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CHAPTER 55: HABDENS, MAGIC ANYONE?

    I decided that since I was near Earth, a visit with my friend Bellos Hampson was in order.
He was the only other person who could play the spoons like I could. I had taught myself to
play when I had been aboard the Zychron. Hampson was now headmaster of a school of
wizarding on Earth called Habdens. He needed a teacher for the Historical Defenses Against
Dark Magic class, and I happened to be somewhat fluent in this field.

    "Micah I need someone to take this job, and you're the only one who has experience in this field."

    "I'll take it on one condition."

    "Name it."

    "Boarding, meals, and a robotics workshop?"

    "Sure. You'll also be house leader in charge of Jhans. The Mists, Hafjavens, Darmaks, and the
Andronomes are the other houses. Here are your rosters, the merit scales, and the locations of your
rooms. Classrooms you'll teach in are highlighted on the map with their corresponding times. Class
begins first thing tomorrow, so I'll let you get acquainted with the layout. Dinner's at six, and we'll be
initiating new students. Your box has already been taken to your room."

    He left me to wander and explore the halls that I'd be walking down many times. I found my room
and walked in. I had the feeling that I was in TedCastle again. I found a couch and after a short while,
I dozed off. I was awoken several hours later by a boy named Doc Danson shouting through the door
at me.

    "Professor Jhan, dinner!"

     I followed Doc down to the Great Hall, and I hurriedly took my place at the staff table. From this
angle, the Great Hall was brightly festooned with the multi- colored house banners. The torches were
lit and the initiation began. Hampson entered the hall and stood silently for several moments. He waited
until the students became quiet, then he began his speech.

     "Welcome to Habdens. Esvads is still the top ranking school, but we're the second best out of seven.
Welcome first years. Your first year will probably be a bit scary, but don't let that get you down. We also
have a new House Head for the Jhans. He is a Jhan himself, Professor Micah Jhan. He has come to us
all the way from Tedland. We welcome him warmly with open arms. Let us all stay safe in this coming
year, and would all first years step forward. Sylvester Greenleaf, Jhans. Mandy Mintrassi, Mists. David
Morgan, Darmaks. Jonas Martin, Darmaks. James Ewards, Hafjaven. Marge Evans, Andronomes. Emit
Emos, Jhans. May we all enjoy the first meal of the new year."

    Hampson sat down and the feasting began. After we had eaten, many of the people hurried off to
unpack. Meanwhile, Hampson quietly gets up and leaves the Hall. I quickly got up and followed him out.
Going out the door, I nearly crash into him standing beside the door.

     "I'll introduce you to the staff tomorrow over lunch."

     "Sounds like a plan, good night."

    "Can I ask a somewhat odd question?"

    "Yes?"

     "What's in that large ragged box of yours?"

     "You wouldn't believe me."

    "Oh... Sleep well then."

    My room turned out to be very much like home, too much like home... A memory of first seeing the
castle. The distant memory of learning magic, and the late night hours of practice. The original use of the
secret room in the library. A memory of seeing the room for the first time. Seeing future gravestones of
loved ones, the first of many that came after it. The thoughts were swept away by the sudden interruption
of the present.

     "Professor, you have a letter."

    Written in a plain, quickly scribbled note.


    To Professor Jhan.

    I'm sure you're aware this castle is exactly like your home. I wish to discuss this with you in person.
Meet me in the secret graveyard tomorrow night at ten.

    Hafjaven Edwards III



     Sleep had been dreamless, and the following morning started early. I went down to my first classroom
and prepared for the day by constructing a quiz for each class. The students promptly filed in at half past
eight, and class began.

    "I'm afraid I don't know what you've learned previously, so a quiz to see what you know is in order.
You will each singularly defeat ten opponents using your current skills, begin."

      The room grows dark, and the students reappear on a large battlefield. Micah stands on a cliff that
rises high above the students below. The battles rage on below, while Micah fights his own battle above.
Suddenly a blue swirling disk forms and dives toward Micah. He mutters a spell and discharges it from
the glow that has appeared around his hands. The spell rebounds and hits Micah, fragmenting him
through time. One self stays behind in this timeline, while the other is thrown back toward Tedland.
Along the way, he intersects paths with a future abandoned Tardais.

