Prologue: Across the Mirror of Worlds
Temple of the Winds.
Richard Rahl walked trough the deserted corridors of the Temple of the Winds, his mind thinking about a thousand different things at the same time in a futile attempt to hold onto sanity.
Once these same halls were full of life, of working wizards. People bringing knowledge from all over the world when it was free of war and strife. Before the Great War this was the revered place where all was stored, all was kept safe from unworthy hands.
But those days were no more.
Three thousands years ago the world was divided in two. In each side a different view of magic was held. One wanted it to disappear, the other to protect it. Extremes that sanctioned the use of magic in the creation of weapons of fearsome power.
Weapons like the dream walkers.
But a small group searched for the point in between.
Those were the Temple Team, a hundred wizards with the charge of keeping the Temple of the Winds and its knowledge protected. A group that was the responsible for the disappearance of the temple into the underworld, leaving only two ways to reach it and its forbidden secrets.
The Hall of the Betrayer and the Hall of the Betrayed.
Richard had been betrayed in the fulfilling of the an age old prophecy, betrayed in blood by the love of his life; Kahlan.
The need of finding the Temple of the Winds and the power to stop the plague unleashed by Jagang seemed able to make all sacrifices worth. But nor Richard nor Kahlan could fathom the price the spirits guarding the Temple would ask in return for Richard entering it.
That price, in the name of self imposed duty, nearly destroyed him.
In exchange for it he had now all the power and knowledge of the wizards that existed during the Great War, three thousand years ago. Wizards like him, having the Gift for not only Additive magic but also the Subtractive one.
Richard’s clothes were the outfit of those wizards that held a power allowing them to reshape the world. Power to twist the laws of nature to fit their whims.
His clothing was a mark of his ranking.
His black leather boots were wrapped with leather thongs pinned with silver emblems displaying geometric designs. Over his sleeveless black shirt was an open sided tunic, symbols of power shone along the gold bands running all the way around its squared edges. The tunic was held at his waist by a silver worked leather belt, the shinning metal bearing more of the mystic symbols. At each side of it a gold worked pouch was resting. At his wrists were wide, leather-padded silver bands bearing linked rings that had, as sole decoration, another set of symbols. Finally a cloak made of spun gold was holding from his massive shoulders.
War wizards were the only kind of wizards to wear that kind of outfit, differently from other humans with the gift of magic that choose to bear more ordinary clothing.
It was a warning, a way to clearly show the difference between the different classes of wizards. Not even the prophets, second in importance, had the right to wear clothes of that kind.
Between wizards those born and breed for war were supreme.
Even someone with no knowledge of magic could feel the tangible air of power and menace a war wizard displayed. It was beyond what even kings could ever dream to be. Still the clothing was nothing more than another symbol for the wizards holding Subtractive and Additive.
They were power and the power came from within, from the very core of their souls, not from clothes or symbols.
Now Richard had the knowledge to use the power of his birthright and with it he had stopped the raging plague that had already killed hundreds of thousand people. With the knowledge of how using his Gift it had been something easy. Once that done he had closed all the entrances to the Temple preventing any possible breach in its defenses.
And not once had the desire to return to his world crossed his mind. He could do it, but what would be the point? He had nothing to go back to.
He had lost what for him mattered more than anything else; Kahlan’s love. Now she was forever out of his reach, not only because of the betrayal and the last words exchanged between them, but also because she was now the wife of his half brother; Drefan.
Richard’s powerful muscles tensed when he thought about that, making him to lash out with his power, powered by his anger.
In the last moment he contained himself, his anger dyeing as quickly as it was born.
It was pointless.
In a lifeless world he was the only source of sound, of human heat, of life.
But he could not live there, life could not be sustained eternally in a world of death. Not even with his immense powers could he do much about it. The food he conjured, that he created, could not sustain him, nor did the water. Sleep lacked meaning. Bit by bit he was losing the will to go on.
Soon he would be awaiting for death and he would do nothing to prevent it.
And as he told Cara the Temple of the Winds was his home now.
He continued walking his mind wandering aimlessly.
Then he stopped a sudden thought coming to him.
“I have power. Why not use it?”
Why not indeed.
He started walking faster, his boots making no sound as he advanced trough the immensity of the Temple’s halls.
