Authors: Ron Glick
Books by Ron Glick:
Oz – Wonderland
The Wizard In Wonderland
Dorothy Through the Looking Glass
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 1
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 2
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 3
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 4
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 5
Ron El's Comic Book Trivia Volume 6
The Godslayer Cycle
My son and my heart,
Wherever you may be.
Because I said I would,
And you never believed.
All proceeds of the publication of this book will be donated directly to GameHearts, a nonprofit safe and sober recreations program for adults. Information about GameHearts – including how to offer additional support – may be obtained on their website at http://GameHearts.org.
Copyright © Ron Glick, 2011 · Cover Art Copyright © Pamela L Phelps, 2010
Table of Contents
About the Author and Illustrator
The boy runs. A young dog, his pup, nips at the heels of those that follow. Laughter is in the air, so this is a game, not a threat. The boy looks back over his shoulder as he runs, laughs at his friends, at the lead he has on them. He is convinced that nothing they can do can catch up with his youthful gait. He feels victorious, powerful, incapable of being harmed.
He does not see the man walking with calm precision across his path, not until the boy turns at the last moment and sees the obstacle suddenly there within arm's length. The man does not see him, he realizes, does not know that the two will collide. It is too late to avoid the collision. The boy accepts the inevitable, braces his body, closes his eyes, tenses...
The man steps to the side abruptly. He fails to take the anticipated step into the boy's path after all. Yet the boy's legs have already stopped, his body prepared for an impact that will no longer happen. The boy stumbles, falling to the ground, stunned though unhurt. He expected to run into the man, but it is the ground he hits first and he is momentarily confused, unable to understand.
The boy is startled. In the moment after his fall, he reflects in his youthful way upon how the man had known to step aside. The boy had been certain that the man had not seen him, even in the last instant, that the man had never turned in his direction, never tensed, never reacted to the threat of impact in any visible way. In his admittedly young mind, he does not understand why he has hit the ground rather than the man.
The boy looks up briefly, sees the man continue on beyond where he has fallen, with no look of acknowledgment nor recognition. The man still does not seem even aware of the boy's presence, that he had fallen at the man's feet, as though he had not seen the boy, even after he had clearly taken a side step that prevented their collision. And yet the man
walk around him,
made an obvious effort to miss him.
But the boy has no more than that single moment to speculate, no further time to reflect upon the man before his friends reach him, leaping bodily upon him, laughing, shouting, wrestling for a hold that would keep him down. His pup leaps and yips at the edge of the skirmish, anxious to join in, yet wary of the twisting young bodies. And without further thought of the man and the strange near-collision, the boy abandons himself to the joy of the youthful tussle, forsaking reason for the exuberance of youth and play.
After that solitary moment, the boy never again reflects upon the man nor the strangeness of their brief encounter. As it is with all youth, even that which is strange and foreign is soon forgotten in the mists of childhood and its own peculiar strangeness.
The man continues on, aware of all of this, responsive to none of it. He of course knew the boy would run into him had he not stepped to the side. He had not needed to look physically upon the boy to know this. It was one move the man could have made to prevent his path's obstruction, one of several. He could have walked slower and been delayed. He could have walked faster and moved along his path faster than necessary. He could have stopped, could have acted to catch the boy, could have voiced warning. Yet in the end, he chose the action that required the least effort, the least infringement upon his way. And avoided the greater impact upon larger events.
That was the best he could do. It was not his way to interfere. The boy was destined to be harmed, whether he had been there or not. He had seen that. He knew that. Better that he fell and was pounced upon by his friends than to collide with the wagon coming around the corner a few yards away. True, his presence had altered events, yet it was not avoidable to some degree. It was, after all, a matter of degrees that affected everything in existence. He existed, and therefore he impacted the world around him by his existence. Yet he chose to have as little effect as possible, to not actively change events, to just exist upon the fringe of them. A nonentity.
The man existed, and in that existence he had the potential of influence upon the land. That much he could not avoid. No entity walking through mortal nor immortal lands alike could exist without effecting something else. Yet he actively sought to minimize his influence, because that was his way.
He had been mortal once, or so he had grown to believe. Before the divinity within his blood had asserted itself, taken dominance and made him into something more.
On some distant level, he knew and understood that he was a half-breed of mortal and immortal union, that the part of his life that bound him to this world, that had forced upon him mortal limitations was from his mother's blood, that the part that made him something more came from a father of greater origin. Whether that man had been a God or some other level of being, he would never know as his mother had never confided in him the secret of his procreation prior to her passing from the mortal coil. And it was beyond his ability to know the past that he had not personally seen, only the future.
The man knew his past, recalled all that had happened in his life prior to the awakening of his talent. He remembered the change from common life to a path less connected with humanity, could call to mind the point he had thrown off his mortal function for something of broader significance. He knew he had ceased to be an active participant in the world, becoming one that did everything he could to not be involved, so that he could effect his purpose as cleanly as possible. And even if only he conceived that purpose, it was enough. He had left his humanity and his connections to mortality behind. This now was all he was and it was his entire existence.
He was known, by any who actually knew of him, simply as the Witness. Who he had been before did not matter. Who he was now was of little consequence to anyone save himself. He walked the land and saw, witnessed what might otherwise not be seen. He never truly needed to see with his eyes, for his mind could see the potential paths where destiny might take events, know which path history and events would take. But knowing and seeing were different. Perhaps that was a lingering portion of the humanity he had thought cast aside so long ago, the
to witness with his physical eyes what his mind already knew would happen, the yearning to actually look upon the significant.
