Eric Sipple

It was night when he woke. Darkness covered everything, for the clouds overhead blocked out even the stars and the moon. He had woken outside, though he had no idea how he had gotten here. For that matter, he didn't even know where here is. For that matter, he didn't even know who he was.

He stood and looked about. He had awakened at the edge of a small wooded area. The trees were small and the branches hung limply. He shook off his grogginess and looked down at himself. He was clad in long grey robes, hanging down to his ankles. A belt held the robe on and hanging off the belt was a small pouch filled with copper and silver coins. On his feet were a pair of leather sandals, also dyed grey. They both appeared to be new and other than the grime on them from his slumber on the ground, they were relatively clean. There was a worn road not far away from his position, and he decided that finding a town would be in his best interest. He randomly chose to go right, and started down the path. He hadn't walked far before a wave of dizziness overcame him. It was almost a minute before it wore off and when it did, he found that he had fallen to one knee. He shook his head and rose again. He had only walked another few feet when he got the sudden impulse to turn around and go the other way. The thought was overwhelming, and without even realizing it, he was walking back to other way. It seemed to take forever but soon he found that down the road only a small way was a village. It wasn't large by any standards, but it would have a place to eat and the long walk was making him hungry. As he approached the edge of the town, he noticed that it was a dirty, decrepit town. The black smoke coming from the smokestack on the top of the inn hung over the houses menacingly. But hunger was overcoming him and he pressed on nonetheless. The streets were almost entirely empty and the few people on the road seemed intent on getting off of it. He soon found a small inn, named simply "The Stopping Point." The letters had been carved into a wood hastily and sloppily. It didn't look very inviting but it appeared that he would have no choice. He stepped through the heavy wooden door and found the inn as dirty on the inside as it had been on the outside. He noticed the dirt stains from sleeping on the ground and figured that at least he would fit in. He chose a seat and waited for a serving girl to approach him. What'll ya be havin'? The rabbit stew, or the rabbit pie? And will ya be wantin' a drink wit' that?" the girl said to him. "The stew," he replied,"and a . . . ," he thought for a moment. He knew he had a drink which he always ordered but he couldn't . . . suddenly he felt dizzy, as he had before. It didn't last as long this time and he found that he was still sitting when it passed. The disinterested serving girl hadn't even noticed. Before he realized it he said,"I'll have a redberry." The girl scurried off to the back to fetch his food, leaving him to ponder what had just happened. He had remembered almost instantly what he wanted to remember. If it worked again . . . He concetraited on knowing his name. He did this until the serving girl had returned with his food, but this time, no memories came back. Frustrated, he began to eat. The food was mostly tasteless; the taste it did have was bitter and stale. The redberry was obviously old, for it had begun to ferment. He didn't complain though, for it was food and he did feel better after eating it. The girl returned to the table "Will ya be wantin' any more t'drink?" He shook his head and she nodded,"All right. It's four silvers for the stew and a half silver for the redberry." He fished out the money and handed it to the serving girl. She looked oddly at the money for a second and gave it back. "What're ya tryin' t'pull with me mister? This money isn't no good? Who the hell is Emperor Calid?" She was referring to the imprint of the emperor face and name into the coin. "He's the emperor," the man replied. One of things that had come back must had been memories about the monarchy. "No he's not," the girl laughed out loud at him,"It's Bargis. Y'fool. What're ya tryin' to pull on me?" "Emperor Bargis died ten years ago," the man stated calmly. "Sure he did. Whatever ya say," the girl backed away,"But this money isn't no good. How do I know if it's even really silver?" "Of course it is," the man said, losing his patience,"You're the one that doesn't even know that Bargis is dead. He died ten years ago, on the fifty-first year of his reign." "He's only reigned for about forty," the girl back off some more, and she looked into the back and motioned to someone. A moment later a large man holding a mace stepped out of the back room. "We got another nutcase in here. Why can't ya guards keep'm out of this inn?" "I'm not a nutcase," he looked to the large man,"And you stay away from me with that." "Just pound 'im. I don't care. Just kill 'im," the girl instructed. The man smiled and stared toward him. A wave of dizziness came and quickly passed, but by time he realized it had, he found himself pointing a finger at the man and mumbling strange sounding words. A dazzilingly bright bolt of energy streaked toward the large man, striking him in the chest. It burnt through the cloths, armor and flesh of the large man, killing him instantly. The serving girl screamed out an alarm for other guards. Baffled by what he had just done, it took him a moment to get his legs to move, but when they did, he moved faster than he thought he ever could. He ran out of the city and down the road, not stopping until he didn't have the energy to move any further. He collapsed in a heap at the edge of the road and crawled into a concealing ditch just beside the road. Before consciousness slipped away, some of the jumbled thoughts he had been having began to fit together. He had cast a spell, so he must be a mage of some sort. Something in his mind was driving him down the road, toward something unknown to him, but he knew it was there. The last thought he had before falling asleep was of the argument with the girl. There had to be an explanation for her believing Bargis to be ruling, and for him only ruling for forty years . . . but before he could grasp it, sleep came.

