III. The Burden

The cold and mountainous canyon had been breathing a cold air as Talbot and the mages walked through it. The snow whirled in the gusts that picked it off the ground and sent fine sheets of it whirling about them. Evening twilight had sunk into dark night, casting shadows that would not have been passable if not for Bishop.

They had been traveling for a year since the night at the temple. The night where Isaac had left them as they slept, wandering into the desert with food or water. Such a great burden had been laid unto him, a burden that Talbot didn't think any man could withstand.

Since then, he had been searching for the one called Adam, walking alongside the mages Bishop and Isaiah. It had been grueling and disheartening, but he continued on despite any ill notion that his mind might have conceived. And it had conceived many.

Bishop slowed through the canyon and stopped before a stone outface that provided shelter from the harsh and biting winds. He sat and pulled tinder and twigs from the satchel that he always carried. After a quick setting and a swift spell, they sat by the fire and breathed in the cold mountain air that flowed about them.

"Isaiah, resume your lessons with Talbot." Bishop said to Isaiah, preparing a meal to eat before they would sleep for the night.

Talbot sighed and stood up with Isaiah. He had been training to use magen skills since his merging with the mages but had never succeeded in actually attaining any type of magen abilities. Isaiah would always stand beside him and speak to him about the concentration he needed to cast a spell, about the pain that he would feel when he actually would cast it for the first time.

"Raise your hand." Isaiah told him and he obliged. He outstretched it to an open area as he had always been instructed to do. "Now, close your eyes and listen."

He did as told and listened to everything he could hear; the crackling fire, the whishing winds, the beat of his heart.

"Listen until they become nothing." Isaiah continued. "And concentrate on that which fulfills you the most."

He thought of home and the rooftop. He thought of Biggs and Wedge. And he would feel something coursing through him. The feeling was subtle but it was always there when he concentrated on it.

"Concentrate…" Isaiah whispered.

His eyes were closed but Talbot saw something, a vision of light and darkness, a void between him and the feeling that built within him. The subtle burn in his veins began to throb and he felt his hand warm as it had so many times before in is training. He winced as the burn developed and squirmed in spot, trying to ease his shivering hand.

"You feel it." Isaiah said in a faraway voice. "You've felt it before, just release it."

He continued to bear the pain and hindered his need to let go. A subconscious thought had always hindered the feeling, the harsh sensation that ran through the hand he outstretched. He tried to calm it, but it wouldn't stand.

The feeling built in him and detonated before he could release it. The snow kicked up around him as the feeling that built within him shrank back to nothing and he fell to the ground, breathing and panting.

Isaiah stood over him and offered his hand. Talbot took it and was helped up to his feet, still exhausted from his lesson.

"Again…" Bishop said in a cold voice. Isaiah gave him a questioning look, to which Bishop relied, "He needs to learn."

Both Isaiah and Talbot sighed before resuming the lesson. They tried and repeated it several times before the meal was ready and they accomplished nothing just as they had in the past year of training.

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As the year had gone on, Talbot's dreams had come more and often and he would see visions of many things. He would tell Bishop and Isaiah of the things he would see and they would reply that he had aspects of a prophet in him.

That night, he dreamt of Adam. He was the tormentor of his dreams, always obstructing him from Midscape. He would be standing in the barren and ashy field, speaking in echoes and alien tongues.

Sometimes, Talbot would dream that one of his friends were standing beside him, be it Biggs or Wedge, Bishop or Isaiah, but he would always hope that the girl with the piercing red eyes would be the one who did.

She still came to him in his sleep, but she would never say anything to Talbot. She would only stare at him or hold his hand or embrace him in her arms. It was these dreams that Talbot loved to have and it was these dreams that would prompt Talbot to wish for a forever sleep.

He woke with the sun, buried under heavy furs that kept him warm in the night. He slid into the gear that he slept with under the covers so that he would be able to clothe himself without feeling the biting winds.

