Cail was awoken the following morning by rays of sunshine tickling his face. The warmth and light catalyzed his verve. The open window next to his bed allowed him to breathe in fresh, cool, morning air. Cail struggled to roll out of his plush bed as soreness clamped down on his muscles and the slightest movements were strenuous. His legs were as stiff as iron rods and he could barely raise his arms above his shoulders. Cail managed to trudge his way down the stairs and into the kitchen where his father greeted him. “If you don’t become the mightiest Lord of Elona, you’ll definitely be the sleepiest!” Cecil chuckled.
Cail was confused by his father’s giddiness. Does he know I was gone last night? Or were we able to make it in and out of the forest all in one night? Surely Laney and I were gone for more than a day. Cail thought to himself. Trying to conceal his adventure and the soreness he obtained from it, Cail responded, “I wasn’t feeling well last night.”
“I see. You’ve been saying that quite often lately. Are you sure everything is alright?” Cecil inquired, worried about his son.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Cail responded. “I just had a bit of a rough night. Something just came to my attention and I need to go talk to Laney.”
Cail darted out the front door without eating any food for breakfast and sprinted to Laney’s house. On his way, Cail noticed that Elona was suspiciously quiet. He was the only person walking through the streets. It was very odd that no one was out and about at that late hour of the morning. Cail began to grow unsure and he thought, Did something happen when I took the staff?
Once he arrived at Laney’s home, he went up to her bedroom and saw she was reading the book Cail had stolen from the library. She was so possessed by it, she didn’t even notice Cail’s arrival.
“I actually forgot I left that here,” Cail said, trying to nab her attention.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, so I started reading through this book some more,” Laney said without looking up from the pages. “So far I’ve only found one reference to the staff we found beneath the forest. A Lord named Kalon talked about it in this poem:
Strength, power, and wind.
All given to me by the staff.
My whole life spent protecting it,
Guarding it from the darkness.
Now I am passing, dying into the wind.
In the forest the staff was conceived,
And in the forest it will die."
“Obviously the staff didn’t die, or else we couldn’t have found it,” Cail said after mulling over the poem. “We need to talk to Lydia and see−” Cail was interrupted when Kadir busted through Laney’s door.
“We need to go to the coast right now! You’re not going to believe what happened!” Kadir exclaimed. Before Cail or Laney could question him further, he sprinted outside, so they followed Kadir to the coast, hardly able to keep up with him. Once they arrived, Cail could see why Elona was so vacant. Everyone from the village was crowded along the coast, looking out into the clouds, staring at what laid before their eyes.
Cail, who was not tall enough to see over the crowd, started to weave his way through the horde. The people in front of him stood tall and firm like pillars, forcing Cail to expend what little strength he had remaining in his body to get them to move. At long last, he reached the coast and looked out into the ocean of clouds. He was bewildered by what his eyes were seeing. It was an island, looking like a speck due to its distance from Elona, floating in the ocean, just above the horizon. “Impossible,” Cail muttered under his breath.
“Unlikely, improbable, but not impossible.” Cail turned around to see his father standing just behind him. Cecil kept his eyes fixated on the island and his face displayed an expression of delight. “Behold, the island of Silman.”
“You know of this place?” Cail asked. He had never heard of the name in his life.
“Yes. Silman was the last island that Kalil seized control of. Where we now stand, there used to be a colossal bridge over the clouds, a bridge that was burned down by Jyran, our ancestor. Silman was a massive island, flooded with merchants and craftsmen, it’s hard to tell what happened after the wrath of the gods.”
Cail was entranced by the island, it felt surreal to see another world lying just before him. The sight of a new realm galvanized his fiery aspiration for exploration. There must be other worlds beyond Silman! I need to go explore the rest of Kordon!
In the afternoon, the villagers grew bored of seeing an island they couldn’t travel to, so they all migrated back to their homes. Cail and Laney made their way to Lydia’s house. After being warmly greeted by the old woman, she served them freshly boiled soup. “You brought your friend with you this time,” Lydia said, cheerful from having unexpected visitors.
“It’s very nice to see you again. You have a very lovely home,” Laney said with a smile, occasionally sipping her soup, cautious of the soup’s intense heat.
Changing the subject to the matter at hand, Cail said, “We ventured into the forest yesterday and we found something that might be of interest to you.”
“So you did pursue the riddle, then? You two have intrepid souls for traveling into that ghastly place. This possession you found, do you have it with you?” Lydia inquired.
“Well, it’s a little difficult for me to part from it,” Cail responded. He proceeded to explain everything that happened in the forest: the maneuvering through the maze, the chamber containing the staff, and the cloaked man who followed them.
“I won’t be able to answer many of your questions,” Lydia said. “However, I have heard of this staff before. I’ve always heard it named as the Staff of Gales. Until you told me about it just now, the staff had been passed down merely as legend. To be perfectly honest, I believed it to be a fabrication when I first heard the tale.
