Young Author Gold Award, 4th grade, 2021
It was a fine summer morning and Zachory Taylor was enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. He was on summer vacation to Azogia, one of the richest countries which controlled most of the gold mines in the world. Azogia was located next to Zemonia, which controlled most of the silver mines. Azog, who was the ruler of Azogia, was a cousin of Zemo, the ruler of Zemonia. The two cousins had been competing against each other for a few decades on whose country was the most powerful. Azog was building golden walls to protect Azogopolis, the capital of Azogia, in case Zemo tried to launch a surprise attack on Azogia.
Suddenly, the door burst open and Sally, Zachory’s boastful and greedy mom, rushed in. She was holding a newspaper and shoved it in Zachory’s face. Zachory took one look and knew what she was up to. Someone had stolen Azog’s crown the night before, and the old king was demanding that someone must find his crown or else he would unleash his full fury on Zemonia.
“Well?” Sally demanded, “What are you waiting for? Let’s go! Hurry!”
Zachory knew this was coming and could not reject it.Sally wanted him to volunteer to solve an impossible case. He also couldn’t blame her for thinking a little boy of eleven years old could solve a real case like this. Sally Taylor named him Zachory after the president of the U.S.A and the hero of the Mexican American War. This made people think he could accomplish heroic deeds like solving mysteries. So far, the only things Zachory succeeded in doing was acing his classes and finding kids’ stolen toys. He had considered himself intelligent and rational, but never did he consider this case solving thing serious.
Sally impatiently pushed Zachory out of the way and grabbed her phone. She searched up the location of Azog’s palace and stated that it was only four blocks from their apartment. Zachory silently went downstairs and whistled for his loyal dogs Spot and Sniff. He never went anywhere without them. At school, they would sit at the corner of the classroom quietly. Once the two dogs were at his side, Zachory, Sally, Spot, and Sniff headed for the king’s palace. The building was pretty easy for Zachory to identify because it was made of solid gold and stood in the middle of Azogopolis. Zachory could have swore that anyone who looked at the palace for more than five minutes would be blinded. Once he got to the gate, he was stopped by two muscular guards wearing golden suits.
“What do you think you are doing here, young man? If you don’t have any business here, we insist that you leave immediately or we may have to force you out,” recited the first guard, as if he was practicing this line for a few years.
Zachory tried to walk away with Sniff and Spot but Sally blocked the way and replied that Zachory had volunteered to solve the case of the missing crown. The two guards searched Sally and Zachory in case they were going to attempt to assassinate Azog and were spies from Zemonia. When they finally confirmed that the Taylors didn’t have any deadly weapons besides a magnifying glass, which Zachory assured them that it didn’t shoot laser beams or could explode like a bomb, they allowed them to enter the palace. The palace was made up of five major rooms. There were three bathrooms on the bottom floor. Each one had a golden bathtub and toilet. On the top floor, there were two bedrooms for the king and queen. But Zachory was mainly focused on the throne room. There was a golden throne decorated with emeralds and rubies in the center of the room. And on the throne sat an elegant person in full battle armor.
“Are you a warlord or general? I need to see your king and tell him Zachory has eagerly volunteered to find the golden crown of yours,” Sally said, pushing Zachory forward, who smiled weakly.
The person laughed and said ,“Why, I am the king! Since you look like a runt to me, I guess you require all the help you can get. My royal detective is one of the greatest detectives in the world. I’m sure he will be of great survive to you. First, tell me your plan.”
