Contest entry: The Dungeon of Baramond
Editor’s note: Hi, Junior Dispatch readers. Please re-read this contest entry. The beginning was missing in the first posting due to problems with the attachment the writer used. Sorry, Grace!
By Grace Good
Age 12, Hanover
Windsong, the daughter of a shopkeeper and my friend, wondered how long it would be before the dungeon key would be found. Her father’s business had suffered terribly since the key was originally stolen, and now Baramond was considered to be dangerous, I wrote in my journal. Then I flipped its leather cover overtop the words and bound it with a scrap of twine my father, Treeheart, had given to me. I stood up, mounted Loosefoot, my trusty mare, and bounded off towards home. Earlier today, I’d been to the market with my father’s carvings. Being a woodcarver, his works were selling, but barely. Nobody had much use for novelties, and the tools and furniture he made everyone seemed to have. I reached our cottage and entered with a brisk knock. Inside, I found Echo, my brother; Blossom, my mother; and Pado, the village storyteller. Mother and Pado were working in the kitchen. I grinned. Pado was my favorite guest. He made up new stories, but kept the old in case someone, like me, decided they’d like to hear one.
“Hello, Pado. Hello, Mother,” I greeted them. “What’s for supper?”
“Hello, Whisper. Tonight we will have a loaf of nut bread, your favorite; cheese, and some spicy beef chili. Pado will help me prepare supper, so please fetch your father,” my mother ordered.
“Of course,” I curtsied to them. “Good-bye, Pado.”
“Good-bye, Whisper,” he smiled, making his sharp brown eyes sparkle. “I look forward to sharing my stories with you tonight.”
I grinned again and turn towards the door. “So do I,” I called, looking over my shoulder.
Since Father was a woodcarver, I galloped to the mill. Waving to Phillip, Windsong’s brother, and his kind partner Christina, I walked Loosefoot over to the nearby shed where Treeheart carved.
“Father?” I called. “Father, Pado is our guest tonight! We’ll have stories!” I told him.
“Yes, yes, duckling,” he said. “I’m coming. How did my wares sell?” he asked.
“Not the best day,” I admitted. “But it’s not your fault. No one has gold, let alone a fortune! But times will get better!” I smiled. But deep inside, I knew that if things didn’t get better soon, we’d need to appeal to the king for help-and the king didn’t help just anyone. “Father,” I said, “I promise to do whatever I can to help us get through this. But we really do need to get home. Mother and Pado are waiting, and Echo is starving, as usual.”
Just for the record, my name’s Brick. Yeah, I know. Great name, huh? Well, I didn’t want to be late. I urged my stallion, Icefire, into a gallop, and sped down the dusty road.
About twenty minutes later, I found myself seated next to Pado, the storyteller of Blossom’s village. Apparently the girl had no idea why I was here, but I knew she’d find out eventually.
“So, Blossom,” I started, “Long time, no see!”
“Yes, it has been awhile. It’s great to see you again, Brick,” she replied.
“So…Mother, why is Brick here, anyway?” the girl asked. She had short cut brown hair, and when she shook her head in exasperation, it bounced all over the place.
“Maybe…Brick, why don’t you tell Whisper?”
Whisper…So that was her name! “Well, Whis, your mother asked me if I’d be willing to bring you along on an expedition of mine. She thought that we’d make a good team…and this mission is pretty important.”
“Well? What do you want me to do?” she asked, her deep brown eyes gleaming.
“We’re going to find the keys to Baramond’s dungeon.”
“What!?” she burst laughing. “No way!”
“They’re buried treasure, Whis. They’re meant to be found!”
I returned to my chili, and let the awkward silence take over. “Look,” I said to everyone at the table, “Whis, answer me now. Are you coming with me, or not?”
The force of his words startled me. What should I do? Why? I hardly knew anything about the mission, let alone him! But if Brick was telling the truth, this could be a chance to save my family-I remembered my promise to my father.
