“‘You were staring off into space for twenty eight hours, thirty-nine minutes, and seven seconds,’ stated the cat smugly. It licked its furry paw and cleaned its head with it. It seemed not to care whether or not the boy was goggling at it.”
Chapter One: Meditate
Once upon a time, in a world that is neither yours nor mine, there was a young boy who wanted to be a wizard. His name was Salocin, but he had no last name. He was an orphan, for he had no parents. He lived in the orphanage and was not happy there. He had no friends, nor did he have siblings. He was alone and unhappy.
One day, he became determined to escape. He made a plan to leave at midnight on the 20th night of autumn. He was to leave out the window by using his bedsheets. He tied all three of the thin, white sheets together at midnight and then tied them to his redwood bedpost. This is how he made his way out.
He made his way down the bedsheets and found that they were not long enough. He only had about six meters of sheets, and he was on the third floor. The building was quite tall, the third tallest one in the small village of Jaber (pronounced Jja-bahrr). It was at the edge of the forest, which was perfect for Salocin’s plan.
He risked it and jumped. He fell down, down into a brier patch. He got so hurt and covered with scratches, scrapes, stings, and bruises, that he was afraid to proceed into the dark, black, uncanny, and very large forest. For a while, he lay there, considering his options.
Finally, he chose to leave his spot and go into the pitch black woods. The trees were not bending in any helpful way, but this was no trouble for Salocin, for he was a very dextrous child.
He was going to see a wizard, an old master of the arts of magic. He knew of one wizard, and the wizard went by the name of Egraw. Egraw had learned his magic from Colen, who had learned from Hazrah himself, the father of wizardry. Salocin was sure Egraw was in the forest he was escaping into.
He walked throughout the night and into the day. He had not slept for two days, and one night, he finally reached a tree with a door in the side. By this time, he was famished and unquenched. The tree was very large and very thick. The door was in the shape of a heptagon and was made out of the tree. It looked exceedingly hard to notice, and Salocin was very proud to notice it. The door was so small that only a gnome would have no trouble walking through it. The door had engravings on it that looked like Elven runes, but he had no idea what they said, for he did not speak Elven. And yet… He knocked on the door, expecting Egraw to answer. The door opened quite suddenly after about twenty five seconds of waiting.
A short, old man opened the door. He was short enough to be able to have no trouble getting through the door. Based on the sound, Salocin inferred that the door had not been oiled for many years. He couldn’t help but notice the old man had wings — like that of a bird. They were as white as a dove’s, but had the texture of a bald eagle’s. He was not bald, however. Instead, he had long, white hair that matched his wings in color, but not texture. He had a long, white beard that extended to his chest and down to where his wings started. His clothes looked like those of a commoner, not like the flowing, blue robes that Sealocin had anticipated.
“Who are you, young boy?” asked the man, “Tell me of your name and what you want at old Egraw’s house.”
Salocin did not hesitate to reply. “My name is Salocin, and I would like to learn magic from you! Are you really the great wizard, Egraw?”
“Great? Tell me, child, do they tell stories of me? Am I famous?”
Salocin was confused. He thought that Egraw knew of his fame! He raised an eyebrow. “You know not your fame? You discovered the cure to season fever!”
Egraw was stumped and did not know what to say. He thought of himself as a poor, old hermit who lived in the woods.
“And made the potion of kingship! And told Aria how to make the tree of life grow! And…”
If it was true that all of this had brought him fame, and this kid was like any other, then Egraw could be famous! No, he was famous!
“… decipher the Elven runes! Where did you get your wings?”
Egraw’s heart was palpitating! This is natural for someone who suddenly finds out he is famous. He gave no thought to the question that Salocin had asked him. He was thinking about signing autographs, kissing babies, speaking in public —
“Excuse me, sir, where did you get your wings?”
— And people would go crazy over him… and then it hit him. The young boy was asking him how he got his wings!
“I was born with wings!”
… and he would be more famous than the famous bards…
“Egraw? Will you teach me magic?”
