It wasn’t here.
But it had to be. Visions of the temple had haunted Nick’s dreams, so much that he couldn’t even sleep properly. Ever since the time-bubble experiments his sleep had been fitful anyway, but this recurring and haunting image of a stone temple and the hidden terrors locked within…
When he could, he came here, to the Blind Eternities. Somewhere in this swirling mist, the temple had to be there, the temple where he had fought, the temple where he had fallen. Every night, it seemed, regardless of what tactics his dream-self employed.
Still nothing, after weeks of searching, but he wasn’t going to give up yet. He would be driven into madness before he allowed himself to simply forget about the temple. Tom had disappeared, and so had Lee. Something peculiar was happening to planeswalkers, and Nick had a subtle suspicion he wasn’t the only one plagued by odd dreams lately.
It was here. It had to be, the temple’s absence from the world around him plagued him like a missing tooth in his brain. He ran through the mists, snarling and talking to himself in frustration.
“It’s not here,” a voice from behind him declared. There was a faint, familiar quality of grease and sandpaper in the simple sentence’s tone. Nick turned and was unsurprised to see Fallor some ways away, if there was such a thing as distance here, looking disturbingly serene. “What do you mean?” Nick called to him. He walked closer to his former ally, carefully.
“The temple, right? That’s what you’re looking for. That’s what you’d do just about anything to find right now. It’s not here.” Fallor matched his approach, his measured steps seeming to mock Nick with each movement.
“How do you know?”
“Because,” Fallor said, his expression hardening briefly, “it’s not real.”
Nick paused before responding. Had he really come here, nearly broken himself, chasing a mere figment of his dreams…? No, he thought. It wasn’t a simple dream, couldn’t be. He’d known that since the first time. He said nothing of this, however, and Fallor continued.
“Tom was here, before. I told him the same thing. The temple isn’t real. So you shouldn’t waste your time, because you’ll never find it.” He kicked at a bit of mist, his expression unchanging.
Nick shrugged. “So, is that the only reason you’re here?” he asked. “To tell us we’re wasting our time?”
There was a silence for several seconds, during which Fallor remained perfectly still, mid-step. “Not at all,” he said, his expression suddenly shifting to one of delight. That was no less unnerving than the calm one he had previously displayed, and it seemed to have a vaguely sadistic quality to it. “I came to deliver a message… a prophecy.” His manic delight diminished slightly. “You remember that used to be my job, more or less.” He paused, lowering his foot slowly and standing straight.
Another few seconds of silence followed as Nick waited for him to continue. “Well…?” he prompted. “Are you going to tell me what it is?”
“Oh, no, not at all,” said Fallor. “I’m going to show you.”
He then proceeded to gather energy to himself, muttering faintly. Nick readied himself in case he needed to react quickly, but that felt unlikely. If Fallor had intended to attack him, he would surely have done so before. As the spell set into working, another place faded into view around them. They were in a corridor of dark stone, absorbing most of the light filtering inside. Through a nearby window, a green expanse was visible, somewhere far below. The absence of sound, any sign of human inhabitants, even a hint of breeze, chilled Nick’s blood slightly. In the rare patches of light, he could make out traces of burn marks, a few small scratches in the rock as if made by fingernails in clay.
“What is this?” Nick asked.
“The future. About… oh, ten years. There’s been a long, bitter war on this world, which ended about a year earlier. Come on.” Fallor strode over to a stairway that led up, and Nick followed him. They ascended, emerging in bright sunlight, in contrast to the corridor below, which was lit only by the windows at either end. In front of them, a huge statue towered, and as Nick looked up, shielding his eyes against the sun, he could see it was in Fallor’s image. The statue held a cavalry saber in one hand, and a thick tome was carved to rest in the other. He moved closer to it, and found words carved at the base in rough, imprecise lettering.
“Chris Fallor, the Great Conqueror, Holder of the… wow, this title is way too long.”
“Skip to the end.”
“…Dean of… what?!”
Nick turned, glaring at the smug-looking Fallor. “What do you think you’re showing me?” he asked angrily. “There’s no way that this could happen, not in a million years.”
“The future. I already told you,” Fallor replied.
“Forget it. I’m leaving,” said Nick. He turned, started to walk back down the hallway then stopped. Nick closed his eyes, shaking his head, and ‘walked back to the campus, collapsing in the security of his dorm room onto a comfortable chair.
How could this even be possible? Could Fallor have… won?