The day of Sunshine's death:
Sunshine let out a great, shuddering breath. Or he thought he did, for the world had been ripped apart before his eyes.
One moment, he had been standing with the Cornerstone in his hand, ready to become a god and save everyone, and the next he was ... dead.
The wind was whipping at a raw sky and purple landscape, appearing to tear pieces away. As he raised his hands, he saw that he had none!
That terrified him completely. He was dead! A ghost! Trapped in some sort of limbo, for it didn't look the ones he'd read about in books.
He tried to speak (dear god, please let him have a voice), and the wind seemed to snatch it away before filtering it back, so it sounded like an
echo played in reverse.
There was no one else around him, and of course, no City of Fae.
The city! Realising he still had his memory was some comfort at least.
“I am Professor Abacus Sunshine, I'm 1,063 years old. I think, therefore I am. Quam substructio consistio gaudium est intempestivus,”
Good, his IQ hadn't dipped a bit.
Now all he had to do was go home.
Sunshine began to travel on foot. To his surprise, he felt more annoyed than upset about dying.
A genius reduced to a confused, lost ghost! This wasn’t how it was meant to go.
Going home proved harder than he expected too, for the landscape kept shifting and morphing before his eyes.
It was beautiful to look at, but harrowing when you're trying to get anywhere.
One moment, the ground was a thick rug of wild grass and he was surrounded by dense forest. A hundred different birdcalls competed above him.
“This must have been how it was before the city was built," he wondered aloud.
He was just beginning to enjoy the spectacle when the land changed again, and he found himself in the centre of a ghost war involved trolls and minotaurs. The trolls were not a tall race, but they had the upper hand against the slow, lumbering trolls.
Sunshine cringed. The illustrations hadn’t quite so bloody in the history books ... Did he just think that?
It took the wizard - or the ghost - several years wandering the strange, timeless limbo, before he finally found someone from the city.
Or rather, they found him.
A bodiless voice drifted along on the wind and met his ears.
“Hello, Sunshine ...”
Sunshine froze. “Who's there?”
“It's me ... your Cornerstone,”
The ghost frowned, unconvinced.
“My Cornerstone never had a voice,” he replied.
“You made me far more complex than you realised, Sunshine. I have been growing a mind since you’ve been away. I missed you,” it added, and there was a definite note of sadness in the tone.
It feels emotions now? Sunshine thought, What else can it do?
As if the Cornerstone had read his mind, it went on.
“I absorbed your magic power when you died, and I’ll give it back to you when we’re reunited. I need you to find me again so we can finish what you started,”
Sunshine began to follow the bodiless voice, feeling excited now.
“You’ve found a volunteer?” he asked, eagerly.
“No one chooses what they must be, Sunshine,” the stone answered.
“Of course they do! We can’t force anyone,”
“Is peace realistic when only some people agree? I am to turn everyone human, remember?”
Sunshine was beginning to see why the High Wizard had hated his idea so much, but he had a feeling the Cornerstone wouldn’t guide him home unless he did as it asked.
“Who are we going to test you on?” he said at last.
“I’ve picked someone unimportant, so his change will cause little fuss. He is of good heart, and will prove a useful host. All you have to do is get me to him. I am guarded under high tech security, but your death will come as an advantage,”
Sunshine raised a ghostly eyebrow
“How is death an advantage, exactly?”
“No one suspects you when you commit a crime,” the stone replied, cleverly, “You must steal me back. You won’t leave a trace of evidence because you have no traces to leave,”
“Alright, but where are you?”
“They've put me in a building called a museum. You must get me out of it,”
“How can I find him?”
“He will come to us,”
“How do you know all this!” Sunshine cried
“That is not your concern. I must make someone human, Sunshine! Then I will restore your life and power,”
“Can't you restore me now?”
“No!” the stone squealed, suddenly defensive, “I have to know if I am fit for what you made me for! Otherwise I am a useless!”
It sounded quite hysterical, so Sunshine spoke soothingly.
“It's alright! Calm down ... calm down. You’re still adjusting,”
“I am fully adjusted,” the stone replied, indignantly, “I've even worked out to be completely undetectable,”
“How will you hide?” Sunshine asked.
“You're going to place me in our subject’s mind. All you have to do is carry me while passing straight through them. They won’t feel a thing. Then, I shall go about making him human, very slowly so that people won’t suspect a thing. They’ll think he’s ill,”
Sunshine swallowed, dryly. He was liking the plan less and less every minute.
He didn't like the idea of stealing or enchanting anyone without their knowing.
But what choice did he have?
“Alright,” he said at last, “but you must answer me one question?”
“Must I indeed?” the stone said, with a tone of superiority.
“How did I die?”
“You tried to make me turn you into a god, and it killed you,”
“You killed me?” Sunshine said, slowly.
“No, you did. You chose to become something too good to be true,”
“Then the deal’s off!” Sunshine burst out, “How do you know you’re safe to use on anyone?”
“You don’t, but what choice do you have if you want to be alive again?”
“Dead or alive, I will not be a murderer!”
“I’m afraid you have no choice, Sunshine,” the Cornerstone said, sternly, “I need a purpose and the world needs peace. What’s one life when we have the power to save billions?”
If Sunshine had still been alive, he’d have been pale and sweaty by now, but he had only the Cornerstone to lead him home.