Egraw pondered the situation. Finally, he consented. “Yes, I will teach you magic!” He said this with a smile that could shine brighter than a thousand suns.
Egraw welcomed Salocin into his house. A winding staircase twisted both down and up, and went quite low. This was not surprising because after all, the tree was very tall. Egraw led Salocin down the stairs. Egraw was quite extraordinarily fast for an old man. Finally, they got to a dark, quiet room after twisting stairways in the roots.
“This is where we meditate,” explained Egraw.
“Meditate?” whined Salocin.
“Yes,” Egraw said.
Egraw sat down in the center of the room. His wings disappeared as soon as Salocin sat down.
“You see the power of meditation. The wings were fake. I used an ancient technique to fool you.”
Salocin sat down next to Egraw and held his breath.
He knew that that was how to meditate.
“Do not hold your breath!” warned Egraw.
Salocin stopped holding his breath and asked how to meditate. He received no answer, so he relaxed and stared off into space while he waited for an answer. He lost track of time, for the room was dark. Egraw knew the time well, for he had something similar to perfect pitch, just with time. He knew that they had been there for a full twenty eight hours, thirty-nine minutes, and seven seconds. That is when he left. Salocin did not notice. He only stopped when a bright white cat licked his hand with her foggy white and pink tongue. She was very small, about one foot long and not too chubby.
“What happened?” He questioned, for he was exhausted and famished. The answer he expected was from Egraw, but when he got his answer, he was surprised.
“You were staring off into space for twenty eight hours, thirty-nine minutes, and seven seconds,” stated the cat smugly. It licked its furry paw and cleaned its head with it. It seemed not to care whether or not the boy was goggling at it. “I’m a girl, by the way. You can call me whatever you want, for I have no name. Actually, I see you are a good person. I will tell you my name. I go by Snowflake, Fluffy, Ghost, Cloud, but I prefer Pickles. And don’t call me ‘Hey, you!’ My name isn’t ‘Hey, you!’ Hey is for horses, not people. Or cats for that matter. And don’t call me ‘Cat.’ I belong to the wizard Egraw, and he takes care of me promptly. Oh, have I been rambling on for too long? Let me give you a chance to speak! What is your name, Salocin?”
Salocin was dumbfounded. A talking cat that knew his name! And quite verbose too! He decided to mock the cat.
“My name? Oh, well, first off, my name is not Salocin. Salocins are for horses, not cats! Or humans, for that matter.” Then, he realized that he had been very rude and felt horrible. “I’m sorry for making fun of you,” he apologized. “But I know you know my name.”
“Apology accepted! I wasn’t even hurt in the first place. In fact, you’re right. I should stop being so mystical and be more humble like Egraw.”
Salocin thought that the cat was not that smug after all, having realized her mistakes — a rare and extravagant talent.
“Snowflake, do you know where Egraw is?” asked Salocin.
Snowflake was not so sure. “Upstairs?”
Chapter Two: Illusion
They crept up the twisty, windy stairways. Egraw was making lunch. He was making a pot of beef stew. Salocin knew this because of the smell. He was so starved that he could have drunk that whole pot down. He asked for a large helping and got a very large helping. He gobbled it down in mere seconds and was still hungry. So he ate more and more and more, until he was stuffed. He had only had corn, rice, and other things with little taste at the orphanage.
“Egraw, will you teach me how to make it look like I have wings?” Salocin pleaded.
He got his answer. “I use a technique called wind shifting,” Egraw explained. “I create vibrations in the air that hit you in certain ways. You don’t feel the wind, but you see wings. For example, Cthulhu is behind me,”
This was very true. A towering beast was above them both.
“I can’t see a kah-thoo-loo,” complained Snowflake. “What even is a kah-thoo-loo?”
The wizard laughed his head off. “It only works on the people I want it to work on. And it only works on humans,”
Cthulhu vanished. The wizard took a bow. Salocin clapped loudly.
“It also does not work on people who are meditating,” said Egraw. “Now, it is time for bed.”
Salocin climbed into a bed that looked like the bed he had at the orphanage, save for this one had engravings on it. It looked as if his room was all hollowed out and the bed was part of the tree. It made Salocin respect the wizard’s talent more.
