Oberon stares impassively at the landscape stretched out before him.
“How long are you going to ignore me, my beloved?”
The man refuses to respond to the woman beside him. Though she has her face covered with a hood it is obvious that she has extreme beauty.
“Ignore me however long you want, beloved, you will speak to me. Whether it be in a hundred years, or a thousand, you can only cheat death so long and then we will finally be together again.”
“You forget, Titania, I never was as petty as you, I have no reason as of yet to ignore you,” Oberon replies stiffly.
“No, I suppose not,” Titania says, sniffing with disdain, “But you’re growing old, Oberon, and weak. What happens when you die, and the worlds are left defenseless? Will you then finally heed my warnings, when you have no time left to act on them? You’ve cheated time, Oberon, and time doesn’t take very nicely to be cheated.”
“You always were dramatic, weren’t you, Titania?” the man says with a hint of amusement.
“And you arrogant!” she shouts, whirling towards him, “Think not because you have trapped me in this crystal prison that the shadows aren’t gathering at the edge of the void, lying in wait for when you are finally weak enough for them to take this safe haven!”
“Is that a threat?” Oberon says in a quiet dangerous voice.
The woman, as if sensing some shift in his stone facade, quiets herself, speaking in a softer tone.
“I care for you, Oberon. I love you, and I also love Annwn just as much as you do. If you would only leave this fantasy of preserving this old way of living, and join them, they would leave these worlds intact.”
“I don’t remember you being this bad at lying, Titania. Is that really you speaking, or is it someone else?”
Silence falls over the pair, and Oberon stares off into the distance, a small breeze swaying his salt and pepper hair.
“I wish you would trust me,” Titania sighs bitterly.
“I did trust you,” Oberon states sharply, “And look at where it got us. Annwn in pieces. And what of the dwarves? Where have they gone? The giants who survived and fled to Earth are all but extinct, and the Phoenix won’t even allow his people to return or to send aid. The Shadowlings are now cursed, wretched people, with the divide between the sprites, fairies, and elves grown so wide I doubt that it will ever close! All because I trusted you!”
“So that’s it then. Even though I am dead and can do nothing to harm you or your precious Annwn, you refuse to tell me anything. Me, your wife! And you wonder why I left you. What is your grand plan then for saving these worlds? What could you possibly have that would help your pitiful fight? All the powerful wizards are scattered and or dead, with no heir. Tell me, Oberon, you may save everyone else, but who’s going to save you?”
“Maybe I won’t need saving,” Oberon says softly.
Titania’s head jerks up, her hood falling back a bit, revealing her golden hair.
“So, there is a plan.”
“Did you come here only for information, Titania?”
“No, I’m here to warn you. You aren’t the only one who can bend time, and The Shadow grows restless. There was a time when he enjoyed playing with you, Oberon, but not for much longer. He will come, and Annwn will be destroyed if you continue to enrage him.”
“‘Oh, how the mighty have fallen, and the young men shall utterly fall,’ I wouldn’t look so flippantly on the downtrodden if I were you, Titania.”
Silence fell over the pair of them again, but this time Oberon shifted uncomfortably as if he realized he just said something he shouldn’t have.
“The downtrodden? You wouldn’t mean that little abandoned Sprite child?”
Oberon shifts uncomfortably at this statement. Titania throws back her head and cackles. Her hood falls back revealing her face. Her right eye has been gouged out with a festering black wound trailing down her cheek. Her left eye is pitch black and when she smiles, her mouth spreads open to reveal her dark decaying teeth.
“It always was so easy to get information from you,” Titania says, her smiling growing grotesquely wide.
Oberon whirls towards her, distressed. But she’s already gone.
“Damn it,” he murmurs underneath his breath.
“Kezia!” He shouts. A few moments later a young girl materializes next to him.
“Did you call?” she asks sweetly.
“Prepare The Gate,” Oberon commands stiffly, turning around and marching with long strides towards the still city in the distance.
Kezia stumbles after him, jogging to keep up with the old man.
“Are you sure, Master Oberon?” she asks uncertain.
“We must hurry!” he exclaims, picking up his pace.
“But- what could have- I don’t understand, why now? What happened?” Kezia stammers.
“It is time to find the rest of the wizards. Poseidon and Hephaestus must be found,” he explains simply.
“But neither of them left an heir, how are we supposed to find that which doesn’t exist?” she asks confused.
“Poseidon and Hephaestus did not assign any heirs, but that does not mean that no one can take their place. Just because something is impossible does not mean it can’t be done.”
“But why? Why now? And what of the others? Apollo and Demeter and the rest? How do you propose we gather them?”
“Do not trouble yourself over the others, when the time is right, they will come. And for the ‘why’,” Oberon pauses, stopping in his tracks.
“I fear that Erebus may come again,” he finishes quietly, resuming his fast pace towards the silent city.
Kezia blanches, frozen in place.
“That can’t be true,” she shouts, running to his side, “Erebus is dead!”
“I fear not, Kezia. I can feel the darkness coming, and it will soon be upon us. We must gather the Wizards. They are our only hope,” Oberon declares grimly.
Kezia falls silent, pondering the information.
“Who will take the Lost Wizards place’s?” she asks quietly.
“There are a few I have in mind, but they must first pass the Trials.”
“No one has ever been able to pass the Trials before,” Kezia says, “What makes you think that these ‘few you have in mind’ might?”
“I don’t,” the old man says wearily, “But it is our only hope. I need you to prepare The Gate so I can retrieve them from Earth.”
“Earth!?” Kezia exclaims loudly, “Are you telling me that our only hope is on Earth? Earthlings are notoriously weak; do they even have any training?”
Oberon stays silent as they enter the still and silent city.
“They don’t have any training, do they?” Kezia asks incredulously.
Once again, the old man’s silence is all the answer she needs.
“That isn’t hope Master Oberon. That’s no hope at all,” Kezia says sadly.
“Oh, ye of little faith,” Oberon says humorously, “I wouldn’t rule the Earthlings out just yet,” he says looking down at Kezia with a smile, “You may find them quite useful.”
“Now go, prepare The Gate,” he orders, all humor dropping from his voice, his face turning grim once more, “There is much to do, and I fear not much time to do it. Already the shadows are reaching out, and time is no longer on our side. We must find them.”
“What if they don’t want to come?” Kezia asks quietly, looking up into the man’s tired face.
A shadow falls over the old man’s face, his eyes growing dark. The girl’s eyes grow in fear at the fierceness in her teacher’s gaze.