It was like Justin imagined leaving a cocoon would feel like. Leaving a warmth and a belonging—to a cold nothing. A place between places, between minds. Death. Ice. Then he was in Daldion’s. It was different, but it was not nothing.
Daldion turned to Justin, golden eyes dull. “The feeling will lessen. The pain will become…normal. It is a cost of traveling the gap between minds—in the Thin Places.”
He turned and led the way.
They floated up the cliff, ignoring gravity—which existed only if they wished it to. It was Daldion’s world—it was as he pleased.
But beyond on the cliff…beyond the mists at the edge and the crag was nothing. Nothing. Blackness.
Justin couldn’t see himself. Couldn’t will light into existence. Couldn’t see Daldion before him, though he could hear the soft pad of pawsteps and the click of Daldion’s nails on the hard ground.
A small light appeared, illuminating Daldion’s eyes, two gold orbs in the darkness. Two suns.
“This is my world,” Daldion said. “I live in darkness to see beyond. I look into the shadows to find the light. My visions come to me here—without distraction, without influence.”
The light widened, revealing in a circle of light a room. Stone carved, open, wide widows with views of a flat obsidian panel. Circular, like that of a tower’s top.
“This place once existed,” Daldion whispered, his mind-words without emotion. Hiding emotion. “When I was chosen to join the Pack—from all the others—I felt it was an honor. A privilege to be among the rulers. I was not destined to be the Ruler, but among our people…my people, those of the Pack were above all others.”
He slowly paced the room just outside the ring of light, a gray ghost. “I failed in my early days. I was slow to see. Some, like the Ruler, could see clearer than I—I, the great Prophet.”
He scratched a line on the floor and the light dimmed. Daldion moved to the center of the room, sitting on his haunches, nearly as tall as Justin. He stared his companion in the eyes. “I had this built, to keep my mind from wandering. We had a world then, to command and keep. But I could not see it, nor taste it, lest it distract my sight, confuse my focus.”
The light turned to darkness, and the room disappeared from sight. Justin, unbidden, closed his eyes and sat cross-legged. He had never been one to meditate like some of his New Age—conspiracy—friends, but it seemed oddly appropriate.
Daldion carried on speaking. “I sat in darkness. Without food, without water. Trying to find my gift, to grasp it. But it slipped away.
“I was one of the Pack, but I was the outcaste. The youngest—even as you are. But then it changed. I began to see things—dark things. They were discounted. Rejected. The Ruler and Watcher, thinking it was their gift to see, that I was a mistake, ignored my words.”
Justin shifted, and Daldion broke from his trance. The light appeared again, just bright enough to give things a shade of gray—no color. “Of the past…that is Teacher’s role. He will teach you, in time. But know, Justin Kobe, my companion—that I am not to be trusted. My visions are of what can be—now what will be. I learned that…” his voice trailed off. “No matter my surety, you must judge for yourself.”
Justin stood. “But the Ruler before ignored you—”
“And had I not done what I had done, it would have been aright. Much death…much sorrow, would have been averted.”
The light faded from Daldion again and path of light, showing the way over dark ground, traced back to the crag.
Colors began to whirl and form into shapes and movements, filling the darkness with unearthly shades. It was like the northern light, but infinitely more complex and subtle.
“Go now, Justin Kobe,” Daldion said firmly, his voice exhausted. “You have seen what I have chosen to teach you. It is now up to you.” His voice faded.
Justin took a step on the path to the crag. And stopped. Turned. Spoke.
The colors faded from the darkness like a projector that has been switched off. Daldion’s golden eyes appeared as the wolf walked into the light. “What?”
“No.” Justin was resolute. He flicked his black hair back from his eyes. “I want to see—I want to see the future you are. I don’t know what happened then…but perhaps together we can stop it from happening again.”
Daldion closed his eyes and his mind was plunged into darkness once more.
“As you wish…”
The visions began.