After what seemed hours, but could have been minutes as this was a timeless world, he stopped in front of one of the innumerable doors. As each of them it led to the rooms stored with the items of power the other wizards entrusted to the winds for their safe keeping.
Without even needing to concentrate in his power, he lifted a hand and silently the door opened, letting Richard enter.
The room at the end of the corridor behind the door was immense but Richard paid no heed to that detail, his attention focused in the floor.
There, as in the screwing room, a round pool of dark water rested, easily fourteen feet wide. Symbols of power surrounded the stone that held the liquid, those symbols moving from there to cover every inch of the room, millions of them interconnected to make the magic work once summoned.
Richard sat cross legged and without any strain levitated, focusing his power in the dark still water-like substance.
The “water”, that until then had been so dark as to be easily mistaken by another part of the ground, started to shine until it turned crystal clear. At once all the symbols burst alive in a show of light that filled the room, way more bright than the unchanging light that filled the underworld.
Richard focused his will on the mirror and the glowing symbols. In a burst a set of them turned from white to blue as images started dancing in the smooth surface of the water.
Richard looked at the images, his face cold even as history began to him.
The Mirror of Worlds was one of those objects put in the temple for their safekeeping. The function of the mirror was to see other worlds in other dimensions, see the more important events of each world and its possible alternates.
Strangely the wizards that had crafted the mirror couldn’t find a way to touch the history of their world, Richard’s world, but discovered that they could actually reach those other worlds with their powers.
The knowledge of what the mirror could do in wrong hands was enough to ban it to the Temple, but before the wizards could decide if they should or would use it to help other worlds the Great War started and the mirror and its possible use was forgotten.
One strange quality of the mirror was that it could only show worlds where magic existed.
The knowledge was like branded in Richard’s mind and he knew that it was true, but that couldn’t prevent his sudden laughter at the irony.
To him magic wasn’t the use of some Gift but in things like a new born baby. That was where true magic was! Innocence and infinite potential for both good and evil along side a sense of wonder and marvel beyond the most incredible feats worked by wizards
Really the magician of old had strange view of what was true magic.
Setting his mind free of those thoughts Richard’s steel like gaze felt in the images of the pool.
For an unknown measure of time worlds passed in front of him, none of them showing something to held his interest. He was tempted to call the idea as a pointless waste of time but still Richard chose to wait.
After all, this was better than sitting in the Throne of Power awaiting from some vagrant spirit to come see him, like a strange creature of flesh and bones still living in the world of the dead.
So he remained focusing minimal quantities of power, making the temporal and dimensional abilities of the mirror work.
Before Richard’s eyes other worlds came to life, passed by and disappeared. Some similar to his own while others were totally different. Some of them were rather interesting.
Relative hours had passed and Richard continued admiring the images.
Then a world came forth, and it held his interest.
Not only magic was very different from his own but also the wizards had elected to hide from the normal people.
It was like looking at two worlds, one of them not even knowing of the existence of the other. The first one, the magic one, was full of mystical creatures, most of them unknown in Richard’s world. Richard knew of them of course due to the knowledge of the winds but even so he was marveled by them.
Unicorns, gryffins, dragons, faeries, nundus, pixies, veelas and so on seemingly without end. It seemed that the world he was seeing was full of wonderful beings.
The wizards and what he supposed were that world version of the sorceresses seemed to need a piece of wood to focus the magic in them and what Richard saw is rather harmless if not amusing.
It would be so even for a wizard with only the Additive side, thing that allowed Richard to enjoy it even more.
Richard saw the first times of magic in that world, when the different wizards chose to hide from the non magical people. Richard by what he was learning from the history of that world realized that it was not only as a way to protect themselves but also to protect the normal non-magical world.
Some could thing that it was due to fear but Richard respected the power of their magic. Even if it was harmless to him those wizards could rule the totality of the world easily but instead chose not to.
With profound wisdom Richard could see the elders of the magical race decide to leave the human world aside and Richard could but respect that decision.
After all his own grandfather, Zedd, had done something similar and Richard could but understand him.
He continued looking at the wizards of that world wondering about the differences between his magic and theirs. The Subtractive part of his power was rather rare, those wizards only able to do things with a magic similar with his Additive.
Richard felt relieved as he knew that it was the union of the additive and subtractive magic that made the War Wizards that powerful.
