at 12 INI, so I guess we could avoid them. I don’t have anywhere else to go. By the way, who’s us?” Said Machoey.
“You know, me, and my friend here, wait! Where is Hokano?”
“I saw a man following the directions I gave.”
“Well, we better get there now, before he gets to the snails!” I said.
And so, off we went. When we got to the snails, we saw Hokano stepping into Snail Territory, just ahead of us.
“Yipee! I made it – UMPHHH!” He said as we caught him.
“Quiet around the snails.” Whispered Machoey. But it was too late. One awoke and started spitting out firey hot slime. “Run!” Shouted Machoey, waking up all the other snails. We did NOT need to be told to start running. We ran and ran as fast as our legs could carry us. But some firey slime hit Hokano, burning off one of his ears. Hokano made a living bending his ears, but there was no time to think about that now. I put his ear in my pocket, and the three of us ran all the way to Stuck Ship Lake without any other mishaps.
It was getting dark. On the edge of Stuck Ship Lake, we made camp. Machoey planned to wrap a snail-slime and elf-hair hotsheet around himself for a bed. But since he had guests we all laid on the sheet, thankful not to sleep directly on the ice. Before I fell asleep, I said hopeful prayers to Lath about finding the Stone, and blessings for Hokano’s missing ear. I woke to the sound of a small drill in the middle of the night. My friends were still sleeping so I went by myself to see what all the racket was.
In the distance, I saw three figures. They were not snails, they were not elves, and they did not look like poor members of a southern tribe. In fact, they looked RICH. One had a necklace strung with rubies, the most valuable gem on Ladabath. One had a velvet cap, the most expensive fabric. And one had a diamond leather, well, it’s something I can’t explain in English, but it’s a kind of mouthpiece. I was interested because rich people rarely go to the South.
I silently creeped closer. Once they looked my way, but I hid in a snowbank. After creeping within an ooti (close to a foot) of the men, I realized it was the same shady characters that inspired my quest at the qiuin match. Instantly, it came to me. They must be looking for the stone too. But why? I’m the only space explorer assigned to find a stone planet. Maybe they’re looking for something else I thought. No, maybe they’re looking for the stone as poachers, trying to make money for something that belongs to all of us. In that case, and I was pretty sure that was the case, I had to find the stone first and stop them.
Meanwhile, my friends woke up and saw I was gone. They found me in a matter of minutes, but now those were just minutes wasted. I told them what was going on. I showed them the snow bank I hid under.
Machoey said, “Hey, that’s the Secret Snowbank! See this hole?”
I said, “I thought that was a Snail Hole.”
But it was a hole to a secret tunnel, leading under his village and right up into the river. We popped out at the river, thinking we were ahead of the men, who went left when we went right. But the men had already found the stone. So when they saw no stone, they realized what happened.
Here starts the part where my bravery saved us all.
We were a btississ (close to an inch) too late to catch the ship taking off. They had already pulled up the anchor and just hit the gas. I JUMPED onto the anchor as they were pulling it up! The stone was next to the driver, so I had to do some quick thinking. I took Hokano’s ear out of my pocket and tossed it next to the captain. The captain, who saw the ear out of the corner of his eye, thought it was a whole person. He said, “YOU DON’T BE STEALIN’ MY STONE” and whirled around. While he was looking for the person with the ear, I took the stone.
By now, the ship was far from the dock, and I could barely see the shore. I had no choice but to stick with them, unless…
The captain decided he must’ve been seeing things and went back to the wheel. In a spooky voice, into my mouthpiece, I said, “YOU ARE NOT SEEING THINGS…” He whirled around again. “WHO’S THAT?” said the captain. “It is LATH. The good god.”
The captain, afraid to offend Lath, came out of the cabin to worship. When he left the wheel, I locked the door to the cabin and took over the wheel. I turned the ship around. The captain realized something was wrong. There was no LATH, and the ship was turning around. He rushed back to the cabin. He pounded on the door, then took out his enormous pocket knife. He was going to cut through the door!
Meanwhile, my friends saw the ship coming toward them. Machoey was worried about the knife, when he remembered that Hokano had a wand. He could do magic. According to the rules, he must not hurt anyone. So he froze them in place and sent the ship zooming forward.
I jumped out the window of the cabin. Rushed to my friends and said, “I’ve got the Sto- Oh! I left it in the cabin!” By the time I reached the cabin, Hokano’s spell had worn off. The captain and I both got to the stone at the same time. We struggled with it out onto the deck, where Hokano summoned it, pushing the ship off the dock and un-anchoring it. The ship floated off into the distance toward Kinbeachil Island, home of the ship-eating savages. We think they’re stranded.
The trip home was pretty boring. When we got home, Hokano’s son was home from the army. He lost an ear in battle. Hokano used magic to put the ears back on, but accidentally put his big ear on his son and his son’s small ear on himself. It looks pretty weird, but at least they work. Machoey got a job as a tour guide, giving tours only in the North. He didn’t know he’d like hot weather so much. Plus, the North has beaches, and beaches attract girl elves… As for me, I’m about to go on a space exploration where I’m sure I’ll find stone.