The Air Runes - Chapter 9

The Last Descendant: The Air Runes

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Chapter 9: The Last Descendant

There were three solid pounds on the iron door of Cail’s cell, waking him up abruptly. After the pounding ceased, the door swung open and Cardil stood in the doorway, dressed in the same cloak he wore the night before. He looked at Cail and said, “It’s time. Are you well rested?” Cail nodded his head and followed Cardil out of the cell.

There was no exposure to the fresh air and sunlight down in the depths of the mountain, so Cail had no idea how long he had slept. The corridor they walked through was made of the same iron as Cail’s cell and led to another cell. This wasn’t a holding cell, though. It was an interrogation room. Instead of having a cot in the corner, there was a square, wooden table with a candle burning brightly on top of it. After shutting the door behind Cail, Cardil sat down in one chair and motioned for Cail to sit in the other.

Once Cail sat down, the wizard gazed deep into Cail’s eyes, as though he was trying to read the prisoner like a book. For several excruciatingly long moments, Cail sat nervously, waiting for Caldir to do something, anything. After what seemed like an eternity, Caldir said, “I would like to apologize for being ill-mannered last night. You never did tell me your name?”

Cardil’s niceties confused Cail. He responded, “You were able to read my mind, so why don’t you tell me what my name is?”

Caldir was taken back by Cail’s brusqueness, especially after an apology. Disregarding Cail’s irritation, Caldir said, “Me being able to read your mind is your own fault, but that’s a topic for a different day. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to know who I’m speaking with?”

“My name is Cail,” he responded, giving in to Caldir’s request.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Cail,” Caldir responded. Cail was suspicious of Caldir’s sudden change in demeanor. “Do you enjoy watching the morning sun?”

“I beg your pardon?” Cail asked.

“When the sun rises from the horizon in the morning, as it does every day, do you find pleasure in its beauty?”

“I suppose so,” Cail responded, unsure of what Caldir’s intentions truly were. “Who doesn’t?”

“Agreed. The pulchritude of a dawning sun is the exact reason I leave the caves every morning to witness its magnificence.”

“I’m confused as to why you’re telling me this,” Cail interrupted.

“I’m telling you this because on this particular morning, I ventured out to the cliff I usually perch myself on and marveled at the rising sun. However, something else, which was floating in the eastern clouds, caught my eye. An island located exactly where Elona used to be.” Cail remained silent, unsure of how to respond. “I find it very curious that a new island emerges on the exact eve that I find a mysterious traveler in our woods. Now, you’ve told me your name, but what you have not told me is who you really are.”

Cail, knowing there was no fooling the wizard, defiantly said, “My name is Cailean Ozean, and I am the Lord of Elona. I uncovered a magic which caused a barrier between our worlds to be broken, and my intention is to discover the mysteries surrounding this magic.” Caldir leaned back in his chair, pondering over what he had just been told.

“You found a staff deep in the forest of Elona, did you not?” Caldir asked, brushing his thick beard with his lanky fingers.

“You know of the staff?” Cail inquired, hoping to discover some answers.

“Know of it? Why, my lad, I’m the one who forged it!” Caldir said, cracking a smile on his face. “My kin and I forged a few magical staves thousands of years ago and gave them to esteemed individuals, but it has been centuries since I’ve seen one. Where is yours? I would very much like to examine it.”

“I would show it to you, but when I found the staff, it was somehow absorbed into my arm,” Cail responded. Caldir’s eyes widened, unbelieving of what he had just heard.

The wizard stood up and turned around so he was facing the wall opposite Cail. After a moment of standing silently in his thoughts, Caldir said to himself, “There have been many masters of the wind, many who have used that staff to protect Kordon, but the staff chose him.”

“Chose me for what?” Cail asked, interrupting Caldir’s thoughts.

Caldir turned around, looked Cail in the eyes and said, “There are a few things you must understand about wizards before you can truly comprehend the magnitude of what has transpired in your life.

“In the beginning of time, the gods created the four domains of the world. There was chaos in those times, so much turmoil that for each of the nations, the gods sent a wizard to combat the mayhem. I am the wizard who was sent to protect the nation of Kordon.

“After the world had calmed and stability had been fortified, all of the wizards reconvened and decided to infuse staves with magical powers and give them to the leader of each of the nations. This would allow for more power to be in possession of rightful hands and the fate of the world wouldn’t fully hinge on four wizards.

“One staff was given to each of the kingdoms: Fontana, the kingdom of the seas, Aithnen, the land of fire, Kordon, the realm of the skies, and Conrian, the kingdom of light. Each staff can be used by anyone who possesses it, but there is only one person who can become the master of that staff and the magic within it. The masters of the staves are said to be descendants of the gods, being specifically chosen to conquer any challenge the world presents. The Staff of Gales was the only one that needed to find its master. You, Cailean, are the Last Descendant.

