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The Legend of Zahiti
By: Michael Silver
As the Johnson family sat down by their freshly lit campfire, they realized how happy they were to see Ft. Pickens opened back up to the public. "The heat feels so nice." muttered 15-year-old Jill, the oldest of the Johnson children, the middle being her 6-year-old brother Jack, and his twin, John, being the youngest by an hour. Her father, Ron, dropped a few more logs into the fire and sat down with his kids and wife. "Honey, could you grab the S’mores stuff from the car?" "Yeah, yeah! S’mores time!" chanted Jack and John, restlessly awaiting their mother's return as she went to the car. Their mother returned five minutes later, and the family's youngest speedily compiled their S’mores ingredients and got comfortable by the fire. As Jack cooked his chocolaty treat, a thought popped into his head. "DADDY! Tell a story!” shrieked Jack as he flailed around, almost dropping his s’more. "Alright Jack, I’ve got a good one that you guys have never heard. Do you ladies mind?" Jack's father asked his wife and daughter. They nodded relentlessly. Ron had been preparing this story for quite a time, and his family was soon going to find out just how long he'd been waiting for this moment. “This is the Legend of Zahiti.”
A long, long time ago, in a place far away from here, there was a beautiful, young girl named Atolia, she was the eye-candy of the whole town, every man wanted to marry her. Men offered her father innumerable amounts of gold, chickens, cows, and anything else they could get their hands on. Atolia’s father loved her very much, so he let her choose her husband, unlike most of the arranged marriages her friend’s experienced. She chose Argus to be her husband. Argus traded only one cow for her hand in marriage. Argus was a poor man, but he was madly in love with Atolia. Six weeks into their marriage, the newly weds discovered Atolia was pregnant, and both of them couldn’t have been happier. Atolia went all around the town telling everyone that she was expecting a new addition to her family.
Three weeks after she found out she was pregnant, her town was victim to a brutal attack by the unmerciful Zoltars. The Zoltars took everything the town had, their gold, food, maps, and all of their most beautiful women. Atolia tried to hide from the vicious men, but there was nothing she could do. She was abducted from her house in the middle of the chaotic invasion. Her husband tried to fight her captors, but the Zoltars were more powerful than then him, so his attempts were futile. After fending off Atolia’s crazed husband, the men took her back to the ship and set sail for their homeland. The Zoltars threw her in the brig with all of the other women who they took turns sleeping with.
By the time they got back to the Zoltar native land, her pregnancy was obvious. The men figured that the baby belonged to one of them, and since there was no way of telling, they decided to let Atolia live with Tahk, the one man in the village who did not go on the Zoltar crusades.
Weeks passed and Atolia birthed a baby boy, but due to the unsanitary location where he was born, Atolia passed away while giving birth. Right before her death, she whispered “Name him Zahiti….” The baby was still alive, but he had no mother and, no apparent father. Tahk could not be trusted with a newborn, so the elders of the village took the child from him and put him in the care of an elderly woman named Olga, who had eleven children of her own. They figured that because she had so much experience with raising kids, she would be able to raise Zahiti well.
Zahiti had a rough childhood, and by the age of 15, he had gotten in trouble hundreds of times for arguing, fighting, and speaking out against things he thought were wrong. Zoltars weren't governed like we are today; there's no freedom of speech or court of law. If you voiced your opinion, and the Zoltars disagreed, you would be beaten. There was one boy that he would especially get in all kinds of conflicts with. His name was Ivan. Ivan was a short and stout boy with red hair, greasier than McDonalds fries. Ivan was one of those kids that thought he could do whatever he wanted, say whatever he wanted, and hit whoever he wanted, and in all reality, he could, because his father was the head Zoltar, so everyone knew that he would be their next leader. All of the other children got out of his way and sucked up to him, except for Zahiti. Zahiti didn’t like the way that the Zoltars would kill people only to gain material possessions. Zahiti would often get into arguments with Ivan, and nine out of ten times, it would lead to an altercation. Every time they would fight, all of the other kids would gang up on Zahiti just because they wanted to be on Ivan’s good side. Zahiti hated Ivan. They were bitter rivals, and in the mandatory training that each boy had to partake in, they would always compete with each other. No matter what they did, Ivan had to make it into a competition, everything from eating the fastest, to swimming the farthest.
