Jojo tumbled around in the water, flipping into somersaults until he could see the bright light of the surface. The boy ripped through the water, his lungs on fire, until he broke through the water.
He did not recognize where he was.
This was not the jungle that surrounded his village. The trees were far different than any he had seen. They looked aged many years.
Slowly he crawled out, but his clothes and his body were no longer wet.
Jojo stood up in the old forest and was called forward by a distant golden light that was glowing in the distance, farther through the trees.
The young squire thudded to the ground on his back. He removed the hand from his eyes as the light faded. When he looked about he noticed that he did not immediately recognize his surroundings.
Ancient trees, that rivaled the ones just on the outskirts of the kingdom, surrounded him. Their trunks were overgrown with rotting moss and the air was cool.
But the boy was not afraid.
He stood up, noticing the familiar light in the distance. Slowly he began to move forward between the trees.
As Jaul stepped out of the light, he found himself unfamiliar with his surroundings. Large dark trees loomed over him and the temperature of the air was much colder than he was used to.
Far off in the distance Jaul saw the glowing golden light.
He remembered what it had felt like to have it calling to him.
Jaul walked assertively to where the light was coming from.
As the young prince opened his eyes, he found that he was no longer within his palace walls. He did not recognize the vegetation that had grown all around him. It appeared as if it were midday, but the sun was not visible.
Weisheng stood up. He then carefully examined himself, noticing that he was not burned.
But then the boy noticed a glowing light between the trees, a few legs ahead.
The young Prince was filled with desirous wonder.
He moved on, stepping towards the light that glowed in the distance.
Jojo, Aaren, Jaul and Weisheng continued to move between the ancient trees until they broke through to the clearing that contained the golden light.
The boys were startled at first at the sight of one another, but their minds were influenced too much by the center of the clearing.
There, standing in the center of the trees was a small stone pillar. Upon this pillar were many ancient writings that were beyond recognition to any of the boys.
Floating above the ancient stone pillar was a concentrated orb of light. It shone with the purest of gold hues.
Their eyes were transfixed upon this golden sphere when suddenly the light began to grow.
It escaped the orb, the brightness causing the boys to shield their eyes away from it.
The light continued to fill the entire forest until it subsided without sound.
When the four boys opened their eyes a tall figure stood before them. He was dressed in gray robes and had a long white beard. His eyes were of a pale blue and his mouth was twisted into a smile.
“The sons of the Four Kingdoms,” he spoke reverently, but in a way that they all could understand.
“I have called you here because you were all chosen by an ancient prophecy to restore peace and unity back into the lands of Hilarum. For too long have these lands been split, and for too long has a dark entity lurked through the shadows, awaiting the day that it might smite the kingdoms under its dark rule once and for all.
“Years from now I will call upon you again, when you are much older. But for now, remember this day and that of which I have told you. Tell no one of these things.”
When the old man was finished speaking, he took the golden orb above his head a raised it with his hands. The light began to grow once more, blinding the boys for the final time.
Before they could even look at one another, Jojo, Aaren, Jaul and Weisheng were consumed by the light yet again.
Each of them was sent back to the lands of which they came.
Jojo found himself sitting on the banks of the stream just outside of his village. Quickly he picked up the bucket and ran back to his hut.
Aaren opened his eyes, lying on his back at the top of the hill in the farthest pasture of the kingdom. He looked around for the stallion, but did not find it. The young squire picked himself up and walked back down the hill in the direction of the stables.
Jaul was lying in the streets of the marketplace, leaned up against the same wall that he had been leaning against before. His eyes shifted around nervously as he grabbed his flute and ran back towards the palace.
Weisheng looked around the room after he was sent back onto the floor. The fireplace showed no signs of it being lit. He was heavily disappointed that the falcon had gotten away. Nevertheless he left the room, going to wake his elder brother.