Anyway Richard continued to see the world move as time passed he start to feel worried by what he saw.
Year after year more wizards felt under what he came to understand was a dark side of that magic. He witnessed how good wizards and witches stood against them through the ages. Sometimes they had to give up their lives to protect not only their magical world but also the “normal” one.
As Richard observed the battles taking place he came to understand that, somehow, the magical word was becoming a sort of line of resistance against the attacks of evil, if evil could be a single entity.
Richard didn’t believed that.
Even the Keeper of the Underworld with his hunger for the living was understandable, a needed force to keep the balance of creation going on.
True evil came by the hands of men and, at least in his world, the influence of the Creator and the Keeper was minimal. Even those that pledged their soul to the darkness of the Keeper could only be controlled so far by their master.
But in that world…
As a witness of its history Richard soon came to see a pattern in the attacks.
As soon as a dark wizard or dark sorceress was defeated another one would appear, generally after a few years of peace and each was more powerful than the other. Each of those dark agents gathered even more followers than its previous antecessor. But once that dark lord was defeated they all seemed to turn around, forsaking their anterior allegiance even if for fear of the forces responsible of the defeat of their leader.
Still there were too many parallelism in each of those uprisings from the dark side to be nothing more than a coincidence… Could there be a source, an hidden reason for that evil?
Richard’s face darkened, not liking where his mind was going with its idle thinking.
So he continued watching.
As the years progressed Richard saw dark wizards rise and fall one after the other. None of them achieved any true victory, their cults eradicated few times after their downfall.
That is until came the year when Richard saw the ascension of the most evil one he had seen so far.
Not to mention the most powerful ever.
It was with growing rage that he saw the man (as if such being could be called human anymore) bring chaos and destruction to the magical word. For eleven odd years he observed, raging to be able to do something, as the darkness felt upon the world.
He knew without a doubt that if things continued that way the magical world he had grown to like would fall and after that would follow the rest of the world.
Richard continued to see the covered war against the dark wizard, saw the ones trying to oppose him die as his power grew more and more until all hope seemed to have disappeared.
Deep in his mind he knew he could help.
He had the power to do so, that was a given.
Still he was reluctant to act, disturbing the timeline of that world. It wasn’t his to protect.
And there was still some opposition. True they were hindered by their own morals and ethics something that to the war wizard was something that made him respect them even more as it was their force, their strength. They were many groups fighting the darkness including what Richard supposed was their ruling institution and yet the one that people seemed to look after as their leader was the one that had saved them before form another dark wizard.
He was old for a man so driven to ensure the future of his world, the flame that burning within him a beckon for all those opposing the darkness. He had assisted trough his viewing how he refused to hold too much power and instead took on teaching young children, guiding them trough most of their adolescence first as a professor and then as the headmaster of the school.
His people believed that the old man and others like him would be able to stop this dark wizard and as those people believed so did Richard.
So he continued to watch, not doing anything to stop the growing darkness, even if his instincts were screaming at him to do something.
Then it happened.
Richard had seen how the dark lord started to search for something with growing urgency until he witnessed, with profound disgust, the moment the dark wizard found what he searched for.
Richard couldn’t ear what was said but he knew enough to guess what happened when a bald fat man appeared in front of the dark one. The face of the dark wizard rarely showed any positive emotion and it made Richard guess what the man gave to the wizard when he saw his reaction.
The face lit with dark happiness.
The Seeker of Truth could only observe how the Dark lord disappeared and reappeared in front of a small house, a dark night. He assisted to the moment when the dark wizard burst into the house and attacked a young couple and their still infant son.
Richard saw how the young man with dark hair tried to stop the dark one, fighting valiantly to protected his wife and son even knowing against whom he was fighting. Richard felt respect and admiration swell in his heart towards the young man.
And it was with profound sadness and no small amount of anger that he saw him die.
Not seconds after the body of the young man crashed into the ground after being hit by a bolt of green energy, the dark lord rushed covering the ground more quickly that the young woman with her baby.
Richard could only guess that somehow the house had been sealed when the young woman tried to frantically open the rear door of the house in vein. Suddenly she stiffened and Richard knew that she sensed the dark lord’s approach.