Every day, Olga would try to turn Zahiti into a stereotypical Zoltar, but he would simply ignore her because he knew he could never be one of them. There were two major roadblocks that kept him away from the Zoltar world. One was that he could never kill innocent people. The second was the fact that he would eventually have to work under, and even praise Ivan, which he could never do, not even for abundant amounts of gold and jewels. His hatred for Ivan burned like the flames of one thousand suns.
After months of nagging him, Zahiti finally gave in to Olga’s wishes for him to accompany Inar and the other men on a journey up the western coast of Garuda. Inar was one of the men who claimed to be his father, and everyone but he seemed to know that he was not his father. Zahiti was a tall slender boy, around six feet tall, and Inar was around four feet tall, and weighed 300 lbs. He still claimed to be his father, and since Zahiti needed a father figure in his life, he didn’t protest to him fulfilling that role. The journey’s date was set, and Inar trained Zahiti in self defense every day until the adventure.
Once Olga realized that when he left, he’d be gone for almost a year, she began to attempt to persuade him to stay. She let him in on the secret that they would be running the same route every year. The thing was, Zahiti had been told by his classmates that Ivan would be going along on the next crusade, and this would be his first crusade as leader of the Zoltars. The fact that Ivan would be going on the next journey was the deciding factor in Zahiti’s choice to go on the earlier crusade.
The day finally came when Zahiti had to kiss his mother goodbye and learn the way of the Zoltars. After a three month journey to the western coast, they finally started to pillage the first town on their list, a small town named Tolki. Tolki was full of women and children; it was more of a farming town than a fighting town, so it was an easy fight for the Zoltars. Zahiti was ordered to stay on the ship and watch Inar from a distance, but he could not bear watching them slaughter the honest people of the defenseless town. As he thought to himself, Zahiti realized that there was no way that he could ever be that heartless. He had proven to himself that he could not become a Zoltar. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, Zahiti snuck off of the boat. His only regret was that he would be leaving his mother behind. He went in shore and hid in a building far enough away from the shoreline so that the Zoltars would not attack it. After the Zoltars left, Zahiti came out of hiding and headed down to the water to see the destruction. What he saw astonished him. There were bodies piled two stories high and mothers who were calling their children’s name, holding back tears. He saw children younger than him carrying their parent’s bodies to mass graves filled with hundreds of bodies. He couldn’t stand for this. He had to stop this inhumane madness.
Zahiti saw a sad looking girl, no older than himself. He slowly walked up to her, and asked “What’s wrong?”, she looked up and said, while fighting back tears, “My parents are gone, my twelve siblings were burned to death, and only three people in my family are alive.” She sunk her head back in her knees and pointed to two kids, a boy around the age of twelve, and a girl no older than ten. They were stacking their brother’s and sister’s bodies in a large grave. And with fire burning in her eyes, she muttered “Those &%@# Zoltars ruined my family.” Zahiti gave the girl a hug, and as she sat there, crying on his shoulder, he pondered how he could stop the Zoltars from committing the ultimate crime, manslaughter. He had a few ideas, but there was nothing he thought he could do to stop them. It would only slow them down. After about five minutes of crying and thinking, the girl mumbled “I’m sorry to be so emotional… thank you for comforting me. My name is Jade. Let me bring you to my house… or what’s left of it. I’ll make some tea.” He nodded, and helped her gather her siblings.
When they arrived at Jade’s house, Zahiti noticed that it was abnormally messy. All of the cabinets looked as if they had been flung open in a fit of rage. “The Zoltars came into my house and took everything…” She said. “WAIT!” she shrieked like an ambulance siren. She bolted into the back hallway and came back a minute later holding a small wooden jewelry box. She dropped the box on the table and ran the opposite way and came back with a small golden key. She hastily put the key into the lock, opened it, and to her amazement, her grandmothers gold wedding ring was still in the box. The girl broke down and moaned “We’ve got nothing left… we’ll have to sell this ring to buy food.” Her siblings were too young to understand the situation, so they just looked at her, puzzled to why they were suddenly poor. After she explained to her siblings what had happened, she told Zahiti that he could stay with them, but he declined. He claimed that he had to return home, but we know that he no longer had one.
