Fred goes to the Southern Caves to slay a dragon. He kills Velus. He & Astra are sent to the Calamari Desert to die. Dr.Vincent saves them. Astra sneezes during a critical moment as Dr. Vincent is casting a spell to restore Fred back to normal (Vincent had to first heal Fred of the injuries inflicted on him by toaster headed gorilla, leaving him in a freakish state, then was attempting to cure Fred of the freakish state). Astra is transported to an underground labrynth while it had adverse effects upon the others. Dr. Vincent and Bobo (the toaster headed gorilla) are killed. Fred is tortured by a demonic being known as the Brazen Man, who'd been summoned by the backlash and thought that Fred would make a lovely new companion in his master's quest for power and chaos......
Meanwhile, Astra has made the mistake of entering into a portal styled after a grandfather clock, and falls under the magical nature of the device she's entered. As the hands of the clock swing backwards, she finds herself growing younger and younger. She can not force the door open again and finally finds herself deposited back in time, in a ten year old body (herself at ten)....but with the mind of an adult.
She stumbles across Fred's father, Charles D'Honaire, who's off to go slay the Dragon of the Southern Caverns (which while not said....it's kind of obvious that he didn't succeed). Charles would come back a haunted man, who refused to tell what happened underneath the ground while on his quest. He'd retire from adventuring and live out a quiet, frightened life....a broken man. Astra at first thinks that perhaps she'd been sent back in time to alter this fate after Charles had already left the ten year old behind and tries but fails to catch up with Charles to give warning and aid. Switching tatics, she goes and enlists a mage/seers help so that aid might be given.
However, it soon becomes apparent that something else is up!
Astra realised that she was inevitably going to fall behind Lord Charles again, for her pony was no match for his big horse on a prolonged ride, so she tried to think of an alternative plan. Before long an idea came to her. If this was some fifteen years ago, wouldn't Myrddin still be living? He was sage, seer and magician, famous throughout all the lands, and if anyone could help her he could.
Whilst she was far from her homeland, she assumed that she must be in the Dukedom of the D'Honaires, somewhere on the road from the Duke's fortress to the southern caverns. In that case, that isolated peak she could see a few miles to the left of the road must be Beacon Mountain, on the lower slopes of which Myrddin had his abode. Urging her pony off the road, she headed cross-country towards it.
After two hours travelling, and a further hour searching for Myrddin's dwelling, Astra found the white cottage that she thought must be the right place. After all, she had seen no other dwellings. After tying her pony's reins to the branch of a nearby tree, she knocked on the front door. An old man with a long white beard, looking every inch a sage, answered it. He looked surprised when he saw her. "Who are you, child? And what are you doing so far away from home, and in your underwear at that?" Astra had hoped that Myrddin's ability as a seer would have told him who she was and why she was here without his needing to ask, but apparently that was beyond even his ability. "I am Princess Astra of Aqualaria, and I need your help," she said. Myrddin, assuming it was he, blinked in surprise. "You'd better come in, then," he said.
Astra did so. The old sage directed the child's body which housed the mind of the warrior woman to a cushion upon which she could sit. Astra of Aquilaria, enjoying the vigor only a young girl's body could provide, leapt eagerly into the cushion. Myrddin sat in a tall chair made from what appeared to be antlers bound together, and stroked his beard as he scrutinized her.
"Child," he said, "I would be lying if I said your appearance here didn't frighten me."
"Well, lass, the reason is, by all rights, I should have known you were coming. Every moment, right up until the time of my eventual death after I have been forced to flee Beacon Mountain and live in the wilds east of the province of Anfang, I have seen already. I know I am to die with the dagger of one of the madmen of the Court of Fools lodged in my chest, upon which they will heap stones upon my corpse and it shall become the site of my mockery. You, however, I do not know. You I have not seen in my visions as I spiral towards my own doom. That, I am led to believe, is an impossibility."
