The Universe felt very small. It always did in the center of the Ways. If he reached out, he could trail his fingers through eternity. Wrap his arms around the foundation of existence. Cup the cosmos in the palm of his hand.
Pale light rose and fell with the command of his breath. Motion.
It came from the very core of his being. Rushing… reeling… rising… until —
The light peeled back from his vision. The Universe grew larger again. Or maybe he shrunk. Either way, the world expanded to surround him with astounding immensity.
The Blue Planet.
Grass spread its carpet at his feet. Trees shot up around him, looming tall over his head. A distant symphony played on the newly-budded spring leaves. A vast dome of blue sky sparkled further above. Soft drifts of powdered white meandered idly upon its face, leaving trails of mystery across his sight.
This was once my home.
Dressed in deep green, he might have passed for one of the people of the Blue Planet. If only his blood was pure. The fact stood that it wasn’t. He was a half breed, born of the unity between two vastly different peoples — the humans and the Lunarians.
Striking marks of his alien heritage were in his features. Though he was obviously quite young, his hair draped long behind him, wild and white. This peculiarity was accented by the slant of green eyes, which brilliantly reflected the light of the earth-sun.
All of his senses screamed that he shouldn’t return to the world of the humans. It was nearly five years ago that he chose to leave the Blue Planet to live with his father’s people, the Lunarians. At the time, he really knew nothing about this alien race, other than the fact that they lived on the Red Moon, which was once a small satellite that orbited the Blue Planet.
But here I am again, coming full circle… back to the world of my childhood.
As his feet touched the solid earth, a song rose within his ears. A sense of familiarity drove his memory back to its origins. He found himself unable to do anything more than stare into the yawning heavens.
“Golbez!” a rough, rasping voice shook him from the depths of daydreams.
“I asked you not to use that name here,” the Half-Lunar turned, his voice slow and level. “Call me Ben, remember?”
The old Lunar simply pressed on as if he had not heard. “Were we not supposed to arrive in Mysidia?”
Ben fell silent, recognizing the symptoms of impossibility at hand.
“Have you nothing to say for yourself?” FuSoYa grated. His knuckles grew white as he gripped the haft of the staff.
When FuSoYa gave one of those looks, it was usually followed with a first rate skull-bashing. Ben learned early on that his uncle was never the advocate of sparing the staff. Or the stony word. Sometimes it was better just to keep his mouth shut.
The length of FuSoYa’s white beard told his age. As was Lunar custom, he wore his hair very long. This was strangely offset by the acute baldness of the top of his head. He was probably the closest thing to walking antiquity that Ben had ever seen. However, despite his appearance, FuSoYa was far from being just a feeble old man.
His violet robes were sashed with the mark of a High Sage, the leader of the Lunarian people. Added to a will of stone, there was still much power behind the sharp light of the Lunar’s eyes. It was a strength that had only grown, tempered through the long ages past. It was a power that many of the younger Lunarians would never be able to touch in their lifetime.
Though his own magic out-powered that of his Uncle’s, the last thing that Ben wanted was to contest him. After all, FuSoYa was a very talented caster of White Magic. It took very little in the ways of holy power to leave Ben totally disarmed.
“I thought you told me that you were an expert on dimensional Rifting?” FuSoYa demanded.
“I…” Ben paused, rubbing the back of his head with one hand. “I don’t know what happened. I was pretty sure I targeted Mysidia.”
“Well, apparently your aim was off.” FuSoYa added with a grunt, “By quite a distance.”
The Master Wizard peered around slowly.
They were standing within a quiet forest glade. As his eyes lifted to the horizon, he confirmed that there was no human habitat within sight. The land was still very wild and untouched here.
The planet’s call was unmistakable. It swelled within his mind.
Distracted, Ben could do nothing more than state the obvious, “I guess we’re not in Mysidia.”
“Really? How could you tell?” the Sage’s sarcasm was as sharp as the slits of his eyes.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!” a tiny voice piped up defensively. “Go easy, old man!”
Ben could feel the weight at his back shift as the top of his pack lifted open. A small, cat-like face popped out of the bag, leaning his chin on Ben’s shoulder. Bright yellow eyes darted around with tenfold curiosity. Tufted ears twitched at every living sound. Silver strung whiskers were trembling with delight.
“Nodd, be careful not to fall out, okay?” Ben warned him quietly.
Though he looked like a strange variation of a common household cat, nothing was further from the truth. Nodd was a Kitt, a child of the nearly extinct Hummingway clan. Through a twist of events, he ended up in Ben’s care, much to FuSoYa’s irritation.
“Did you really have to bring the nuisance along?” the High Sage grumbled.
“He wanted to see the Blue Planet. What’s wrong with that?” Ben responded solidly.
“So the stories are all true,” Nodd purred to himself. “The sky here is blue!”
“Well, he will certainly see a lot more of it than we planned,” FuSoYa frowned.
“You act as if it’s something that can’t be fixed.”
“I do not see anything being done about it. It is not as if we have a whole lot of time. Yes?”
Ben froze, a chill rippling over his body. He had been so lost in the strange flow of power from the Blue Planet that he momentarily forgot why they were there.
