Chapter 12: The End of the Beginning
I fully intended to stay in Fay. I knew my leaving would be bad for the realm. Especially if I left at the same time as Randi. After a few hundred years of blissfully ruling my small kingdom and making sure my children were well taken care of, I was visited by a human woman.
The crier introduced her as, “Iman, Guardian of Aether”. The woman who entered was old, fragile looking, but her eyes still glowed with power.
“Iman!” I said and stood to meet her, “My old friend.”
“Old is right. How have you not aged? Bah.”
I bowed and said, “It’s been less time here than on Earth and I’m immortal, I think. At least, no one has told me different yet.”
“Well, I’m a hundred and twenty-three and I need your help.” She spat the words out as if they hurt her.
“For you, anything.”
She cocked her eyebrow and said, “Oh, you must feel like you owe me. Or I’ve lost my senses.”
Nodding, I said, “Yes, I owe you and the Aether for my violation. I should not have used it as a dumping ground.”
“Fine, fine. I want you to train my grand-daughter. I’m dying and I don’t want her dealing with the same uncertainty I did.”
“I will do my best—” I was cut off by a portal opening and five people walking through. It was the other Guardians. “What’s going on?” I asked, annoyance painting my voice.
“Forgive us, Lord Robin, but we need all seven Guardians. Our universe is under attack,” Merlin looked much too calm for the declaration.
“Mulciber?” I asked, knowing that the great steel serpent would break through eventually.
Merlin wasn’t the person to answer. Instead, it was a man who I didn’t recognize, “No. It’s something much older and much hungrier.” He paused and then added, “Sorry. I’m Clause Johnson, Guardian of Chaos.”
I looked over at Randi and she nodded.
When I followed them into the portal I expected to go to Everworld, the Aether, or someplace else, but we went to Earth. We were in a city and it took me a long time to recognize it. San Francisco had changed over the past hundred years.
“What’s the year?” I asked.
Morgana smirked, but something about her looked younger than before. “It’s 1906. Last time you were here, a few young women disappeared.”
“Fay brides are given a boon for their service and it’s always their choice.”
The ground shook and the world swam as a large tendril of purple energy escaped from the earth. The people screamed and ran, and the battle began.
I don’t remember much, but when it was over and we had won, the city was in ruins and Kishnar and Iman had died.
“She was brave,” said Morgana as I wept over the man I didn’t know and the woman I had briefly known. “They—” She collapsed on the ground.
Merlin caught her and touched her neck, then her head, “Her pulse is faint. There’s something wrong with her mind. I can’t get in to help.” His words were sad, angry, and impotent. It was hard to see a great wizard looking so helpless.
I leaned forward and touched her head. I felt resistance as I entered her mind, but pushed through it. Her mind was a glorious place with an overwhelming amount of information. She wasn’t just the Guardian of time, every moment of existence lived inside her mind. Every decision and what-if.
I focused on the smaller details and saw a small cloud of purple. Our enemy had hidden a part of itself inside her. I hunted it down and destroyed it.
As I pulled out of her mind, she grabbed my arms and I saw the futures, all of them. It was horrifying.
“How can you function with all that in your head?”
She smiled, “How do you function with so little inside yours?” Her laughter was a little wild, but contagious.
I returned home and my dreams were plagued by what I saw. I saw three great wars and what would happen if I were there.
The first was another Fay Civil War. It would reduce our population to nearly nothing if I were involved and last a century. If I were not, it would last a year with minimal casualties.
The second was the inevitable invasion by Mulciber. If I were there, we’d win with plenty of casualties including myself. If I wasn’t, Mulciber would claim our universe.
The third was a war on Earth fought between great wizards. If I were there, Merlin and Morgana would live. If I weren’t, they would die and all of existence would unravel.
I needed to survive the second war in order to be at the third.
I thought about this and stayed up late until I dreamed of the solution. I needed to increase Fay’s armies and people in order to ensure we had the troops to survive the second war. I needed a hero who could rival me to take my place. Or better yet, a family of them.
I made my plan and it was simple. My Fay brides’ boons would apply to their children, and I’d need to find the perfect bride to spawn the perfect champions. I needed someone kind, who was also clever.
It took a few years, but I found the perfect woman. Denise Lance was a woman with a strong sense of right, a clever mind, and plenty of imagination. When she asked for Luck, I knew my champions would be perfect. I just hoped they’d be enough. As a bonus, I found Kathryn Lami who asked for Power, and Margery Door who asked for Cleverness. The three of them would give me heroes who would be better than I could be.
When they left, the Civil War started, and I knew what I had to do. I had to escape in order to let my people live. I took a hundred thousand of my descendants and hid them in stasis within the heart of Fay.
Then Randi and I entered the Deep Realms and I prepared a test that only a worthy mind and heart could pass. When that happened, I’d be released, just in time for the third war.
Merlin and Morgana are pillars that keep our reality from collapsing and I am going to make sure I save them.
Robin will return in Elizabeth Investigates 4: The Mystery of the Dancing Lights (Fall 2023)
While you wait for the next story, check out the previous serial stories: