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The student news site of Freehold High School

The Colonial

The student news site of Freehold High School

The Colonial

The Protector – The Land of Clouds

The Protector - The Land of Clouds
Photo Courtesy of Maahum Alvi

“Uh, Ford?” Edmund said, looking around. “Where are we?”

Ford stared at what he saw in front of him. “That’s a brilliant question, Ed. One I can’t answer.”

The brothers were on a floating platform, the clouds so close they could touch them. Ford reached out for one of the clouds and was surprised to see that he could hold it. The cloud was strangely firm, to the point that Ford was unable to tear it apart. A thought struck him.

“Ford?” Edmund said uncertainly. “What are you doing?”

“Just watch,” Ford told his brother. He pulled the cloud a bit lower and climbed on it. The cloud wobbled a bit, but Ford quickly found his balance and slowly stood up.

“Whoa,” Edmund said, his mouth dropping a bit. “You’re standing on a cloud!”

Ford shook his head, stamping his foot on the cloud. “Edmund, I’ve been doing this since before Mom met your dad and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Look!” Edmund exclaimed, pointing to something behind Ford.

Ford turned to see a tall man in robes and a heavy cloak floating down to them on a cloud. The man seemed to carry an aura of authority. Ford jumped off the cloud and stood himself in front of Edmund, just in case.

“Greetings,” the man said upon landing on their platform. “I am Vis. Who are you?”

Warily, Ford replied. “Ford Stinton. And this is my brother, Edmund.” He tensed, in case Vis tried anything.

“I mean you no harm,” Vis said, noticing Ford’s apprehension. “I mean only to assist you.”

Ford looked at the man skeptically. In response, Vis sighed and dropped the staff that he held.

“You are not from around here, are you?”

“Where exactly are we?”

“You are in Nubeluna, the land of mystery and non-mystery,” Vis said grandly.

Ford lowered his guard and scowled. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Vis smiled. “Here, you will have many mysteries. However, you will also solve many mysteries. I assumed that’s why you came. Evidently, that was not your intent. May I ask why you are injured?”

“Injured?” Ford looked down to see his left hand bruised badly and swelling. “Well, I suppose we came from a fight. I must have hit my hand.”

“I could help you with that, if you like,” Vis offered. “I have experience with healing.”

“It’s not that bad,” Ford said, stuffing his hand in his pocket. “Do you have any idea why we’re here?”

Vis stepped back on his cloud, which seemed to have stayed close, for some reason. He floated past them and stopped in the middle of the platform. The mysterious man crouched down and gently touched the ground with one hand.

“The same reason most people come here, although you don’t know it. What you need are answers. And I can give them to you.”

Suddenly, the platform began to rumble. Edmund clung to Ford, who watched Vis carefully. A small hole opened in the middle of the platform. Vis rose and jumped down into it.

Ford and Edmund stared after him for a second, but Vis popped back up, looking them up and down.

“Well?” he asked. “Are you coming or not?” At that, Edmund and Ford followed Vis down the tunnel.

“Wow,” Edmund said when they reached the bottom, his voice echoing throughout the large chamber. Vis chuckled.

“Welcome to my library,” Vis said, gesturing around. He led them further into the expansive hidden chamber. The library was grand and ornately decorated, with shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling and creating a complicated maze.

“How come you don’t get lost in here?” Edmund asked, looking up at Vis.

Vis laughed again. “You know, I like you, kid. You’re observant. Truth is, I placed an enchantment on this chamber many years ago. No one will ever be lost in these shelves. They’ll always be able to find what they’re looking for.”

As Ford looked around, a thought struck him. “Vis, you haven’t ever met a skinny, bird-like, nasty man, have you?”

“As a matter of fact, I have seen him, though I didn’t let him in. He broke in, obtained some information, and fled. Why?”

“Do you happen to know what information he was looking at?” Ford asked as he began to walk down one of the aisles.

“He was looking through curses and enchantments in the same aisle you’re in right now. To your left.”

Ford looked to his left as he walked down the aisle, Edmund following him curiously. Ford’s eyes flicked between titles of thick, old tomes until they landed on one in particular. It was titled Transformations. The pieces finally clicked together. Edmund noticed it too.

“Hasn’t Fowler been talking about becoming more powerful? Could a transformation do that?”

“A transformation would be the key to fulfilling Fowler’s master plan,” Ford mumbled under his breath, reaching for the volume. “And I have a bad feeling I know which one. A transformation so dangerous and permanent that no one has ever dared try it since they killed the original man who performed it. Vis,” Ford called, raising his volume a bit. “Was he the last one to touch the books in this area?”

