Chapter 5: The Riddle of the Forest

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Cail spent the majority of the next couple of weeks mulling over the riddle, trying to conjure up any solution that did not include venturing into the forest. It was a prodigious and ambiguous region. There were no maps of the territory, no techniques or methods for navigating through it, for no one had dared to attempt an infiltration and succeed.

Cail dreaded going where he sensed that he was destined to go. On many occasions during the weeks, he would walk to the edge of the forest, looking into its darkness. He could feel it daunting him, almost mocking him.When he wasn't fretting about his pursuance of the riddle, he worked on reading through the book that he had stolen from the library. He learned a great deal from the book, but it was incomplete. There were gaps throughout its history. It was a book that the Lords had written themselves, creating journals. The Lords would write about their personal lives, the verdicts and pronouncements that either helped or hurt their citizens, or they would write for pleasure. The more Cail read, the more he grew frustrated by the fact that he could not find any mention of Tarvaris Ozean.

Cail pulled out the poem that was written by Tarvaris and placed it next to the book. He glanced back and forth between his book and the poem for several moments, then leaned back in his wooden chair and let out a heavy sigh of exasperation. Maybe Laney would be able to help me! Cail thought to himself. He placed the poem inside the front cover of the book, leaving the top tip of the poem exposed, and ran out of the house and down the dirt road to Laney's home. He walked in her front door, they were such close acquaintances that he never knocked anymore, and they both sat on the edge of Laney's bed. She flipped through the ancient pages, being careful not to tear any. Cail remained silent, allowing her to focus.

"I really have no idea, Cail," Laney said after several long moments of focus. Cail could hear that she was disappointed in herself. "I really wish I could help you, but there's just too many voids in the records. I'm sorry." Cail stood up and walked over to the window. His frustration began to consume him and it swelled into anger, causing him to slam his fist onto Laney's wooden desk. Cail was so dominated by his rage that he didn't even feel the pain shoot through his hand. Laney then ran over to Cail and hugged him, trying to comfort her friend. "Is there something else that's bothering you?" Laney asked. Cail could hear that she was worried about him.

"I'm afraid," Cail said quietly. "I fear that I must go into the forest. There is something I must find there."

"No! I won't let you!" Laney exclaimed. "You've heard all of the stories about people disappearing! I care about you too much, Cail."

"Laney, this is something I absolutely must do."

"Why? What could be so important that you would have to risk your life by going into the forest?" Laney asked fretfully. Cail then proceeded to tell Laney the entire story of his visit with Lydia. He first told her about the vision that he had had during his sleep, then he informed her about the true history of Elona, as Lydia had told it, and after that he recited the riddle that was posed to him.

"You're sure you want to leave Elona?" Laney asked after hearing the wave of plights that had been thrusted into Cail's life.

"Laney, there is no other option for me," Cail said, showing his determination. "I've always had a fierce desire to find something bigger, something that would fulfill me. The path in

front of me is concealed and covert. I don't know anything about the worlds I will be traveling to, or who I will meet on my expedition, be they friend or foe. The only thing I do know is that this is the path I must take." Cail had a new fire in his eyes, a new tenacity. He had never felt this vehemently towards anything in his entire life.

Laney could see that there was nothing that she could say to sway Cail, his mind was cemented. "If I can't stop you, then I will go with you," Laney said with a smile on her face, showing her support for her friend.

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