" As for Hero Hynrek he actually succeeded in reaching Morgul, the land of the Cold Fire. He ventured into the petrified forest of Wodgabay, crossed the three moats of Ragar Castle, found the lead ax, and slew the dragon Smerg. Then he brought Oglamar back to her father. At that point she would gladly have married him. But by then he didn't want her anymore. That, however, is another story for another time." (Pg.235)
Hero Hynrek followed Bastian's directions well. He knew when he had arrived at Morgul, the Land of Cold Fire. The smell was dank, like soggy wood. He dismounted and began the arduous journey through the Petrified Forest of Wodgaby. The forest lessened the smell, but it was still floating in the air. He started to hurry up; time was short, but tripped over a rock. Wait, it wasn't a rock. It was a foot! He tried to see if the foot belonged to his beloved Oglamar, but it wouldn't budge. Maybe it was just a rock. He saw movement behind some branches. He cut the branches out of the way to see the figure. "Ohhhhhh!" a groan was emitted from behind the tree. Hero Hynrek jumped back in surprise. "Who is there?" He stammered. "I am!" the voice called out slowly. "And who are you?" Hero Hynrek asked, regaining his composure.
"I should be asking you that. You are in my… home."
"I am Hero Hynrek! I have come to slay the dragon, Smerg and rescue my precious Oglamar," Hynrek exclaimed. "I have told you who I am, now you must step out of the shadows and tell me who you are." There was a great intake of breath. "I am Sprucespeck, the Wooden Giant. I cannot step out of the shadows. I am rooted. But if you come closer, you can see me." Hynrek stepped further into the trees and saw… nothing. All that was there were trees and slabs of what looked like large rocks. These rocks happen to have people petrified inside them, but that is another story for another time.
"I have no time for jokes!" He shouted. "Do not hide from me, I'm sure I saw your foot!" Something moved behind the tree Hynrek stood next to.
"I am here!" Hynrek's eyes widened as he saw the tree open its own eyes and mouth. "But I can see that you are in a hurry, so I shall tell you how to get to the dragon. You must cross the…"
"I know, I must cross the three moats of Ragar Castle and find the lead ax," Hynrek interrupted.
"Yes, yes. But it is much more complicated than that. You must survive three challenges; one at each moat," Sprucespeck's voice hummed rhythmically in a clear, hushed way.
"This is challenge, the first; Watch out for bubbles that burst. Filled with gasses these bubbles will be, but not as simple as you see.
This is challenge, the next; Match the writing of the text. This is only partially difficult, just look to the dark bolt.
Now for challenge, the last; this is a challenge from the past. Pick the right type of foil, use it well to get through the soil."
Sprucespeck's voice returned to the way it was at first. "This is the only help I can give. I do not know where exactly the lead ax is lain." Hynrek bowed and said, "Thank you your help is greatly appreciated. Now I must save Oglamar, time is of the essence." He turned to leave when Sprucespeck grunted. "Hero Hynreck? If you get away, can you do one thing for me?" Hynrek nodded. "Can you bring back the head of the woman who speaks to say the incantation to de-root me? It would be so wonderful to roam the lands once again." Hynrek agreed. "Thank you, Hero Hynrek. I have put my entire trust to you. Good luck." And with that, the Wooden Giant closed his eyes. So Hero Hynrek continued on his way.
Surprisingly, not long after, Hero Hynrek arrived at the moat, and just as Bastian had said, there was no bridge. Hynrek looked down at the liquid. It had a metallic shimmer. He kicked a rock into it and just as it hit the liquid, it sizeeled and melted away. Arsenic, that's what Bastian had said. He stepped slightly to the left. The arsenic began to expand into deadly bubbles. Hynrek began to ponder ways to get across. "I could pop them… no, I would inhale the gasses. Fire's no good." He looked up and saw wisteria vines. "Maybe I can swing across!" He pulled the nearest vine to make sure it was secure. Good. He closed his eyes and began to swing. Opening his eyes, he dropped onto the other ledge. "That was'nt so…" He never got to finish, for at that moment, he was blinked back to the first ledge. The bubbles began to form quicker than before. Frusterated, he picked up a handful of rocks and threw them, one by one, at the bubbles. One skimmed lightly across the top of the bubbles. They didn't pop. Hynrek picked up a bigger rock and aimed it towards a row of bubbles. It did the same as the smaller rock. This amused him. He thought they would pop. He got ready to jump across. He jumped to the nearest bubble, was thrown to the next bubbles, and finally to the opposite ledge. A bridge was formed out of the bubbles, like they were frozen. Quickly he ran to the next ledge.
There were three stones with strange characters on them. There was also a bolt of cloth, a lock/bolt, and a lightning bolt. The cloth was a deep indigo, the bolt was a dark slate, and the lightning bolt was a velvety blackness. They each had an odd character on them. The cloth had a on it, the bolt had a on it, and the lightning bolt had a line that traced through the middle of it. Hynrel touched each one. They gave his hand a buzz. All were different. He walked over to the stones and tripped over a smooth stone. His sword slid from its sheath. He stood up, grabbing the sword. As he was positioning it back into place in the sheath, he noticed something. The inscription on the sword was glowing! And so was the on the cloth. He looked at the stones. None of them were glowing. Sword in hand, he peered at each stone carefully. He just couldn't figure it out. "How do I tell?" Again he looked down at his sword. The inscription was the same as the stone on the left. Turning, he scooped up the indigo cloth. There was a scraping sound as he turned back to the stones. They had rearranged themselves! The sword stopped glowing and he couldn't see the inscription. Squinting his eyes, he studied the stones, touched them. No buzz, just like before. "Okay," he told himself. "I'll just randomly pick one. Hmm… the one on the right looks to be correct." But he put the cloth on the middle stone. The glowing of the cloth expanded, throwing him back. The glow arced high over the steaming nitric acid. Hero Hynrek jumped up and carefully went across the arch.
