I wake. I feel like I've been asleep for a very long time. Where am I? Oh. Torn Elkandu. The School of Thought dormitories again. Where I always start out. And the same time that I always wake up. Where I've died and returned to a thousand times before, no doubt.
I get up and go out toward the Nexus. Everything looks the same as it was before. Keolah is standing there, staring off absently at nothing.
"Keolah," I say. "Do you think it is possible to change time?"
"I don't know. But if you say that something is impossible, then what hope do you have of achieving it? I imagine that, when it comes down to it, anything is possible. A wise man once said, 'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"
"Keolah, that man was a comedian," I say with a grin. "You know that, don't you?"
Keolah shrugs. "Perhaps he had a point, though."
"Perhaps," I say.
I feel like I'm in no great rush. I take a stroll around Torn Elkandu, pop into random classes at the School of Thought, and relax for a bit. When the six hour mark approaches, I return to the Nexus to wait. There is much that I would ask Sardill.
Six hours passes. The Nexus remains dormant. The runes don't light up, the mists don't appear. Neither Sardill nor any of his Dark Elkandu appear in Torn Elkandu.
"Were you expecting someone?" Keolah asks.
"I... well, maybe," I say.
"If you're looking for someone, perhaps I could scry and find them, see if something has delayed them," Keolah says. "Who were you waiting for?"
"Sardill," I reply.
Keolah raises an eyebrow at me. "Dare I wonder why?"
I shrug. "I had things to speak of with him."
"It's really none of my business, anyway," Keolah says. "I'll find him for you." Her eyes glaze over, and she stares off into space for several long moments as I wait for her. Finally, she shakes her head. "I can't find him."
"You can't find him?" I say incredulously.
"Either he's blocking my power somehow... or he no longer exists in this universe."
I remember how he pushed me into using my power, but what really happened there? What did he really do?
"I'll go look for him," I say.
I know where he might be, if he's anywhere. When he was showing me the future, I saw Drakanna, the stronghold of the Dark Elkandu. I saw it well enough that I can use the Nexus to get there myself. I step into the ring of obelisks and concentrate on the image in my mind, and activate the teleporter.
When I arrive in Drakanna, I'm greeted by the face of my mother, Anara Chelseer. Her eyes are the same yellow-gold color as any darksider. How much time did she spend in my father's universe, I wonder? And what did she get up to while she was there that my father didn't know about?
"Lexen?" she asks. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same of you," I reply, shrugging. "But I don't really care. I'm looking for Sardill. Have you seen him?"
"He should be in the main building over there," Anara says, pointing. "Have you come to join us, Lexen?"
"No," I say. "I just need to speak with him about something."
I enter the building that she'd indicated and look around. I don't see Sardill anywhere around. But I see Sedder, sitting at a table and staring into a mug. Inexplicable rage boils up within me, and I find myself clenching my fists and barely restraining myself from attacking him.
"Lexen," Sedder says quietly. "I should have expected you would come."
"I don't want to talk to you, Sedder," I grit. "Where's Sardill?"
"He's not here."
"Where is he, then?"
Sedder shakes his head. "Gone. He didn't come back with us."
"What do you mean?"
Sedder looks at me for a long moment, and then turns to stare off at nothing. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
"What, you? You are apologizing to me?"
"I know what you did," Sedder says. "You asked for my regret, and you asked for my life, and I gave them both gladly. And then the universe changed."
"What could you have possibly regretted?" I wonder.
"You have no idea what I've been through, Lexen," Sedder says. There's no ire in his voice, but weariness, the voice of someone who has seen too much death and loss, too much hate and grief. I'm surprised to find something I so clearly understand in one I had hated myself so much.
"No. I don't. And you don't know what I have. Where is Sardill?"
"I told you, he's gone," Sedder says. "And nothing will ever be the same again."
"What happened to that timeline?" I wonder. "What happened with Falk?"
"I don't know. Let me... let me see..." He closes his eyes for a few moments. "I think it's still there. But there's a barrier between that timeline and the one we're now in. I think Shazmar himself is keeping us safe here, or perhaps someone has isolated that section of the multiverse to prevent it from interfering with anything outside of it."
"So... we're safe," I say. "There's no way that future is going to come to pass. Wait a minute, since when are you a Time Mage?"
Sedder smirks at me. "Since I wished for it as my reward for winning an event in one of the Grand Elkandu Magic Competitions."
"Competitions?" I say dumbly. "You have got to be joking."
"And you wished for Beer Magic," Sedder says.
"Okay, that I can believe." I sigh and take a seat at the table across from him. I still don't like him. But we're in the same boat, and Sardill isn't here. We've seen the future. "So, what's going to happen now?"
"Now?" Sedder says. "Now... we build a better future. I think I'll shut down Drakanna before the Elkandu Crisis hits us. Send everyone back home. There's no need for war. I don't remember why we were even fighting."
"But you were exiled from Torn Elkandu," I say. "What are you going to do?"
Sedder stares off and gives a quirk of a smile. "I think I'll go to the World of Darkness, and see if I can find a kitsune by the name of Fantasia..."
"You... you lost her, didn't you," I say softly. "That was what you regretted."
"Jez'kai took her," Sedder says quietly. "And when my daughter found out that I'd once, briefly, made a deal with Jez'kai, she turned against me. I'd made a deal with Jez'kai to hand over Fantasia as my slave, you see. And then I fell in love with her. I wanted to keep her safe from him... and I failed."
"But, I thought you died," I say. "Silver killed you, before the Planar Wars, when you went mad..."
"I did," Sedder says. "I was reborn, under the name of Lomolen Shadowhand. Lomolen Chelseer."
