The Touch

20 - The Bond

"No," Tuek stated with a patient sigh. "You're tensing up the wrong muscles, Zyan." He grabbed my bicep before punching me lightly in the gut, hard enough to make a grunt. "These muscles are useless when it comes to magic," my instructor told me. Then, he tapped the side of my head. "You need to be flexing this muscle. Your brain is what controls the flow of magic. The words are just the release of the energy. Now, try again."

"Yes, Master Tuek," I replied quickly. I had been in the Land Beyond Time for nearly three standard weeks of normal time, or what I had thought was normal. It didn't matter how long I remained outside of the Timeline; I would be able to reenter it at any point I chose. If I made it through my training. Even though it was faint, my connection with Kyan was still present. Master Tuek called that connection weak. I decided to prove him wrong by showing him how strong I had become. I felt the familiar nugget in the back of my mind and pushed against it. It seemed to swell before my body was filled with a strange vibrating sensation. My skin began to tingle as the energy in my mind flowed throughout my body. "Woah."

"Do you feel it, Zyan?" Tuek asked with a smug grin. I nodded briefly, feeling like I was going to fly apart at any moment. "Now, I want you to push against that muscle. Flex it some more, Zyan."

"Yes, sir," I replied before I began pushing against the nugget of energy. I flexed it outwards to where it was surrounding my body. I couldn't stop from trembling as the wind swirled around me, its intensity growing the harder I nudged the little ember of power hiding in my mind. Suddenly, I could see the little ball of energy swirling about within my mind. Before I could flex it any further, a golden twine of energy encircled the depths of my mind. It flared up as I continued to push against my own energy source. Then, just as I was about to push harder, the strand of energy encircling my mind flared again with an intensity that I couldn't handle. I lost control of my power, feeling the energy being shoved back into my mind as the golden strands forcefully shrank my power back to its original size. My entire body gave out as the sudden change exhausted me, leaving me sprawled out on the ground as I struggled to regain my breath. "What was that?"

"Duleh winofr," Tuek stated without hesitation before he said the words in a language that I could understand when he noticed the confused expression on my face. "It was the bond, Zyan. As long as this bond remains between the two of you, you will never be able to achieve your full potential."

"How do I circumvent this?"

"That is for you to figure out," Tuek responded before crouching down into the defensive posture again. Then, he motioned at me. "Again! We have to make certain that you are prepared for what is coming."

I ran towards my mentor with a renewed focus. The entirety of Creation depended on me being able to stop the Darkness from the destroying everything it touched. Tuek flung me to the floor with ease, the man wasn't even breaking a sweat as he pummeled me. We continued at this game for another hour before Tuek instructed me to head to the showers.

"Get some rest tonight, Zyan," the man said as I left him behind, my body sore from the rigorous training session.

I chose to shower back in the dorms, barely noticing as I teleported into my room. I set my equipment on my cot before I quickly pulled off my clothes and headed for the bathroom. I adjusted the knobs on the shower and pulled the door closed to let the room fill with the hot steam. Once I was certain that the water was hot enough, I stepped under the steady stream and tried to relax, letting my thoughts wander as I stood there. I couldn’t bring myself to relax though and headed back to my room after I had hurriedly washed my body. Hopefully, a long night of rest would have me feeling more like myself.

Lying in my bed, I focused on the golden tether of energy that kept my own powers from reaching their full potential. I pushed against the strange strand, trying to break it to free myself from its possessive stranglehold. No matter what I tried, the strand remained. With every passing moment, I began to get a feeling of dread as I focused all my will against the binding power.

'Kyan would know what to do,' I told myself as I finally gave up. I was beyond tired and fell asleep quickly.

The moment I closed my eyes, the dreams were pulling me under with no way for me to escape them. They weren't dreams anymore, though.

They were visions.

Colors swirled around me as the Darkness struggled to take control over my surroundings. I tried desperately to fight against the billowing tendrils of evil that were pulling me deeper into the unfathomable void filled with hate. The swirls parted long enough for me to see that I was sitting in the middle of a grassy field, an army of soldiers was circled around me with their drawn swords focused in my direction. The sunlight reflected from their golden armor, filling my eyes with rainbows of color as the soldiers moved towards me with their swords swinging.

