The four gems have been stolen. El-Tepora is dying. The Gatekeeper is using the Pillar of Light to sustain the world.
Elena an ordinary teen must embark on a quest to find the gems and save El-Tepora.
In The Pillar of Light Elena and her friends must travel across the world, fight fierce enemies and find the Weapon in order o save El-Tepora. Will Elena find the courage within herself to face the pillar of light.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.43(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Golden Staff SagaThe Pillar of Light
By Christina Neely
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Christina Neel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Woods
I was always told not to enter the forest, but as I stood there looking into the trees, I couldn't help but feel drawn into the darkness. As I took one step closer, to my right a brown squirrel scurried up a tree. Mesmerized by the darkness and the need to enter the forest, I began to walk along the dirt path. The canopy of trees was so thick above my head that hardly any sunlight got through, and that made it difficult to see anything. But from what I could tell, these woods didn't look any different from the ones behind my house, so why did the town have signs and barricades up to prevent people from entering them? The one thing that I did notice about these woods is that it was almost silent. The usual sounds were nonexistent. There were no insects buzzing, no animal sounds. I couldn't even hear the wind moving the tree branches above my head. The only sound that could be heard was the crunching of leaves and branches beneath my feet. Where are all the animals? I saw that one squirrel, but that was close to the entrance. Now there was not the slightest trace of an animal.
Ahead of me I could see that the woods got a little lighter; at least I could get a better look at the plant life around me. I could see these giant beautiful multicolored flowers. They had to stand at least four feet tall. I wondered how they could grow so big with so little sunlight, and they couldn't get much rain with the trees above shielding them. The flowers were like nothing I had ever seen before. The petals were the bright shades of several different colors. I could make out purple, red, blue, orange, and white, and by the way the colors were arranged it appeared as if they had images of stars on them. As if the colors weren't strange enough, the shape of the petals was even stranger. They appeared almost star-shaped. What kind of flowers are these? Why haven't I seen them in any book before? How do they grow with hardly any sunlight?
I wanted to stand there and stare at the brilliant flowers some more, but something in me pulled at me to continue down the dark path. The farther I traveled away from the small patch of light, the darker it got. I stopped to listen again for some normal woodland noises but still nothing. In addition to my crunching of sticks and leaves, I could now hear my heart begin to beat faster. It was getting harder to see anything in the darkness, and I was beginning to feel uneasy in the silence. I don't know why I was so drawn to these woods. There was this feeling I had way down deep in my gut that told me this was what I had to do. I knew that, despite this uneasy feeling, I had to continue so I began walking again. As I walked on I heard footsteps crunching the sticks and leaves that lay on the ground behind me. Are there large wild animals in these woods? There haven't been any sightings. I began to quicken my pace as the footsteps drew nearer. I then heard a growl above the breaking of sticks. There are wild animals in these woods. I broke into a full run as I continued down the dirt path in the darkness. I don't know how but it was as if my feet knew where they were going as I navigated through dark woods.
I could feel the hot breath of the animal on the back of my legs as I ran. This is it, I thought. No wonder we were told to stay out of the woods—there are wild animals here. I don't think I will make it out alive. My foot hit something hard and I fell forward. I waited for the pain to come but it never did. Why didn't I hit the ground? And why didn't that animal attack me? I thought.
Then I heard a few things in the darkness: First, the most beautiful and unusual sound, almost like someone talking. Then a whine from behind me and the breaking of sticks as the animal ran back toward the entrance of the woods. And finally, a deep breath at my right side, almost like a sigh of relief. There was something else in the dark forest. I looked around frantically to try to see what I was up against. Is it another wild animal or a person? I couldn't see because it was too dark. I wanted to find a weapon to fight off whatever was breathing in the darkness.
For the first time that night I realized that I was standing even though the pain in my foot reminded me that I had hit something and started to fall. Slowly I bent down to try to find a stick. After all, I was in the forest surrounded by trees. There should be branches somewhere. My hand found a stick in the darkness. I grabbed it and jumped to my left, getting into a position that I could use to fight. Out of nowhere the creature that had been breathing in the darkness spoke: "Are you okay?" It was the same voice that I had heard moments earlier. It sounded soft and gentle, but yet it was still deep enough that I could tell it was a man who was standing in front of me. I was not sure why, but when he spoke I didn't feel scared, which was strange since I was almost killed by that wild animal. I felt as if I could trust the person standing just feet away from me. I couldn't see him because it was almost completely black this far in the forest, but I could hear his shallow breathing.
