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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 23 - Two Owls and a Mountain)



Soaring high across the moonlit sky of the Shadow Kingdom, two owls circled round what normally was Tom Sawyer Island, then landed atop the jagged peak of Wicked Mountain. One was a brilliantly feathered white owl with silvery highlights, yellow eyes and a pair of black-rimmed glasses. The other had feathers of black, with hints of gray, and blue eyes. Eyes of a human, which scanned the desolate terrain below, as the embedded light charm glowed softly from its chest.

“How do you think the others are faring?”

“In a place like this? Most likely not too well,” said the black owl.

Alexios turned to his friend, then back towards the eerie landscape below. “Then we must find a way out before it’s too late.”

“Agreed,” Frank replied.

“Look. Down there. Evil in every size, shape and form is pouring out of the mountain on which we sit.”

“Worse yet, they are transforming into park guests,” said Frank.

Beneath the feathery comrades a twisted roller coaster and lava flume ride looped through and around the giant, rocky terrain of mountainside in intertwining fashion. Each carried passengers of the creepiest kind, who leapt from their wicked ride vehicles as they banked around the enormous mountain. Trolls, witches, zombies, ghosts and more hiked down the rocky landscape—transforming into unsightly guests who were ready for a frightfully scary time in the queen’s Shadow Kingdom park.

“Where are they all coming from? I’ve never seen such concentrated evil.”

“You’re right,” said Frank. “Time to take a look inside.”

The owls took off into the night sky, then looped round into a dive—coasting behind one of the lava flume vehicles as it plunged back into the mountain. The heat was unbearable, but the owls continued on—shadowing the demon-headed vehicle.

“Up there, just ahead,” said Alexios.

“Yes, I see it,” replied Frank.

The lava flume vehicle took a left turn and dove hard into a large expansive opening.

The owls banked right, circling the hot internal expanse of the mountain.

“I think we’ve reached the core,” said Frank.

“There’s a ledge to our right. Let’s pull up there and evaluate the situation,” said Alexios.

“Agreed,” the black owl replied.

Safely landing out of site from the bustling creatures below, the owls took in their surroundings.

The rickety roller coaster and flume ride twisted and turned through and around the enormous area, and each other, like a giant spaghetti sculpture—providing constant motion and an unusually scary noise level. Lava beasts standing on two legs—carrying whips and donning lava-rock armor and helmets, controlled the queue lines of the crazy attractions. Lines made of unimaginable creatures, spirits and such, spawned from the focal point of Wicked Mountain. A giant, bubbly lava pool. Fire ravens and witches on broomsticks combed the steamy air above, as the wicked boarded their ride vehicles, preparing to exit the mountain. Iron gondolas, carried along on an intricate web of steel cables, dipped down as mountain trolls scooped buckets of hot liquid from the pool, then made their way up to hundreds of beaming red eyes peering out from jagged holes in the surrounding mammoth walls. The lava was slung into the dark holes—triggering lethal streams of flames, confirming the beasts within had received their shots of molten rock well.

“What do you expect the trolls are feeding in those holes?”

“I’m not sure what to think of it,” the black owl replied. “And I’m not so sure I want to find out. What I really want to know is: how is that lava pool churning out those creatures?”

“I say we take a closer look,” said Alexios. He dove off the ledge and started his quiet descent towards the lava pool.

“Right behind you,” Frank mumbled to himself, as he leapt from the ledge.

Cleverly weaving their way through the intricate maze of flying witches and fire ravens, the owls flew along the underside of a troll gondola. Making themselves invisible to those hovering nearby.

That is, until one of the trolls traveling below them looked up and caught sight of their deception.

The troll was not smart enough to speak, so it grunted and roared, pointing its large, oversized finger up towards the owls.

In the gondola above the owls, another troll leaned over. His large, sausage fingers crept along the edge of the vehicle as his big ugly head peeked underneath—startling Frank. “Oh! Looks like we’ve been discovered.”

The troll’s giant hand reached down under the moving gondola, making multiple attempts to grab one of the intruders. The vehicle began to sway recklessly back-and-forth from the erratic weight shift—which drew attention from others.

One of the ravens saw the commotion and swiftly zoomed in on the action from above. Unable to see the owls, it was confused by the trolls behavior.

“We need to split up, Alexios.”

“On the count of three,” the white owl replied. “One, two, THREE!”

