Prologue

Monster_Deaths

Between the roots of a giant tree a battle came to its inevitable conclusion.
The battle had been raging for millions of years though from the point of view of the two ancient beasts it had only been seconds since the magic had snapped shut around them, sealing them, and the tree they were fighting over, in a world of fog. But that seal was meant to be timeless, and the fight had allowed change, however slight, to slip in. With two drops of life’s blood hitting the root of the tree death entered a realm that was meant to be changeless.

Time hiccuped.

For a moment time inside matched that of the worlds outside the fog. The magic of the seal reasserted itself, but the damage had already been done. With the sound of two impossibly large cymbals crashing together, shaking the tree, a tear appeared in the seal. It was small yet, too small for even the smallest of animals that were invisible to the eye, but with every passing moment more of the outside reality leaked through, lengthening and widening the tear. Shattering the seal.

Outside the seal centuries and then millenia passed as this was happening. The damage had been noticed though by timeless beings. Beings older than time and reality itself, and who saw in the failure of the seal a chance to set the worlds, which they had helped creating, to their own hands and goals.

Inside the seal the fog began to thin, and from those two points of impact fracture lines of brilliant light and utter darkness began to spread across the ground and into the fog. The tree itself and the two giant beasts battling, and now dying, at its root remained unaffected. Images became visible in, and through, the mist as mere flickers of different realities. Existing so briefly that it was easy to dismiss them as hallucinations.

Shadows of giant flying creatures, though no such creatures were flying as might cast those shadows flew out from the tree and vanished in the mist. Spots of light followed, some of them as harsh and unforgivingly bright as the noon sun over a still lake, others more like the gentle light filtered through the high branches of an ancient forest. They all vanished into the fog and were gone with the momentary glimpses of different worlds, different realities.

Ten seconds, if that, had passed for the two combattants. The fractures now encompased almost everything surrounding the tree. Outside millenia had passed at the same time, for with the fracturing of the seal time inside and out began to synchronise and more of the reality of the worlds began to leak through. The crashing of the cymbals was only now beginning to reach its crescendo and it would have been clear to any observer, had there been any left to witness, that the it would peak with the final death of the two giants beings who had struggled for so long, and so briefly, in that strange realm, with the moment that time inside and out ran the same, and that at that moment the seal would shatter.

What would happen then not even the ancients who had created the seal could tell, for it was never intended to be broken.

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