Chapter Three: Light
Salocin woke up the next morning. Light shone through the window. It tickled his neck and his face. Or was it Snowflake’s tongue that tickled his neck and face? It was warm in the tree, and the windows were not made of glass. In fact, there were no windows, just hollowed out holes in the side of the tree. There were engravings everywhere — and not just Elven runes. There were runes that were written in the tongue of man. He started reading them until he noticed a very small, peculiar hole in the wall, which let through a narrow beam of sunlight that followed a path engraved into a tree. The beam of light was slowly, but noticeably, moving down the path and to a hole in the floor. Salocin wanted to get some more sleep, so he tried to fall back asleep.
He awoke once more to light shining in his eyes and found that all of the runes in the room were glowing with light. The small, narrow beam of light had reached the hole and had somehow lit up the whole room. He blocked the narrow beam of light with his hand, and the light crept out of the runes quickly. It looked like the light had been reflected from the tiny hole to all the runes on the wall and into his eyes to wake him up. The wizard was good at detailed work.
Salocin jumped down the stairs, skipping steps as he went. When he got down, he noticed that the whole building was covered with engravings. All of the engravings were glowing with yellow light.
The wizard was preparing breakfast and humming a happy tune. “Happy Light Day, at 9:47:38!” sang Egraw.
Salocin was puzzled. “Why is the light shining in the runes?”
Egraw thought he could teach something to Salocin. “I will tell you why we celebrate Light Day. Once upon a time, there was a spirit of light. His name was Shine. He lived in the sun. Every day, he would make the eight minute and twenty second journey back and forth to bring light to the people on earth. But people had no light during the night. Shine had a friend Bright, and they wanted to give the people of earth light during the night.
“One day, Bright said to Shine, ‘Let us bring the people of earth light during the night!’
“Shine agreed. So Shine became the moon, and Bright became fire. Every year, for one day, they follow the paths of light (if they find any) and grant the person who carved them one wish. I wish for a new hat!”
A bright red hat appeared on Egraw’s head. It had a blue pom-pom on top and shone with light for a few seconds. Salocin sat down and started to meditate to see if the hat was just an illusion. It was not an illusion. Salocin looked up. The glowing light in the “paths of light” were undoing themselves at a moderate pace. He raced up into his room and watched as the last of the light undid itself into the small hole in the ground in his room.
Chapter Four: Water
It was time for lunch. Salocin made his way downstairs for lunch, but the room was changed. The cauldron was in the middle of the room and was boiling by itself.
Salocin investigated. “What’s happening?”
“I am making a potion,” responded Egraw. He was stirring plain water over the fire.
Salocin only saw a pot of water. He meditated to see if this was another illusion — he was getting quite good at meditating. It simply stilled. It stopped boiling.
“Salocin, if you wanted to know anything, what would you want to know? The current location of the best hand-knitted sweater is what I first wanted to know,” proposed Egraw.
Salocin speculated his decision. Finally, all parts of his mind came to a decision. “Where are my parents, and all of my family members?”
“Salocin! You will get your answer! Your family is dead. Time for lunch!” Egraw was just cooking pasta.
“Will you teach me some magic? You said you were making a potion!” Salocin was very confused.
“I was pulling your leg! But I know your parents are dead, for I knew them myself,” confessed Egraw. “They were wonderful people, and they were my students. Not only were they studying magic, but they were blood mages. That means you were born with magic abilities, great magic potential, or have the blood of some sort of magic beast flowing through your veins,” he continued. “Your father’s name was Baelard Coffern, and your mother’s name was Ederna Ractect. They gave their lives to save you. When you were born, there was a prophesy. You were to grow up to kill your family and all people on the planet including yourself, if you were able to first kill your family. They gave their lives for you.” Egraw sniffled as he said this, and Salocin meditated to see if he was lying. “They drowned. In water. All for you.”
Salocin never knew his mother or father, but this raised a question in his mind. “What if I’m a blood mage too? Like, if my parents were blood mages, wouldn’t I be a blood mage too?”
