Future, Past and PresentMature

"What? Where am I?" Castien shot upright, disoriented and confused. The last thing he remembered was the image of the dog standing with him in the Shade Quarter - how did that lead him here?

Ah, yes. Another memory, from just seconds later, came forward - the dog had pushed him into some sort of energy pillar, clearly a portal of some kind. The room Castien found himself in was strange, lifeless. The walls were all white, the floor was cold, hard stone, and there was not a decoration, piece of furniture, or object of interest to be seen, just the door on the other side of the room. When Castien investigated the door, he heard odd noises on the other side. He reached for the doorknob.

Suddenly, Castien was standing in a field, and he had a sword in his hand. The pressure on his head and weight on his shoulders led him to realize he must be clad in armor of some kind. The sword was intricately built, with a fine double-edged blade, diamonds in the pommel, a crossguard in the shape of a deer's antlers, and a single, thin, deep scratch down the middle of the blade. In the distance, a castle was burning. Towers crumbled, bridges collapsed, and flames devoured the rubble which was everywhere in sight.

Wait... Looking closer, Castien realized the horrible truth. The school! No!

Castien began sprinting towards the college, which was rapidly disappearing among the flames, now clearly of magical origin. They did not die down; they did not burn out when there was nothing left to burn. They simply spread and devoured everything in sight, continuing to burn long after sections of castle had disappeared among the evil blaze.

Why? Why is this happening? And...who did this?

You... the voice that responded to Castien's thoughts was clearly not his own. It was much deeper, and radiated evil. It gave Castien chills. You caused this. Your actions...will undoubtedly lead to destruction. This is your future. .

Why? Why must this happen? Why me?

Because you are the one who hungers.

What do you mean? Hungers for what? I don't understand...

You desire power. Power the likes of which not even you, nor any other mortal, could ever understand. This hunger - this lust for control - will destroy everything you have ever known, and ultimately it will destroy you, as well.

Must it be so?

That is for you to determine...

Who are you? Why are you toying with me so? I demand that you -

Demand. The voice - the Other - laughed, a sinister, chilling, dead sound that was the first thing in a very long time to truly frighten Castien. You are in no position to make demands.

Then - then just answer me, will you? I wish to know who I am dealing with.

You...you wish to know who I am...I will show you who I am.

Suddenly, Castien was looking down on a luxurious castle. It was none other than that of King Deryos of Deepwynne. The sun was shining down on the palace, reflecting off of windows and towers. In a second, Castien was in a large bed chamber, with scarlet and gold decorations everywhere. This must be the King's bed chamber, Castien realized.

Just as Castien thought this, in walked the King himself, his great grey beard taking up much of his face. He seemed to take no notice of Castien, going straight to his dresser, taking something from a drawer, and then leaving again. In an incredibly rapid passing of time, it grew dark outside, and in time, the King once again entered, this time laying down in his bed. Soon, a dark figure crept in, holding a dagger. It was a magnificent blade. Its hilt appeared to be gold, the blade of fine steel and in perfect condition. The figure crept to the King's side and laid his dagger across his throat. Castien immediately tried to leap forward, to save the King, but he found himself utterly helpless.

Next, Castien was standing in a crowd, watching a man on a large wooden podium. At length, he drew a rope down toward the ground and a long wooden beam with a blade along the bottom rose into the air. A second man, bound and in chains, wearing rags, was hauled onto the stage and forced to lie down. A second later, the guillotine dropped and the crowd cheered delightedly.

In another millisecond, Castien was back in the field overlooking the college. So that's who you are, then. You're...

Yes. I am the man who once was called Tayos of Cuttmarsh. And I am involved in things far, far greater than your king - far greater than most could ever hope to comprehend.

But what connection do you have to my studies?

All will be revealed in time. But be warned: If you continue down your current path, you will not like what you find at the end. Now, return to your mortal dwelling.

The flames engulfing the school began to surge across the field, eventually surrounding Castien, and then he was back in the white room. Again, he went to the door and cautiously pressed his ear to it. He very slowly reached for the handle, and then he heard a voice call out.

"Castien?"

Then another, and one more joined in.

"Professor?"

"Professor Elenviel?"

Castien knew the voice sounded familiar, but could not quite place them. He reached for the doorknob once more, and as his hand closed around the knob, threw the door open. He was blinded by a bright, white light, and then he saw nothing.

After a passing of some time, he awoke. He was lying on the ground in the Shade Quarter, his arms pressed against the cold stone all around him. As he tried to sit up, he once again heard the calls from his experience in the room. Of course: it was Lumen, Tenebris, and Amelia.

One of them nearly walked past him, but then spotted him stirring and rushed over to him. It was Lumen. He took Castien under one arm, supporting him as he brought him to his feet, and called for the others.

The End

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