Look, but don’t touch….
Combine an ancient tome, a potion, and a mage, and what do you get? A journey back in time, and the secret dream of every historian ever born. Of course there is the usual catch, the well-known non-interference clause. But what price is too high to gain the greatest perspective on past events?
The First Reign. Witness the construction of the citadel and the reign of the first mages—Sethwyn, Glinrea, and Wystan. Learn of their battle against the evil bastard vampire, Elusivar, who wrought a terror indelibly etched into the pages of history.
The Second Reign. Humans have gone mad with science. A family of three face cruel scientists who perform unholy experiments on them. After they’re free from tyranny, they begin to develop powers and the three—Justinus, Saberine, and Leandra—form a triumvirate, the Second Reign. But much like the Roman triumvirate of ancient times, this one, too, may be doomed to failure due to overweening hubris.
Uncovering the Past. Does the opportunity to be a silent witness come with a price? What part does 001 have to play in what is going on? Will understanding the past give insight into a better future?
Tick tock, the beating clock… time waits for no man…
The vehicle slowed to a crawl on the winding road as I sought a place to turn around. When I found one, I backed up until I heard a crunch. I slammed on the brakes and put the car in park before getting out it, then frowned. “Now the boss is really going to kill me.” I stared at the unlit sign I had backed into. “Of all the idiotic places to put a sign.” I shook my head. “What nut would put a sign halfway across a deserted road?”
I looked closely at the sign and slowly read words I’d never seen before. Last Chance Saloon turn here. I walked around the old—and now slightly damaged but still standing—sign, I assessed the available road against the car’s width. “Just might make it.” After getting back in the car, I turned around again and drove down the abandoned road for several miles.
When the headlights bounced off something, I strained to see the object. Within seconds, I heard a horrible grinding noise and felt the car lurch toward the right side of the road. Just as I braced for a sudden stop, my head slammed into my arms and pressed them against the steering wheel. I put the car in park, turned off the engine, and went to look at the damage. The right front tire was securely lodged in the fork of a fallen tree.
I started walking, feeling disgusted. “If the bar’s open, it’ll have a phone—I hope.” I trudged down the road for another mile or so and was just about to give up when I spotted a wooden structure. The sign hanging lopsided above the door read Last Chance Saloon. I walked into the tavern and shook out my coat before placing it on the rack. After choosing a seat at the bar, I ordered my favorite drink and briefly explained my car problem to the bartender. “The keys are in the battered beast.”
He went to the other end of the bar, used the phone, then mixed my drink. After placing the beverage in front of me, he nodded. “I called a wrecker for you. Said he’d be here in a bit to fix your car and bring it to the front parking lot. By the way, why’d you come in the back way?”
I stared. “The back way?”
“No one’s used that road for several decades.” He pointed to the other door. “Most people come in the front door from Monterey Bay, not the way you did.”
“Is the name of this place still The Last Chance Saloon?”
He shook his head. “I haven’t heard it called that since I bought it off an old half-orc. I changed the name to The Roadside Stop.”
“You’re not listed in the phone book. There’s an old sign still hanging over the back door.” I grinned sheepishly.
“I left it for the old timers.” He walked away.
With a sigh, I glanced around. Aside from myself, the only other patron was a darkly cloaked figure sitting near the fire. I raised my drink to the man. “Care for company?”
He motioned with his hand. “Come share the fire’s warmth, friend.”
I picked up my drink and walked to his table, then sat across from him. “What brings you here?”
“I’ve nothing better to do.” He held out his hand. “Name’s Dodger. I already know yours.”
Name’s familiar. Shrugging it off, I cautiously shook his hand. “How do you know mine?”
He withdrew his hand. “Little escapes me.”
“What do you do, if that’s not too personal?”
Dodger smiled. “I tell stories of the past. Would you care to hear one?”
I thought of the other storyteller I’d once heard and the opportunity for comparison this could provide. “What kind of stories do you have?”
His blue eyes sparkled with amusement. “What knowledge do you need?”
I shook my head. “Stories are entertainment for those with imagination. I’ve yet to hear one provide a single, solitary fact.”
“The offer’s open. And I know you’re looking for information about the past. You’ve been searching for me since you heard the story of Ghost and Shadow.” Dodger locked my gaze. “It was in a tavern named The Wayward Traveler several years ago. You desire to tell the world of its past, and that is the information I have.”
Right tavern, right story, and even the right name. How can I be sure he’s the one? I clasped my hands together and leaned forward. “Out of sheer curiosity, why are you willing to share this with me?”
Dodger chuckled. “If I provide the facts for you, it’ll be correct. If I don’t, there’s a chance it could be wrong. I don’t like correcting mistakes.”
I crossed my arms and sat back. “What makes you think I can’t find the truth and that your version is right?”
“Not only have I seen The Old Writings, but I can see the past. Besides, Ghost and Shadow were very close friends of mine.” He momentarily glanced at the fire, then stood. “I’m willing to take you into my home and show you evidence of what I say. And provide any information you desire.”
“I don’t know you, and trusting people isn’t a part of my nature. How can you convince me I’ll be safe and get what I need?”
“If you want the truth, you’ll have to trust me. If you want to know what really happened, follow me.” He crossed the floor and exited, the door closing behind him.
I jumped to my feet and raced across the floor. “I’m out of my mind.” After opening the door, I froze. “Sorry about that.”
Dodger locked my gaze. “Not out of your mind, just interested in the truth.”
“You’ve got good hearing.”
“And more information than you’ll ever need. Shall we go to my house?”
“Lead the way, storyteller.”
Dodger nodded. “During our walk, I have a request.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Good, because I want you to lend an ear to the world. I want you to hear Earth, the wind, the trees, and the creatures of the night. Listen and see if you can hear their voices.”
I nodded, and we silently walked a trodden path through the woods.