“Back in the days of the Xorith Tribe, certain members of the Tribe would carry with them a staff. According to legend, the Xorith would somehow be able to infuse spells and abilities into the staves. This would allow them to use the staves to channel their magic and control the world around them. The one you found was named the Staff of Gales because it gave power over the wind to the owner. Keeping all that in mind, I’ve never heard of any Xorith being able to absorb the staff into their bodies.”
“What do you mean by the staff giving me power over the wind?”
“I mean what I say. You can control the wind, use it in any way you see fit. You can use it for guidance, tranquility, or even aggression, should you so choose.”
“But I can’t do any of that!” Cail shouted. “What’s the point of possessing this magic when I can’t even use it?”
“You can’t use it yet, but someday you’ll be able to. You must discover how to use the magic of the wind on your own.” Lydia’s words brought no comfort to Cail. He fiercely desired to discover the secrets of the staff and obtain mastery and control over the wind.
After several moments of silence, Cail asked, “Do you know who the man in the forest was?”
“No. You must seek your father’s counsel in regards to that. He knows much about this island’s history. The inhabitants of this island have kept you in the dark for a long time.” Cail reminisced to when he was hiding in the library and overheard the conversation between his father and Alden. He knew his father was hiding secrets from him, but Cail didn’t want his father to think he was spying on him.
“I know there are things about Elona my father isn’t telling me. I’ll speak with him and discover the truth.” Cail said, although he was intimidated by the thought of igniting his father’s anger.
Later that night, Cail and his father were sitting together while they ate a warm supper of roasted hog and steamed vegetables. Cecil occasionally attempted to chat with Cail throughout the meal, as was his norm. Once he realized that his son was being reserved, Cecil said, “You’re awfully quiet tonight. Is something bothering you?”
Cail dreaded what he was about to say, but said it anyways. “Yes. A couple of weeks ago I was in the library and I heard you talking to Alden about magic being hidden in the forest. Why did you keep this a secret from me?”
Cecil was taken back by what his son had told him. He had no idea that his son had eavesdropped on that conversation. A look of embarrassment and guilt consumed his face. Then Cecil said, “I’m sorry, Cail. My only desire was to keep you safe. You’ve always had an adventurous and reckless spirit, just like your mother. I was afraid that if I told you, you would run into the forest and I would never see you again.”
“You were only partially correct. Laney and I went into the forest, but while we were there, we were followed by a man clothed in a black cloak. Do you know who he is?”
“You went into the forest?” Cecil yelled out, enraged that Cail had put himself and Laney in imminent danger.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Cail responded, not allowing his father to change the subject.
“Fine. I have an idea of who he is, but I’m not certain,” Cecil replied, still unhappy with his son. “As Alden said during the ceremony, Kalil was an oppressive and malicious leader. His mind was bent upon gaining more power and control. He managed to acquire dominance over all of Kordon, except for Elona of course. Ruling that many people wasn’t his endgame, though. He wanted universal supremacy over magic as well. Kalil knew that to control the magic that dwelled within him would be to control life itself, making him immortal, making him a god.
“My knowledge of magic is limited, but legend was passed down that in order acquire new spells and abilities, certain items needed to be found. What they were or what needed to be done with them, I don’t know.”
“What does any of this have to do with the man in the forest?” Cail asked, growing impatient with his father’s extraneous storytelling.
“Silence! I’m getting there! Now, Kalil also knew that Kordon was far too vast of a nation for him to find all the magic on his own, so he summoned seven of his most faithful servants and cast a dark, powerful spell on them, forcing his servants to find the magic for him.”
“Alden said Jyran burned the bridge that connected Elona to Silman, though. So how did one of the servants come to Elona?” Cail asked.
“That question has perplexed me as well. I don’t have the answer to that and I doubt Alden will give it to you freely.” Cecil paused while he pondered over what they had discussed. After several moments of silence, he asked, “Did you find anything while you were in the forest?” Cail, who was growing weary of reciting the story of the adventure through the forest, informed his father of the entire expedition, sparing no detail. After Cail had concluded his testimony, Cecil sat back in his chair and said, “It would appear that pulling the staff out of the slab initiated Silman’s motion toward us. Since you’ve already flown on Emey’s back, I have a proposition; you should fly to Silman and investigate the island. It has been millennia since any Elonian has traveled there and we have no idea what has become of that place.”
“I’ll do it!” Cail exclaimed, excited to finally venture out into the world. He jumped out of his seat and began running to his bedroom to prepare for his departure.
“Wait!” Cecil yelled just before Cail left the kitchen. “I must offer a word of caution. The last time Elona and Silman neighbored each other, Kalil’s empire ruled over that island. There’s a real possibility that the rest of Kordon could still be under the rule of an oppressive leader. It would be wise for you to be as subtle as you can. Now, hurry and prepare yourself for the expedition. You’ll want to leave at nighttime tonight in order to avoid drawing attention to yourself.”
