by Tatum

Chapter 1

I ran as fast as I could through the woods. “I gotta get away!” I said to myself. I heard panting behind me as I ran as fast as my legs would take me.

“GOTCHA!” I heard Rylan say behind me, as he tackled me. “I got you, Niko, fair and square.” I heard the others run up behind me. We were playing tag and Rylan was it.

“Hi, Jake. Hi, Nia,” I said as I looked at the others.

My name is Niko. I’m just your average wolf. I run with the pack, the Light Pack, by the way, I go hunting, I wrestle with the other wolf cubs and I chase deer and squirrels all the time. My name is Niko. Rylan is my brother, and Nia and Jake are my best friends (Jake and Nia are also siblings). As long as we have each other, everything would be all right. Or so I thought.

One afternoon, it was so foggy I couldn’t see my paw in front of my snout! I wanted to go see how Jake and Nia were doing so I asked my mom if Rylan and I could go to their cave.

“Pleeeeeease,” I begged her.

“Niko, like I’ve said millions of times before, no seeing friends if the weather isn’t good!” Mom said.

“But Moooooooom!” I said.

“Oh, all right! I spoil you,” she said.

“YAY thank you mommy I love you with all my heart OK Rylan and I will go now BYYYE!” I said as I pushed Rylan outside the cave. We wandered around for awhile until we found their cave. We romped around with Jake and Nia until the fog cleared up. Then outside, we heard a sound. It sounded like a lot of paws walking.

“What do you think it is?” asked Nia.

“I don’t know,” said Jake, “But it may be the Fire Pack!”

Oh no, I thought, The Fire Pack is the worst pack of them all. They have the most territory than the Water Pack, Ice Pack, Light Pack, AND Lightning Pack put together! They’re all so ruthless and kill lots of innocent wolves. If Jake is right we will all die for sure! The paw-steps got louder. It sounded like what-ever animals that were making that sound were running toward us! It was getting closer, and closer, and closer, and CLOSER!!!

“WE’RE GONNA DIE!!!” screamed Rylan.

“NOOOOO I DIDN’T WRITE MY WILL YET!!!” screeched Nia.

“I WANT MY MOMMY!!!” yelled Jake.

“OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH!!!” I said,

“I LOVE YOU GUYS AND I WANT TO LET YOU KNOW JAKE IT WAS ME WHO USED YOUR TOOTHPASTE!!!”

“Wait . . . what?” asked Jake. The animals were right outside now!

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!” We all screamed! I opened my eyes and saw lots of wolves with yellow to orange coats right outside!

All of a sudden, I felt strange. Everything I saw went fuzzy. I felt a growl rise up my throat.

“Uuuuuuh . . . Niko, are you alright?” asked Jake. What was he talking about, I thought. Then I let out a huge bark! All the Fire Pack members went flying back! A neon blue shock wave went through the air. WHAT THE HEY JUST HAPPENED?!?!?! I thought.

“Niko . . . WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?! How did your eyes glow like that ?!?!?!” asked Nia, sounding more like a comment than a question.

“I . . . I . . . I’m not sure?” I stammered. Then Crow, the Light Pack alpha came into the cave. All the Fire Pack wolves had run away. We all looked at him.

“What happened here?” asked Crow very calmly, “And who was responsible?” Rylan pushed me forward and told Crow the while story. I gulped as he told Crow about the part where I had done that weird bark thing. And then, me wide eyed and scared, Crow nodded and said, “Niko, you had better come with me.” I gulped but trusted Crow. I still didn’t want to speak because what if it happened again?

“Niko, come with me to my cave,” said Crow, “Everyone else, stay here.”

“Will Niko be okay?” asked Rylan.

“She will be fine! Just don’t tell anyone about what happened here today, got it?” Crow said in his calming voice. What he said made me relax a little bit. A little. While we walked I tried to make sense of what just happened. I barely noticed when Crow started to speak.

“We’re here!” He said.

Chapter 2

When the wolves talked about Crow’s cave being big, I didn’t know it would be this big! This place is GINORMOUS! I thought, OH MY GOSH! This place was about fifteen times bigger than my cave! I was jealous.

“Quiet, now aren’t we?” said Crow, “It’s OK, you can speak. It won’t happen if you do.”

“I still don’t understand what it is. Do you?” I said. Crow sighed.

“I know firsthand what it is. I wish I didn’t, though.” said Crow.

