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Orson Scott Card's trip to Jakarta, Indonesia

Stories from students at Jakarta International School

Soulreaper-The Price of Magic

Long ago, when the earth was young, all could use magic freely. Then he came again. Him. The dark one. The accursed one. The evil one. Yet these were pitiful titles compared to his real one. This is his tale. The tale of Ragar-Ka, the soulreaper.

Iluthrien stood in front of the barn, watching his older brother painstakingly carve runes into his gnarled wooden staff. He was preparing to take the Krin-Ga, or great test. This test would determine the extent of his powers and so his standing in life. His brother, Ilfran-Lar, was already highly respected for his standings on the last two tests he had took. They were far above average, third best in all of the seven suns. If he could keep this standing, he would quickly become a very powerful figure in the seven suns, and so bring honor and glory to the Lar family. This all depended on his staff, however. A little known fact about magic was that no one had ever been able to use magic without a staff, as all magical ability really was your ability to control the staff. Only the most powerful of magicians could use magic without a staff, and they could only use weak and pitiful spells. Of course, the prophets had predicted a time when the dark one would come again, and he could use magic freely, but Iluthrien, like most of his people, didn't believe much of what the prophets said.

Well, back to the story. Iluthrien watched his brother finish carving the runes, and then, to his amazement, place the staff on the barn wall and walk off. He stepped towards it, seemingly drawn by and irresistible force. A whisper began to grow in his ear.

"Take the staff, Iluthrien. Take the staff." It began to grow louder and louder, until Iluthrien could stand it no longer. He seized the staff in his hand. Instantly, a great and terrible feeling of power came over him. His body burst open, and the monumentous form of Ragar-Ka, the soulreaper, emerged from the ruin of Iluthrien's body. The prophecies had come true!

Deep within the Elven citadel of Ciron Garthanal, Lagnaras the strong awoke with a start. He had sensed a great and terrible presence return, something out of the legends of the past. Shake it off, he told himself silently in his head. It was just a dream. However, dream or not, he could not shake off the feeling of impending doom. He stepped across the room and went outside on his balcony to clear his head. The cold night air coupled with the lights of the city helped to qualm his fears. Then he saw it. A dark shape that crossed under the moon, swifter than any mortal thing. For a fleeting second Lagnaras could clearly see the outline of it. It was enough. With suddenness seemingly beyond his age, Lagnaras leapt towards the ancient gong that would awaken the city to the danger that soared over head. He was too late. With a piercing shriek, the dark beast descended upon Lagnaras like a giant bird of prey, tearing him to bits. With a triumphant howl, the beast announced to all of Ciron Garthanal that the terror that was Ragar-Ka and his black reapers had returned to plague the seven sons again.

The council of Garthanal stood and surveyed the damage that had been done to the lands surrounding the Lar family farm. For over one-hundred miles in every direction their was nothing but scorched earth. As the council looked upon it in horror, the current leader of the council, Nein Ironheart, announced with a start, "Fellows citizens of the great city of Garthanal, we are gathered here today to look upon the great damage that was done to our lands last night. To dispel all rumors, yes, Ragar-Ka, the terrible one has returned."

This brought a great amount of stirring and even sobs in the normally emotionless Elves. Nein waited until the crowd had become quiet again.

"Fear not, brave citizens, for the best warriors we have are right now, even as we speak, hot on the dark one's trail. They carry with them the sword of Luthren, which as many of you already know, is capable of killing even a great being such as Ragar-Ka."

A roar of fear cut off the rest of Nein's speech from the crowd.

"Look, over there, by the hills," cried a terrified elf. A black cloud had gathered at ground level, and it broke open to reveal Ragar-Ka and his black reapers standing there, each holding the skulls of the brave elf warriors sent against them. Then Ragar-Ka picked from his bag the shattered remains of the sword of Luthren and flung them at the council. They came to rest at the feet of Nein, council leader, who stepped back in abject horror.

With a thunderous roar Ragar-Ka cried out, "ATTACK." The crowds simply melted away as the elves ran for their lives. Even the council fled in horror. The war of darkness had begun.

For 30 years the forces of Ragar-Ka ravaged the seven suns, slaying and destroying all they encountered until they were stopped by a brave young elf by the name of Jilur-Nas. That is a different story, to be told at a different time. Yet this story is not ended, for the greatest evil that Ragar-Ka did has not yet been told. Therefore, I shall tell it now.

As he was dying, Ragar-Ka summoned up the most terrible spell he had ever cast. This spell warped all that could use magic, forcing them to draw upon daemons to use their powers. So you have it, the price of magic is selling your soul to a daemon. Very few can make that commitment, and they are warped by the daemon into a lifeless husk. Magic has become lost in the sands of time, like the unicorns and the dragons. So will mankind, for everything is nothing in the sands of time.


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