After he had, he left the mages to sleep while he found a point to watch the sun rise and have a cigarette. It was a five minute trek before he found a suitable spot to light his cig and he did with delicate hands, not wanting to waste any of the remaining matches he had left.

The sun rose slowly and the smoke of the cigarette mixed with the cold air of the mountain woke Talbot to full sense.

"I wish I was home." He said to himself in a sullen voice. He still smelt Rosewood in his nose and tasted the air in his mouth. When he would stand as the sun fell into the horizon or rise into the sky, he would almost be able to swear that he was in Rosewood. He smoked his cigarette and thought of better days as he usually did when in moments of silence.

His neck began to ache and he reached up to the spot where it did. He felt the scar tissue on the exposed flesh and ran his hand over it. The scar started from his jaw, stretching to his shoulder and down his arm.

One singular night with the past year, he had been thrown from a cliff by a minion that had stumbled upon them. He fell almost fifty feet onto jagged rocks that pierced his flesh and broke his bones. He struggled to hold onto consciousness as Bishop and Isaiah killed the minion and rushed to his aid, fading into unconsciousness as they did.

In the days that followed, he was forced to drink white tonics by Bishop and Isaiah to restore the blood that was lost when it flowed through his open wounds. The one that had gone through his jugular had bled the most. In the whole of that time, Talbot would fade in and out of awareness, gripping his throat and grunting in pain. He had never felt so close to death and had been beginning to accept it.

The thought of death calmed him and once, he had closed his eyes believing it to be the last time he would. But he woke with the blood flowing from his throat slower and as the hours past, the wound began to close and the blood had just stopped streaming from the gash in his neck.

Talbot had fully begun to realize the severity of what Adam was trying to achieve after four days of dying and became more focused on finding Adam than finding the gate that would lead him home.

"I was given a responsibility." He said when he had healed. Although home was still on his mind all the time, his goal was finding Adam, just as it was Bishop and Isaiah's.

He finished his smoke when the sun had fully risen and went back to where the mages had lain. He found them awake and packing their things.

"Always did watch the sunrise." Bishop said as Talbot began to pack his furs. "Hurry, the mountain village is only half of one day's walk."

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Through harsh and biting winds, they traveled with the sun while barely able to see it through the grey and clouded sky. They walked on a narrow path between a smooth rock face and a sheer drop into unseen depths.

Talbot looked across the canyon to a separate peak and saw something staring back at him.

"Did you finally see it?" Isaiah asked.

"What is it?"

"I don't know but it's been following us for awhile." The mage replied. "Don't worry, if it wanted to kill us, it would have done it in our sleep."

Talbot stared at the figure for a moment before continuing on through the snowstorm that engulfed them. The thing in the snowstorm worried him even though Isaiah said there was naught to worry about. In the year he had wandered the new and vast world, he had seen things that made him ever cautious of the other world. It was his nature.

He rested his hand on the rifle he carried, a weapon that both mages had infused with their magen skill. It was his only means of fending off whatever minion they might stumble upon. It had indeed helped him through his journey and would continue to until he was able to cast magen spells. That is, if he ever could.

They reached the mountain village just before nightfall and it seemed to radiate a peaceful aura that Talbot could not wait to enter. He had not slept in a soft bed for many weeks and was looking forward to lying his head on a pillow that was actually stuffed with down.

"What's this place called?" Talbot asked as the three stopped to behold the sight.

"Bikaner." Isaiah replied with the often unseen smile of serenity. "My home…:"

Talbot looked at Isaiah who was staring at the village with appreciative eyes. The mage never really showed any type of emotion for anything, but when he did, it was like he became someone else. His hardened and silent façade washed away when he smiled. The mage was nearing forty and when he smiled, the brutish exterior he wore softened into a fatherly look.

"Come on." Bishop said, starting his path into the village. "We'll rest for the night and start searching in the morning."

Talbot followed, but not before turning around to see a figure in the fading light staring back at them.