Indeed the dark lord’s shadow felt upon the young mother and her son she turning her back to him in a futile effort to protect the infant, even begging to one that had no shred of mercy in his blackened soul. Richard could see the exchange and how sure enough the dark wizard pointed his wand, the same death bringer green light shoot from its tip, severing the young woman’s life cleanly, silently.
And that’s when Richard saw her stumble, her eyes wide open.
Richard reeled back from the impression.
The young woman had Kahlan’s eyes, the same deep green full of intelligence and goodness.
But Richard saw the light fade from those orbs.
That send a shock to Richard’s very core.
It was enough.
<To the Underworld with it all!>
The dark wizard pointed his want towards the screaming baby, the tip glowing green until a bolt of intense green light was blasted towards the boy’s brow.
Richard stopped the mirror.
Time was meaningless in the underworld giving him time to think about something.
He raked his fingers trough his hair, his mind racing.
He had to think this through or he risked violating the Wizard’s Third Rule;
passion rules over reason.
That could be dangerous. And with magic in the equation catastrophic.
Kolo’s advise came to him. He had to thing coldly at this, not let his own feelings of anger cloud his mind. The knowledge from the Temple of the Winds did but strengthen the force of the old wizard’s advise and Richard started to focus himself, breathing deeply with his eyes closed for a long time.
Once he found himself more calm and collected he looked back at the mirror and to the image frozen in its depths for a moment without doing anything. Then he forced some of his power into it, powering the old wizards creation once more. The mirror and the symbols around it glowed, the images unfolding again.
The bolt struck the baby, killing the infant without a sound, cutting his wails even as the dark figure started to laugh.
Richard forced himself to continue looking at the scene unfolding, not liking what he saw but knowing that he had to gain all the information he could gather before interfering. Saving the baby’s life could be more dangerous than letting history continue, untouched.
In the following years Richard saw how that marvelous world felt to the onslaught of darkness. He saw how the forces of the light were slowly defeated until it was clear what would happen. He witnessed how those facing the Dark Lord and his armies of magical creatures and dark wizards soon found themselves in small pockets of resistance across the world, falling one after the other.
And soon the Dark Lord and his followers had crushed them, the hunt for his last adversaries began, those few light wizard being killed one by one.
And once the magical world was his, the massacre started.
Richard saw with increasing terror and loathing how the wizards with what he could guess were non magical parents were exterminated as if they were a sub product of life, a disease to be eradicated from creation, the images brought by the mirror echoing in his memories with the acts of slaughter realized by Jagang’s followers.
Banishing those memories Richard’s attention returned to what the mirror was showing him. Some of wizards opposing him survived but it was only to fall under the yoke of slavery, no hope of ever finding liberty again, and those that survived soon found themselves wishing for death, envying those already dead.
Once the fall of the magical world was complete came the turn of the rest of the planet that had already started to feel the repercussions of the war within the wizarding world.
Wars exploded all around the globe, as all sign of government and order fell under the darkness’ advance. The horrors that had happened in the magical word were pale compared to what followed.
And all that time the Dark Lord laughter echoed trough the doomed world.
Richard ached to blast the dark wizard with the purest form of subtractive magic, destroying that being forever, unraveling his very soul until nothing remained of that monster
He forced to control himself.
Once again he focused his energies towards the mirror making it turn back in time, just to the instant the dark wizard was about to kill the baby.
Somehow he knew that was the moment for him to act, his very instincts screaming at him that it was so. He realized that the young baby was the pivotal point where the future of the world depended.
He examined the scene, taking on all the details he could, shifting trough different kinds of extra sensorial perception before shifting towards the underlying current of magic omnipresent in Creation.
Colors shifted, allowing Richard to see what couldn’t be seen without the Gift and the knowledge know what to do with it, a knowledge lost three thousands years ago in the aftermath of the war.
As he knew the aura of the young woman, both magical and the one representing her life were already gone, the flame of a candle blown before its time. The dark wizard was powerful, very powerful but dark and cold, silvery green tainted by the evil of the acts done trough the years.
Focusing in the magical aura and blocking the other Richard could see the magic woven in the numerous webs around the dark wizard, still Richard wasn’t able to understand their function, once again the difference between his magic and the one used in that world apparent. They were crude compared to what he was used but he could not ignore the power used in them.
The boy was another thing.
His magical power was great almost a rival for the one of the dark wizard looming above him but it was much less focused as it was to be expected in someone that young.
