Student Writing from Camp

It was wonderful hearing the girls read their stories aloud and seeing how they adapted, elaborated or diverged from the complication they were given during the day. Students were encouraged to explore the unexpected and Grace, (sweet Grace, who took my character up a long and very divergent path…you’ll keep child! {;o)), is the first to appear on our site. Grace’s creation came second in the senior division.

Never Speak a Word

by Grace Cassidy Year 11 2015

She woke to shadows. Flickering shapes of light and dark smeared smudges on the back of pale hands and stretched like fingers reaching across the polished surface of a hard-wood floor. There was a fire crackling in the hearth and the light of glowing embers drew golden fringes on the edges of the rope tied around her wrists and the wooden frame of the chair to which she was bound. Dread weighed in her stomach as though she had consumed a large stone and she swallowed to wet the mouth that was suddenly as dry as sandpaper.

“Well,” an amused voice whispered into the quiet of the room, “I was wondering when you’d be waking up.”

She heard clothes rustling and then the steady sound of footsteps met her ears. A hand stretched out from the shadows and a wand was being pointed at the fire. Flames rose and flared and began to burn more fiercely than before.

Ramona stared at the woman who now stood in front of the fireplace, heart thudding painfully in her chest. She felt the ropes tighten around her wrists as her body inched to rise out of the chair and confront the woman. She tugged and wriggled, trying desperately to shimmy her way out of the bindings, but they only got tighter.

Feeling her hands beginning to tingle and the flesh on her wrists sting, she stopped. She slumped forward with a sigh, anger and fear and betrayal churned in her stomach and exhausted tears gathering in her eyes.

“Why?” she asked; whispered. “Why are you doing this?”

Silence greeted her.

“Well?” she asked, lifting her head to meet the older woman’s gaze. “Is that it? You have nothing to say?”

Another beat of silence.

“I know what you’re planning Professor!”

A dark chuckle interrupted her and the words died in her throat.

“Oh Ramona, you always were just a little bit too… curious, weren’t you.”

Ramona breathed in shakily and a tear rolled down her cheek. Part of her had been hoping she was wrong, but looking at the expression of cold detachment marring the features of her favourite Professor’s face, she felt that hope shatter.

“How could you?” she breathed. “Headmistress. How?”

Bentwood sighed and looked away for a moment before coming forward to crouch in front of her. Ramona’s eyes narrowed.

“I know this is hard to understand – “

She snorted derisively, “Understatement of the century.”

Bentwood sighed and, lips pursed, continued. “I know it’s hard for you to understand, but it’s for the greater good.”

Ramona shook her head, “They’re just kids – students! They trust you and you’re letting this happen!”

Bentwood nodded solemnly, “I know, I know. It’s hard to understand and that’s why I’m sorry but I can’t have you telling anyone about any of this.”

The student tensed, the pulse of her blood thrumming in her ears.

“Wh-what?” she stammered.

“Now Ramona, I assure you, I do not wish to hurt you. But I can’t have you telling people of this. I really just can’t.”

And with sad eyes, the Headmistress raised her wand.

*

The Mugworts Great Hall was abuzz with chatter. The sound of children laughing and the happiness that always came with the opening feast, filled the air.

Then, abruptly it was broken as heavy oaken doors swung open and everyone turned to see the school’s deputy head running through the hall. They watched as the Headmistress frowned and rose to meet the panicked professor, concern etched in her features. A few hushed and hurried words were exchanged and the Headmistress seemed to deflate.

She turned to the students.

“It seems, children, that there has been an incident.”

Her voice carried through the near-silent hall. Every student tensed and they all waited with bated breath.

“I am very sorry to inform you that it appears one of our students, Ramona Skye, has gone missing. She was not seen on the train this morning and it appears she did not make it to Roma Street Station. It is suspected that…”

And all the while Professor Bentwood spoke, amidst all the students; under a cloaking spell and invisible to all those around her, Ramona’s mouth had fallen open in a silent scream.

Bentwood had gotten what she wanted. She wouldn’t be telling everyone.

 

The Next Installment by Katie Murdoch Year 8

The Ancient High Council was in session. Sun Feather stamped her clawed foot on the ground, the sound echoing intimidatingly throughout the grotto.  All eyes turned to her.  Sun Feather may seem gentle in appearance but she truly was the most wicked and dark hearted creature to walk the earth.  Just look at what the emu had done to Desert Song!  Nobody should have had to endure such agony before they died, especially kind, mothering and brave Desert Song.

“I suppose you all know why you are have been called here today?” Sun Feather crooned softly.  Muddy Stone grunted.

