“The Maker is much wiser than you, because he understands that revenge is not the answer to mistreatment from another,” Zandor announced to Ferristral. “You cannot be the Maker.” A blast of energy from Zandor’s sword struck Ferristral directly in the chest.
“Why not?” retorted Ferristral as he regained his balance. “Have I not made things, as the Maker does?”
“You have only used what the Maker already gave you to fashion mere shadows, to animate blind, deaf lumps to do your bidding. They have no features, very little purpose—and above all, they have no free will. The Maker has allowed you to make your own choice; will you yet defy him, Ferristral?”
The more Chad spoke to Zandor, reaffirming everything that the hero had been telling him, the more Zandor grew—till he was just as tall as Ferristral. The dark figurine stumbled back as Zandor stood before him, both figurines the same size.
“No!” Ferristral gasped. “It is not possible! The Maker betrayed me!” He reached out and shoved Zandor backwards. The yellow-suited hero crashed into the parking structure and it collapsed under him, nearly burying him in the rubble.
“No!” Chad shouted, almost falling out of the flying machine if Voxx had not grabbed him.
“And you!” Suddenly, the vehicle jerked to a halt as Ferristral reached out and grabbed it. The walls dented under his fingers. He glared at Chad inside, even though the heroes around him braced themselves to defend him if necessary. “Have I not fulfilled the purpose for which you made me, Master?” Ferristral mocked him. “Is this not the revenge you wanted so badly for me to take? Did you honestly think I would fight your battles for you, when you are too weak to even stand up to someone less powerful than you are?” He tilted the flying machine, and Chad screamed as the floor slid away beneath him, and he was falling through empty space, faster than Voxx could extend her arms to catch him.
“Chad!” she screamed.
“I’ve got you!” said a voice from the ground, and when Chad neared the grass, a soft, tufty shrub suddenly sprouted beneath him, giving him an easy landing, courtesy of Chariostes. The hero was waiting to catch him when he rolled out of the bush.
Ferristral shouted in anger as the fierce storm raged on, matching his mood.
“You think you can escape from me that easy?” he yelled.
Chariostes sent more brambles in the direction of the giant’s legs.
“Get behind me,” he told Chad—but the boy was already running for his life, far away from any of the heroes.
Chad slogged through the rain and the darkness, trying to keep his footing in the heavy mud beneath him. His heart pounded in his chest, and all he could think of was his fear that Ferristral would indeed kill him. It did not matter any more that Voxx was in his head, warning him that this fear was giving Ferristral power, that as long as Chad believed it, it would happen—so he needed to believe in Ferristral’s defeat to ensure that it happened. Chad was far too afraid to think of winning against Ferristral—and the giant knew it.
“I’m coming for you, boy!” said Ferristral, and the giant figurine crouched down on the ground and turned himself into an enormous log. With a heavy groan, the log began rolling over the soft ground; Chad would be crushed under its weight for sure.
In that instant, the spark of belief flared one last time. It stopped Chad in his tracks; he could be smarter—suddenly, Ferristral’s defeat was clear. If Chad’s belief gave the figurines life, then Chad realized that all that remained was for him to just stop believing in Ferristral’s existence. Just as Ms. Desser would always say when she talked to her class about bullying: “Bullies are only looking to get you to act out in fear; they feed on that fear. Ignore them, and they have no power over you. Stand up to them, and it will prove how weak they really are.”
Slowly, deliberately—ignoring the fearful voice that screamed at him to keep running, Chad stood his ground and turned to face the oncoming log. Ferristral would not triumph over him.
“Come at me,” he whispered.
Underneath the filth and debris of the parking structure, Zandor heard the words because of the telepathic link to Voxx. In his abused, hazy mental state, it sounded like a plea from his Maker: “Come get me.”
Zandor felt new energy course through his body, and time seemed to slow down as he suddenly burst out of the heap, sending concrete chunks flying. He had one mission in mind: save Chad, and nothing would prevent him from doing that. Desperately, he ran toward where the little boy stood in the wide field while the log rolled steadily nearer.
Chad saw the giant Zandor running toward him and gasped as Zandor reached down and picked him up off the ground. Now Chad experienced what the heroes must have felt like to have him carry them, as Zandor gripped him securely around the waist in one hand and brandished his sword in the other.
Ferristral re-formed himself into his regular figurine stature, and stood to fight Zandor, but Chad’s belief had done its work. Before Ferristral could utter another word, Zandor swung his sword and sliced Ferristral’s head from his body. Immediately, the heroes—all giant-sized now—set upon the former villain, dismantling his body until nothing remained. Zandor opened his hand so that Chad could stand and look up at him.
“You did it, Chad,” said Zandor softly. “You defeated him.”
The thrill of success washed over Chad, and he didn’t even feel the rain as warmth radiated over his body. The departure of the adrenaline rush of fear left Chad feeling tired and a little bit foggy. He allowed himself to collapse on the surface of Zandor’s hand as he felt the hero begin walking and heard him say, “It’s time to go home….”