Then, the Darkness swirled tightly closed, leaving me panting as I recovered from what I was certain was going to be my death. The sensation of shooting upwards filled my body, and I clamped my eyes shut tightly until I stopped moving. When the motion had ceased, I opened my eyes nervously to find myself hovering in the depths of space, overlooking Earth as a horde of silvery-colored objects descended towards the planet below. With the strange ships, there were tendrils of Darkness that were attached to each ship as it vanished within Earth's upper atmosphere. Not just Darkness, but pure evil. Humanity was doomed if what I was seeing was correct.

Just as I was beginning to get a grasp of the situation, there was a bright spark of light from the surface of the planet before I was yanked away from the unfolding scene of destruction. The Darkness pulled me backwards until I was looking down upon the lines of Time as they stretched throughout the Realms of the different Universes. My attention was focused on one point, though. The point of light that was shooting outwards across the timelines, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake.

"What happened?" I asked as if I expected an answer.

"We failed," a voice said from beside me, nearly making me scream in terror as the clouds of Darkness took the form of me. The only differences were that his eyes and hair were completely black, and his skin was as white as the moon light on a clear night. The other me chuckled at my reaction. "Don't be afraid, Zyan. Nobody could have known what the Prophecy meant in the last phrase."

"What do you mean?" I demanded.

"The Heavens shall open, and Darkness will follow as fire reigns down on Terra from above," the other me repeated in an amused tone. Then, he scowled at me. "Garus needs to take over your training before it's too late."

"Isn't it too late, already?" I asked with a wave towards the decaying timelines. "The entirety of existence is going to be wiped away, all because of aliens?"

The other me laughed for a moment before he shook his head in disgust. "Don't you get it, you fucking idiot?" I refused to let his words phase me. "The Darkness sent the aliens! It was part of the plan." The other me took on a more relaxed tone as he gazed at the ripple of destruction in front of us. "The aliens are just the distraction from what follows."

"The end of everything. . ."

"Exactly," the other me hissed. "Now, how do you plan on stopping this?"

"How do I stop it?" I countered.

"Obviously," the other me motioned towards his hair and eyes, "I have no idea. Your best bet is to see if there is another one of us that won the battle. Ask them for pointers."

"How do I do that?"

"Jeez," the other me sighed in annoyance. "You really are inept. All you have to do is think about a time and place, and you can usually find yourself there."

"Usually?" I asked with a frown.

"You're prone to make a mistake here and there, Zyan. Now, let's get you back to your own timeline before somebody misses you."

"I haven't been in my timeline in three weeks," I told the other me. "I'm training in the Land Beyond the Realms, at the moment."

"Oh?" The other me asked in interest. "You haven't been back home, at all?"

"No," I replied shortly. "I've been a little busy trying to save my Universe."

"Good luck, Zyan," the other me grinned wickedly, sending chills down my spine. "You're going to need it."

"Thanks," I muttered before the cloud of Darkness shot back down towards the timelines below. As soon as the swirls of evil energy were gone, the timelines flickered and returned to how they looked when I originally left home. "I need to check on my family."

I was about to teleport home when the scene before me pulled me in and twisted quickly. I stumbled forward once I found myself standing in the center of a city street. My stomach turned in knots as I struggled to refrain from vomiting, barely keeping myself upright as the world spun around me.

'What the fuck is going on?' I silently demanded as I saw strange monsters running at me from every direction. Pale-skinned men and women with blood red eyes were charging towards massive wolves with fangs that were dripping with saliva. The monsters threw themselves at each other, releasing animalistic cries of pain and anger that echoed in the air around me. One teenager stood out beyond the others as he looked directly at me and made eye contact. His red eyes had dark circles under them that made the young man look even more intimidating as they seemed to glow in the moonlit darkness. 'Is this another battle that's going to change everything? What does this have to do with me?'

I took a hesitant step forward towards the teenager with the red eyes, only to find myself suddenly standing in my own backyard. The blue skies were filled with the sounds of birds chirping and laughter as two blond-haired teenagers ran past where I was standing. I couldn't help but smile as one of the teens charged head-on into the water, the other pausing long enough to remove his short, revealing terrifying scars across his torso. I knew instantly who he was.

'Why do I need to see this, again?' I asked as the scene played out in front of me.

Just as before, the cloud of Darkness swirled into existence on the far side of the pool before settling into the form of a large demon with huge claws on each hand. The demon snagged the other me out of the water without a second glance and held me in front of it. I watched in horror as the demon tore my body into two pieces with a swift tug of its arms. The other Kyan screamed in terror before the world that I was standing in began cracking like glass, leaving nothing but darkness to fill the void behind it. Then with a great splintering crash, the glass shattered, leaving me falling into the great void of nothingness.