“Wha . . .? But . . . how?” I asked. Crow sighed again. There was a long pause.

“I think we should save that story for another time.” said Crow finally, “Well anyways, I think you should know something else.”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, Niko, you aren’t from the Light Pack,” said Crow, “A long time ago, about 10 years, there was the final battle of the Fire Pack and the Light Pack war. Once the sun came up and the Light Pack was going to head home in victory, there was a small whimper. Your dad was the last one in the marching line to go home, so he went to the whimpering noises.

“When he found where the sound was coming from, he saw you, and you were over the Fire Pack border. He went over quick and grabbed you and then came back over the border.” Crow said as he finished his story.

“Wait . . . so I’m . . . I’m . . . a member of the Fire Pack?” I asked, in shock.

“Your parents and I don’t think so. We think that you’re from the Lightning Pack and wandered over the border. But we knew you were special from the start. We just didn’t know you were this special. But you and your friends need to leave. Now go get them and go into all pack territory, where everyone can go.” Crow said.

“I will,” I promised him.

As I was walking back to Jake and Nia’s cave, I thought about what had just happened over the past 30 minutes.

“This is crazy!” I said aloud. When I got to the cave, everyone was still huddled at the back. I realized Jake and Nia’s cave was much smaller than Crow’s.

“Niko! You’re safe!” said Rylan.

“I am safe. But I just spoke with Crow. He said it was better for us and the pack to go into the forest, and not come back.” I said.

“What?!?! We need to leave?! Like . . . RIGHT NOW?!?!” said Nia, in a state of shock.

“Yes,” I said, “Right now.”

“Well,” said Jake, “We had better get moving.”

Chapter 3

We left about 10 minutes later. When we were very deep into the woods, I saw a flash! No one else seemed to notice. Then we all saw another wolf come out from the trees.

“Niko, Jake, Rylan and Nia,” said the mysterious wolf, “You need to come with me.”

“Who are you?” asked Jake.

“And how do you know our names?” wondered Nia.

“I will explain that on the way. For now you should call me by my nickname: Pitch.” We followed Pitch through the woods until we came up to an old shack with lots of wolves surrounding it. It was then I realized that Pitch had a huge scar over his right eye.

“Why are we here?” I asked.

Pitch said “That’s a good question, Niko. I need you to save the world.”

“Wait . . . WHAT?!?!?!” we all yelled at the same time.

“You have been watched and selected to save the world. We were just glad we didn’t need to take wolves from different regions,” said Pitch, “And we’re glad you all know each other. Come into our secret base with me.” We all went into the old, rickety shack. When we were all inside, the door closed immediately and the ground turned into an elevator. We went down and down and down. Finally, we came to a stop and went into a big room. At first, it seemed completely empty, but then I realized there were strange markings on the floor.

“This is where you will save the world.” whispered Pitch. We all looked around the room.

“Here? Are you serious?” asked Nia.

”As serious as a heart attack! Yelled Pitch,

“AMOO-SHAMOO-LAMPANOO!” The markings on the floor started to light up. A portal opened up and emitted a bright light.

“Do we need to go in there?” asked Jake, gesturing towards the portal.

“Yes, you need to go in there and stay there for a while. You could be in there for weeks, but as soon as you finish the mission, get out.” said Pitch.

“Come on guys, we need to!” I said, “Let’s all jump in on the count of three! 1 . . . 2 . . . 3!” We all jumped in. Everything went fuzzy. I felt strange again. Then everything went dark.

“Niko . . . Niko . . . Niko. . . WAKE UP!” I heard Rylan say as I came to. When I opened my eyes, we were in a place full of fire!!! I saw we were on a floating stone platform, with a floating stone bridge in front of us. There was lava completely below us.

“Where are we? Is everyone here? Oooooohhh . . . my head hurts.” I said.

“Everyone is here, I’m not sure where we are, and for a second there, you looked like you were gonna do that weird bark thing again.” said Jake.

“What do you mean ‘looked like’ I was going to do it again?” I asked.

“Well . . . when you’re about to do it . . . your eyes kinda do like, a sort of glowy thing.” said Rylan.

“WHAT?!?! COOL!!” I exclaimed. Then we started walking across the stone bridge. This is insane! I thought to myself. So what had started out as a perfectly normal day turned into a crazy adventure in 1 hour! NEW WORLD RECORD!!! We kept walking until we found three new paths. We went through the one all the way to the right. Then we found six new paths.

