Undaunted Courage

It all started when Brandon’s arch-enemy blew up the White House, the Capitol building, and all the museums and memorials on the east bank of the Potomac river in one explosion. Brandon and his assistant Stanley Dalton were visiting Washington D.C. to tell President Rosemary J. Staten, Vice President Michael T. Evans, and Secretary of Education Jerome J. Johnson about their new invention and how to use it. Brandon was just nominated for smartest ten-year-old kid charted. He had invented a one hundred percent correct, infallible lie detector.

The clock chimed twice when Brandon’s evil arch-enemy, Doug Brooks and his assistant Alan Walker, marched in carrying sixteen portfolios. All of them were practically spilling. Brandon clenched my diamond charm that his Grandma Holly gave him when he was five, a day before she died of a heart attack.

“Brandon, meet Doug, who has just invented a tester that can harmlessly go into any software and disable networks and CPUs,” President Stanten cheerfully announced. Doug spared a second to shoot Brandon a withering glare, and Brandon sent one with an equal amount of hatred to Doug. Stanley looked like he was going to implode. He was shaking and sweating and once Brandon looked at him he dropped all of his papers and ran into the bathroom.

“Look at that pathetic human. Brandon must be insane to have hired him,” Doug whispered to his assistant. As he said it, his eyes turned a freakish green and when Brandon looked at him, he formed a green light in his palms and shot it at Brandon. Brandon ducked and the green ball shot out of the window and smashed into Pennsylvania Avenue. A huge green ball rose from the crater and its diameter grew to almost thirty feet before exploding. Doug and his assistant teleported away right before the White House crumbled to ruins. Brandon saw Stanley, the President, Vice President and the Secretary of Education all spiral into the air. But Brandon couldn’t, because his teleportation cube was with Stanley. Brandon heard an alarm ring in the distance before he was sucked into a pitch black world.

Beep, beep, beep. Brandon opened his eyes. He was in a hospital and a machine was trying to keep him alive. He groaned at the dull pains all around my body and that got the doctor’s attention.

“Brandon? Are you alright? We just finished cleaning the chunk of muscle that one of the rocks cut off. You’re going to have some huge scars on your legs and face. You’re in Florida and got transferred from Annapolis to here. Orlando,” the doctor said, anxiety splattered on his face. Brandon guessed it was because his dad had threatened to sue the doctors if Brandon wasn’t better within the week. Brandon groaned and fell back asleep.

Brandon woke up again in the middle of the night. The doctors were absent and he had a pile of presents on his bed side table. He groaned. They were all from girls who would pester him to ask him out or something. The top letter was from Mom. The second he read the word ‘Mom,’ he started crying. His mom was also in a hospital with blood, breast, and lung cancer, and a brain tumor. He had just visited her the day before the meeting. She was better and she said he was a prodigy but she also mentioned she knew he was capable of more things. He was puzzled but at the time, Brandon and his dad’s flight from Los Angeles was to leave in two hours and he and his Dad had to rush to the airport. He didn’t want his Dad to know because he was strict and only gave terse replies to answers.

Brandon fell back in his pillow and cried himself to sleep.

The next day, the doctors did a blood test. Brandon had never needed one because he was rarely sick, so his parents never thought he needed one. During the blood test, two doctors fainted, one doctor gasped, and the rest looked like clueless monkeys. Brandon saw what was on the machine, and it said, “System error. No known explanation.” Then, for no reason, he felt the scars on his legs that the doctor said would be there. They were gone, disappeared, vanished.

“Uhh excuse me? One question. Where are the scars that you said would be on my legs?” he asked. They looked at his leg and three more of them fainted, leaving four gaping doctors who stared at his leg where no signs of injuries could be seen.

