By Carla Dias
Beyond the Holy Mountains, a rock formation unknown to humans, lies the Kingdom of Mah. This is a parallel world where superior beings, endowed with superior intelligence and the capacity for knowledge, live. The Kingdom of Mah is accessible through a portal called Chokmah which symbolizes Supreme Wisdom. Society is administered by the Kings, advised by a Supreme Judge. His position can only be passed on to someone who demonstrates an ability to internalize knowledge superior to his. The chosen one will be offered immortality but must devote his or her life to the Librarian’s High Education and never leave the kingdom.
The invisible being, Kulashay, who guards the last step, creates riddles and enigmas for those who wish to be tested and overcome all different levels of wisdom. This is to become a librarian.
In the year the last Supreme Judge was chosen, a mischievous girl was born. Her name is Thalita, a name derived from an Aramaic idiom.
Thalita, her grandfather’s pride and her only family, was born with an innate ability to solve riddles and enigmas.
Only at the age of fifteen could a student apply to be a tester and become the Supreme Judge’s apprentice for five years.
Hearing conversations behind closed doors between the aspiring librarians, Thalita discovered they all had to carry a magical item. It was very expensive and could only be bought with gold stars. Therefore, she started to charge the apprentices gold stars for her help.
After crossing over Chokmah, the librarians had to go to a place known as The Unseen Store and buy that magical item. Each librarian chose their own magical item, an object or an animal they all carried wherever they traveled.
On one of her morning marches, after her grandfather’s death, Thalita discovered a new path. It was partially covered in yellow and red flowers that seemed to dance in the light breeze. A few steps ahead she saw a leafy tree right in the middle of the path. She walked over and reached out to touch the trunk. She smiled as small insects, hidden in the bark of the tree, climbed onto her hand and tickled her.
“Amazing!” Thalita heard.
She removed her hand from the trunk and looked around. She did not see anyone. ‘Am I dreaming?’ She circled around the huge, broad trunk. On the other side the path continued, flanked by the same colorful flowers. ‘What a beautiful tree. What is it doing here?’ she thought.
“Waiting for you, headless girl!”
“That voice again. Who’s there?”
“Chill out, girl! I’m a friend.”
“Why are you hiding if you’re a friend?”
“I’m not hiding, headless girl!”
“Stop calling me that! Who are you?”
“Put your hand on the trunk again, girl.”
“I’m not… Say my name and ask me gently!”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Thalita surrounded the tree, intending to explore the path behind it and said, “Bye!”
“Hey, wait girl!”
She kept walking, but after a few steps she heard, “Thalita! Please, girl. I need your help!”
“Stop calling me girl! Say my name.”
“I just did.”
“Say it again or I won’t turn around.”
“THALITA. Are you happy?”
However, Thalita kept going forward. The mysterious voice asked her, “Hey! Come back. I said your name.”
“One more time, please!”
“You’ve got to… Thalita. Please come back. I need your help.”
Thalita turned back and stopped in front of the tree. “Well?”
“Come closer, Thalita. Put your hand back on the trunk, please.”
Thalita held out her hand and touched the log. Like the first time her hand was covered in small bugs. She smiled and heard the voice once more, this time in her head. The voice said, ‘Look closer Thalita.’ She glanced at her hand covered in tiny insects and noticed that around her wrist was a greenish line. At first, she thought it was a line created by insects but looking closer she saw the line rising, resting only on one end, like an earthworm standing up.
“Hi. My name is Dugu.”
“What? I didn’t choose it!”
“Sorry! Nice to meet you.”
“Come. We don’t have much time.”
“We don’t? Why? Why were you in this tree? How come you can talk? Why am I able to hear you in my mind? Why the hell is this enormous tree in the middle of the path?”
“Oh boy! I’m fried! Come!”
“You’ve got some explaining to do, my friend. I’m not going anywhere with you!”
“Thalita, please. Come. I’ll explain everything to you on the way but first we need…”
“On the way to where?”
