Chapter 1 - Kerman
Northern France, Upper Paleolithic Era (c. 10,000 years ago)
The slow moving cold air complemented the light taps of the rain on the window overlooking the coastline. A persistent storm outside lowered the temperature across the countryside, and Kerman expected as much. Controlling the weather was a minimal concern now, but he did so to please himself. The table he built specifically for writing was finished, and in use. A gust of cool air blew from the fireplace. His body no longer desired warm air, so the fireplace was dark. Kerman knew how to manipulate the weather, though he did not have to request the perfect conditions tonight, or ever again. The mage’s abilities have become infinite after he finished the writing table. The harmony created by the dark-wooded addition to his cottage completed it in a way he could not have predicted. His life’s work has come to fruition, and many good fortunes would abound in the near future. A high-pitched crack of lightning followed by a booming rumble broke his trance, revealing the glow of his table.
An orange haze bathed the room, emanating from the desk; not a single lit candle needed. His window to the world was black, subtly illuminated by the intermittent flashes of distant lightning. The winds gently caressed the cottage, varying the volume of the rain as it washed over all sides. Kerman’s ability to turn day into night was granted by the table. Among other things, he was most proud of his gift to alter the landscape, moving mountains if needed. Of course, this was not in vain. Such actions were effortless, occurring within mere seconds of conception. No harm was dealt with such a request, despite the apparent displacement of entire communities of villagers, plants, and animals.
Kerman knew the power of the table, and the potential dangers in using it for devious acts. Since he was a boy, Kerman considered how he might use a device such as this table. The birth of the idea for this tool sparked a debate lasting the duration his endeavor. Despite the mental anguish the past caused him, Kerman concluded that the morality of decisions is entirely up to the owner. As long as his desires and creations were in harmony with nature and himself, any actions taken would be beautiful and just. His next obligation was clear to him. He and the desk must be and remain youthful for as long as is needed. A binding statement would need to be written.
He retrieved a blank parchment from his book of spells. Without any ink, and the desperation of a dying man, Kerman pierced his pinky with a dagger and bled it into the inkwell. The quill he chose was old; used. He dipped it into the inkwell, observing the reservoir as it soaked up his blood. With a weary old hand, Kerman found the strength to write one more line of his desires onto paper. As soon as he placed the final letter and a period to conclude the sentence, a youthful exuberance and vitality returned to him. The old man’s cluttered mind emptied, revitalizing him both spiritually and emotionally. Achy hands relaxed, knees strengthened, breathing steadied, muscles tightened, and his neck stiffened.
Watching his reflection on the window, Kerman saw the scar on his face melt away. He could feel every bone he’d ever broken return to a state of normalcy. A lump in his elbow, which he broke learning to ride a horse, shrank, granting him full mobility of the joint. The spots and wrinkles on his skin recessed and folded back into the perfect complexion. Kerman’s long gray hair, as if a paintbrush were used, slid the gray color off replacing it with a nighttime black.
The glow of the desk faded, darkening the room. Deafening silence filled his ears as the light and rain ceased simultaneously. Darkness in the home of a mage would not be tolerated, so Kerman mumbled a spell and held up his left hand. He felt the familiar tingling sensation which he hadn’t felt in several decades as the energy within formed a fiery blue orb in his outstretched hand. With a snap of his free fingers, all available candles in the room ignited, the ball of fire ceased, and everything was suddenly glazed with a blue hue. The colors faded into a warm yellow as the candles cooled off and remained lit. Kerman breathed a deep slow breath, enjoying the ability to snap his fingers again. His cheeks raised effortlessly, letting out a joyous guttural sound.
A young man’s journey to create the perfect table became an old mage’s desire for the perfect magic. At last he had the tool, suffering over fifty years of war and persecution. Revenge was not an option, but he could try again to live a good and happy life. Kerman, over seventy years old, now looked about twenty. He’d done it, and it was time for peace.
