The Tournament of The Elements
He had finally reached the Tournament. Luminus was his name, a Fire Mage from the far Western lands. He had fought the Flame Clan’s best wizards and sorcerers to get his place in the tournament.
The Tournament of the Elements was a triennial contest of wizards, mages, sorcerers and any other magic users, designed to find the best person to lead the armies of Centrus, the central land of the World.
Luminus glanced at the other competitors. All would be competing fiercely for the position of Grand Mage. The pay was excellent and the glory tremendous. A wizard would only have to survive three years to have enough money to be set for life. Surviving six years would allow a wizard to live a life of luxury. But it was called “surviving” for a good reason. Centrus was surrounded by enemies, and its allies were far and few.
Luminus studied his competitors intently. Oceania, a Water Witch from the Great North Sea. Skyfax, a tall Sorcerer of Air, from the windy East Lands. And Terranus, from here in Centrus, an Earth Wizard of the highest calibre.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the challenge is about to begin!”
The Tournament was a single challenge, with the two highest scoring wizards from the challenge battling it out in a final duel. The duel continued until one wizard gave up. Occasionally, nobody would give up, and one (once, surprisingly both*) of the wizards died.
The announcer started to speak once more with his magically enhanced voice:
“The first challenge will be an obstacle race. Contenders must first navigate a tall mountain, followed by a lake full of sharks. There will be a waterfall at the end of the course.” A mountain shimmered into existence in front of Luminus.
Luminus lined up next to the other competitors. A loud gong sounded, and they were off. Luminus instantly turned himself into a living flame, and shot forward, using the grass to literally spread like wildfire. He could feel the heat of the flame, but it didn’t bother him. He reached the foot of the mountain and looked around. Skyfax was flying through the air close behind him, while Terranus was magically creating a localised landslide and sliding across the ground. Oceania was simply sprinting at top speed.
Luminus had reached the halfway point of the mountain. The grass finished here and the floor was rock. Changing back into human form, Luminus set the surrounding trees on fire, drawing energy from the flames to make him run faster. Skyfax had now overtaken him, flying through the air. Luminus was pretty sure Terranus had bored a tunnel through the mountain.
Luminus kept running, finally reaching the top. But there was no other side to the mountain, just a sheer cliff, with the lake at the bottom. He paused, frantically trying to think of a way to get down the cliff.
* This incredible result happened when two wizards cast spells at exactly the same time, killing each other. The wizard in third place was given the job
Terranus smashed through the final bit of the mountain. He was surprised to see a sheer cliff and a lake in front of him, of which he was almost at the bottom. Calling on his magic, he fashioned a boat out of earth and set off.
Luminus watched Oceania simply dive off the cliff; water was no problem to her. Unfortunately for him, water was poison to a Fire Mage. Suddenly, he had an idea. Casting a flaming bow from the air, he ripped a branch off a nearby tree and shot it far over the lake, becoming a flame himself, burning the branch as it flew.
He shot past a surprised Skyfax, as the Air Sorcerer flew through the air. He could see Terranus the Earth Wizard far below on the surface of the lake, beating off sharks. The branch kept flying; it had a lot of momentum from being shot off a cliff.
The edge of the lake was one vast waterfall, water cascading over the edge. The flaming branch flew downwards now, over the waterfall, and headed for the finish line. Luminus suddenly realised he was about to crash into the ground. Feeling the energy build within him, he created a magical shield that would hopefully absorb the impact.
Luminus promptly smashed into the ground, reverting to human form and rolling past the finish line and a surprised Oceania.
“That’s got to hurt,” she remarked with a smile.
“Trust me, it does,” replied Luminus wearily.
He stood up in time to see Skyfax plummeting out of the sky. It seems he would duplicate Luminus’s feat, but he slowed himself right down, landing gracefully and strolling over the finishing line. He told the other wizards that Terranus had too many problems with the sharks, and had given up.
Luminus realised that coming in second place, he was due to fight Oceania in five minutes. That was a slight problem. With her having water magic, and him having fire, she had a huge advantage. His fire attacks would have almost no effect on her; the water would simply put it out. He’d have to think of something.
