“Wait a second!” Vestria shouted. “You just hold up right there!”
Sionis did as he was told, pausing his story and sitting there, waiting.
Sionis waved his hand a little bit. “Well, no, I suppose not.”
“So, what did happen?”
He offered her a sly grin. “This is where the story gets… interesting.”
Vestria, realizing there was more to hear, activated the mechanical quill once more…
That night in the cave, that was the night I was meant to die. I should have been incinerated by the magical energies that I released. It was awe-inspiring, and I have heard that most of the survivors escaped thanks to our efforts down there.
Instead of burning up in fire as I had expected, however, I simply… vanished.
I found myself in a bright white existence. My body was weightless, and I thought for a moment that maybe I had reached the afterlife, to be embraced by the Luminary One after all. My body ached from all the fighting, my skin burned from the release of pure energy, and I wondered why these physical ailments had followed me into the spiritual realm.
Then, a voice echoed in my head.
“You are not dead, Sionis Sepher.”
“Oh really?” I asked aloud.
The light surrounding me began to dim until I saw spirals of color and distant dots of light on the horizon. I saw sandy ground and cave walls that had buildings jutting out of them. I had been taken out of the physical realm… to the realm of the Yunai.
“Welcome to our domain,” the voice boomed.
Forming from the light, a being appeared. The creature looked, to me, like a dragon. It had massive golden eyes that were locked on me, and I stared right back, with fear and amazement. I had no idea how I had arrived here, or why, but I had quickly come to terms with the reality that this was happening.
“Why am I here?” I asked. “I was in a cave—”
“You died,” the dragon replied. “Or, you would have died, if I had not intervened. In your final moments, your life force became aethereal itself, allowing me to pull it to our realm.”
“I am grateful for the rescue,” I said, feeling a little overwhelmed. “I guess I don’t understand… why?”
The dragon lowered his head, closed his eyes, and then magically transformed from the massive creature to a tall and slender individual that looked almost identical to me. He walked over, placed a hand on my shoulder, and offered me a warm smile.
He was a Yunai. I was looking and talking with a Yunai.
“I understand your apprehension. In your realm, most of the Yunai you meet are unkind, destructive, and seeking to control. The fracture in reality has led our more aggressive siblings to seek out their vile plans in ways we did not expect.”
“Wait. You’re not all like this?”
The Yunai chuckled. “I watched your reality, Sionis. I saw you die, and that sacrifice was honorable, but it did not stem the tide enough to prevent a terrible darkness that is coming. I have been working to solve this problem, but you are still needed.”
“So you’re helping us?”
“A harbinger of hope. An instrument of death. My role is uncertain. The one you call Valiera has created a splinter in your reality. She pulled a World Ship into your reality, and frankly… it was impressive to see her pull it off. That World Ship has now become the focus of the Yunai that seek to undo your reality. They will use it as they used it before. Valiera’s efforts to save her family… undone.”
“You saw all of this happen? You can see the future?”
“Indeed,” Nozdormu replied. “It is a future I work now to prevent.”
“How do I come into this?”
The Yunai chuckled. “You lead. You must travel to this World Ship. You must stop the Yunai before they can claim a foothold.”
“Why not just stop Valiera from pulling the World Ship into our reality? You can manipulate time, right? So, just… stop her.”
“To go back and stop her now would only create more instability in the reality. I can only make small changes, like saving a single hero from their untimely death. Besides, there is more at play here than I can explain, hero.”
“I’m willing to help, but I don’t know where to start.”
“Your existence is the beginning,” the Yunai replied. “I will return you to the time in which I removed you, give or take a few weeks. From that moment forward, you must prepare. The time will come and you will know what to do.”
“So I just… what… recruit people?”
“Prepare for the day,” the Yunai replied. “While you seek allies, I will continue my work, but it will be up to you, and heroes like you, to ready this reality for a war it’s never seen before.”
I felt skeptical, but I nodded. “Okay. I can do that. Gather folks up. Prepare for a fight.”
The Yunai nodded. “I will reach out to you in time, Sionis Sepher.”
I was about to ask what happened next, but the world suddenly shifted. The ground beneath my feet changed into hard dirt. A thick coat appeared on my body, replacing my singed robes. Then, with a snap and fizzle, the place where I had been vanished, leaving me standing in what appeared to a snow-covered forest of pine trees.
“Don’t move!” a voice shouted loudly. I froze in place.
I did as ordered, slowly turning to see a heavily armored paladin with a massive crystal blade out and ready to strike. I remained silent, as I wasn’t sure how to go about explaining my situation, but it was the paladin that seemed caught off guard.
“Sionis? Luminary One guide me!”
I looked at the paladin more carefully, but when they pulled off their helmet I nearly laughed in response to the joy I felt. It was Christine, the paladin that had traveled with me through my time in in the frozen realm!
“Christine!” I shouted. “Is that really you?”
She smiled. “You know it. What in the world are you doing here?”
“Where exactly is… here?”
“Uh, the Basale Dalles,” she replied.
I was surprised, but not unhappy. I wondered if the Yunai had sent me to Christine for a reason, and then logically concluded that was an obvious point. I was happy to see her, and I was happy to be out of the deep ocean. I knew I had a path to walk, and I was ready.
I had to recruit. I had to save the world.
What could go wrong?
Vestria’s jaw felt like it had fallen off. She had written everything down, as always, but the story had made such a wild turn that he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Time travel, a benevolent Yunai, and possibly a resurrection?!
“This is a lot,” she said at last, reviewing his notes.
“Indeed it was,” Sionis said in agreement. “I’ll never forget that day. The day I should have died.”
“It worked though, I assume?”
“I mean, we’re here, right? So, you gathered your people together, used the opportunity, then took down the Yunai like your friend wanted?”
Sionis smiled. “A story for another day.”
“It has been a long day, and I would like a snack. Perhaps a stripped melon?”
Vestria knew when he was at the end of the story for now. She grumbled a bit, but quickly put her writing utensils away and rolled up his scrolls. She earmarked the last one from today, eager to review it when she got back to the tavern, and then leaned back in her chair and smiled.
“Desert sounds great.”