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Arcania: Beyond Where the Sidewalk Ends

Story and Illustrations by RS Royall

The Arcania series is a four-part tale of an eccentric boy with an overactive imagination who is swept off to a magical land where he befriends a talking elephant and joins a group of misfits on a daring mission to recover a missing dentist and save the great peanut butter king.

In book one, young Sheldon is coaxed into running away from both school and home by a mischievous light leading him out of town, all the way to the end of the city sidewalk. He finds himself at a mysterious farmhouse only to be snatched up in the dark of night by an odd flying boot-thing bound for Arcania, land of imagination and wonder. Sheldon finds himself among strange company, facing a difficult decision. Will he choose to return home to comfort and safety? Or will he follow his adventurous spirit and brave the wilds of Arcania, risking everything to help his strange, new friends, each in search of their own destiny?

In book two, Shel and his companion, Izzy the elephant, continue their quest for Manny the missing dentist. Join them on another adventure-filled journey as they attempt to reach the Land of Happy and locate Ingonyama, the famous hunter. The journey is not an easy one in a land of terrifying monsters, giant crocodiles, sea dragons, and angry unicorns. Follow Shel as he fights both adversaries and the urge to return home, on a mission that just might be turning out to be too dangerous. Will he decide that the promise of adventure is worth the risk? Will he drown in the storm of life as he confronts his future? Or will he decide to embrace his destiny, and in the process, discover life on his own terms?

In book three (not yet released), Shel and Joy meet new friends and reunite with old ones along their journey to meet the king and find Ingonyama. But time is running out for the gang to rescue Manny the dentist, and even more so for King Skippingston, whose mouth has become mortally stuck with peanut butter. Will they find Ingo in time to rescue Manny and save the king? Stay tuned to find out.

In book four, the final installment, the gang return to the Land of Happy. But are they too late? And will Shel ever decide to return home to Chicago? We'll see!

Chapter One

Illuminate

The torrent of rain that hammered the boy’s roof and pelted his window throughout the long night, washing away old and preparing for new — as rainstorms do — eventually gave way to clear, calm skies filled with the faint whisper of a most unusual sunrise.

 

In the freshly cleansed morning, a rogue strand of sunlight appeared against the pale backdrop of the late spring dawn like a warrior perched atop a distant hill, surveying her battlefield. This curious beam shone brightly from well beyond the far-away horizon, a cosmic searchlight scouring the heavens for a wayward traveler, a friend, lost and alone somewhere out in the world.

 

As the playful spotlight danced and twirled across the landscape — searching, searching — something familiar caught her attention and she settled on a particular house, an apartment rather. There, in some modest building nestled in a nook just outside of downtown Chicago, a young boy struggled through corrupted dreams of cowboy outlaws and cannibal pirates. On a particular window of this small apartment the light paused, intensifying her dawn radiance to cut a clear path through the morning fog, announcing a brand-new day and along with it, new destiny.

 

The focused beam, dedicated to her mission of finding her friend, eventually succeeded at penetrating the curtained apartment window. Into the previously-darkened room she crept, silently stalking her prey. Hovering over the slumbering boy, the beam of light hesitated, reveling in her success at finally finding him. Then, playfully as always, she wound up and smacked him across the face as if challenging him to a duel.

 

“Take that, you loafing laggard!” she seemed to say with a laugh as the boy reeled back with a jerk and quickly rolled over, smothering his assaulted face in his pillow and yanking his blanket over his head. “Go away!” he mumbled, feeling thoroughly unprepared for a new day — which was sure to bring its own challenges — after so many struggles throughout the night. But the tenacious luminescence did not go away. Undaunted, she deftly navigated through the folds in the pillow and the blanket. She hadn’t come this far to be thwarted by feeble linens. There, at the precipice of his senses, she joined forces with the morning clamor of the house already seeping through the pillow fluff like soldiers in a snow storm. The boy, wishing he could clamp his ears shut as he could his eyes, growled in protest at the intrusion. But it was no use. Together, the warriors of light and sound fought a successful campaign, forcing the final surrender of his slumber.

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Shel

A 12 (goin' on 13) year-old boy who has yet to tame, or outgrow, his overactive imagination. Instead, he nourishes it, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. Seeking to shake up his boring life in Chicago, young Shel sets out in search of adventure and is rewarded with a surprise visit to Arcania, a wonderland of wild characters, including Izzy, the tree-climbing elephant who joins Shel on his mission to find Ingonyama, the infamous lion-man, track down Manny the missing dentist, and save "Skippy" Longsmiles, the great peanut-butter king of the Land of Happy. But it won't be easy, what with battling giant crocodiles, sea dragons, and monsters like the Worst, the worst beast of them all! Does young Sheldon have the will to overcome his fear and doubt and gain the self-confidence to save the king, and in the process, save himself from an ordinary life slaving away for his father? We shall see!

Hector

A short, bearded man with a great, round belly and dark, alluring eyes which tell tales of mystery and endless adventure, Hector's profound gaze speaks volumes, even when his mouth remains shut... which is almost never. A man from the fringe of the world, Hector wears extravagant outfits that look like they’ve been hand-spun in small villages from far-off places. A curious collection of chains, chimes, and charms hangs from his hot dog cart as well as from various body parts, giving him the look of a genie freshly popped from a thousand-year-old bottle. Hector becomes Shel's mentor of sorts, inspiring him to dream beyond the streets of Chicago, to not be ashamed of his overactive imagination, and most importantly, to believe in himself.

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Izzy

Izzy, the eccentric, tree-climbing elephant becomes Shel's friend and confidant as they traverse myriad trials and tribulations throughout their adventures in Arcania. Together they face many adversaries and adversities that test the bonds of friendship. In the end, will the meandering path of life send them toward different destinies, or will they discover a friendship that transcends worlds? It's a Royall secret.

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Ingonyama

A leader and protector of the public, freedom-fighter for the greater good, Ingonyama, "Ingo" the lion-man, guides Shel along his journey and provides a proper role model for what it means to be responsible to others, and true to one's self.

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Joythea

Joythea Aquarius Costeros is carefree and whimsical. But don't let her jovial nature fool you. She is also a strong leader and won't hesitate to put you in your place. With so much adversity lying in Shel's path, he's going to need all the help he can get, and there's no one better suited to walk by his side than this resourceful and formidable beauty. 

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Worst Beast

While not a central character in the book, the Worst Beast presents a formative event for young Sheldon. As such, the monster is not to be ignored. In fact, because of its terrible smell, the hideous beast can never be ignored, unfortunately.

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