“Please hear me out. There are people in danger. Our people. We have to move on.”
“To another time.”
“Are you aware that’s exactly what librarians do? Let’s speak with the Supreme Judge. He can help us.”
“No, Thalita. No one can help us. We’re on our own.”
“The Supreme Judge…”
Dugu turned into a giant red earthworm and time stopped. The flowers did not move, and the tree insects stood still. Thalita jumped back and landed on her butte.
Looking at Thalita’s scared eyes, Dugu decreased his size. “I’m sorry, Thalita. I didn’t mean to scare you. Please forgive me. The Supreme Judge is not who you think he is. He’s working with the Dark Forces. Have you noticed that most of the librarians do not return home?”
“I thought they didn’t come back because they were too busy helping people.”
“No, Thalita. They are being held prisoners because their ability to comprehend is superior to the Supreme Judge’s. He doesn’t want to lose his position.”
“Are you sure? How do you know all this? You have been living in a tree.”
“I was being held prisoner in the tree, not living in it. Only a special and intelligent person could free me. My spell was to be broken by the prophecy “The Reborn Girl”.
“A spell? What do you mean?”
“Are you familiar with the magical items librarians carry?”
“Yes, I heard them talking about it.”
“You heard? Behind doors, I presume.”
“They are not supposed to talk about that.”
“Lucky for me, they did.”
“I suppose you’re right. Anyway, the Supreme Judge had me as his magical item.”
“A worm? No offense!”
“I’m not a worm, but I’m more than that. I’ve discovered my master’s plans and I tried to call him to reason but I failed.”
“To become the King of Mah. As a punishment he put me in this tree warning me that if I tried to leave, I would lose my magical powers.”
“Now you’ve mentioned it, I never saw the Kings of Mah. What happened to them?”
“I’m not sure.”
“How long have you been held prisoner?”
“One hundred years.”
“Shut the front door!”
“You know the Supreme Judge is immortal, don’t you?”
“There you go.”
“I don’t understand. As I was told he was nominated when I was born and you’re telling me you’ve been with him for more than one hundred years?”
“That’s another story. I don’t have time to talk about it now. We have to move.”
“Please stop asking questions and put your hand on the trunk.”
“Who am I trying to reach this time? A cousin of yours?”
“Dig deeper and pull out a leather pouch.”
“Why do we need a pouch?” Thalita asked, admiring the bag.
Suddenly Dugu turned into a stripe and connected himself to the pouch. ‘Put it around your waist.’
‘Wow! It’s so light!’
‘You won’t believe what it has inside!’
Thalita was about to put her hand inside it, but Dugu stopped her. ‘Not now, Thalita. Our kingdom is in danger and needs a librarian. Let’s go!’
“What are you saying? I’m not a Librarian. I cannot travel with you.”
“Yes, you can! You’re more than a librarian. You’re the prophecy and you have endless powers.”
“Powers? What powers?”
“Only someone with prophecy powers would be able to overcome all the Kulashay Steps before fifteen years old or put his hand in that tree and not burn it.”
“How do you know?”
“I know everything, girl. After your grandfather’s funeral, you sneaked out of your bedroom at dawn. You wanted to honor him, so you solved all the riddles and enigmas Kulashay gave you. That’s when Kulashay found out you were the prophecy.”
“Does the Supreme Judge know?”
“No, not yet. I asked Kulashay to keep it a secret, for now. He also knows the Supreme Judge is bewitched by a Dark Force and sooner or later he will find out about you. That’s why we need to move on, and the sooner the better.”
“You’re friends with that invisible being? Wow!”
“We go way back!”
“Do you really think I can help you?”
“Yes, I do. I can teach you to master your powers. Unfortunately, we have to do it along the way.”
“Close your eyes and trust me.”
“No chance! I won’t…”
“Oh, shut up, girl. Just close your eyes, for God’s sake!” Dugu said, tightening the pouch stripe around her.