Egraw thought, and spoke. “Yes, you are a blood mage with the blood of a phoenix and the blood of a dragon. And a unicorn. You are good with fire because of the phoenix blood. You will be good at flying because of the dragon blood (and the phoenix blood). You will also be good at seeing things, and you will be able to talk to animals and spirits when you are meditating (a gift from all three, mostly the unicorn and least the phoenix.)”
Salocin was still held by one question, for with each answer, more questions arose. “Are you a blood mage?”
Egraw could not say he was. “No, I am not. But Snowflake is.”
“I thought that Snowflake was a cat!”
“Well, she is not a human, but blood mages in animals have magic beast and wizard blood. She has both human blood and elf blood. She can read the Elven runes.”
“Can I learn Elven?”
Egraw thought that he was not to teach Salocin writing, but only magic. “Snowflake? Will you teach Salocin Elven?”
Snowflake had a crush on Salocin and would do anything for him. “Yes, master. But where should I start? Should I start with the basics? Maybe we could use the uncarved room! Or just use a blackboard. But the uncarved room would be where he could be tested. Yes, he would be tested in the uncarved room. Egraw, stop looking at me like that! Salocin would love to use it! Or maybe you want to use it for some kind of incantation, or spell, or add to the pathways of light! What’s for dinner, pasta? Ravioli? Do I smell a nice sauteed pumpkin filling and tomato sauce? What about the milk! I love milk. Can we have milk! Can we have milk? Good! Can we have more milk? I’ll go milk the cow! Yes! Milk! Milk tastes like nice, cool, or hot milk, depending on how you like it!”
Egraw had already prepared a bowl of milk. “Today, you may have a bowl of milk. Tomorrow, you will begin lessons on Elven. You know quite well that milk is like poison (at least the very mild kind) to cats.”
Chapter Five: Spirits I
“Salocin, what did I tell you about spirits?” Egraw stood over Salocin and smiled brightly.
“If you are nice to the spirits, they will be nice to you,” replied Salocin.
“Good. You may now begin,” offered Egraw.
Salocin meditated in the uncarved room. Nothing happened.
“Oh, I almost forgot the most important part! Carving!” Egraw had done this because he thought it would be fun to let Salocin carve the room.
They started carving. They carved patterns and more patterns, and then, Egraw told Salocin to do the trickiest part. The well of light. He carved a hole in the wall and let the light shine through. Salocin sat in meditation formation. Then, he used a special tool to carve little nooks and niches where the light fell that would make the whole room only light up if he was sitting down. And the room was filled with light when he sat down, and the wizard stepped out. The light started to move around in the small hole, and the patterns of light changed. It stopped, and Salocin started to glow. I will tell you how this worked. The light reflected in the certain patterns until finally it reached Salocin. It reflected off of him and into the onlookers eyes. The light in the hole moved because the sun was moving in the sky, and the angle at which the light was entering in the hole was changing. This environment was needed for entering the realm of spirits.
It took them about one season to finish the carvings. As you may expect, some things happened in this time. Salocin turned thirteen, and they made sure they completed the ceremony of passing. Snowflake became bigger, now about one half more than her original size. A few other holidays also happened, such as the Fire Festival.
When Salocin finished the carvings, it was time to enter the realm of spirits. He sat down in position. He started to glow. The carvings that were dyed blue had water in them. The black ones had earth in them. Torches lined the walls in small capsules were meant for only letting out small strings of light. And there were lots of holes everywhere to stop the fire from going out. And Salocin sat there meditating, waiting, and remaining patient. In the night, his glow ceased because there was no light from outside, but he maintained meditating. Finally, he opened his eyes. He was no longer in the room he elaborately carved.
Chapter Six: Spirits II
Salocin looked around. He was alone in a green field, rivers running everywhere. It was a clearing in a forest. The sky was blue, and all was peaceful. Then, suddenly, clouds — dark, scary clouds — were coming in from all sides, and a head with five faces appeared in the center. It laughed and laughed and inflicted fear into Salocin’s heart. Then, strong hands picked Salocin up. Salocin fell unconscious
“Hello? Wake up!”
