Stories

PICTURE BOOK: Iron Master

IRON MASTER

This is Vulcan. He lives in Darem. It is very cold there. Long ago, a disaster froze the earth. Vulcan’s ancestors learned to keep themselves warm by tapping the heat from underground volcanoes.

Vulcan is learning to be an Iron Master. Iron Masters gather metal scraps from ancient buildings and machines and then melt those scraps into new tools.

Vulcan also wants to be a scout/warrior like his age-mate Apollo, but Vulcan isn’t allowed. He can’t run and has to walk with a cane. He has a limp from when he was a boy inspecting a machine and it crushed his left foot.

Vulcan is friends with Rat, a girl who helps him finds scraps. She found him a great scrap today – a long piece of metal. Vulcan is happy. It’s perfect! Just what he needs.

Vulcan melts down the metal for his Master’s Piece. He is making it for Lena. He will bring it to the Harvest Dance and give it to her and ask her for a dance.

Vulcan brings his Master’s Piece wrapped up to the Harvest Dance. The Dance is held in the village square in the shadow of the giant Mech.

At the Dance, the Elder tells the story of how the land of Darem began. The Ancestors created the Giant Protectors to guard the people in the days of Ice. The Mech still watches over the village, but it is sleeping. No one may touch it, or they will be destroyed.

Then the Elder leans close to the people. But one day, it is said, when the people of Darem are in great need, then a Chosen One will awaken the Mech with a single touch and save the people.

Apollo shouts, I will be the Chosen One! And his friends cheer. Apollo is the son of the village chief. He is strong and handsome.
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The music starts. Vulcan asks Lena to dance. She says she already promised to dance with Apollo. Apollo laughs at Vulcan, and says, “you can’t dance with a limp.” Apollo twirls away with Lena.

But then enemy soldiers storm into the town. Their general says “Seize the Mech!” Some of Vulcan’s people try to fight, but the soldiers have stronger weapons.

Vulcan runs to Mech Statue to protect it from the enemy soldiers. Rat screams “don’t touch it!” But Vulcan struggles with one of the Sorcerer-Priests and falls into the Mech. He is zapped. Rat thinks he is dead.

The Mech Statue crackles with lightning.  attacks the Sorcerer-Priests. The General orders everyone to retreat with the prisoners.

Vulcan wakes up. He looks down and see that he is the Mech! He is very strong. He lifts up a fallen wall off a building and finds Rat and Apollo, who were trapped.

Rat and Apollo are amazed to see Vulcan-Mech. Now Apollo is afraid of him. Vulcan-Mech doesn’t tell them who he really is. He tells them they must work together to save their people and drive away the invaders. Who can help them find their people? The Ice People, because they travel all the rivers of the nine villages in Darem.

Vulcan-Mech leads them to the Ice People. The Ice People are part human, part Polar Bear. Their ancestors were scientists who discovered how to blend the DNA of humans and Polar Bears. Vulcan’s people sometimes fight with the Ice People, so they don’t trust each other. An Ice Person splashes out of the cold water.

The Ice People will only help them if one of them becomes a member of their tribe. Apollo shouts “I’ll do it!” But Vulcan-Mech insists he will do it. He must pass three challenges: beat their strongest swimmer in a race through ice cold water, wrestle their strongest warrior, and tell the best story.

Vulcan-Mech passes the challenges! The Ice People make him part of their tribe. They agree to help him find their people. Apollo starts to feel jealous and suspicious of Vulcan-Mech; he wants to be the leader instead.

The General attacks another village. He captures prisoners. The Sorcerer-Priests are the only ones allowed to grab the Mech. They have purple tattoos covering most of their skin and they wear long black hoods. The other soldiers are afraid of them. They place the Mech inside a special container and they speak directly to the Bad Mech Leader.

The Head Sorcerer-Priest tell the General that they have spoken with the Bad Mech Leader. The Leader has sent a Special Weapon that can fight the Mech who was awoken. The General doesn’t like the Sorcerer-Priests, but he must obey the Bad Mech Leader.