After he left Jade’s house he headed down the street where he heard of a shelter where abandoned children could live, a youth hostile. He found an older man sitting on the side of the street, and inquired to where the hostile was, and then quickly found his way there.
No one knew who he was, so he told everyone who asked that his parents had been murdered by the Zoltars. At the hostile, there were hundreds of kids. Some were crying, but what he saw that most of the children were sleeping. He promptly found a place where he could get some rest, and quickly took advantage of that, and slept for what he thought to be days. He was awoken by the laughter of the children. When he woke, all of the children were chatting and laughing except for one boy. Zahiti was an outgoing lad, so he went to talk to the boy. His name was Ozma, and he had lost both of his parents.
Zahiti told Ozma that he knew the Zoltars would be back in one year, so they had to devise a plan to get their revenge. After about an hour of discussion, Zahiti realized that Ozma could help him come up with a plan to defeat the Zoltars. Ozma was a very intelligent boy, and he seemed very glad to help, so they brainstormed some ideas that they could implement, but ultimately decided what they would do with the simple flip of a coin. Their plan was to get hundreds of people to hide under the docks, armed with every kind of ammunition that was available to them. They believed so much in their idea, that they decided to pitch their plan to the elders, to see if they could get extra help.
The two boys went to the house of the elders, and tried their hardest to convince them to help defeat the Zoltars, but all except for one of the elders thought that it was the dumbest thing that they had ever heard of, and laughed at the boys. The boys then left with their heads hung low, feeling unimportant and cheated.
As the two boys walked out of the hall, they were approached by a man wearing a brown robe. They quickly recognized him as the one elder who had liked their idea. He claimed that he could persuade enough people to join them in their plan to make it work. Both of their self-esteems were quickly rejuvenated, and they wanted to know more. The man told them to meet him tomorrow in the same place and he would bring all of the men who would help. The boys then sprinted back to the hostile and jumped in their beds eager to see what would happen at the meeting tomorrow.
Morning soon came, and Ozma and Zahiti were the first ones up. They swiftly got dressed and went to the house of the elders to meet the man in the brown robe. When the boys got there, their jaws dropped in amazement, because of the sheer amount of people had showed up to support them. Almost all of the living adults in the town had come to show their interested in the boys’ idea. The boys walked in casually and heard the man in the brown robe explaining the plan to the crowd. When he saw the two teenagers, he said “Here are our masterminds in the flesh!” Ozma and Zahiti were both embarrassed because the room erupted in clapping and hooting. The boys told everyone to come back at the same time every day, but instead of at the house of the elders, he told them to meet them in the courtyard. Everyone left promptly in a bustle of chatter about what they would use to fight the Zoltars with. The boys went back to the shelter and tried to think of things that they could use as ammunition. Ozma thought that they could have everyone come down under the docks, and while the Zoltars were gathering the gold, they could poke holes through their ship, sending it to a watery grave.
At the next meeting, there was an even bigger crowd, and a lot of the older kids from the shelter were at the meeting. This time, the crowd was more diverse, there were men, women, and children. Zahiti even saw Jade and her remaining family. Ozma and Zahiti felt good, and were confident now that they could beat the Zoltars and finally end their reign of terror on the western coast. The boys pitched the idea of having everyone under the docks, and it was a unanimous decision that this is what they would do. Zahiti informed them that the Zoltars would not be back for another year so they had a good amount of time to prepare. They needed to have meetings once a week to discuss what they would use to bring down the boats from the outside.
