The Octology of the Seven Hats
Part One: An Odd Beginning
Chapter One: Vilhaun
“So, when does this quest start?” Malbo asked.
“Right now,” Vilhaun said. “In fact, if we’re going to leave, it would be best to leave in . . . about 42 seconds.”
“Then let’s go!” Malbo said.
“Alright,” Vilhaun said. He snapped his fingers thrice rapidly and said, “Afutlo toron orgin bola ma’i’at ak Cole, Tolben.”¹
Instantly, the wind rose and the world started to spin around them. This time, however, Malbo did not black out. Instead, he felt like he was flying along in the air like a bird.
The two men flew along at a very quick pace. They flew across the Kost River (they were travelling north), crossed several hills, plains, valleys, and rivers and sped over a short mountain where Malbo was sure he saw smoke rising in two distinct columns as if from a sleeping dragon.
Then, looming ahead, were the towering Colbanse Mountains, a mountain chain that stretched high into the sky, so high that the tallest mountain peaks were hardly visible behind low-hanging clouds. The chain covered the horizon from east to west. Vilhaun and Malbo flew through a narrow pass and to the other side.
The two flew over a valley, and then Malbo saw what he had wished to see all his life but
never had. He saw the ocean.
But as they drew nearer, he discovered that the body of water was not the ocean. Instead it was a sound, the Colba Sound to be exact.
Presently, another shore appeared before them. This, Malbo thought, must be Tolben. He had only seen it on maps, but he knew that it lay north of the Colba Sound they had just crossed They then approached a city on the coast. The two travellers felt themselves slowing down rapidly and suddenly, their feet hit the ground. Vilhaun started walking briskly towards the city, but Malbo landed on his face, sprawled on the dusty ground.
“Wait up!” Malbo yelled as he leapt to his feet. Vilhaun paid no attention, but kept on walking towards the city. Malbo jogged to catch up to him.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Malbo asked the impatient Vilhaun.
“We landed too far west,” Vilhaun replied. “We were supposed to land in Cole, but instead we landed outside of a neighboring city, Walbawand.”
“Aaaah,” Malbo said. “Why can’t you just magic us there then?”
“Because I don’t want anyone to follow us. Also, it doesn’t work that way. Travelling this far takes a lot of energy,” Vilhaun said, “There are some . . . “ Vilhaun hesitated, but continued, “. . things that would want to follow us to – shh! Did you hear that?”
“Hear wha—” Malbo began.
Vilhaun whirled around and covered Malbo’s mouth to stop him from talking anymore. “Shh,” Vilhaun ordered in a low whisper. He cautiously looked around.
Suddenly, the star was obscured by a dark shadow. The land around Vilhaun and Malbo went dark. Not even the lights of the city behind them did anything to penetrate the darkness. It was only 11 in the morning, so it was odd to be so dark. Vilhaun and Malbo tried to hurry along in the dark, but it was like trying to walk while blindfolded.
Suddenly, Malbo tripped and fell with a thunk! on the ground. His mouth suddenly filled with dirt. He lay there for a second, motionless. Vilhaun walked on several paces, but then Malbo heard him stop. Malbo picked himself up and looked around for Vilhaun. An eerie, dusk-like brightness had surrounded them, enabling them to finally see their surroundings.
Suddenly, several figures appeared around them. Malbo slowly walked towards Vilhaun, who was staring at the figures. The figures were hooded creatures in long gray cloaks. Their hands appeared to be made of silver and their feet seemed to move as if they were made of slithering snakes. Around their waist was a tight cord that apparently was a belt. In each of the figures’ right hands was a stick about the size of a pencil. These powersticks were assorted colors, and there were several of them. There were about twelve of these figures surrounding Vilhaun and Malbo.
“Wh-What are they?” stammered Malbo.
“They are Arectori², servants of the Dark King and his realm.They serve only the Dark King and will do no other tasks unless they are intended for evil,” Vilhaun said. “They are men turned into what you see now by the powers of evil. They have skin of silver representing greed, black eyes symbolizing hate, and feet of snakes showing their ability of cunning and deceit. They can’t see very well because of their hoods, but they can smell excellently. Our only hope is that they haven’t heard, smelt, or felt us yet.”
The twelve Arectori formed a circle around the two conversing men. Vilhaun slowly glanced up while trying to move very slowly. Reaching his hand into the pocket of his cloak, Vilhaun slowly withdrew a blue powerstick. He raised his right hand to shoulder level, pointing it at an Arectorus.
The Arectori stopped closing in as Vilhaun raised himself to his full height. Each Arectorus muttered a spell under its breath. The shadows made by the hood of their cloaks blocked their mouths from sight, but that didn’t stop the effects of the spells. Both Malbo and Vilhaun felt themselves freeze in place. They couldn’t even move a muscle as the Arectori closed in on them….
¹Take me and him to Cole, Tolben.
²Pronounced ‘aər-ik-tore-ī’ (Singular arectorus: ‘aər-ik-tore-iss”)
The Octology of the Seven Hats copyright© 2018 by Stewart Forthofer. All rights reserved. All likeness of any characters in this book to any person, past or present, is purely coincidental.