Soon, Brandon’s injuries were healed and he got ready to leave. He was told to go to the airport and wait for his dad. They were going to go to West Palm Beach. The doctors were still surprised by Brandon and his tests results. Brandon felt like gasping at them and the machines. He decided that they needed brain updates. All of them. He was soon out of the hospital. A wave of fresh, warm air greeted him. It was around 9:00 and nobody was around. He strolled around the area and went to downtown.

It was the opposite of New York City. The apartment buildings were low, and about six floors, and Business Buildings were just nine to ten floors. He crossed 8th street and continued his way to the airport. The second he rounded the corner, a man in a trench coat grabbed him by his  head and stuffed him into a suitcase. Brandon suffocated in the suitcase for ten minutes until the bottom of the suitcase opened and the suitcase stopped bumping along the pavement, indicating the kidnapper had stopped, and sounded like he was smoking.

Suddenly, in a flash of green light, a tunnel opened leading to a platform above a land of paradise. A group of girls were at a base of a mountain. They raised their hands and muttered some words before the mountain rumbled and out exploded a stream of lava that turned into rubies upon touch! Another group of boys were walking in a barren courtyard. They put a grape into a burning hearth at the center and in a flash of sparks, the columns of marble around the courtyard were covered in grapevines and soon, they bore fruit. The boys high-fived and patted each other on their backs, eating fresh, juicy, purple grapes. Brandon walked around the platform until he noticed a woman, in a wheelchair, around the age of thirty-six, beckoning toward herself. She was clearly motioning Brandon to come to her.

Brandon froze. “Mom?” he said weakly. The woman smiled. “Mom!” He started running toward her. She started running towards Brandon. He embraced her so hard she said laughing, “Loosen up! I’m going pins and needles.” They both started crying tears of happiness.

“I’m so glad you’re alright! I was worried sick. Your father is waiting down there, see?!” Brandon looked down. Dad was in the courtyard with the boys, clearly teaching them how to play football. He looked up and waved. Brandon waved back and all the boys started pointing and whispering.

Stanley waved to Brandon, looking perfectly normal, except that he had a purple staff. Stanley put his  staff up into the air and wrote, “Is Brandon alright? All of the campers are anxious to meet him.”

Then Brandon’s mom pulled out a neon yellow staff and wrote, “Brandon is fine. All is well.” The golden letters shown in the air, and disappeared.

Brandon didn’t realize his mouth was opened in shock, until his mom noticed. “Why are you suprised? I thought you would know by now what you are. Remember the bus driver with the horns? Doug and the green explosion? The time were you found yourself suffocating inside a palm tree in Mexico when you went to sleep in the Ritz Carlton, Philadelphia? These things were not just coincidences. You are a magician and so am I.”

Brandon was speechless. He had a hard time believing what  his mom said. His mom laughed.

“You had proof when you saw me take out a staff and write golden letters in the air with golden particles the size of teensy weensy atoms.”

Brandon gaped at his Mom for a few more minutes before he answered. “How are we going to get down if I don’t have a teleporter and both you and dad refused to use teleporters?”

Brandon’s mom stared at him looking utterly bemused. “Opinions change. I put some sense into your dad’s brain after I decided to use teleporters.”

“But where are the teleporters?” Brandon asked, exasperated.

She smiled. “You will see me perform one more spell before we go down for a tour. Here I go. Summonialo Teleporters!”

Two teleporters zoomed out of a black portal and clattered on the glass platform.

“Ready?” asked mom. Brandon nodded. She flicked the box open and requested “Nuanen Welden!” Strangely, Brandon understood what she had said. Nuanen means beautiful, and Welden means forest. Nuanen Welden means the beautiful forest. The teleporter started humming and Brandon, using previous knowledge, knew that was the ten-second warning. The box opened once more and a purple portal rose out. Brandon and his Mom grabbed hands and walked into the portal.

They spun through hyperspace. Images of other places raced past  them. Brandon caught glimpses of other areas. Cairo, Beijing, New York, L.A., Las Vegas, and tons of other cities. Then the portal opened up and they walked out to a huge marble doorway. On top read, “Astori! Fri Cai Vinr! Nai Onr Jan Oloso!” which means, “Welcome Friends! Make yourself at home!”

Brandon was still puzzled by his knowledge of this language. One day, I master French after one month of hard work and the next I learn a unknown language in two minutes, thought Brandon.  

After the entrance, they came upon the clubhouse. It had a huge pool, a patio, a pool table and a casino from what Brandon could see. Then they arrived at the mess hall. Brandon saw a huge campfire with strange symbols around it. The fire was still red hot in the ashes. Next they proceeded to the amphitheater. A huge outdoor stage was surrounded with layers of seats in a half circle. Then the party of two arrived at the cabins. Each of them had a symbol and a word in the unknown language. As Brandon began to call it. They read, “Fire,” “Water,” “Earth,” “Ice,” “Air,” “Electric,” “Animal,” “Plant,” “Mind Reading,” “Future Predicting,” and right in front was the knowledge cabin. Brandon peeked inside to see just a blank, swirling, black mist.

“Brandon! Please don’t do that. It’s forbidden in Nuanen Welden,” Brandon’s mom called out after she was greeted by the group of girls from the volcano. One of them offered a ruby bracelet to Brandon’s mom and she accepted it warmly.

“Mom, why couldn’t I see anything? That mist was not a portal, so why could I not see anything?”

Brandon’s mom looked like he should know this, but resumed a normal expression. She replied, “That’s because you haven’t passed the trial of the cores yet.”

“What is the trial of the cores?” Brandon asked.

She explained that you have to go through three days of obstacles to find out which group you are in. She also mentioned she was a mind reader, so Brandon realized how he could never force a lie past her. She also knew what was troubling him. Then a huge wooden manor loomed up in front of them.

“That is the haunted manor. Twenty-three years ago when I came here, one magician went in and never came out. Every night there is a explosion, and blood starts to seep out of the tallest room in a waterfall. Then a wave of pain seeps through you and you fall into a nightmare. Only two months ago did we find out how to stop the pain, but you will still have nightmares and they are about what you fear the most,” Brandon’s mom whispered, dropping her voice with a shudder as if she could still feel the pain.

Then they passed a cathedral that loomed higher than the haunted tower. It had a huge gold bell on top. The edges were beautifully carved marble and the stained glass art was made with so perfection it looked so realistic. Then Brandon realized that the people in the glass were moving. He gasped and pointed at the glass tiles like a baby that first saw a bird. The people actually glanced at him and some waved. The party pasted the archery range and they saw a huge wooden tower that had broken ladders leading to the top. Then they ventured on and then, the big golden bell struck seven times. It was seven o’clock, and campers poured out of the cabins and training areas.

“C’mon, the feast has begun!” cried Brandon’s mom, looking happier than he was when he was given the Nobel Prize for the rocket boots and the teleporter he invented just a few months ago.

They followed the campers into the mess hall. In just a few hours’ time from when they had passed the hall during the beginning of the tour, there were piles of mashed potatoes, rivers of cranberry sauce, heaps of rotisserie chicken, mountains of spaghetti, hills of Caesar salads and lakes of stews and soups. Brandon sat down with his mom and his dad at the high table.

Brandon noticed that the campers that were in the cabins were know whispering and pointing at him. He ignored them like the paparazzi that followed him wherever he went. Then Brandon began to pile some of the baked yams and the steak onto his golden plates. He asked where was any of the drinks and a server stared at him with a expression of pure horror. She strode away, now bearing a expression of exasperation.