“There’s one last thing I must know,” Cail said. “Who is Tarvaris?”
Cecil’s face displayed sadness and despair, as though he had reminisced on the death of a loved one. “He has a place in the lore of Elona that is best forgotten. However, for the sake of being completely honest with you, I will tell you his story. Tarvaris was the father of Jyran, the Lord who saved Elona from the tyranny of Kalil.
“The magic that Kalil found didn’t only give him abilities to control the world around him, but it also honed his mind. Kalil became a cunning and deceitful man, developing an unnatural ability to pass lies as truth. You see, when he rose to power, the Kordonians thought he was leading them to peace, but he was actually spreading his malice.
“Tarvaris, on the other hand, was a noble man and a loving father, caring deeply for his family and his citizens. He adored his wife, Tara, and his son, Jyran. Tarvaris revered them as though they were coveted treasure. Since he displayed great endearment and compassion toward the Elonians, they loved and cherished him deeply as well. He was a righteous Lord in all aspects of his life, save for one.
“Tarvaris’ only flaw was his gullibility. Tarvaris befriended Kalil, unsuspecting of the tyrant’s sinister desires. After Kalil had seized control of every island except for Elona, he summoned Tarvaris to his throne. Jyran, who, at the time, wasn’t much younger than you are now, begged his father not to go, for he could see the truth of Kalil’s depravity. Tarvaris disregarded his son’s pleas and joined Kalil, where he was morphed into one of the Seven Servants of the Dark Lord.”
“So the man who followed me through the forest, is Tarvaris?” Cail asked, piecing the story together like a puzzle.
“The appearance of each of the Servants was altered by the dark magic cast upon them, so it’s hard to tell for certain. However, I suspect that is him.”
“Is there any way to stop these servants?” Cail asked.
“I don’t know. The staff, along with its magic, is safe inside your body, however, I fear they will pursue you. That’s why you must be subtle when traveling to Silman. Find out what you can and we’ll decide what to do from there.”
“I’ll be careful, you can trust me,” Cail said, attempting to reassure his father. Then Cail ran up to his room and packed his bag, stowing away many of the same items that he took with him into the forest: clothes, food, and his dagger. Cail spent the rest of the evening visiting with Cecil. He wasn’t sure when the next time he’d be able to see his father would be. They spent hours together, reminiscing about Cail’s childhood and Cecil shared stories about Cail’s mother that he had kept hidden until that time.
Once the sun had set, Cail’s father rose from his chair and said, “Well my son, the time for you to depart has come.” Cail and his father walked to the front door. Before Cail left, Cecil hugged his son, looked into his eyes and said, “You may travel to other worlds and find different sorts of folks, but do not fret. The sun rises the same for them as it does for us.” The words of encouragement comforted Cail. He hugged his father once more and then walked out the door.
Cail walked through Elona one last time, through the darkness of the night. He wasn’t intimidated by this darkness though. Serenity soothed his mind as he looked up to the stars in the sky, marveling at the gleaming specks of light. He felt calm, much like he did when the rings of light and water surrounded the tree in his vision. He felt a blanket of tranquility draped over him.
Once Cail arrived at the coast, he saw something he didn’t expect. He saw Emey resting in the grass along with Laney and Kadir, who were stroking her feathers. “What are you two doing here?” Cail asked.
“Earlier in the afternoon your dad told us that you’d be leaving Elona tonight,” Kadir said as he and Laney rose to their feet.
“I’m sorry but you aren’t coming with me,” Cail said.
“We know,” Laney replied. “We just couldn’t let you leave without saying goodbye.”
“I’m only going to be gone for a day or two,” Cail said cracking a smile on his face. “You’ll barely know I’m gone.”
“Cail, no one has left Elona for millennia. This is a monumental moment for you,” Kadir said, placing a thick palm on Cail’s shoulder.
“I know,” Cail said, looking out into the ocean of clouds. “I’ve dreamt of this moment for a long time, and now that it’s here, I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. The world feels too immense for me to see, too vast for me to survive.”
“We know you’re ready,” Laney said, reassuring her friend. “You were frightened of the forest, but you let your tenacity drive you. No one else has ever maneuvered through that forest and survived, but you did because you let your determination take control of you. Our minds make the world out to be larger than it actually is. All you need to do is take the first step.”
Laney’s encouragement planted confidence in Cail’s mind once more. “You’re right. It’s time for me to take a leap of faith,” Cail said with a bright smile. Then he brought Laney and Kadir together and gave them one last hug.
He kept his bag tightly strapped onto his back and climbed onto Emey. “Are you ready, Em?” Cail said to his feathered companion as he caressed her. Emey rose to her feet, spread out her resplendent wings and let out a majestic screech into the star filled sky. She thrust herself into the air, using her wings to guide her through the cool wind. Kadir and Laney watched silently from the coast. Laney shed a tear as she watched Cail fly out into the ocean toward Silman.
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!