“Brick, I’ll come on one condition.”
“Which is?” He looked bored.
“I’d like to bring a friend.”
“Whis, this is a very impo-“
“I know! But there’s strength in numbers, right? Don’t worry. Windsong’s willing to do whatever she can to save her father’s business. He’s a shopkeeper. Her dad’s store is dependent on the outlying farms for their stock. If this will help us get on the king’s good side, we’d be glad to help.”
“Good. I’ll meet both of you on the riverbank of the Sorrow on the north side of town. My scouts have reason to believe that the key was buried somewhere northern.”
“Pado, we’d only like to hear one story tonight. Can you guess which one?”
“Of course! Under the circumstances, I’ll tell you the story of the dungeon of Baramond! A tale of mystery, danger, and deception, the Dungeon of Baramond remains a favorite tale. And it all began one dark and dangerous night…
“The great knight Bordrin had traveled the globe for the secret of containing evil. Finally, after a long search, Bordrin found a box-the legendary Pandora’s Box. He sought out several other magical items whose powers once challenged those of the world’s evil, along the way challenging the Cyclops, devils, and servants of evil. So, Bordrin fused their essences together, and the key to the dungeons of Baramond was made.
“But there was a traitor in the House of Light, in the king’s house. Rain the Pure, or rather, Rain the Dark, was the queen of Baramond. Bordrin found her, as she was formerly the queen of the underworld, and brought her to the king as a gift. He indeed warned the king of the dangers of this woman, and at first the king was wary. But soon he became convinced she was harmless, and they were married. The most beautiful lady in the land, nobody suspected her until the crime had been committed. On one fateful night, Rain murdered the king in his sleep. Then, stealing the key to the dungeon, she set all of her minions and the king of the underworld free.
“They all left, all but Rain. She was found sobbing on the steps of the castle. The king of the underworld had taken the key and left. Rain, heartbroken, but a traitor, she was sent to the dungeon. The door could not be locked, but the fools again trusted her. Again that same night, she snuck upstairs to the prince’s room. But the prince, enraged by his father’s death and thus untouched by her beauty, caught her before the second murder and banished her from the kingdom. Scouts were sent out the next day, gates were closed, and all small farms were evacuated. All are now confined to the city until the key is found,” Pado finished.
“Except us,” I said. “The king gave me permission to search outside of the castle walls. As long as you and Emily stick with me, you’ll be fine.”
“Thank you for the story, Pado,” Blossom said. “Enjoy your evening, everyone.’
I stayed after a while and watched Whisper clear the table. Her dark hair was cute, he decided. But he wondered how old she was. She certainly couldn’t be more than 18 years old…He entered the kitchen, where Treeheart and Blossom were quietly conferring with one another.
“Um…How old is Whisper?” He asked in a low tone.
“Sixteen in June. Why?” Blossom asked, suspicious.
“Oh…um, just wondering. She looks younger.”
I rode hard to the northern bank of the Sorrow just in time to see Windsong and Brick ride through the gate. I galloped through it just as the doors slammed closed. Soon we arrived at a small clearing. “I think…I think it’s here.
“Should be here, then,” Brick said. He jumped down from his mount and began to dig. Soon, a mound of dirt rose from the ground, and the glint of metal shone from deep within the hole. I kneeled down. Grasping the key in my hand, I hugged Brick. His red hair shone in the sunlight, and he blushed. Windsong sighed.
“We need to get back,” he said. But he was practically glowing. I smiled. I’d made a new friend, and saved my family.
In the end, Whisper, Windsong, and I returned to Baramond. The king gave us each 1,000 gold bits, and Whisper’s family was saved. Windsong became a knight, and received the important task of rounding up the evil of the world. And I…I went home to Chrisdale, and my family. My mother cryed when she saw me and my father was very proud. I became a hero. But I’ll never forget what Whisper did that day. Never.