News From Far Away
Martin’s face gleamed with a holy radiance as he looked fearlessly at the endless sea of opponents before him. He flashed a helpless smile at being abandoned by his warriors, but it only took a moment for him to regain his peace. Countless enemies were pouncing in from all sides, and his longsword started dancing as it plunged into the closest one. Raging flames melted the torso of the target, and as he fell to the ground the warrior turned into a beam of light that vanished into the horizon. He was quickly followed by a number of others that the sword cut through, but more and more enemies continued to charge up the boulder.
The small floating rock had become Martin’s personal battlefield, raging flames and blinding lights drowning it regularly. Only occasionally could one see the two opposing sides in battle, but Martin constantly prayed in a low voice even as his longsword sent enemy after enemy back to the origin of light. A beam of pure white eventually landed on him and replenished his waning energy, giving him the strength to continue fighting.
This was how the origin of light repaid devotion, but the replenishment of divinity and vitality was limited. It wasn’t a benefit Martin enjoyed solely, with the same beams covering celestials from both sides. However, it was when a second beam landed upon him that those trying to attack were shocked. How steady was his faith for his prayers to be answered twice?
However, this didn’t bring the slightest of hesitation to these attackers, instead infuriating them further. The more he believed in the alternate faith, the more of a blasphemer he was. The crowd of warriors trying to kill him only grew in number, but Martin was like a small canoe in a raging storm that simply refused to go down.
Back in the Darkness, Richard frowned at the old man who was staring at him with empty eye sockets, “You’ve been waiting for me for three thousand years?”
“Yes,” the old man nodded, and as though he knew what Richard was thinking he added on, “My perception of time is quite precise.”
Richard didn’t believe that statement. Ever since he had arrived at the Darkness, he hadn’t seen anyone with a truly precise grasp of time. Even epic beings couldn’t necessarily build a precise model to understand this place, and he had only done so because of his titles and momentary grasp of timeforce from when he had been teleported here.
However, he was stunned when the old man stretched out a hand to reveal a small hourglass. The grains of sand fell one by one as it was flipped over, and while it truly was accurate Richard was more shocked by its style. The thing was pure silver, with the sand inside being of the same color as well. This was an hourglass more ornate than his own, which meant only Chosen could possess it!
It wasn’t surprising to find Chosen in the Darkness— that was after all their entire purpose— but these were people that beared the burden of building a Lighthouse of Time and pulling their lands into the Eternal Dragon’s domain. A blind, old man, couldn’t possible accomplish such a task, especially one who didn’t show any strength even under the Field of Truth.
“You really were waiting for me?” Richard asked again.
“Of course. Master of the Elven Swords, Titled Worshipper of the Eternal Dragon, Lord of Destruction and Redemption.” These words astonished Richard once more. He didn’t understand just what sort of ability could give this old man a clear grasp of his own power, but the man seemed to read these thoughts and sighed, “There is an imprint of destiny upon you, it tells me that the person I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.”
Richard took a step back for a moment, his hand reaching for his chest pocket where the last destiny crystal lay dormant. However, that panic only held for a moment before he calmed down and walked back in front of the old man, “Why?”
“Do you want to return to your home world?”
“Sigh. Then you must leave this area and head to the Land of Dawn.”
“You waited three thousand years just to tell me that?” Richard frowned. The old dragon’s Chosen had unique titles, and as Daybreak Flowsand was in charge of liberating the Land of Dawn. She had only come here a few years ago, however, so this talk of three millennia made the old man seem like a liar. However, he forced himself to calm down, “Which Land of Dawn?”
“There is only one, the area that Her Excellency Flowsand is the master of. She sent me here to wait for you, to show you the way. It was only that this wait took three millennia…”
Richard’s facade of calmness was going to break, but he reined himself in, “Flowsand hasn’t even been gone for ten years, how could three thousand have passed? Are we talking about a different person?”
The old man smiled, “Of course not. Who else would go by that name but Lady Daybreak?”
“Then why have you waited so long?”
“Time is a difficult thing to control, even outside of the Darkness. I believe you have already noticed that it is the greatest point of convention amongst those here. Truth be told, they are all correct in their perception. From another perspective, they are all wrong. This is the Darkness, and nothing is too strange; I’ve been waiting for you for three thousand years.”
Richard frowned further. His gut told him that the man wasn’t lying, but the implications were unfathomable. Had that much time passed while he was unconscious? He shook the question out of his head, “So how do I get to the Land of Dawn?”
The silver hourglass appeared in the old man’s hand once more, but this time the timesand flowed out onto the ground and outlined a picture that was difficult to comprehend. It seemed like a map, but everything was a mess. Richard silently memorised the image; it was indecipherable to others, but to him it was a clear map with only a few distortions. Once his analysis of the laws here was complete, he would be able to read this map like any other.
“So what do I do at the Land of Dawn? Simply return home?”
“Of course not. You need to build the Lighthouse of Time and finish Her Excellency’s incomplete mission. That will allow you to return to the Eternal Dragon’s radiance.”
“And Flowsand? Where is she?”
“You will understand once you arrive at the Land of Dawn,” the man replied mysteriously.
“Just say it,” Richard’s aura flared out.
However, the old man was unperturbed by the threat, “I cannot.”
Richard’s expression sank further, but knowing how the Eternal Dragon enforced secrets he shelved his doubt, “Do you have anything else to tell me?”
“This is the method to build a Lighthouse of Time, but I believe this information isn’t new,” the old man passed him a tattered piece of leather. HHe scanned it quickly and nodded; there were only a few small things that he didn’t know here.
"Is there anything you’d like before I set off?"
The old man smiled, “A cup of water, if possible. I haven’t drank anything for centuries.”
“Alright, wait here,” Richard stood up, turning to Nanook, “Where can I find water?”
“Follow me,” Nanook said softly, his mood seeming rather downcast.
As the two walked out of the courtyard, the old man smiled with satisfaction. His figure started disintegrating and turned to ash, a beam of light shooting out from within. It was a radiance as brilliant as the sun, with the figure of a noble battle priest within. It was a figure that Richard would have recognised instantly had he been present.