“It’s a maze!” said Nia. We all groaned and sat down. We all have always been terrible at mazes! Then everything went dark for a millisecond, and all of a sudden I saw where we had started out, when we came through the portal. I saw the way we went, then I saw where we were sitting now, but we weren’t there, in the picture I saw. I saw one of the six passageways and went into it. All of a sudden there were more passageways and I went through one. Then I was out of the maze. Everything went dark for another second and then I was back with my friends.

“Woah!” I said.

“What is it?!” said Rylan, sounding alarmed.

“I think I just saw the way out. I don’t know how I did that, but I wasn’t here anymore! It was this way.” I said, leading them on the platforms. They didn’t seem to want to ask any questions, or couldn’t find the right words. Well, I thought, Another new, weird, crazy thing that I discovered about myself. I wonder if there are other things I don’t know, but I’m not sure I can control these things. When we got out of the maze, I saw lots of pillows and stuff. It all looked like stuff I could try to learn to control my powers with.

“Guys, I want to try to learn to control my powers!” I said.

“Uh . . . are you sure about this, Niko?” asked Jake.

“Hey, if you want you can go behind that piece of bullet proof glass. But I think we should stay together. So don’t go away.” I said. I took a deep breath. I tried to focus. I waited for the same feeling to come again. I closed my eyes. A few minutes later, still nothing had happened.

“Uh, Niko, I don’t this this is gonna work.” said Nia.

“Come on, I know it will.” I insisted. I opened my eyes. I looked around. I tried with all my might (with what power I thought I had), and tried to do that bark thing. I suddenly felt strange again. YES! I thought to myself. Everything went blurry. I felt a growl starting in my throat. YES, YES, YES! I shouted in my head! I barked very loudly. All the pillows went flying back! One of them exploded. Another neon blue shock wave went through the air!

“Niko, YOU DID IT!” yelled Rylan, obviously happy.

“Congrats, Niko!” exclaimed Nia.

“Way to go!” said Jake. I felt so tired. I was panting.

“Hey, are you okay?!” Rylan shouted.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just pretty worn out.” I said, catching my breath.

“Are you sure you’re up for trying your other power?” asked Jake.

“Absolutely!” I nearly yelled. I sat down. I closed my eyes again. I focused as hard as I could. It didn’t work!

“Are you okay, Niko? It didn’t happen” asked Rylan. I was pretty disappointed!

“Guys, I don’t know why it didn’t work” I said.

“Oh, that’s too bad!” said Nia.

“I think we should move forward. I can pretty much control my powers, now! At least one of them!” I said. So we moved forward. After about an hour or so, we came to a huge gate, like one you’ve never seen in your entire life! There were four oddly shaped slots in the middle that looked as if something might go in it. I saw a small slip of paper on the ground. I picked it up.

“Hey, guys, check this out!” I said. I showed them the paper.

“It says: Looky, Looky, Look Around. Something’s Lost And Can’t Be Found. First clue is: Look High, Look Low, Look Forward, Look So. Something’s In With Shiny Things That Go Cling!” Jake said, “What could that mean?”

“I bet it’s like a scavenger hunt!” exclaimed Rylan, “I love those things!”

“Yeah, well everyone else hates them because we’re terrible at them!” I said. I groaned.

“Nia, you’re the best at deciphering these things! Can you help us?” I asked.

“I . . . I . . . I’m not sure!” said Nia. “But I’ll try! So let’s see here . . . hmmm . . . I think Rylan’s right, it’s a scavenger hunt, I’m guessing for the things that go in the slot . . . it’s telling us to look all over by look high look low, look forward look so . . . I’m guessing it’s in with shiny things that make sounds against each other!” All of a sudden everything went dark again, like before. I saw where we were now, but again, we weren’t in the picture. I went to a place to the right, and went into a huge cave! I went through the cave for a long time until I came out into a cavern. That place was huge! It had all sorts of crystal clanging against each other, making a racket. I gasped! This is the place we need to go! I thought. I came back to my friends.

“Niko, what happened there? You just sorta blanked out,” said Nia.

“Guys, I just saw something again! I think it’s the place we need to go to get one of the slot things!” I shouted.

“THEN LET’S GO!” yelled Rylan.

“It was this way,” I said, leading them. After we had walked for awhile, we came to a huge cave opening.

“It was in here!” I said.

