An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.
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Rowan of the Wood
A young boy, Cullen, meanders through the redwood forest every day on his way to school, losing himself in books and fantasy worlds full of elves, fairies, and wizards. He loves to escape to these magical lands because reality for him is not fun at all. Cullen and his two misfit friends, Maddy and April, are terribly unpopular amongst the other kids, and they regularly endure ridicule and bullying. Cullen's life changes incredibly one day when he uncovers an ancient magic wand that is inhabited by a powerful wizard, Rowan. Inadvertently, Cullen releases Rowan from the wand and finds himself possessed by the wizard, with a great power and an obsessive need to find a lost love. When danger is near, Rowan emerges from the frightened child to set things right. He and Cullen try to understand what has happened to them, only to discover a deeper problem. Nearly fourteen centuries ago, Rowan and his bride Fiana were separated on their wedding day. Rowan manages to survive, trapped in time, until Cullen releases him from the wand. Fiana uses dark magic to stay alive as she continues searching for Rowan. Over the centuries, Fiana descends deeper into the darkness becoming something evil and eventually giving up her search...until a young boy brings Rowan back to her.
Rowan of the Wood placed as a FINALIST in the National Best Books 2008 Awards!
“Throw them on, one at a time, and watch them burn.”
“But, sir,” Cullen pleaded, “please…”
“Do it, boy. I’m not playing around.”
Cullen looked up into Frank’s face, and he saw that he was
completely serious. He also saw a glimmer of joy sparkle in his
eyes, even though his face held its normal scowl. He must know
what torture this was for Cullen, and he was enjoying it. A distant
thought in the back of Cullen’s mind felt pity for a man
so miserable in his own life that he must destroy everything
around him. But that fleeting thought quickly dissipated at the
reality of what he must do.
Cullen approached the fire and tossed the first book on: The
Two Towers. He watched it slowly burn as Frank stoked the fire.
He threw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on the fire
next. One after another he watched them burn, blinking back
the tears in his eyes. He wouldn’t let Frank see him cry. He
wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. This was the worst birthday
“That one, too,” Frank said as Cullen clutched his tattered
copy of The Hobbit to his chest.
“Please, sir, let me keep just this one. My father gave it to
“Not a chance. It’s time you stopped daydreaming, boy, and
learned about the real world. It’s not all magic and fun. Life is
hard work and pain. Tell me I’m wrong!”
Frank only scowled as tears filled Cullen’s imploring eyes.
“Don’t make me come over there and throw it in for you. I
swear to God, you don’t want me to have to do that.”
“No, sir, I wouldn’t,” Cullen said quietly.
He dropped the book on the smoldering fire. Despite his best
efforts, he couldn’t stop the tears from spilling over his lashes as
he watched the pages blacken and curl. He felt his life burn in
that fire, the only thing that made living bearable, destroyed.
Fire, again, took what he held most dear.
Suddenly, a new hope blossomed within his soul as he remembered
the new hardback book still under his mattress. A warm
rush of joy entered him and splashed across his face like cool
water on a hot summer’s day. He masked his joy immediately
by bowing his head and covering his face, just as Frank looked
up at him again. That was too close! He couldn’t let Frank see
even the slightest glimmer or happiness, or he would know he
missed one. Frank didn’t know about the book Ms. MacFey had
given him, and Cullen would now have to find a better hiding
place for it.
He did his best to stay out of the way of Trudy and Rex that
Halloween day. He had always thought it would be really cool
to have a birthday on Halloween, but nothing was really cool
about living with the Samuels.
Trudy doted on Rex like a small child. The two of them
made his pirate costume together. Trudy had even gotten him
some really cool black boots. She and Frank planned on going
out tonight themselves, so Cullen had to stay and give candy
out to the kids. Fine with him! He preferred being alone, especially
if the alternative was the Samuels.
The Samuels left for their Halloween party after a stern
warning against any foolishness. Trudy finished up the last of
her martini and shoved the empty glass in Cullen’s hands. She
liked to get an early start on the festivities.
Rex left soon thereafter dressed as a pirate, giving Cullen a
slap upside his head on his way out the door.
