You close your eyes, reaching within you for a spell that will save Xiaolong. You remember everyone’s bravery, as they fought and protected and did everything within their power to save the Pond. You think of the warmth of your friends’ love, how their friendship feels like a home that could weather any storm, typhoon, or quake. You think about how you, small as you may be, are here, and that in itself is something incredible.
As all of your memories and your feelings and the immensity of your small power come together, a grand power rises within you. It feels like all the light in the world, the stars and the cosmos bursting behind your eyes. You feel limitless, infinite. You believe.
Xiaolong’s staff begins to glow, responding to the beginnings of your spell. You feel the Pond friends’ magic coalesce with yours. You can’t really describe it, this spell that you are creating, but you can feel how powerful it is in your chest. All it needs now is your intent. What had Sprout said? Sever its connection to magic.
You raise Xiaolong’s staff, take aim at the darkness’s heart with the point of her staff, and release. Blinding light explodes from Xiaolong’s staff. You squeeze your eyes closed, the light too brilliant to behold.
When the power of the spell begins to dim, now spent, you open your eyes to find yourself outside the Pond’s boundary. Trees have been felled, naked of leaves and life, the earth is cracked and dusty. All you hear is yourself panting. You have never heard the forest so silent.
Ahead, Xiaolong groans. You rush forward to her as she struggles to sit up.
“I’m okay, friend,” she says, when she sees your concerned expression. “But friend… that spell!” Xiaolong grins wide, giving you the thumbs-up. “That was such a powerful spell! I always knew you had the most powerful magic!”
You return her grin and for once, you believe her. Maybe you do have powerful magic. Maybe you always had, deep down.
“Xiaolong… Friend,” whispers Sprout, who hops on your shoulder. “Look.”
You follow their gaze. Over there, the heart of the darkness sags against the dirt. Against the backdrop of the fractured forest, now small and seemingly harmless, the heart of the darkness doesn’t look as menacing or dangerous as before. Seeing the three of you, the heart of darkness groans, a small and whiny sound, and begins to wiggle away.
You ask where the darkness came from, how it could have grown to have such devastating power, only for it to dwindle to something so… small.
“There are all kinds of wicked things in this world,” says Xiaolong. “And sometimes it is hard to understand how one being can be filled with such wicked and callous intentions. This small thing came for our home, came for all my friends, used its power to do bad than good. But look at it now, friend. We took away its power to do more harm, and I don’t think it’ll hurt us anymore.” Xiaolong exhales, shaking her head. “When bad things happen, we can’t ignore that the bad thing happened. But, I like to focus on the good. Look at all of our friends that came together to help the Pond. So many of them didn’t know each other when we called for aid, but now they will forever be part of the Pond, and we will always appreciate how they helped us in such a scary time.”
As Xiaolong struggles to her feet, Sprout puts a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Xiaolong,” they say. “I’ll take care of it.”
You ask Sprout what they are going to do.
Sprout offers a sad smile. “I’m not going to kill it. That isn’t our way. But I am going to check that its connection to any magic has been severed. And then I’ll talk to everyone at the Pond and we’ll decide on what to do.”
Sprout turns away and hops tentatively over to the heart of the darkness. The leaves rustle with a slight breeze, pulling you slightly towards Sprout, and you swear you feel a slight tremor in the earth. Perhaps Sprout is drawing power from the earth to protect themself, just in case.
“Sprout can handle themself,” says Xiaolong. She pulls herself up to her feet, her feet wobbling slightly. You hand Xiaolong her staff – and you can’t quite explain it, but you feel like the staff, which feels alive, thanks you as you part with it.
“Come on friend,” she says. “Let’s go home.”
The Pondathon is now over!
During the readathon, you fought, protected, and read valiantly. And because of your hard work, your perseverance, and your amazing team work, you have successfully vanquished the darkness.
You saved the Pond, friend. Well done!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The Pondathon has been a labour of love for me for the last five months. I came up with the Pondathon many, many months ago, and started writing the story and drawing all the art and characters for it on October 2018. Almost every day, I committed 15 minutes to four hours working on it. It’s been a long journey, and it’s going to be a bit weird not having a Pondathon to work on for awhile!
But, I acknowledge that this Pondathon would not have been a success without you. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who participated in this readathon. This readathon would not have the success that it was without all of your love, support, and enthusiasm. I started this readathon as a fun project for myself. Never ever did I imagine that this readthon would have 455 sign-ups. (I’m still so amazed and grateful.)
The Pondathon was the first readathon I have ever run by myself – and while it was a lot of fun, I also learned a lot about what is involved in running readathons. (At some point, I will be sharing with you all a post about the things I learned about this readathon!) So thank you all for sticking it out with me, joining in, helping each other finish those side quests, and reading your hearts out.
Of course, I have to thank my two co-bloggers, Joce and Skye. Joce and Skye weathered all the hiccups and frustrations and writing blocks with me, and were the most incredible support systems that I could ask for. They gave me so many ideas for this readathon, guided me, gave me feedback, and were thoroughly and infallibly amazing. Thank you both so much; you are the best co-bloggers I could ask for.
How did we do?
I want to say a big well done to everyone who participated! No matter how many points you collected, how many pages you read, or how many books you read for this readathon, please know that Xiaolong and the Pond friends are so so grateful for every single one of you! The readathon is, after all, a co-operative readathon, and everyone’s contributions to the battle are equally appreciated.