    

CHAPTER 56: MUD FROM A BOTTOMLESS LAKE

     Millions of years have gone by since Micah left Tedland and several years since he left Earth. Bigbunny,
Hampron, and Xavius have gone on to open an herbal remedy shop. Ricky has gone back to being an art
historian for an art gallery in France. The other Micah became headmaster shortly after Hampson died.
Earth has increased and progressed its technology, but all is not well on Tedland. All of Tedland is
ravaged by war and pestilence. The old king died many years before, leaving no heirs. TedCastle remains
standing, but as bones of a long-dead beast. A young boy walks through the main archway, running
across the worn writing engraved in the stone floor. He kneels down and wipes away the dust covering the
text. "In times of need, he will come." The Tardais lands near the ruins of TedCastle. Micah dazedly steps
out of the Tardais and walks toward the lake. He looks out over the lake and sees a burning city far off in
the distance. An ashen faced boy walks toward Micah and stands beside him.

    "Have you come to save us?"

    "My home... My memories... My life... This is the place I have always come back to. How long has it
been this way?"

     "TedCastle has been in ruin for ten years. Civil war and chaos broke out in the city shortly after the
old king died. The lake is the only pure thing that remains in perpetual peace."

    "I'm afraid I can't do anything to save the world from the chaos that has overrun it. Magic has no place
in war. Only the power of words can calm the troubled seas. Call a meeting of the clans, get them to calmly
negotiate a truce. They will see the truth in your eyes and they will listen..."

    Micah bends down and looks into the depths of the lake for a few minutes, while the boy runs off to change
the destiny of Tedland. After a few minutes he reaches down into the lake and pulls up the impossible... a handful
of mud. The mud transforms into a glowing chunk of the translation and vanishes. A beam of light shoots down
from the sky, leaving a deep scorch mark where Micah and the Tardais once stood. The clans were gathered by
the boy and a truce was agreed upon. Two years later, peace returned to Tedland. A new king was put into office
shortly thereafter.



CHAPTER 57: A NEW QUEST

    From another timeline, Micah returns to the Tardais console and types for several minutes. Micah and Sil's
destination, Habdens School of Magic, a small dot in the line of infinity. Micah will soon realize that his journey
is a quest for the one thing that can tell the story of Ted... The Legendary... The Tardais shudders, and a fuzzy
holographic representation of Ikor forms in the Tardais control room.

     "Hello Micah, or do they call you Ted now?"

    "I prefer Micah, its less confusing."

    "I see. I bring an urgent message from Ted. He is being held captive at the center of an impenetrable maze.
You must save him. He has very little time. I have programmed the Tardais coordinates to take you there, farewell."

     The hologram fades away and the Tardais lands in front of a large archaic door. Beyond the door, an endless
sea of maze stretched out into the distance. Far off in the distance, a castle... Inside the castle, Ted. The maze
is riddled with memories, traps to slow down any who attempt to enter the castle within... Micah enters, and the
memories flood in. Micah's mind is transported to the far distant past as his body continues toward the heart of
the maze. Micah's essence rushes back into past memories, an observer of what has been.

    These are the chronicles of the Ted. In the time before time began, the Niads reined all of space with peace
and justice. When time began, they became the watchers, intent on recording the events of all space/time.

(    Micah, remember what you must do. Concentrate on the here and now.)

     Micah revives temporarily, long enough to determine his bearings and continue onward. Another memory
surfaces. An ancient text, written in an elegant hand forms in the pages of a large tome.

      Time begins: We send forth the last of our race into time, the focal-point of our recording. His name is
Theodore Amaz Jhan, son of Ikor and Arin Jhan. These three, and their future echoes will change non-time forever.

    Micah claws through the memory and returns to the present. He has walked into a dead-end and stands
amongst a pile of bones. Turning around, he takes his bearings and walks onward. Another memory surfaces,
the memory of a young boy. Behind the boy, more text appears in the tome.