It ended right at the other ledge. Where there were four foils, each a different color; blue, green, red, and gray. The blue has a wave-like symbol on it , the green one had a tree-like symbol on it , the red had a flame-like symbol , the grey had a spiral-like symbol . Just as Bastian said, the last moat had scorpions in it. Unlike the other two moat challenges, this one had a helpful notice:
"Congratulations on making it this far. You must be very courageous to read this sign. Pick a foil and work through the past to win the bridge back. Then you must NOT cross the bridge. Pick a different foil and dig to the ax. Free us from the captivity of Smerg. Good luck Hero!"
Hynreck wondered if "Hero" was meant for him. He reached out and pulled the gray sword with the etched on it. A state of dizziness overwhelmed him. Just as suddenly as it began, though, it ended. Hynreck was back in Amarganth. There was no sign of the tournament anywhere and the citizens looked disheartened.
"Why are you sad?" Hynreck asked one person. "Our boats are built strong and so are our boatmen, but they get so tired and the Winds will not help. They don't fight or cheer, they just sit at their corners of the sky and stare at Fantastica," she explained.
A force pulled on Hynreck and he was up in the sky, right in front of Sheerck, the Wind Giant of the South.
"Sheerek! You must help the Amarganthians. They need you to send your wind to help them." Sheerek blinked and shook his head, "They have strong oarsmen, and they don't need me."
"But the others…what if they help? Would you help?"
"No! We would fight and there would be a great storm."
"Maybe that's what they need!"
"No, I won't help!"
The force took Hynreck to Mayestrit of the West. The conversation was much the same. It was also with Lirr of the North and Baureo of the East. Then Hynreck was back to Sheerek.
"You again!" Sheerek's sulfur-yellow face swelled with anger. "What do you want?"
Hynreck yelled just as loud, "Come to the air above the Ivory Tower!"
They stared at each other and Sheerek gave in. The same happened with the others. When the Wind Giants saw each other, their faces puffed. No words were spoken when an eruption of black air of the north, leaden-gray of the east, sulfur-yellow of the south, and fiery-red of the west clashed, creating a big storm. Hynreck was back in Amarganth. The same native was in front of him when the rain came. She squealed with joy.
"You got them to fight, didn't you? Now our oarsmen won't tire out so easily! Thank you!"
The dizziness came about and Hynreck was back at the third moat. There was a bridge there, but like the sign said, he had to dig first. He picked up the green foil. He was a little uneasy about digging with the flimsy sword. The sign said he had to, so he did. He began to dig. Within 20 strokes he was in the bottom most cellar of Rager Castle. Right in front of him was the lead ax. There the dragon stood with it's tail facing Hynreck. Hynreck picked up the ax, slowly walking toward Smerg.
Brainlessly, Princess Oglamar saw him and called out, "Hynreck! My hero! You've come!"
Smerg turned sharply on his grasshopper legs. Hynreck dodged the tail, remembering it's danger.
The woman head spoke, "You dare to challenge me?!" Then it lashed it's head out, snapping it's fangs. Hynreck jumped back, narrowly escaping the pain. The venomous tail shot out. Hynreck chopped at it with the ax. He grazed the middle. The woman head screamed. When the dragon's head came down again, Hynreck slashed towards the man's head. He almost cut straight through when Smerg struck out his hand and knocked Hynreck over. Hynreck jumped back up almost immediately and swung at the hand. Smerg's hand wrenched back and Hynreck gave the final slice. The man head tumbled down and rolled toward Oglamar. She jumped back in terror, speechless. Smerg hollered in pain.
"Ahh! You fool! You shall pay for that!"
Smerg reached out with it's good hand, picked up Hynreck, and pulled him closer to it's mouth. Hynreck was ready this time and as soon as he was close enough, he swung with all his might at the woman head. The ax struck all the way through. The woman's mouth opened wide as the head fell straight down. The rest of Smerg's body stopped all motion. Ice began to creep from Smerg's dragon mouth. It flowed all over the body. Hynreck used the ax to get out of the hand. He picked up the heads and walked over to Oglamar. She embraced him.
"Hynreck, you are the greatest hero in all of Fantastica. You really are. And I really do love you." She waited patiently for his reply.
"I love you," he said, but he did not look at her.
Hynreck led Pricess Oglamar to the bridges. At the third bridge he returned the foil. At the second bridge, he threw the man head into the moat. At the last bridge, he grabbed Oglamar's hand as they crossed the bubbles and for once she didn't pull her hand back. They entered the forest. When they were in front of the rock that looked like a foot, Hynreck stopped Oglamar.
"I have to do something." He stepped into the darkness. "Sprucespeak! I did it! I have the head. Where are you?"
Sprucespeak's eyes opened, "Here I am. Bring her over here." Hynreck walked over and held the head up in front of Sprucespeak. Sprucespeak's voice grew louder and bolder, "Set me free! Let me de-root and roam thelands!"
The woman head's mouth twitched and, in a deep voice said the incantation. The the skin grew gray and the head fell into a pile of ashes that blew away in the wind. Sprucespeak pulled his legs up out of the ground and stood to his full height.
"Thank you Hero Hynreck. You shall be remembered." Then he stretched each leg and, standing tall, walked away. He traveled throughout the land and became very famous. But that is another story and shall be told another time.