They came to gardens, old walled courtyards where the paving was cracked and uneven and the fountains dry. Weeds and small trees grew up between the cracks, statuary hid under climbing plants and the air was dusty and still. Only there were glimpses of something else. He would look down and see for a second a beautiful mosaic; hear voices and catch sight of the twitched edge of a skirt, a running child; feel the air freshen, cool with the spray from a fountain.
The girl's back was the only fixed point. He followed her, determined to keep up. He thought if he could stay with her these things would stop. The confusion disappear as the world settled into being one thing, at one time.
Sometimes he knew who he was: Derrian, Prince of the great Kingdom of Kanarre. Brother to Esti, Torin and Lia. Son of Gerrian the Good. Champion of the seventh tier at Rendi. These things he was proud of.
But then he would think; who is Gerrian? Why do I know that name? What's Rendi?I was never good at sports. Why do these gardens seem familiar? Why do they make me sad?
That was true. He was feeling something at last. The fog in his mind was parting, ebbing away. He could feel a horrible, empty sorrow building under it. He wanted the fog back. He wanted it to cover up these things and bury them that they could never be found again. It occurred to him that perhaps he'd thought up the fog, created it. Feeling nothing was better. Remembering nothing was better. Give nothing the power to hurt him; bury it all.
...get out get out get out...
The train. Where's that train? What's a train? Get these thoughts out of me. Oh god, Lia. Oh god. I watched you die! Why do I have to remember?
Lia went faster and faster, vanished and left him alone.
He was in the ruined garden and there never had been a train. Nor a garden, not for so long. Nothing but nothing.
Was this yesterday? Why am I me? Why haven't I died?
He should be dead, if this garden was the garden he remembered. It was ages old, broken under the abandonment and decay of a hundred years. He remembered everything, but not how he came to be here. Terrible magic unleashed that no one could contain.
He slumped against the crumbled stone of a fountain and wept.
That's enough of that!
"Who are you?" he said. Prince of rags and ashes sitting in the dusty ruin, losing his mind. "Who the hell are you!"