    In the beginning, there was Ted. He had his beginnings like all others, but he was born at the beginning of
time itself. He was endowed with the wisdom of the elders, but he was killed and became diluted in a reincarnation.
He was taught the mystical magicks in hopes that he was the messiah of the shining time. Little did they know of
his dreams that would create a savior and a monster. The tides grow and change, darkness creeps in. The
knowledge locked within him becomes known... It changes and grows.

    Micah fights the memories and returns to the present. The labyrinth walls change color, and Micah walks
onward. Micah walks onward and reaches the center of the maze. Set before him, the castle doors stand
open. Beyond, an endless desert stretches out to the horizons. From an echo on the wind, Micah can faintly
hear Ted's voice.

     "Micah, remember your childhood. You played in these deserts as a boy. I remember them, and you are
part of me. Remember the castle ruins they are what you seek."

     Crom, the planet of Ted's youth, the planet of my youth. The last home of the Niads. Ted's memories
surface within me and I can see Ted's whole life laid out before me. I focus toward the castle of my youth
and come to stand at a gate set into a large rock face. I push the unlocked gate open and enter. Torches
line the walls, casting eerie shadows across the floor. On the far side of the hall, a door hangs open.

    Micah walks toward it and enters. Within, a small landing, beyond that, an impossible labyrinth. He
closes his eyes and steps forward. He loses his balance and lands on the landing with a thud. After a
moment, he regains his confidence and peers over the edge of the landing. He whistles a moment, and
sees steps leading down to a lower landing. Staying close to the wall, he inches down the steps. Spotting
a door off to one side, he opens it and steps through. Within, another maze lies before him. He continues
to walk in a downward direction finding it difficult to keep his bearings. He suddenly stops and leaps off the
landing he is standing on. Falling down through the labyrinth, the room vanishes. His surroundings change
to large sand dunes. Micah stands at one end, and facing him from the far end of the desert is a dark shadow.

(    My maze... You destroyed my maze. To save Ted, you must pass through me.)

     "I don't have to beat you... I know your secret. You can't haunt me anymore..."

(    True, I can no longer hurt you. You will remember what all others have forgotten. If you fail,
you will surely die.)

    The shadow fades away. Ted appears at the top of the nearest sand dune. Micah runs toward him, but
crashes into a wall that appears from thin air. Two doors form in the center of the wall, and Micah walks
cautiously toward them. He stands before the doors in deep thought. He moves toward the first door, but
pauses and thinks a moment. He comes to the final decision to go through the second door. With a
trembling hand, he opens the second door and walks through.



MEANWHILE IN THE TARDAIS:

     Sil remains where Micah left him. A hologram of Ikor appears. He catches Sil's gaze and an invisible
transfer of data takes place between them. Sil's inert body twitches. Electrical motors within Sil power up.
Sil comes to life...

    "Tha...ank y."

    "No need to thank me. You contain the knowledge to save both Ted and Micah. I know where they've
been taken. Set the Tardais coordinates for Crom. You must hurry, there is little time."

    The hologram of Ikor disappears and Sil staggers over to the Tardais control panels. He types in the
coordinates for Crom and then staggers over to a couch in the back room. He slumps down on it and the
Tardais travels onward. Landing on Crom with a dusty thud, Sil rushes back to the Tardais controls. He
checks several read-outs and then staggers out of the Tardais...



MEANWHILE WITHIN THE MAZE:

     "The thing that all others have forgotten is that I am the far future, or the long-distant past. Only the
future remains in the end."

      The white room dissolves into sand. Micah now stands in an old castle tower room. Remnants of the
roof litter the room. The sky begins to turn a tint of green. Ted sits in a chair at the far end of the room.

     "Ted?"

    "What Micah?"

    "Am I really your past, or am I your future?"

    "Micah you are the one who was foretold to me in a dream years ago. My past was you, and my future will
be you. In the end, you will be the lone survivor, the one who returns to the beginning, the only one to journey
back to the non-time. Once again, thank you."

(    No Micah, you have not yet won. Remember that this planet is eradicated of all life. You too will be
      destroyed in its firestorm. Ha ha ha ha...)