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Talbot was not a prophet or seer. But Bishop had told him that his dreams were something to be taken seriously. With patience and discipline, Talbot was told that he might become such a prophet one day and that was something that he remembered since he was told that. He began to record his dreams, describing the visions in a small journal that he walked with and he would read through it every night.

Talbot was reading through his log that night, recalling the reveries of sleep that he had experienced when Bishop had stepped into his room.

"How do you feel?" Bishop asked without any kind of introduction.

"I'm good. Why?"

"I was just wondering." The dark mage said as he stepped to the window. "A prophet will usually feel some type of euphoria when something extraordinary is about to unfold."

"I'm not a prophet, though."

"Not yet. Maybe never, but one can never tell." Bishop said to him. "You always have to think about those things, keep them in check. If you pay attention to your instincts enough, one day they may tell you things that will prove important or useful."

Talbot closed his journal and stretched out his arms and legs. It had been a long day and he was eager to fall asleep on a surface that was not made of dirt, grass or snow.

"Have you been dreaming?" The dark mage asked his young companion.

"I always am." Talbot replied and sighed as he did. "Sometimes I don't want to."

"Are you still seeing the land of ashes?"

"Almost every night; what do you think it means?"

"Only you can answer that."

Talbot hunched over as he sat on the edge of the bed and looked into the fireplace where a blaze of logs had been lit. He stared into its gently burning embers and felt the scar tissue on his neck. He sometimes thought that the blackened land he saw in his dreams resembled the inside of a blast furnace and thought that maybe that place was where Adam had come from. He felt unsure of himself but Bishop had said that was how many young prophets felt when realizing their abilities.

"It's going to be a long day tomorrow." Bishop said as he walked away from the window. "Sleep, you'll feel better in the morning."

He closed the door behind him leaving Talbot to his rest. But when Talbot lay down for the night, he tossed and turned, trying to close his eyes but they persisted on staying open. He would stand and walk to the window and stare through the pane of glass that separated him from the harsh weather outside.

He rubbed his tired eyes that would not sleep and stretched and yawned. He turned and looked at the bed with discomfort, knowing full well why he could not sleep. He grabbed his satchel and pulled the furs from it, laying them out onto the floor and he lay on them, staring out the window. He slept then and did not wake until morning.

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When the morning came, the three ate a quick breakfast of hot cereal and began their day wandering the mountain side. They were not exactly sure of what they were looking for, but they did know that there was something on that mountain that was linked to Adam. Talbot would only follow the two mages, listening to what they said and doing as they told him to do.

He was their apprentice so he would listen and do as he was told, but that didn't mean that he had to like it. Talbot would get annoyed with them sometimes, but he always respected the mages they way they were deserved.

Their search went on for half a day when Talbot finally noticed the figure standing behind a shroud of snow in the distance.

"I don't like it." Talbot spoke as they trudged along.

"Don't like what?" Bishop asked as he walked.

"That thing in the snow, it doesn't feel right."

The two mages stopped and turned to Talbot. He stopped with them and stared back with a surprised look.

"What?" Talbot asked.

"What doesn't feel right about it?" Bishop asked him. "Do you think it's a danger to us?"

"I… I don't know."

"Just concentrate." Isaiah told him. "What does your instinct tell you?"

Talbot realized that the mages were taking the feeling as one of the prophetic sensations that he felt, so he did as they said and he concentrated. He stared at the figure in the snow, wondering what it might be and what its purposes were. On this occasion of concentration, a realization dawned upon him and he shared it with the mages.

"It's looking for something." Talbot said. "It doesn't – how do I put this? – Its not following us, but following what we're looking for. Does that make sense?"

"Not really but it's a good sign." Bishop replied.

"What do you mean?" Talbot asked.

"A prophet never makes sense."

Bishop continued and his companions followed. As they did, Talbot smiled thinking that maybe he could be some kind of prophet. If he could not help the journey along as mage, maybe he could as a seer.

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The day went by with no other portentous feeling and they headed back to Bikaner. It didn't seem like they made any progress, but Bishop reassured Talbot that they were getting close to discovering what they were looking for.