Once they were gone, Cullen ran to his bedroom and looked
under the mattress. Sure enough, the new book Ms. MacFey
had given him was right where he left it. All was not lost! He
tucked it away deep in the corner so it couldn’t easily be seen,
just in case. Tonight, after everyone was asleep, he had to find a
good hiding place for it—one that no one would ever find.
The hours crept by as the trick-or-treaters drove up with their
parents in their colorful costumes. There was never more than
fifteen minutes between groups all evening, but Cullen didn’t
mind too much. He, at least, was alone. He smiled when he
opened the door at the little kids and some his age, too. Some
even from his school, but they didn’t chide him now because he
controlled the candy! He didn’t mind not being part of the fun
out there, not too much anyway. April and Maddy didn’t come
by after all. He bet that April looked adorable in her blind bat
costume. He wondered what spell Maddy cast tonight. What
required a full moon? He couldn’t wait to see them again on
Monday and share stories.
Late that night—well past eleven o’clock—Rex snored
soundly, hugging his plastic Jack-o-lantern full of candy, most
of which he had bullied away from smaller kids. Cullen watched
the Batman clock and stayed quiet until the entire house slept.
The clock emitted the time on the ceiling in a beam of light, like
the Bat Signal. He had been officially twelve for nearly a full
day. What a horrible birthday it had been, his worst ever. When
the Bat Signal showed 11:45, he figured it was probably safe to
sneak out. The house was silent.
He pulled the small flashlight and his new book from under
the corner of his mattress and crept outside. Once he walked a
safe distance from the house, he broke into a full run toward
the forest. He wasn’t taking any chances on being caught. He
had to be quick. The full moon shone brightly, lighting the path
before him. He didn’t need the flashlight until he reached the
cover of the trees. Even at night, with the light from his tiny
flashlight reflecting off the heavy mist, Cullen ran as gracefully
as a deer over the stumps and through the trees until he reached
his secret grove. Stooping down before his favorite tree, the
greatest of the redwoods, he crawled inside the chamber created
by its split trunk.
He dropped his book and began to dig frantically with a
flat stone he found nearby. He needed to get back as soon as
possible in case Rex woke up and saw him gone. He couldn’t
risk what would happen to him then. As he dug deeper the mist
thickened and the wind picked up, finding its way inside the
chamber and blowing his sandy hair into a big tangle.
He looked outside at the full moon peeking through the tops
of the giant trees. The sky was completely clear that night. Clear
and cold. Clouds came in from nowhere and covered the moon.
The familiar fear deep in his stomach began to rise into his
throat and choke him. He dug faster. The stone hit something
hard in the earth; he thought it to be a root. He reached down
to it and found a piece of wood not attached to the tree. It was
loose. He picked it up and looked at it in wonder.
“A magic wand!” he exclaimed, as he examined the strange
knotty piece of wood. It was about as long as his arm from
fingertip to elbow.
The wind died down as suddenly as it had picked up, and the
clouds moved away from the moon. The wind didn’t fully stop,
however. It whispered. All the trees were whispering in harmony
with the wind and the stars and all life around him. They whispered,
“What?” Cullen asked out loud, in spite of himself.
They whispered again, “Seann, Seann, Seann–Daonnan
“Daonnan Seann?” Cullen asked.
Was he hearing things? That didn’t make any sense! But
as soon as he spoke the words aloud, the wind whipped into
a frenzy around him, blowing much more fiercely than ever.
A huge bolt of lightning cracked directly above the grove. He
jumped out of the tree and screamed, opening his hand to drop
his wand; but it didn’t fall. It stuck like glue. He tried to shake it
off, but it wouldn’t budge. Terror filled him, body and mind.
The wand in his hand began to grow. First, it sprouted vines
and wrapped around his hand, then it began to crawl up his
arm. Cullen fell to the ground in utter terror, thoughts of alien
invasion throttling his senses. His mind raced and he screamed
inside his head, but it didn’t reach his mouth. He was too scared
to even scream. Up and up his arm the vines grew. They felt cool
and warm at the same time, as they snaked through Cullen’s
jacket. When they reached his throat, they spread out down his
chest and back and around his neck. Now Cullen really panicked. He would choke to death! He would die out here, alone!
No one would find him. He would rot here alone. He desperately
clawed at the vines around his throat with his free hand,
feeling them squeeze the breath out of him.
Then they were gone.
The wind stilled.
The sky cleared.
The forest was silent.