Leaning to his left, Brandon asked his dad, “Why did that servant looked so scared when I asked where the drinks were?” Brandon’s dad looked amused and then replied in a soft tone Brandon had never heard him use. “The drinks are forbidden within a ten-yard radius of the sacred hearth where we do our daily sacrifices at the strike of midnight so we are not pained by that mysterious person up at the top of the haunted manor. We have to sacrifice a ice pearl, a lava ruby, a water sapphire, a leaf emerald, and the rarest, most precious gem of all: the knowledge diamond. It has been a millennium since a knowledge camper came here. They have been extinct because they attract to many spirits and aliens then they can fend off — ”

He had trailed off because Brandon’s diamond charm rose off him and was giving off a brilliant white light. All around Brandon people started bowing on one knee. Then Brandon’s dad said, “Rise Brandon, son of Ilirea, start of the new age of the Knowledges.” Then the diamond started spinning. It spun and spun until it shot a solid pillar of white light up into the sky. It shot through the atmosphere, hurtled past the planets, exploded through the kuiper belt, spun through the Milky Way and it smashed into the alien planet of Nar Gazvoda.

One billion aliens escaped on space ships before they saw their beloved planet shatter into a trillion tiny asteroids. They wanted revenge on that planet and they set off toward Earth, following the light that still shone and destroyed neighboring planets. Then, the light hit the oldest star in the universe, which was a trillion miles in circumference.

It started shaking, and then parts of the star started to rumble. It shook, then pieces of the star exploded and the star ended its life in the biggest supernova that sent the spaceships zooming at the speed of sound.

Meanwhile, at the camp, everyone had gotten up, and tensions broke. The campers all lifted Brandon on their backs. They had just arrived at the cabins when they heard a huge BANG, and they witnessed a supernova. The star’s light and streaked the sky red, orange, yellow, and purple. The asteroid belt had been greatly disrupted and the asteroids flew in the direction toward earth.

The campers saw and set Brandon down to get staffs. Then the first asteroids came barreling down and the campers all muttered “Relashio,” and the asteroids reversed and crashed into each other. The meteors were equally as dangerous as the asteroids, because they traveled twice as fast.

Up in Augusta, the rest of the world saw a spectacular meteor shower until it started plummeting through the atmosphere. People screamed and fled. One by one, the meteors plummeted down, crashing and exploding worldwide known landmarks. The Forbidden City, the World Trade Center, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids of Giza, the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Blue Domed Church in Santorini, the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, The Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Agia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, and thousands of other fascinating landmarks that some people will never see.

Every death and destruction of a human of a landmark was a spear in Brandon’s heart. He had been to all those places and yet millions of people might never see one of them. The meteors swirled and crashed into the earth. Then the bigger asteroids came crashing in and a huge eruption of dirt, grass, rock, trees, water, and lava shot out of the ground as the asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico for the second time.

Brandon woke up from his groaning. He was electric-tied onto a mat on the wall. He was in a solid titanium cell. He could hear voices on all sides of the cell. He had the strange sensation that he was hovering over a large fire. It was sweltering in the cell. The cell itself was a oven, and Brandon got the impression whoever put him in the cell wanted to cook him alive. Brandon started struggling against the electric-tied rope and all he got was a painful electric shock up against his ribs. He realized that his legs were both broken, and even if he managed to get off, he would have no chance in finding a way out. He let go and let himself fall into another coma.

When Brandon came fully into his senses, he was in a completely different room. It was decked out with a spa, bed, dinning table, a maple desk and a teleporting closet. Two aliens were whispering in the corner. He struggled against the binds and realized that it was not eletric anymore. He fell limp but then a strange glow started forming in my chest but expanding so rapidly that Brandon felt as if he were going to explode. Then a scream erupted from his mouth and the light burst in a huge beam. The beam erupted into a web and a it started criss cross into a huge circular dome around Brandon.

Then another light shot from his mouth and started twisting itself right the center of the dome. Then a stream of white light collided with the blue light and started spinning. The aliens who were talking had stopped and watched as the light shone ever brillianter than before. Then the light stopped twisting and started solidifying in a spear? No, a staff!? Brandon looked at the staff in bewilderment then the staff rose into Brandon’s outstretched hand and he clasped it hard in his sweating palms.