      Suddenly from the place where the shadow had been, the Tardais materializes. Sil trudges out and
urges Micah to enter. Looking back over his shoulder, Micah sees Ted wave and dissolve into sand. Up
in the sky, a dark green cloud forms the future/past destruction of the planet Crom. Back on Tedland, a
statue carved in an enormous slab of Deltrium appears facing the Lake of Dreams. Below the statue, four
lines of text are engraved in the slab, a reminder for all eternity.


The journey has come full circle. May the essence of Ted never be forgotten and may
his spirit always bring light to the darkness that hides within us all.

    Micah Jhan,

     The Shadow of Future and Past Things.




MEANWHILE IN ANOTHER TIMELINE:

    Sil ran into the room several minutes later with an expression of surprise on his face. He holds a small
box out to Micah. He presses the sides of the box, and a holographic image of Ted appears. Ted's lips
move, but no sound escapes from the holograph box.

    "I found it down in P Deck."

     Micah walks down to P Deck. At the end of the hallway, a beeping noise erupts from behind a closed
door. In a fading coat of paint, the label on the door reads "P-9." Opening the door, a small circular control
panel sits in the center of the room beeping. A small insert in the console blinks. Micah walks toward it and
inserts the holograph box into the blinking slot on the console. The entire console lights up, and Ted's image
floats onto the screen.

    "Testing. Testing. Is this thing on? Oh, there we go. Hello Micah, or whoever might have found this. This
console is my greatest achievement and the most dangerous invention I've ever made. It has harnessed the
destructive force called R-Space. A control panel for this unit has been placed on Sil's blueprints. The unlock
pad will only recognize your internal timing mechanisms Micah. Message ends here."

    Ted's image fades, and is replaced by a simulation screen. An R-Space sphere spreads out from
underneath the Tardais and engulfs the entire planet. The console goes dark. He's harnessed the power of
R-Space, the most destructive force in all of the known universes. This wasn't the only force he had left me;
his magic spell book was partially encased in a glass-like semi-sphere across the room.

(    Without the key, the door cannot be opened. Without the translation, the singular language is dead.
     Find the key to the door, and you will control all that can be seen. Time watches all but us...)

(    You will never find the key within my dark tower. The translation is scattered across all of time and
     space.)

(     Lucky for me, I have this time machine.)

(    I'll make our final challenge interesting Micah. You wish to have Ted back. I have hidden the
     legendary within the walls of the hotel. If you can find it, all of Ted will be released. If you fail, the
final piece of Ted will become mine. Remember the Death Maze?)

    I exit the Tardais after his enraged thought explodes through my body. This was the Shadow's final
confrontation. All other beings vanish. The door to the room remains open, beckoning me onward. A
new nightmare ensues. The hallway stretches off into eternity. My life is the final piece of Ted...
A blotch of darkness forms at the center of the infinite hallway and utters a high-pitched laugh. It echoes
through the corridor and slams into me with tremendous force. I hurtle through infinity and crash against
a wall at the end of the hallway. Even infinity stops at some point... A portrait of Ted holding the legendary
crashes to the floor in front of me.

(    If you believe Micah, anything is possible.)

    Micah reaches out toward the one- dimensional cutout of Ted's hand holding the legendary. He tears the
book from the cutout hand, but the book remains one-dimensional. On the back of the book, faded text is
still visible.


The Tome

Within the infinite there is one door.
Within the infinite there is death.
One door leads to life and the guide to
finding the key. May your travels and
journeys be safe. Hardships and
tribulations will arise during your
quest, but you must be strong.
Conquer evil, and avenge your sorrows.


    The book falls onto the image of Ted's hand, and the painting of Ted vanishes. Time wavers, and then
changes. The one-dimensional legendary returns to my hands and begins to grow in thickness. I still feel
Ted's presence guiding my quest. I notice a door off to one side. The small wedge of space under the door
glows a bright white. I stand in front of the door and place my hand upon the handle. Turning the handle, I
push the door open and walk into the blindingly white light within the room. The door slams shut behind me,
and the intense light vanishes leaving utter darkness. I had been transported by that white room, and now I
stood in the center of a room filled with red doors. Flowing intricately around the doors, an ancient text written
in a long forgotten pre-war Tedlandic dialect. A language I had tried to learn from Ted during our first years on
Tedland. I was a little rusty, but I did grasp the basic translation.

