Horror and Thriller Fiction posted October 25, 2017

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A Christmas gone horribly wrong.....or is it?!

The Christmas at stake

by afraazsidhu

Chapter 1

"Behold the Graveyard of Enchantment , my dear students, and be ready to unfold the extraordinary truths of the holy mansion of Efrrayville!" ,announced our tour guide and the history geek of our town, Ms. Alice, as we were escorted down by the chilly winds that engulfed the cliff of the everlasting Eerimen mountain which overshadowed our sleepy town of Efrrayville.
"This is nothing but a mere piece of junk. I'd rather go to Peter's to get the all time favourite chowmein! Truly mouth watering; isn't it Alex?" ,asked Chris, the plumpy guy, or should I say, a guardian of errr.... food!
"Nope! This is just like being on cloud nine! Hurry up, guys or this amazing place would close down! I was waiting for this trip since ages and now the moment has finally arrived!" replied Alex, three-time winner of the Best student award and a lover of museums and places like this!The trip had finally begun as we entered this graveyard which was 1000 years old. Full of spooky graves which had a thick cover of bushes with towering oak trees which sounded as if they would come to life sooner rather than later, this graveyard was the only place in this eerie town which was thronged by tourists during the time when Christmas was 'round the corner. Chills began running down my spine for this graveyard indeed took me to a world of zombies who would come and eat me with tomato ketchup! Sounds disgusting , isn't it? As we took a stroll around the spooky graveyard which had a scenario full of tranquility, save for us who were at the tour guide's heels.
"Now, is anyone from you aware of the great legend of Efkfrayville which continues to intrigue the minds of expert archeologists too?!" asked the historian in a mystical voice.
As soon as this question flew down my fellows, I caught the sight of one hand shooting up into the air as if an aircraft had embarked on its rendezvous in the sky. This hand was of none other than Alex, the history champ who hastily began , "Ahem!..... An eerie evening to all my fellow members! Hold your breaths pals as I take you in the time machine back to 1800 B.C when this hilly town of Effrayville was a very small hamlet. Sounds peaceful isn't it ? At this very place where we all are standing was a big mansion where the charming princess Bess and her little companion, Ken, a black haired pooch took refuge and was the only royal family of the this charming hamlet. Earlier, whenever the word 'Christmas' was being talked about, this town surely had an unforgettable place in everybody's hearts. A small chapel was situated over there." Alex came to a halt whilst pointing out to a small corner at the side of the graveyard. It was impossible to say that a chapel ever resided there as that corner now had nothing but an old Oak tree. "Hundreds of people came from different hamlets around the mountain to celebrate Christmas. Moreover, just a single clap by Princess Bess presented a mountain full of dishes, which included the "Becal", a distinct cake which had the ability to give anyone the power to produce a clay like substance which could be moulded into any desired shape. All this magic was attributed to her ring of Enchantment! Alas, one such Christmas was endowed with clouds of darkness as this Christmas brought Olega, a clever man who was bestowed with the ability to take the disguise of anyone of the innocent denizens of our hamlet.
Taking the disguise of Ken, he got to Princess' mansion and grabbing an opportunity, snatched the ring from the Princess! After innumerable endeavours to get back the ring, the "real Ken" returned with fire in his eyes and this furious pooch spread inferno across the mansion. Ken got the ring, saved Bess, but Olega went out of souls in this very graveyard. It is believed that his body got converted to a stinky blood-coloured liquid which was sealed in a bottle and thrown into an abyss leading to hell, in this very place. Princess Bess had a strong hunch that Olega would come back for revenge one day and asked the guardians of the underworld to burn that liquid and so continues the legend of Effrayville! One day Olega would return and so would Bess and their rivalry would last until Olega is frozen!"
"Excellent , Alex!" applauded our historian to Alex whose fabulous recollection of facts were comparable to chinese arithmetic for us guys! As we now followed our guide to a small abandoned cottage at one end of the graveyard , Alex's tongue of history again began chanting mantras of this cottage in a surreal way.
" You must be bewildered and curious on laying eyes upon the Eenmer's cottage , aren't you, Xavier?" , Alex asked. I was truly sceptical about these silly legends which are, to be precise, far fetched but who would want to face this catastrophic hurricane of fury from Alex? No one, of course, for when the volcano erupts, he is most certainly going to kill us! "Continue, my friend and unravel the truths!" , I courteously pronounced to which I received glares of anger from my friends but Alex who seemed to be at the top of the earth.
" So, getting you to the Eenmer's cottage, this is the , err... you can say; the Keat's room for Princess Bess, for here, she used to indulge in the serene tranquility away from her palace and write extraordinary verses with Ken weaving his pristine music with a mini guitar he had. Ken's talent of singing a tone in English was an eternal art in itself. I wonder how he managed to do it!" , Alex finished with a choke.
" Enough for today, man! Have some rest and allow us to have it too!" said Chris who was getting sick without his evening chow.
Alex , now getting angry, said, " What do you mean by that? Plumpooo guy! Ha,ha ha ha" which was answered with equal sword of fury by Chris, " You bookworm! How dare you! You filthy--" whose plethora of conversation was broken apart by Ms. Alice's voice, " Stop , you idiots or go out of the tour!!" The duo came to a halt and our guide escorted us inside the Eenmer's cottage. The cottage was composed of a single room where a Victorian style table with creaks and crevices on it accompanied by a Victorian chair. Besides them, we could see nothing but a small dog bed with red bloody patches on it which rested in one corner of the cottage. But the thing which caught my eye was a beautiful looking feather-like pen with an ink pot with "Ken" inscribed on them as well as some yellow pieces of paper with something written on them, lying on the table peacefully. Now, when Ms. Alice's lecture on the cottage finished , she asked us to sing Ken's favourite song after her. " Repeat after me , guys: Poetry is an art of charm,
Let us write it with no harm,
Let tranquility reside in our hearts, and so on. While we were singing, I noticed a green glow in the pen. To my utter astonishment, that glow rhythmically appeared every now and then as the song continued.
"The pen's glowing!" I shouted.
"Stop being weird, Xave , how can it be ?" asked Alex as now, the glow had gone!
"It was definitely there. My eyes can't betray me!" ,I miserably said, as after that beat of the song and its continuation, the glow seemed to have vanished in thin air! It must be something and I decided to unravel this puzzling mystery!