“I can’t breathe…”
“Please, Thalita, close your eyes.”
The next second Thalita thought someone had blown her face. Her dark hair flew around her head and covered her face. She uncovered her eyes and saw a round room, surrounded by thick logs with some branches that disappeared into the ceiling. She was grateful to have a coat otherwise she would turn into an ice statue.
“Why is it so cold here?”
‘Speak to me only with your thoughts. We don’t want to wake him up.’
‘Keep talking, silly girl and you’ll meet him soon enough!’
‘Where are we? How do we get out of here?’
‘What’s with all these questions? Can’t you be quiet for a second? I can’t think!’
‘Gosh! You’re so rude!’
‘How many logs do you see?’
‘Five is the angel’s symbol. I think this is a message for you. There’s a riddle here. We need to find log number five.’
‘How do we know which one is five?’
‘Again, a question! I don’t know. Think, silly girl. Do I have to do everything?’
Thalita paid attention again to the five logs and noticed there were some branches coming out of the trunks.
‘This is log number five.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I see you like questions too!’
Dugu laughed but he was proud of Thalita. He knew she would solve the riddle.
‘This log has five branches, Dugu. What now?’
Suddenly the log moved and a gigantic body with thick arms and legs detached itself from the wall and walked towards her. She jumped back, and landing on the floor, she started to laugh.
“How dare you?” Said the huge walking tree.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disrespect you but you’re so funny,” Thalita said.
‘You silly girl. Keep your mouth shut! Do you want to kill us?’ Dugu apprehended her.
The colossal tree sat near Thalita and asked her, “Am I? What do you mean?”
“You walk funny. What’s your name?”
“My name? What do you mean by my name?” The tree put his big mouth near Thalita’s head.
‘Shut up, silly girl. Are you crazy?!?!’
“Yes, your name. What should I call you? I’m…”
“You’re Thalita, from the prophecy.”
“Jeez! Is there anyone who doesn’t know about the prophecy?”
‘Thalita!!! We’re dead!’
“Many of us have been expecting you for centuries.”
“You didn’t tell me your name.”
“I don’t have a name. I’m just me.”
“We must give you a name.”
“I’m afraid I don’t deserve a name.”
“Why? Everybody deserves a name.”
“I don’t. I have to give you a riddle but if you don’t solve it, I must eat you. I like you very much, but I’ll eat you if you fail.”
‘Oh shebanga! We’re doomed!’
“What’s the riddle?”
“Are you sure you want it? I could just eat you now and save you the trouble.”
“No, I need to try. Tell me, please.”
“Okay, here it is. What number can you get if you take two from five?”
Thalita stood silent for a second and then replied, “Four.”
‘Four?!? Are you nuts? Do you even make it to school? I hope this beast doesn’t take too long to chew us down…’
“Correct. This time I’m happy to miss my meal. You know what to do.”
Thalita hugged the tree who looked very surprised and walked towards log number four. When she looked back, the colossal tree had retreated to the wall, but she saw it was smiling. “I’ll think of a fitting name to give you next time we meet.” The tree shook its five branches.
Thalita reached her hand to log number four, and it opened wide. She leafed through it and stared at the room.
“Where are we?”
“In a library.” Dugu replied. “Hurry! Hide behind this pillar.”
“I know this is a library but in what world? Look at the people. They look weird.”
“Those things are not people. Don’t let them see us.”
“What are they?”
“They’re the Supreme Judge’s snerks.”
“What the hell are snercks?”
“Troops. They’re being controlled by him. They’re guarding the book.”
“Whatever you do, don’t think. They can’t hear us whispering but they can detect our thoughts.” Dugu said, sticking out his worm head from the pouch and observing the shelves full of books.
“What are you doing?”
“I need to climb to the top of that bookshelf.”
“Our way out is there. Can you see that black book?”
Thalita looked up and saw a black book slightly coming out of its place.