Others began to invade their land, in Kerman’s youth, driving the family north. Wars were fought for land and wealth, without mercy. His parents realized that they could not support their traditions in the northern territories, and opted to forego any practices revealing the family’s origins, but encouraged the young mage to continue.
An explosion of lightning awoke Kerman from his daydream and revealed his reality. This table is his greatest legacy, but he has no family or children to pass it on to. For fifty years, he cultivated and crafted it, birthing and breeding the trees needed – nurturing and growing them, blessing them. An impulse arose from within. Attuned to his desires, Kerman obeyed this urge. Any hesitation would lead to second-guessing and analysis. Instead, quill in hand, the words flowed from his unconscious onto the paper:
“I live 100,000 moons from now, in the future, and have no knowledge of this place or this desk; yet I am fully present, capable, and aware of my environment.”A Farm by the Hills, 6333 BCE
Florian found a man wandering the hills surrounding the farm early in the morning, obviously confused and disoriented. After fetching his brother Luc, Florian resumed his tasks in the field. The tall Gaelic-looking man could not say where he came from or where he was going, but he also did not answer Luc. The clear skies were a good omen, but Luc feared the presence of this stranger. The ocean was over a hundred miles away, taunting the traveler with gusts of cool wind and fresh air. Lucky that Florian found him, the tired wanderer could rest and gain a foothold somewhere.
“Auxilium requiro,” Luc called out. Herds of sheep and lamb modestly grazed around the farm. Night was approaching quickly, and Luc needed assistance with the gates. A young man of 20, the traveler was well-suited to the outdoors. A rugged and built man, he seemed as smart as he was creative. Luc had trouble understanding the man’s ramblings, but managed to comprehend enough statements to tell him when he could not anymore. Latin was the basis of their communications, as it was the only language they shared.
Inside the house, David and his wife Céleste were arranging a room. The farm was small, having only two rooms for a family of seven. Luc was David’s oldest son, followed by Christian, Florian, Jeannette, and Louise. To serve their guest, David sacrificed a pig. Bread and wine were served as well. It is impolite to pass on aiding a traveler in need of assistance. In French, David questioned their guest, but without success. Strangers were uncommon this far inland, as most seek the large cities for food and shelter. As the head of the household, David wanted to understand the needs of their guest.
David tilted his head forward towards the man, pointing out of the east window and asked, “Quid hominemne te esse meministi?”
He shrugged and softly replied, “De somno suscitatus sum super collem.”
David sat in silence for a moment, thinking and translating. Soon, after a few bites of food, David looked again and asked another question, “Vos nescitis quidquam?”
Shyly, their guest looked down at his food, thinking deeply about his morning. “No,” he said. Then, moving his eyes towards the window, he asked “Ubi sum?”
David shot up out of his chair
raising his arms high and exclaimed “Gallia!”
Northern France, Upper Paleolithic Era (c. 10,000 years ago)
Kerman stumbled back from the table. It began glowing with a white light, filling the room absolutely. Blinded, and unable to see, Kerman squatted where he stood and hugged his knees. An immense heat filled his lungs and caressed his skin. The brightness was so powerful he considered whether or not he died and was awaiting judgment, or if he’d gone straight to hell and was burning alive.
Shadows formed, emerging as shapes in the distance. His eyes slowly adjusted to the light; to the new world around him. He struggled with his memory. The land was different; browning. His cabin and desk faded into a myth, nothing more than a forgotten picture of his imagination. Still, farther, the way a dream is forgotten upon waking, his past, and life’s work disappeared from his mind.
The sun was out, wind blowing, grass rustling, and clouds were hiding patches of blue sky. He began walking without prior thought or determination. His legs moved without him. Hours of walking did not tire him. Many miles later, contemplating his presence in this unfamiliar land, he lost his sense of direction. The ocean should be close, he thought to himself; as if the motivation of a nearby target would keep him going.
At the top of a mediocre hill, a young boy spotted him and ran.