Chapter 2

After struggling with this irresistible cloud of eerie happenings that had placed themselves before me, I retraced my path other than my home, to the small room of monotony which somehow today, had turned out to be a treasure chest for me, the Kenny Library, which was two blocks away. As I moved at a brisk pace through the rusty old shelves full of books, endeavouring to find my place of interest, I finally discovered the history shelf where, by sheer chance, stood Ms. Evan, the local librarian who had ants in her pants after seeing me in the library.
"Am I again daydreaming or is it , for real, Mr.Xavier who thinks this knowledge house to be a devil's house, huh ?!" asked the librarian with gleam in her eyes .
"Its me , Ma'am. Not my soul and would you please, acquaint me with any book or journal which talks of Effrayville ?", I asked her with great august to which she took out from the shelf, three books and with trembling hands, handed them over to me. I quickly took the books and ran away home as Mum was sure to keep me outside in cold if I were late . Behind these rail of thoughts , I could hear Ms. Evans calling home and saying , " Honey, Xave, he came to the library and took some books of history! HISTORY, hon, HISTORY! Isn't it shocking ? Xave has become engrossed in history!"
Our two storey house had taken refuge near the market of our sleepy town with a small lawn. Our house always had visitors owing to the fact that Papa was the only physician in the town and even a tiny bruise attracted a dozen chaps and Mum's fruit and vegetable farm earned us ten bucks a day.
When I entered through the back door into the kitchen, a tall and swarthy looking lady who happened to be my Mum, actually exclaimed with utter joy, " Son, you finally developed a love for history! My son! I have prepared some delicious carrot milkshake for you, would you like to have some?"
"I just wanna go and have some rest , Mum. Could you get me the shake in my room? Thanks!",I replied as I hastily ascended the steps to my room which was nestled just below the attic of my residence.
My room was barely equipped with gadgets but had an inviting air of comfort. The rhythmic squeaks of the fan provided the backdrop to my incursions into imagination extending very often into fantasy. I rummaged through the books with unlimited zeal and unrepressed excitement. After giving the 500 paged books a read till midnight did I come across a sensational fact regarding the happenings of that day. The book , written by one "Gane" clearly stated that the pen of eternal poetry would sparkle with gleams of green when the royal throne and the tranquility of Effrayville was soon going to get banished by the wily maestro, Olega! Not to mention that the warnings were given by the ruler of dogs, Ken!
The thing was a matter of jubilance for it was the only fact regarding history which was still behind the rocks for Alex and it was a matter of melancholy for if that glow had been really there, if Olega, Ken and all with "magical powers" really existed in the world once and if they were really returning back to the world, their reunion is , for sure not going to be gleeful!!