Before I could utter a scream, my vision was filled with an explosion of light that sent tendrils of pain shooting through my head. The pain was gone almost as soon as it began, leaving me gasping for breath as the world solidified around me.

I was standing in the home of the elderly couple that had raised me as their own grandson, never knowing the truth behind their daughter and son-in-law's deception. My six-year-old self was sitting at the piano next to the woman I knew as my grandmother. She played a few measures of a song before motioning for me to repeat what she had played. I saw myself smile up at her before my fingers found the correct positions and I began to play the song. I listened as the other me continued well on beyond where she had originally wanted me to stop, leaving my grandmother staring at me in amazement. I felt tears run down my cheeks as the woman pulled the other me into her arms and hugged me tightly.

"You are beyond special, Zachary," she whispered with a tear in her own green eyes.

I reached out towards the woman, only to have the vision vanish in a puff of smoke, leaving me falling into a dark abyss of terror. I stumbled to my knees as a patch of ground appeared beneath my feet. The vision quickly solidified into a school hallway with two teen boys walking away from me. One had blond hair like me, and the other boy had chestnut brown hair that hung down in his eyes. They were both wearing black, accenting their pale skin. I couldn't stop myself from following behind them as they spoke in low voices with each other.

"Shyan, you had everything right where you needed it to be!" The dark-haired teen accused the blond. His voice was filled with disappointment as he spoke. "You could have saved us tons of trouble! What's wrong with you, man? You're completely off of your game!"

"It didn't seem right to attack a kid that was lying on his death bed, Ryan," Shyan replied in a scathing tone. "Besides, I didn't see you doing anything about it."

"That's your task," Ryan retorted with a sneer. "It's always been your task. Not mine, or anybody else's! Now, we're going to have to wait before we can make our next move," Ryan added with a pout.

"The Prophecy guides all of us, Ryan," Shyan responded before he stopped walking and turned towards where I was standing. Ryan followed his gaze but couldn't see what Shyan was seeing. Shyan was frowning as he stared at me in confusion. "You're not supposed to be here yet, Zyan. Neither of us are ready. Now, why are you following me, brother?"

I heard myself gasp in surprise at his use of the word.

"Brother?" I asked in disbelief. "What do you mean?"

Shyan laughed merrily as his blue eyes continued to focus on me. "You are definitely not ready for what is coming, Zyan. I'll see you soon, little brother."

Then, Shyan smiled as he made a pushing motion with his hand in my direction. I felt myself get pulled backwards as the scene twisted around me, leaving me falling into another void of Darkness as Shyan's words came to me.

"You have to break the bond, little brother," his words echoed in my head. "It's the only way that you stand a chance."

I sat up in my cot, screaming as I reached out to stop myself from falling, only to end up landing on the wooden floor of my room. I was panting as I let the remnants of the nightmare fade away, keeping my cheek pressed against the cool floor. I began to wish that Wyndel had been able to join me on my journey, knowing that I needed to leave him behind to support Kyan. The thought of Kyan made me push against the bond that connected us. The thread of magic was still wrapped around my soul, refusing to let me break free and harness my true potential.

I finally pushed myself up onto my knees, moving slowly in case I had hurt myself during my tumble. The air in my room was warm, so I opened all the windows before I returned to my cot. Lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling, I let my thoughts drift to my family. Kyan was the one who had stuck by my side when I didn't even know who I was. My mother and father had kept hunting for me for a decade before Natalie and Greg, my foster parents, had stumbled upon a single clue that revealed my identity. Then, my life was sent into a whirlwind as secret after secret kept coming out about me. That only left one question hanging in my mind like a thick curtain, hiding everything from me that was beyond that veil.

'Who am I?'

Tuek was waiting for me in the training center when I arrived, and his scowl of disapproval quickly told me that I was going to be in for a bad day. "You didn't sleep like I told you to."

"It's hard to sleep when the nightmares won't let me," I told him in a weary voice.

"Have you spoken to your grandfather about these nightmares?"

"No," I said with a shrug. "He's a busy man."

Tuek just shook his head before he waved his hand at me. "Go speak with your grandfather, Zyan," my instructor told me. "You won't learn anything while being distracted."

I nodded and left the training center, heading in search of my great-grandfather. I wasn't sure where he would be at this hour as I tried to stay away from the powerful man as much as possible. I wasn't afraid of him; I just knew that he was always busy. Now, I was left with the task of finding the man.

