By Alicia Steen
At the end of the meal, the tables are practically deserted but for scattered enthusiasts eating thirds and small groups still in conversation. The exception, which Gathyrans seemed to excel in, was the gaming table, where holoscreens and gamers minus the plates still crowded together. It looked as if they’d stay there until at least the next meal, if not longer. Sranus, however, was not among them. Not willing to be crushed by the obvious skill of the gamers, you take Sranus’s advice and simply ‘wander about’.
The festival is alive with pops and showers of color. Laughter and conversation mix in with the scales set off from every direction. The bursts of color are especially prevalent in the direction of the seah gate. If you remember right, that’s where Sranus said the more active Gathyrans gather.
You’re not quite sure where to wander next, but a voice catches your ear. You turn toward its source and see a group of middle school kids enacting the Scale War you saw the previous day. Their version has a touch of the ridiculous, which is all the more funny because it isn’t far from the truth. They add a lot of dialogue, mostly large-sounding names for attacks, but they also add in what they fighters are thinking at certain key points. The story reaches the point where Jeske, one of the few rivals of the Three Princes, comes forward.
The middle school students freeze, except for those portraying the princes. Those three proceed to haggle over who will take Jeske.
(Mykl) “James, you’re smart like he is. You take him.”
(James) “I’d rather not.”
(Parkr) “Hey, the last time I tried that he turned my vanishing blades into the planted face.”
(James) “I’m sure you’ll figure out something.”
(Mykl) “You’re taking Kyle then. I haven’t figured out how to hit the guy through all that torrential rain he throws at you.” ‘Mykl’ rubs his face. “I think he froze some rain into needles last time.”
(Parkr) “You know that means you have Synrn, right? Mr. Where-Did-That-Flame-Originate?”
(Mykl) ‘Mykl’ groans, “He is in their group, isn’t he. Well let’s do it. We have a Scale War to dominate.”
As the students resume the fight scene, through your rolling laughter you see the real princes not too far away watching the enactment. You just manage to catch what one says to the other.
“Someone hacked into our mental link.”
No way. That’s really what they were thinking? In yesterday’s scale war they looked like they jumped in without hesitation. Parkr tricked Jeske into one of Mykl’s transport traps, Mykl jumped too quickly for Synrn to keep up, and James managed to use Kyle’s freezing rain to turn a strip of dirt into sticky mud. It was the biggest turning point of the war. The princes dominated the fights from there until the end.
As the students finish their enactment, you clap loudly along with the crowd. One thought that has been nagging you since yesterday rises to the surface. How were the princes able to go all out like that, to unlock their strength so entirely? It wasn’t just the princes either; every contestant you’d watched the entire magic games was like that. Well, except for him. And them. But they’re beside the point.
You drift through the crowd, just about ready to put your question away until the next time Sranus shows himself. If he does. Another voice grabs your attention, an older voice. You recognize him as one of the top ten dragon riders from the dragon races. As he narrates, two others illustrate with an impressive three dimensional hologram.
“Gather ‘round and listen well, for I tell of ages past
Gathyra was dark, heavy with shadow, when King Cenryr came at last
“His light shone bright, a beacon for shadows to plunder
So he built a wall to contain the light, but shadows still did gather
Against the wall they would not fight, rather warriors they all did sunder
So the cry went up, don’t leave the wall, for shadows will not come hither
“The days were dim, and work was plenty,
With but three good men to Gathyra’s name
Also a grandmother who rebuked the same
‘Why should we be afraid?
For we know the one who drives back shadow;
With him let us make an alliance.’
“‘Would the Ancient One care?
Would he help us in our plight?
I think he will, so let us try;
For fear will not bring might.’
“So three good men did topple their wall
And dared the shadow to fear.
On every side they fought for freedom
Their hearts once dark now clear.
“The dragons are coming! The dragons came!
The battle…wait, weren’t we fighting?
Their flames cleansed all, and burned our wall
The day is now for dancing.
“On the site of his greatest triumph
A school there Cenryr built
For old ones to remember
For young ones to learn
For the future of Gathyra to treasure.”