The Air Runes - Chapter 1

The Last Descendant: The Air Runes

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Chapter 1: The Ocean

The Ocean holds all,
Land, cities, temples,
all bowing to her mercy.

Once, she was free.
Light rained down,
misting onto the mountains.

Then She buried them.
Suffocated from the light,
suffocated from the wind.
Dead in their life.

Cail turned over the withering piece of parchment he found in a rustic, wooden chest. It read, “Tarvaris Ozean, Year 854 of the Terrarian Age.” Cail’s eyes were fixated on ‘Ozean’, for that was also the name of his family. He had learned all about his ancestors when he was just a young boy, but even now, at the age of 16, he had never heard of Tarvaris.

Cail jumped when he heard his father, Cecil, call for him from the kitchen. He shut the chest and sprinted up the basement stairs and into the kitchen with the newly discovered parchment in hand. Cail’s father was sitting at the table, eating some scrambled eggs and fresh fruit from the garden. An empty plate sat on the small, wooden table where Cail usually sat. While occasionally scooping up some of his warm breakfast, Cecil read through his own piece of parchment, his pupils bouncing back and forth as he tried to race through the contents of the page. His dark, messy, brown hair matched his son’s, with the exception of a few gray strands, his baby blue eyes were eclipsed by dark patches, and his face wore a silver shadow of prickly hair, the usual look for the early hour in the morning.

“There are eggs in the pan on the oven and freshly picked grapes in the bowl,” Cecil said without so much as a glance away from the parchment resting before him.

“What are you reading, dad?” Cail asked as he served himself to breakfast.

“Something you will have to deal with very soon when you’re Lord of the Island,” his father said, looking up with a gentle smile. “It’s a petition to cut tariffs on the crops and vegetation for this year.” He placed the paper back on the table, let out a heavy sigh, and rubbed his tiresome eyes. “Our family has protected this island for millennia, but I don’t think our ancestors dealt with this much paperwork.”

“Well I think you’re the perfect man for the job,” Cail chuckled.

Cecil noticed the paper that Cail was holding. “What’s that you got there, Cail?”

“I was hoping you’d be able to tell me. I found it down in one of our old chests in the basement,” Cail said as he handed the parchment to his father.

After skimming over the contents, he gave the paper back to his son and said, “I have no idea how that got into our basement. It means nothing to me.”

Cail stared at the poem in disappointment. “So you don’t know who Tarvaris Ozean is?” he inquired.

“I’m afraid not. My only guess is that he’s a very old ancestor of ours. Like I said, our family dates back to ancient times.” Cecil paused briefly before changing subject, “Have you fed Emey this morning?”

“I’m just getting ready to do that. However, I think she would feel more honored if she was fed by the Lord of Elona,” Cail said with a wry smile.

“Nice try,” his father chuckled. “You better get to it! She’ll start to wonder if you’re coming at all. And don’t forget the whistle this time! You never know where she disappears to.”

Cail rushed to finish the rest of his breakfast. Then he threw together a bowl full of ripe berries and vegetables, after which he ran out the door, nearly forgetting the whistle. The rustic wooden door opened to a quiet, cool morning in Elona. Many of the villagers had yet to venture out to begin their daily routines since the day was still young and the sun had only just peeked over the horizon. Elona was a quaint village, housing no more than a few dozen families. All the homes were neatly filed along the dirt roads that weaved around the island. Each home, no more than two stories tall, was made of the finest bark from the trees of the neighboring forest and stood firmly atop the emerald ground.

Even with all the beauty and serenity that Elona had to offer, Cail felt deprived and empty. All the colors of the little gardens, the blooming flowers, the swaying trees; they all failed to complement him. Cail felt honored to take on the challenge of upholding his ancestry and protecting his people, but it was not what his heart truly desired. He craved something more.

Cail fended off this hunger as he strode through the streets. Once outside of the village, the freedom from all the obstructive buildings enabled Cail to feel the wind flow through him like water. He halted at the edge of the island of Elona and gazed at the surrounding ocean, awestruck by its immensity. This was not an ocean of water, but of clouds. Clouds as far as the eye could see. No other islands, just white clouds swimming in the wind.

On many different occasions Cail questioned his father about other islands in the ocean, but to no avail. Cecil would simply laugh at the absurdity of such a thought. “You will be Lord of Elona someday, Cail,” he would say, “Your mind should focus on what you see and know, not on ridiculous theories.” Remembering that discussion reignited a concealed anger sleeping inside Cail, he knew there was more to see out in the ocean and his claims were nowhere near ridiculous!

