The future is a vast and looming dark, cut through with a knife-thin light.
You find yourself troubled by the many possibilities before you. In your anxiety, you begin to pace, wearing worn lines into your carpeted floor… and, in the course of your wanderings, you are no longer in your room, but in a place far removed from space and time. You are standing in a garden, a hedge maze, but only for a moment; in the next you are surrounded by roses, and in another flash you are standing on a bridge. Everywhere you go, you see the infinite number of roads ahead of you, but after a lifetime of walking, you could glance over your shoulder and see only a single path stretching behind…
This is Ars Prima Historia, or, as it is more widely known, The Paths of Destiny. You did not arrive her by chance. He does not believe in chance. It is not his place to believe in chance. He does not see journeys, but destinations. He does not see coincidence, only providence, purpose. He does not question it, he does not doubt it, he does not wonder if there was any other way.
He is an old man, his face wrinkled and creased with age. He is cowled and robed, like a monk, and he carries a book in his hands. His eyes are hidden by the shadows of his cowl. He clasps the book to his chest and approaches you. Each step he takes is deliberate and filled with purpose, as if this was a moment he had been waiting for all his life. His bare feet do not scuff the dirt. He leaves no footprints. He casts no shadow.
Only now do you realize why.
The road he walks is not for him. Destiny has no path of his own.
The road is for you.
The Doors of Time
As you wander the Paths of Destiny, Destiny himself occasionally following behind, you cast your eyes upward and see the “ceiling” of this strange place. You know, now, you walk beside beings far beyond your ability to understand, and at any moment you will wake and dismiss this as a dream. But this is the Truth, you know it, you feel it in your heart, just as you know how desperately you will try to cling to it when it is ultimately just a dream.
There is a grand canopy above you, brilliantly lit by lanterns that look almost like lotus blooms. Upon closer inspection, however, you can see that they are not lanterns; they are doors, floating in the sky, high above you, each one shining with its own inner light. With every step you take, a hundred doors close and wink out of existence; and a thousand others open up, bursting into bloom like distant stars.
But higher up, far above your twinkling stars, there are gargantuan doors, doors the size of cliff faces, hanging in the void. These doors do not close so much as shift and move, ever so slightly, like the cogs in a colossal machine. If your star field of doors were your potential destinies, then these massive doors must be the fates of entire worlds. And if you look closely, you will see a shooting star, darting back and forth between the enormous gateways.
That speck of light is Pharos, the Prophet, dancing between potential futures and judging what must be done to keep history on the road to survival. It is with this knowledge of impending disaster that Pharos arms himself in the present, waging a war of wits with the darkness threatening the World. For beyond the sky filled with doors and bright lights, there is a shadow waiting to engulf this garden, and snuff out every light in its turn…
And with every step you take, and every door Pharos closes, the shadow inches back and the World survives another day.
Abruptly, you are ripped from the verdant roads of Historia and find yourself treading a worn path through your carpeted floor. You’ve made your decision. In your heart you will wonder if this was a whim, that this decision was left to nothing but chance; but in your heart you will also wonder if perhaps this was how it was meant to happen all along, the only way it could ever have happened. You wonder if you are making a choice or merely taking an opportunity that had been there since the beginning.
You wonder if this had all been decided long ago, by those much wiser and greater than you, and written down…
…in a Book.
But something urges you to get moving, as if to say you were meant for greater things than simply wondering “if”.
History is more than being written. It is being created, one page, one word, one step at a time.
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