When you enter the magic boundary of the Pond, something doesn’t feel right. The magic that has become like a second home to you doesn’t seem to have its usual warmth. Instead, there’s a slight fizzle and static in the air, making your hairs stand on end.
You feel a bump against your shin, and when you look down, it looks like waves of leaves and twigs and rocks are rushing by your feet. You take a step back, surprised; they seem to be moving towards the Pond. You remember Xiaolong telling you about them – forest sprites! they mimic their favourite parts of the forest – but the way they are pushing against your ankles, rushing towards the Pond, unnerves you. They seem… afraid, desperate.
“X-Xiaolong?” you call out for your friend, worried.
You take a step forward, then two, and then you’re running. You need to find your friends and make sure they are okay.
Closer to the pond’s edge, hundreds of sprites have gathered, clustering around Varian, their hands aglow and muttering enchantments under their breath. Gen is by his garden, passing out what you recognise to be magical herbs. Cuddle is running around, juggling bowls of food and handing them out to the sprites. Xiaolong, on the other hand, is rushing around, directing the sprites here and there and checking in on the sprites with lights that are worryingly dimmer than the others.
“Xiaolong!” you call, careful not to step on any of the sprites. “Xiaolong, what’s wrong?”
When Xiaolong sees you, she exhales with relief. “F-Friend!” she exclaims, her voice breaking and words coming out in a rush. “Friend, all these sprites… they had nowhere else to go. I had to let them into the Pond! I couldn’t just abandon them!”
A sprite approaches Xiaolong, and speaks to her in a magical language that you can’t understand. Xiaolong waves her staff, and you can feel the magic in your heart swell a little. You think Xiaolong might be trying to strengthen the magic in the Pond, but it still doesn’t feel the same.
Xiaolong turns to you. Her gills are droopy and pale. She looks tired; more tired than you’ve ever seen her. “Sprout has flown to see what has happened. They should be back soon with news. Until they get back, can you help us?”
It is hours before Sprout returns. You’ve helped Xiaolong direct the sprites, making sure that they can find their friends and family. You’ve helped Cuddle pass out the food, and you’ve helped Gen crush herbs and flowers to create organic magic amplifiers.
Suddenly, Sprout dives through the magical barrier, their little wings beating powerfully. You catch them before they fall headfirst onto the ground, and you can feel their rapid heartbeat against your fingers.
“Xiaolong! Friend!” calls Sprout, distressed. Seeing them, Gen rushes over and hands them a glass bottle with bright pink liquid inside. Sprout takes a breath, a gulp from the bottle, and says in a flurry, “It’s big. I don’t know what it is, Xiaolong!” Sprout is crying now, which makes Xiaolong start to cry too. “There are no leaves in the trees, there’s no water in the river. When I got near, it felt so cold and sad and – I was – Xiaolong, there’s no life.” Sprout’s beak quivers. “It’s coming here, Xiaolong. It’ll be here within a few days.”
Xiaolong is silent. And you notice that her tears don’t stop; they slide down her round cheeks and she doesn’t shudder, doesn’t heave her chest, doesn’t make a sound. You’ve never seen Xiaolong so quiet, and it unnerves you.
She breathes steadily, swipes at her cheeks decisively, which doesn’t quite stop the stream of tears, but something’s different: she has a determined look in her eyes.
“We have to get ready,” she finally says. She turns around, and gazes into the Pond. “We have to get ready for battle.”
Friends of the Pond!
Mysterious and malevolent forces are approaching and Xiaolong needs your help to protect our friends of the forest who have taken refuge at the Pond.
We’ve called you because you have been a dear friend to the Pond friends. You have helped Xiaolong and friends with your friendship and have become an important part of their lives. Now, they need your help once more.
The readathon hasn’t started yet, so hang tight! However, here is the schedule of all the posts that will be coming your way, so be sure to visit the Pond on these dates. The below are all links to all important readathon posts – if the link takes you to a dead end, that’s because the post isn’t up yet. All dates are in NZT (New Zealand Time).
|January 12th 2020||Prologue – Something’s Wrong… [Readathon Information]||More information about the Pondathon – What, When, How, Prizes|
|January 14th 2020||Prologue – It’s Time to Protect and Fight [Readathon Schedule]||Readathon Schedule|
|January 16th 2020||Prologue – We Need You and Your Magic; Choose a Team! [Readathon Team Information]||Find out the Pondathon readathon teams that you can join!|
|January 18th 2020||Prologue – Join Us In Battle and Armour Up! [Sign-Up & Create Your Character]||Officially sign-up for the Pondathon – and create your own character!|
|January 21st 2020||Tutorial – Questions You May Have and Our Answers||An F.A.Q. for the Pondathon|
|January 24th 2020||The Battle for the Pond is Here! The Pondathon Has Begun!||The Pondathon readathon officially begins + Pondathon Progress Tracker|
|January 25th 2020||New Side Quest Available – Protect Xiaolong!|
|January 30th 2020||New Side Quest Available – Cuddle’s Conundrum!|
|February 4th 2020||New Side Quest Available – Help Gen Make Healing Potions!|
|February 9th 2020||New Side Quest Available – Sing, Amina and Bao! Sing!|
|February 14th 2020||[Special Event]||🤐|
|February 15th 2020||New Side Quest Available – [redacted]||🤐|
|February 20th 2020||New Side Quest Available –[redacted]||🤐|
|February 25th 2020||New Side Quest Available – [redacted]||🤐|
|March 1st 2020||New Side Quest Available – [redacted]||🤐|
|March 7th 2020||Pondathon Ends|
|TBC April 2020||Prize Announcement|
Be sure to visit the Pond in two days (January 16th 2020)! In the next post, the Pondathon’s story will continue and you will learn about the teams that you can join for the readathon.