First, I want to apologise for the initial spreadsheet that was shared partway through the Pondathon. I did the spreadsheet during a busy and fraught time and, in my sleep-deprived state, completed the spreadsheet wrong. I ran the wrong formulas, messed up the calculations, and it made no sense. I apologise for any confusion or distress that this caused.
To make up for it, I went through everyone’s points individually and double-checked everyone’s points. This should be correct (or at least, the most accurate version). To view the pages you read, the books you finished, the books you promoted, and the points that you earned across the whole readathon, open this spreadsheet here.
Here are some pretty cool statistics!
- In total, we collectively read 478,522 pages! Wow, wow, wow.
- We also collectively read 3,108 books!
- Our smallest team, Team Sprout, promoted 79 books! Well done, Team Sprout!
Once again, well done everyone!
I would love love love your feedback
As mentioned earlier, this Pondathon was the first readathon I’ve ever run. (I don’t count #StartOnYourShelfathon, because it’s a very hands-off and flexible readathon.) Along the way, I recognise I made a lot of mistakes (a lot of mistakes!) and have since learned from them.
I do intend to run a “Pondathon II” next year – but before I plan a single thing, I want to hear your thoughts and feedback about this Pondathon. There are a lot of things that I want to change, but I want to hear from you. At the end of the day, the readathon is for you, the book community, and what you have to say matters a lot to me.
Therefore, it would mean a lot to me if you completed the feedback form below! Thank you all so much in advance!
The Winners of the Pondathon Giveaway
Finally, let’s announce the winners of the Pondathon giveaway! Here is a quick refresher of the Giveaway Rules and Information:
(1) To be eligible to enter the Pondathon – Readathon Prize Giveaway, you must have:
a. signed-up for the Pondathon; and
b. submitted progress via the Pondathon Reading Tracker at least once AND any Side Quest Progress Tracker at least once.
(2) All winners of the Pondathon – Readathon Prize Giveaway will be selected at random.
(3) All eligible winners will be contacted, and will have 48 hours to respond and accept their prize. If we do not receive a response within 48 hours, another winner will be contacted.
(4) Submissions for the Pondathon – Readathon Prize Giveaway will be open until March 8th 2020, 9:00PM NZT.
(5) By signing up for the Pondathon – Readathon Prize Giveaway, you consent to providing your email address to the donor so that they can contact you about your prize and, if the prize be delivered to you via post, you also consent to provide your mailing address to the prize donor for the purpose of sending you your prize.
(6) This giveaway is open internationally.
(7) Staff at The Quiet Pond are not responsible for any prizes that are lost via the mail and a replacement may not be offered due to high shipping expenses.
(8) In the event that you do not want the prize that you have won, an alternate prize may not be offered and another winner will be contacted.
(9) In the event of a dispute, the staff at The Quiet Pond will have the final say.
(10) By signing up for the Pondathon – Readathon Prize Giveaway, you agree to the above Giveaway Rules and Information.
Phew! Now with the boring stuff out of the way – it’s time to draw winners!
How did I select the winners?
- I took all the email addresses of those who signed up via the Pondathon Prizes Sign-Up form.
- I removed any duplicates.
- I used TextFixer and pasted all email addresses into the TextFixer ‘Random Choice Generator’.
- I clicked ‘Random Choice’!
Winners of the 2 Xiaolong plushies, handmade by CW:
- Clo @ Cuppa Clo
- pads darkshield
Winners of the 3 forest sprite felt coasters, handmade by CW:
- Lili (Utopia State of Mind)
Winners of the 3 bookmarks, made by Skye:
- The Pufflehuffle Kitteh
- Laura (bbliophile)
- String of Pages
Winners of a physical copy of THE SURPRISING POWER OF A GOOD DUMPLING by Wai Chim with painted edges:
- Lauren @ Love Yo Shelf
- Your TitaKate
Winner of an ebook of CONQUEST by Celeste Harte:
Winner of a physical copy of LIZARD’S TALE by Weng Wai Chan:
- Word Wonders
Winner of a physical copy of THE EX-PRINCESS by Fiona West:
- kath (kath_reads)
Winner of an ebook of SPELLBOUND by Allie Therin:
Winner of a signed copy of MY DINNER WITH ANDREA by Jen Durbent:
Winner of a physical copy of FIRST LIGHT by Shelley Krause:
Congratulations on everyone who won! I will be contacting everyone who has won via the emails that they have provided in the Pondathon form within the next 2 – 3 days.
If the stars align and if I am able to (depending my work schedule), I’d love to host a Pondathon II! What can you expect?
- The forest is now devastated in light of the destruction caused by the darkness. The Pond friends, a little worn and battle scarred, will be grappling with the aftermath of the ‘Battle for the Pond’.
- Pondathon II will not involve battles of any kind.
- Rather, Pondathon II will be about the Pond friends working together to find new homes for the forest sprites. And how will they do it? By growing plants, of course!
Thank You Again!
Once again, thank you all so much for your support, your patience, your enthusiasm, and your love for the last 6 weeks. It’s been a wild ride! I hope you all enjoyed the Pondathon – and the Pond friends hope that you will continue visiting them, even though there are no more battles to fight.