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Aztec's Defeat: Chapters 2-3
It was another humid spring day. The ground was squishy and wet from dew as the sun beat down good and hot (well, for the end of February). I walked in my school uniform, my backpack full of homework, hung limp over my shoulder. Skipping down the cobble-stoned road, I turned to the little house with a long drive. I noticed as I walked past Papi’s huge spruce tree with the Tweetie-Bird feeder was teeming with life.
I half-ran inside like every other day. He was sitting on his green couch in front of the television, the oversized Cuckoo Clock hanging behind the rocking chair that I occupied so often. Walking inside I tripped over a stack of books while I tried to maneuver myself around Rusty, his puppy, and all the dog toys.
Clumsily, I picked up the books and skipped behind the couch to the bookshelf, which took up the whole back wall. “Hello, Papi,” I said. He turned to watch me.
“Hi, Airainia,” he smiled. I walked to the rocker and sat down, setting my book bag in front of me. There was an awkward silence while I played with my skirt and Papi watched me.
I wasn’t paying attention to whatever my hands were doing. I was debating with my mind whether or not to ask Papi something. Then, without giving it so much a thought I burst out, “Papi, can I ask you something?” he turned to me from patting Rusty.
“Ask away.” Our eyes met. Quickly I looked away.
“Uh…well…” I sighed, chickening out. “N-never mind,” He stared at me like that wasn’t it, like I was going to go on.
“Tell me,” he urged.
“I-,” Was I really going to ask him? It was so stupid. I took a deep breath. “I-It’s about the prophecy, inthestoryyoutoldmelastnight,” I spoke fast my words ended up mashing together.
He raised an eyebrow at me, asking me to rephrase. “The prophecy what?”
“In, in the story you told me last night…”
“Oh?” Papi asked. “What about it?” He stared straight into my eyes, seeing right into me.
“I-I -,” I was such a chicken. “Never mind, you’d think I’m crazy-” He smiled wider.
I took one last deep breath. So stupid, I thought. But I continued. “I think the girl in the story yesterday was me,” I finished, feeling my face boil up. I was looking at my skirt again. “Okay, so-” I began again, trying to make up for my apparent stupidity. I finally worked up the guts to look back up at Papi, he was still smiling politely, he must have thought me to be amusing to think something so…so…so…childish.
“No, you are not silly for thinking this.” His stern words hadn’t fazed me, they were in one ear and out the other.
“Why?” I asked, completely aware that my tone was stiff, hard, commanding him to answer me. “For all I know I need to have my brain looked at!-”
Papi wasn’t smiling anymore. “Airainia, please, listen!” he cut me off mid-sentence. I mumbled something like rude without realizing exactly what I was saying, but listened quietly anyway, glaring. “You’ve figured it out enough-It’s all true. Here,” He stood up from the lumpy couch and circled around it to the bookshelf behind us that took up most of the wall.
Slipping his wrinkly fingers under one of the waist-high shelves, and gripping something tightly, he pulled back on whatever he was tugging. There was a scraping noise as two pieces of wood rubbed against each other, opening to a secret compartment hidden between two of the smallest books on the shelf. He stuck his hand in fearlessly and squeezed a very, very large object from its depths, and with the other hand, pulled out two smaller things that glinted in the light of the ceiling fan.
The big lump in his hand was a large, midnight blue leather-bound book. The cover was torn and faded from age, so much so that it looked as if it had a fine layer of dust sprinkled just on the surface. The binding shown tiny gaps between pages, so it looked as if the book were dog-eared in many places, and some pages were torn out, leaving the books spine sagging with its efforts wasted, no longer enough pages to make it useful. My gaze shifted to the tight gold chain going around the book once, twice, three times. Securing the chain was a large, heavy-looking golden lock, it had the oddest shape for a key hole in it’s center. Weird, I thought to myself. Then, out of nowhere, the lights above me made the shimmering letters on the outside of the book catch my attention for the first time. In thin golden letters, the words that shined upon the midnight blue surface of the gigantic book spelled;
I never looked away from his eyes as he lightly placed the book in my already-awaiting palms. The texture was so smooth, despite the years of beatings the poor copy had. The book itself probably wasn’t very heavy at all, it must have been the heavy gold chains linked around it. I looked down to it as Papi dropped it, giving up the full weight of it into my two hands. Then, I traced a few of my fingers up and down the lock, and ripped my gaze unwillingly from the book and looked up at Papi again.
“What is this?” I questioned, surprised to hear that I actually had a voice at all, my throat was so dry.
“This,” he began, gesturing toward the book. “This is all your answers.”
