Colter’s eye’s slowly opened. He knew this was the part where he was supposed to guess if he was alive or dead, but instantly knew he was alive. He was in too much pain to be dead. He tried to move, but it was too much, tried to see, but the sealed entrance made the cave as dark as a coffin. The air felt thick and hot, a pure struggle to breath even without injury. Now he wishes he was dead. This was it. This was where he would end his life.

Amidst all of his pain, he could feel a single tear roll down his cheek. All of this effort, all this risk, all so he could just . . . disappear.

That’s when he saw the flash, so bright that the pure shock of seeing it caused Colter to pass out again.

He awoke again gasping for air. He leaned right up and instantly knew he had died - all his pain was completely gone. Then, on a second look, he realized he was still in a cave, but there was light now. It took him a second to adjust his eyes, especially as his sight wasn't as good without his glasses.

He looked around for the source of the light to find, completely by surprise, that he was not alone. There was a man, facing with his back to Colter, sitting in a meditative position, the source of light most likely coming from a fire in front of him. This man could have been a hermit, wearing old tattered robes that were probably white at one point, but now looked like they hadn't been washed in months. There was a hood pulled down to reveal long white hair that reached down to the mid point of his back, just as dirty as his clothing.

The man must have heard Colter's surprise wake up, and slowly stood up, then very calmly turned toward the stunned Colter. As he turned, he revealed his long beard, clear Afghani origin then tall and strong build, which seemed unusual for the man's old age. Yet the real surprise was finding that the light source was being emitted directly from his fists and not a fire.

Though it was only a few seconds, it seemed like an eternity before he spoke, in perfect English, "Hello, Professor Grady. You are quite a surprise and not at all what I expected."

Colter couldn't speak. He could quickly conclude that the man must have read his mind to learn his name, and this coupled with the glowing fist would certainly indicate that this was a cape. But in middle east? In a cave? He didn't appear anything like what Colter had grown so used to seeing in Paragon. Even more confusing was that this man had hinted he was expecting Colter's arrival.

 The old man smiled, "You seem a little bit more nervous than I would have though. Granted, I do sense fight in you, hell I let you sit unconscious for 12 hours to see if you would die before I even tried to help you, AND you were remarkably easy to heal, like our kind is supposed to be. Yet strange, I can't see much violence in you, though it is always around you as it should be. You are unusual." A brief pause went by as the man tried to read any sign of a reaction from Colter. Well since you won't talk, let me start by letting you know, my name: Cyril."

Colter remained silent while the man just kept looking at him. Finally, he made is first effort to speak, "Who . . . why . . . I'm not sure I -"

"Shutup. I really don't want to listen your confusion." Cyril laughed, "Oh how I do enjoy being rude." He paused for a moment to see if Colter would speak, but he remained silent as asked. "Wow you are boring. Its too bad, but I suppose that will make this process go quicker."

"What process?"

"I SAID QUIET!" As the old Cyril yelled a bright light surged from him that blinded Colter for a second. After a moment he continued, "Sorry for the theatrics, I just can't help it right now. You can ask a question if you like, but honestly, if you want to save your friends, you really need to just be quiet. Plus, I wasn't kidding when I said you bore me, so for both our sakes, please be quiet."

Colter looked back at the man, and said nothing.

"Good." The man sat down next to Colter, his fists still glowing. "I need you to understand two things will happen with this conversation ends. First, you will have a thousand questions and no answers. Second, I will need to see you again, but don't you DARE come looking for me until you feel the time is right. Now are you ready?"

"I don't understand, ready for -"

Before he could finish, the old man casually cut him off, "You're ready." Then instantly his fists grew blindingly bright and he took his palm to Colter's head. Suddenly his world went dark again, followed by flashes. He couldn't make out what the flashes were at first, but then they became absurdly clear. He was looking back in time, he couldn't tell how far, but he knew just what he was seeing. There were many names for them, but the one he had heard the most, at least for the ones living in Paragon, was Mage.  Scene after scene flashed in front of his eyes, some were docile, snippets of different men maybe reading or meditating in old temples, but most were violent, bloody, the same calm faces had turned to a soldier like focus as they attacked masses of what Colter assumed were enemies.

Suddenly, the individual flashes halted to a single image of one man. Clearly a man of magic, he had a soft manner about him. He wore a white cloak, with symbols embroidered in green around the neck and sleeves He stood over an injured companion, another mage, who appeared to have taken been attacked by something wild - claw marks went across his chest and a clear tear in his abdomen where entrails had been exposed. The white mage got down to his knees, his cloak soaking up the blood. He placed his hand just about six inches over his dying friend's wounds. They began to glow green along with his eyes, then a stream of light poured from his palms straight the wounds and in a flash, all was healed. Barely a moment passed when a growl was heard from nearby. The surprised healer looked up, his eyes still glowing green, to see a dark shadowy beast lunge upon him. Before the beast could strike with his massive claws, the same mage raised his green lit hands and another burst of light rapidly sprung towards the beast. All went black. 

Colter's eyes opened again, he was still laying down. As he looked up he could see Cyril standing above his body, fists still glowing white. Cyril began laughing, "The look on your face is priceless! Its about to get better too." He pointed at Colter's hands, which were now glowing bright green. Cyril then pointed to what used to be the entrance to the cave, still closed off from the blast earlier. "If you don't mind, I think its time for you to open the door!"

The End

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