A boy was standing over Salocin with a perplexed look on his face. Salocin knew he was meditating, so illusions would not work on him. But this time, the boy standing over him had wings.
Salocin was curious. “Where am I? Am I in the spirit realm?”
The boy answered eagerly, “Yeah! My name’s Denartolasesgartoyeten!erlreoscoendfaresconder’dkefdert!ieskerdam, but you can call me Denarto for short.”
“Are you a spirit?” Salocin asked.
“Yes, I am a spirit. I saved you from Gretyongertoothesyenten!ertoteryunaweyerdfebezexerty’termeyhemhertyservecesrdyetheyemo, who is an evil cloud spirit. He wanted to kill you. Do you come from the true world? Are you a spirit?”
“I come from the true world, if that’s what you call it, and I am a wizard in training,” replied Salocin to all of the questions that Denarto asked him. “How old are you?”
“I’m 358 years old! I know, I’m very young.”
“I’m only thirteen. How is 358 years old, young?” Then, Salocin remembered that Egraw had told him that spirits are very old. And they live forever unless a good enough wizard teams up with a good enough spirit and they give up parts of their souls. Yeah, it’s very hard.
“Wow! You’re young! Can I come back with you? I’ve always wanted to see the true world!” pleaded Dentarto.
“That’s a thing? You can leave the spirit realm?”
“Probably in the same way you came here. Maybe I should meditate.” Denarto sat down on the grass and meditated without waiting for Salocin’s opinion. He blinked out of existence.
Salocin followed and meditated. It took him a little while longer than Dentarto, but he reached the place where he was meditating. He looked around. Dentarto was standing up straight, but the light was shining through him. Dentarto was not affecting the system.
“Egraw? Egraw! Come look at this!”
Chapter Seven: Wood
Salocin was practicing his meditation when he was rudely disturbed by a chopping noise. Salocin wandered downstairs. Egraw was carving wood.
“Egraw? Do you hear a chopping noise?” asked Salocin.
The chopping noise got louder. Salocin hopped out the door. He perceived a large pile of wood and several tired woodsman chopping down the forest. They all looked stronger than Salocin.
Salocin looked and found that there were stumps in all directions.
Denarto was nowhere to be found. Salocin called his name. He received no answer.
Salocin decided to talk to the men. He went outside. “What are you doing?” He asked them.
“We are cutting down trees for the king,” they answered.
Salocin told Egraw of the choppers.
“This is not good. Salocin, do you love this house?” Egraw asked.
“Yes, it is the only house I love,” replied Salocin.
“Then, I am sorry. We must leave. They will soon cut it down. Follow me.”
Salocin followed Egraw down a pathway into the roots he had never seen before. He thought that he knew every pathway in the tree. Snowflake was trotting at his side. It led to a door. The door was glowing with light, but Salocin meditated and knew it was a pathway of light effect. Egraw tapped the door with his finger in the center. It opened, and behind it, lay a small cave. On the other side of the cave was another door. Egraw entered it and climbed up a spiral stairway.
“This is as new to me as it’s new to you, Salocin,” pitched Snowflake.
Egraw beckoned for them to follow. “Salocin, listen to the dragon inside of you. It will tell you what you need to know that I can no longer teach you. Snowflake will be your humble guide. The phoenix within you will tell you about your parents. The unicorn in you will aid you with your magic. Take care, and you will learn.”
This was the last that Salocin saw of Egraw, at least for now. This is when Egraw started to glow. Salocin was forced to blink at the light, and when he stopped blinking, Egraw had vanished. Snowflake licked his hand and rubbed her head hard on Salocin’s thin leg. Salocin’s bright blue eyes filled with silver tears that ran down his pale face. It was a sad moment.
Salocin and Snowflake continued up the spiral stairway and reached the top. It led to a another door. Snowflake pressed her head against the door and forced it open. Salocin followed. “It was not the house I loved,” Salocin murmured to himself, “but Egraw himself.” That is when Salocin collapsed.