“You’ve got that right!  You’re going to explain to us all non-desert dwellers why Desert Song was murdered!” the wombat growled furiously, his wiry brown fur bristling.  A large, outback red kangaroo rolled his unnaturally blue eyes in contempt.

“You know why she was killed, Muddy Stone.  She betrayed us, her family, for the young magic!”

Protests arose from the woodland and marine life as the wombat barrelled forward, snarling in rage.  The two would have been nose to nose if it hadn’t been for the severe height advantage Jumping Rock had but that didn’t stop Muddy Stone from intimidating the larger animal.  The cacophony was soon silenced by Sun Feather’s glare.

“Enough!  It has been a long time since the incident, Muddy Stone, and unless you wish to join her you won’t utter another word.”

The wombat’s snout curled into a terrifying snarl but he remained quiet.  “Good. As you all know, that blasted school for young magic wielders is opening in a week’s time and those traitors, Ripple Ray and Ebony Eye Night Wing, will be claiming their supporters.  I have decided that one of Desert Song’s chosen will be kidnapped and held ransom.  Her spirit will not offer much defence against us now she’s dead.”

Muddy Stone rose to his paws.

“Well, I for one shall not be partaking in this heinous crime.  This is cruel immoral and wrong.  You, and all who support you, are a disgrace!” he thundered before vanishing in a typhoon of dust.  The majority of the other animals followed his example, their defiance in the face of Sun Feather’s rule shining through.  Sun Feather trembled with outrage.

“Fine!  I don’t need any of you!  Jumping Rock!  Ready your forces.  I want one of those wretched upstarts bound at my claws before those doors are opened!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The clicking of boots on concrete alerted Jumping Rock to a human’s presence.  He peeked through the dense foliage of his hiding place to get a better look at his target.  The kangaroo’s ear twitched.  She appeared to be a very wealthy mortal, perhaps a bit brattish if her thoughts were anything to go by.  She carried the faint whiff of Desert Song’s aroma; the sweet scent of wild flowers, the earth and the reek of blood and hawthorne.  The perfect target.

 

He raised his right paw and the bilby at his feet flicked his ears.  The grass beneath the child’s feet glowed faintly before shoots erupted from the earth, twining themselves around her.  She screamed, thrashing and struggling, her limbs flailing in an attempt to escape.  It was pointless through.  The child’s eyes began to glaze over in terror as the grace began to mummify her body.  An ominous caw pierced the air as a great black cockatoo swooped down, dropping a large oil canister on her head.  She crumpled to the ground unconscious.  Jumping Rock and his partners’ smirked wickedly.  Mission accomplished.

 

For a member of Desert Song, Reyna couldn’t be in a better house.  She was reckless, courageous and self-sacrificing however she hated being a hero or heroes in general.  So when Saffron had woken her up in the middle of the night for a rescue mission, she had naturally protested.

“Oh come on, Fawn.  It’ll be fun!  You don’t have to play hero but just come with me!  Besides, she could be in danger!  You said so yourself, nobody should be left behind or forgotten.”

Reyna scowled and got up, quietly.  Only Desert Song members knew her real name and her love for the show Lillo and Stitch.

“Fine.  I’ll come, just keep your voice down, Saff.”

 

“So do you two have any idea where we are going?” Winifred asked.  Reyna debated if she should wack the girl over the head or put her to sleep.  Both sounded equally as appealing.

“No,” Saffron replied, successfully distracting Reyna from choosing and saving Winifred from either option.  “We’re winging it.”

“Let’s try at Roma St-” Ophelia was cut off from whatever logical tangent she was about to embark on as an ancient whisper swept through the clearing.

“Hurry children,” it whispered, 3 voices, male and female, soft, crooning and musical, combined as one.  “You don’t have much time.  Follow our voices.  GO!”

 

Ramona Skye was having a bad day.  Scratch that, she was having an absolutely horrible day.  It started with her strolling down a path, being attacked by killer grass and having a grey canister dropped on her head, knocking her unconscious.  She then woke up to a maniac of an emu who was sprouting complete and utter gibberish about holding her hostage for some absolutely bizarre reason about which she had long since given up trying to understand.  To make matters worse she was tied up to a gum tree with vines, rope and of course duct tape.  She was also coated in honey and it was extremely disgusting and uncomfortable.

“Young witch,” a voice murmured, gentle and tired.  Ramona froze.

“Stay calm young one.  Help is coming.”

“Who are you?” she asked, worrying for her sanity.  After all, she’d been abducted by a bunch of talking animals and was bonded to a tree covered in honey.

“As the idiotic emu believes, I’m your patron but really I’m just the figure for your house,” the voice replied, amusement clear.  Ramona froze.

