The Phantom

The Phantom

A story by Rayden, age 11

Every month a phantom would appear in the city of Petopia to guide the lost spirits away and overlook the city. The job wasn’t easy, but the phantom king knew that it was the only way the spirit realm wouldn’t go to war with the phantoms. Every time the phantoms would give the spirits to the spirit realm in exchange for peace.It has been about 21 years since the last war and the phantoms were thriving. Every month the phantoms would go to the mayor of their town and they would get jobs. Rune was worried about the job he would get. He knew that getting a job is all about chance. You could get the best job or you could get the worst job. All the other phantoms chatting didn’t help at all. “Order, order.” The mayor tried. Even though the mayor’s voice was so quiet it looked as though everyone heard it. “Today we are going to pick your jobs. Since I see some new faces, I will explain the rules. Every person gets only one chance to pull a name. So, who would like to go first?”

 

There was silence, and then “I will.” Rune looked around to see that his best friend Kade was making his way up to the stand. He watched as his best friend pulled a stick from a bucket. Rune saw that Kade was shocked. There were shouts of “Well, what is it?!” As well as “Come on we haven’t got all day!” Finally, the mayor asked “Well?” Kade took a moment then said “King’s servant.” There were murmurs of disappointment. Kade quickly went back to his seat. “Who’s next?” The mayor asked as if nothing just happened. Rune knew that he had to step up. He quickly got on the stage, and pulled a stick. In the bravest voice he said “Spirit guide.” Everyone stared at him. Rune stood motionless looking at his stick with disbelief. Even quicker than he got on the stage, he got off. He went to his seat, but a figure guided him to a dark street. He started to follow the shadow.

 

“So, you are the one to guide the lost spirits this month?” The figure asked him. “Yes. And who are you?” “I am the great Rog, and I will be your boss.” He talked in a deep voice. Rune started to ask Rog questions. “So, what do I do first?” Rog glanced to the left then right and typed a code into a wall. *Ding* Rune saw a wall flip and turn into an elevator. “Come on.” Rune followed excitedly as to see what his work space would be. He imagined a group of workers waving as he passed by, a bunch of supplies to work with, and a pool. Suddenly Rune thought in his head that a pool would be silly, but when the elevator stopped and opened he saw that all of his imaginations were destroyed. And not destroyed like broken in half, but destroyed as in crushed by a hammer into a million pieces. In front of Rune was a messy workplace.

 

He tried to look around for an upside, but there was none. Rog’s office was a table with a broken off leg, a nook with a lamp, and a closet in the corner. “So, how do you like the work place?” Rune tried to look amazed but he was stopped when the table fell over on its side. Rune politely replied “It could be better.” Rog nodded and went to the closet and dug threw it. Things like books and hats were thrown. “Aha!” He came out with a rag, a pair of candles, a map, and some skulls that were also candles. “Why does he have so many candles?” Rune thought. “Here, you will need these to get to Petopia. Put that cloak, and I will get you a backpack for the candles.” Rog said as he handed Rune the clothes. Rog went back into the closet to find the backpack. As Rune was waiting he examined the cloak. It was blue with green stripes here and there. Eventually he put it on and waited for Rog to find it. “Alright. Here are the supplies.” Rog gave him the supplies. “Oh and one more thing. On the way to Petopia there is a fairy that you must find. You need the fairy to guide the way because the pathway ends at about two thirds of the way. But be warned there will be many Zintos that will transform into fairies to make you their prisoner. If they ask you who you are don’t say anything. You will know which one is the right one. Now travel Rune, and never turn back.”

 

Rune was surprised at the speech, so he left on the path to Petopia. After about ten minutes he was approached by what looked like a fairy. The object asked him “Hello. And just who are you?” Rune said nothing. The figure ran away. After another ten minutes another figure came. Every time a figure came he would say nothing to drive them away. It had been about an hour or two when he came to a tree. Rune looked at the tree with excitement. “Maybe I can rest here and start again in the morning.” He thought as he went under the tree. The next morning Rune woke to find that the tree he was sleeping on was gone. “Where am I? Is this a dream?” He thought as he looked at his surroundings. Rune knew that this was no dream.

 

He went to look for his supplies when he found a pair of candles and a pair of the skull candles. Robbers had taken his map and backpack. Rune picked up the left over supplies, and stood up as he tried to navigate where the city was. After about thirty minutes, he came across another fairy. This time, the fairy looked different. It had swirls on its wings and it had a gold crown with a ruby on the fairy’s head. The fairy said “Hello. And where do you come from?” Rune looked confused. He knew that there would be one fairy to guide him, but since this one asked him where he was from he thought that he would answer. “Hello. I am from the phantom city and I was sent by Rog to guide the lost spirits. Are you the fairy that is to guide me to Petopia?” Rune knew that he said a lot but it seemed that the fairy understood all that he had said. “Oh, not Rog again. How many times do I have to tell him that we are pixies? Come on, I will show you the way. My name is Holly.”

 

It had been about half an hour after Rune met Holly and he was bored. “So, do you know any jokes?” he asked. She looked at him and replied, “Some, but they are not funny enough to want to hear.” Eventually they came to a broken bridge. Rune wondered what Holly was doing. She stopped and went to the right of the bridge and floated over the water. “How does she do that?” Rune thought in his head as he tried to cross the water. The water looked deep and wild as he tried. Suddenly, Rune started floating over the river as well. When they both got to the other side they continued their journey. As they walked Rune got to know about Holly. He found out that the pixies also send someone to Petopia, but they stay there for a year, and they do not guide the spirits.