The sun faded fast, too fast for Talbot to enjoy and he sat in his room, reading through his journal, trying to make sense of what he saw in his dreams. He looked up from his book and breathed a big yawn. He closed the log book and stood to look out the window. The snow had not let up and it fell just as it had since he and his comrades had begun their trek from the foot of the mountain.

But it was not falling in the harsh gusts of winds it usually fell in. The heavy flakes of snow instead feel slowly and lazily; calming was the word that Talbot thought of. It was calming. He closed his eyes and listened to the wind that gently brushed against the window. He listened to the soft crackle of the fireplace's inferno. He listened to his heart beat in his chest and he thought of his home. The thought brought a smile to his face and made him want to be back there where he was welcome.

Talbot could clearly hear the laughter of Biggs and Wedge in his mind and that made him smile even more. The smell of the sea and the taste of the air were almost real to him for a moment, a moment that Talbot felt like he could stay lost in for eternity.

He had been so involved in the feeling, so in the moment that he did not feel the bitter burn that ran through his body and coursed through his hand. He did not realize that smoke was developing from his finger tips and encircling his body. He did not feel anything until he heard Bishop's voice speaking to him.

"You're getting better at that."

Talbot felt the tinge in his body and panicked for a split second. The smoke dissipated and he stumbled to the floor, falling hard on his ass and gripping his hands as a burst of energy slightly rearranged the furniture in the room.

Bishop laughed at Talbot who was still gripping his wrists, trying to rub away the burning feeling. It was odd to hear Bishop's burly laughter. Talbot had heard it only twice before.

"I would not have said anything but now is not the time or place to practice."

"I wasn't practicing." Talbot said. "Son of a bitch - that hurt!"

"You weren't?" Bishop exclaimed. "That's excellent. That means its starting to come naturally."

"That doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt."

"You only think its hurts. When you finally do cast your first spell, you'll realize it doesn't sting at all."

Bishop walked up to Talbot and offered him his hand. He took it and the dark mage pulled him from the floor.

"You know, the first time I cast a spell, I blew out a wall in the monastery." Bishop told him as he turned to look out the window. "I was praying at the time. The mages in the temple applauded me before they made me clean up the mess I made."

Talbot laughed a little at the thought.

"Where was this?" The young prophet asked.

"The temple in Driftwood…" Bishop replied. "People always think that mages who use the shadow element of magenry are evil. Everyone automatically thinks of sin when they think of the dark."

"What does it really mean?"

"I was told that shadows only represent things that we do not know about. Things that people do not want to think about. It could mean wickedness, but it could also mean a lot more."

Talbot looked down at his hands and noticed a layer of soot had gathered upon them. The pain was gone and was replaced with wonder. He was sure that he could attain magen skill and wondered what his element would be.

"Sleep, you'll feel better in the morning." Bishop said as he walked towards the door. He would always say that to Talbot before he slept and he was always right. Talbot set up his furs in front of the window as he had the night before and lay down to sleep and dream for the night.

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The dream he had that night was unlike any he had ever had before. He was crawling through heavy snow on a frozen lake, calling for anyone to help him. He would call for his friends Biggs and Wedge, Bishop and Isaiah, Isaac and Marten. He even called out for Adam but no one came, no one heard.

He would try to stand but would fall back into the snow and he would lie there crying and bleeding. He yelled out for himself to wake up. He yelled that it wasn't real and that he would wake up in his bed of furs. But he did not wake and could only cry.

He closed his eyes and laid there, tears flowing down his face and falling to the snow. It would have been accepted at that point, but he felt someone grab his arm and lift him to his feet. When he opened his eyes, he saw the familiar red eyes that he had seen before. She smiled at him and lifted her finger to her mouth and gestured him to be quiet.

Talbot's sobs eventually ceased and he stood there with her until he woke.

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"Talbot!" Bishop said as he gently shook Talbot awake. "Are you all right?"