"You've been looking for me, Zyan?" I jumped at the sound of my grandfather's voice coming from behind me, making him laugh out loud at my reaction. I turned around quickly and put my hand to my chest. "My apologies, grandson. I tend to move lightly."

"It's alright, grandfather," I replied quickly with a smile.  "I was, umm, looking for you, sir."

The silvery-haired man held out his hand towards me and I quickly took it in my own, relaxing completely as a chorus of voices began to sing throughout my mind. The chorus flowed through my body, making me forget about all my worries until I realized that one voice stood above the others. I couldn't help but to be drawn to the familiar sounding voice until I realized that it was my own. I looked up at my grandfather to see him watching me with curiosity.

"What is it?" I asked, trying to keep it from drawing me back into the sultry depths of the chorus.

"It's the Song of Time, Zyan," my grandfather replied truthfully. "It is sometimes referred to as The Chorus of Angels, though."

"Why am I a part of it?"

The older man smiled thoughtfully for a moment before he finally answered my question.

"You made a choice, Zyan," the man said in a soft voice. "Your entire family did."


"In another lifetime, grandson," he told me. "You were twelve when our home was attacked by the Darkness. The only way we were able to survive the assault was by separating the quadruplets from each other."

"Shyan and Ryan," I said absently before I quickly blushed. "Is that why Marano called me Shyan?"

"Quite possibly," my grandfather shrugged. "He doesn't get along very well with your siblings. He says that it is only you that he is loyal to until the end of his days. He respects me but only because I control whether he sees you or not. It was his choice to become your Guardian, though. Nobody forced him to make that choice. How do you know about Shyan and Ryan, though?"

"I dreamt about them last night, grandfather," I replied with a blush. "Shyan told me that the only way I could defeat him was if I broke the Bond."

"Did he now?" The older man asked.

"Yes, sir," I told him. "He's not the only one."

"Tuek?" My grandfather said my Mentor's name without hesitation. I could only nod as I looked down at the stone road beneath our feet.

"They won't tell me how to do it, though," I said in a tiny voice.

"Trust me, Zyan," my grandfather took on a serious tone. "You don't want to know how to break the Bond."

I frowned at the man as a rush of emotions filled me with confusion before I settled on anger. "I should have stayed home."

Then, I let go of my grandfather's hand and let the world wrap around me before I was standing in my own bedroom, again. This time though, it wasn't exactly my bedroom. There was something different about all of it. The entire room was filled with darkness.

"Welcome to my timeline, Zyan."

I turned to see a version of myself with black hair sitting on a rumpled old bed. He frowned at me before he patted the bed next to him.

"Don't worry," he stated smugly. "I'm not going to bite. I just need to tell you a few things."

I hesitated before I nodded and sat next to the other version of myself.

"Where am I?"

"An opposite timeline from the one you live in," he told me. "That's not important. Here, the Darkness won. That's all that matters."

"You wanted the Darkness to win?"

"No," he replied sharply. "I'd never have wanted that. All of this," the other me motioned towards the shadows hanging in the corners of his room, "is because I didn't figure out the key in time. I didn't figure out that I had to break the Bond." The other me sniffled lightly. "Now, I'm all alone. That's my punishment in this timeline. The Darkness stripped me of my powers and took everyone from me. There's not another living being in this entire universe, Zyan."

"How do I stop it?" I asked desperately. "The rifts are beginning to get worse. I can't even teleport properly without winding up in somebody else's timeline or universe. What do I need to do, Zyan?" My vision blurred slightly as tears stung my eyes. "You have to tell me."

The other me hesitated as he gazed towards the swirling clouds of darkness outside his bedroom window. "I'm not sure you would be able to do it, Zyan," he finally told me. "You have to die."

"I've already done that, though," I replied with an absent shrug. I had spent enough time moving past the moment that I had died at the Monster's hand.

"We didn't die then," he corrected me. "It was very fucking close, though."

I frowned as his words seemed to sink into my head.

"I didn't die?"

"No," the other me said sadly. "We held on because we reached out to Kyan."

The tears began to fall heavier.

"The only way to break the Bond is to die," my voice hung in the air around me. "I have to die."

"You should go, now. I've told you enough, Zyan."

"Wait," I said as I struggled to focus on a single question. "This can't be true!"

"Go ask Garus if you don't believe me, then," he stated dismissively. "Now, go home, Zyan. You don't belong here."

I hesitated before I nodded and let myself get pulled back to my great-grandfather's side.

"Did you get your answer, Zyan?"