With about four months until the Zoltars would come again, a man who had kept quiet came up with something that would ensure their victory. Evidently, he had kept quiet because he wanted to perfect his formula. The man’s name was Ungar, and he was a scientist. Some of the kids joked that he was a mad scientist, and claimed he was trying to kill them all, but boy were they wrong. He asked for the floor and the boys gladly gave it to him. Ungar walked up wish a large bottle of liquid and a piece of wood. “This is Termact” he said, pointing at the bottle. There was a quite giggle from some kids but they were quickly shushed by the crowd. He continued “Termact is exactly what we’ve been looking for, and it will guarantee that the Zoltars ships will go down. Termact is a compound made of Benzoil and acidic enzymes. Just put this stuff on wood, and within minutes it’s turned into a pile of sawdust.” The crowd stared blankly at him. “Let me show you how it works.” He then grabbed the bottle of the liquid and hastily brushed it on a piece of wood. “You can’t see what’s happening inside the wood; but right now the enzymes are eating away at the wood, slowly turning it into just a pile of mush.” The men stared blankly for a minute, then right when the first piece of mush fell down to the ground, the crowd erupted in a roar of applause. “But wait, it’s not over yet. Hand me one of those torches.” said Ungar. Ozma quickly grabbed a torch and brought it to Ungar. “Get ready.” said Ungar. He dropped the torch on the pile of mush and it exploded. Everyone was awestruck. “If the Zoltars make their attack at night, their torches will be the ones that blow them sky-high!” stated a very pleased Ungar. Every person there was very confident that they would defeat the Zoltars and stop their ongoing attacks on small towns. Now the town had their weapon, and it was a liquid lifesaver.
Eventually, the two boys had the whole town involved in the planning and execution of their plan. All of the scientists were helping Ungar mass produce Termact, all the craftsmen were making bottles, and all of the others were supplying food, gathering materials, or assisting the crafters in their long and tedious tasks.
With only one week until the Zoltars were scheduled to come again, Tolki had its plan set in stone. They would have all of the bottles of Termact under water where the docks were so that when the time came, they could jump in the water and be ready for the sabotage. From there everyone would grab a bottle. Each person had a specific place to douse with Termact. They wanted to cover the ship to ensure their victory.
The alarm sounded at six o’clock P.M., and the whole town ran down to the beach in an orderly fashion and took their places under the dock. This was go time, the time when the two boys plan finally came into action. This was when the Zoltars reign would finally end.
One hour after every person in the town was stationed under the docks, the Zoltars arrived. They came in two ships. The first ship had about twenty Zoltars on it, and they were all high ranked in the system. The ship tied up and then they all followed a man whom Zahiti quickly recognized as Ivan. Ivan was commanding the Zoltar troops, telling them what to do and where to go. Shortly after the first ship arrived the second ship docked. It was filled with over one hundred men. They all gathered right at the end of the dock where Ivan was standing and giving orders. “Kill everyone, take everything!” bellowed Ivan. Zahiti heard him say this and bit his lip, to be sure not to say anything to give their position away. The men all ran off into the town carrying an axe, a torch, and a bag for their loot. Right as Zahiti saw them run off he gave the signal to start covering the ship. They worked diligently and covered both ships before Ivan could realize that there was no one in the town. As Ivan hurried the men back to the ships, the townspeople were putting the finishing touches onto the boats. As they watched the boats sail away, they celebrated a silent victory. They caught sight through a telescope of the boats turning to mush. After two minutes, the boats were barely visible. Some of the people began to worry, and they assumed that it didn’t work. Ungar was the first one up. He gathered all the scientists and said “Are you guys sure you made it right?” Ungar began checking his calculations as he heard what sounded like the world had been blown apart. He quickly looked to where the ships were and all he saw was a poof of fire and a smoke cloud. There was no trace of the Zoltars or the Zoltar ships to be found.
The town of Tolki celebrated for three days straight with dancing and ‘Hoorahs!’ Zahiti found Jade and danced all night long with her.
Tolki had done it; the small town on the western coast of Garuda had defeated the Zoltar ships carrying the leader of the Zoltars. After all the times that evil prevailed, good finally prevailed over evil.
Ozma, Zahiti, and Ungar were promptly placed on the board of elders and were made commanders of their own armies. After six months of dating, Zahiti proposed to Jade and they were married. Jade even allowed Zahiti to use her prized possession as form of engagement, her grandmothers gold ring. They lived happily ever after, and he never needed to do anything with his army because the Zoltars stopped their pillaging for good.
“See kids, if you stand up for your rights, and live a morally healthy life, you too can prevail over evil!” said Ron. “Wow! That was an amazing story! I want to be just like Zahiti!” said John excitedly. “Me too! I’ll never let people tell me what to think!” Jill smiled subtly, knowing in her heart that her brothers would carry good lives and stand up for what they believed in.
I do realize that my protagonist has no special power, and that’s because everyone would be able to save the world if they could fly, or cast spells. This story is about how inner strength alone can save the day from forces that seem undefeatable.