Chapter 3

"Hey, wake up man. I have news, brilliant news!!", I bluffed to Chris who had a strong resemblance to Snorlax, the sleepy giant Pokemon, the only difference being that he was a bundle of yawns at this time!
"Has the Super Mongolian Chowmein released early at the noodle shop two blocks away?!" he asked me whilst bouncing off the walls.
"It ain't that thing. Its getting released two weeks later."
"Two weeks later?!! I'd rather die in that long a time!"
" You know, Chris , that legend which Alex told us; its true, they are coming back to life!!"
"Really! Which legend are you talkin' about? Not that one which that historian told us! Who was it ? Some kind of Olegin getting to hell and Kress and Ken, ruling our town?"
"Yeah, and I beg you pardon but its Olega, not "Olegin" and its Princess Bess, not "Kress" and gosh, you pronounced Ken correctly."
"Now I remember. But how can they? That glow was an illusion , wasn't it?" and in response to Chris's bemused face, I made him acquainted with all the recent developments in my path to acquire the magnificent fact of history.
"Let's find it out then! Its gonna be amazing!" said Chris jumping with joy when I remarked to take Alex along with us too. The moment the words got split out of my mouth, peals of laughter turned into fiendish grins from Chris , "That numbskull can't be a part of this rendezvous. Why would he be?"
"For he is a statue of history in itself!" I speculated and quite reluctantly did he agree to take Alex with us.
After I told him the same old story, we made a plan to set out to the Graveyard of Effaryville again have a glimpse of that eerie pen glowing. Struggling in the towering trees, pointed cactus bushes and steep road for at least five long miles which would pass in a cozy and warm ride in an air-conditioned bus, we arrived at the closed gate of the graveyard. Alex's foxy mind had already planned to carry a tiny harp so as to sing and see if it really glowed in green hues.
"How're we going to get to the cottage?" asked Chris in an wave of worries and haste.
"I've already thought of that." Alex said as he took out from a gunny bag a small device which had a few buttons and a stack of rope with it.
"This device would throw the rope according to our choice across the gate at a certain height which set using this lever. Now , I'll push the lever and we'll fly , virtually!" theorised Alex who was a perfect inventor too. His new creations in the field of science were the true charms of our school. At the sheer push of a button and the pulling of some levers, the rope strode off into the air and whilst dancing in the chilly winds, made a smooth landing at some point beyond the gate.
"Its as tough as steel. Need not worry, guys. First you, Xavier," cajoled Alex who seemed to be fully confident of his futuristic gadget. I carefully made a grip on the rope. To my utter bewilderment, the rope began to move until I had reached a point from which the graveyard was visible. I sliced on the rope and met the earth with great ease.
"Now, the plumpy man!" announced Alex to which a short tempered reply came from Chris, "Don't call me that." The same protocol got repeated but with a slight flaw. Chris couldn't make a wonderful landfall and you must have got the idea, haven't you? Okay, so keeping this aside, we walked with silent feet to the cottage and now the adventure began.
"Okay, so Alex , would you do the honours?"
I courteously asked him and received a hearty bow proceeded by a melodious Ken's song. Both of us stacked our eyes onto the feather-like pen. When the song was about to come to an end, that glow returned like an inferno but was now feebler than before. Alex's jaw dropped as a new breakthrough had entered into his subject. Chris was amazed too. On the spur of that moment, out of the blue came a mysterious "woof,woof" as if a dog has been caught in a booby trap! We were scared out of our senses and began chanting prayers for rescue and took refuge under Princess's table in this poetry house turned haunted house.
Suddenly, we saw a ghostly figure of a dog running over in thin air, its eyes ablaze with fire, its barks getting stronger by the moment and after that with a whoosh of green light, the figure vanished and behind us someone sneered , "You shouldn't have been here."