"We have called upon you to do us a service Lydar," an old man in long grey robes said. "I understand, what is it?", the other, younger man said, also wearing grey robes. "There is a great threat to the Tower. And it must be destroyed. But it is too powerful now. We have waited too long," the man paused, as if for effect,"The only place it can be stopped now is in the past. " "In the past?", Lydar asked,"What threat is this Mollin?" "Yes, Lydar, in the past," he strode over to Lydar,"The threat is a man. Although he knows it not now, in time, he will destroy the tower. His ambitions combined with his power will shatter what we have built." "Then you wish to send me back in time?", Lydar looked up at Mollin. "Yes," the old man nodded,"But know this. The strain of time travel is great, and you alone are strong enough among us to withstand this. But the strain will suppress, and perhaps even destroy some of your memories. For this reason will magically implant the orders into your mind. They will come to you as you need them, as will any other things we ward. Such as your name, your spells and other personal information. We will ward what we can." Lydar nodded,"When will I go?" "You leave now," Mollin said,"Come, we are prepared already." The two walked to the sacred circle. Around it are eight men, and Mollin took his place as the ninth. Lydar walked into the center and waits as the men cast their spell. The circle began to glow and a searing pain began to rush into Lydar. In the agony of a thousand flames, the dream ended . . .

The man awoke startled and frightened. Somehow he knew the dream he just had was completely true. Standing up, he sorted out all he had learned in the dream. He now knew his name and why he was here; or at least, some of why he was here. The compulsion to walk eastward, he realized, must be from the warded memories. He smiled and began to walk again, somehow energized by the knowledge he had just gained. With each step he could feel himself closer to his unknown destination. The dizziness came occasionally and each time more memories returned, but nothing save that he had to find and possibly kill the man he was hunting ever came about his mission. As he got closer to his destination, he began to dream about the glory this would bring to him. He could already hear the people of the Tower praising him, calling him savior. And he could see the Emperor granting him the title of Gre'gar: Heir to the Tower. By the end of the day, he found himself in front of a small tower. Instinctively he knew he had reached his destination. His already high spirts rose even further. He could actually feel the man inside of the tower, unknowing of what would befall him. With a grim smile he walked to the small oak door leading into the tower. It was unlocked, as he knew it would be and it swung easily open. As he entered the darkness, he couldn't help thinking that he had been in this same tower, though he could not place the thought. The man was above him, that Lydar knew. He pulled one of the few lit torches from the wall and found a staircase. He followed the stairs to the top of the tower and looked around. The hall was empty; everyone was asleep. He hoped that his prey would be too. Lydar could feel his presence in a room at the end of the hall. Creeping silently toward the door, he put the torch out as not to awaken any of the others living here. After what seemed like forever, he reaches the door. The doorknob was a large, brass knob that was cold to the touch. When his hand touched it, the sense of familiarity triggered again, but he could not place it. He shook the feeling off and swung the door open. He stepped into the room and pointed a finger at the sleeping figure on the bed. He spoke the magical words and a lance of flame shot from Lydar's finger to the man on the bed. The lance struck true, piercing the man's chest and burning his heart. Excited beyond belief, he walked over to the now dead man and rolled him over to see if he knew the man that he had killed. The blood drained from Lydar's face as he looked upon his prey's shocked face. The face was his and the man was himself. The wards on the memory slipped away instantly, filling him with the terrible knowledge. He almost collapsed from dizziness. He had been sent to kill himself. It was he that would destroy the tower. A tremor of fear ran through his body as his eyes fell upon his hand. It was gone, as was half of his forearm. It was fading away. A sick realization came upon him. Without a Lydar being alive in the past, there could be no Lydar in his time. The timestream was changing, and was taking him with it. As both arms faded, his feet vanished as well, sending him toppling to the ground. His fear was quickly replaced with anger. How could he have let himself fall into this? There was no answer though; no comforting thought. As his chest disappeared, he thought he could hear the people of the tower cheering their savior; praising him for his courage. But before the fading engulfed his head as well, he realized that it was not the tower calling for him, but death; laughing at his stupidity and arrogance.