“Please, girl hold out your hand.”
She held her hand and Dugu jumped from the edge of her finger to the top shelf. He looked at the book and closed his eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Schuss! Keep quiet and stop asking questions!
Thalita saw a red book hover in the air and land silently at her feet.
“I thought you wanted the black one.”
“We need the red one.” Dugu jumped from the shelf to the floor and closed his eyes again in front of the red book. The black book flew into the pouch and the red one was open. The image of a brick wall covering two pages began to ripple.
“Come!” Dugu said, jumping inside the book.
Thalita shrank her shoulders and jumped along with him. A second later one of the snerks passed by.
They ended up in a cave room full of people. Thalita recognized most of them. An old man, dressed in green clothes, with a long beard looked at her and said, “Thalita? Is it you?”
“Yes, I’m Thalita. Who are you? I know some of the faces but…”
“We’ve been here for quite some time, my child, waiting for you. Only you and Dugu could free us.”
“How? What can we do?” Thalita asked, coming closer to the man’s cage.
“No! Stop, Thalita!” Dugu said. “The locker has a spell. If you touch it, everything we’re seeing will disappear.”
Thalita noticed every cage had a letter, from A to Z. “Is this a riddle, Dugu?”
“Yes. It’s a silent riddle. The worst kind.”
“Great! How am I supposed to guess it?”
“You can do it. It’s a riddle with letters and the letters A and Z are the most relevant. Look how they are bigger.”
Thalita paid attention, stepping closer to them.
“Be careful, Thalita. Not everything you see is real.”
Thalita said, “What moves from Z to A?”
“Excuse me?” Dugu asked.
“Zebra. The answer is Zebra, Dugu.” Thalita scanned the room searching for answers.
‘Thalita! Please do not move!’
“Why?” Thalita asked, turning around. She saw three gigantic zebras, but she was not scared. She reached out with her hand to pet them. The first zebra put a piece of metal on Thalita’s hand and rubbed her head on her arm. The second and the third did the same. She heard in her head, ‘Trust in you, Thalita!’ seeing the zebras turning into three piles of sand. Thalita looked at her hand and saw the three metal pieces coming together and forming a key. She opened the cages, starting with Z, E, B, R, and A. As soon as she opened cage A, all the other cages revealed horrific beasts.
Dugu said, “Please follow me.” He stood in front of the sand piles and closed his eyes. The piles came together and formed the shape of a door. Thalita opened it, and everyone followed her and Dugu.
Thalita looked around her and saw a big square full of people staring at her, Dugu and the others. She looked at her linen clothes. Her brick-colored trousers, a white shirt, and a burgundy mid-calf coat gave her a fresh, youthful look. Her black hair was braided in several braids, with yellow flowers. Dugu smiled as he looked at his fearless friend. People were whispering “Librarian”.
“Come, Thalita. We have to go to the library.” Dugu said.
“They think I’m a librarian.”
‘You are a librarian, silly girl!’ Dugu said, smiling.
In the library, two old women were waiting for them. “Dugu, my friend. I knew you’d find a way to help me.” The younger one said.
Dugu jumped onto the old lady’s hand and bowed. “My queen!”
“I’ve missed you!” The Queen kissed him.
Thalita stared at the woman. ‘Queen? She’s a queen? Dugu, what’s going on?’
The old lady looked at Thalita. “Welcome, sweetheart. We were expecting you.”
Thalita bowed. “Your Majesty!”
“I don’t need that, my child. My name is Neelandom, and you are in the Amukulah Kingdom, ruled by my friend, Queen Khusiak. I’m afraid we don’t have time to talk. We need to hurry. Please come with me.” Queen Neelandom hugged Queen Khusiak and Dugu and Thalita followed her to a lake surrounded by enormous trees. Thalita could not see the treetops. Their roots seemed to be drinking as their trunks undulated as if something inside them was sucking up the lake water.
‘Dugu, why is the water purple?’