    
Four Translations

     Eight doors within are.
Four are certain death.
Three are possible death.
Death surrounds one life.


    Seven doors set into the walls and one set into the floor. If life is surrounded by seven deaths, the door
in the floor must lead to life.



MEANWHILE ON TEDLAND:

    Hampron stands before a mirror that reflects back the image of a closed door. He has tried to open the
door many times, but doesn't know that in mere moments Micah will come flying through it. The knob turns,
and Hampron steps back, falling down into a chair. The door creaks open and Micah crashes out of the mirror.

    "Hello Micah!"

    "Hampron, didn't you die?"

    "Not really. I had to find a way to help you, but not be threatened by the Shadow that was following you.
I believe the bet was to find the legendary, yes? Oh, I see you already have it."

    I hold up the legendary, and the lights flicker for a moment. The Tardais appears against the far wall and
Sil steps out. Sil runs toward me, but before he can speak, the Shadow broadcasts one last thought.

(    You have won Micah. We will meet again.)

    "Micah what happened? I was working in the Tardais, and suddenly the Tardais was here. Who's voice was that?"

    "My last enemy made a bet I couldn't refuse, a bet I just won. He brought you here. We're on Tedland again, I think..."

    "What now Micah?"

    "We say goodbye to Hampron, and begin our quest for the pieces of the translation."

    "Farewell Micah and Sil, may your quest be victorious."

    "Farewell Hampron."

    Sil and Micah enter the Tardais to begin their quest. The Tardais dematerializes, and Hampron waves one
last time. Moments later, the Tardais rematerializes on a foggy cobble-stoned street.



CHAPTER 58: NO VAMPIRES HERE

    Micah and Sil exit the Tardais. A ragged man in a blood-soaked overcoat crashes into Sil. Sil utters a cry of
surprise and falls down. A clear patch appears in the fog, and a red-glowing castle materializes on a hill at the
far end of town. The clear patch fades, and the two are once again enveloped in fog.

    "Micah, I can't see you, where are you? There you are, what happened to him?"

    "I'm not sure, he's definitely dead though."

    "Do you know where we are?"

    "Looks like the intersection of Baker and Elm street. Two twenty one is down that way."

     "What's the significance of two twenty one?"

    "It's where some famous detective was supposed to have lived."

    "Oh, is that where we're going?"

    "No..."

    "Is the Tardais going to be in the way sitting there in the middle of the street?"

    "Probably. There's a perfect spot for it against that building there."

    "What now?"

    "We go to this tavern I know of."

    "What's it called?"

    "The Three Crippled Drunks."

    "Oh. Sounds fun."

    Sil pushes the Tardais off the curb, and up against the nearby building. He rejoins Micah, and they
walk off into the fog. Several minutes later, they stop in front of a tall brick establishment with a large
lamp-lit sign hanging above the door. The sign depicts one man with a leg missing, a man missing one
arm and a man missing both legs. Below that, printed in a dark yellow guild are the words "The Three
Crippled Drunks." They enter the establishment, and are greeted by a burly Irishman.

     "A fine evenin' to you. Welcome back to the Three Crippled Drunks Micah. Your usual?"

    "Yes."

    "One extra tall cherry and grape with a hint of aerated water. Can I ask a question?"

    "Yes I know you've tried it, and yes it'll be a hit in a few years. You forgot the ice again."

    "Oh, sorry. Here's your room key. Number seven as usual. How long you plannin' to stay?"

    "A day or so. Here's a pound, keep the change."

    "Thank ya' and goodnight sirs."

    "Goodnight Yern."



