The Air Runes - Chapter 10

The Last Descendant: The Air Runes

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Chapter 10: The Temple of the Lake

The evening sky was as bright as a tangerine and the fresh mountain air was cool and damp. Cail looked over the cliff upon which he stood and saw a colossal bridge extending from Silman to the north. There was no end to the bridge in sight, but presumably, it led to Adalbern. All was peaceful and quiet on the island. Cail felt a sense of serenity and tranquility which he had not felt since he left his home. He closed his eyes, reminiscing about all his days on Elona. Cail missed Laney, she always knew how to show him the light in the darkness. He missed being able to roam freely through the village, blissfully living out his days.

“I’ve never had a home, so the act of traveling from place to place is facile to me. You, on the other hand, have never been this far away from your friends and family. You’re homesick, are you not?” Cardil asked gazing off into the distance.

“Reading my mind again?” Cail chuckled.

“I don’t need to read your mind in order to see that you’re feeling melancholic.” Cail had not realized his sorrow was so obviously displayed. He couldn’t help but feel depressed, though. The peaceful, quiet village he had come to know was now engulfed in shadow and darkness while he roamed freely.

“To be frank, I do miss my home,” Cail responded. “When I lived on Elona, I always dreamed of venturing to somewhere else. Now that Elona is gone, all I want is to feel the comfort of my own home again. I wish I had appreciated what I had more.”

“Everyone undervalues the things they believe they won’t lose. Once we gain back what we’ve lost, we realize how important they really are. You have a passionate and pure attachment to Elona and I know you’ll do whatever it takes to reclaim your home. For now, however, I suggest we keep moving. The evening light is beginning to dwindle.”

Then a faint screech filled the air. Cail knew this sound, though. He looked up into the sky and saw Emey flying toward him. She gracefully landed just before him, displaying herself proudly before Cardil. Cail ran to her and hugged her thick, feathery chest. “You have a very loyal companion, Cail.” Cardil said after examining the emerald falcon.

“She’s been by my side ever since I can remember,” Cail responded.

Cardil smiled from seeing the joy brought to Cail by Emey’s presence. “I suggest you should fly to Adalbern, since she missed you so much. Adalbern is a peaceful island, untouched by emperor. It will be safe for you to fly to the temple from here. ,” said the wizard.

“What about you?” Cail asked.

“Don’t worry about me. You’ll be training for quite some time. When you have finished your training, come find me in the village of Teegra, which lies to the east of the lake.” Cail nodded and then climbed onto Emey’s back once more. She shot herself into the air, with Cail hanging onto her for his life. Emey glided gracefully in the sky, occasionally flapping her robust wings to give herself more altitude. Being in the air helped to restore Cail’s vitality. It gave him replenished energy and ardor.

He guided Emey in the direction of the bridge. Just before the sun had set, Cail spotted Adalbern resting on the edge of the horizon. The sky had turned dark by the time they arrived at the island. Adalbern was an undersized island, even smaller than Elona. Cail could see the lake in the middle of the island and the village to the east of the lake, consisting of just a couple dozen buildings. In the middle of the island was a small speck of land, looking just large enough to hold a hut. Emey descended toward the lake and flew so low that her claws skimmed the surface of the water, splashing Cail and dousing his clothes. The water was cool as the air and the breeze chilled Cail. Emey landed on the small islet in the middle of the lake and Cail climbed down from her back.

There was nothing on the islet save for a small hut made of stone, not much taller than Cail. After giving Emey some fruit from his bag, Cail walked toward the hut and into the open door. The hut consisted of a single cramped room with illuminated lanterns on each wall. The floor was made of dirt, except for a wooden board in the middle of the room with a lever protruding from the board. The board slightly shifted downward when Cail stepped onto it. Cail pulled on the lever. At first, the lever wouldn’t budge, but then with a click, it swung into the position. The platform, which was actually an elevator, descended into the ground, grinding against the dirt. The further Cail descended, the more the light above him dimmed.

The platform came to a rough halt and Cail stood before a long, stone corridor. Both of the walls had lanterns, lighting the path. The hallway led to a massive chamber with vines climbing up all the walls. There was nothing in the chamber except for a girl sitting on a thin, yellow mat made of thinly woven cloth. Cail stood a safe distance away from her, waiting for her to move or say something, but she did not. He cautiously walked closer until he was right beside her. He could see she was very beautiful: thick, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and her dark skin appeared to be smooth as silk. Cail reached out his hand to tap her shoulder, then the girl opened her eyes, snatched his wrist and forcefully slammed him onto the ground, using her forearm to pin his body to the ground. “Who are you?” the girl asked, ensuring that Cail remained trapped on his back.