 

He also learned that she is actually 4,729 years old. The further they walked the more they got to learn about each other. Eventually, they were good friends. “Here we are.” Holly called out as she stopped. Rune looked in the distance and saw a grand city, but over the city was a big black cloud. When they got to the city they found that no pets were in site. Rune heard a scream and headed for it. It was coming from the castle. As he rushed in he found all the animals surrounded by a group of dark soldiers. As he inched forward he was spotted, and captured. But instead of being put with the other animals, he was brought to a dark object on the throne.

 

As he was brought he saw others being taken as well. Rune spotted a Unicorn, a Dragon, a Cerberus, a Phoenix, a Kraken, and a familiar Pixie. “Holly“ He thought as they were all taken to the king. Rune was able to spot that the warriors and the king were actually Zintos. The king whirled his hand, as if to make something happen. As the king shook his hand Rune saw a black cloud form over the pets. He saw all the other creatures freeze with fear. When the king stopped, all fell silent. Suddenly the Cerberus cried out “Why are you doing this? For the fame, for the glory? Why?!” As the voice echoed the king stood. Rune saw the rage in his eyes as he said “Don’t you act like you don’t remember! You know why we are doing this! Don’t you remember what you did to us!?” As the king said this more Zintos came and piled on each other. Rune saw the shape and color change of the Zintos into what looked like a big black screen. They seemed as if they were showing a story. He saw pictures on the screen that looked like a group of Zintos. As the story went on he saw that the Zintos were begging to live with the other pets in peace, but the pets rejected them. Forced to survive on their own they had to live off of scraps and dirt.

 

The Zintos that were piled started to walk away. As they left Rune saw tears watering up in their eyes. “Well. Does that ring a bell?” the king said as a tear trickled down his face. Rune couldn’t believe it. He looked around and faced Holly. It took her a moment to realize that he was looking at her. As they locked eyes Rune mouthed “Did you know about this?” Holly mouthed back “No. Did you?” Rune shook his head as the king sat back down. There was a long pause. Then, the Kraken erupted “That doesn’t sum up anything. Still, why are you doing this?!” The king slammed his hand on the armrest of the throne. Then, at incredible speed he ran up to the Kraken so he stood face to face with it. “You guys have had your turn. Now it is our time to shine.” The king said this loud enough that all the pets could hear him.

 

The king motioned his hand and a soldier came and gave him a book. The king opened the book and flipped through the pages. He stopped when he landed on the right page and smiled. Rune only caught only a glimpse of what it said but enough to see what he stopped at. 

 

Egg Carnation  

The way to lock things in eggs

 

“So this is the end.” thought Rune as the king started to perform a ritual. As Rune thought it felt like everything was in slow motion. “Well I had a good journey. Maybe when this is all over I can go back to living a normal life. Maybe even, I could see Holly again.” He chuckled as a ball of energy formed in the king’s hands and said “That would be nice.”

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

“Ugh.” Rune said as he saw a glimpse of light. He saw the light get bigger and bigger until he was fully out of the darkness. “Are you okay?” a voice asked him as a hand was extended his way. As Rune grabbed the hand he found that he was in the ruins of a forgotten city. “Phantom city.” Rune thought as he was lifted off the ground. “Who are you? And what happened to my home?” Rune asked as he saw the full figure in front of him. In front of him was a human. In school Rune was taught that humans were not able to enter the pet world, but since he was there he might as well be happy. “My name is Zerin. I regret to inform you, but this city was destroyed by the spirit world.” Zerin talked in a way that reminded Rune of Holly. “Holly!” Rune exclaimed out loud, his blood rushing with fear. “Wow, wow. Settle down now. What do you remember?” Zerin tried. As he said this, memories started to come back to Rune’s mind. He thought of Rog, Holly, Kade, and the Zinto king. As Rune was thinking, a voice he remembered came from behind Zerin. Rune turned to see that a pixie was floating zooming towards him. “Holly? Is it really you?” Rune said as his eyes started to well up with tears. “Yes. It is.” Holly replied as the three of them faded into the sunset.

 

Nim

While the exact origin of the word Nim is unknown and has been the center of debates over the years, one thing is known; this simple strategy game has been around for a long time in many different forms. The name was coined by American mathematician Charles L. Bouton in an article he published in 1901, where he explains the game, winning strategies, and some mathematical theories as to how it works. Similar games existed before Bouton’s Nim, such as the Chinese jiǎn-shízi, but none have permeated the world of mathematics quite as heavily.

While the origins aren’t entirely clear cut, the game itself is. The game involves a heap of objects, sometimes called counters, and 2 players. Players take turns nimming (removing) an object or objects from the board. Sometimes there’s a limit to how many you can take each turn, but as you will come to realize there is a lot of customization that can be done. One thing is constant though; you must take at least one object per turn.

There are two different play styles: normal and misère. In short, you either win (normal) or lose (misère) by picking the last piece. Both methods work the same and it really just depends on how you prefer to play.
There are also a few different layouts for the objects as well. You can create a pyramid shape with each row having a different number of objects or you can do a single row. For those of us that like a little chaos, just throw all the objects in the middle and start nimming! When doing the pyramid method, it is generally a rule that you can only take objects from one row at a time, so plan wisely.

You may be wondering what exactly I mean when I say objects, and I mean just that! Nim is an extremely accessible game that can be enjoyed by anyone. You can use a set of matches, marbles, crayons, or even draw it on a piece of paper. If you’re struggling to find enough of one object, just mix-and-match, works just as well.

This is an amazing game to play with the family as it’s quick, accessible, and fun! There’s also a lot of strategy and math that goes along with it, which makes it a great way to introduce new ideas to kids. So next time you are at a family get together looking for something to pass the time, grab some items, and start having fun!

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