“I dunno, Niko,” said Nia. “I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

“What could happen?” I asked as I walked into the cave. Everyone followed me in, even Nia. Time must go faster when I do that thing, I thought, because we were taking longer than I had. After walking for awhile, we came upon a cavern filled with SO. MANY. CRYSTALS!!!! I MEAN SO MANY!!! Millions, even.

“Okay . . . so what are we looking for?” asked Jake.

“Uuuuuuhhh . . . I’m not really sure,” I said.

“YOU MEAN YOU DRAGGED US ALL THE WAY HERE AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR?!?!?” screeched Nia.

“Well, if ya put it that way . . .” I started to say, but Rylan cut me off.

“HEY, it’s not Niko’s fault she doesn’t know what we’re after! She doesn’t know how to control that power yet!” Rylan yelled. I just thought of how grateful I am he did that! That was very nice, what he did!

“But, I think I have an idea of what we we’re after in here. Remember what shape the first slot was in? We can kinda build off of that!” I said.

“You know what, Niko . . . you’re right!” Jake said. “The slot kind of looked like three squiggly lines, or something like that . . .”

“OR GRASS!” I yelled. Everybody agreed on that.

“So let’s look around for anything that looks like grass,” I said. We looked for about an hour until Rylan found something!

“What is it?” asked Jake.

“It looks like it’s a piece of crystal grass!” I exclaimed, “At least, it looks like that . . .” My voice trailed off. Wait . . . I’m having major déjà vu right now, I thought, but I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life! Or have I?!?!

“Rylan, let me see that crystal!” I yelled!

“OK, here you go. Wait . . . Niko, are you OK?” Rylan asked. I held the crystal in my paws. I didn’t answer. Everything went black, but this time I didn’t see anything.

When I woke up, I was next to the gate we had started at, but my friends weren’t there.

“Guys, where are you?” I asked. No one answered.

“Guys, come on. Come out from where you’re hiding hiding!” I yelled.

“COME ON! This isn’t funny! Come out, or I will be forced to use force!” I said, realizing that sentence doesn’t make much sense to me. Suddenly, I heard a sound! It sounded like someone crying. It sounded far away.

“Hey, don’t cry!” I yelled, trying to sooth the voice. I decided to try to find my friends later.

“I’m coming!” I shouted. I ran to where the voice was coming from. I wanted to help whoever was sad. I ran for about 10 minutes until I came to a dimly lit cave. It looked creepy. Here goes nothing, I thought as I walked in. When I got to the back of the cave, I saw a brilliant gray wolf. She was beautiful!

“Why are you crying?” I asked, wanting to help. She didn’t answer, and her crying turned into laughter! And it didn’t sound like woman’s laughter! It was a man’s laughter! That was when the wolf turned around quick and pounced on me! And then I woke up.

Chapter 4

Niko . . . guys, she’s not answering!” was all I heard when I woke up.

“No, Mom, can I sleep a little bit longer?” I asked sleepily.

“What? Niko, wake up!” I heard Jake say. Wait, why was Jake in my house? Then all the memories came in like a tsunami. The bark, the portal, the vision, the maze, the other vision and the cave. The crystal grass. I gasped.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You just blanked out and then fainted!” said Nia.

“Yeah, but how did I end up here? How did you guys get me back to the gate?” I asked.

“Well . . . that’s kind of a long story.” Jake said.

“Come on, Jake!” I pleaded.

“If Jake won’t say it, I will!” said Rylan, “OK, so we were walking out of the cave, and you asked for the crystal so I gave it to you, and then you fainted! We were kind of panicking, so we were just saying random ideas of what to do. All of a sudden, there was a sound! We all looked at what it was, and we saw a fox! ‘Hello,’ it said, ‘My name is Pueblo. I see you are having troubles with your friend.’ ‘Yeah, can you help us?’ Nia asked. ‘Of course! But at a cost. If I help you save your friend, then you must let me borrow your shiny crystal that you have there for a few hours,’ said Pueblo. So we handed over the crystal, and Pueblo made a small growl sound and lots of foxes came in and carried you to the gate.”

“Wait . . . SO WE DON’T HAVE THE CRYSTAL?!?!?! I screeched!

“Uh . . . yeah . . . “ said Jake.

“Oh, OK, just wanted to make sure I had my facts straight.” I said, “So, when are we getting the crystal back again?”

“In a few hours.” said Nia.

