The Meaning of Time

His cold, blue eyes piercered deep into her soul. The connection instant between young Norseman and the young woman.

In that moment of connection, he saw everything she was and she saw everything he was. Their souls forever bound by fate. Each, forever etched into the others soul through a soul gaze.

In that moment, the two could feel their fates bound. It was only a moment. A moment that ended. Fate pulled them apart.

But, fate was not done with them. Their destinies were yet to be fulfilled.

Pre-destined to be warriors in a Nation of waring people. Separated by families, tradition, obligation, and frozen seas.

Death did not bring peace to their souls, because fate had not finished with them. Their souls did not join Odin in Valhalla, but they did not escape the watchful eye of Fate.

Time passes, tides change as civilizations rise and fall.

People have changed, life has changed and the stories of long ago are forgotten.

The warrior’s soul settles in a new life as a new man. His ways influence the behavior of the young man, who grows into a modern warrior. The hole in his soul grows larger and deeper with every passing day.

The Norseman died in battle, but his Valkyrie never came. He never passed on to the great halls of Valhalla. His restlessness becomes the young man’s. The young man becomes an echo of his past.

The young man has been in and out of relationships trying to feel the void that grows within him. He served in the military trying to find an outlet for the inner warrior, but it does not bring the relief he seeks. He grows more restless with every day that passes, trying to find his way. The uncertainty growing with every sunset.

John is 28 and lives with his girlfriend and child. He has worked many jobs and does what is needed to make things work. He goes to sleep after everyone and wakes before the sun.

Some nights he stares at the stars like the ancient Norse Mariners. The stars led them through the nights and the stars bring him peace, even though where he lives he cannot see them very well. He lies on the roof of his house looking at them hoping they will show him the way through the world.

Every morning he wakes everyone and makes sure they are ready for the before heading off to work. John works in construction and loves how he create things through manual labor. Often, he feels like the world has become lost in technology and that people have become lost from each other.

Most nights, he returns home to find his girlfriend engrossed in her smartphone talking to other people. John feels like it is a wedge in their relationship, but there are other things that she complains about. They live comfortably in the suburbs of a large metropolitan and he feels that it is his duty to remain faithful and raise his child.

Every night he tucks his daughter in and retreats to the sanctum of the night sky and air. It bothers him that his girlfriend does not pay much attention to him, but he hopes that she will return to him and realize her ways.

Sometimes he wonders why they are still together and why he stays, but he never strays. He wants the family unit to remain in tact for the good of the child. He cares for his girlfriend, but he stopped believing in love a long time ago.

John wonders, most nights, what his purpose in life is. If he has fulfilled what he has been intended to do, or if he’s lost his way in the world. The restlessness makes him question his decision to settle down, but he familial obligation to his child makes him resolute. But it doesn’t stop him from wondering if he was meant to do something greater.

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Chapter 2 – The Burden

“Percy…” His name came to his ears in a soft gentle voice at first. The sound slightly reverberating in his ears. “Purrrsea..” His name came again with an echo.

Slowly, he opened his eyes in a bright white light. He saw a disembodied face, an angel he ventured thinking that he had succumbed to his fever and died. He mused with a smile that this must be heaven. The features were female and softly glowed in the light. This had to be heaven, he thought staring at the face in astonishment. She smiled.

“It is time for you to wake up,” she said with a disembodied voice that echoed softly on his ears.

A darkness befell him and his mind traveled back to the night he had met the woman. The night that had been plotted from his memory and opened his eyes and took a deep rushing breath of air into his lungs. He sat bolt upright.

He was alone in a clearing not far from the soft sound of the rushing current of the Amazon River. He could hear a few animals in the distance and some bugs.

His effects were next to him, his hat, his diary and his bag, but everything and everyone else were gone.

He was alone in the jungle and had no idea where he was. He looked to the night sky for the stars, but instead found a fog falling upon him.

The fog brought in a harsh bone chilling cold and snow began to fall.

Percy got to his feet, much faster and easier than he remembered. His aches and pains were gone. He looked at his hands and arms. They were that of a 30 year old. He saw his breathe in the cold humid air.

A shudder coursed through him, but it wasn’t from a cold chill. It wasn’t a shudder from the cold, it was the shudder of an encounter with the supernatural.

He swallowed and looked at his things again finding a leather fur lined coat. He grabbed it and pulled it on. He screwed his hat down tight on his head as a cold wind blew past and the snow picked up. He gathered up the rest of his things and when he looked around again, he realized that he was no longer in the sub tropics.