Chapter 4

"Who sss..aiid thaaat ?" we said in unison in the foggy room.
No reply came.
"For Pete's sake, save us, God!" we squeaked with chills running down our spine.
Still no reply. Now, as we tried to get up to escape from this house of horrors, something which forced us to stick to the ground. After desperate efforts to free ourselves from getting converted to hostages of ghosts, we sat on our prison.
Again, a hissing sound came, "Good great Olega, good great Olega , come,come,come.
Have some Christmas, have some laughter whilst having a wave of fun!" and ended up in a red gas engulfing the whole cottage. A sense of drowsiness dawned upon us and made us get lost in a world of dreams, in a deep slumber.
I didn't know how much time had flown in my tunnel of sleep when Chris moaned , " Wake up, man. Pinch me, would you?" and I blurted , "What on earth makes you ask me to pinch you?".
To my utter astonishment, the scenario which bowed before us was unbelievable.
"Please pinch me, now."
I yelped and as we pinched each other, the truth dawned upon us that this creation of wizardry had a wonderful charm in it. The small little cottage had gone and in its place, came the town of Effrayville as if witnessed from a point above the graveyard.
The magnificent town was visible to our eyes but it looked older with less houses, more tranquility, more trees and instead of the graveyard a majestic palace with a beautiful woman , wearing a fascinating white gown standing at the turret.
"That's Princess Bess, isn't it?" gasped Chris .
"That indeed is but how is it---" , but someone chimed in and exclaimed, "Justice! Saviour! True guardians! , You are isn't it?"
We jumped out of our skins as the sound came from a small black furred dog, with a white tail standing next to us!
"Am I daydreaming or is it a talking dog? Should I touch him, Xave?" babbled Chris to me whilst in these terrific events of the night, I was completely lost.
"I am a real, full fledged dog with fur, supersonic hearing power, some dangerous looking canines and a tail and yes, the name's Ken, not merely a 'dog'." snapped the dog in response to Chris's words.
"He can talk!" I whispered in my companion's ear .
"Yeah, he can! Why's he calling himself Ken? Must be some other Ken. Many Kens are there in the world-- mumbled Chris in my ear.
The dog who seemed to eavesdrop our conversation, quickly spoke up, "I am not a Ken. I am the Ken, the honourable King of Dogs of Effrayville and the valleys of Florikjda. Not to mention, that I am the esteemed pet of the royal family of Effrayville. Now, would you like me to spill the beans of today night?" lectured Ken. We were out of our senses at that time to answer him and so he continued,
"Dear warriors, I have returned back from the frozen lands, far in the west. I express my heartiest gratitude to you to release me from those dreading and freezing lands by tapping my melodious songs. Unfortunately, my lovely owner has taken refuge in heaven and it is impossible for her to come back. I must inform you that the evil spirit of Olega sabotaged a secret necklace from the God of Hell which grants you the ability to wander out of the dreaded place at any stroke of time. He has returned, has gathered devils to make up his army and wishes to steal the Ring Of Enchantment which is somewhere below the graveyard, safe and sound until now. I can blow fire, and I have only you two to fight him back and freeze him in snow to safeguard the holy fervour of Christmas, the eternal Beckal and the charming town of Effrayville."
"Firstly, its three Kenny, not two and can I call you that? Secondly, I thought that "freezing" was just a spice in the legend and did not have a literal meaning. How this legend's true? You are here, well in features, speaking English and Olega is there whose soldiers we heard are coming here." I summarised and Ken, quite perplexed, asked, "Where's the third one? You can't call me that, okay? Call me Ken the Doggy King and every legend in this eternal planet holds a secret which is yet to be unravelled by the human kind, Xavier. Ranging from the Big Foot of the breathtaking Himalayas to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, everything has a truth hidden beneath the ocean of what Humans can witness.
While he was speaking without a halt, we searched every nook and corner of the cottage for Alex but he was nowhere to be found.
"Where's our friend?" I sobbed. "Its good! That numbskull's gone. Besides that wanderer, is the Big Foot really a giant furry monkey like creature living in the snowy hills ? " snarled Chris whose heart seemed to break right now.
"He's not Big Foot! His name's Charlie. I used to meet him every now and then when Princess was alive. We had coffee together, Black Coffee, if you've heard of that name. Were you scared of that 'You must not have been here' , weren't you ? It was me! I am truly hilarious , the most hilarious in the world. Well, if you are well versed with the legend, I may turn over the magic." Ken replied in a cool tone and with a wag of a tail, the cottage turned into its original form.
"Do dogs have a sense of humour? If this is it, it's very nasty." , whispered my dear companion in my ear.
"Yeah, they've got it and that is certainly better than humans! As the issue of your friend is taken under consideration,the soldiers must have taken him away for slaying." informed Ken.
"Slaying?!" I exclaimed while beginning to faint. Ken replied, "Yeah. When you are to get the ring in your possession, some mortal being must be slayed in return. But no worries, we'll get him back. We should start our rendezvous ASAP before its too late."

