Prologue: Book 2 – The Mountain of Glass

Pain.

It was the first thing he felt.

And low temperatures followed by the movement of atmospheric currents.  He felt those things too, after the pain passed.

“Ah.  Cold.  And windy.”  His voice was a barely-heard whisper, dry as old paper, a harsh quiet sound from a throat long-unused.  It didn’t carry far in the surrounding landscape, heard only by the speaker himself.  “And I have to walk.  How amusing.”

Definitely a change from the controlled environments he was accustomed to.  It was one of the primary reasons he rarely, if ever, left his vessel. Weather and walking.  Neither was particularly pleasant.  But he had to do it.  He had to walk in the cold and the wind.  He paused for a moment as a lost fragment of a fading dream passed through his mind.

For a brief instant, he was sad.  But the sadness, like the pain before it, passed quickly.  Emotions were something he was quite familiar with.  (At least, his own and his reactions to them).

Now here he was halfway around the span of this world to deliver a message to a species he’d really rather have nothing to do with whatsoever.  He knew that he could’ve told the others no.  He could have protested coming to this little world at all.  He could have made those choices.  Ah, but the others had no choice but to come here.  They had to have their accursed Totality.  And admittedly, this Earth did offer the best, most pure form of Totality he and his race had found.  In the entire multiverse.  Ever.  It really was that good.

He hated it for being that good.

At least, they’d told him how good it was when they communicated with him at all.  Not that he gave them very many opportunities.  He wasn’t awake very often as a matter of fact.  And the others didn’t really like to interact with him, which was fine.  He found their company much less worthwhile than his dreams, in any case.  Even the others couldn’t take those from him.  But still, they had taken so very much already.

So he felt pain.

And he walked.

And he was cold.

And occasionally he staggered when the wind blew strongly.

But always onward, he walked.  His pace was steady, his face calm.  They needed him now even if only for so small a thing as delivering a message.  It felt…good…to be needed, to have a task.  And he would complete this task, and quickly.  The earlier he could return to his dreams, so much the better.

As he walked, he allowed his mind to wander.  From some far corner of his experiences and knowledge a small bit of information came to his awareness.  “How appropriate,” he thought, “since I find myself traveling in such a time-lost manner.”

And as each step carried him closer and closer to his destination, the faint lost strains of something familiar to the old world took flight upon the winds of the new one.

“Ease on down, ease on down the ro-oad…”

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