A cool breeze rolled in. It snagged Cail’s focus and the fiery rage that had exploded inside of him simmered. He remained in a trance for a few more moments until he noticed a green blur emerging from the horizon. The blur became more defined until Cail saw that it was Emey! Emey was the only falcon on the Island and she had been Cail’s companion since he was born. Even though Cail grew to be just shy of six feet tall, Emey grew even faster, towering over her lifelong friend. After a couple of minutes of gliding through the air, she reached the coast and the final flaps of her wings let out thunderous swooshes and gusts of air. Her emerald feathers settled gently into place, she stood proudly with her white chest stuck out. Then she looked up into the sky, opened her golden beak and let out a majestic screech. Cail couldn’t help but let out a grin on his face. He walked over to Emey and gave her the freshly grown meal that he had prepared and then stroked her velvet feathers as she feasted.

“Does she always have to show off?”

Cail spun around to see his friend, Laney, smiling at him. Her pale skin beamed in the sunlight and her golden hair danced with the breeze. Cail strode toward her and said, “I thought you would’ve been at the carnival by now.”

“I was going to, but I’d be more esteemed if the Lord of Elona would accompany me,” she said wearing a playful smirk on her face.

“You know that I don’t like being called that!” Cail snapped. He felt bad for yelling at her, but he was on edge because of the upcoming Inaugural Ceremony. The Tidal Change, as the Elonians called it, was a ceremony in which the incumbent Lord of Elona offered the family’s ring to his heir on his seventeenth birthday. Once Cail received the ring, he would become the unquestioned ruler of Elona. He was less than enthused, though. Cail knew that being born as an Ozean was a privilege, but it wasn’t what he truly desired. Looking out into the horizon, he wondered how Emey must feel when she flies, how it must feel to be free from the imprisonment of Elona.

“Is something wrong?” Laney asked. The concerned look on her face caused Cail’s mind to race to refocus on their conversation.

“Oh, no,” he finally got out, “I was just daydreaming.” Not wanting Laney to question him further, Cail quickly changed the subject. “The clouds are beautiful today, aren’t they?”

“Immaculate as ever,” Laney said with a gentle smile, her hazel eyes gleamed as they looked out into the morning sunrise. After a brief moment’s pause, the smile on her face began to fade. “They make me sad in a way.”

“Sad?” Cail asked, puzzled by her sentiment.

“Every morning I see the clouds in the ocean, the sun rising above them and I feel the breeze massage my skin, but I’m saddened by the knowing that we’re the only ones who experience this beauty.”

“Maybe there are others who have seen what we see, we probably just don’t know about them yet. It’s possible they could be trapped on their islands,” Cail said, trying to lift her spirit.

“Are you sure we’re not the ones who are trapped?”

The same question had haunted Cail. “I really don’t know. I’ve asked my Dad several times about other islands, but he always just scoffs at the idea.” Cail had almost forgotten about Emey being present for the entirety of their discussion, so he went over to stroke her feathers. “I bet you would know, wouldn’t you?” Emey’s golden pupils stared right back at Cail with a curious look, as though she was trying to answer him. After a moment of staring into Emey’s eyes, he turned around to face Laney and said, “We should go to the carnival. I bet Kadir will be there by now.” Laney nodded in agreement. He gave Emey one last stroke of her feathers on her neck and then walked off with Laney.

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The Wave Days was a carnival that the townspeople hosted every year to pay homage to the Gods of the Ocean. Some families would bake special recipes, others would sell goods, such as different articles of clothing or tools, and others would provide entertainment.

Cail and Laney walked into the main square of Elona, where the carnival was being held. Cail was abnormally hungry, so he decided to purchase some fried berries, a delicious treat from the Essenacht family. They sat down on a nearby wooden bench as Cail munched on the berries, occasionally offering one to Laney. “I know this isn’t something you’re going to be enthusiastic about, but what do you think is the first thing you’ll do as the Lord?”

Cail thought silently for a brief moment, then he looked into Laney’s eyes and said, “Well it would definitely help to have an assistant by my side.”

Laney’s face immediately lit up, “Of course! I’d love to! However, I can’t imagine that my Father is going to be too thrilled about me leaving the family farm.”

“Just tell him you’re performing your civic duty,” Cail replied with a smirk on his face.

They sat together, silently watching people walk back and forth from the different tents. Then, Laney saw Kadir playing a game which was inside a red and white striped tent. “Come on!” Laney said as she jumped up, clutching Cail by his forearm, almost causing him to drop his paper bag of berries. She ran over to Kadir, somehow managing to slither through the traffic.