Chapter 5

My rail of thoughts was zooming through narrow alleys of terror regarding this new twist in our lives as well as the kidnapping of Alex and through broad rail tracks over the moon with an air of adventure. We got out of the cottage with me walking alongside Ken and Chris.
"Now listen carefully, warriors. This journey on which we are embarking at this hour of the night, might be dangerous, full of difficulties and hurdles to leap and surpass. The first step is to find the entrance to the Eeriemen Dungeons, which are somewhere below this graveyard. In this dungeon, we will find the treasure of the Beckal and the Ring of Enchantment.
I must tell you that till now, history has never embraced an unbeatable wizard of knowledge who has been able to put on his thinking caps and get to the entrance of this dungeon. Only Your Highness knew the way to get to the dungeon where she kept some great treasures of the royal family. Personally, I've never been to the dungeons save a small moment when I was just a month old and Mistress took me to this place whilst I was lost in my deep slumber.
What remains as a faint picture in my mind is that it is a place full of darkness and only a ray of sunlight or Mistress's ring could enlighten the path through it. Whenever I asked her how to find the way to go to the dungeons, she used to reply, that 'animals are my best friends and the dungeon will face destruction if anyone dares to even curse them.' This is the only hint I have to get to it.", Ken finished with a sigh. We divided zones and I was given the cottage and the area around it. My plump companion was given the Northern part of the graveyard to hunt and the rest of the area was presented to the royal black pooch. Using the eternal power to smell, Ken was sniffing all around his area to get something while Chris was busy searching his area with great expectation for no matter Alex and he always had fights but their bond of friendship was unbreakable. I began rummaging through the cottage to get a way to Alex. As I was carefully opening the creaky doors of a small closet in the cottage, my vision was directed to a small cabinet in the midst of the closet. I was flabbergasted at the sight when I opened the cabinet in which two tiny candles were set up behind which stood a fabulous carving of our dog, Ken, on the wall.
Below it was scribbled a sentence with an awe-inspiring handwriting saying, " Love maybe silent", and a dash. Owing to my love for poetry, I rhythmically continued the rhyme , "But can defeat a massive tyrant!" The moment these words split out of my tongue, on the dash came the words swirling from the air and getting carved.
This was proceeded with a remark appearing below my verse, "The magic of poetry persists in you, son." I shouted to my companions to arrive at the cottage and after having a look at them, Ken marvelled that we had taken our first step towards the way to the dungeons. While I helped Chris with his area, my companion now sat under the tree to get some rest. His place of resting turned into a ghost's paradise when we noticed that the tree had spikes on its bottom and it forced the plumpy chap to leap into the air like a fat orangutan. When we examined it carefully, it made a picture of Princess Bess rejuvenating in the shade of the same tree with Ken at her left, a monkey at her right, some squirrels in the hole in the midst of the tree and a kitten in her lap.
"This might be somethin'!" ,we exclaimed and a scrutiny was held around the tree where Ken had found something, a leaf with his face designed on it up on the tree.
"Look, warriors! Eureka! I've found something", Ken chorused and his mere touch made the tree get transformed magically.

In its place conjured up a door which read, "The way to the Dungeon."

