Conor Clancy aged 11 from Kilshanny
Conor Clancy was 9 at the time when the elusive Golden Wolf appeared to him. He had his own sheepdog/collie called Lucky with him. His family owned a farm called Rusheen. There was an old arch on their land with lots of stones littering the field around it, but it was knocked down a short time before this. Conor was playing with Lucky around the remains of the arch when a slight haze clouded his vision, and whn it cleared, a vicious looking canary-yellow sparkling wolf was in front of him.
Conor loved animals, but this wolf made him uneasy. He slowly reached down and picked up a large, knobbly stick. As he bent, the wolf pounced at the defenceless boy, but an intervention by Lucky saved Conor's life. The dogs rolled around the grass snapping and barking and growling at each other as they circled each other warily. The Golden Wolf (as Conor later dubbed it) pounced on Lucky and bit him.
"No!" Conor screamed in despair and recklessly leapt onto the wolf and desperately tried to pull it off his loyal dog. But as he grabbed the wolf, the haze appeared again, obscuring his vision. And when it disappeared, Conor was taken with it along with the wolf and an injured Lucky.
Conor was quite fed up at this stage. He had came out to play and had somehow ended up on a giant fungi, one of many in the place that they had appeared in.
"Where in hell's name are we?" Conor muttered to himself, stroking Lucky's ear absent-mindedly. The wolf was nowhere to be seen.
"Dunno." Lucky replied.
Conor nodded to himself, and then jerked his head to the side. "You talked?"
Lucky gazed back with intelligent amber eyes. "Yes." he said. "I could always talk. But, not with grown-ups around. This is a realm of children."
Conor frowned. "Realm of children?" The canine's head nodded. "Right. An entire realm with only children in it. Children who have done good things and are being punished for it. That wolf is the anti-Mother Nature. It destroys everything in its path. It is the embodiment of every human who cuts down trees, destroys rainforests, pollutes water, litters- anything to hurt the environment. Everytime something bad happens on Earth to nature, the wolf grows stronger, and with it, it's hatred of nature."
By now, Conor was thoroughly confused and embarassed at being outsmart$ed by a dog. "But then, how come it has its own realm full of natural things?" Conor asked.
"Good question." Lucky nodded. "Everytime a child does something good for the environment it grows weaker and the realm becomes greener. However, beside it's 'throne' of power it is black and barren for miles around, with no life. Nothing could survive there."
Conor was on a roll now, but he had one more question. "How do we escape?" he asked anxiously.
Lucky's brown eyes were suddenly worried and troubled-looking. "We can't." it growled sadly .
"What?" Conor said disbelievingly.
"We can't." Lucky repeated. "It's never been done."
Conor's hope began to rekindle itself. "So, theoretically, it's possible."
"Don't kid yourself, Conor." Lucky said.
"There's no chance of escape." a soft voice said from behind them. Conor leapt up and Lucky growled as they spun round. A boy with sunken eyes and rags on his body stumbled forward.
"Liam?" Conor gasped. Conor's best friend, Liam, was there as well. "Liam. What did they do to you?" Conor asked. Liam's eyes were wide and his expression read of one emotion, loud and clear- FEAR. "Liam. What happened to you?"
Liam opened his mouth and began to scream- a bloodcurdling wordless scream of absolute fear.
"Behind you!" Lucky barked, and Conor spun to find a man wearing a yellow robe bearing down on him. Conor pulled the man forward and brought his knee up sharply, winding the man. "Come on!" Conor shrieked, his voice an octave higher than usual . He ran ahead, dragging Liam with him. Conor clapped his hands sharply and yelled "Lucky! Here,boy!" Lucky bounded after the panicked children. As they raced away, a long line of people joined the man in the yellow robe, all clad in banana coloured attire. Soon, a mob was after them, all blending into one big yellow blur.
"The wolf! The sun on the wall located in 90 degrees west.." Liam babbled on and on, but kept mentioning the sun on the wall, to jump at it. A low stone wall, which caught the glare of the setting sun was dead ahead of them, very convieniently.
"Now! Jump!" Conor yelled.
"What?" Liam cried.
"Now!" Conor bellowed and the three of them leapt at the wall and sank through it like it wasn't even there.