MEANWHILE IN THE TIME BUBBLE CASTLE:

    Far above the low creeping fog, a dark castle sits atop the nearby hill. A shadow of a man stands
in front of a window looking down into the fog. His senses tell him to return to his work, but something
else tells him strangers in the city are searching for him. He moves away from the window after several
minutes, and resumes his work. He sits down at his computer and begins typing rapidly, carefully
scanning a large blueprint. Finishing, he pushes a button and a test simulation begins on the computer
monitor. It shows a large faded piece of text appearing in the center of the simulated room. A small
meter appears to one side of the text, the title bar on the meter reads "Physicality." The meter rises to
eighty percent, then falls and bottoms out. The man stares at this, and curses under his breath. He stares
at the blueprints again and makes several marks on it with a red pen, then goes back to typing. He stops
moments later, and returns to the simulation screen. The physicality bar rises to twenty percent, and then
slowly inches upward. He stares at it excitedly while it continues to rise past thirty and forty. It creeps
slowly past fifty, but surges past sixty and seventy before slowing to a crawl at eighty. He becomes
ecstatic as the meter begins to slowly and decimally creep upward again. He rolls his chair over to a
nearby table and removes several chips from a circuit board. He places the circuit board back inside a tower
filled with other similar sized circuit boards.



BACK AT THE THREE CRIPPLED DRUNKS:

    Micah sits in the windowsill staring up at the castle. Sil watches Micah intently while he seems to see
what's going on in the castle.

    "Can you see what's going on up there?"

    "Only what's going on in that window. It's a clear sight line from here. I think the man up there is the one
we're after."

    "The first clue mentions a hill and a fog clouded land. The segment will appear from the technology of a
man hidden in shadow."

    "That sounds like the castle over there."

    "Does, doesn't it?"

    "Yes. We'll go later."

    A severely battered Tardais lands at the intersection of Baker and Elm. Ted exits the Tardais in a bright
blue suit. He stares around a moment, and then decides to change his clothes. He steps out a moment
later in a dark brown overcoat smoking a pipe. He coughs a moment and throws the pipe into the alley.
The embers in the pipe ignite a pile of trash revealing Micah's dusty Tardais. Ted mutters a moment, and
stares at the Tardais in the shadows. He enters the dusty Tardais and paces around the control panel.

    "Where is Micah, computer?"

(    He is currently located at The Three Crippled Drunks. Coordinates 8,19,32,44)

    The room shakes for a moment, and Ted exits the dusty Tardais. Where his battered Tardais once stood,
Ted's Tardais has been obliterated. A few shards of a control panel are crushed under foot before Ted walks
off into the fog. Several minutes later Ted stands below the same sign that Micah and Sil saw mere moments
ago. Ted enters the establishment and meets the burly Irishman.

    "A fine evenin' to you, Theodore. Your usual?"

    "Yes."

    "One extra tall cherry and grape with a hint of aerated water. Can I ask a question?"

    "Yes."

    "How can you like that stuff?"

    "It's something that I happened on by chance. I run a winery that my family has owned for generations.
One afternoon a barrel of grape-cherry juice spilled into my carbonation machine and created a very tasty drink."

    "Oh. Your usual room is ready, and your friends are already here."

    "Thank you Yern. Oh, you forgot the ice again."

    "Sorry I can never seem to remember that. Good night sir."

    "Good night Yern."

    Ted enters room number seven and sees a bag that he remembers quite well. Micah sits in the window staring
up at the castle, and ponders the current situation. Ted clears his throat, and startles Micah out of the window.
Micah lands hard on the floor...

    "Ted? What are you doing here?"

    "I came to help you."

    "Who are you?"

    "I'm Ted9. A future image sent here to make sure that you retrieve all of the pieces of the translation.
I've got to sit down. Who's your friend?"

    "My name is Sil..."

    "I saw you die on Aaermos. Hampron's viewer showed you battling the Shadow. In killing the Shadow, you
sacrifice yourself to save me."

    "That was not me..."

    "I haven't used my wings in several thousand years. I'll try and get us over there."

    Micah removes his old dusty gray shirt revealing a pair of ancient metal wings deploying from his back.
A momentary electrical crackle runs through the antigravity wing motors as they attempt to power up. Micah
opens a service panel and reconnects several loose wires. The motors hum for a moment, and then begin to
engage. Micah rises into the air and Ted carefully sits down on Micah's feet. Together, they rise up through
the fog toward the uppermost tower. Several moments later, Micah hovers high enough for Ted to hop off and
land solidly on the tower roof. Micah slowly descends and lands next to Ted.

