—A 'Fable' Fanfic—
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- - -
Running, running, ever running. I can't stop, for if I do, surely I'll be killed. Massive rocks, or meteorites, or—something—they keep falling from the sky, all around me. I can only pray that I am not hit by any of them. My friends, they lay dying everywhere. Now everyone I've ever known is dead, everyone but—
"Kan'i," I breathe as I spot her, staring at me. I run toward her. She turns away from me. One of the rocks smashes into the earth just to my left, shaking the ground, but I don't stop. Another lands just before me, exploding at it collides with the dirt. I run through the dust cloud it creates, never once forgetting what I run to.
But when I emerge from the cloud, Kan'i is gone. I look for her as the meteorites continue to fall around me, but to no avail. She is gone.
"Kan'i!" I shout desperately, running to nowhere. "Kan'i!"
"You will never find her. You shouldn't care. You abandoned her, after all."
I spin around to see the last thing I expected—a small, blue faerie, hovering at my eye level and snickering at me.
"I did not abandon her," I say coldly.
"Yes, you did. She offered to accompany you. You turned her down. You left her, even though you knew that Hyrule was lost."
"I meant to come back!" I shout. "I meant to return for her! The path was supposed to be there when I went back!"
"Don't act like you haven't realized what happened," the faerie sneers. "You always knew Hyrule was a magical place. To leave Hyrule is to leave the magic behind!"
I raise my fist. "Albion has magic too."
The faerie rolls her tiny, black eyes.
"Trying to argue logic won't change what is already past," the faerie mutters.
"Shut up," I say. "Just shut up! I will find my way back to Hyrule, and I will find her."
"You haven't even recognized the nature of your own power, and yet you seek to return to a land that is closed to you! You are naught but a fool, Luseik, and until you realize that much, you will not find what you seek!"
And now the dream fades, leaving only her cruel laughter behind.
- - -
Before anything else, I knew that I had to find Satiyen. I hadn't seen him since we'd left Oakvale together, and it had been—to the best of my knowledge—a day since we'd parted. I'd spent the night in Oakvale, plagued by nightmares, and now I sat in the tavern, staring lethargically at the far wall as I swallowed the tasteless sandwich before me. To another, I might have seemed half-asleep. My mind, though, was racing.
After finishing my sandwich, I left a few coins on the table and departed the tavern to look over the town of Oakvale.
The village was untouched—or so it seemed. After a bit of exploring, I found an odd memorial garden that I had never seen before. While surveying the garden, I saw several cenotaphs marking the garden as commemorating the 'terrible bandit raid' of years ago.
Years? It wasn't possible. Or so I would like to think.
But if it had truly been years, what had I been doing all that time? Sleeping in suspended animation? Or had I simply been catapulted forward through time? That seemed unlikely, given what I knew about how the Will worked. I didn't know much about the Will, but I did know that spells didn't just 'malfunction'. They either worked or they didn't do anything. It wasn't possible to 'accidentally' cast the wrong spell. And besides, I didn't remember Satiyen ever telling me about any sort of time-travelling spell to begin with.
…wasn't the Will…
I spun around to face the garden's entrance, but as I'd half-expected, there was nobody in sight.
"Then what was it?" I said recklessly. "And if you're the same freak that I talked to at Hook Coast, you'd better just clear out now, because I'm not playing your stupid game."
There was no response. I growled softly to myself, turning back to the main garden. I'd had about enough of these disembodied voices. I had things I needed to be doing.
Which raised a very important question: What was I supposed to do now?
'We can find that boy,' Satiyen had said. 'He's at the centre of this story. I'm sure of it.'
That was all well and good, but where was I supposed to look? Obviously, the boy didn't still live in the same house. It had been years, and besides that, I hadn't forgotten what I had seen and heard from outside his house…
Moreover, I didn't even remember anything about the boy. Well, aside from his huge feet.
"You'd better hope I imagined that," I said irritably.
I opened my mouth to retort, but stopped myself. The Heroes' Guild? That sounded like a suggestion of a place to search. Hopefully the Heroes' Guild was still around—but then, surely it hadn't been so long since the raid that the Guild had crumbled. Perhaps this disembodied voice wasn't such a nuisance after all. In any case, it was a lead of sorts. I turned and left the garden.
"Satiyen, you had better be right about that boy."
- - -
"You want to join the Guild?"
"Ah, no, just looking for—That is to say," I corrected myself, "I'd like to speak with the Guildmaster. Maze still runs the place, right?" I figured I'd have a better chance of getting in with that line, as opposed to telling the truth—that I was looking for someone whose name I didn't know, but whom I was hoping I'd recognize.
