The story that I am about to tell you is the truth. Down to the last word. What I now say is history, not fiction. Even though there have been many accounts of the story of Terra, mine is the only one which knows all of what happened. I alone have seen the story of Terra from its beginning and to its very end, and I alone know of its eternal sacrifice.
So, with melancholic remembrance, I will tell this tale to you, so that Terra might not be forgotten, nor its legacy be lost.
Although the story of Terra began several eons ago, the tale that I will tell began in the recent past, in a small dorm room at college. It was in my first year of college, as well as my first year away from home and family, that my grand adventure began. Rather coincidental, actually.
As I remember it, I was busy drawing something in my sketchbook on a Wednesday afternoon when my roommate, James, walked in with an exhausted look on his face. “You don’t look too good,” I commented heartily.
James looked at me, gave a weak smile, and responded, “Yeah, I just took that American Heritage test. It was brutal.” James then glanced down at my sketchbook and asked, “So, are you drawing foxes again?”
I looked down at my sketchbook and the vixen that I had just drawn, and said, “Well… I don’t draw foxes all the time.”
James chuckled softly as he dropped his book bag by the side of his desk and then fell into his chair with a loud sigh. For the next few moments, James lay silently in his chair, with his head facing upwards at the ceiling while I continued to work on my drawing. After a few minutes, James turned his head to face me and said, “You know, you should try joining an artist’s club or something cuz you’re always drawing stuff.”
“I don’t know…” I replied, putting my pencil down. “I really don’t see myself as an artist as much as I’m a writer.”
“Then go join a writer’s club!”
“They don’t have one here,” I responded bluntly.
James rolled his eyes dramatically and said, “Well, you should try joining at least something. I mean, you’re already two weeks into your first semester at college, and you haven’t really found a group of friends to hang out with.”
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah, sure… whatever… I guess I’ll take a look.” I then tossed my pencil and sketchbook onto my bed and turned to face my computer. After just a few clicks and keyboard strokes, I pulled up the college’s club page and began scrolling through the list. I quickly blazed through the list, mentally filtering out all of the academic clubs, until I came across a club called ’The Paladin Guild’.
“What the heck is that about?” I thought. Unable to contain my curiosity, I clicked on the club’s link and proceeded to read its synopsis. Overall, the description seemed very vague, but from what I read, ’The Paladin Guild’ appeared to be some sort of club for people who enjoyed anything and everything fantasy. The description was fairly broad, so I figured that the club was more about the actual community rather than discussing fantasy.
“The Paladin Guild’?” said James as he peered at my computer screen from over my shoulder. “What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s just a club for people to talk about fantasy stuff,” I replied.
“Cool,” said James sounding slightly unimpressed. “How many people are in it?”
I scrolled down the page until I came across the club’s more logistical information. “Only seven,” I answered.
“That’ll be good. It’ll be more personal,” said James, trying to put a positive spin on the disappointing statistic.
“I didn’t say that I was going to go to it.”
“I know, but it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. Maybe you’ll really enjoy it!”
As much as I was opposed to going out and trying new things, my roommate’s intense optimism got the better of me. “Alright, I’ll try it.” I then searched the club’s webpage for any information about its meetup times and saw that it met on a daily basis in the college’s fine arts center. “It looks like they meet every weekday in room S117 in the Fine Arts building at noon,” I explained.
“That’s a strange time to meet, isn’t it?” said James with a hint of suspicion in his voice. “Noon of all times…”
“Maybe that’s just what works best for all the people in the club,” I suggested. “Regardless, I can still make it since I don’t have any classes during that hour anyway.”
“Cool. You should totally go tomorrow, then.”
“What? Is there something you need to work on tomorrow?”
“No… it just… feels a little too sudden.”
“You know you don’t have to commit unless you want to.”
“Yeah… alright. I’ll go tomorrow.” After I said this, James returned to his side of the dorm room and slumped back into his chair. “Why don’t you go to any clubs?” I asked.
James tilted his head toward me in surprise and replied, “I’ve got too many classes to get involved in any clubs. Plus, I’m only gonna be here for this one semester before I transfer.”
“Ah, that’s right. I remember you telling me that.” I anxiously glanced at my watch and saw that it was 1:20 PM. “Oh, I got to get going to my next class.”
James pulled out his phone to check the time, then looked at me with a confused look on his face. “What are you talking about? It’s only twenty past one. It’s going to be forty minutes before any classes start.”
“Well, it’s my animation class, and I like to be there early so I can draw or work on any projects.”
“That’s cool. I guess I’ll see you when you get back.”
I nodded in response as I grabbed my white messenger bag that was next to my desk and collected my sketchbook and pencil from my bed. Once I put book and pencil in the bag, I zipped it closed and strung the bag’s singular strap across my chest. “Is that a new one?” asked James as he pointed at my messenger bag. When I turned to where he was pointing at the bag, I realized that he was actually referring to the dark red fox tail that was tied to the bag, and not the bag itself.
I flicked the tail around as I explained, “No, it’s not. I just have a different tail for every day of the week.”
“Huh, that’s awesome.”
After James’ remark, I let go of the tail and made my way out of the dorm room, made a peace sign with my thumb sticking out, and waved goodbye to James.