“Would you be so kind as to help me sweetheart?” The Queen asked Thalita.
Thalita looked at the Queen and shrank her shoulders.
‘Give the crystal to the Queen, silly girl!’
‘Look inside the pouch.’
Thalita took a big purple crystal out of the pouch. ‘What the heck?’
Thalita handed it over to the Queen.
The Queen knelt and said, “Thalita, only this crystal can summon Ahety, the guardian of the Enchanted Dagger.”
“Ahety? Enchanted Dagger?” Thalita asked.
‘You were right, my friend. She likes to ask questions.’ The Queen said to Dugu. Then she turned to Thalita and said, “Sweetheart, only with this dagger will we be able to defeat the Supreme Judge.”
“Okay, and how do we face the guardian? He’s not about to give it to us lightly, I presume.” Thalita said.
‘You’re going to face him, Thalita.’ Dugu said.
‘Me? Are you nuts? How?’
‘What are you talented at?’
“Dugu is right, Thalita. You can face him. Please hold the crystal near the water.”
As soon as Thalita knelt the tree roots started to move and under the water thousands of logs came to the surface. They began to move up and down in a dance and a statue of a man began to rise above the water. He was with his eyes closed.
A few minutes later, Ahety asked Neelandom, “Why am I here?”
Thalita replied, “We need the Enchanted Dagger, Mr. Ahety.”
“Who is this creature?” Ahety asked.
“I’m not a creature. I’m Thalita.”
“Thalita? The one who likes riddles? Here is one but let me warn you. If you fail…”
“You’ll eat me?”
Ahety laughed and replied, “Not at all. You’ll have to give me your youth.”
Ahety asked, “Why is six afraid of seven?”
Thalita replied, “Because seven ate nine!”
In a second, Thalita was back at Mah with Dugu and the Queen.
Thalita heard the Supreme Judge asking, “Neelandom? How did you…?”
“I told you I’d find her. Now the kingdom is protected again.”
“You can’t defeat me. Nobody can.”
The Queen handed the dagger to Thalita. A purple beam of light radiated straight to the Supreme Judge’s ring. An explosion of color burst into the room. After a second, only one ring was on the ground. The Queen picked it up and held it in the air. Suddenly, a giant five-branched tree took shape.
Thalita ran to the tree and hugged it. “I found a name for you. Goody Goofy. Do you like it?”
“Yes, my child, I like it.”
The Queen gave the tree the ring and a handsome man came to live. “My friends, meet the King of Mah.”
“The King? Holy cow!” Thalita said.
“I’ll always be Goody Goofy to you. You have saved the Kingdom, Thalita. Thank you. However, I need you to travel and explore the Universe as a librarian, my child. People are in need of your help. Dugu will protect you.”
‘No more questions, Thalita! Please!’ Dugu begged.
Carla Dias was born in Angola in 1968. She has a degree in Languages and Secretarial Skills, Technological Education, and Management of Tourism Companies and Travel Agencies.
The author was a teacher for 22 years, but in 2012, during the Portuguese Economic Crisis, she became unemployed. She has worked as a receptionist and tennis coach at a tennis academy since then.
Her writing passion began when she was a teenager.
In 2013 she published her first novel, PODER MUDAR (in English: “To be able to change”) with Chiado Publisher (https://www.chiadobooks.com/autores/carla-dias).
In 2019 she published this same novel with a different publisher, Emporium Publisher (https://emporiumeditora.com/collections/romance/products/poder-mudar), and in 2020 she published OS SEGREDOS DE GREENGATE (in English: The Secrets of Greengate) with this publisher (https://emporiumeditora.com/collections/romance/products/os-segredos-de-greengate). (The author has translated this novella into the English language).
The author expects to publish the romantic novel “ANJO DO MAR” (An Angel from the Sea) in 2023 with the Publisher Edições Hórus (https://www.edicoeshorus.com/). I am translating this manuscript into English.