I played a lot of dice games in my life, but this game called craps was all new to me.
And having a witch for my first challenger didn’t fill me with a lot of confidence.
I threw the dice. One landed on a five and the other on a two.
“Seven!” I cried.
“All right!” grinned Miguel.
I gave Miguel a high-five. That was our sixth round and we had a pile of gold, diamonds and rubies in front of us. I was finally starting to feel that all that playing with dice all my life had finally paid off. And Miguel’s guitar playing actually made me feel relaxed every time I threw them.
Thora clapped her hands. “Very good,” she smiled. “You two are a lot better than I thought. I’m going to run out of a lot of things to give you soon.”
“What else have you got to offer?” Miguel asked.
Thora lifted her hand up and a chest appeared in of her. “Well, I have only my chest of my favorite rubies. Or – ” A shiny sword appeared in her hand. “ – the shiniest sword that your kingdom will ever see.”
I thought there must be something to put an end to this witch’s powers. I looked at her, but her body was all dresses and beauty. There wasn’t even a ring or an earing. Then I looked around the room and found nothing but rocks and a green thing in the middle of the wall. Wait a minute! Now that made me think.
“Thora, how about that green thing in the middle of the wall?” I asked, pointing to it.
She looked at where I was pointing. Then she turned around looking more suspiciously worried. “Why are you interested in that?” she demanded.
“Well, I have an obsession with… green objects,” I lied.
“You promised we could have anything if we win it,” said Miguel. And he was right. Thora gave us that exact promise. That was the only thing she promised.
The witch looked suspiciously at us.
“Very well,” she said. “You can play for it.”
Miguel and I looked hopeful at each other.
“But,” went on Thora, “for this round, you will need – ”
Then Tulio’s dice vanished out of my hands and then two new white with black dots dice appeared. I forgot that Tulio’s dice was loaded and this time Miguel and I wouldn’t be able to cheat. Just when Miguel and I were doing so well –
“In your own time,” said Thora. “I’m in no hurry.”
I looked at Miguel who didn’t say anything and started playing the guitar.
Then I decided to that it was now or never. I shook the dice in my hands. For quite a while.
“Just throw it, will you?” snapped Thora.
Her voice was so loud and scary that it made me drop the dice.
Soon the dice stopped rolling. One landed on a one and the other was spinning. I closed my eyes; I couldn’t bear to see where the other dice would land on. Then I heard it fall down. I opened my eyes to see that the dice landed on a six!
“Seven!” I cried.
“All right!” cheered Miguel, patting me on the shoulder.
Thora sighed as she clapped her hands. Then the green thing floated down and landed in my hands.
Then the stone doors opened.
“You have all played very well,” said Thora. “You are free to go with my emerald stone, as you have earned it. And tell your goblin friends that they are no longer under my rule.”
“Goodbye,” said Miguel.
“And thanks,” I said, as we walked out of the throne room.
“Anna?” said Miguel, as we started walking down the stairs.
“Yes, Miguel?” I replied.
“What’s so special about this green stone thing?” he asked.
“Well, first of all,” I said, “this was the only thing on the wall that was not a rock. And did you notice Thora’s behavior when I chose this thing as the next – ”
For some reason, we felt like the stairs had been turned into a steep rocky slope. Miguel and I, still holding the emerald stone, screamed as we rolled down.
We couldn’t stop rolling and we couldn’t properly see where we were going. We didn’t even stop when we rolled into a dark bit. Then we hit the wall.
“Wow! That was fun,” said Miguel.
“Yeah,” I said. “A little rough, but fun.”
“At least we’ve stopped now,” said Miguel. “And I don’t see how things can get any worst.”
Then I heard loud screeching. It sounded like bird screeching. Then lit up torches proved that Miguel was wrong.
“Can you see it now?” I asked.
“See what?” asked Miguel.
“How things have gotten worse,” I explained.
“Yes, I can see the angry-looking giant griffins,” he said.
The closest one hissed at us.
“How are we going to get out of here?” I whispered.
“Trust me,” said Miguel, as he helped me up. The giant mean-looking griffins slowly walked closer to us. “I know what I’m doing. I think.”
He grabbed my arm and we both ran. I looked back to find the griffins flying behind us.
“You see that gap on your left?” asked Miguel.
I looked on my left and I saw it. “Yes!”
Then Miguel pushed me into it and then he jumped to the gap on his right. Then we all watched the flying griffins fly past us. We were about to get out of our gaps, but one griffin – a smart one, probably – was walking around and smelling with its beak.
As it turned around, I saw Miguel treading lightly out of his gap and towards it.
“Miguel!” I whispered. “What do you think you’re – ”
Miguel looked at me and put his finger on his lip, so I became quiet again.
Miguel got behind the griffin’s tail. He tried to jump onto the griffin’s back, but it moved ahead. Luckily, Miguel didn’t make any loud noises when he landed. He got up, slowly went back and tried to jump on the griffin again, but had no better success.
I was about to giggle as I found Miguel’s failed attempts to get on the griffin’s back quite funny until I had an idea. I looked at the wall I close to and I saw some rocks sticking out more than most. It was like they were designed to climb up. I don’t know what you would climb them up for, but you could. But this time I knew what I was climbing up for.
I put my left foot on the nearest rock. Then my right foot. The rock took my weight. Then I reached over to the next one with my left foot and caught it. And it took my right foot, too. I kept doing this until I was high above the griffin that still didn’t have Miguel on its back. I jumped down and, guess what, I successfully landed on the griffin’s back!
The bird screeched very loudly.
“Come on!” I yelled, as I reached for Miguel. He caught my left hand just in time, before the griffin took off and flew around the mountain.
I was struggling to stay on the griffin because my left hand was holding Miguel’s arm and my right hand still held the emerald stone. The giant bird jerked a bit and made me drop the stone!
Luckily, Miguel caught it in his free arm. “Don’t let go of the griffin!” he yelled.
I tried everything I could to hold onto the griffin’s neck. But then it rolled over and we fell off!
BUMP! My head felt like it had just been hit by a rock. When I got up, I saw that my head did hit a rock. Well, it was more like a rocky surface, actually.
“Miguel, are you all right?” I asked, as I looked at Miguel lying on the ground next to me.
He groaned as he woke up. I was relieved that he was alive and well – apart from the bruise from his left cheek.
Then griffin screeching made me look behind to see the flock of griffins flying towards us.
“Come on, Miguel!” I yelled, as I helped him up. “Where do we go?”
We looked around.
“Follow me!” ordered Miguel, as he ran off. I followed him to the end of the wall. I saw him a large crack and I watched Miguel squeeze through it.
I turned around to see the griffins coming closer and closer. I quickly squeezed through the crack. It was very tight and uncomfortable but I could see light at the other end. I quickly made my way to the end. When I reached it, I could see blue skies, fluffy clouds and a sheer drop to the ground! I was about to fall over, but something caught my hand. Or rather someone and that someone being none other than –
“Miguel!” I cried happily.
He helped me over the edge he was standing on.
“Well, at least we’re out of the mountain,” said Miguel.
“Yes, but how are we going to get back to the ground?” I asked.
It was a very long way down and the mountain was all sheer drops and no steps to walk down.