"I found what we came here for, it's in there."

      Micah enters the next room and steps quickly past the sleeping doctor. The simulation screen blinks with
the words "Simulation Complete." A red engage button blinks on a nearby panel. He walks over, and pushes
the button. A staging area in the center of the room flickers to life. The fuzzy image of a piece of stone appears.
Fully materializing, the piece slowly lowers to the surface of the staging area. The system deactivates, and the
piece of stone rises into the air. It glows yellow for a moment, then disappears. Micah leaves the castle, rejoining
Ted and Sil out in front of the castle. The three companions disappear into the fog. Several minutes later, the
Tardais dematerializes back into space.

    "The next segment is disguised as the Atharva Veda. Marked in pencil is a group of numbers. {3, 17, 4, 39, 402, 9}"

    "A black hole in the Zolfa sector..."



CHAPTER 59: THE RAGMAN WALKS

    Ted had known the risks of the power he held in his spell book. An endless dirt path lies before Micah,
disappearing over two horizons. A simple sign stands before him as a guide. Future/Past. Micah's mind
floats onward, and his mindless body begins a five-year journey back to Habdens. It carries him through
numerous countries and nearly halfway across a continent. After a time, he collapses at the foot of a
granite staircase. Several elderly wizards find the heap of torn clothing and rags that Micah has become.
Within the dream, Micah wearily gazes into the infinity to which his path continues. He awakens from his
five-year daze to a dark and unfocused room. Jumbled images flash before his eyes, and disconnected
voices surround him. The single remaining wizard in the room closes the door behind himself when he
leaves. Micah looks down at the heap of rags that he has become, and begins ripping parts of it off.
After ripping for several hours, he falls asleep into a dreamless night. During the night, the pile of rags
grows larger. A five-year pile of rags is removed from a man in one night, and by morning Micah fully
awakens from his five-year daze. He mumbles to himself for a moment, and then vanishes. Several
moments later, he reappears in his own private chamber. Changing into a more suitable robe, he leaves
his chamber and walks down to his office.

    "Professor Jhan, a word with you please."

    "Yes Professor Stong it was a very difficult task that I had to undertake, and I am most sorry to have
been away for a month."

    "No? We found a stray the other morning, and now he seems to have vanished."

    "I am sure he would have thanked you in his own way. I entrust that you took care of the school for me
while I was away?"

    "Yes. I am glad that you are back. I also hear news of a peace treaty back on Tedland. You must have
done powerful magic to have ended such a bloody war?"

    "Magic has no place in wars. Only words of truth can end such things. Peace is a thing desired by many
who are unable, or unwilling to seek it out. It is a magic of it's own, a magic more powerful than what we as
a whole contain."

    "As always, you speak in riddles. Good day to you, and again welcome back."

    Many lost memories from other lives, fragments and shadows. The pieces of some forgotten elaborate puzzle,
further forgotten during the passages of time. In the last fading moments before dreams are awoken, darkness
forms from these last thoughts and shroud everything. Sleep had been dreamless again. Only a darkness that
seemed to envelop... The brief memory of traveling into the black hole... A remembrance of the lack of substance
and all other things... Not good or evil, but the neutral emptiness between.

    "Good morning Headmaster Jhan."

    "Good morning Professor Haffin. I hope that your dreams were more revealing than mine."

    "Still nothing?"

    "Just enveloping darkness that seems to be waiting. A sign of changes are on the horizon. I can see nothing
beyond, nor can I see what the changes may be. The unseen tides of time are beginning to shift balance. Deep
unnamed powers growing restless. Unseen forces brewing..."

    "I shall never truly understand any of your riddles. We will speak again tomorrow, good day to you."

    "The same to you Haffin."

    Micah leaves Haffin in the main hall. And walks toward the sizably large stone staircase near the front hallway
of the school. Moments later, he walks into a classroom full of eagerly waiting students. For a mere second, time
jumps and resumes... Time has changed again...