Chapter 6

When we put our foot near the tree, the bark opened up and we proceeded inside the latter.
"I'll go first, chaps. After all, I was the one who discovered the way to the dungeons. Adventure awaits!" ,bragged Chris and the result came out in a way that umm.... would amaze you (or you would burst out laughing!). He had his head inside the bark and half of his body was still trapped outside owing to his utterly huge tummy!
"Should we help you?", Ken yelped as all endeavours failed to get him in.
"Is that a thing to ask? Help me!" came a thundering reply. We tried hard at his body in the air and with a thud did the huge creature clash in the small room inside the tree.
"Let's get in", Kenny commanded and I entered the room after him.
The room was not like one carved out of a pine tree but barely had space, was well lit though with an unknown light source and had its every nook and corner engulfed with broken and creviced wood. At one corner of the illuminated room was festooned a wooden sculpture of Kenny, our fellow. I reckoned that he must be a gem of a dog for Princess Bess as even for the password of the dungeons, Ken truly came in as the chief faculty member! The doors closed with a sigh and their inner side again had Ken's face carved on them. "You are famed here, aren't you Ken?" I asked him out of an involuntary action and his face, now blushing out of sheer love, nodded.
In an instant, the sculpture spoke up in a matter-of-fact tone, "Please give your valuable identity." and Ken responded , "Animals are never forbidden in the kingdom of Princess Bess and I am her royal pet, Ken and they are under my permission."
"Identity accepted", the sculpture notified us and in the fraction of a second, the room began descending into the earth with the darkness becoming pitch-black every moment. The lift ended up opening into a completely dark passage where nothing was visible to us. I took out from my pocket a few flashlights and motioned Chris to take one and handing one to Ken. We put them on and the passage got floodlit in a moment.
"Do you know magic too, warriors? How'd you get the eternal light back?", Ken inquired, who was flabbergasted at this new marvel of science, the flashlights.
"Well, I'll do it for you", Chris said reassuringly and turned it on for Ken. The ray of light made the dog bow before them and mutter some prayers.
"Is he insane?" Chris whispered in my ear and the dog again eavesdropping our conversation , scoffed, "No, Chris! As the light could come to life only by Your Highness's ring, so we worshipped it, everyone did, not only me!"
The dog grabbed the flashlight in his mouth and before us lay the dungeon. Its dusty floor, and rusty walls made a perfect scenario of a ghost movie in its pre-climax in the theatre we watched the other day. As we had become unnerved out of the memoirs of the ghost film, we walked behind Ken who was bravely continuing on the old path.
As we turned around a corner , we were faced by a sinister signpost reading out, "Compassion defeats Aggression: Prove us if you can!"
"It might be the first challenge beckoning itself before us",the black pooch quoted.
After walking for some moment, the first challenge presented before us with the entire scenario turning over a new leaf! The darkness gave way to a tranquil sun high up in the sky, the rusty floor got converted to a long meadow with a soft bed of grass and a ranch was in sight.
"What's this? Is it that 'm dreaming again?" I pondered and in a deep tone did the black dog say that wizardry has conjured up this whole new world and Princess Bess's father is behind that. We must hunt up for something that matches with the signboard and should continue our quest. We went over to the ranch whilst glancing at the new surroundings inside the earth. The door creaked as we entered the ranch. It was well-built with cow - sheds , horses, sheep and all other animals that you would perhaps find in a farm.
"Divide and find!" Chris pronounced and we began exploring distinct regions of this fantastic game of saving Alex. I was hunting for a possible clue in the shed of of the wizarding world when I heard a yell from Chris who was getting down with the maize field.

I ran to his rescue where I found Chris just getting fainted behind Ken. I got to them and observed the catastrophe which had scared Chris out of his senses. It was a white furred dog who was firing a blizzard out of his mouth! Ken, growling, was now firing fire balls at his blizzard and the battle was continuing with equally powerful blasts from each field. I took Chris to a save spot behind a bush near the battlefield, while experiencing different hunches to defeat the ugly beast. Out of sheer luck, I discovered a shining spear lying near my feet. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat as now I had this brand new tool to kill that beast! But then someone hissed in my ear to keep in mind the challenge. At that moment, my hands froze just a millimetre from the spear and I don't know how, but I woke up, confronted the dog with Ken, now getting the chills. I escaped his blizzards with great efforts, reached upto him and patted him gently on the head.
I don't know how but now the blizzard got converted to a plethora of bubbles bursting to chirp the word "SUCCESS!" The whole surroundings again experienced a dramatic change with Chris now standing up like any other man and we standing in that same stinking dungeon.