“Wait, WHAT THE WHAT IS THAT?!?!” screamed Rylan! A small black shadow came speeding towards us! We ran as fast as we could away from it, but it was too fast! I was at the front to run away, SO I HIGHTAILED IT OUT OF THERE!!! The shadow caught up with us! It ran right past Rylan, Nia and Jake.

“What the what?” they all asked. The shadow kept running and caught up with me. It tackled me! I got up quickly, and used my super bark to kill it!

“What was that?!?!” I screamed!

“How are we supposed to know?” asked Rylan.

“I’m guessing there are more of these monsters here, so let’s be on the lookout,” said Jake. We all walked up to the gate and looked at the next slot.

“Anyone have an idea of what it is?” asked Nia.

“Let’s all guess!” suggested Jake.

“A LEAF!” yelled Rylan.

“A CAR!” screamed Nia. Where did that thought come from? I wondered.

“A TENNIS RACKET!” screeched Jake. Seriously? I thought, What the heck?!?!

“IT’S A FLAME!” Nia suggested. Everyone agreed on that one.

“So where are flames usually?” asked Jake.

“Everyone knows that!” Rylan said. Everyone looked at him because we thought he would say where.

“I don’t actually know,” admitted Rylan.

“Maybe a volcano!” I said.

“Yeah! Let’s do it!” everyone yelled!

“Wait, where are we gonna find a volcano?!?!” Nia screamed! Then everyone noticed a HUGE volcano about 3 miles away.

“HOW DID NOBODY NOTICE THAT BEFORE?!?!” screeched Jake!

“I don’t know! But let’s go to it!!” I said. So we went towards the volcano, and after an hour I was so tired I felt like my legs were going to fall off!

“How . . . much . . . longer?!” I panted.

“Come on, Niko! We’re not even halfway there!” said Rylan. I just dropped to the ground.

“I give up! I don’t really care if the world dies if we don’t do this! I’m so tired! Go on without me! Just let me die alone here!” I whined.

“We need to do this Niko!” said Jake as he picked me up, “Just a little while longer. I see a spot where we can rest for the night!”

We walked for a little longer and came to the spot where we would rest. We all collapsed to the ground when we reached there. I panted so hard I could barely breathe!

“We should make a fire!” said Nia after we all had caught our breaths.

“And how are we going to do that?” I asked.

“Rub two stones together! Like cave wolves!” answered Nia.

“Are you sure that will work? I mean, it worked for other wolves, but will it work for us?” asked I asked.

“It’s worth a shot!” said Nia. After a few hours, though, we had all pretty much given up hope.

“How about we just go to sleep and go to the volcano in the morning.” Rylan suggested.

“OK” agreed Nia. So we all went to sleep. Well, everyone except me. I just couldn’t sleep. I had all these thoughts swirling in my head like a tornado. My main thought was: How are we going to get into the volcano without falling in lava and dying? AAAAAARGH! I thought, How are we supposed to do this?!?! So, I thought of some answers to try and make me feel better. Well, at least I tried to. That seemed to help me clear up my head! All of a sudden, I felt sleepy. I closed my eyes, and fell asleep.

Chapter 5

I was woken up the next morning when Nia shook me awake.

“Up and at ‘em, Niko!” said Nia as she shook me like I was a soda bottle.

“Five more minutes!” I grumbled.

“Niko, it’s already noon! We overslept big time!” said Jake.

“OK, I’m up! Let’s go!” I said. So we went. Over the mountains, past the rocks, look out volcano, here we come! When the sun started to set, we finally arrived!

“Well, here we are,” said Jake, “What do we do now?”

“Uhm . . .” I started.

“Why do you keep dragging us places and don’t know why we’re going there?” Nia groaned.

“Because we need to go there,” I said, “And I do know why we’re going there. Remember? We need something about a flame!”

“OK, if you say so,” said Nia, sounding very unsure. But we were standing outside the volcano, with no idea what to do.

“Wait, where’s Rylan?” I asked.

“Niko, I’m right here!” said Rylan, coming out of a cave.

“YAY! A cave! We can get into the volcano from there!” I exclaimed.

“Let’s go!” said Rylan.

“On the count of 3, guys! 1, 2, 3!” I said.

“CHARGE” we all yelled as we went in the cave. We ran in there, ready for attack, in case those monsters came out as we ran! But there were no monsters.

“Hey, why are there no monsters here?” Nia asked. All of a sudden, a very scared looking, big shadow monster came running out! It ran right past us.