In a split second, the black owl snapped left and the white owl right. One dove down and the other swung into an upwards climb. Streaks of sparkling dust followed each, grabbing the attention of every creature in the mountain core.

There were roars, snarls and shrieks from all around. Trolls jumping from one passing cart to the next attempted to snare the flying owls with their giant hands. The fire ravens began to swarm—using their keen sense of vision to hone in on the feathery intruders, while crazed witches cast spell upon spell from their flying broomsticks—attempting to paralyze, or vaporize, their airborne targets.

Frank and Alexios were masterful flyers. Soaring up, down, and looping around, they continued to avoid the lethal attacks of their pursuers. Yet, a closer look at the giant lava pool was not to be on this unfortunate day. Escape was all that mattered now.

“Behind you, Frank!”

Two ravens had their sights on the black owl. Bearing down from opposite directions. Claws out, they prepared to strike.

Frank banked up and hard left.

The flaming birds collided and fell to their demise into the hot lava below.

Alexios, trailed by two witches, looped around and spotted a third. The wise owl slowed just enough to let the two behind him catch up, as he approached the third witch ahead.

She cast a spell, thrusting her crooked wand towards the mighty owl. A bolt of lighting shot from its tip.

Alexios peeled off to the right at supersonic speed, leaving the two trailing witches behind exposed.

KAPOW!

A cloud of green smoke was all that remained.

In a fit of rage, the surviving witch shot off like a bullet—closing in on the white owl’s trail of glittering dust.

A bolt of light struck her broomstick, cutting off the tail.

The black owl swooshed by, light charm glowing—watching in passing, as the witch spiraled downward out of control and splashed into the hot lava below.

As fast as creatures emerged from the wicked pool, the owls returned others. No advantage on either side was gained.

SNAP! SNAP!

Extending some eighty feet into the air, two lava beasts snared the owls with their magic snake whips and jerked hard—forcing the feathered heroes to the rocky surface below.

One crashed, then the other. Both, disoriented from the force of impact.

The fiery snake whips coiled around the owl’s bodies, making it impossible to spread their wings and fly.

Demons, trolls, witches and such quickly gathered around to watch and cheer for the unfortunate fate of the two feathery friends.

“Enough!” Came a voice from beyond the crowd.

There was silence…then a horses whinny.

The circle of horrible beings parted, allowing their leaders to enter. Sounds of hooves steps approached the helpless owls, then stopped. A dark shadow cast over the feathery twosome. A shadow familiar in shape.

“You? Why am I not surprised,” said Frank.

The shadow horseman’s blue-eyed stallion exhaled, shooting a blast of steamy air through its nostrils into the face of the black owl.

Frank coughed. Then clearing his throat said: “And I see you brought your horse as well.”

“Last time we met was on Spider Mountain,” Alexios said with a hint of sarcasm.

“As I recall, we left you sitting on the remains of your crumbled mountain. Defeated. Watching, as we exited through a portal,” added Frank.

“THAT, was just a small taste of what sits before you now, my little feathery friends,” said the horseman. He looked up and around, admiring the surroundings.

“He is right,” said a booming, female voice. Which resonated from behind the shadow horseman.

Temporarily startled, Frank and Alexios refocused their attention on the dark rider, who guided his horse to the side.

At least twelve feet tall, and well around, Lavanya, lady of the lava, flowed up to the confined owls. Molten skin moved about her enormous body, which was covered in heated armor that glowed bright orange, as fire swirled in her hollow eye sockets. Long, flowing flames atop her head danced round her face and figure. Her fingers were tipped with sharp, rocky nails. Her legs, replaced by a snake-like mass of molten rock that moved the monster wherever she desired. Around her neck was a necklace made of lava rock and a fiery gemstone centerpiece.

Standing over the owls, she looked down with intimidating eyes and said, “The horseman speaks the truth. But of course…none of this would have been possible without the help of your precious little piece of machinery.”

Frank gave his white-feathered friend a quizzical glance, then turned back to the monster—his face, cloaked with concern. “You mean…”

Lavanya let out a deep, maniacal laugh, triggering the circle of creatures to erupt into laughter.

“All right, ENOUGH,” she said—silencing the others.

The fiery-eyed lava lady bent over. Her face, now only inches from the black owls.

“That’s right, Frankie. The Magic Dream Expander.”


© 2024 Charles E. Zitta. Charles E. Zitta and Disney and the Wonder Within blog novels are in no way part of,  endorsed or authorized by, or affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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