Kadir was standing behind a painted line in the grass, focusing on his target, a glossy vase, about ten meters in front of him with a blue, rubber ball in his hand. Cail and Laney anxiously watched him, deciding to remain silent until he had finished with his throw. Kadir put his left foot in front of his right, stood upright, and wound up his pitch. As he released the ball, it propelled toward the vase like a rocket. It was on a direct trajectory toward the vase, then at the last second, veered to the left, but still skimmed the edge of the vase. The vase spun around on its edges, on the verge of toppling over, then came to a halt and settled to its original position. Dejected, Kadir let out a sigh and reached for some more silver coins in his pocket.

Laney ran over to him and grabbed his muscular arm, “Why don’t you come walk with us?”

Kadir glanced over to Cail, who was smiling at him, and agreed, “I should probably stop wasting my money on this game anyways.” Then the trio began their walk through the dirt paths of the carnival, occasionally stopping at some tents to look at food. Kadir decided to snack on some sugar covered flakes. Wiping the sugar off his mouth, Kadir asked, “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the ceremony tonight, Cail?”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Cail said, crestfallen by his upcoming promotion. An awkward silence fell among the three of them and dread crept into Cail’s mind.

“I really don’t understand why you’re so depressed about becoming the Lord. I’m not trying to sound jealous of you, but I would love to be in charge of the island,” Kadir said.

“Tell that to my father. I would be more than happy to give you the opportunity.”

Laney, who was oblivious to the conversation, saw a nearby palm reader and sprinted toward her, with Cail and Kadir trailing right behind her. The reader was an old woman, sitting on a hand stitched quilt, with her legs crossed. Her hair was messy, long, and white as snow. Her eyes were glazed and unfocused, due to her blindness. Before the three of them could say anything she asked, “Do you three wish to hear the enigmas of your future?”

Kadir was confused by her question, “Aren’t you supposed to give us answers, and not more puzzles?”

“Silence, Kadir!” she shouted, her face turning toward her new skeptic. “I, Lydia, am merely a channel, not a god.”

“How did you know who I am?” Kadir asked, baffled.

“You see people using light, but I see their auras. I can see your life force, just like I can see your friends, Cailean and Laney.” She paused in an attempt to refocus herself. “Now, if you wish to receive your readings, I will gladly provide them to you, or else I will ask you to leave me to my meditation.”

Laney knelt down in front of Lydia, gently grabbed her hands, and said, “I would like to hear my reading, Lydia.” Lydia sat upright, tightening her focus. After a few deep breaths, she said:

"You will be a beacon to all worlds,
a ray of hope, showing the path.
Your emanation, love, and compassion
They will be unparalleled.”

Laney rose to her feet and her face beamed from the foreshadowing of her future. After a brief pause, Lydia reached an open palm toward Kadir. Skeptical, Kadir rolled his eyes and knelt onto the quilt in front of Lydia. As she had before, Lydia took a few deep inhalations and revealed her prediction:

“I sense great power within you,
power with the potential to be unmatched.
Be wary of your lust for further power, for it will spell your doom.
With discipline, you will become a valiant and noble leader.”

With the conclusion of his reading, Kadir stood and turned to his friends, wearing an expression of contentment on his face. “And now for the Lord-to-be,” Lydia said with a gentle smile. Nervous, Cail knelt in front of Lydia and put his hands in her palms. Lydia, for the last time, took a few deep breaths and focused on her task. Cail’s reading was different. He could see from Lydia’s facial expressions that she struggled to see into the future. Her forehead tensed and Cail could feel pressure being exerted through her hands. After a couple of moments, Lydia opened her eyes, gasping for air. “I’m sorry Cailean, I cannot read your future,” she said, her voice filled with regret.

“What? Why?” Cail was enraged that he was the only one of the three who would receive no enlightenment.

“Your future is vague and ambiguous. It’s impossible for me to determine what your life holds in store. You are someone who must discover the future without assistance.” Lydia said as she stood up and folded her quilt.

“So what am I to do?” Cail asked in disbelief.

“You must discover your future, just like everyone else.” Once Lydia finished folding her quilt, she retreated into her tent and closed the curtain. Cail stood frozen in shock for a moment and then stormed off in outrage, followed closely by Laney and Kadir.

This is only a small portion of Cail's adventure! If you would like to read about the entire tale, click on the image below to purchase the book!

The Last Descendant: The Air Runes
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