The cold bit into his skin as the blizzard continued around him. The snow was gathering in drifts and he noticed a distant light of a fire.

He trudged through the snow, tucking his face into his coat. The temperature felt like it was dropping more with his every step. His tattered jungle clothing offered little warmth against the harsh cold.

“This must be my hell,” he thought as he felt like frostbite was beginning to set in on his extremities.

After he what he felt like was hours, the trail ended at what looked like ruins of an ancient stone structure.  Cautiously he approached the door. He could see a fire light within a window and smoke from the chimney.

The structure of the stone building reminded him of places he had read about in the lands of the Norsemen.  Thoughts of Odin, Thor and  Loki filled his mind as he climbed the small staircase to the massive, dark hardwood door.  He reached up and felt the grain of wood against his skin.  His thoughts traveled to the Vykings and the structures that they had created for their homes.

The door slowly opened, interrupting his thoughts…

…in 1925 Percy Fawcett returned to the Amazon, never to be seen again.

Prologue – The Fixer

She was always the knobby kneed, curly red haired girl with braces and glasses. Being an introvert, she never cared to put much time and effort into how she looked. She didn’t want to be noticed.

But her mother was a beautian, who worked from their home. She and her mother were very close. They would spend hours trying on wigs, styling the hair and trying out the latest fads in make-up. Her mother always told her how beautiful she was with or without changing her appearance.

She was a straight A student who took extra classes in the summer for fun. So when she passed all other advanced placement classes and made the highest score on the SAT, it was no surprise when she was invited to attend MIT.

She loved computers and how everything connected. She started her first online company her freshman year.

After her mother was murdered, she withdrew further. She finished her studies and earned a doctorate.

Her business continued to do well and she found that it didn’t matter how much money she had, she could not find happiness. Her mother’s murder haunted her.

Then she realized that she was connected to everything with the power of her computer network she built. She owned the largest computer security firm. She had unlimited access.

Connecting with friends from an online game, they worked together weeding through everything they had and hacking into whatever wasn’t available. After weeks of hard, endless nights, they found her mother’s killer.

What would they do with the information? How would they get the authorities to believe a bunch of computer nerds?

She looked to the closest holding her mother’s meager possessions and went to work on herself.

She ordered colored contacts, a teeth whitening kit, a pack of razors, shaving gel, a flat iron, a WetBrush and a hair drier for Amazon. Clicking expedited shipping.

She pulled out her mom’s favorite wig. A blonde wig with long luxurious hair. Carefully, she styled the hair into a neat bun.

She located a lawyer that had ambition, but didn’t work in a large law firm.

After days of prepping, she had her dossier ready and had created herself anew. She stared at herself in the mirror, but the woman looking back glowed with confidence, beauty and style. She smirked pulling on her leather gloves.

“I do believe that Miss Smith is ready,” she said as she tapped at a lipstick smudge on the corner of her lips.

She packed a clutch with powder, lipstick, keys, and cash. She put it and her leather bound dossier under her arm as her burner phone chirped.

“Yes,” she answered impatiently, she’d been practicing her character.

“Your car has arrived,” said steady, confident voice.

She checked herself in the mirror again, she was a sight in a form fitting, black skirt and blouse that left so much to the imagination. Her black hat tipped just so in her head with the wig. She smirked as she dawned the dark sunglasses. “I’ll be right down,” she said coldly.

She closed the phone, dropped it in the clutch, wobbled to the door in the stilettos and walked out into the hall. By the time she reached the elevator, she’d found her sea legs.

The elevator doors opened with its beep and she strutted into the entrance hall and out to the street where a lean man stood next to a black Towncar. He opened the door with a pleasant smile and offered her his hand to help her into the vehicle.

“Thank you,” she said with a trace of smugness in her voice and a hint of a smile on her face as she took his hand and sat in the car. He closed the door and returned to the driver’s seat. She checked her makeup in the compact mirror.

“Who knew you were so sexy?” The driver teased as he turned onto the street.

She smirked at him seeing his eyes on hers in the rear view mirror. “You’re one to talk DarkLord4570,” she teased him reciting his gamer name. She could see him blushing and it gave her deepest feeling of satisfaction.

Chapter 1 – The Burden

The year is 1907, Major Percy Fawcett has been tasked with mapping the border between Brazil and Bolivia under the behest of the Royal Geographical Society. The countries asked for a 3rd party to survey the boarder in order to prevent war between the two countries.

His long arduous journey has ended. He has completed his work and is making ready to return home.

He hears something moving through the brush, after meeting with different animals along his journey he is interested to see what he has disturbed.