“I know. I know. Just give me a moment. I’ll have us back on track,” the Half-Lunar frowned.
He began to rummage around in all the different pockets along the inside of his vest, his cloak, his trousers… then finally his pack. After checking twice, Ben victoriously pulled out a small, flat object. It was round and solid, just the right size to fit in the palm of his hand. The surface was made of flawless crystal and reflected only a slightly deeper blue shade than the sky.
Nodd peered curiously over the Half-Lunar’s shoulder. His whiskers tickled the inside of Ben’s ear.
“I have had enough of your infernal contraptions, Golbez,” FuSoYa scowled.
“This isn’t mine,” Ben’s eyes grew sharp with concentration. “It was Father’s.”
The crystal responded with a soft hum as a ripple of glittering light spread out from its heart. Slowly, a blue hologram shimmered into existence, a small globe that floated only an inch above the crystal. The sphere was gridded and many little dots and lines traced over its surface. There was one very bright white light in particular that blinked on and off. It was there that Ben pointed.
“This is where we ended up. Looks like the lower Baronian continent.”
“A hologram map of the Blue Planet?” FuSoYa shook his head slowly. “KluYa, you had far too much time on your hands.”
“It’s more than just that, Uncle,” Ben indicated the numerous small sparkles on the globe. “These points show us where all the Elemental Crystals are on the surface world. It looks as if all four are here. And….”
A bright red spot appeared on the globe. Something about it was unnerving, unnatural. Almost frightening in nature.
“Incrytan,” the Half-Lunar hissed.
“This device can sense Incrytan, too?”
“It… would seem so…”
“It must be in tune to all Crystal activity on the Blue Planet.”
Ben gave a slow, assured smile. “Well then, we’re in luck. We can track the thief wherever they are going.”
“Where is Incrytan currently located?”
The Half-Lunar frowned. “It’s outside of Mysidia. Just as we speculated.”
“Let us get there before the thief does, yes?”
Ben stepped back a few paces. He took one last look at the red spot on the globe to orient his thoughts before putting the crystal away in his pocket. Very slowly, he lifted his hand, fingers spread, arm outreached at full length. A pulse of green light erupted from his palm, lighting the emerald of his eyes even more brilliantly.
The air impacted with his command. It began to ripple in a tall ovular wave. Reality twisted in upon itself. Dimension fell away into a pulsing, translucent portal of light — a wayrift. Once it was done expanding, it stood a good foot taller than the Half-Lunar.
Rifting was not a common form of transportation among the Lunar kind. Though it was much faster than using a ship, dimensional travel was considered too wild and unruly to be of wide use. To actually gather knowledge of the Ways was dangerous to the point of being lethal. Not many studies were conducted on the massive energy that gathered in the place where all worlds overlapped.
Ben was one of the few who had a natural command over dimensional energies. It was probably the reason the Lunars had started calling him “Master of the Infinite Ways.” it was among many other titles that he’d gathered over time.
FuSoYa stepped forward, making his way towards the rift. As his hand reached out to push through, the portal gave a sound somewhat like a groan. The light within flickered once, then faded black, scattering away like sand borne on the wind.
“Woah! It’s a no go!” Nodd gaped.
The High Sage turned around instantly. “That was not funny, Golbez. We do not have time for trickery.”
Ben’s face was marked with slight surprise. He had never lost control of a rift before. “I didn’t do that.”
“Well, something happened. Rifts just do not fall apart on their own.”
“I’ll… try again.”
FuSoYa gave a low grunt.
For a second time, Ben stepped forward, lifting one hand above his head. Putting a bit more force to his command, he thrust his arm forward, lashing out a rift in the air. The ripples came, once again. But this time, they faded before a portal could even be made.
Ben threw his hand forward again. Sweat began to bead on his brow as concentration shook his body.
This time, there was no answer at all.
“I… I don’t understand!” the Half-Lunar stared, the weight of the situation heavy on his shoulders. “This has never happened before!”
“What are you blandering about, boy?” the High Sage gave a disgruntled look.
Ben turned to face him quickly, “Uncle Fu… something’s blocking the Riftways. I can’t get it to open!”
FuSoYa’s eyebrows bristled straight out to the sides. It was the closest thing that the old Lunar got to looking concerned. “Then, there is no way to get to Mysidia quickly?”
“Ah… eh…” the Half-Lunar frowned. “No.”
“No Rift at all?”
“And where did you say Incrytan was again?”
“Almost in Mysidia,” Ben’s voice grew grave.
“There is not enough time.”
“Then we must make time.”
“Since when did you ever have such a love for the humans?” FuSoYa peered over at him.
“I…” Ben paused, mouth open. “I just don’t want anyone messing with Father’s Crystals.”
“Of course,” the High Sage grunted.
The Half-Lunar peered off over the horizon. Things weren’t going like he planned — someone or something was blocking the flow of dimensional energies on the Blue Planet. It was probably pure luck alone that they were able to get there to begin with. The only thing left was to make it to Baron as quickly as possible, and from there, take the Serpent Road to Mysidia.
Even that was a long ways off.
This isn’t going to be easy…