Cail remained silent, unsure of how to digest this revelation. He always felt different from everyone on Elona, but he never imagined that he had been hand-picked by higher beings. After being trapped in thought, Cail asked, “So there are three others like me?”

“Yes,” Caldir responded. “However, the Descendant of Aithnen has been imprisoned by the evil emperor, Kalil.”

“But Kalil was born over two millennia ago. How can he still be alive?” Cail asked. He knew magic could alter the physical world, but keeping someone alive for thousands of years seemed too far-fetched.

“He’s kept alive by the power of the dark magic which dwells within him, and he will remain alive until that magic is taken from him.”

“And I presume that’s why I’m here, to strip him of his profane power?” Cail inquired.

“That’s correct. All four of the descendants must unite and create a capsule which can be used to trap the magic inside. Only then can Kalil’s magic be destroyed. The only problem is Kalil has imprisoned one of the descendants already. If he captures you, any hopes of his downfall would die.”

Cail leaned back in his chair and regretted finding the magic. He fretted over the thought of being tortured by the emperor, he panicked at the thought of all the anguish and pain that would be brought upon the world. “I never should have gone into the forest,” Cail said. “If I wouldn’t have found the staff, I could’ve remained hidden from Kalil forever.”

“And the descendant of Aithnen, along with many other innocent souls, would’ve suffered for eternity,” Caldir added. Cail didn’t even consider the lives beyond his own. He had been so enveloped in venturing to unknown lands that he didn’t think about the possibility of endangering those around him. “Sometimes you must sacrifice your own comfort for the good of the world around you. If you would like, I will allow you to go back to your home and hide in your comfort once more, but I can’t say the enemy will do the same.

Cail couldn’t deny that he strongly desired to cache himself away in his home once more. Elona offered him comfort and contentment, it offered him a sanctuary. Cail also knew he’d never be able to have a clear conscience knowing he willingly ignored such a malicious force of darkness. His emotions tugged on his mind, making him feel conflicted. Cail looked to Caldir and said, “I have two friends back home who are very close and dear to me. The thought of them suffering through whatever it is that the people of Kordon have is beyond what I can bear. I will rescue everyone and destroy Kalil’s reign of terror once and for all so that no one else will needlessly live in fear or pain. Although I do not know where to find the remaining Descendants.”

Caldir smiled and said, “Then it’s essential that I offer my assistance. The first of the three is imprisoned on an island called Ijsbrandur. The island is located on the far western border of Kordon, but before we go, I must know how adept you are with the magic you have acquired.”

“I haven’t been able to do anything out of the ordinary,” Cail admitted, embarrassed by his confession.

“I see,” Caldir responded, stroking his beard. “Then there is a detour we must make before we make way for Ijsbrandur. It’s not far from here, but it is imperative nonetheless. Now, let’s depart at once.”

“Wait. There’s one thing I must know,” Cail said, catching the wizard’s attention. “Why did you imprison me last night?”

“The short answer is that Kalil’s eyes and ears are vastly spread throughout his empire and I needed to protect you from falling into the wrong hands. I will give you a more in-depth answer once we have left this mountain. Now we really must leave, time is running short.”

“Can’t I go home to say goodbye to my friends and family?”

“No. You’ll draw far too much attention to yourself,” Caldir responded.

“I must have one last look at Elona, even if it’s only from the mountainside,” Cail insisted.

“Very well,” Cardil agreed. “But it must be quick, this mountain is crawling with informants of the emperor.” Cail nodded and the two made their way out of the mountain, the same way they entered. They walked through the cold, iron prison, up the winding steps, and to the snowy cliff that overlooked the forest at the foot of the mountain. Cail was relieved to catch his first breath of fresh air. He could feel the inhalation of life once again. The sun beamed in the blue sky and a tender breeze brushed against his face. Cail looked off to the east and spotted Elona, but his home wasn’t alone. Above the island drifted a black orb, a sun of gloom towering over Elona.

“You were spotted by a man in a black cloak, weren’t you?” Cardil asked, looking down at Cail.

“Yes. He followed my friend and me through the forest. Why do you ask?” Cail inquired.

“He is a servant to the emperor, and he is calling out to his brothers. They will go to Elona for one purpose, to hunt you.”

“We have to go fight them. They will hurt everyone on the island.” Cail said as he began to reach into his bag for Emey’s whistle.

Caldir quickly snatched Cail’s arm and said, “No. You are no match for their power. Not yet, anyways. If we go to Elona, then our fate will be the same as theirs.”