"That could well be," Astra said, "were it not for the fact that I believe magick is involved. I was sent here shortly after being trapped in an immense grandfather clock"
Myrddin's brow furrowed at this, his eyes showing recognition.
"Why my poor child, you've come unstuck!"
"Yes! Unstuck! Anchorless! Adrift!"
"What on earth do you mean?"
"That clock you mentioned was once the plaything of the Hecatonhire, the hundred-headed giants. They are now exiled from the lands of men, but they dabbled in the arts of Chronomancy. You are now without an anchor, for such is the purpose of the clock. It strips one of the chains that bind them to their own time. After doing this, one may learn the fell art of Chronomancy, as only the Anchorless can truly practice it. However, as you could not be trained after it set you Adrift, you're merely moving through time aimlessly. I have to give you a new Anchor, or you may well shift again, and again, and again, eventually dissipating to nothing."
"What do I have to do to get an anchor?"
"Well, child, were this another time, it might have been simpler. For instance, were you yet to be born, or already dead, I could simply tie you right now. However, your childhood self exists here. This makes things more complicated. You see, I need to make you a different person. I need to pull aspects of you from other timelines, make you diverge enough to become stable, and then I need to give you a new true name..."
Astra wanted the concept of other timelines to be explained to her. When Myrddin had finished, she asked: "So what would happen to the other 'me' that you take aspects from?" "As far as I can tell, she would be unaware of anything happening and would not be harmed in any way." "Good. I wouldn't want to cause any harm to the other 'me'. And I'll be restored to adulthood?" "Yes. One of the aspects that I'll take from the other you is her body at its current age." "And whose memories will I have? Hers, my own, or both sets of memories?"
"You see, you would be both your 'sister' and yourself. To be honest, I'm not sure if your personalities would merge fully, though all the scrolls and tomes seem to indicate that. You would certainly have the memories of both. It's a very dodgy process, though. I can't control which of the alternate timelines I pull from, really. I'll have to go with the first one I can firmly grasp, as your time before shifting again may be quite limited. We won't have time to pick and choose, nor will we be able to have a second try at this. I have to pull a divergent enough analog to make you separate from your past self, and then name you in very short order, else we risk you being undone."
It sounded risky to Astra, as though she'd like to think her alternate selves were much like her, there were no guarantees. Indeed, from what the old sage said, he would have to pull from timelines that were wildly different from her own. She wasn't sure if she could deal with that. Still, the alternative was worse than death, it was a drifting dispersion throughout the time stream. She decided that was a more frightening possibility than merging with aspects of any of her "sisters". She let Myrddin begin the ceremony...
Myrddin pulls aspects of Astra from a timeline in which she was transformed into an elf by a strange shaman, and.......oops!
Princess Astra of Aqualaria felt a strange tingling as the ceremony continued. She should have felt memories pouring into her head, memories that she had never had before in her life, and yet they felt completely natural to her. She should have remembered this:
She remembered being freed by Lord Frederigo D'Honaire, going to Doctor Vincent's tower, and being sent to a strange place by a miscast spell, just as she had in her own reality. But, in the other reality, instead of walking into the grandfather clock, she had walked through a demon-ornamented archway into astrange passage which lead to an underground river. And that had made all the difference.
She dove in, knowing that it would lead to freedom and, her strength finally gone, she'd washed up upon a beach and found Frederigo, evidently marooned her. She smiled a faint smile as she passed into unconsciousness.
Later, she awakens and both she and Fred head away from the water, into the woods in a vain hope that they will be able to find some shelter and signs of civlization.
Instead, they find an elven path that leads deeper and deeper into what turns out to be the fell Forest of Xythryx, home of strange magics, monstrous spiders and other less desirable creatures, and often a place of no return and tragedy. Fred accidentally walked head on into a nearly invisible giant web, and Astra had gotten ensnared also as she tried to get Fred's sword to drive off the maker of the web.
She SHOULD HAVE remembered this alien memory.
She should have remembered Fred desperately activating a magical ear-ring that summoned the wizard (shaman to some of his friends) Pronklezilch.