“Why does that thing look so scared?” asked Rylan.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s running from something bigger than it is,” said Jake. We still went through the cave, and we were starting to get bored!

“How far have we walked? My legs are so tired!” Nia complained. I looked back, and I could still see the cave entrance! Good thing that doesn’t mean we’re close because it’s a very straight tunnel.

We were finally close to the end of the cave, when we saw what was actually the volcano! So much lava! And right in the center of the heat and lava and scorching hot rock was the fire crystal.

“Never mind. I want to go home!” said Jake.

“We need to do this, Jake! Now let’s go everyone!” I said, trying to be inspiring and motivational. It didn’t really work. We entered the volcano, and I was SO hot! It was then I smelled smoke.

“Hey, does anyone else smell smoke?” I asked.

“I do,” said Nia.

“And me!” claimed Jake.

“I can smell smoke,” said Rylan. Then we all saw smoke. It was coming from Rylan’s direction.

“What?” Rylan asked when we all looked over in his direction. We saw part of Rylan’s tail, and it was on fire!

“OH MY GOSH FIRE! WHAT DO WE DO WHAT DO WE DO?!?!” I screamed!

“We need to put water on it! FAST!” yelled Nia.

“WHERE ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET WATER IN A VOLCANO?!?! screeched Jake! Then I saw a small water bucket. I ran over to it and grabbed it in my mouth to bring it over the Rylan! I dumped all the water onto Rylan! He was soaked and it was hilarious! We all burst out laughing!

“Niko! Why did you do that?!?!” asked Rylan, sounding very ticked off.

“Because your tail was on fire!” I informed him.

“Wait, it was?!?! OH MY GOODNESS!” screamed Rylan! That just made us laugh even harder! When we finally calmed down, we remembered what we had come here for.

“Alright guys. Any ideas on how to get through the lava and rock?” I asked.

“Ooh, ooh, I know!” Nia squealed, “We should walk on the parts that are not scorching rock and lava! And if there is a gap between it we just jump over it!”

“Yeah, let’s try that idea,” I said. So we all leaped onto the first rock. Then the second. By the ninth, the jumps had gotten sofar I could barely make it! On the tenth jump we had finally made it!

“Phew, that made me tired!” said Nia. Then, we saw the fire crystal! But something moved behind it. There was a creature behind the crystal!

“Hello,” said the creature, “I am what you would call a dragon. I see you would like my crystal. Well, I cannot simply give it to you. For you must earn it!”

“And how do we earn it?” I asked.

“Well, that is a good question. I guess you must say you want to try to earn the crystal. Then the real fun can begin!” he said with an evil smile, “Oh, and by the way, my name is Sinsyae. I am glad to meet your acquaintance.”

“OK, we would like to try to earn the crystal,” I said.

“Are you sure of what you’re asking for, little one? You may be in a deal of trouble if you try to earn the crystal!” said Sinsyae.

“I am absolutely 100% sure I want to do this!” I said.

“Yes, OK, hm, here are the details of the way you can earn the crystal of fire. You must fight me. If you win, you get the crystal. If I win, I keep the crystal and I have the right to torture you all!” sneered Sinsyae,” “Are you ready?”

“Um . . .” I said.

“Little one, it is a simple question. Yes or no?” asked Sinsyae.

“Ok, let’s do this!” I said! Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge ring appeared and Jake, Rylan and Nia were moved out of it.

“This is our fighting ring. Let’s fight!” said Sinsyae. And with that, he charged at me! I super barked him backwards, but that didn’t do anything except stun him for a moment! He started charging at me again, but this time stopped half-way across the ring. He seemed to be taking a deep breath in, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. And then, when I was caught off guard, Sinsyae breathed a whole bunch of fire at me! He hit my shoulder a little bit, but for the most part I was unharmed.

“Are you ready to surrender?” Sinsyae asked.

“NEVER!” I screamed! I ran at him and super barked about 5 times before I got to the center of the ring, and then I got to Sinsyae. It was then I realized how big he was! He was at least 3 times the size of me! Even when I stood on my hind legs! All of a sudden, an audience and announcer appeared from thin air! And they were all skeletons!

“AAAARE YOU READY TOOOO RUUUUUMMMBLE?!?!” he asked the crowd enthusiastically!