There was something else there, something upon his very skin that was glowing a deep red. It wasn’t a web or any other magical construct, more like a primeval force that was bound to the boy.
Acting on a hunch Richard chose to send the mirror moving backwards in time all the while keeping his actual perceptions.
Sure enough he witnessed how the young boy returned to the arms of his mother and how the dark wizard’s wand absorbed the green light that had killed the woman.
His eyes widening slightly in triumph he could see how the red energy erupted from the woman, encompassing them both and growing in strength as the green light struck her again. Still the crimson light didn’t fade but move to surround the body, remaining like mist around the boy that couldn’t understand what was going on or why his mother was suddenly silent.
Under Richard’s gaze he could see how the red light started to soak the boy’s skin, keeping a thin sheet out of the body.
Richard then forced himself to see once again the death of the boy, as much as he loathed it. With growing satisfaction he saw the red light fight the green curse still losing but the war wizard suspected that it was only due to the short amount of time… the protection had been placed that had tipped the odds in favor to the curse.
Well he would have to do something about that he thought as he shifted once again to normal perception, a grin that would have made his grandfather tense with worry tugging his lips.
What he was about to do would take a lot of energy from him but with the power of the Temple of the Winds backing his there would be no problem, already it was telling him what he would need to do.
The mirror came to live again.
The green blast of lethal magic came forth and Richard unleashed his own spell, a white light coming from his outstretched hand, hitting the surface of the mirror that hissed like wounded, crossing trough worlds until his web reached the right moment.
The killing curse touched the protection the young woman had left with her death and Richard’s spell augmented the power of that protection. It was a mark of respect to the power of the curse that even with it all the power opposing the killing force, it left a scar (and who knew how many other things) in the brow of the infant before blasting backwards towards its caster.
Richard’s gray eyes gleamed when he saw the green blast touch the Dark Lord, killing him.
But that didn’t prepare him for what followed suit.
The body of the dark wizard crumbled in the ground and started smoking like if it was burning but, where moments before the dark lord was standing, something remained.
It was darkness, a shadow that was beyond the term “black”. It was looking at the boy, and hate seemed to roll from it like waves.
From the shadow something exited, a white cloud that soon escaped into the darkness of the night, and Richard knew it was what remained of the dark wizard’s spirit, a formless, powerless being holding on only by the power of its hate.
But the dark form remained there, with a life of its own, barely holding the shape of a man. It continued looking at the boy and the feeling of hate increasing, before looking directly towards Richard, red eyes gleaming from a featureless face.
And Richard knew it was looking at him, the same hate and malice that the thing directed at the boy now focused on him.
But the war wizard knew also that it was with fear that it was looking at him.
“You have but gained time human. And once that time is spend, he will be mine.”
The voice brought shivers at Richard even as it disappeared.
With barely a passing thought he stopped again the mirror.
He looked at the boy, at his bleeding scar, a broken line that seemed to be a bolt of lightening, and at his green eyes.
Then he raise his hand and the image moved again showing how the house started to fall apart.
But the boy survived and Richard continued looking at him the following years, looking at the life of the boy he helped to save. He witnessed it all until his seventeenth birthday, a plan already forming in his mind.
Again he returned back in time to the moment when the baby was alone, just after the death of his parents and the defeat of the dark lord when the house was still whole.
He looked at the boy he had seen grow. Seventeen years of struggle that let the boy be more mature than someone twice his age and Richard discovered he was proud of the young man the boy who lived would become.
The feeling that he was doing something right, something needed, assaulted him.
He knew that the boy had something special but he also knew that if the boy had to survive to fulfil what he had to do, well, then he would need something more.
Richard didn’t like prophecy but his increased knowledge, the legacy of the old wizards, told him that some things were predestined. Maybe this was one of those things.
For a long time Richard pondered what he could do to help the boy more. He knew that the boy would soon face the dark lord, after all he had seen it, but he knew that soon he would face not only the dark wizard reborn trough a vile ritual but the dark wizard’s master and once that happened not even all the luck in the world would help him.
The boy needed something more than sheer courage and phenomenal focus. As he would become, powerful in the ways of the magic of his world it wasn’t near enough raw power to tip the odds he would face. Not even with all the help he could gather from friends and allies would he be able to win.