Talbot opened his eyes and saw Bishop and Isaiah staring down at him. He reached up to rub his eyes and felt tears on his cheeks, still moist and flowing. He nodded as he sat up and wiped them away.

"I'm fine." Talbot replied. There was concerned look on the faces of the mages as he answered. Talbot had never had a dream feel as real as the one he had just had and it scared him.

"What was it?" Bishop asked him and Talbot had to think of a reply that suited the feeling.

"Loneliness…" Talbot replied. Bishop looked at Isaiah who looked out the window.

"A prophet's dreams should be taken seriously." Bishop said as he stood. "Maybe you should stay in for the day while we search the mountain."

"No." Talbot said quickly. "I'm fine. I can go."

"If you say so…" Bishop replied. "We'll be having breakfast when you're ready."

Talbot nodded and the mages left him to get ready for the day. When they did, he took his journal and recorded the dream he had; the lonely dream of the frozen lake.

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The three were silent all morning as they searched the mountain for whatever it was that they were looking for. But the silence was not uncomfortable and Talbot enjoyed it immensely. The quiet gave him time to think and he pondered what the dream meant. The most obvious sign it had given him was desolation but that could have meant anything to the young man.

"What are we going to do when we find Adam?" Talbot asked. The question was understandable but had never been asked or answered.

"Whatever happens will happen." Bishop replied as they trudged through the deep snow of the mountain.

Talbot stopped for a moment and looked around. A notion had come to him, seemingly from nowhere in his mind, and he glanced towards a snowy path between two high peaks. He turned his head in the opposite direction and saw the figure staring back at him. The snow had not been falling in its usual violent flow and he could clearly make out the being as a person.

"Wait!" He yelled and the two mages turned to look at him. He stared at the figure of the person and glanced back at the snowy path. "We should go up this way."

"What's that way?" Bishop asked.

"Hopefully, whatever we're looking for."

Isaiah and Bishop exchanged contemplating glances for a moment. Isaiah looked up the path then back to Bishop and nodded. They turned away from their course and started up the rough path that Talbot had suggested for them. As they did, Talbot turned and looked at figure but the person was not there when he glanced in that direction. A portentous concept came to him and he took note of it as he followed the two mages.

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They walked up the snowy path for most of the day but they did not turn back, even when the sun neared the horizon. Talbot had started thinking that he was wrong in his suggestion when Isaiah slowed to a stop, staring ahead of them at something Talbot and Bishop could not see.

"What is it?" Bishop asked his friend.

"It's…" Isaiah began. "It's a temple!"

Talbot looked and Bishop and Bishop looked back. Their gazes turned and concentrated on the temple that they could not yet see.

"Talbot, you may be a prophet after all." Bishop said before resuming the trek.

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The temple was much larger than any the three had ever seen and had many intricate designs craved into the exterior of the building. A large flight of stairs led through a doorway into the shadowy interior. A hollow whistling sound came from the temple's entryway as the wind rushed past it, making the building seem wicked and devious.

They stood there admiring the building which in all likelihood had not been seen or used for many years, possibly decades. There was a hindrance that they could feel but none of them stated it. They only stared at the entrance and waited for nothing.

"This is what we've been looking for." Bishop said to his companions. "This is the next step. Let's go in, shall we?"

Bishop took the first steps up the stairs and the two others followed. The inside of the temple was even more ominous than the outside and Talbot felt a tinge of fear as he walked in the shadowy corridors. He could only suppress the trepidation and continued to follow, not knowing what the temple would hold.

He recalled the temple in the desert and the many minions he encountered. The thought made him reach down and grab the rifle he carried, walking with it in his hands despite the stinging cold that was produced from its frosted metal.

They walked for almost half an hour before Bishop saw light in the temple and followed it. The light had been coming from a large hole in the ceiling and was letting in the last light of the sun.

"What do you see?" Bishop asked Isaiah, who dropped his satchel and stepped into the center of the chamber. He raised his hands to the air around him and a light poured from them, flowing smoothly around the room, brushing against the wall and the many pillars that supported the ceiling around the opening.