*"Where are we?" Conor wondered aloud, for the second time that day.
"This isn't good." Lucky said, backing up. "Not at all."
The room was so dark that they couldn't see anything, not even their own hands. The darkness seemed to calm Liam's insanity. His breathing slowed down and he regained control of his motor functions.
"The Barren." Liam said quietly.
"The Barren?" Lucky growled. "Are you sure?"
Liam nodded. "Yes. It's the Barren. A stretch of land so polluted the sun can't shine on it, water evaporates and animals die. We can escape from here- but we'll need water, light and food. The main articles or neccessities of living."
As Conor was engrossed in Liam's description he hadn't even noticed the dark castle looming above them.
"Look." Lucky growled.
The pair looked up to finally spot the partially invisible castle and it was quite clear that the wolf was in there. The trio raced in, Liam explaining how he knew about the ritual. "For 2 years, me and a couple of other people have been trying to guard you from the wolf. We've repelled a large number of attacks and always kept you safe, ALWAYS- until today, when we were all kidnapped, leaving you unprotected, apart from Lucky."
Conor patted Lucky, but kept running. "How come I wasn't told?" he huffed.
"We thought if you knew about us, you'd attack the Wolf, and that would just be plain stupid." Liam replied.
Conor shrugged. "Sounds like something I'd do."
"For the ritual, we need to get water, food and light, place them on a mirror, shatter the mirror and each grab a fragment." Liam explained. "I looked it up."
"I have food!" Conor exclaimed, pulling out a chocolate biscuit.
"I have water." Liam said, pulling out a bottle of water from a rag tied around his waist. "You don't have light do you?"
Conor smiled at Lucky. They were dashing through a maze of corridors at this point and had arrived in a round room with a silver, polished mirror. The Wolf squatted on top of it.
"Greetings." it boomed in a theatrically loud voice. "Pleasure to kill you." The wolf lunged at Conor, but Lucky intervened and once again the pair were rolling in the dust. Conor put the chocolate biscuit on top of it, and Liam poured the water over it .
"We need light....." Conor murmured. The Wolf was dazzlingly bright as it rolled around the place, making Lucky bleed. Tears rolled down Conor's cheeks as his dog was being ripped apart. But it wasn't too late. Conor could save Lucky. Conor raced forward and yanked a tuft of hair out of the wolf's back. He placed it on the biscuit and the food, water and light from the sparkling hair combined to make a silvery covering, which then turned black. The mirror was now pure black, but they could still see their reflections. Conor brought his foot crashing down on it. The mirror shattered into a million pieces with a crash so loud it was like the castle was falling apart. Conor bent down and grabbed three fragments. He handed one to Liam, kept one in his pocket and raced to Lucky. He pummelled the wolf and reached past him, tucking the shard of glass into Lucky's collar as the haze appeared.
"No!" the Wolf bellowed as its three enemies vanished. Around him his castle collapsed and when it did the other children were returned home. The Barren was no more.
Conor lay sprawled on the grass of his field with a bleeding dog beside him, but no Liam.
'Probably returned to wherever he was before he was kidnapped.' Conor thought.
But as he watched Lucky, the dog's cuts and wounds began to heal themselves from the power of the fragment. Mind in a whirl and body demanding rest, he headed home to receive a scolding for being gone so long. But, thought Conor, as he sank into bed later that night, that was the least of his worries. The Golden Wolf would never rest, and until it was killed and its hopes destroyed-
Cora Harrison says
This is really, really good, Conor. The idea of the golden wolf and the place called 'The Barren' is so original. i don't think I ever read a story like this on the Story Club before. you have a great vocabulary and know how to use words very well indeed.
Two tiny criticisms - you will notice that, acting as your editor, I changed the format of your story by starting a new line every time that a new person begins to speak. If you look in books you will find that this is normally done - it makes the story easier to read.
The second point is that I took the liberty of cutting out the last sentence: "neither would The Greenfingers, (the group that were after the Wolf, that Liam was in) and neither would Conor."
Somehow I felt that weakened the powerful sentence that went before. I think that I would reserve 'The Greenfingers' for a sequel to this excellent book. Let me know what you think because if you prefer I will put it back.