“Besides you, yes,” Vis said, watching carefully.

Ford, wary of Vis, looked at the man. “Could you give us a minute?”

“Take all the time you need,” Vis said, slowly backing away into the abyss of shelves.

Ford touched the cover of the book with his sword hand and closed his eyes. He felt a gentle breeze pass over his fingers. Ford opened his eyes and gingerly removed his hand from the cover. As soon as he did this, the book opened to a page on the Dark Dragon transformation. Just as he had suspected.

“What did you just do?” Edmund whispered. Luckily, Ed knew to keep the magic involved in Ford’s line of work a secret.

“I asked the book to open to the last page that it had been opened to,” Ford whispered back, eyes flitting across the page. Between the pictures, margin notes, and what Ford knew about the transformation, he couldn’t let Fowler do this. He would not only have an ambition to destroy everything in his path, but the ability to do so. He had to be stopped.

“You’re a wizard?”

Ford snapped his head up quickly, shutting the book and turning to look at Vis. “Uh…”

“I did not mean to eavesdrop,” Vis said apologetically. “But I saw the book opening on its own and had to ask. I promise you, my only intent is to help you.”

Ford sighed. Vis had seen the book opening. There was no point trying to deny it. “I’m not a wizard. I’m the Protector, one of the Custodes.”

Vis beamed. “I am a Custode as well! I am the Librarian.”

Ford’s mouth half-dropped in shock. “You’re the Librarian? I always thought the Librarian was, you know, in our world.”

Vis’s smile faded, just a little. “Alas, my friend. My place is here, with this wonderful maze that I call home. I didn’t have much back in our world anyway. Nubeluna is where my heart is now. But it does get lonely from time to time, considering the other living creatures here are not human and cannot communicate very well with me.”

Ford nodded his understanding. “It can be a lonely job. Especially because not many people truly understand. Well, I’m sorry I was so wary of you. Thank you for your help, Vis.”

“You are most welcome,” Vis said with a smile, though it wasn’t the mysterious one from earlier. “Who exactly are you looking for? I believe I know, but I’d rather not jump to conclusions.”

“A guy with a chicken name,” Edmund said eagerly. Ford rolled his eyes at his little brother.

“A man named Tom Fowler who’s been plotting to become dangerously powerful,” Ford explained. “Edmund thought his name was Fowl when he was younger and started calling him the ‘Evil Chicken Man’ instead.”

Despite looking concerned upon hearing Fowler’s name, Vis laughed and winked at Edmund. “I knew I liked this kid. You know, I have actually met Fowler before he was the way he is now. I just barely recognized him when he broke in the other day.”

“You mean,” Ford said slowly. “He used to be a good guy? Not plotting to take over and destroy the world?”

“Yeah,” Vis said, motioning for the brothers to follow him. “In fact, he used to be a Custode. Just a Common, not any specific title. But still, he helped people. People used to call him Rolmoftew. Before you ask why, it’s-”

“The letters of his name shuffled,” Ford finished.

Vis raised an eyebrow. “You’re quick, Protector. Yes, that’s what it is. But something happened. Something killed Rolmoftew. Now, all that’s left is the debilitating mind of Tom Fowler.” Vis paused in front of a desk and began fiddling with some objects on it. “Can I ask why someone as young as you is the Protector, Ford?”

“I watched my father doing it growing up, but then he died. I decided to train to become a Custode and take his place, to continue his work.”

Vis stopped what he was doing and turned to look at Ford. “You’re Sean Stinton’s son? I used to know him, back in the day. He came to me a few times in the past. I had no idea he had passed away. I’m sorry for your loss. Your father was a good man.”

Feeling a tear in his eye, Ford swallowed hard and said, “He was. Thank you. For everything.”

Vis nodded and moved one final object. A swirling portal formed in front of the brothers. When Ford squinted, he could make out his kitchen through the portal. He glanced back at the library.

“Farewell, Protector,” Vis said. “And farewell, Edmund. I hope to meet you again one day.”

Edmund and Ford nodded at Vis before stepping through the portal. Immediately, they were jolted back to their house. Ford looked out the window. A storm was brewing, and it was approaching fast. Ford looked at his little brother.

“Looks like I need to grab some supplies.”

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About the Contributor
Maahum Alvi
Maahum Alvi, Staff Writer
Maahum is a freshman at Freehold High School. This is her first year on The Colonial. She is passionate about writing, especially creative writing. Maahum loves reading, robotics, and spending time with her siblings. 

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