Highly Commended Story - The End Of The Rainbow
“The End Of The Rainbow” by Maitreyi Maneesh Bapaye, Fravashi International Academy, Nashik, India, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Maitreyi Maneesh Bapaye is an 11.5 year old girl, studying at Fravashi International Academy in Nashik, India. From the time she first learnt to read, she has found great joy in indulging in the limitless world of storybooks. She is particularly drawn towards books on fantasy and mythology. JK Rowling is her role model. She aspires to create something like her which would give immense joy and excitement to the young and old.
The End Of The Rainbow
“No more giving in to this abomination!” the Chief roared, while the islanders looked on perplexed. This was long ago, on the island of Peragua, in the Pacific Ocean. The islanders had been living a serene life, till the greedy eyes of Lord Erebos of the Dark Islands, fell upon them. He threatened to vanquish them and started blackmailing them. Every month he came to collect grains and gold as an offering for maintaining peace. The islanders had been intimidated for a long time, but the Chief could stand it no more. He ordered the war ships to be readied and pledged to save his people from the wicked counsel of the Lord.
Then Doomsday arrived. As the islanders prepared for war, the Erebos alighted with only a flute in his hand. He started playing an eerie melody that none had ever heard before. The children on the island began drifting towards him. Adults struggled to restrain them, but an invisible barrier kept them back. Erebos walked down the docks to his ship, and all the children, as if in a trance, followed him. Try as they might, the islanders could not stop the brutal Lord. The entire island lost its liveliness, drowned in the islanders’ tears.
The Chief’s daughter, Asa, had been away sailing when the incident occurred. On returning, she was shocked. “I have to do something! The islanders will perish in pain, and father will not be able to bear the burden of their grief!” She vowed to bring the children back. But who could she turn to for help? There was only one wise person on the island, who had seen enough winters to give her advice.
As she entered Mati’s cave, she saw the old lady sitting in a rocking chair. “Oh, wise Mati, you alone can help Peragua. Please guide me!” Mati looked up. “My child, you must understand that the perils of this quest are extreme and may even claim your life.” Asa took a deep breath, “I am determined.” “To accomplish your task, you must do something nobody has ever done before. You must go to the island at the end of the rainbow. Erebos has kept the children in a cell, guarded by a dreadful dragon, Eleard. Enroute, you must look for the magical Jewel of Geb. That alone has the power to defeat the dragon.”
Asa gasped. “But no one alive today has ever seen that stone!” “It is said that the stone will present itself to a person, who has a heart filled with purity of a lily and courage of a lion,” replied Mati. “This is as far as I can help you.”
Asa took her blessings and turned to leave. “Take this with you,” said Mati, handing her a silk scarf. “It will protect you from Erebos’s most powerful weapon.” Asa hurriedly packed some provisions, kissed her sleeping parents farewell and set sail on her perilous mission.
After a couple of uneventful days, the winds started howling. Her ship tossed and turned, threatening to overturn. The ghastly storm ripped her sail and waves rose to terrifying heights. All night, booming thunder and blinding lightning continued to haunt her. Asa huddled up praying, almost certain that this was her end. Finally, at dawn, the storm abated and the sky cleared. She rubbed her eyes in astonishment, as she found that she had been blown to the shore of a sparkling island.
Ashore, she was dazed to see innumerable glittering oysters. Suddenly, she heard a hissing and slithering sound, and found herself faced with an enormous red sea serpent. Asa’s jaw dropped. It was horrible, its scales glittering like raging rubies. Then, without giving her time to gather herself, the serpent lunged. She barely managed to unsheathe her sword and parried its fangs. She thrust her sword again, making a deep cut in its flesh. It seemed as if the serpent would overpower her any minute, until she finally stabbed its eyes. As the serpent winced, she drove her sword through its body. The sea serpent’s carcass scattered into dust.
Asa noticed that one of the oysters was glowing with extreme brilliance. Inside was an enormous sparkling emerald. “The Jewel of Geb!” she gasped. She lifted it and set sail. A dense fog surrounded the ship, but the brilliance of the emerald illuminated her way.
Finally, Asa reached the island where the rainbow kissed the ground. She shuddered. A strange darkness engulfed it. She forged her way through the thick forest, only to hear the hypnotizing melody. “Oh no, the flute!” she exclaimed, as she whipped out Mati’s scarf and frantically tied it around her ears.
As reached the centre of the island, she saw a black dragon, plumes of smoke rising from its nostrils. “Eleard..,” trembled Asa. The dragon gave her a fiery glance. She felt her knees giving way. “Your People Need You!” she chided herself, summoning her courage. She held up the Jewel of Geb and walked towards Eleard. It breathed a fireball towards her. As she ducked, the Jewel sent a blinding ray of light which vaporized the fireball. Eleard seemed fazed, but not for long. He breathed another fireball, but the Jewel started glowing in a searing light, so bright and pure that Eleard started to evaporate. Asa thought she saw the outline of Lord Erebos in the fading vapours.
Soon, nothing was left of the fearsome creature. The eerie melody stopped, the dark clouds lifted and before her was the cell. Inside were the children of her island, stirring from their trance. They rushed to Asa’s ship.
Off they sailed and reached their blessed homeland. The ecstatic parents rushed forth, shedding tears of relief. The Chief, who had been ridden with worry, ran to hug his beloved daughter.
Asa was hailed a hero, and grew up to be the most revered Chief of the island. The Jewel of Geb hung around her neck, her guiding light in trying times.