Ghosts of the Past, Present, and Future Chapter 2

By Artificer Urza

Year 621 AD, Guardia Forest (Home)

A young man stood over the body of a roly rider he had just defeated. At a distance he appeared to be a traveling mercenary; he had blonde hair, a bronze armored vest, a green cape, gloves, gray trousers and boots and he wore a two-edged long sword. A closer look revealed him to be no more than a teenager of about fifteen years. His face, though grim, had a regal appearance to it. His name was Cyrus, second born to the Guardian monarchs. After the mystic war, things had settled down, the heir to the throne had been born shortly afterward; they had named her Marle, after a dear friend. A mere fifteen years ago the prince had been born and his had been a difficult and unusual birth. The prince was so different from the king that some people suggested that he wasn't the king's son. Such rumors continued to circulate until the chancellor heard them; he put a stop to them very quickly. In truth, the populace did not wish to hurt their beloved king or queen, however, whenever the prince entered the city, he could hear people talking about him behind his back. Consequently the prince tended moody and bitter; he despised people being judged by their birth instead of their ability and he longed to run away to somewhere where his ancestry didn't matter. He was, in fact, contemplating running to the El Nido Archipelago as he stood over the roly rider corpse, until the chancellor who ran up to him interrupted him.

"Y-your majesty!" The chancellor began breathlessly. "You shouldn't run off like that. The king and queen were worried about your welfare."

"Yeah, I'm sure they were." Cyrus replied his voice filled with sarcasm. "Do you know when Glenn is coming back?"

"Sir Glenn?" The chancellor mused, glad for the change of subject. "I believe he is currently reviewing the troops at Porre and won't be back for a few weeks."

"Too bad. Glenn is the only one around here who treats me like a person." Cyrus was a little irritated to hear his friend and mentor was gone.

"Whatever do you mean, you're highness?" The chancellor asked, growing increasingly distraught.

"You know what I mean chancellor! Ha! It would serve mother and father right if their 'bastard son' vanished now wouldn't it!" Cyrus loathed it when his parents tried to 'help'; he especially hated it when his mother tried to convince him that he was the son of the king. All of his loathing and hate was evident in his attitude and his tone.

He could no longer stand it; he had made his decision and ran. He ran deep into the forest until he was quite certain that the chancellor could not find him. He sat down to contemplate what he would do now. The El Nido archipelago had had no one to explore it; even the great explorer Toma Levine hadn't gone there. Those were merely some of the possibilities that he thought of when he saw a light, shining through the trees. For some reason he felt drawn to the source of the light and he felt that this was the case as he approached the area the light emanated from. He came to a clearing close to the castle and beheld a strange sight: a tiny beam of light was shooting out from the ground with no visible source. As he approached the light he noticed that one of his feet had began to sink into the ground. Shocked, he stepped back to see his footprint in the grass and waves, as though he had stepped in water, came from the print. He watched, fascinated as the print began to fill in and all evidence of what had just happened, vanished. As an experiment he dipped his finger into the spot where his foot had been. Again there were tiny waves as his finger sank into what appeared to be solid ground. Light shot out from around his finger, identical to that of the beam in the center of the clearing.

"Weird." He whispered as he removed his finger. Unlike the last time there was no print to suggest that what had happened, happened.

After more experimentation, he found that there was at least a four-foot radius between the light and the edge of the rift. As he continued to circle the perimeter five points of light erupted from the rift.

"Help me!" A woman's voice cried from the rift as a slender hand came out of the rift.

"What the hell!?" He said as he watched the hand slip back into the rift.

With no more hesitation, and without thought, he reached into the rift to catch whomever the damsel in distress was. With barely a grip on terra firma, from the edge of the rift, he was able to hold onto the hand. He began to pull, in a desperate attempt to bring the woman to the surface.

"Help! Somebody help!" He shouted praying to any god who would listen, that the chancellor had come looking for him and could hear him.

His tenuous grip on the stable ground began to give way. He began to slip as he felt a force trying to pull him in. The chancellor burst through the clearing and ran toward Cyrus. He was too late, though, as Cyrus lost his grip on the solid ground and fell into the rift. The ground beneath him literally shattered as he hit it. The vortex dragged him in; the swirling blue colors made one think that he was going down a toilet. As the chancellor approached, the vortex began to close; the land seemed to heal itself, repair the hole created by the rift. The chancellor stopped dead in his tracks as the rift sealed completely.

"Oh dear god! What will I tell their majesties?" He distraughtly asked the empty air.

******

Cyrus still held the woman by the hand as they both fell through the vortex. There was no sound though she was obviously screaming. For the first time, he got a good look at whom he was saving; he had seen paintings of his mother when she was younger and this woman could have been her twin. The vortex opened again, exiting to a fluctuating void. In truth Cyrus could find no way to describe it; it seemed like the landscape was made of a shaking gelatinous substance and yet it looked like the colors were simply changing shades. The greatest change was the sound; the noise was unbelievable, like a million different people having a thousand different conversations at once. The noise alone was driving him nuts, but he never lost his grip on the woman. His attempt to be a hero was foiled as he felt a force begin to pull on him, he could also feel something trying to pull her away from him. He attempted to bring her closer, but the harder he pulled, the harder she was being pulled away. Her hand began to slip away; the more he attempted to hold on, the more her hand slid out of his grasp and the more the void around them fluctuated. When her hand slipped away, he made one last desperate attempt to grab her with his other hand, but he was inches to far to reach and the distance grew as they sped away from each other. She had grown tiny in his view when another vortex opened and swallowed her. He attempted to scream but no sound emerged from his mouth. He felt pulled as a vortex opened behind him and dragged him in.

The vortex was swirling blue, just like the one he fell in the first time; the only was a mirror image of him projected on the wall of the vortex. The strangest thing, at first, was that the image was only on one wall, nowhere else. Then he noticed that the image was dressed differently than he was; the image was more regally dressed, the very picture of a prince with a golden circlet on his brow, golden rings and even the royal family pendant hanging from the image's neck.

"What the hell?" Cyrus mouthed as he watched the image mirror him exactly.

A thought occurred to him: what if that wasn't a mirror image, but an alternate possibility, a possibility where he was first in line for the throne. The mere thought seemed to sprout a thousand different considerations in his mind. He desperately pushed the thought out of his mind, if only to preserve his sanity. Light erupted below him as he saw the vortex opening, the light so bright he could not see. The change was abrupt as he passed from the vortex to a new location, he only new that he was falling from a very great height. Soon, he new nothing at all as crashed into the snow covered ground and fell unconscious.


Chapter 3

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