Talbot had seen him do this once before and knew that he was looking for the remnants of a gate. His outstretched hands glowed as the light came forth and Isaiah followed their movements with his eyes. He bowed his head and the light stopped flowing from his hands, petering out as it stopped.

"There is none." Isaiah sighed. "There might be one day but a gate has not been opened here for many centuries."

They stood in silence for a moment, feeling disappointed and without goal. The mountain was the last trace they had of Adam and it proved worthless to them.

"Now what do we do?" Talbot asked aloud.

"When fallen into darkness, man usually tends to wait for a light to follow." An empty voice had risen from the shadows and the three turned to the corridor where it had been said. It was hoarse and came out rough from whatever throat it had came.

"How long would you wait for that sliver of light?"

He stepped into the waning light of the sun and made himself clear to the three. He was no one they had ever seen and could not be judged as enemy or friend. He was merely a stranger that had been following them through the snowy mountain where they had been led.

He appeared to be a young man, garbed in ceremonial robes that were ragged and worn. He walked with a limp and had one sleeve dangle empty while concealing his arm inside his robe. A very noticeable scar crossed his throat and was most likely the reason his voice was scratched. But of these things, what the three noticed first about the man was his eyes were concealed behind a dark blindfold and from his eyes were hidden, blood had flowed from under the covering and dried onto his face.

The three travelers drew their weapons and held them in position as the man paced about them, but he did not falter and moved along the edge of the shadows where the light stopped and the darkness began.

"I'm not here to hinder you in any way, so you can put your weapons down." He said to them in a hollow tone but they did not heed. They stood still, eyeing the stranger as he walked around them.

"I was only curious about you. After all, it's not everyday that people find this temple. In fact, you are the first three to be here for a very long time."

"Who are you?" Bishop asked the cloaked stranger.

"Nobody…" He replied with sorrow. "I am nothing but a vagabond."

"You've been following us, haven't you?" Talbot asked and the wanderer stopped to face Talbot.

"I have a thirst for knowledge and therefore a habit of curiosity." He said to him. "I have been following you but that doesn't matter. I only wanted to ask you a question."

Talbot lowered his rifle and stared hard at the drifter who made himself clear to the three travelers and could tell that the man had no interest in them. He could tell that he only wanted to know what they were looking for, what they're ultimate goal in life was.

"What do you want to know?" Talbot said to him. The man limped into the light and he breathed a slow breath of air that created smoke in the cold atmosphere around him, swirling about in a wicked fashion.

"I want to know," He began. "Did you find the gate?"

And they stood still, not quite believing that the stranger was just some nomad with a hunger for information. They were not sure if he could be trusted, even unsure if he was who he said he was.

"Adam?" Bishop asked whispering.

"Is that who you're looking for?" The man said. "No, I have no name. I lost that luxury a long time ago."

He turned and began to walk out of the chamber, away from the three travelers but he had aroused a curiosity that Talbot could not just leave dormant in his mind.

"Who are you?" Talbot asked him, repeating Bishop's question. The man stopped but did not turn to face the three. He arched his neck back and breathed a slow breath, letting the mist rise into the air above him.

"Vagrant; call me Vagrant." He said and started to walk away once more. "You will talk with me again."

And just as he had come, he had left, leaving the three with more questions to be unanswered. By then, the light that had been shining in through the skylight in the ceiling had faded into a deep shade of sapphire. They did not leave then. They slept in that chamber that night with no evidence to where they should go in the morning.

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When they woke, they did not speak. Instead they packed and stepped out of the temple into the light of the rising sun. Talbot stopped and closed his eyes thinking about days long past and friends long forgotten. The familiar tinge of sorrow and depression came to him. Thinking of those things, he felt the burn course through him again and he opened his eyes to stare at his hand. Smoke drifted from his fingertips and whirled in the calm wind, circling away from his form and into nothingness.