“YEEEAAAHHH!!!” cheered the crowd excitedly! He introduced our names while we were fighting and he went on and on babbling about how Sinsyae was “so good at fighting he would join the Dragon Wrestling League if he wasn’t cooped up in this volcano, guarding the crystal of fire!” “Chya, right! I thought. This dragon who gets keeping slower by the second? I don’t think so! It was then I realized I couldn’t defeat him by attacking! This dragon was slow minded, so I could outsmart him! I saw lots of rocks lining the walls. I hopped on one, then on to another, and I just kept hopping from rock to rock, getting higher and higher! I just got to the last rock when there was an opening in the dragon’s back. I hopped on it. I bit and scratched Sinsyae’s back! He screamed and yowled and roared in pain! I knew I had finally done some damage, so I tried to do the same thing again. I got off Sinsyae, and got onto the rocks again. I jumped onto his back and kept biting and scratching him. I kept doing the same thing, again and again. Sinsyae let out one last final roar of pain, and fell to the ground. Everything was quiet for a second.

“NIKO AND HER FRIENDS REIGN VICTORIOUS! NIKO DID IT! SHE REALLY DID IT! THEY WIN THE CRYSTAL!” screamed the skeleton announcer into the microphone! My friends picked me up and brought me to the crystal.

“YES!” I screamed. I ran out of that volcano and the others followed me. I ran all the way back to the start of the tunnel and to the gate! I ran up to the gate and put the fire crystal into the slot. I started looking at the next slot when the others finally caught up. I was always the fastest runner!

“So . . . I’m guessing it fits?” asked Rylan.

“Yep, it fits,” I said, looking at the next slot. Nia came up to me and started studying the slot with me. Soon, the others joined us and we were thinking of what it could be. Hmmm, I thought, It looks like a teardrop . . . THAT’S IT!

“GUYS IT IS WATER!” I yelled, “And water is in the ocean!”

“And . . . an ocean just magically appeared as soon as you said that.” said Jake. I started walking towards the ocean to see the crystal. I couldn’t find it, so it was pretty deep. Then I saw 4 pairs of scuba gear!

“Guys! I found scuba gear!” I yelled to them! We started putting it on.

“It says on the label that we should have enough air to last for 5 days!” said Rylan. “Jeez, that’s long!”

“That’s good!” I said as I finished putting on my gear. I looked at everyone else and they had finished putting on their gear, too! We started to dive under, when we saw Nia wasn’t here with us!

“Nia!” I said as I saw her on land, “Come on!”

“Uh . . . just a sec!” Nia said as she looked around.

“What are you doing? Come in the water!” I yelled to her!

“Uhm . . . uh . . .” she said, “I’m scred te wter.”

“What?!” I asked.

“I’m scred of te wter.” Nia mumbled again.

“One more time?” I asked.

“I’m scared of the water, alright?!?!” she yelled.

“What is there to be afraid of?” asked Jake.

“Sharks, squid, bacteria, all the poo and pee that the fish do in there, the . . .” Nia started to list out, but Rylan cut her off.

“JEEZ! That is all . . . just wow! Well, first off, you are more likely to get struck by lightning than get attacked by sharks. Second, squid are SUPER deep. We are not going that deep. Third, bacteria are harmless! Forth, the poo and pee is fine,” Rylan explained.

“OK, if you say so . . .” Nia said as she stepped in the water. She finally reached us as soon as an hour passed. When Nia got to us, we dove under and started searching all over. Then I realized the scuba gear had walkie-talkies on it!

I saw a cave up ahead after a half-hour.

“Guys, I found a cave!” I said into my walkie-talkie. Everyone came over to me. I motioned to go inside the cave. Everyone understood, so I led the group into the cave. It was very dark for the first few minutes. Then, ahead of us, I saw a light. I went toward the light, and when we got to the opening, I was amazed!! Somehow, the water was suspended in the air! There was a dome-shaped air bubble, and inside it was a pedestal with the crystal on it! I ran up to it, when all of a sudden, I heard a big, booming voice!

“WHY ARE YOU HERE?!?!” the voice boomed, “HAVE YOU COME SEEKING KNOWLEDGE OR WISDOM, OR HAVE YOU COME FOR THIS SHINY THING? IF YOU HAVE COME FOR THE SHINY THING, IT IS MINE!!!!!”

“Well, maybe we can work out a deal?” I said.

“VERY WELL! OH, AND BY THE WAY, MY NAME IS KWEKO!” said the monster.

“OK, Kweko, what do you have in mind for a negotiation?” I asked, “Also, can you come out? I just would like to see you.”

