Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 114,248,913 Issue: 228 | 17th day of Awakening, Y8
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The Super Ultra Strength Serum


by kushbi

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The battle between Meridell and Darigan was long over. Peace reigned in the land of potato farmers and gruel, but few had truly forgotten the terror that had befallen their kingdom. However, none ever imagined that they would have to face a similar horror once more.

     Deep beneath a field, something stirred.

     -

     Kayla was a very busy witch. Each morning, she hurried up and down her kitchen preparing magical brews to be sold to eager customers. The old kitchen had rows of shelves filled with mysterious substances. Her petpet, a Spardel, lay down beside the cauldron, basking in the warmth generated by the fire.

     At the moment, a strength serum was boiling vigorously. Jeran had reserved it in preparation for the knight's tourney next evening. Every knight was allowed only one potion of choice before the competition.

     Knock knock knock!

     "Not right now," sighed Kayla.

     She cast a reluctant look at the brew before heading out of the kitchen. Her Spardel sat up immediately with a mischievous grin. It jumped onto a wooden table just beside the brewing potion and stared in curiosity at a rack of ancient vials. Just before it could swipe a paw at a murky green tube, a cloud of dust stirred, sending tiny particles up the petpet's nose.

     It sneezed into the cauldron.

     A dark purple bubble rose slowly from the brew and burst with a soft pop. The Spardel stared at the potion curiously for a moment, and decided that neither the substance nor the vials were worth messing with. It jumped back to its previous position beside the cauldron and began to snore.

     "Yes, yes, please come again next week. I do not need magical potatoes until then," Kayla said to her supplier, "Be on your way sir, I have a potion brewing!"

     With that, she quickly shut the door and strode back to the kitchen. She studied the concoction closely, stirring it with a large ladle.

     "It looks ready. Now, where is Jeran?"

     -

     The most courageous knight in the kingdom was honing his fencing skills when Kayla called at his home. He placed his gleaming sword carefully on a rack and ran to the Zafara.

     "That was quick," he exclaimed, "I just placed an order yesterday!"

     Kayla laughed, "Anything for Sir Jeran. Go on and drink it up."

     The Lupe wiped a bead of perspiration from his brow and took the ornate bottle from her paws. He uncapped it, sniffing the potion deeply before downing it with a large gulp.

     "Ah," he gasped. "That tasted potent."

     "Just in time for the tourney tomorrow," said Kayla. "I bet you will emerge as number one again."

     Jeran stretched and flexed his arms. He hurried into the house and returned with his sword, a Pant Devil piñata in tow. Placing it in the middle of his garden, he gathered himself into a sparring stance and took aim.

     "Watch what your wonderful potion does!"

     Swish! Boom! Crack!

     Kayla stared at the large fissure on the ground, speechless. Jeran's blade cut cleanly through the piñata and landed on dry brown soil. The brute impact resulted in a rift that tore through the garden.

     He was astonished. "Did I just hit the crust of Meridell?"

     "Oh no, the serum - something must have gone wrong," moaned the Zafara. "I'm so sorry, Jeran! I'll find a way to fix this."

     -

     Next evening, a crowd gathered at the main square in front of the castle. King Skarl sat on a gold-plated makeshift throne atop a platform, which overlooked his excited subjects. Meridell flags demarcated the battling arena. In front of the royal platform, the knights sat proudly with their weapons at their feet.

     To the surprise of many, Jeran was not in the line-up. He wore a plain tunic and sat amongst the spectators.

     "The battle begins!"

     With a heavy heart, he watched as his peers displayed their latest skills and manoeuvres. Skarl had not been too happy when he learnt that his most famous knight would be sitting out the tourney. However, he quickly approved of Jeran's decision, for knights were important in the defence of Meridell and the king did not wish to see anyone hurt from the Lupe's potentially deadly blows.

     Scanning the crowd for Kayla, Jeran sighed. The Zafara was probably hard at work in her cottage, trying her best to undo the effects of the wayward serum. He looked wistfully at the battling knights. Waves of their vigorous fighting could be felt all the way to the spectator bench.

     Little did he know that the strange vibrations beneath his feet were not caused by the echo of clashing knights, but by an evil that was soon to be unleashed.