Cail looked above the mountain and saw six streams of black clouds heading toward Elona, turning the preprocessing sky into a dark void. “The servants answer the call. The magic they’ve acquired from their master allows them to fly through black clouds,” said Caldir. The streams that the servants flew in didn’t go toward Elona, but rather in the direction of the black orb that floated above the island. Once all the servants had been assimilated into the orb, it began to swell. Cail could do nothing but watch in a horror as Elona was engulfed by the orb of darkness. Cail heard several faint cries of anguish coming from Elona.

For the first time in his life, Cail felt despair and depression tugging on his body like an iron anchor. He watched the home he loved be destroyed by vile creatures. With a tear streaming down his cheek, Cail turned to Caldir and asked, “Are they dead?”

Keeping his eyes fixated on what was Elona, Caldir responded, “No. There will be no death until the servants find you. Only suffering.”

Rage ignited inside of Cail, a fierce lust for revenge. Cail clenched his fist and said, “They will pay for this. Every last one of them.”

“For the sake of the world, I hope so,” Caldir responded. After a moment of silently gazing at the orb of vice, Caldir put his bony hand on Cail’s shoulder and said, “Come. There is someone we must see before we depart.” Cail and Caldir made their way back into the heart of the mountain. Some of the miners and merchants attempted to converse with Cail, but he was too enveloped by the sight of Elona swallowed by darkness. He was angry at himself for allowing wickedness to descend upon his home. Cail knew there was nothing he could do now, but guilt still devoured his mind.

As they walked down the stone steps into the core of the mountain, Caldir said, “Since we have some time, I suppose I can reveal how I was able to spot you so easily in the forest.” Cail listened intently to the wizard. “You would’ve passed unseen had I been a man. However, with me being a wizard, I could feel a magical force emanating from your body. You shone as bright as a lantern in my eyes.”

“Since we’re on the matter of magic, how will I be able to use the magic that’s within me?” Cail asked.

“We’re about to find out,” Caldir said, keeping his eyes on the path. “But we must be discreet, so let me do the talking.” Cail agreed and followed Caldir through the iron prison that Cail had slept in the night before. Then they traversed through a cramped tunnel, descending downward still. Caldir halted once they reached the end of the tunnel and marveled at the city which stood before them. Cail was frozen in a trance, flabbergasted at the immensity of what sat before his eyes. “Darzomil, the great city of the mountain, is alive and well,” Cardil said with pride.

Darzomil stretched as far as the eye could see. The entire city was encased within a colossal cavern. Houses and buildings, all composed of the mountain’s boulders, flooded the cave. Hordes of people were hectically moving through the city’s dirt roads, like bees through a nest. A loud clamor came from the city as people were talking and shouting. The intensity of the crowd intimidated Cail.

To Cail’s discomfort, Caldir led them into the herd of madness. The wizard could easily make his way through the city streets since he towered over everyone in the crowd. Cail, on the other hand, blindly followed Caldir and was bumped and shoved by frantic citizens of Darzomil. After several painful moments of trudging their way through the horde, Caldir, with Cail following closely behind him, turned into a narrow alley, which was seemingly empty. The alley was just wide enough for Cail and Caldir to walk through side by side. On each side of the alley, buildings made of brown stone rose high above their heads.

Caldir could sense Cail’s confusion of why they had traversed this deeply into the city and the wizard said, “A very old friend of mine lives in this alley. Even though my knowledge of magic is vast, I’m at a loss as to why you can’t utilize the magic that dwells within you.” Caldir halted and knocked on a thick, iron door to his right. Cail could hear someone from inside the building, shuffling to answer the door. The bronze knob twisted and the door swung open, revealing a round, bald, elderly man, not much shorter than Cail. As soon as he saw Caldir, a wide smile stretched across his face and he said with a booming voice, “Caldir! It’s been far too long. What brings you to my front door?”

Caldir responded with a hushed voice, “Matters which I would prefer to discuss inside your home.”

“Oh,” the old man responded. “Of course. But first, who’s the boy?” he asked pointing toward Cail.

“His name is Cail. That’s all I would prefer to say about him in public. I will illuminate you, but my paranoia betrays me.”

“It is not misplaced. Please, come in.” Cail followed Cardil into the man’s house. It was a humble setting: a single room consisting of a small cot in a far corner, a few cushioned chairs in the middle, and what looked like a kitchen to the left. “Welcome to my luxurious palace,” the man said sarcastically. “Cail, my name is Wallen. Caldir and I have known each other for years, having our fair share of adventures. Bearing that in mind, I would very much like to know how you caught the eye of Caldir?”