Whether that were true or it was something more, or even less, he did not care. He traveled to where he needed to be in order to witness, then, once seen, moved onto the next event to be witnessed. That was his way, his purpose, his reason for being. It had been this way for centuries long past his concern for counting. And he believed it would always be this way. He walked through a landscape already predestined to come into being, saw his future as being beyond his capacity to understand time, beyond his capability to know how much time could pass, and still he knew that he walked the land as witness, to record at least in his own mind the passage of events significant to history, regardless of whether they were perceived as such by others who wrote the actual historical volumes.
It was difficult to say how the mind of the Witness perceived his surroundings. Even he did not commit thought to the distinctions he made between what he saw with his mind and with his eyes. The flow of events was constant, and so his mind perceived them as they came, as the possibilities of the future meandered and fluxed in rhythm with what had not yet come to pass. And yet he walked the world, saw things happen around him, breathed, ate, slept when he could, did all the things a living mortal would do. He existed in a state of unreality to a degree, in that his mind was never fully focused on his surroundings, even though he was completely aware of everything around him at all times. There was a confidence in his presence, if not one in his own mind. Any who saw him perceived intent and motivation, when in fact it was the near complete absence of these that predominated. How could a mortal mind understand the necessary complexities it took for the Witness to move amongst them and be lost in his own mind at the same time?
It was this state of mind that had led him to sever ties to his mortal life so long ago. He had had a family once. A wife, two children, friends. He had taken on the role of husband and parent well after his talent had emerged, back when he believed he could suppress it, make it a useful tool, but not one that dominated his life. Yet as time passed and he absorbed more and more of what was to be, as he saw the future fates of his friends and family, it became too much to bear. He tried to actively alter events at first, to prevent deaths and misfortunes. Instead he found that he could not do enough, that too many things happened that were beyond his control to change. Oftentimes, he would be aware of a coming event, yet not of its cause. In these instances, which became more and more frequent, he would have to witness its passage with dread.
Then his wife began to grow frail as he remained young and he finally became aware of how much time had been passing. He knew nothing could save his beloved from a death of old age. He saw that in her path, in her future. And he saw it in his children's future. He recognized then that the talent provided more than sight – it came with immortality as well, an extended lifetime that was not passed on to his offspring, either. That he could do nothing but bear witness to the deaths of his loved ones while he continued on was more than he could endure. And so he left, abandoned his mortal life, never returned.
For a time, he had wandered with no purpose. As he grew in years, so did his talent and its broadness of knowledge. Once his talent was limited to people he had contact with, then matured to encompass the community in which he would find himself living or even passing through. Eventually, he came to know of events that happened across the world, in places unexplored and unknown to the part of the world in which he lived. It became an all-knowing talent, one in which he became omniscient to events not yet come to pass and all the variables of what could be. It nearly drove him insane.
However, the talent did not overcome him. He did not succumb to the madness. It took time, but finally he learned how to minimize the lesser events in his perceptions, to sift through the images to identify those that were of more significance and to only be consciously aware of them. He could never stop seeing events meant to be, but he had gained some control over which events he saw consciously in his mind at any given time.
Then came the curiosity, the desire to see what he knew would come to pass. That was the beginning of his wanderings. For once he had begun to witness, he became driven to continue. It became his reason to exist, his destiny in the greater scheme of things. There was no ultimate purpose behind what he did. No one ever consulted him nor sought his knowledge. He did not record it in any way outside his own mind. Had he simply ceased to be by some random consequence, there would be nothing of his time on this plane of existence, nothing that would have been impacted by his absence. And that was as it should be, he believed.
For the most part, all things had their order. All things were predestined to be. That was what his talent had taught him. And though there were variables in the potential of future events, things that could change the course of history, ultimately by the time those crossroads were reached, the paths were already set.
There were, of course, exceptions that could potentially frustrate that order. Once in a great while, an individual could hold the destiny of the pattern in his hand by making a pivotal choice, one that could sway events in different directions. Though choices were presented to mortals constantly, usually men had far less control of those choices than they believed. If a choice of two roads were presented, even if the man walking the path thought he was making a choice, the truth was that his chosen path had already been predestined. The Fates knew which path he would choose before the choice was ever presented to him. It was the order of things.
Yet once in awhile, a man could become conscious of the impact of his choice, could separate himself from the predestined choice and balance the fate of history upon his will. If such a man were presented with the choice of two paths, being conscious of the consequences of both, Fate's predisposition would not matter – it would be upon the man to make the choice and the events that occurred thereafter would be subject to the choice
made, not Fate.
Such choices were rarer than mortals would believe. Mortals, or even immortals one would assume, perceived that they controlled their own destinies. They believed that they had control over where their lives went, or over whether they went a certain direction or not. Yet that simply was not true. And the Witness stood as witness to that truth.
The only exception that the Witness was aware of was that of divine intervention. Should one or more of the Gods choose to act, it could alter events of Fate, force a different path than what Fate had prescribed. A God could block the path that Fate had chosen for a man so that he would be forced upon another path entirely.
Such events though were rarer still, since the Gods for the most part did not interfere in Fate's plan. They would certainly offer aid, abundance, wealth or any number of other whims upon their faithful and curses upon those opposed to their followers, but those services were not so drastic as to alter the Fate of a mortal man. Not usually, at any rate. If one God sought to shower too much favor upon his followers, it would prompt a rival deity to do the same for his faithful, and the chain reaction as the Gods each sought to raise their followers above their brethren's would result in chaos. Surely the Gods knew this, of this the Witness was certain. And so none did such things as would by the commission of the act create imbalance.