     -

Two years ago during the battle for Meridell…

       Purple skies cast a shadow upon the kingdom. Farmers fought off giant spyders from their land tirelessly, each blow weakening the evil creatures. The tide of the battle had turned just hours ago, when a group of brave peasants led an attack on Darigan's minions, resulting in a crushing defeat for the war machines.

     Lord Kass scowled in frustration. No one annoyed him like the ordinary folks of this land. He decided to teach Meridell a lesson.

     Beside the Eyrie, a monstrous giant with two heads and four arms grunted. His tail, studded with spikes, trashed impatiently on the ground, sending shockwaves that almost made Kass lose his balance.

     "Ah, Blugthak," whispered the Lord, "I know just what to do with your cousin Blugtrok…"

     As the epicentre of the battle shifted away from the castle, no one noticed that a creature identical to the powerful ogre was hastily buried beneath a barren field nearby. Kass sneered as he observed the clandestine operation. With a whistle, the monster would rise instantly to his aid.

     Lord Kass never had the opportunity to let Blugtrok loose. But fate had other plans.

     -

     Jeran jumped in his seat when two knights exchanged a loud blow. The ground shook with force. Echoes rang through the air. To his surprise, the sparring warriors looked just as stunned.

     "Wh…what's going on?" cried a farmer next to the Lupe.

     Strong vibrations rippled through the ground. The flimsy wooden benches on which the spectators sat shook violently. Suddenly, a sharp fissure split the arena. The battling knights were thrown off their feet. Jeran watched in horror as the most ugly creature he had ever seen arose from the field. Skarl groaned. Spectators fled in fright. Meridell was under siege again.

     The monster roared. It hurled away bits of dirt that clung to its chest and glared. With a heave, it took a heavy step out of the crevice. A few brave knights who rushed forward to attack it were swiped away by its massive hands.

     Screams filled the air. Jeran gripped his sword tightly. He jumped over the bench and ran towards the creature, blade held high above his head. As he struck, the monster moved, and the sword crashed onto the ground.

     Crack!

     Another fissure tore through the field, attracting the attention of the Darigan ogre. It fixed its four-eyed gaze on Jeran and lumbered over.

     The Lupe pulled at his sword in desperation. It was stuck. Above him, Blugtrok's menacing shadow loomed.

     He ran.

     The giant pounded after him. Jeran panted as he sprinted towards the deserted forest. A tinge of panic rose in his chest. Questions and thoughts flooded his mind.

     What is that dreadful thing following me?

     It looks just like Blugthak!

     But Blugthak was destroyed a long time ago!

     The deafening boom of a fallen tree brought the knight to his senses. He scurried in a zigzag manner, hoping that the monster would lose his trail. However, Blugtrok simply pushed the large vegetation out of its way, leaving Jeran in plain sight.

     Abruptly, the Lupe stopped. He had reached the edge of a cliff. Turning around, he stared at the advancing monster in dread.

     Boom!

     A tree fell beside him. Twigs from a branch snapped and rolled off the precipice. In eerie silence, Blugtrok stood before him with a sneer on its two-headed face.

     Crack! Crack…crack…crack.

     Dull echoes rose from the ravine, the final cry of the unfortunate twigs.

     It's now or never, thought Jeran. He inhaled sharply and hoisted the fallen tree trunk with all his might, swinging it quickly at the stunned creature on his right.

     The monster tried to raise its arms to grab the improvised weapon. It was too late. Time slowed as Jeran watched Blugtrok stumble at the surprise blow, waving its hands to clutch at the air, before plunging over the edge of the cliff.

     -

     "Kass is back!" yelled Jeran, drenched in sweat. He gazed around in panic, reaching for his sword.

     "No, he is not," Lisha sighed. "But Blugthak's cousin certainly caused quite a bit of mayhem at the tourney."

     She sat by her brother's bed and offered him a cup of water. "Skarl had your blade removed with the help of Illusen. The royal sword smith is repairing it right now. You fainted from exhaustion after destroying the giant, remember?"

     The Lupe rubbed his forehead wearily. Was it over just like that?

     "A ball will be held in your honour tomorrow," said Lisha. "Here, drink this; it's Kayla's remedy to the botched potion."

     Jeran took a purple vial from her and sipped its pungent contents. He lay down, drained, as the effects of the super strength serum gradually wore off. Not far away, a once fearsome monster crumbled to dust at the foot of a steep ravine.

     Meridell was at peace again, for now.

The End

 
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