Looking around he sees no animals, but under a large tree he sees something unusual. He stopped and picks it up. A piece of ancient broken pottery.

“Come on Percy! Let’s go home!” The voices of his colleagues cut into his thoughts. He looks toward them and back to the pottery in his hand. He sets it down and heads back to the group.

An odd feeling creeps up his spine. He looks back towards the tree and notices that in the late evening light a fog has set in. He closes his eyes, shakes his head and looks back to the happy faces of his colleagues. He looks back once more, but the fog is gone.

Little did he know that they were not alone, they were being watched. The tides of fate had brought him to this place at this time for a reason.

Fawcett and his group had settled for the night near the river and planned on setting off early. Everyone fell asleep where they sat, mostly due to exhaustion and malnutrition. Fawcett had begun an entry in his diary, but fell into a deep slumber before he could finish.

He awoke in the darkness to a feeling of deep, intense cold. A cold like one would find in the Alps, not the Amazon.

Startled seeing his breath he sat straight up. Everyone else was asleep, the fire was still burning, and he was still in the Amazon. Quickly, he took to his feet checking his side arm as he looked around. That’s when he noticed that nothing was moving.

Stepping over to the fire he waived his hand through it, unhurt. He stared at his hand as his body began to shiver from the intense cold. His eyes were drawn up as a tall, slender figure approached him with eyes that glowed like a glacier in the daylight.

The figure approached, everything freezing as it stepped into the light.

The fire light revealed the figure as a woman in Viking’s armor. Her hair was white blonde, her skin was as pale as though the sun had never touched it. The glow in her eyes faded to a deep icy blue.

She stepped up to him, standing close to his own height.

“I’ve died and I’m going to Valhalla,” Fawcett mumbled looking over what appeared to be a Valkyrie that had come for his soul.

She cocked her head and horse eyed him.

Fawcett took a nervous swallow that was louder than he intended.

She squared on him, reached up and placed a hand on either side of his stubble covered jaw. She pulled his face closer to hers and stared deep into his eyes. It felt as though she had reached into him and touched his soul. He was unable to think or move, frozen in place.

She broke her gaze, but did not release his face. She took a shuttering breath and looked him in the eyes. “You will return home,” her voice shaky, but firm. “You will fight in The Great War. You will see many deaths. Then the time will come that you must return and protect me.” Her voice grown steady, but her tone dire. “Many moons will pass, but you will not remember me until the time is right.” She kissed him on the lips and slowly released his face, her right hand falling over his heart and a faint glow issued from it. “I bind your fate to mine,” she said as she slowly lowered her hand a symbol appeared on his chest and slowly faded.

Fawcett stared at her. He didn’t know what to say or do.

“You must wake up,” she said backing away.

“What?”

Fawcett awoke to his colleague kicking his boot. “Wake up Percy, it’s time to go.”

He looked around rubbing his face, his jaw slightly cool to his touch.

“Percy,” his colleague pressed seeing his look of bewilderment. “Are you ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Fawcett responded getting to his feet.

The group left with high spirits of a job well done and hopes of a good meal to be coming soon.

Fawcett left the place with a haunting feeling deep within his soul. A feeling he could not explain.

Ultimately, Percy Fawcett disappeared into Amazon never to be seen again.

Preface – The Burden

What if you were tasked with guarding a secret? A secret that would change the world and unleash unspeakable power if discovered. Change the word for worse in the wrong hands and for the better in the right hands.

A secret the world is not ready for. A secret that would drop the world to its knees and alter the face of human religious beliefs.

What if the secret to the great power was you?

You have the power to see the future, but you are burdened with the inability to change what you see and you must ensure that things come to pass. This power allows you to see the true evil and good in the world. The angels, the demons, the archangels, the fallen angels, and everything in between.

You have witnessed the darkness whispering in the ears of the conquerors as civilizations have risen and fallen. Watching as the axiom of power passing from one great power to another.

You can neither die nor live.

You are a guardian of fate.

Chapter 1 – Nalgenia

My name is Jeremiah Thrush and I live in the Mountains of Nalgenia. It’s a foreboding lifestyle and it’s not something many people can do. The mountains are rough, cold and there are not a whole lot of people.

I live with Possum Jack and Sallye Jane. Sallye Jane is a mule and Possum Jack is my adoptive father. He is a man of the mountains and he has taught me his trade and way of life.

Together, we run a small outpost that Jack calls “Last Call”. The truth is, it is the last place one can procure supplies before traveling further up the mountains. Not many travel up the mountains, but the few that do are the rare breed like Possum Jack and the small community of Blight.