Luminus walked over to the fighting ring. Oceania was already in place on the other side. He signalled that he was ready. Another loud gong sounded. Oceania immediately went on the offensive, shooting at Luminus with jets of water. The fire mage responded with numerous fireballs, but the water put them out instantly. Luminus had to get in close. Creating a flaming sword in each hand, he started to run directly at the water witch. She replied with more water jets than ever, forcing Luminus to dodge and weave, throwing in the odd somersault for good measure. He finally reached Oceania and struck her with both swords. A bubble of water sprang into existence around her, extinguishing the swords. Time for something unconventional, thought Luminus. Drawing back his fist, he let fly with a punch, knocking Oceania unconscious. While he waited for her to get up, he had plenty of time to create a cage of fire around her. He also threw in a ring of fire for show.
Oceania woke up and saw her flaming cage. “I surrender,” she said meekly.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts for takeoff.”
I’d been waiting all year for this, a tour of the Solar System, and a trip to the sports centre on Pluto. My dream holiday come true.
The SpaceTour Ship slowly engaged its engines. I could feel the vibrations running along my seat. The ship started to rise, and the people, cars and buildings became smaller, looking like children’s toys. The people became dots, and then disappeared, closely followed by the cars, and finally the buildings melded together in a grey, congealed mass, becoming yet another city on the face of the expansive land. Soon even the cities disappeared, and I could see the continents, green shapes among the vast ocean, green fish in the sea. The ship started to exit the atmosphere. The contact with the atmosphere turned the outside of the ship red-hot, then white-hot, white as ice. But it would survive the intense heat. Hopefully.
The heat slowly lessened, eventually disappearing in the cold, frigid void that is commonly called Space. Looking down at Earth, I was confronted with a blue-green disc. Vast cloud formations could be seen on the planet, as well as the white area to the South, called by Earth’s residents Antarctica.
The ship turned directly to face Mercury, the closest planet to the hot, fiery sun. The ships engines accelerated, pushing me back in my seat slightly. I could hear the ships engines humming steadily beneath me as we went to pass Venus. Venus, slightly smaller than the Earth, and rather featureless. The whole surface was a dusty light brown colour, with swirls of light and darker brown near the poles, with a broad stripe of brown across the middle. It was the desert dust of the Solar system.
Earth was now the size of a large star. Passing Venus, the dust planet started to also dwindle to the size of a star. Mercury was now ahead. It closely resembled the moon, grey and featureless, except for numerous craters. These varied in size from small dots covering the planet, to large circles easily seen from orbit. Mercury was, in essence, a golf ball. A giant, grey golf ball.
“Warning to all passengers, we’re getting a solar radiation spike. Were engaging full engines.”
The ship turned a half turn, facing Earth once more, and the pilot hit the emergency engine button. The ship roared into life, pressing me back in my seat with huge force. I don’t think I could have got out without superhuman effort. Mercury and Venus flashed from giant discs into smaller ones, then into small dots. Earth and Mars were the same. When could we slow down? I wondered.
The ship slowed down to normal speed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we had a small problem with the engines, but they’re fixed now.”
Jupiter came into sight ahead. It was a marvel to behold. The surface was covered with horizontal stripes of brown, red, grey and yellow. Then there was the Great Spot. It could be seen slowly rotating from space, a crimson spot with a darker red core.
Saturn was ahead. The utmost beauty of the Solar system, Saturn was the planet surrounded by rings. The rings ranged in colours from grey to yellow to cream. They surrounded to entire planet, giving the impression of a highway around the planet itself. I could imagine walking on those rings of light and viewing Saturn.
Unfortunately, both Uranus and Neptune were on the other side of the Sun, too far to reach. But Pluto, my destination, was ahead of us still. The Ice planet became larger and larger. Finally, we started our descent. The surface was entirely white from ice, which is why there is a large winter sports centre there. As the planets surface filled the entire view, I thought I could make out a small grey dot. Sure enough, as we got closer, the dot turned into a large, domed building. The Pluto Centre. The ship landed in the open docking bay. I got up, stretched my legs and looked out of a window. Wondrous sights awaited me. Only five hundred metres away from the Centre was Mons Icea, the largest mountain on Pluto. Since there were no clouds on Pluto, I could see the top from here. The mountain was incredibly high and steep, the whole surface covered with ice like the rest of Pluto.
Well, I thought. Time to go skiing.