"Yes, sir,” I responded, still letting the tears fall down my cheeks. "Why though? He said that you knew about it!" I couldn't stop myself from feeling angry as the old man knelt in front of me. He took both of my hands in his own and held them tightly. "I can't lose everyone that I love."

"And I don't want you to, Zyan," the old man reassured me gently. "Think of it as a steppingstone."

"That's one hell of a fucking step, grandfather," I told him angrily. Then, he pulled me into a hug. All I could do was cry as he held me tightly.

"You're the bravest person I know, Zyan," my great-grandfather whispered. "I believe that you're smart enough to figure out another way, as well. The entirety of every universe will rejoice when you overcome the Darkness."

"If I overcome the Darkness."

I felt a paw grab my other ear as a tiny weight settled onto my shoulder.

"You will overcome the Darkness," Wyndel told me proudly. "I have faith in you."

"I've seen the other side though," I told both. "I was the only living soul in an entire universe surrounded by Darkness. He's the one that told me what I must do. He didn't die in his timeline, so he was never able to break the Bond." Then another thought popped into my head as more tears filled my eyes. "Kyan is never going to forgive me, grandfather. Neither will Toby."

"It's only one form that is being left behind, my dearest grandson," my grandfather informed me. "Now, I think you have learned as much as you can learn at this moment. You're beginning to jump to unnecessary conclusions."

I leaned back from him in surprise.

"You should go home for a few weeks," my grandfather suggested. "You're not ready for this, yet."

"You're wrong," I said defiantly as I pulled away from my grandfather. "I can do anything that I put my mind to."


Toby's voice in my head nearly made me fall over.


"My mommy and daddy are missing!"

The panic in Toby's voice filled me with fear and before I knew what had happened, I was standing in front of Toby.

Toby had tears falling from his eyes as he fell into my arms. I had no idea what to do as the boy sobbed uncontrollably. I glanced around the empty living room to see that all the furniture had been removed, as well as all of the pictures and other knick-knacks that adorned the room.

"Everything is gone," Toby whimpered when he saw where I was looking. "They forgot me, though."

"I'm sure there's an explanation, Toby," I tried to reassure my foster brother. Then, the doorknob on the front door jiggled and I quickly turned around to face the door, pushing Toby behind me. The energy made my skin tingle as I made a shield push out from my body enough to protect Toby from the potential intruder. I was just about to throw a ball of energy at the front door when Natalie stepped inside with a worried look on her face.

"Toby?" She called out as she scanned the room before her eyes fell on me. I quickly dropped my shield as Toby skirted around me to run into his mother's arms. Natalie knelt and scooped the sobbing boy up into her grasp. "Where did you go, Toby? I told you to stay at Martha's until we came to get you."

"You had been gone so long, and I couldn't bring myself to wait any more," Toby explained through his tears. "You told me it would only be a little bit. I thought something had happened. Then, I saw the house was empty and- and- and I thought you had left me."

"Oh, baby boy!" Natalie exclaimed as she held him tightly. "We wanted to surprise you when we picked you up by taking you to the new house."

"I'm sorry, mommy," Toby cried. "I only left Martha's because I was scared."

"I know, baby," Natalie reassured the boy. "I should have called you and told you we were running behind. I should probably call your dad, so he can get Martha calmed down. She was worried sick about you." Natalie nodded at me as she pulled out her cellphone and dialed Greg's number. "Hey!" My foster-mom said into the phone. "I have him." I frowned at the one-sided conversation, feeling that I was being kept in the dark about something. "Yeah, I'll tell him. We'll see you soon."

Then, she hung up and stuffed the device back into her pocket.

"Hi, Natalie," I greeted her.

"Hey, Zyan," she replied as she continued to hold onto Toby tightly.  I couldn't completely feel her emotions, but I could sense that there was something strange going on with Natalie. "How did you get here? Your parents said that you were off visiting family."

"I came home early and wanted to see you guys," I replied with a quick lie. I felt a nervous flush at lying to Natalie, but the woman didn't seem to catch on. She was usually quick to notice when I was keeping something from her, quickly prying the answer from me. This woman didn't do anything like that. "I had my Uber drop me off here," I added to explain why I was alone.

"Do you think you can get another Uber, Zyan?" Natalie asked. Now, I knew there was something wrong with the woman. She would never make me take an Uber anywhere. "I'm running behind schedule, today."

"Yeah," I replied with a forced smile. "It's no problem." I made like I was pulling my phone out of my pocket as Natalie headed towards the door with Toby in her arms.