Lena is inside the Central Prison. They listen to the Head Sorcerer-Priest who tells them they must all be trained to be good servants of the Bad Mech Leader. Once they are trained, they will be allowed to return to their villages and serve him always. The prisoners are afraid.

Some of the prisoners fight with each other because they come from different villages. So Lena tells them a story the history of Darem, how their ancestors saw the coming cold and made a refugeThey were all one people then, not just separate villages. The story helps the people know they are one people and ready to work together.

An Ice Person pops up in a river by the prison camp. She sees Lena and the prisoners! She must tell Vulcan-Mech.

Meanwhile, Vulcan-Mech, Apollo, Rat, and the Ice People arrive at the village of Arshek. The town is under attack! But Vulcan-Mech and his friends drive away the soldiers.

The Village Elder thanks them and tells them he needs Vulcan-Mech’s help in the village temple. But only Vulcan-Mech can come inside the temple. The others must wait outside.

Apollo is angry that he’s not allowed to come in. So he sneaks behind to watch. Rat tries to stop him, but he shakes her off. He climbs up to a window of the temple and looks in.

Vulcan-Mech enters the temple. It’s a trap! Three Sorcerer-Priests jump out from the bushes. They fire the Special Weapon at Vulcan-Mech. Vulcan-Mech crashes to the ground and yells in pain.

Up at the window, Apollo waits. But then he runs in and destroys the Special Weapon. Together, Apollo and Vulcan-Mech take the Sorcerer-Priests prisoner.

When the Village Elder sees Vulcan-Mech and Apollo are okay, he says he is sorry. He didn’t want to trick Vulcan-Mech. But the Sorcerer-Priests threatened to hurt his family unless he did. Vulcan-Mech forgives him.

The Arshek villagers cheer Vulcan-Mech and his friends. The Arshekians want to get the rest of their village back. They want to help Vuclan-Mech and become part of his army.

An Ice Person splashes out from the Arshek stream and tells them she found the Prison Camp. It is beyond the Frozen Hills to the East. Vulcan-Mech, Rat, and Apollo meet with the Ice People to make a plan.

Rat is small and sneaky. And also brave. She goes on a secret mission inside the prison camp. She finds Lena and tells her about the coming battle. Rat brings weapons to disarm the guards.

Vulcan-Mech and his army of Apollo, Ice People, and people from several different villages face off against the General. Behind the General are Rat with Lena and the prisoners! The General surrenders and agrees to return the prisoners.

But just then the Bad Mech Leader comes. He blasts the General to the ground and orders his army to fight.

The two armies fight! The Ice People help fight. Lena’s prisoners fight too.

Bad Mech Leader faces off against Vulcan-Mech. He asks Vulcan-Mech to join him. They are special! They are mechs. They can rule all the world.

Vulcan refuses. He doesn’t want to rule the world. So Bad Mech Leader fights him.

The Mechs are both powerful. Neither one can win. So Vulcan-Mech grabs Bad Mech Leader and carries him into a heat vent. They fall all the way to the bottom where the lava boils. Both mechs melt.

Apollo and Lena lead their armies to a victory. The Sorcerer-Priests run away.

Apollo and Lena look for Vulcan. He’s gone, they think. Apollo makes thanks the Ice People and the villagers return to their homes.

Vulcan wakes up in a tent with lots of machines. He’s alive, but he’s no longer a mech. He stands up. He still has his limp. He sees the General.

The General helps him stand. The General explains that he found Vulcan’s body after the first fight. The General saw that his body was in a coma and kept it safe and kept it secret from the Sorcerer-Priests. If Vulcan wants to, he can return to the Bad Mech Leader’s kingdom and control other Mechs. No more limp.

Vulcan decides he doesn’t want to rule over anybody. He just wants to go home.

On a cold night, Vulcan limps back to his home village. Apollo and Lena see him coming and welcome him back.

THE END

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