"Please come with me," said the voice as his breathing got farther and farther away.
"Who—" I began as I started walking in the direction that I thought he had gone when I felt something warm and rough grab my hand. I jumped as I screamed.
"I am sorry. I didn't mean to startle you, but you are going in the wrong direction," said the voice. He began slowly guiding me in the direction he wanted to go. We walked in silence for a long time. I couldn't see a thing, but my guide seemed to know exactly where we were going. I was lost in thought as we continued on. I knew the woods couldn't really be this big; it only took thirty minutes or so to ride completely around the woods on a bike.
I could see the light of the exit in the distance. We must not have walked as long as I thought. He is just taking me through the woods. What a pain. Then I will have to walk all the way around them to get back home. But there were so many troubling questions swimming around in my head. Why didn't that animal attack me? Why didn't I hit the ground when I fell? Who is this man guiding me through the woods? If I was going to get the answers to any of my questions, then I would just have to ask, "Um, excuse me," I started.
"All your questions will be answered in time" was the reply that I got.
Did he know what I was going to say? How was this possible? Suddenly I had a flash through my mind. Could this man that I was traveling with have the ability to read my mind? No, that is the silliest thing I have ever heard. That sort of thing only happens on TV and in storybooks. I let out a little giggle at the thought. At that moment I could feel my guide's hand tense up. It was almost as if this person who was my guide was scared of me. That couldn't be true; he seemed so strong and sure of himself. After all, it was him who stopped the wild animal and saved my life.
As we got closer to the light I began to see a little better. Now I could see that there were a lot more of the strange multicolored star flowers, but the trees also looked different. Their leaves were not like any oak, maple, or birch tree that I have seen. Like the flowers, they seemed to take on a star-shaped appearance. These were definitely not the same trees that I had seen on the other side of the woods.
We finally reached the end of our path. The light was very bright as I stepped into it. I had to cover my eyes until they began to adjust.
As my eyes came into focus I could see a town. The houses were small, like the ones you would see in old history books. Only instead of having straw roofs, or even shingle roofs like we have today, these houses were covered with what looked like sheets of metal, only this was the most beautiful metal I had ever seen. It was silver but it seemed to sparkle and shine in the sunlight. I realized that it was the roofs of these houses that were creating this bright blinding light. The houses themselves also seemed to be made of metal; however, it was duller in color, almost like a light gray, but still maintained the same brilliance as it faintly sparkled in the sunlight.
In addition to the houses there was a river running straight down the center of town with the brightest blue I had ever seen. I realized for the first time that the only trees were the ones that were behind me. As I turned around, these trees looked different from the ones at the entrance to the forest. They seemed greener and more full of life. Perhaps it was just the fact that everything in this village seemed to be so vibrant and full of color that it was just my imagination that the trees did as well.
"Welcome home, El-Kahn. You brought an Earth Walker with you." The man who spoke was standing right in front of me, and I realized that, just like everything else in this village, he was brilliant, his skin seemed to have a golden glow, and he looked very muscular and fierce. One of the village hunters or a warrior, I guessed. His hair was a magnificent shade of brown and also seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. His eyes were a flaming shade of red that reminded me of fire. The longer I stared into them, the more I thought that I actually saw fire moving within his eyes. The clothes he was wearing were like nothing I had ever seen before. He was dressed in all red and, like everything else in the village, his clothes seemed to be made out of the same sparkling and shiny metal. He had what looked like a crest or insignia on his chest; it looked like a bear with ruby-red eyes surrounded by rocks. I knew it was wrong to stare, but I couldn't take my eyes off him.
"Yes, she was in the woods of El-Quaral. I couldn't just leave her there, could I, El-Juan?" was the reply that came from beside me. I turned to see my guide. He was shorter and less muscular than the other man. He was about my height, five-four, and his eyes were the most beautiful shade of blue. As I looked into them it seemed as if I could see the ocean itself. Although his clothes were blue, the crest on his chest was that of a small lion or tiger with blue eyes surrounded by trees. Do these pictures have a meaning, or are they just for decoration, like we have pictures on our shirts? I wondered quietly to myself.
"Humph, I don't see why not, but you'd better take her to see El-Kawn." My guide, who I now knew was called El-Kahn, gently took me by the arm and began to guide me into the village. As we passed, the people stopped what they were doing and began to watch us. I noticed that while all of the clothing seemed to be made of the same material, only the adults had the picture on their chest. As the big man who was working in the field turned to watch us, I noticed that he had a picture of an ox on his shirt. A woman surrounded by children—a teacher, I suppose—had an owl picture on her chest.