Cail froze, not knowing where to begin his story. Before he could say anything, Caldir jumped in and said, “I have reason to believe that Cail is the Last Descendant of the gods.”

Wallen laughed hysterically at the absurdity of what his friend said. “This little one? A withering, old man such as myself could overpower him. What hope does he have against the Servants and their master?”

“Well, Cail isn’t going to fight all of them today, is he?” Caldir said, irritated by Wallen’s response.

“I suppose not,” Wallen muttered. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because he has not yet discovered how to utilize the magic which bides within him. It was my understanding that anyone who possessed the staff could control its powers, but that’s clearly not the case.”

“No, it is not,” Wallen confirmed, rubbing his chin. “It’s been millennia since anyone has used the staff, for good reason too. The Staff of Gales is a powerful agent of destruction. When mastered, it has the potential to destroy the world.”

“Or save it,” Caldir interrupted.

Wallen turned toward Caldir, grimly looked into the wizard’s eyes and said, “Do not store too much faith in this boy, Caldir. Kalon knew of the power and danger that the staff held. He was wise to part the magic from the staff.”

“Kalon? Do you mean Kalon Ozean?” Cail asked.

“How is it you know of Kalon? He was a dear friend of mine from an age long past.” Wallen inquired.

“Kalon Ozean is my ancestor. I’m Cailean Ozean, Lord of Elona.”

Wallen looked to Caldir and asked, “Is this true? Has Elona returned?”

Caldir said, “It had. But the servants just claimed it for their own, which is why Cail must learn the ways of the wind.”

“I see,” Wallen said, astounded by what he was hearing. “Very well. There is some insight I can give you regarding the Staff of Gales. It’s true that anyone could use a staff’s powers simply by possessing it, but that ended after Kalon gave up his staff. Kalon Ozean was a wise and prosperous Lord for Elona who cared deeply for his people. In those times, the staff was passed down amongst the Lords of Elona. Once Kalon possessed the staff, he saw its power and potential for dominance. Even though he enjoyed the vigor the staff gave to him, he also gravely feared the possibility of the staff falling into the wrong hands. Therefore, he decided not only to hide the staff, but also to part it from its magic.

“Kalon traveled to this very mountain and, using the rock we stand on now, he created a number of runes, each with unique markings. Then he infused each of these runes with magical abilities from the staff, creating the Air Runes.

“To answer your question as to why you can’t access any of the powers of the staff, the solution is simple. You must find the Air Runes to unlock the staff’s fullest potential.”

“Do you know where these runes are?” Cail asked.

“Only one,” Wallen responded. “It was given to me by Kalon himself.” Wallen rose from his chair, walked to his bed and lifted the thick rug upon which it rested, revealing a hidden compartment in the floor. He slid the door open, retrieved the rune and gave it to Cail. It was a smooth, black stone having markings which Cail had never seen in his entire life. “Dragonspeech is the language that’s inscribed on the runes,” Wallen said as Cail inspected the stone he held in his fingers.

Cail was entranced by the rune’s alluring features, staring at each of the markings, attempting to decipher what each one meant. Then he heard a low hum sounding from the rune. As it grew louder, the markings on the stone began to emanate light as blue as a clear sky. Cail marveled at the light, hypnotized by its luminescence. Then a cyclone sprung from the rune, filling the room with gusts and squalls. Caldir and Wallen nearly fell over from the force of the wind and Cail used his left hand to brace the hand holding the rune. The cyclone rapidly spun like a top and roared like a dragon. Then it started to descend back into Cail’s palm. Once the room had calmed, Cail looked into his palm and noticed that along with the cyclone, the rune had disappeared.

“So you truly are who Cardil claims you are,” Wallen said, trying to restore his footing. “Have you any training in combat?”

“No. Elona has lived in peace for millennia, so no one on the island has needed to defend themselves.”

“There is an island to the north called Adalbern. A mighty warrior named Beda dwells deep within a temple on the island, however, the temple is difficult to reach because it lies in the middle of a vast lake. Should you discover a way to the temple, tell Beda I sent you and you will be learned by the best mentor in all of Kordon.”

“We are beyond grateful for all you have told us today,” Caldir said, embracing his old friend.

“I’m happy I was able to help,” Wallen responded with a smile. Then he leaned toward Cail and said “There are many forces beyond good and evil. Many will make you question whether they be friend or foe. All you need to know is what you stand for, what moral you represent. The people who also represent that moral will follow you.”

Cail thanked Wallen for his encouragement, knowing that the advice would prove to be useful in the future. Wallen showed Caldir and Cail out the front door, and the two of them made their way out of the mountain once more.

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