There’s Ma Brown and her family, she has three sons, their wives and children living with her. Possum Jack says that the Creator broke the mold when he made Ma Brown, because there are no other women like her. I think it’s because she makes a mean pie and corn whiskey.

Possum Jack found me when I was a babe. He said that my mum had frozen to death and I was still crying in her arms. He buried my mum and took me to Ma Brown for help. She said I smelled like Thrush, which is a foot disease horses tend to get up in the wet climate of the mountains, and it kind of stuck.

Though the community is maybe 200 hundred strong, Jack and I do a fair trade at our outpost. We use Sallye Jane and some other mules to carry supplies in and out of the trails from the mountains. Sallye Jane is the most important, because she’s our pack leader. She knows the trail better than old Jack and would probably make the journey on her own if we’d let her. She is the head of the organization, because Jack thinks that she’s smarter than the both of us.

When Possum Jack and I travel down the mountain, we trade furs and other wares with Roderick Jessup. He and Jack have known each other since they were greenhorns, and I am guessing that must have been a really long time ago because they both have white hair.

Mr. Jessup always gives me some books to take up the mountain to read. We usually spend the night in the local public house and talk to the locals about life down the mountain.

Life down the mountain seems to focus on a good bit more than just doing what needs to be done to make it to the next sun rise. The entertaining ladies, as Possum Jack’s friend Red Horse calls them, love to talk about all of the latest gossip in the Kingdoms. Which Duke is marrying which early and how they wold just love to be a princess and have all of “those fancy gowns” to wear to all of those different parties.

I honestly think that women are insane. They are always worried about how they look and different fashions and styles. These women would never make it in the mountains. Ma Brown still chops her own wood for her stove, these girls look like they have not worked a day in their lives.

“The King of Airadawn is coming to look at the old mine,” Red Horse reported to Possum Jack. Red Horse is a Plainsmen of the grasslands south of the mountains. His people live a nomadic lifestyle and he has chosen his place here in Waelden. He’s not bad for a low lander when it comes to surviving off the land and has a talent for tracking animals.

“Which old mine?” Jack responded looking at the bottle of whiskey that looked as though it threatened to be empty soon. “Because, last I checked there are many in number in this valley.”

Red Horse gave Jack a solemn, cold stair. Jack looked up from the bottle and it was clear by the look they shared that both knew which mine he was referring to.

I have gotten to a point in my life where I have learned to tune out Jack and his friends when they start to reminisce of the days of old. I thumbed threw my new book from Mr. Jessup and found that it was a history book about someone named Cathger and Orwick.

Winston Cathger was a young boy when he was found separated from his family in the wilderness. He was taken to the Kingdom of Airadawn where he became a ward of Orwick the Wise.

“Orwick, the Wise. I bet he doesn’t know how to roof a lodge,” I chuckled to myself. These books were always giving people such grand titles like Jonas of the Blackfoot or Orwick the Wise. I think I should start calling Sallye Jane, Sallye the Wise. Maybe people would give her more respect. I chuckled to myself as I continued to read.

Orwick taught Winston about magic and the King had him trained as a knight. As the boy grew, he became a strong Paladin Knight.

I laughed to myself. Magic, Paladins? Who was the author of this book? I flipped to the author’s page. I wonder what kind of herbs he’s using. Magic isn’t real. Maybe he’s jesting about this book being historical.

“What is that you have there?” I heard Red Horse say.

I hesitantly lifted the book up and looked at him. “History of Nalgenia.” I looked back at the cover page. “I want to know what kind of herbs this guy has, because he’s talking about magic like it’s something real and claims this guy went from being nothing to being a Paladin Knight.”

Red Horse stared at me over the candle light, his face placid and calm.

“Jeremiah,” he began. “There are many kinds of magic. My people believe that some have the ability to change forms. Others believe in a magic that can raise the dead. Magic is something that is deep in the earth and can only be harnessed by the chosen.”

I looked at Possum Jack and found that his face told of nothing and then back to Red Horse.

“But wouldn’t that constitute what your people believe?”

Red Horse nodded. “You could call it a belief, yes. But it takes belief in Magic for it to work.”

Possum Jack cleared his throat and stood up from the table. “Come Jeremiah, we best get some sleep so we can get up on time and not be left by Sallye Jane. You know her and her time tables.”

We retired to our quarters and I thumbed through the book. Reading of different places and names. There was a lake named Hiraeth with an island. This island was where King Cathger was laid to rest by Orwick.