She should remember tricking the indifferent wizard into helping them against the approaching monster spider. She should remember the wizard turning them into elves (she and Fred) and leaving them to their own fates, still deep within the Woods. She should remember basically everything that is told in episode 7366!. Should remember meeting strange people and eventual friends. Should remember meeting an odd person who travels in a blue box that's larger inside than out AND travels through time/space and between several universes. She should remember becoming immortal due to her and several others becoming Champions to beings called Rules and Agents.
These memories should be coming from her twin from the other time stream, but due to the special nature of a Champion, such information is not forthcoming! On the conscious level, that is. Some parts do get through.
Most doesn't due to the fact that the Agents and Rules take care of their own. They do not allow tampering with their Champion's personal Timeline in anyway, shape, or form. In doing this, they protect the very integrity of their Champions lives and existence from those who otherwise could reach back into time, somehow, and erase what is a most vexing obstacle. This protection is wide and broad, and even prevents what COULD, if used for other......less benign and more malign.....means to majorly screw with their Champions (how, exactly, is a tale for latter, if ever).
Instead in memories, Astra is puzzled in the extreme when the arcane phrase of ACCESS DENIED!! flashes through her mind as her body tingles and changes.
She changes. Her child frame blurs and shifts, losing the form of childish youth and taking on the curves of majority.....of womanhood. She does not grow much in size, for the elves of present day do not grow over four feet in height. She does lose a bit of mass as her musculature turns from human to elfin, becoming stronger than what her small stature suggests, but much lighter. Her hips widen and she finds herself filling out her silk chamise in a manner that has become routine since the onset of puberty. Her hair shitfs and changes, grows. But that is only true for the hair on her head (elves don't have any body or facial hair of note). Her hair takes on the tufted, but beautiful form, that her analog has chosen. She finds that her ears wiggle and then grow in size.....then become extremely pointed. She revels in the immensity of the new sounds, smells, and sight her vastly increased sense bring her....much in excess of anyting she's known before as a mere human. She'll find that her reflex have increased dramatically. Shell find that she needs not sleep, only rest to regain stamina (sleep is for humans). She'll find she's unaging (death only from unnatural causes). She finds her outfit shifts from the silk chemise she came in with have changed into the well fitting outfit of green and brown leather jerkin, pants, and boots. She'll find her ears have been pierced and she's wearing golden hooped ear-rings. She'll find she's equipped with the equipment that her counterpart is presently carrrying over in what some would call a Whoniverse.
Presently, she staggers right now as the transformation reaches in and begins to change her mind from human to elfin. The transformation doesn't change her fundamental nature. Astra is still Astra, but it's an Astra who's an elf with a few human quirks....but will react and act like the elfin lass she now is.
The transformation reaches what some call the "heart." It is not the organ that pumps life giving blood. Rather, it reaches into the part of the mind that feels love. Her human "heart" changes from human to the fey thing that all elves have.....and the fey, wild thing reaches out (like it's twin inside the one who had been called Astra in another universe before a "shaman" had transformed her).....and suddenly screams in horror as it finds that it's other part.....the animus to it's anima......the other part that is found in this world version of Fred......isn't where it thinks it should be!
Astra's heart had mirrored her other sister's heart, and had reached out to find Fred's heart and soul......
Problem is, that Fred is back uptime....and is in a bit of a pickle. The cry of Astra's elfin heart begins to reach out, magically and psychically, to find it's other part....
"Fred...." Astra whispers softly, weakly, as she falls to her knees.
Myrddin, meanwhile, knows very well that something is amiss, and is fighting desperately to stop what he thinks is imminent disaster for Astra. Why isn't his spell working? He'd said it was a dodgey process, but it seemed to have been working....until just a few seconds ago!
A flash of light and a tremendous tug is the last thing that both the
now elfin Astra and the seer feel as an alerted Rule responds to a frantic
alarm caused by what appeared to have been tampering.....
7/22/00 5:28:06 PM
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