Insanity. Pure insanity. That was all I could think. I. was. Insane! Insane, because I believed him. I actually believed him! But it wasn’t hard to believe this at all. Maybe because I wanted it to be true, or maybe because it really was. All the jigsaw pieces fit, even when, at first glance, they seemed nearly impossible. A child’s dream that everything went together so easily.
“But, it’s locked,” I mumbled. He leaned in and looked into my eyes. “You would know how to open it.” It took me a second to mull over this.
“Papi? Didn’t you say the girl”- Or, me in that sense-“Was a witch too?”
“Yes, Airainia.” He said simply.
“That means I-I need a wand.”
“Oh! You are so much faster than I expected!” He shouted, just delighted. Out of his other hand he pulled out one of the two things, and handed one to me. Once again, I was surprised at my ability to do things. I tucked the large book under my arm and took the object from his hand. Then, pulling my arm back, I examined it carefully. It was small dagger, from the golden handle to the tip of the sharp silver blade it only could have been four inches. Separating the blade and the handle was a sapphire heart. So beautiful, I thought, my mind racing.
As I examined the dagger, I had absentmindedly walked back to the couch and set the book down beside me. I had only realized what I had done until after Papi plopped down next to me and made the lumpy couch puff more stuffing onto my side, making me rise up some. I waited for the couch to level out some before tearing myself back to reality, out of my deep tunnel of thought. My insane mind buzzing. It couldn’t be real, and yet…
“So now what?” I asked, looking at Papi without really looking at him.
“Well, that part is also for you to think about, Airainia.” He sighed. I looked back down to the book, the gold chain, the dagger. Then, without thinking about it twice, I stabbed the dagger into the oddly-shaped keyhole of the lock and twisted. Immediately the chains recoiled, and once let up from its secure grip around the book, disintegrated into a small pile of gold dust onto my lap.
As the battle raged on, somewhere in it’s midst, Aztec found a way to slip away. Forever lost from his home, or hiding in the valley just around the bend, we shall never know for sure exactly where to, or why he left. The biggest theory to his absence is he and his companion, Di-
I turned the page eagerly, but the answer wasn’t there.
How to Make Your Diamond.
The title read It was labeled forty pages ahead of where I was. Huh. I sighed, whoever ripped stuff out of this book made it really difficult to read through. I sighed again, and continued reading.
A Diamond is essential. Every witch needs one of the same, one who’s powers match their own, and will be on your side no matter what. One to be the closest to your heart. The spell you need to do is of extreme difficulty, but can be accomplished if-
“Airainia!” Mom called out to me. I was irritated with her interrupting my train of thought, for the past few hours I had been in the land of darkness and midnight, a planet so tiny and close to a bundle of stars in the very core of the galaxy, that none would even notice its miniscule existence if it were possible to get there. One, that was under a curse so evil, no light could enter the atmosphere. With this, the land was left with no rain, no light, no hope, and then-
“WHAT?!” I yelled at her from my bedroom to the bottom of the staircase.
“Dinner time!” she screeched back, annoyed. I sighed heavily and got up off my bed, leaving the book open to the page I was reading.
Nothing was very entertaining at the dinner table. Ben had gotten up and left early, thudding upstairs (and taking about twenty minutes to get a single sweatshirt) then coming back down (with a little less enthusiasm as he had went up), meeting his friend at the door. Before he left, though, he gave me an anxious glance that I caught out the corner of my eye, and swept through the door.
It wasn’t long before I could escape back to my bedroom. It had been a long day of doing nothing, and for some weird reason that just made me more tired. I just climbed into my bed, warm and comfy and inviting. The outside day was dreary, a mist covering the grounds, always threatening to turn to rain.
My eyes drooped right as my head hit the pillow, so soft beneath my head. The warm covers were light against my skin, yet warm. It was right before I slipped into sleep that I wondered where I had put my book, but it didn’t bother me much then, I probably put it away…somewhere…
I was asleep. I hadn’t even bothered to turn off my light, but conscience enough to notice the thin beam of it from behind my eyelids. Soon, I was awake. I got up and looked at my blaring alarm clock. I had forgotten to reset it. Four in the morning. I groaned and clicked off my lamp, then fell back asleep easily, and dreamed.
Unconsciously, all night I had been thinking about my book. About making my diamond. About exactly who would be my diamond…
I sped faster over the waves, thrashing and wailing with the wind that bit at my face. I wasn’t sure what my destination was, only that I had to get there, and as fast as possible. There was also that feeling of dread when I thought of it. The dark, heavy feeling of dread that’s so extremely painful that it hurts the heart, like pouring salt into a stab wound. The dread was of never making it to that destination, not getting there fast enough, the mission; impossible, the necessity; undeniable. The water disappeared into the dark horizon laid out in front of me.