After Cail managed to gain control of the breath that had been knocked out of him, he replied, “Cail. My name is Cail. Wallen sent me to find a mighty warrior named Beda.”

The girl eased off of Cail and allowed him to rise to his feet. She stood as tall as Cail, and her body was slender with skinny arms and narrow shoulders. “Wallen called me a mighty warrior, did he? I knew he’d warm up to me eventually,” she said with a wry smile.

“Wait, you’re Beda?” Cail asked.

“The one and only,” she replied. “Why are you surprised?”

“No offense intended, but I was expecting someone a little bit older and stronger,” Cail responded.

“And yet, you’re the one who ended up on the floor,” Beda said, scoffing at Cail’s comment.

“Only because I wasn’t ready!” Cail protested.

“Very well,” she said. “Now it’s your turn, pin me to the ground.” She positioned herself into a defensive stance: her legs shoulder width apart with her right in front of her left, knees bent, and her arms prepared to block any attack. Cail mindlessly sprinted toward Beda and then threw a punch toward her head. She nimbly dodged Cail’s fist, sidestepped and used her foot to trip him, causing Cail to fall face first into the dirt. Cail stood up and approached with more caution. Once he was within striking distance, he swung his fist toward her head once more, but she parried his jabs with ease. Time and time again Cail tried to hit her, but she was too quick to lay a finger on. Once Beda grew tired of dodging Cail’s futile attempts to attack her, she grabbed his wrist once more and flipped him onto the ground, slamming him onto his back.

“If you’re tired of being thrown around like a doll, you could tell me exactly why Wallen sent you here,” Beda said as Cail recovered to his feet.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Cail asked in between heavy breaths.

“Answer my question first, and I shall answer yours.”

“Fine,” Cail said as he rose to his feet once again. “Wallen sent me here because I need to be trained in combat and he recommended you.”

“I can see you need training, but why? Wallen doesn’t send every weakling who knocks on his doorsteps to me or any weakling for that matter. What’s so special about you?”

“I’ve recently embarked on a quest to find all the Air Runes. My home is on a peaceful island, so I never learned how to defend myself.”

“And how many runes have you found?” Beda inquired.

“I only have the one Wallen gave to me.”

“He gave it to you freely?” Beda asked with surprise in her voice. “It looks like I need to have a word with him. He’s beginning to turn soft.”

“Will you help me?” Cail asked, growing impatient with her.

Beda began to pace back and forth in front of Cail, deep in thought. Then she said, “I’ll let you in on a little secret; the next rune is here in this room, but you’ll never lay a finger on it until you pass my training.”

“And how long will that take?” Cail asked.

“Your training will take as long as it takes you to complete the tasks I give to you. It could take a day, or it could take years.”

“Years? I don’t have that much time!” Cail protested.

“Then I suggest you focus on the tasks which lie before you.”

“Fine,” Cail agreed, annoyed with her brusqueness. “What’s the first thing I have to do?”

“We won’t be doing any training tonight,” Beda answered. “The hour is late and I assume your body is weary from the distance you’ve traveled. We’ll begin first thing tomorrow morning. I have a spare bedroom with a cot you can sleep on. It’s not the most luxurious lodging, but it’ll serve you better than none.” She escorted Cail down a hallway with rooms on both sides of the wall. Cail walked into his new room, which had nothing but a small bed, which was barely big enough for Cail to lay on. He laid his bag on the floor and plopped onto the firm mattress. He tossed and turned for a couple hours as he slowly drifted off to sleep.

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After a few hours of dreamless sleep, Cail was abruptly awoken by pounding on his door. He slowly climbed off the bed and lazily walked out of his room and into the training chamber. On the floor laid two cloth mats and a stick next to each mat. The sticks were tall, thick and perfectly cylindrical. Cail saw Beda sitting on her mat, her legs crossed and hands resting on her knees, and he asked, “Is it too much to ask for a little more rest?”

“Yes,” Beda answered. “Your enemies will not allow you to rest, so neither will I.”

“Fair enough,” said Cail. “What do I have to do first?”

“You will start every day with a period of meditation, allowing you to clear your mind.”

“Meditation?” Cail asked, “You’re supposed to be teaching me how to fight, not how to sit around and do nothing.”