Then he shouted, “Summonialo Teleporter!” and a teleporter whizzed through the air and landed in Brandon’s other palm. He opened it and yelled the only place that had ever felt like home, Nuanen Welden. He crumpled when he hit the ground because it was so rocky. The place looked deserted and Brandon thought so until a voice rang out.

“Brandon!” A camper came running out of a wrecked cabin. “We were so worried. The aliens took you. How did you escape. You would need a staff — ” The camper’s eyes fell onto the staff topped with the blue swirling sphere.  “Wh-wh-where did you get that staff!?”

“Later. Where are my parents?” Brandon questioned.

“They’re alright. But their current whereabouts in the camp are unknown,” the camper answered. Before the camper could speak, the camper turned white and started speaking the ancient language so fast that all Brandon heard was gibberish. Then, the camper’s eyes turned a ghostly white and projected a beam of light that spoke to Brandon.

“You shall go south in search of peace between aliens and humans. You shall encounter many dangers along the way. You shall find peace in the golden light. Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Jeffrey, Ronaldo, Amanda, Heather, Judith, Richard, and Benjamin shall go. One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace for both aliens and humans and the golden light. If you fail, the world will be consumed in darkness and famine. One shall betray the group of ten. Three will be sacrificed on there own will. He, the leader, shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.” The camper collapsed in a heap.

Then, the voice of Brandon’s mom echoed through the campus. “Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Ronaldo, Amanda, Judith, Richard and Benjamin, please report to the clubhouse immediately for discussion. Bring your staffs along.”

Brandon scrambled over the rocky ground toward the clubhouse. Along the way, more people joined him, running and jumping along to the clubhouse.

Then all ten people pushed on the door and the door swung open with such tremendous force it flew off it’s hinges. The oldest looking one held up an emerald green staff and whispered in a low deep voice, “Reparis Door,” and the door rose into the air and latched itself into the hinges. Then all ten of them crept into the clubhouse, Stanley squeezing Brandon’s arm so hard that it turned purple.

Then, Brandon’s mom’s voice called out through the darkness.

They all raised their staffs (except Brandon) and shot balls of bright, golden light that spewed warmth and a shower of golden sparks. The light illuminated the room and Brandon saw his mom sitting behind a large wooden desk that Brandon suspected was oak and was elegantly carved. A quill was scurrying across, writing exactly what the camper said. Then, the quill exploded and turned into a wax stamper and banged the paper.

Then, Brandon’s mom looked up and said, “So, the group of you have been chosen to start the first quest that has happened in a eon. I want to give you all my knowledge about how to complete the quest. You should know that if you directly walked out of the camp and flew up to the real world, you would find yourself in Augusta, Maine.”

Everyone nodded their heads except Brandon. He thought it was Orlando since he was kidnapped in Orlando and slid down that slide.

There was  a moment of silence before a bell started chiming. Thirteen times? A clock never chimes thirteen times! Then, a sound of chaos met their ears, and Brandon assumed it was a warning bell.

Brandon’s mom stood up and yelled, “Go to Atlanta to find peace!” before they heard the sound of spaceships zooming down from the periwinkle sky.

“RUN!” Stanley yelled. They all scrambled out of the clubhouse and Harvey conjured a shield around them. Campers were battling aliens, and Elizabeth whispered “Ascendium Stairo!” and a long staircase made out clouds appeared. They all sprinted up and into an unrecognizable world. The city was in ruins. Fires were burning and the remaining buildings that were still standing were either leaning at an incredible angle or  had huge chunks torn away or were charred black.

Then Elizabeth tried to conjure a cloud jet but as soon as she had muttered the spell and a cloud started forming, the sky turned red and the cloud exploded into a shower of lava and the team scattered. Harvey conjured a compass from nowhere and said, “That’s south, and we should go south.”

