The first thing he became aware of was the throbbing in the front of his skull. The pain cut through the haze of unconsciousness that seeped all around him, dragging him up from the darkness towards the light flickering above. Where before there had been a peaceful void was now a torrent of sensations, voices, and images that assaulted from all sides.
...a battle raging around him, soldiers clad in blue and brown striving against phantoms wreathed in violet flame. Around him surged others, the gear and garment different than the others, wielding an array of arms and spells to obliterate any who stood before them. A thousand voices called out to him at once, overlapping so that he could make out no individual word. Before him loomed a rift: a vortex of crackling light ringing a growing void. From its depths a presence loomed, so great that he recoiled back from it, his consciousness withdrawing from its overwhelming might.
Suddenly he was charging toward the void, running ahead of the others. Obliterating pain ripped through his mind, and he fell, collapsing to one knee. He heard his own voice, cutting through the cacophony of screams and the portal's roar, calling for retreat.
He saw a woman clad in blue, the same color as her hair and eyes. Her hand was outstretched, reaching out for him. Her mouth moved but he could not hear what she said.
He lifted his hand, grasping for her in return. Their hands came within an inch of each other.
A blinding wave of energy slammed into him, engulfing both of them in a sea of white. He screamed, a name on his lips as the world vanished around him.
. . . . .
A gasp fell from his lips, his eyes snapping open. He flailed, clawing at the air as he sat upright. Burning light seared his retinas, the world around him a blur, He tried to get a foot under him, only to find the ground beneath him jelly to his limbs. His legs buckled and he toppled forward, landing on his hands and knees. The world spun around him and his head continued to throb, his mind trapped in a fog that lingered even as his consciousness fought to return.
Groaning, he squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head from side to side. This time when he opened his eyes he could make out dark shapes against the light. He blinked several times, the shapes solidifying as they came into focus.
Before him stretched a plain of grass dancing in a gentle breeze. Stone ruins and short, willowy trees dotted the landscape, passing in and out of focus between wisps of fog drifting on the wind.
Lifting his head, he pushed himself upright, this time managing to keep his footing. He stumbled forward, leaning against a stone pillar jutting out of the ground nearby to steady himself. The ground seemed to sway under his feet, the world spinning before him. He clutched his head, pressing his free hand against the cold stone to better prop himself up. His head swam. It was hard to think, hard to process anything. His mind felt slow, his thoughts flowing in and out like a sticky, gooey mass. Everything else was a haze, shrouding him in a numbing blanket.
What's going on? Where am I? I can't…
He stopped dead in his tracks, the realization hitting him.
Gods, he couldn't remember. He couldn't remember anything. How he'd gotten there, where he'd been, or even who he was. He remembered none of it.
A weight pressed down on his chest, as if an invisible giant had grabbed hold on him and squeezed down. His heart quickened, faster and faster as panic set in. He felt faint, the dizziness from before returning in full force.
He had to remember, he had to… he couldn't…
He doubled over, falling to his knees. This can't happen, not… Somehow he knew this, somehow he knew this happened before. He couldn't forget, had to remember. His breath came in wheezing gasps, the beating of his heart more frantic. Think… think… remember…. Your name… what is your name? It's…. No! Think! Focus… It's… my name… it's…
Robin… He seized upon the thought, the memory. He struggled, clawing through the fog towards other memories, burning through his mind just out of reach. Robin… my name is Robin.. I'm… it's… Think! Remember! I'm… Robin… tactician of the… no, think. Think!... the Shepherds! Yes, tactician of the Shepherds...
More memories blurred past, slipping in and out of the haze that hung over his mind. Yet each time he reached out it was a struggle, the obscured faces of people he knew and things he'd experienced pulling away the instant he tried to grasp upon them, pulling away as the fog settled once more to blanket his thoughts.
The memories were there, just out of reach. If he could just grab them he would remember… he knew if he could just reach them… he would remember...
Robin squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head. It was too much… too much all at once. The throbbing in his skull grew worse with every attempt to access his memories. He couldn't make it.
Staggering upright, he looked around, taking in his surroundings. A gasp fell from his lips, his mouth falling open as he beheld the sight before him. Where he at first had only seen a sea of gray fog, the clouds had begun to part, revealing great, floating islands drifting in the sky just overhead. All around him countless chunks of land slipped in and out of sight through the shifting mists. From where he stood it was impossible to tell which way was up or down, each of the floating landmasses seeming to possess its own orientation and gravity.
This place… even if he couldn't remember, the sight before him unsettled him. Instinct told him enough; this place was not normal.
