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Theft, treachery, murder... As he explored the thread of time ever deeper, Martalo's appreciation for the World of Twelve began to spoil, like a rotten fruit. Today, the watcher was counting on the Sanctuary of Last Hope to enjoy a little respite...

Much to his chagrin, his love for the World of Twelve was slowly crumbling with each new day, scattering like fragments throughout the Kontinuum, and he was far from certain his love would ever be the same again.

The deleterious actions of any and all had melded and mixed together, casting him in a deep depression that had penetrated his very being. Martalo would not make it out of his journey through time unscathed, he had to admit. But he had accepted this mission willingly, ready to give his life and his soul, if necessary...

The watcher rarely lifted his hood. The thick fabric enveloped his skull and gave him the sensation he was protected from the dangers around him, even though this was a mere illusion.

Time seemed to have come undone in the World of Twelve for some months now, yet here it had very well come to a halt. At the foot of the zaap that had seen him arrive safe and sound against all odds, he climbed up a blinding white stone staircase to an open-air library. Martalo closed his eyes and lifted his chin as if to receive the warm caress of the day's star.

The wind picked up slightly and delicately filled his hood like a balloon, giving him a funny look. A huge head on top of a scrawny body. Martalo took a deep breath. For a few minutes, he would not be the watcher sent by Xelor to solve the mysteries of the Eliocalypse. No. He would just be Martalo, a Twelvian like any other.

The well deserved respite didn't last long, however.

A thick cloudappeared and quickly brought it an end, causing Martalo to shiver as he opened his eyes and signed with irritation. As he did this, the watcher saw an imposing cumulonimbus depict a curiously realistic scene. A horde of warriors, some with their hair standing on end, others with painful scowls on their faces, charged at an invisible enemy.

Suddenly, a howlfull of immense suffering came from somewhere high in the sky.

"AAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

Followed by a blood-curdling, scream.

"Krysaor, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!"

Martalo felt his heart sink. He had already witnessed "that." A gust of wind suddenly wiped the "slate" clean. The curtain came down, then raised again for a second act: a group of cumulus clouds appeared. There was no need for an introduction. He recognized them right away thanks to the knowledge of the prophecies he had gained through diligent study. It was the members of the council. Frida Mofette. The dragon. Pandora. Or even the General Kra Kleure. They were all there. All of them? Almost... One member was missing. Allisterine. Where was she? The clouds came and went slowly in rhythm with the wind. But who was really behind this macabre spectacle?

 

"You will reap what you sow POOR FOOL!"

 

The shadows of the council members combined to make one large shadow. A much less welcoming one... Misery. Emaciated, bony, atop a sinister winged creature. Who was she talking to? Of course… Allisterine! Allisteria's young daughter took shape. She held something in her hand. Something Misery seemed to covet.

 

"IT IS MIIIIIIIIINE!!!"

 

Martalo put his hands over his ears. The horseman's voice echoed in his head so intensely he thought his brain would smash against the walls of his skull. A terrible migraine suddenly came on, throbbing like a pick behind his eyes, causing him to collapse. He fell to his knees, then to the ground and curled up in unbearable pain.

 

A new gust of wind. Third act. Night was falling, draping the sky with a purpurine veil. This time the clouds looked much sharper than before. They almost looked menacing. To the right, a row of canine teeth. To the left, what appeared to be a group of small islands. Only when the Necropolistook shape did Martalo understand what he was seeing: Externam, the kingdom of the dead. But why? A threat? What omen this time? He hadn't any knowledge of it, not in the writings he'd read prior to that point at least. And not in anything he had witnessed during his journey through time either. So… "What then?

 

A violent gust of wind knocked Martalo to the ground. Sand... Sand?! This made no sense. The grains of sand filled his clothing, his mouth, nostrils, everywhere it could. It irritated his eyes. The watcher barely managed to open his eyes, only to see Misery's shadow again, more imposing than before, covering the sky, plunging everything in darkness. Martalo was hot. Terribly hot. He was having trouble breathing. Groans and moans filled his ears despite the deafening roar of the sandstorm beating down on him.

 

"Sss... Sss... Thir... Thirsty..."

 

"Water... Mer... Mercy... Gi... Give us water..."

 

An oasis took shape in the sky. Then hands. Gigantic, emaciated hands... It was her again! Misery. With her index finger and thumb, she "pinched" one end of the watering hole, drawing it toward her.

 

"IT IS MIIIIIIIINE!!!"

 

Once again, the voice caused an explosion in the watcher's head. His thirst grew worse until it was unbearable. His throat was so dry he was unable to swallow. The taste of blood in his mouth made him retch. But why was he so hot? He would have done anything for a little water. One mouthful, one drop, a light mist on his face even...

 

As if the gods had heard his wish, Martalo felt a life-saving freshness overwhelm him. But not where he had expected. He looked down at his feet. A puddle of water had seeped through the leather of these boots and soaked his toes. He looked around. The Sanctuary of Last Hope was an island now. The watcher was trapped.

 

His well deserved respite didn't last long.

Now it was time to help people get their heads above water...