Zachory saw the royal detective, who was looking at him with curiosity. He gathered up his courage to say that he was going to search every room in the palace in case the thief hid the crown inside. Then, he muttered that he didn’t need any help besides his dogs and Sally. Without saying another word, he quickly walked away with his team. He told Sally to check the first bathroom, Spot the second, and Sniff the third. He was hoping his plan would work since the crown had a pleasantly sweet aroma, which was because Azog’s father commanded his blacksmiths to dip the crown in the Sweet River. He thought this was an easy task for Sniff who was an expert at sniffing out things. Zachory himself entered the bedroom and found a large wardrobe. It was old fashioned, with images of the victories of Azog the Great. When he opened it, he was dazzled by the shiny jewels in it. A sudden idea came to his mind. Maybe the thief was a greedy person and would attempt to steal more riches from Azog. He grabbed some rubies and set them on the couch. He made the mistake of saying his plan out loud, not noticing that a spy was staring at him that very moment. The royal detective was looking at him with a smirk on face. He laughed at how easily Zachory thought the thief was to catch. Hearing this, Zachory narrowed his eyes.
Meanwhile, Sally and the dogs were having no luck, so they went back to Zachory. Zachory himself was sitting on the couch, thinking about his little chat with the royal detective. The royal detective had asked him what was the point of finding the crown if Zemo could declare war anyway and Azogia would suffer heavy losses. At first, Zachory did not understand what he was saying. Now, he realized that while Azog was spending his time building defenses around the city, Zemo was stocking up his weapons. No matter how sturdy the walls around Azogopolis seemed, it was still no match against Zemonia. This was like the Civil War, and Azogia was the Confederacy, who played on the defensive and lost against the invading Union.
While thinking about this, he did not notice the constant knocking on the door. When he opened it, Sally rushed in and started scolding him for keeping them waiting for ten long minutes. Zachory hushed her up and grimly told her about his conversation with the sneaky detective. When he finished, Sally’s scowl changed to a grin. She triumphantly exclaimed that the royal detective had to be the thief. Zachory agreed, but he was thinking about a bigger problem. What if Zemonia would launch a attack so great on Azogopolis that the city would collapse? He knew that should not happen and he needed to put a to it. But first, he needed to find the royal detective. Zachory and Sally ran to the throne room and told Azog that they wanted to know where the sneaky detective was.
Azog, upon hearing this, was outraged and growled ,“We have little time. My royal detective went down to the stables and is probably going to leave with my precious crown!”
Zachory whistled and motioned for Sniff and Spot to head to the stables so they might corner the detective there. Then, Azog got his golden chariot ready and headed to the stables with Zachory. It appeared that the detective was having a fierce argument with the owner of the horses, who said that the horses weren’t for sale that day. Suddenly, Spot and Sniff leaped on the thief and temporarily knocked him out. Luckily, he had the crown with him. It was in a suitcase with a lock on it. Azog sliced through the lock as if it was made of butter and took out his crown. But something wasn’t right. The crown was not shiny, and was bendy. Azog threw it on the ground and gently touched it with his golden sword. On contact, the crown shattered.
“My real crown was made in the forges of my ancestors. This is supposed to be unbreakable ,”the king snapped ,“You tricked me!”
Azog ordered his two guards to lock the spy in the dungeons and looked at Zachory, who had one last plan down his sleeve. Zachory rushed to the palace and up the staircase to Azog’s bedroom. He found himself face to face with a person dressed in a baker’s uniform, who was busily shoving jewels into his black bag. Zachory positioned his dogs to guard the door and entered the room. He pleasantly questioned the baker if he was done stealing. The baker, who didn’t notice him until now, made a desperate attempt to flee and ran at Zachory with his dagger, but was charged by Spot and Sniff. With the thief pinned to the floor, Azog, who saw Zachory from the first floor, came in and poured out the precious contents of the bag. There was rubies and emeralds of many sizes, and most importantly, the real crown. Azog placed it on Zachory’s head with huge satisfaction. Zachory had not suspected him to do this, but gladly accepted this offer as heir to the Azogian throne.
“I was looking for a heir for a long time since I am getting old,”declared the king ,“You have proven yourself worthy and from this day onwards, you shall be known as the king of Azogia!”
The next day, parades were held and Zachory formally signed a treaty with Zemo, who also did not support the idea of going to war against Azog. Zachory sighed and finally accepted the fact that he was really more than just an eleven years kid.