Far away from Bograth, far from Paradwyn, far even from the Dark Twins and in fact far from any business that caused him any concern whatsoever, a small, green-skinned Magi sat by the side of a great river. Although he was often seen with a wide smile across his long, sharp, pointed teeth, this time the smile was not one of malevolence, delivered with narrow, slitted eyes; this was a smile of pure, unadulterated joy. For the first time in untold centuries, Zet was happy. He had his robes hiked up above his knees as he sat on a low-lying rock by the waterís edge, and he idly splashed his bare feet in the water, watching the ripples of his action spread out across the surface of the water.
"No one but losers," he said to himself, his smile broadening. Then, with a deep and contented sigh, he lay back upon the sun-drenched rock and watched the clouds of Arderial drift overhead as his feet continued to paddle quietly.
"What does that cloud look like to you, Korg?" he asked, although as far as he knew, no one was within a hundred miles of him.
He answered himself, adopting a deeper, more muddled tone. "It looks like a fluffy white thing, Zet. Whaddaya mean Ďwhat does it look like??
"You know what I think, Korg, I think that cloud looks like HOW STUPID YOU ARE!!!!!" he shouted with glee.
"I donít get it," he answered himself again in the deeper voice, "stoopid is a fluffy white cloud? I say stoopid is Zet for saying such a dumb thing. My brain is like?a big, big brain!"
At this unwanted turn of the conversation, frustration welled up again within Zetís heart. His joyous grin darkened to a baleful sneer, his eyes narrowed to burning slashes of hate, and he started drumming his fists wildly on the rock. "GAAAAHHH!" he bellowed. Then he sat up as fast as a bolt of lightning.
"YOU? he started to shout to the empty space at his right.
But there was no one there.
For fully a minute, Zet sat there with his finger extended threateningly, a venomous diatribe hanging on his lips, ready to explode. His whole body quivered, ready to unleash a barrage of invectives upon?/p>
Upon an empty space. He was alone. There was no Korg beside him, no Korg grabbing his ear to pull him along, no Korg pushing him aside, no Korg browbeating him with his thick fists and thicker intellect, no Korg whose stupid questions and inept language skills somehow always managed to interrupt Zetís thoughts at every critical moment. In short, there was no Korg at all.
It struck Zet again, as if for the first time, that he was utterly alone.
"IíM FREE!" he suddenly bellowed to the sky, shooting to his feet with his fists raised above his blue topknot. The sound echoed through the Moonlands, rumbling like a distant storm.
"Iím free free free free free free free free free freeeeeeee!" he sang, dancing a wild and frenzied little jig upon the rock at the banks of the river. His topknot flopped about like a hyperactive wasperine. He hopped and twirled until his burst of energy was depleted and he was lightheaded from spinning. Succumbing to the dizziness, he flopped on his back and began to laugh, loud and long. When his hilarity was exhausted, he sat back up, plopped his bare feet back in the cool river water, and began to think.
He thought about his dreams, and how they had now all come true.
The problem was that his dreamsónot a single one of themóhad never gone beyond getting away from Korg. He had no idea how long he had been obsessing on that idea. How many long, painful years?/p>
But this was a new day. All his plans had come to fruition, if by the most improbable ploy conceivable. The future lay before him, a vast, open realm filled with possibilities. He looked at the water, deep and formless. It rippled as his feet lazily churned back and forth.
"What now?" he quietly asked himself. He set his jaw upon his hand and began drumming his fingers across his cheek while he pondered the answer. Thus he did not notice that the ripples from his feet spread out further and further across the waters, eventually becoming so faint as to be imperceptible, yet ever expanding, quietly moving down the river to the sea.
What happens to Zet? Read it in Grand Dreams.
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