Chapter 7

"Are you okay, young man?", asked a worried Ken to Chris whose robust reply was, "Never better!"
"You indeed have the brains , Xave, if I can call you that, and thanks for saving my life", he commented and I chuckled and nodded.
"Can I call you Kenny?" I slowly quizzed and Ken cackled , "If that's the least I can do to express my gratitude to you, yeah you can but don't tell anyone else."
I expressed my approval to keep my fingers crossed until his order.
While we were conversing in came Chris dribbling, "Guuuyyyyss! See!" whilst pointing his finger at the dog I had patted on.
"Hullo! I am Victor , one of the guardians of the Beckal and the Ring Of Enchantment. I was instructed by Princess Bess to guard the magical ranch and would you mind if I accompany you on your further encounters? I'd be as quiet and as cute as a soft toy bear and you may use my icing power to tackle further challenges", proposed the new addition. After discussing some highs and lows of this novel fellow, we decided to take him along. The two of us followed the doggy duo while they were talking something in the dog language which was Chinese arithmetic for us. Now, we saw something inscribed on the walls of the dungeon.
"Use the greatest weapon of love and compassion for my half life if you are that able!"
"Was Your Highness a ghost that she separated into two?" Chris queried to all of us.
"She talks of me. She used to say that to all the other royal guests coming to the palace. But what's the weapon?" explained and questioned Kenny at the same time.
"Its poetry or painting or any other kind of art. Its evident from what beholds us",I remarked and the others followed my vision to again see a revolution taking place. All we could see were breathtaking mountains, a crystal clear river , a mesmerising brook running across a small shack which made the fascinating spirit of poetry dwell upon me. As we stepped into the cottage, it was engulfed with sketches, pieces of poetry and photos of Ken. In the centre stood proudly a painting stand and near it was a small desk with a piece of parchment and the olden day feather pen with an ink pot.
"Taking the clue and this scenery into consideration, I reckon that we are asked to write a verse better than those on the walls and to make an artistic wonder presenting its uniqueness from the others. Xave, get on with the poetry and umm... Chris and Victor , make an artistic wonder!" Ken instructed us leaving the young painters in a flood of worries.
"You are exceptional, you can do it!" I proclaimed and they set on their task. An hour passed------three hours passed and we said in unison, "We're done!" . "Lemme have a look." Kenny said and summoning us to give him our creations. The vibrant art practiced by the duo mesmerised me and Ken too and forced me appreciate the plumpy fellow's fascinating hidden talents. It brought tears to the young dog's eyes while he read my poem dedicated to him and he "Thanks Xave. Indeed, a fantastic poem! You'd become a great poet in future, I guarantee you!" he sobbed. We inserted them in the submission box of a squirrel shape outside the shack and received a congrats note in the post box. Again the scenario vanished and the dungeon replaced it and second challenge completed!
"I reckon that's the last hurdle coming our way, isn't it ?" asked Victor and the black furred fellow shrugged , "Perhaps , it is!"