The guard nodded. "Yes. Do you know him?"
"Yes," I said truthfully. Maze was—had been?—a friend of mine. Satiyen had never liked the man, but would never tell me why. In retrospect, I wondered if it was his 'sixth sense' that caused him to dislike Maze. "He was a friend of mine a few years back. I'm hoping he'll remember me."
"All right," the guard said. "Go on in. I assume you know your way around the Guild?"
"Of course," I said. He reached back and undid the latch on the door. I took it upon myself to push the door open.
Once inside, I headed straight for the Guildmaster's quarters. Peering around the doorframe, I saw that he was not present. I entered the room anyway. Sooner or later, he'd come here, wherever he was.
In the interim, I walked over to one of the many bookshelves—Maze, apparently, still held his same fondness for books. I fingered through several of them, finding nothing interesting, and replaced all of them where I'd found them. As I was replacing the sixth and last book, I heard a familiar voice.
"May I help you?"
I pushed the book into place and turned around. I noticed that he looked peculiarly flushed, but perhaps it was only age.
"Maze," I said. "Do you remember me? I haven't seen you in a handful of years."
He narrowed his eyes briefly, then widened them. "Luseik," he said.
I grinned. "You do remember me," I said.
"Where have you been?" he said, and I paused. How was I supposed to know where I'd been?
"Er, away," I said. "Listen, I'm looking for someone. He was a boy when last I saw him, but he must be a young man by now. He used to live in Oakvale, before the raid."
"That boy?" Maze said. "How curious."
"What do you mean?" I said, mildly startled.
"Nothing much," he said. "It's simply curious that he should have so much happening around him." This struck me as odd, but he continued before I could ask. "If you wish to see him, though, you'll be disappointed. He isn't here at the moment. Unfortunately, I can't stay long. I have duties I must attend to."
"That's all right," I said. "I'll look for him elsewhere."
He shrugged. "I wish you luck in finding him." Something about the way he said it was unusual. As if he thought I had no hope of finding the boy.
I nodded. He left.
So what now? I wasn't about to go on a wild goose chase all over Albion just to find a boy that Satiyen had had a hunch about years ago. I walked to Maze's desk and let myself fall into his chair. I pondered for almost an hour.
I got up to leave, and was about halfway to the Guild entrance when I was forced to stop and stare about me.
The Guild… was burning.
Or was it?
Phantom flames devoured the place, but left it untouched. None of the other people seemed to noticed the phenomenon. The flames didn't seem to be there, and yet I could see them as clearly as if they were.
And now I could see people, translucent people, running this way and that, many of them bleeding, some of them burning, all of them terrified.
And abruptly, it was gone. I shook my head.
I closed my eyes and pushed the heel of my right hand to my forehead.
…get away from this place…
"Stop it," I muttered. "Not now. Not here."
…you must leave…
"But you're the one who led me here!" I said, careful to keep my voice down as I continued to walk toward the entrance.
…the boy can wait…
"Curse you," I said. "Start making some sense."
You'll be killed if you don't get far away from this place! Does that make enough sense for you?
I paused. The voice had come with vigour that time. I glanced around me and stopped walking. The phantom flames were back, and now they seemed almost solid. I could hear the screams, and behind it all, a kind of…
Get out, now! He's almost here!
A sudden adrenaline rush took hold of me and I raced for the Guild entrance. I threw the doors open and ran, not caring how ridiculous I looked.
The sun was gone, concealed by thick, grey clouds that threw down the rain in sheets. Thunder roared in the distance.
But just outside the Guild, I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at the man before me. I felt I should know him, but I couldn't remember ever seeing him before. He wore a strange white mask that covered all of his face save his eyes. And he was staring at me with a gaze that bored directly through my soul and froze everything inside me. Then I realized what that feeling was.
Terror. A terror so whole, so complete, that it held me immobile.
Slowly, deliberately, he raised one hand, the open palm directed toward me. I still couldn't move.
"Lovely day, isn't it?" the man said. I could sense the Will energy gathering around that single hand. "Not like all the distasteful sun we've been getting lately."
He slowly closed the hand into a fist. For an instant I felt a terrible crushing pressure all around me, but only for an instant. Then there was a brilliant flash of lightning directly where the man stood, the pressure was gone, and the man began to scream, clutching at his hand.
Run, you fool! Even that won't stop him for long!
So I did. I didn't look back, but I had a distinct feeling that I was not being pursued. Something told me that the strange man wasn't after me in particular.
And once again I asked myself: What was I supposed to do now?