“Then that means…”

“Yes I’m Desert Song, little one.”

“But you died!  How?”

“Nothing lasts forever, young witch, not even death.  Besides, not even Sun Feather could get rid of me completely,” Desert Song replied, proudly.

“But you’re still dead through.”

“Unfortunately.”

“And you have an ego.”

“Not quite, young witch,” the deceased dingo rebuked, offended.

“You’re a dead dingo with an ego who is currently talking with me.”

“If that is what makes you happy.”

Ramona fainted.

 

Meanwhile, Reyna, Saffron, Ophelia and Winifred were slinking through the woods, keeping quiet as they approached the heart of Australia with the orginal animals of the land.  Well, Reyna and Ophelia were sneaking, Saffron and Winifred were causing a racket but that was beside the point.

“Ready humans?” Muddy Stone asked, shaking his pelt.  Reyna looked back at the others and nodded.

“As we’ll ever be.”

“Do you know what you’re doing?” the wombat asked.

“Yep.  Reyna’s gonna be all sneaky and grab Ramona while we buy her time by distracting Sunny,” Saffron replied, nudging Reyna.  The wombat cocked his head slightly.

“I hope whatever you’re going to do has a little more depth than that.  Insulting her is a good idea actually.  Sun Feather hates being disrespected.” 

“That makes Saffron’s job easy,” Winifred muttered.

“I heard that!”

“Shut up!” Reyna hissed as the kangaroo on guard duty perked up his ears.  Surprisingly the duo shut up.  Reyna turned to Ophelia and tilted her head in a silent question.  Ophy breathed deeply and nodded.  It would be difficult for Ophelia as she was the best magic user in the group to fight, as using magic directly had no effect.  Reyna glanced at her friends a final time before she scrambled swiftly up a tree and snuck in.  She was carefully making her way through the shadows of the main cavern when she heard it.  The sound of battle erupted as creatures poured into the grottoes and caverns.  She could smell the different aromas of the fighting fauna and immediately turned her attention back to the unconscious and bloody Ramona Skye.  The emu in the cavern had yet to notice her, to focus on a glowing orb in front of her, outrage etched into her features.  Winifred, Saffron and Ophelia burst into the cavern, casting the spell Bombarda at the stalactites above Sun Feather causing them to fall on the flightless bird.  She squawked in fury and unleashed blast after blast at the trio.  It was a strange thing, the ancient magic.  They didn’t need spells or words to unleash their power yet those fortified the effect.  Reyna wasn’t an expert nor did she dwell on things that really didn’t affect her so she let the matter be and returned to untying Ramona.  Honey coated her fingers as she deftly undid the knot, thanking Desert Song for her skill with ropes.  Heaving Ramona into her arms, Reyna turned back to the others and paled.  Saffron’s arm was bent at an unnatural angle, Ophelia was bleeding from an array of scars and Winifred was embedded in the wall.  Ophelia staggered to Winifred’s side as Saffron faced Sun Feather.

 

Saffron was breathing heavily.  Her arm was numb and pain had encased her lower body but she wasn’t scared.  She couldn’t quit now not with everything that was at stake.  The school, her friends, their lives…she just couldn’t back down.  Nor would she.  She was a member of Desert Song.

“What made you think you could defeat me  the great Sun Feather?” the emu taunted, victory plastered over her face.  Saffron smirked.

“You can be defeated, Bird Brain.  You will fall today.”

“You and what army?” Sun Feather sneered.  Saffron smirked again.

“That one,” she replied pointing as Reyna Malady stepped up behind her.

 

Everything flowed together as Reyna leapt, crashing into the magical being as her friends made their getaway.  When she had planned this with Saffron, she had left out one minor detail; there was a high chance Reyna wouldn’t be returning home.  Not that Reyna was particularly worried.  She’d lived a good life and if she died today then so be it.  However that didn’t mean that she was just going to allow herself to die.  Reyna wasn’t that stupid.  Another kick to the face allowed, Reyna to make her move.  She bolted for the entrance but was quickly tackled by a bruised and battered emu.

“Any last words?” Sun Feather sneered, following the usual villain cliché.  Reyna smirked.

“Yep.  Send the devil my regards.  Bombarda,” she quipped, raising her wand.  Horror filled Sun Feather’s eyes as the pair were buried under an avalanche of rocks.

 

Two weeks later, Reyna on crutches, Saffron with her arm in a sling, Ophelia covered in Band-Aids and Winifred sporting the latest head gear hobbled out of the infirmary with Ramona at their side.  The gang thought it was worth it and were ready for whatever Mugworts had instore, after the detentions and kitchen patrols of course.               

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