Beda glared at Cail with fire in her eyes. “Sit down,” she said, pointing at the mat opposite of her. Cail, not wanting to be beaten up like he was the day before, did as she said. He sat down on his mat, which was so thin that it felt like he was sitting directly on the ground. Beda looked at Cail with more gentle eyes and continued her lesson. “As I was saying, meditation is useful for clearing your mind, emptying it of all the detritus in your life. While our minds are useful tools, they can also be impedimentary disruptors. In order to gain full control of your body and utilize all of its potential, you cannot allow your mind to distract you. Now, close your eyes and focus on creating a void in your mind.”

Cail obediently did as he was told, closing his eyes and trying to cast away all of his anxieties and fears. Try as he might, Cail couldn’t be rid of memories of his father, memories of his friends, memories of Elona. They clouded his mind, stirring the emotions that dwelled within him. He felt everything from the happiness and bliss of being with the people he loved all the way to the guilt of leaving his home behind.

“Let’s see how well you did,” Beda said after several moments of silence. “Grab the staff next to you and prepare to defend yourself.” Cail did as he was commanded and rose to his feet, preparing for combat. Cail stood in the same defensive stance that Beda had used when they fought the day before. Beda circled around Cail, keeping her eyes fixated on his body. Then she leaped toward Cail and swung her staff toward his head. He blocked the strike, but Beda used her staff to swipe at the back of Cail’s legs, sending him to the ground.

Cail growled in agitation and rose to his feet again. Beda waited for him to prepare himself and then went on the attack again. Cail blocked another swipe at his feet, then toward his chest, but her staff smacked him in the face. Seeing that she had dizzied her pupil, Beda swung at Cail’s feet and sent him to the ground once more.

Cail recovered to his feet time and time again. Every time he would parry more of Beda’s swings, but he couldn’t fend her off completely. Beda was too swift and experienced for Cail. She always found an opening to attack, a vulnerability to exploit. After hours of being thrashed upon, Cail finally collapsed onto the ground from exhaustion. His entire body was sore and he could see welts and bumps all over his skin.

“What are you doing?” Beda shouted at him. “You were just starting to get better. We can’t stop now.”

“I have to,” Cail replied, heavily panting in between each word. “You’re going to beat me to death before the end of the day.”

“Since it is your first day, I suppose we can call it quits. Don’t expect any mercy from me from here on out, though.”

“Thank you,” Cail said, relieved he could finally rest his aching body. Beda sat down on her mat and after several moments of silence Cail asked, “Have you always lived down here?”

“No. Have you ever heard of the Zuraks?” Beda asked, abruptly changing the subject.

“No, what are they?” Cail inquired.

“They’re the emperor’s minions. They used to be men, but darkness has turned them into a race of mindless monsters who are forever loyal to Kalil. Their hearts are as black as a storm and they thirst for the blood of the innocent. Malice and evil fill their entire body, all the way to the last fingertip.

“The reason I’m telling you this is because I was raised in a small village on the other side of Kordon. I had a mother, a father, and a sister. Throughout our entire childhood, my father taught my sister and me how to be supreme warriors. He taught us of the potential of our bodies along with the mastery of our minds.

“One day, without warning, a horde of zuraks invaded our island and raided the village. Wallen, who was a longtime friend of my father, was visiting our family at the time. My dad sent me away with Wallen and he brought me here to keep me safe, to keep me away from the corruption of darkness until I would be strong enough to fight it. I have no idea what became of my family or whether they’re still alive. When Wallen left me here, he also entrusted me with one of the two runes he had in his possession. Ever since then, I’ve been here, honing the skills my father gave to me and keeping the rune safely hidden from the enemy.”

“I don’t think our paths have crossed merely by chance. My family was taken captive by the Seven Servants of Kalil,” Cail said. He understood the pain Beda felt, he understood the loneliness of not having a family. “I promise that if you complete my training and give me the air rune, then I will help you find your family.”

“My family, assuming they’re still alive, would be deep within Kalil’s prison. We’ll never find them without taking down the emperor.”

“Which is exactly what I intend to do,” Cail replied.

“Are you crazy?” Beda asked, rising to her feet. “You couldn’t even defend yourself against me. What hope do you think you’ll have against his dark powers?”

“I have the hope of being the Last Descendant. That’s why I need the Air Runes. I must attain mastery over the wind and free the other Descendants.”

“The Last Descendant?” Beda asked. “But I thought that tale was nothing more than a myth.”

“No. The four Descendants are real. I have some powers of the wind within me, but I have yet to discover how to use them,” Cail admitted.

“That’s because your mind blocks them,” Beda responded. “The same mental barriers that allowed you to be beaten badly by me are the mental barriers that are preventing you from controlling your magic. In order to save the other Descendants, you have no choice but to complete my training.”

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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