A Future

  Antares stared blankly into the fire. After our training sessions, he often drew deep within himself to recover. Apparently, demons healed more slowly in the dreamscape versus the real world (or "my" world). It sorta made sense, because whenver I was on the dreamscape, my astral form, not being my natural state, tended to recover quickly from damage, and to absorb far more of it. Similarly, my physical, waking form, being my natural state, recovered at a vastly slower pace and could only do so as I slept and wandered the dreamscape in my astral form. But if Antares and I had somehow sparred in the real world, then recovery would be far more difficult for me than for Antares' projection into the real world. I guess being a finite being did have at least a few advantages.

  Normally, if Antares was going to say something monumental to me, it was during these quiet moments.

  "Young champion, you fought well today. You are growing into your power quickly. I am proud to be your master." I smiled. Compliments from Antares were rare, and should be savored. "Of course, seifu. I would not be what I am if not for you. However, seifu, I always ask you this, and you always ignore me. Yet, I pray that one day you will tell me why? why are you doing this? You are demon, and I am Champion, albeit, a dark one." Antares slowly exhaled, his breath agitating the fire between us. I immediately ceased talking, and Antares slowly turned toward me, and spoke again, "I had a dream once. Shall I share it with you?"

  "If it answers my question," I replied. Antares smiled, if a demon can do such a thing, and turning to actually look at me, began to emote. First, I am no mere demon. I have walked the spaces between times, and once, I encountered you in a curious time and place ...

  I had returned to this place with a deep loathing, for the Sanhedrin expected an answer from me, and I knew my answer was not the "right" one. I was not afraid, but I was anxious. I was strong, far stronger than I had ever imagined that I could be. And while my path had not been of my own choosing, I did not question the course of my life. As a fully mature male of 43, I was Champion on both the dreamscape and in the real world. The only thing left was for me to choose.

  I drank in the panoramic view of the green valley outlined by snow crowned mountains, dotted with spruce pines. The colors of the aurora borealis illuminated the night sky, casting an eerie green light over the entire landscape. Barely a visible speck on the leeward side of the mountain range, my cloaked figure moved along a mountain pass that was not much more than a narrow ledge for what seemed like days. As I weaved my way through the snow filled mountain pass, my long, hooded cloak, too heavy to billow even in the snow laden winds of the mountaintop, rested over my shoulders as I came to a halt at the end of the trail at the top of the mountain, and from this high vantage point, I intently peered across the valley into the northern nights. Cold beyond belief, I knelt in the snow. “Our father, who art in heaven …”

  And then there was a great explosion, like the sound of rocks being blasted from the mountain side, and as the snow and wind relented, I looked up and noticed that this ledge was surrounded by exactly 13 minature peaks, and upon each peak, stood a cloaked figure.

  Rising from the snow, I mocked, "Huh, everyone came this time. I am flattered."

  Several of the figures folded back their cloaks and robes to reveal weapons of various sorts. Threats of violence in response to my insolence. And then, a familar voice, "Young, no, I can no longer call you that, Great Champion, please forgive my brethren. You frighten them, and fear clouds the mind. Besides, I sense your power, even here in the real world. And I suspect that your utter lack of fear of us means that your power is even greater than my brothers and sisters fear. Lastly, I feel something else, I sense that your mind is no longer clouded, and that you are of one mind, soul, body and time."

  I nodded to the First Elder, and bowed as was proper for one of his age and wisdom. If all the Sanhedrin were like this last living descendant of Moses, things would be very different. "I assume then that you have made your decision?" And after a brief hesitation, I surprised my self when I abruptly shouted, "First Elder, please, in the name of all that is holy, please leave this place."

  The old man looked at me tenderly, and shook his head, "No, Dark Champion, my place is here, with the Sanhedrin." Tears swelled briefly in my eyes, for once the First Elder made a decision, his mind could not be changed. I squated in the snow and took the lotus position, and whispered "I am so sorry. Amen."

  Without warning, Temujin leapt from his ledge, longsword drawn and held high over his head. "Your choice has doomed you to death, fool!", he snarled as he hurdled down toward me. However, I did not need to even move. Temujin's blade inexplicably missed me, despite the fact that he had landed less than a foot behind me. He briefly stood there, bewildered by what had just happened. Unfortunately, he did not have time to fully appreciate a live demonstration of the Unthink Principle, for his heart abruptly gave out. Temujin, 3rd seat of the Sanhedrin Council, and last living heir of the Great Khan fell dead in the snow. The other members of the Sanhedrin bowed their heads and assumed the lotus position. This conflict would be settled elsewhere.

  And what happened next, young Champion, unnerved and chilled even the cold core of my being.

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