Chapter 4: A Riddle Revealed

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Cail had many dreams while he slept that night. He drifted between different worlds, all of them being mysterious in their own way. Out of all of the dreams, he only remembered one. In this dream he was in a world surrounded by darkness, a world that Cail could not see beyond his body. All he could see was an empty, black void. His eyes were unremittingly searching the environment around him.

After turning around, he found a robust tree with a strong, healthy trunk, thick branches and emerald leaves. The tree fascinated Cail, he could see that it was a healthy tree and full of life. After gazing at the tree for several moments, Cail could see that in the distance came a cloud, a cloud as plump as a pillow. It drifted closer and closer to the tree until the cloud was absorbed into the leaves. After consuming the cloud, the tree grew even larger and more sturdy, somehow the cloud had filled a vacant gap inside of the tree.

Shortly after, Cail saw a long strand of light emerge from the darkness, looking like a glowing snake. At first it frightened Cail, but then he could see that the light was tender and kind. It slithered toward the tree, graciously flowing through the air. Then it wrapped around the trunk of the tree, creating a halo of light. Cail marveled at the light, seeing it's power and beauty.

Shortly after, a glob of water, not much larger than Cail's head, emerged from out of the darkness. In the same manner as the strand of light, the water floated over to the tree and wrapped itself around the outside of the trunk. The water and the light then started to slowly merge together, forming a fluid ring of luminescence.

Cail could feel the essence of the tree's life. He could feel it breathe, he could feel it's fulfillment. A sudden and gentle warmth filled Cail's body and happiness flooded his heart. He developed a passionate and peaceful love for the tree, as if he had planted the tree and grown it himself.

Then the warmth escaped from Cail's body and oozed from his skin and into the air surrounding him. The warm air transformed into a shroud of fierce heat, creating a sort of sauna. The invisible oven then started to creep towards the tree, filling Cail with terror. Cail tried to run towards the tree, but his feet remained chained to the ground, as if he were wearing shackles. The heat had now eclipsed the tree, trapping it inside of a scorching prison. Cail could feel the pain and anguish of the tree. The pain took his breath away and left him gasping for air. The tree became thin and the leaves began to collapse to the ground. The tree was dying.

A wisp of smoke rose from the trunk of the tree. Slowly, the small wisp grew larger and larger until there was a mammoth wall of black smoke climbing through the branches and rising into the air. In the same spot that the smoke first appeared, a tiny flame kindled. At first the flame was silent and insignificant, but then it abruptly exploded into a hurricane of fire that swallowed the tree.

Cail could do nothing except for watch this horror unfold right before his unbelieving eyes. The inferno caused an intense blast of heat to radiate from the tree, almost sending Cail backwards. Cail felt sympathy towards the tree, as it was helplessly being burned alive. The fire from the tree began to diminish, until it was nothing but the tiny flame that it was from the inception. The tree still remained, but it was charred and singed. There were no more leaves and many of the branches were either broken or burned away completely. Cail, looked at the flame that had caused all of the mayhem and destruction. The flame began to growl at Cail, and the growl turned into a loud snarl. Then, without warning, the flame exploded like a bomb, engulfing Cail in the fire. He could feel the fire ripping and piercing his body apart, causing him to scream in agony.

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Cail shot upright in his bed. He was breathing heavily and sweat was rolling down his face and onto his bed covers. After coming to his senses, he was relieved that the nightmare was finally over. He wasn't entirely certain that it was a nightmare, it felt much more real than that. It felt like a vision.

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