“VERY WELL!” said Kweko again. All of a sudden, a cute, small looking monster-fish thing with legs came out holding a megaphone.

“Uh, hi!” said the little monster in a very cute and polite voice, “I am Kweko. It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance!”

“Uhm, hi, Kweko.” I said.

“So the prophecies are true! You look just like the stories told of!” Kweko said to me.

“What stories? What prophecies?” I asked, flustered.

“JK! Did I use that right?” asked Kweko.

“Yes, you did if you were kidding!” I said.

“OK, then I have used the word right,” said Kweko, sounding kind of excited, “But I have been waiting for young explorers to come to this cave. Now do you seek this crystal?”

“Yes, we seek this crystal!” I exclaimed!

“Very well. You may have it! But at a cost!” said Kweko, “You must answer my riddle!”

“A riddle?” I asked.

“Yes. There are actually 3 riddles!” said Kweko, “The first riddle is: If you feed it, it lives! If you give it a drink, it dies! What is it?”

“Uhm . . . Nia help me out here!” I said!

“I know this one! It’s fire!” said Nia.

“FIRE!” I said.

“Good. That is correct. The next riddle is: What is so fragile, if you even say it’s name, it breaks?” asked Kweko.

“Uhm, hm, I think I have heard this one before!” I said. “Is it silence?”

“YES! That is correct! You are good at this! The last riddle is: What has a mouth, but never talks, always runs, but never walks, has a mouth but never eats, had a bed but never sleeps?” asked Kweko.

“A RIVER!” I knew this one by heart!

“Why are you so good that this? That is correct!” said Kweko, smiling, so he obviously wasn’t very sad about losing his crystal!

“Oh, and you have a transport back to your gate!” said Kweko, “And I know you need to bring this back to the gate because I see all and know all!”

And with that, Kweko gave us some berries and we ate them. We were suddenly back at the gate! I ran up to the gate and pushed in the water drop crystal into the slot. Then Pueblo came up to us from nowhere and gave us the crystal.

“I think this belongs to you,” said Pueblo.

“Thank you for holding your promise!” I said. I put the grass crystal in the slot. Pueblo went away, and we looked at the final slot.

“This is the last one! I think it looks like a rock!” said Rylan!

“Oh, it looks like my rock!” said Jake, holding up a stone.

“Wait, how long have you had that?!?!” Nia screamed!

“Since we got here.” admitted Jake.

“Never mind that!” I yelled as I took the rock and pushed it in the slot! The ground started shaking, and the gates started to s-l-o-w-l-y creak open. Inside the gates, I couldn’t believe what we saw!

Chapter 6
Inside the gates, I saw a huge portal! But behind the portal, there was an enormous machine! Then I saw the machine was spraying out this floating black gunk!

“Whatever that stuff is, I don’t like it!” I said!

“We need to disable the machine!” screamed Nia, “Rylan, you need to help! You’re the best one with machines!”

It was then I saw a bird touch that gunk, and it dropped dead to the ground!

“But you can’t touch that black gunk or else you immediately die!” I informed him.

“OK, lots of pressure here!” said Rylan, as he stepped up to the machine’s dashboard. He started pressing some buttons, and then we heard a bunch of cogs banging together! And then, even more gunk than before was spurting out of the machine! Then, in a split second before the gunk touched Rylan, the machine stopped. All the gunk disappeared. We had done it. Everything was quiet for a second, and then a huge crowd cheered “HURRAYYYYYY!!”

It was the skeleton crowd! They cheered so loud we could hear it from the volcano! All of my friends picked me up, and carried me in a circle! When I got down, I knew the portal in front of us was the way home.

“Are we ready to go back home?” I asked everyone.

“YEAH!” we all shouted. I jumped in and everyone followed me.

When we were back at the shack where we first entered the portal, Pitch greeted us back.

“Well done, you guys!” he said, “I’m proud of you!”

“Thanks, Pitch,” I said, “Oh, and one more thing, can we go back home now?”

“Yes, I think your families will be very glad to see you home!” said Pitch. I started running back to our cave with Rylan as soon as we got off the elevator! Jake and Nia went back to their cave. We just arrived home, and I saw our parents crying. Probably because we were gone without telling them goodbye.

“Mom, Dad!” I said as I ran in the cave!

“Oh, my baby!” my mom said as she ran towards me! We hugged as Rylan and Dad hugged! We were all so happy to finally see each other again!

“So where were you two?” asked Mom. We had some explaining to do!