Dark; everything was completely dark. I looked up, no moon, no stars. A feeling of claustrophobia crept up my spine. The sky seemed unusually close…. The dark, with the claustrophobia, came with friends; fear, hopelessness.
I sped up, just wanting to get out of this nightmare, urging my broomstick to go faster. Wait, my broomstick? Yet it felt comfortable, right, and totally homey. I was staring down at my broom when I noticed no sound reached my ears anymore, no smell touched my nose, taste never tickled my lips, willing them to open and breathe. This place was a black hole of fear and loneliness. I shrugged closer to the broomstick that I could no longer feel.
I found something thrashing harder than the crashing waves. I didn’t want to stop, I never wanted to stop. The darkness scared me, it felt as if, if I stopped , it would be the end of me. My feelings would crush me into oblivion. But at the same time, I felt that whatever the thrashing thing was, it needed me. A part of my destination, another necessity. It wasn’t long before I got the feeling that I needed to investigate the thing, save it, no matter how scary.
I drew the broom closer and emerging beneath the waves with its last breath, its last hope, his last burst of energy, was my brother, Benjamin. I grabbed his hands (cold, but at least I could feel them) picking him up and out of the water as if he were made of down, and yet, it felt as if he where made of lead.
He drew breaths in rasps, his chest heaving up and down as he choked and gagged on water. Coughing, gagging, breathing. I could hear it. I could smell his sweet breath, taste the salt water in the air around his soaking skin, see his pale skin glow in the darkness. His pain was my pain, my throat burned, my lungs were heavy… and it felt good. Taking away from my pain.
Then I looked to his eyes. They were astonished, grateful and confused. “What’s wrong?” I questioned, my voice echoing in the dark walls of the night. My voice misty and weird sounding, but beautiful, in a way.
“You-You,” he looked to the broomstick. My mind comprehended. “Ben! Ben, you can not tell anybody!” I pleaded. He just shook his head, whispering
Those words were stuck in my head, along with Ben’s petrified face. They echoed themselves around my mind, even as the dream faded into the blackness of behind my eyelids. That was a weird dream, looking at my eyelids…
The next morning I awoke groggily. The night had been so long and full of unrest. I slid delicately out of my warm covers, which seemed more inviting than they were last night, and scrambled blindly for my school uniform. Today, I wasn’t waking without a fight, that much was totally clear. So, I took off my soft pajamas and clicked my fan onto high, leaning in so that the cool air could touch my face.
Then, cold and awake, I pulled on my uniform happily, and wedged on my too-small slippers so that my bare feet didn’t have to touch the dreaded surface of the ice-cold bathroom floor. Sadly, I looked back to my warm bed, and shuffled into the hallway.
“Benny!” I yelled at the door to Ben’s room. “Benny! Time to get up!” I knocked once with the side of my knuckle. The door silently slid open. “Ben,” I yawned, looking towards his bed through the heaps of things on his bedroom floor. There he lay, him and his blankets sprawled out around everywhere. Ben’s head and his pillow were on whole opposite sides of the bed. “Ben!” I continued to grumble, weaving my way to the bed. Then, through the slipper, my toe jabbed into something hard.
“Ouch!” I whimpered softly. Looking down, I noticed what had caused my pain. There on Ben’s bedroom floor, was a large blue book, with gold letters inscribing- “No!” I whispered, dropping to the floor. Quickly I took the book and scurried off to my bedroom to stash it in the lowest depths of my underwear drawer. No matter how much he wants something, Ben would never dare go in there… I hoped.
Before leaving the room for a second time, I looked at the alarm clock. We only had minutes left. “BEN!” I hollered. “Get-UP!” No need to worry, I could be as loud as necessary. Jeeze, if I had wanted to, I could get a foghorn installed to wake Ben up. My parents where always long gone before either of us awakened. Ben moaned but got up.
I downed a glass of soda on my way out. My mind buzzed in confusion. The bookmark that belonged to Ben was nearly halfway through the book. I shook my head, and let my thoughts run free to my bubbling, nearly empty stomach. I took my bag off the counter to sprint to the bus, loudly idling in front of the house.
“So,” I began. “About how far in my book did you get, Benny?” He looked stunned that I had found it. Good thing he wasn’t too observant.
“Not only up to the part where you need a Diamond.” He mumbled the last words under his breath. I sighed deeply. “Am I a witch, too?” he questioned sheepishly.
“Not yet,“ I said to the window as we passed by Papi’s house, deep in thought.