While I was still staring amazingly at the city, we arrived at the biggest of the houses. "Where am—" I began to speak and once again El-Kahn interrupted and said, "All your questions will be answered in time."
With a big sigh I followed him into the magnificent house. Walking in I nearly fell to the floor in awe; this was the most beautiful house I had ever seen. The room we walked into was big and bright, and the walls inside were a sparkling shade of light tan. There was a rug on the floor of the room that had different lines and markings on it. On the farside of the room there was a chair that appeared to be made out of gold. In the chair sat an old man who looked too frail to be sitting there by himself.
El-Kahn began to pull me closer to the old man in the golden chair. As I got closer, I could see that the chair had the same markings as the rug on the floor. I could see the man better as well. Instead of the vibrantly colored clothes that everyone in the village was wearing, this man was wearing all white, and the picture on his chest was that of a great fierce-looking lion with solid black eyes surrounded by a forest. This picture didn't seem to fit at all, I thought. First there was the warrior with the bear picture, then the man in the field with the ox picture, and finally the woman with the owl picture, who was surrounded by children. These pictures so far seemed to match the person by the job they were doing. But this old man looked too frail to stand up, so why did he have a fierce-looking lion on his chest?
While I was lost in thought, I didn't even realize that El-Kahn had kneeled before the man on the golden chair. I looked around the room and realized that everyone was staring at me. Without a second thought, I dropped to my knees and mimicked what El-Kahn was doing.
"Stand, my son, and explain to me why you brought this Earth Walker to our village."
"Father, Great El-Kawn, this girl was in the woods of El-Quaral. I could not just leave her there to be the food of the Henodites."
"Then why not take her out of the woods closer to her home? There was no need to bring her into our village. You do remember the ancient stories, do you not? It is forbidden for Earth Walkers to see our village."
I briefly looked up from staring at the rug. El-Kawn looked furious. I tried to steal a glance at El-Kahn, but I couldn't see his face from where I was on the floor.
"Yes, Father, I do remember the stories. I will take the Earth Walker from this village and back through the woods. She will never speak of this village again, and if she does, then we can send the Removers to eliminate her."
"Good, now remove her from my sight."
I looked up in time to see El-Kahn reaching toward my arm. I placed my hand in his, and he gently but quickly pulled me to my feet. Once I was standing, my eyes met his again and this time, instead of seeing a calm blue sea, I saw what looked like waves crashing against his eyeball and an ocean that was rough, as if it were the middle of a storm. He gave one last look at El-Kawn and began to pull me out of the house.
As we walked back through the village, not one person turned to see us head back toward the woods. As I looked at the man in the field, he turned away from my gaze. The schoolteacher did the same. If I looked at a child, then the closest adult turned the child's back to me. I wondered what was going on. There was no way that everyone in the village could have heard what El-Kawn had said, so why was everyone acting so strangely? I wanted to ask El-Kahn but I knew that he would just interrupt me again, so I kept quiet. He pulled me behind him until we entered the woods. Once we were out of the sight of the village, he began to slow his pace and walk next to me, but he never let go of my hand.
We walked in silence for a while before he said, "Okay, you can ask your questions now. We are far enough from the village that no one should be able to hear us."
I have tons of questions, I thought to myself, where should I start? "Could you tell me what just happened?" was all I could say.
El-Kahn let out a little laugh that sounded more like a child laughing than a fully grown man. "Well, you were just in the village of El-Trenad. My people don't like Earth Walkers, so if you mention our village to anyone, my father will send out the Removers. I am sure you can guess what their specialty is."
"Um, they get rid of people," I guessed.
"That is correct. They are very fierce fighters, and once they have their eyes set on a target, they do not rest until the target is eliminated."
I was beginning to feel more comfortable with him. "Why does everyone keep calling me an Earth Walker?"
"Because you are from the planet Earth."
"You mean you and your people are not from Earth?"
"No, our planet is called El-Tepora. A long time ago the Earth Walkers and the people of El-Tepora were friends. They even worked together to create this mystical forest of El-Quaral to act as a gateway between our two planets. The forest was magnificent back then. The trees and flowers were so full of life and there was light all along this path so everyone could see to travel between planets. Once the forest was finished, the two planets could trade materials. There were even a few Earth Walkers who fell in love and came to live on El-Tepora and vice versa.
Excerpted from The Golden Staff Saga by Christina Neely Copyright © 2010 by Christina Neel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.