Ten minutes later I arrived outside of the room of my animation class in the Fine Arts Center. I turned the handle to see if the door was open, but it was locked. I let out a sigh of disappointment, sat down on the floor next to the door, and pulled out my iPod and a pair of headphones from my bag. Feeling an urge to drown out the world of noise around me, I pulled the headphones over my ears and selected a playlist of my most intense music. As soon as the synthetic music filled my ears, I retrieved my pencil and sketchbook from my bag and continued to work on my latest drawing of a vixen.
The vixen itself was actually a character from a novel that I had written and published prior to coming to college. Aura, the vixen character, was by no means the main protagonist, but she ultimately became my most beloved character in the novel. In a sense, she was what kept me going, and gave me the will to finish the novel. Like a gift of divine intervention, Aura changed me, and my novel, forever.
Before long I was so enveloped in my own drawing, that the image became my reality, and the world around me became the fantasy. When another student entered the same hallway, I didn’t notice them until they sat down against the wall in front of me. I quickly glanced up at the student to see that it was a girl from my animation class. I hadn’t spoken to her before, so I didn’t know her name, but I was able to recognize her by her long, fiery red hair, and the signature white scarf that she wore around her neck. Although the clothes that she wore varied regularly, the student always wore that same, white, silk scarf.
Just as the student’s gaze fell on me, I looked back down at my sketchbook and pretended to draw. Without moving my head, I looked up at the student again and watched as she pulled out a small white book from a bag that she had brought with her. As soon as she opened the volume and removed a bookmark, I was able to recognize the illustration on its cover. It was an illustration of an anthropomorphic cat with seven tails, the same picture that I had drawn for the cover of my own novel. At first I was suspicious, but once I caught sight of my pen name, Praeteritum Tempus, on the spine, I was convinced that it was a copy of my published novel.
My heart jumped as I realized that this was the first time that I had encountered someone who knew about my book, but didn’t know who I was. I thought about talking to the other student, and telling her that I was the author of the book that she was reading, but I quickly dismissed the idea since that wasn’t why I wrote the book in the first place. When I started writing the novel, I never intended for it to be published. It never even crossed my mind. Only after friends and family encouraged me to get it published did I consider the thought. Throughout the four years it took to write, I was writing it because I wanted to. It wasn’t so that I could put something on my resume, or make money off of. It was something I simply felt like doing. All I wanted was to create my own, beautiful world that I could return to whenever I wanted. So, after it was accepted to be published, I decided that it would be published under a pen name. If people wanted to read my words, it would be because they wanted to experience the story, and not because I was the one who wrote it.
I continued to secretly watch the other student until an electronic bell sounded off, signaling the end of the current class period. Seconds later, my animation teacher arrived and unlocked the door to the classroom. While still reading the novel, the student across from me rose to her feet and briskly walked on her toes into the classroom. I promptly put away my belongings into my messenger bag and followed after her.
Throughout my animation class I sat behind the red-haired student, keeping a constant eye on her as she read my novel unceasingly. Not once during the lecture did she pay attention to the teacher, even though all of the material was new for the class that day. However, the instant the school bell sounded at the end of the class, the red-haired student rapidly put the book away in her bag and evacuated the classroom as though there was a fire in the building. I tried to chase after her, but when I exited the classroom, she was nowhere to be seen.
Once I knew that I had no chance of finding the red-haired student, I pulled out my headphones from my bag and started listening to my heavy-beat music while I made my way back to my dorm. Since my animation class was the last one for the day, I decided to take a more scenic route back, allowing myself some time to think.
As the majority of the other college students around me walked in large masses to their next class, I strode against their tide in the opposite direction. Occasionally one or two would give me a strange look as I ambled past them, but I pretended to not notice. I had already spent four years in high school being the one who stood out in every crowd, so this was nothing new. To be honest, college was just a continuation of high school for me. Everyone was still obsessed with being popular or socially accepted, and all the usual cliques were back like an addiction that you can’t get rid of. Admittedly, many of the older students appeared to have grown out of the mentality of high school, but compared to the general student population, their numbers were negligible.
After aimlessly wandering about the college campus for several minutes and getting unpleasant stares from countless other students, I found my way to an empty bench outside of the Fine Arts building. I sat down with a sigh and gazed across the almost barren quadrangle that was next to the entrance of the Fine Arts building. If it weren’t for the few tardy students carelessly making their way to their next class, I would have been alone. As the students slowly left the quadrangle, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, allowing my imagination to run wild. Before long, the image of a burning tower flashed in my mind, accompanied by a feathered dragon flying above it, high in the sky. As soon as the image had manifested itself, I tried to focus on it, examining every detail as I could, until it eventually faded away.
Once I could no longer visualize the image in my mind, I hastily pulled out a small notebook from my messenger bag and immediately wrote down everything that I could remember about the image that I had just seen. I finished writing out the details, and then flipped through the other pages in the notebook, briefly glancing at the other entries that I had written about different images.
Ever since four years ago, my mind had been plagued with visions of seemingly random events, like random memories returning to an amnesiac. For days, my mind would be tormented by these visions until I finally started to write them down in my journal. Eventually, these writings were what prompted me to write my novel. In fact, they were my novel.Of course, I never told anyone about the visions that inspired my novel. In truth, I simply believed that they were just brief moments of inspiration. Nothing more, nothing less.