"You? A Chelseer?" I say incredulously.
Sedder chuckles. "Imagine that, after how much I hated them, huh? I regained my memories, but Lomolen's personality was stubborn, and refused to let go. We couldn't integrate properly. I think that was slowly driving me mad as well. No, I speak wrongly. It wasn't that we couldn't integrate. It's that I refused to compromise. And Lomolen was no less stubborn. He was a good person, bound by honor, justice, loyalty. He could not abide by the things I was doing, and he did whatever he could to influence me, to temper me into a different path."
"What happened when you came back, then?"
"We both regretted what happened," Sedder says. "And we both... came back into the same body again."
"So, what?" I say. "You have two minds in one body?"
Sedder shakes his head. "We knew our mistake, last time. We weren't about to repeat it. We compromised, to make ourselves one again, to be whole again. I'm as much Lomolen as I am Sedder now."
I find it a little hard to swallow, the idea of Sedder, of all people, turning into a good person. But perhaps it isn't so far-fetched. Perhaps I should not judge him. It's not like I'm exactly a good person, either. It's not like I haven't murdered more people than I care to remember, myself.
It slowly starts to sink in that I have a future again. That Sardill is really gone, and Sedder is not going to be showing me up six hours after I wake up. Nothing will ever be the same again, indeed.
I've forgotten more things than most people will ever know. I've lived more lives than most will ever have the chance to see. And yet it feels like this is only the beginning.
"So, Lexen," Sedder says. "Out of curiosity... You're not really ten years old, that much I can be sure of. Not now, not in this time, perhaps not ever."
"I'm sure I must have actually been ten at some point," I say, smirking. "But I don't remember it anymore."
"Tell me. Have you ever been in love?" Sedder asks.
"Yes," I say quietly.
"Would you cross time and space, set the universe on fire, all for the sake of one person?" Sedder says.
"Not one person," I say. "Not just one person. Things would have been so much simpler if it had only been one person."
"Ah," Sedder says, nodding. "There was more than one person in my own history, as well. But the universe moved on, and everything changed. Armina and Adrienna are gone. And Fantasia... maybe I can still find her again. I don't know. Do you believe in soulmates? In people destined to be together?"
"No," I reply. "There's no destiny but what we make ourselves. There are, however, perhaps people whose personality is... compatible with our own."
Sedder snickers. "I suppose that's one way of putting it. Fantasia and I were... compatible. But it wasn't just Sedder, nor just Lomolen. Sedder was too amoral, and Lomolen was too straightlaced."
"You're speaking of yourself in the third person," I point out.
"So I am," Sedder says, shrugging. "Easier that way. Maybe I should go back to using my birth name. Tennar Deller. I'm not Sedder anymore, and Lomolen has not yet been born."
"And I'm not Darth Revan anymore," I say.
"Darth Revan? I sense that there's a story behind that."
"That there is," I reply. "But I don't think I care to tell it now. There are many stories behind me, most of which I have forgotten. But there are many more stories ahead of me, as well. I'm immortal, after all, and the universe hasn't yet found any way to kill me. Despite things attempting to suck out my soul or strip away my powers."
"Perhaps it's your power that's protecting itself. Perhaps it was willing and able to change time itself in order to prevent any danger to itself."
"Speculation," I say. "The will of the Force, perhaps?" I chuckle softly. "You'd think I would understand the Force better than I do. Magic, as you call it. My father's universe speaks of it like a living thing, with a will of its own."
"It seems a strange way to think about it. But perhaps they aren't wrong." He shrugs.
"I think I'll be going now," I say. "I have a lot to think about. And all the multiverse at my grasp."
"May your magic never falter, Stormseeker."
"And may yours find its favor."
I Recall back to the Nexus of Torn Elkandu, and stare up at the swirling purple sky for a long moment. It's like the shackles have been removed. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I'm finally free.
I throw back my head and start laughing. Free? And now what shall I do? Find a way to fix my shattered mind, that's what. It's a risky prospect, I know. I run the risk of losing the fragments that I already have.
But it's alright. I'm immortal. And I know I'm not so weak as to turn into a lunatic drunk again. I have more faith in myself than that.
"Shazmar," I say quietly.
"What do you need, Stormseeker?" a small voice speaks in my mind.
"Not going to manifest yourself?"
"No. I've contained the situation, with some help. We'll... we'll make sure this doesn't damage the pattern of the multiverse too badly. But I've decided to pay penance for my mistakes. Sardill was right. It was entirely my own fault that this came to pass at all."
"Why, Shazmar?" I wonder. "Why did you do this all?"
"I just wanted to keep things interesting, to have a little fun, but things got out of hand, and beyond even my control."
I sigh. "And that's why all of this came to pass? Just for the sake of some fun? So many dead, so many suffering, so many souls lost?"
"I know. And that is why I pay penance. It's not enough. An eternity, perhaps, will be enough, to pay for those lost souls. Perhaps. How can you put a price upon a soul?"
"This never should have happened," I say.
"I know. I know. You won't see me again. Nor Sardill. Enjoy your future. Perhaps, in time, you can find favor with a power that isn't built upon regret."
I have to give a small smile at that. "Now that's a nice thought."
Life goes on. There will be a future, for me and for all of the Elkandu. Everything will be alright.
A/N: And that concludes the Stormseeker Saga. There's any number of other things I could have written as well... but I think this is enough. More than enough. I never thought I'd actually wind up writing over a million words on this project.
Thanks for reading. I hope you've enjoyed the trip as much as I have.
~ May your magic never falter. ~