The team started south. They passed ruined cities. They made it to North Carolina before an obstacle came. The team had just entered a ruined city that seemed like Charlotte when they came upon a park that was completely unharmed. The group was tired and sore and all ten of them sat down on benches when the ground started rumbling and a hydra burst out from the ground.

The hydra pelted them with poison but Ronaldo waved his staff and the ground started trembling and geysers erupted straight out of the ground. Water splashed everywhere and the hydra spluttered out a wave of yellow water. The team ran and dodged geysers. Stanley shot fireballs at the hydra. Benedict sent a tornado spinning at the hydra and a ghostly green head went flying into a tree and disintegrated into a shower of sparks. The tree quickly caught fire and sparks were flying. The hydra roared and cracks started appearing on the ground. Amanda froze the ground into slippery ice and started pushing the hydra back with icicles.

By the time the icicles had stopped flying, the hydra was covered in cuts. Then Richard and Judith at the same time, turned the ground into coral and the hydra was poisoned as soon as the coral touched him. Benjamin started wrapping the hydra with lightning and Brandon had no idea what to do so he raised his staff and thought, Please save me, when an orb of light formed at his staff and disintegrated the hydra. The team started whooping.

They arrived at Atlanta after weeks on I 85, when the team was refreshed. Atlanta looked like Charlotte in every way until they realized a mile out of the city, and a circle of landmines surrounded the city. They made their way through until Benedict held up a watch and said, “Goodbye team.” He pressed a button and the mines started exploding.

The team raced through the landmines and sprinted away. On the way, Ronaldo fell and was consumed, and Harvey died while trying to punch Benedict. The team of seven watched as the fire advanced on Atlanta. Suddenly, spaceships descended and the team quickly found themselves surrounded by aliens. They battled desperately through the apocalypse and found themselves in the courtyard of Brandon’s old boarding school.

The world was at its final stand. Disease, war and destruction were consuming earth. Most of Asia and Africa had fallen. The Asians and Africans that had escaped to the other continents (including Antarctica) found the other continents as bruised and battered as their own. Brandon and his fellow magicians sent spells flying into the sky and ricocheting off stones and trees with their staffs. They were in the courtyard of the boarding school Brandon went to a whole year ago. It was a alien apocalypse. Every second another magician went down. Then, a golden light burst from the front of Brandon’s staff and made a shield around him. The shots from the blasters just turned into golden light. He suddenly remembered what the camper told him. The quest for the golden light! The Prophecy of the light.  The camper spoke to him four weeks ago.

“One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace and the golden light. One shall betray the group of ten. Five will be sacrificed through their own will. The leader shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.”

He was going to die. He was to bring peace to the warring world and never see it. He told himself, “Make your mom proud by doing a recognizable act to salvage the world,” and he let the power he was channeling from his knowledge diamond go. For a second, he was engulfed in a golden light so brilliant that he thought he was in a solid golden coffin.

Stanley was overrun with aliens when he saw Brandon rise into the air with a golden shield and explode. The light shot a beam into the air and the world started repairing. The light picked up the ruins of cities and rebuilt them again. It regrew burnt crops and healed destroyed forests and with it, brought peace. The aliens slowly started fading and soon, all that was left of them were melted guns and a couple of blasters. The remaining group rushed toward where Brandon was but all that was left was the knowledge diamond. Elizabeth started crying, Amanda and Stanley silently started grieving over their friend. They opened up a portal and teleported to Nuanen Welden. The whole Nuanen Welden was cheerful until they found out that Brandon was gone. The funeral was held that day and all the knowledge diamond was burned. Everyone was crying. For the funeral, Stanley made a speech.

“Brandon was a good friend of mine. We went to the same boarding school and he made me his assistant last year. So much has happened in a year. We grew up and matured together. We built a teleporter, a chemical vacuum and a lie detector together. We fought through aliens together. Brandon was always an honorable and loyal friend. He helped rebuild the world by sacrificing himself. We were together. The one thing I learned from our friendship is that you are more powerful when you are together.”

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