Article

The Timeweaver

Part 1
What a lovely.... something

Ralin struggled to see through the darkness. These alleys were never well lit to begin with and most of the lamps were out along this one. But there was one lighted lamp a short distance ahead, and it was that lamp which kept Ralin from getting completely lost. It was a cool night and the air was damp from a gentle sea breeze from the east. It would be morning soon. The first dawn of a new empire.

When he reached the light, Ralin stopped and waited. He was unsure of himself now, but that would change. He knew what was coming. He chuckled, then. He knew what was coming, yet he didn't know who was coming. Just a cryptic message to meet in the alley. When you're an attaché to a new emperor, you don't generally meet strangers in alleys at night, but this stranger knew something.

Where was he? Or she, maybe the messenger was a woman? Whoever it was, they were late.

Ralin's gaze shot down the alley at the sound of shuffling footsteps. It was difficult to see in the shadows, but slowly a ragged figure stumbled into the lamplight, barely able to stay on its own two feet. Just what he needed, a drunkard interrupting this surreptitious meeting in the dark of night. The foul stench of alcohol and body odor was nauseating and Ralin struggled to keep his own feet straight under the weight of the pungent aroma. Oh, and now he was coming closer!

As the drunk was about to stumble into him, Ralin shoved him in the other direction, "Get away, you bumbling fool!" What a nuisance! A ragged hood fell off his head as the poor old drunk fell to the street. The vagabond looked around with a blank confused daze in his eyes - but wait! There was a sharpness and immediacy in his gaze that sent shivers down Ralin's spine. He was grateful when the ingrate finally regained his feet and shambled away.

Ralin snickered, amused that the man had been so drunk when he stumbled off that he'd left his bottle here in the street. He kicked it away, only to notice it wasn't quite empty; there was something inside it. No, it wasn't alcohol, rather it was some kind of paper. He stepped over and picked it up - yes! There was a note inside the bottle! Ralin shivered as the realization hit him: that drunken fool was no drunkard at all. The attaché ripped the message from the bottle and furiously began to read:

The separatists are prepared for a coup tomorrow. They have 15,000 soldiers ready to storm the palace and spies within the palace guard engaged to open the gates. The battle will be bloody, but can have only one end. You can prevent this unnecessary bloodshed.

15,000!!! How could the separatists have amassed such an army in secret? How could they have grown so large and so powerful? And spies? In the palace guard? This would be a disaster! Ralin gathered his wits and began running down the alley to find that old beggar who'd dropped the bottle, but he was nowhere to be found. He was clever, that one. But there was no time to waste, Ralin had to report to the emperor immediately.

FIFTEEN THOUSAND SOLDIERS!


A beggar shuffled down a gloomy back street towards the docks, his form seeming to evaporate into the misty shadows. His work was now done; this timeline would not need another intervention for 328 years.

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