Chapter 8

As we now continued our journey, we experienced a sense of deja vu every now and then for all the alleys had no difference save the ones which had a quest hidden in them. Suddenly, I got the sensation of a tap on my shoulder and an involuntary turn put a middle-aged lady with blonde hair with cuts and bruises all around her body before my eyes. Her bleeding could not be seen and so Ken put his healing powers to his tail and that lady sprang up, fully healthy and robust.
"I'm Anita , the fairy guardian of the dungeons. You're magnificent writers and artists. Thanks for curing me, doggy. Can I join you? As I have now presented the further path to their rightful owners, I must get out, so I need to join you, if you request me?" , she kindly informed us.
"Okay, you can", we said in unison as she was utterly beautiful and fairies have abnormal abilities! Ahem! So, we continued and a cloud shaped up to convey us a message, "Final stage bows before you! Use you wits and magic WISELY and get the ring!" Finally, we were going to get reunited with Alex! A moment to cherish!
Finally, the five of us came to this final level of the game and saw a short and stern gentleman who had large canines and a magician's hat bowing to us and declaring, "I welcome you, brave warriors! I am Wallace, the final hurdle to defeat to get the treasure of the lifetime. What you need to do is, pick up a single chit from that stack of chits in the box lying over there. You'll find a pendant in the chit, wear it and achieve that notified power in the chit. I have a mixture of all the powers , so you need to use your wits to defeat me."
"I'll not participate." , Anita announced and we four decided to get our hands on the treasure before Olega could! In this chamber of powers, our opponent asked the dogs to keep up with their powers but asked us to select our lucky chits! "I'm takin this one. Lemme see this.......Whoa!" , Chris ended up with getting converted into a panda! "Remember, Chris, animals were her best friends and so animal power awaits us!" I remarked and picked my chit and got converted into a jaguar!
"Let the fight begin!" , Wallace shouted and he took us to a wide clearing, a perfect place for a battle. The battle began with Victor showering ice spikes on the opponent who, shouted "Monkey", got converted into a monkey and leaped aside to save himself. The panda leaped onto him but now, he again shouted , "Eagle",made himself the latter and flew into the air. I tried to attack him but he spoke at the top of his voice , "Ant", changed into one and escaped my canine shot. Even the fire tornado by Ken was no match for our warrior. I took Ken aside and we began thinking about some way to annex our treasure.
"I have one idea!", Ken exclaimed and whispered something brilliant which made me to chortle. We came out and started speaking at the top of our voice , "Turtles , tortoise are very cute and powerful...." "What are you talkin' about" , the animal warrior asked.
"Turtle!" and this made him get converted into a turtle and we made the panda sit on him which forced him to show the white flag!" As soon as the turtle vanished, in its place came Alex.
"Friends!" he exclaimed .
"Alex!" and we all ended up giving him a hearty hug. "Its a long story guys. But what on earth is he doin' here?", he queried while pointing on to Anita and he again became cold. "SHE's Anita! She's a fairy, not some monster, mate." we reassured him.
"He's none other than Olega." and the beautiful lady turned into a tall ugly monster with an egg-like head and green face who pronounced in a devil's voice that "I'm Back!!!"

Chapter 9

"Grab it!!" Alex said to me and handed me over an ice spike machine. I preserved it in my pocket and Olega started lecturing, "Ohh! I'm free, at last. I had taken the disguise of a small tick in Ken's hair and have been following you since the time you met Ken. It was me that told you, Xavier, not to touch the spear. This Wallace had defeated me when you were writing those stupid pieces of poetry. So, I used you as a "real" human named Anita to get me the treasure! Now, its mine!"
"Not so soon", I replied bravely and we all started using our superpowers of animals to kill Olega which finally made him frustrated.
"Now, no more of this. I'll kill you all" and he fired from his magical wand a death spell at Alex. The latter was in deep shock to duck but here came Chris in his panda form pushing Alex aside and facing that dreadful red whoosh of light.
"Nooooooooooo!" We all pronounced in unison as Chris's body became a lifeless soft toy. "I'll kill you!", Victor shrieked and brought such a catastrophic avalanche that Olega got frozen forever.
Alex sat near Chris, saying, "He'll wake up. Chris, no more making fool! Wake up, man. Please, for me."
"He wouldn't. He was your true friend Alex and was a gem for all of us." Ken said whilst everybody weeping.
"Please wake up. Please wake up. Please wakkkkeeeee upppppppppp..............

One year afterwards...

Somewhere in some other valley, On 25th December, I found myself at the dias with two majestic dogs standing with me and Alex sitting and crying quietly.
My voice was steady and full of moans, "Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am hear to pay tribute to Mr. Chris Plimble, an honorary citizen of the holy town of Effrayville , who gave up his life to save his friend Alex, to save our holy town, to save the rejuvenating festival of Christmas. Nowadays, this kind of act done by my best friend is rarely noticeable. Just for the sake of Alex, did he leave the earth. But he left us with memoirs to cherish and an important lesson to learn that no matter how much you fight, how much you laugh, how much you meet your friends, they always remain alive in your hearts! A Salaam to this great soul and this statue made by the Beckal of my friend!

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