"Bye, Zyan," Toby called out cheerfully as they disappeared outside.

I waited the space of a breath before I followed them.

Natalie and Greg's vehicles were both in the driveway, but there was no sign of Natalie or Toby. My heart fluttered in my chest as I began to panic.

"Toby?" I cried out in disbelief.

I looked in both directions as I ran out into the center of the street.

Toby was gone. . .

The world flickered around me before I found myself standing on the edge of a massive abyss. Darkness swirled beyond the reach of the light, its ominous presence sending chills down my spine. A figure seemed to form amid the swirling clouds before floating down to hover in front of me. It was my own self, but different. I was completely overtaken by Darkness, lost in its hazy embrace.

"Hello," the other me said, my voice crackling like light thunder while drifting on the wind. "What brings you here?"

"I don't know," I told the other me honestly. I didn't see the point in lying to myself. "Did the Darkness win?"

"Yes," the other me said sadly. "It was all my fault, too."

"Why?" I asked quickly. "I have a feeling that I'm running out of time. I know that I need to die, but I don't know-"

"No!" The other me shouted in anger. Then, he motioned to the abyss behind him. "Can't you see what dying does? It's the wrong answer, Zyan. Don't let anybody tell you different."

"You died?" I asked with a hitch in my throat.

"Yes," the other me admitted bitterly. "I died trying to save Toby from the Imposters."

"They already have him," I whispered.

"Don't lose your focus, Zyan," the other me warned. "You need to seal the Rifts and stop the Darkness, first. Then, you can rescue Toby."

"But," I began but the other me held up his wisp of a hand to silence me.

"The Darkness is using Toby as a distraction while it makes its real move," the other me stated. "They have been manipulating you from the beginning, Zyan. Trying to make you kill yourself. Did our great-grandfather really tell you that this was the best way?"

"They've been saying that it's the only way," I admitted. "I have to break the Bond in order to get reach my true potential."

"If you break the Bond, then you and Kyan both will die a painful death," the other me stated bluntly. "The Darkness won't let me die, though. It keeps bringing me back from the edge of Death just to gloat, I think. You can fix this, though. You can fix everything, Zyan."

"How though?" I asked in desperation. "Who do I trust?"

"Don't trust anybody over the age of fifteen," the other me warned. "That's all I can tell you about the Imposters. If Natalie and Greg have been infected, then our family has been infected, as well."

"How do I stop this?"

"Seal the Rifts, Zyan!" The other me repeated. "It's the only way!"

"Wait!" I said as I began to think back to my conversation with Garus. "Grandfather never told me that I had to die. He only let me think whatever I was thinking. It's only one form being left behind. That's what he said. Holy shit!" My head was suddenly swirling with possibilities as I stared at the other me. "I don't have to die. I must evolve!"

The other me started laughing darkly before he waved his hand in dismissal.

"Good luck, Zyan," his voice echoed in the air around me as I was suddenly falling through the darkness.

I hit the ground with a thud and rolled to my back. My body was aching as I struggled to sit up and see that I was sitting in front of the palace. I pushed my thoughts forward to locate my great-grandfather and let myself be pulled to his location. Garus smiled when he saw me appear before him. The man that was already in the Hall of Thrones with him nearly fainted.


"Yes, Zyan?" He asked with a light chuckle at my dismissal of the man's reaction.

"You never said that I had to die, did you?"

"No, I did not," Garus replied. "I was hoping you would figure it out."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"It's not my place to tell you such things, Zyan," he replied. "I would tell you the answers to everything if I could, grandson."

"Can the Imposters take over this place?"

"No," my grandfather told me. "Not unless they take over every single timeline in existence."

"Which is why I have to seal the Rifts?"

"Exactly," the old man smiled. "Now, are you ready for your team to join you?"

"I need a team?" I asked in surprise.

"Turn around and see, grandson," Garus instructed as he pointed behind me.

I turned around and smiled in disbelief.

Gavin, Denly, and Kyan were all walking up the aisle towards me. Each of them was dressed in silver and gold armor with various weapons in their hands. Gavin held a sword while Denly toyed with a long set of knives, and Kyan had a set of staves strapped to his back. I glanced back at my grandfather.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"Good luck, Zyan," my great-grandfather told me warmly. "The entirety of the Timelines is counting on the four of you."

"No pressure," I said sarcastically. Then, I went to greet my new team. Together, we would find a way to seal every Rift in existence.