It stopped and he shut his eyes, restraining the tears that were forming in them and gliding down his cheeks. He felt so lost, so forgone that he did not feel the same strength he had before then.

"We will find a way." Isaiah said to him. Talbot opened his eyes and stared at the rising sun peaking itself over the mountains, blue and glittering and the new day's light. He wiped away the stray tear that had escaped him and looked down the snowy mountain path. It would lead to nowhere, a dead point in his journey. That thought saddened him the most.

But down the path, he saw someone approaching, slowly walking towards the temple.

"Who's that?" Talbot asked and the other two looked down the same direction. They did not reply and only stood staring at the approaching stranger. As he came closer, they could see the details in his appearance.

He was young, no older than twenty. His shirt was black in color and waved in the wind along with his long and dark hair. His pants were loose and the same color as his shirt. He held himself like a king and walked like a god. He saw the three looking at him and continued still.

He reached the foot of the stair that led into the temple and stared up at Talbot, Bishop and Isaiah, not moving. He carried nothing with him and, despite being on the highest and coldest peak of the mountain, his clothing looked thin and hung loose on his lean frame.

"I know you." He said. He raised his hand and held his open palm in front of his mouth, looking at the three with reddened eyes that seemed to pierce into their souls. Talbot recognized him then. In his dreams, he was only a shadow, but he could see those same dead eyes in his sleep. Those eyes…

"Adam…" Talbot whispered.

He blew onto the palm outstretched in front of his hand and a tremendous power was released from it, flowing and colliding with the three travelers before they could react. The force of impact sent them flying back into the temple and they struck a stone wall hard with a sickening thud. They scrambled to their feet, but he was standing over them even before they were on their knees. They tried to draw their weapons but they flew away from their hands with but a wave from Adam.

Bishop and Isaiah raised their hands to cast a spell but a simple blink made them fly back. They landed hard with a dreadful crack and they lay limp on the ground, unconscious and unable to help Talbot.

Talbot could only stand before Adam who was tall and daunting.

"I know you." Adam said again.

"You are the child who chases me in my dreams, the prophet who undoes everything I do."

Adam raised his hand in front of himself and Talbot was lifted off the floor, hanging in the air in front of the old mage. He whisked his hand and Talbot was thrown from the temple and out the entrance, landing in the snow without weapon. Adam followed, slowly stepping from the temple and looking down at the young prophet.

"Stand and face me, prophet." He said in a low tone. Talbot complied and could only think of one thing to do to defend against the mage. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. The burning came quickly that time and he felt it course through his veins. He opened his eyes and stared at Adam who had a look of disbelief on his face.

Talbot tried to release the energy but it exploded in him before it could just as it had so many times before and the snow around him kicked up into the air. He stood and closed his eyes again, concentrating that energy.

"How can you not cast a simple spell?" Adam said to him as Talbot focused his energies. "The prophet in my dreams is my equal, why are you so weak?"

Talbot began to gasp and shake. The burn did not come to him and he started to panic, sobbing as he tried to get it to flow. Adam stepped halfway down the steps and looked at Talbot long and hard as he cried.

"You're just a child, aren't you?"

Talbot felt the vigor build but it did not flow. The snow bounced around him again as he fell, only to stand once more and restart his focus, still gasping and sobbing. Adam bowed his head and let out a breath. He lifted his hand in front of him and raised Talbot into the air once more. Talbot began to scream, crying and tearing up with the emotion of feeling helpless.

"No." Adam said, more to himself than to Talbot. "You are not the prophet in my dreams. You will be one day, but not today."

"You will all live this day, but until my fate and yours are clear, I am separating you from your comrades by the void. You will grow without them, is that clear?"

Talbot continued to sob, trying to break loose his connection. Adam lifted his hand further and Talbot was raised higher into the air. A gathering red aura collected around his hand and was released, traveling along the link between him and Talbot.

The last light that the young prophet saw was the red flash from Adam. He then drifted into unconsciousness as he fell back to the earth.