That’s odd, I thought to myself, how would the Wizard outlive the younger man?

I closed the book and stuffed it into my pack and lay in my bunk staring in the ceiling.

Magic? Real?

I’d always heard Red Horse telling the stories about his tribesmen that could communicate with dead ancestors and performing great acts of healing. I just always figured that was something that was part of the lives of Plainsmen.

Is magic real? Is there more to this world than the life that I know?

That night, I dreamed that I was in the woods with Sallye Jane collecting what I had trapped on my lines.  I had caught rabbits of a variety of colors and it didn’t seem to bother me or Sallye.  I hung the animals on Sallye’s saddle pack and, as always, she dutifully followed me around the woods.

I collected some nuts and berries, like normal, and Sallye grazed on bushes and tree branches as we traveled down the trail.  The trail began to change as we walked.  It grew smaller and darker and the feeling of being watched began to prickle up the back of my neck with goosebumps.  I looked to Sallye, who was sure to alert me if there were any true danger, and she ripped a branch from a tree and began munching on it like nothing was happening.

“Do not be afraid child…” came a soft female voice.  I looked around, but it I saw nothing.

I rested my hand on my tomahawk when I heard the branches on a nearby bush begin to rustle.  Possum Jack and I hunt with bows, but we always carry the extra protection of a tomahawk and knifes.  A bow was not easily load when rushed by a large mountain bear.  We carried what was necessary and never more.

My eyes tracked the motion in the bushes and a large, bear sized, grey wolf stepped from the bushes.  I felt like it’s eyes were piercing me and penetrating deep into my soul.

All I could do was stare back.

In the mountains, there are wolves.  In general, they stay away from humans unless there’s some idiot that hasn’t properly managed their meat.  Wolves love greenhorns, because they can always get a good easy meal of a recently butchered animal.

I think that us Mountain Men and Wolves have an understanding.  We stay out of their way and they stay out of ours.  This wolf, however, was nothing like I’d ever seen, and it stood there before me like a statue.

I glanced back at Sallye Jane, but instead of seeing Sallye Jane I saw something amazing… I saw a unicorn.

I woke with start and realized that he sun had risen.  I looked over at Possum Jack who was still snoring as loudly as a bear.  I pulled on my boots, picked up my pack and made as much noise as I could, but he did not wake.  I threw the pillow from the bed I was slipping on at his face.

“Hmph…” I heard Jack mumble under the pillow.

“Jack, it’s time to go. You know how Sallye gets when we’re late.”  I rolled my eyes, turned, opened the door and walked out slamming it loudly behind me.

I walked to the paddock where we keep our pack mules and Sallye had already opened the gate and was standing at the ready next to her pack, as were the other mules.

I walked over to Sallye, ruffled her forelock and scratched her ears.  I put on her feedbag and pack, then went about doing the same with the 5 other mules.

Introduction – Nalgenia

The words of the ancient prophets are written on the walls of caves that loom over the scared waters of Hiraeth. The caves are on an island. This island looms mysteriously above the sacred lake waters of Hiraeth. It’s shadow cast on the shores of the realm.

Legend tells of the remains of an ancient king being interred on the island. The island is littered with ancient ruins of fallen alters and temples to the gods of the ancients. The king’s remains are unmarked and undisturbed as time passes over the lands.

Years have worn the tale of the ancient king and his great battles down like the stones of the island. The stories that remain are merely tales to caution small children into behaving.

Local people believe that going on to the island would awake an ancient, terrible beast, so few fish near or come close to the island.

The realm of Nalgenia is home to many different people. People who once untied under the banner of one king to defeat a powerful evil that had consumed the entire world.

Centuries later… the waters of Hiraeth are quiet and the words of the prophets are nearly forgotten by the common folk of Nalgenia.

The elders of the Wizard guild remember the days when people believed in magic and all lived in harmony with the magic. Now, the guild operates quietly in the shadows of the prospering world. The elders keep records of the past and present as they await for the rise of the final prophecy of the ancients.

Darkness will unfold and the guardian will be born.

It was believed after the darkness had been banished into the sacred waters of Hiraeth that the guardian come to rule and protect the world. The elders of the different tribes and guilds of man, grew weary waiting for the prophecy to come to pass. They turned their backs on the prophecies and continued to live their lives in ignorance of the new darkness that lurks at the edges of the world, slowly creeping in from the underworld.

The Wizards watch the signs of a growing concern that dark magic is on the rise. A dark magic that few have seen in their lifetimes.

The revenant will rise bringing darkness to the world…