No. Right now Richard was the only one able to help the boy. And if the boy died what he saw, the alternate reality Richard had seen would come to life but maybe even worst.
After thinking about it even more, Richard came to a resolution.
The mirror started moving again, this time backwards moving against the flow of time until the mirror found what Richard needed.
The mirror’s image split in two.
In both side, pregnant women, both sleeping… the boy’s grandmothers, their stomach swollen by the life they carried within.
With a nod he called again upon the mirror’s power, once again moving backwards, from time to time splitting as it moved backwards upon the boy’s family tree, reaching trough the very roots of the boy’s lineage, reaching upon the most primitive of his ancestors.
Following his instinct, Richard stopped the mirror, whose surface had split in thousands of images and in each of them women and men alike could be seen, all of them related by the bonds of blood, by the very genetics that would shape the boy he saved.
Then with a nod he started, putting in motion immense forces as he prepared himself to do something never done before.
Magic danced in his eyes, crackling with power coming from the very core of Richard’s soul, coming from the very power of the Temple of the Winds, coming even from beyond from the very worlds where the Gift of magic came.
Gathering his power he rose both hands and from them light started to shine, blinding and chilling.
From his right pure white surged.
From his left void dark came.
Both blasted from Richard’s closed fists, once again crossing the boundaries trough the worlds touching the very first of the boy’s ancestors, people thousands of years before his time.
To the changes to take place as Richard wanted them to be, he had to work on each of them, changing just a bit of their make-up, both magical and genetically, each generation adding the bit of alteration to make something bigger and more powerful.
It was beyond difficult as sweat purred from Richard’s brow.
Nothing could be left to hazard. The magic he was using was powerful beyond measure but needed to be carefully balanced with the very essence of the beings he was tampering with.
Finally after what seemed hours, but that could have been minutes or years, Richard reached the parents of the boy, the ones that sacrificed themselves to save they son.
Richard gazed upon the boy’s grandmothers, looking at their barely swollen belies where within those two beings were gestated. Being the parents, and thus the ones nearer to the boy, he needed to make the changes sooner than before.
The sub-codes already in their genetic, and in the case of the male child, magical make up were nearly completed. Once he was done they would lack only the opposite instruction to make Richard’s long line of alterations complete and operational.
A long work would bear fruits… forever tearing the boy apart from his peers and the rest of the mortals of that world.
The boy could grow to hate him for what he was about to complete.
Yet after a moment more Richard once again unleashed his power, the ropes of magic breaching trough the layers between worlds, ultimately entering in contact with both women’s skin and from there their womb, reaching on the beings they carried within… one that would grow to be James Potter and another that would be Lily Evans.
As with all those before them, those alterations would be meaningless, not changing James and Lily’s lives in the slightest, but in their son…
Well at least he would have some years of quasi normality, he thought, not comforting him at all.
The power was cut of, stilling the air and the very mirror that once again was still, gazing upon the two sleeping women.
Then it moved again, fast, devouring the years until it reached the boy’s fourth year in his school, just after the events of the contest where the Dark Lord regained his corporeal form.
Richard looked at the boy as he sat in the train that would bring him again to the house of his aunt and uncle.
Richard looking at the dejected form of the teenager and probed him with his powers. As he thought the change were already taking place evolving the boy from the wizard he was to another kind all together.
The kind of wizard the war that would touch his world would need.
Of course the transition would be difficult to understand for the boy. He would be in the dark, not only as the change took place but also after it was completed, a time relatively short. Some things would need to happen, not needing Richard’s intervention… the events would set the requirements by themselves.
Still *some* things would be needed to be done before passing to the second phase of his plan.
As for now he had done what he could in that world and that had taxed his powers. Fortunately the rest of what he could do would not need such extreme measures.
Things would have to go to the boy of course, and he had to make sure that they reached the him when he needed them… more things the boy would not like, that’s for sure.
All of that to make sure that the boy lived to reach his potential, the potential Richard gave him.
Fortunately he wouldn’t need to reach that level but in needed time, years from now from the boy’s temporal perspective. Once that was done would the important part start.
If the boy did as he supposed he would all would go well, at least in what concerned his plan. A shame he couldn’t do more for that world itself, but the boy, if all turned as it should be, would set things right.
After all he and the boy were too similar to be it in any other way.
Now, to do all of that before his heart turned into stone, this time definitively.