Where am I?
He paced back and forwards, trying to think. He clutched at the sides of his head, wracking his brain for anything he could use. Without the ability to call on memories by command, his only choice before him was to focus on what little he did remember: on the scattered, rapid images he'd seen as he'd regained consciousness. At least he hoped what he'd seen had been memories. They were all he had to go on.
There had been some sort of fight… a portal. I was there...I felt… afraid. We.. we were fighting something, an enemy. We were trying to stop it and...the presence…
Yes, he remembered the presence on the other side of the rift. The sense of a cold, dark, presence, a being whose mind was that of a thing born of the icy depths of a sunless sea. Of slow, calculating rage lurking in the endless night beyond the sun's reach. The brewing of a storm, scouring all land caught in its path.
After that I… the rift started to collapse… I tried to do something...was I trying to stop it? Gods the searing pain, I remember feeling like my head was going to burst. Like my thoughts were burning away.
He stopped at that thought, the realization hitting him with the force of a catapult. Was that why he couldn't remember? Had what happened damaged his mind? Distantly he recalled something about the effects of magical strain, and how in extreme cases it could lead to confusion and difficulty recalling memories. Is that what he was experiencing now?
Then… then there was a flash of light and… nothing. The rift exploded… it… brought me here. His eyes went wide, a look of wonder falling over his face. That was it, wasn't it? This is was what was on the other side of the rift, where it led.
Somehow I must have made it through. But if I'm here, what about…
The final image stuck in his mind. Of a woman with blue hair and clad in silver plate over azure garments rushing towards him. She had been calling out to him, running towards him with her hand outstretched. Even if he could not make out what was said in the memory he was now sure she was calling his name. She'd looked desperate as she tried to reach him. Afraid.
Then the blinding flash of light engulfed them both and the memory ended.
Fear gripped his heart, fear not for himself, but for the woman. He didn't know for certain but… she was dear to him. He couldn't remember her, he couldn't recall even her name. But he felt it, thoughts of her in the depths of fog that engulfed his mind, just beyond his reach. But more than that, he knew she must be important to him. For the fear that welled inside as he thought of her was not for himself, but for her sake.
All he knew now was that he had to find her, had to make sure she was safe.
Now he had a goal. Something to do. If he found her, made sure she was safe, maybe he could remember the rest. Remember why he was here.
Looking around, he spied a sword lying in the grass, its unsheathed blade glinting in a brief glimmer of light shining through a gap in the fog. Bending down, he picked it up, examining it carefully. Gripping the leather sheath belted at his hip, he slipped the blade inside. It was a perfect fit.
Searching the immediate area he found a tome close by, it's yellow cover engraved with golden runes and the symbol of a lightning bolt.
Thoron. He remembered the tome's name. Scooping it off the ground, he dusted off its cover before tucking it into a coat pocket.
Right… He rolled his shoulders, turning to face the fog that stretched out before him. Let's go.
With that he started forward, plunging into the gloom.
. . . . .
Far away a figure stood, watching the image of the tactician play out within the depths of the glowing sphere hovering before him. He reached out, a hand wreathed in shadow coming within an inch of the orb's surface.
Soon… very soon...
The darkness around him seemed to grow, the light inside the sphere fading away to leave nothing but murky water.
Let us see what has become of my 'counterpart's' whelp. The figure swung his hand out, scattering the sphere into a thousand droplets that reformed again. The light returned in its heart, and when it did the orb showed a new scene: a cold, dreary forest by the side of a lake. Of an overcast sky, and a lone figure passing through the trees.
The pieces are in motion. Now we begin…
With a cruel grin, the dragon Anankos laughed, his voice echoing through the darkness as the light at the heart of the orb flickered and died.
Author's Note: Hello everyone, and welcome to my brand new story. I hope you enjoyed this little prologue which should set the stage for things to come. Chapter 1 will be posted in two days, so be on the look out for that.
For those who are not aware, this story followed the events of two of my previous stories A Future Disowned and A Future Broken. While they shouldn't be too necessary to understand this story, A Future Broken does directly lead up to this one, so it might be worth your time to read.
I would just like to give a few shutouts. The first goes to ajani's apprentice who has been kind enough to help me beta read this story for me, and to the wonderful artist who I commissioned for the cover art for this story: yolksound, whose work you can find on tumblr.
As always I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback you guys may have on this story, as it always makes my day to see your comments and thoughts on my work.
Anyhow, until next time, have a wonderful day everyone! Peace!