Information for film producers
Good morning esteemed producers!
I realize you don't know me yet, but I guarantee you will soon want to, because the story I have in my hands is one that will reactivate the movie industry once and for all!
My name is Manuel J. Quesada and I am a literary writer who works in the fantasy genre. My saga consists of three volumes in which I develop the biggest movie adventure of all time, titled Chronicles of Destiny 16 (The Awakening).
As a brief summary, the work is about three young people who end up, by means of portals to another world, on a planet similar to Earth. The planet that I develop begins with a total absence of technology in a setting similar to Medieval times, but over the course of the three books it turns into a highly advanced future. Four gods exist there who live with the inhabitants of that planet and they symbolize the elements. The story begins with the arrival of these youngsters and the sudden disappearance of the aforementioned gods under strange circumstances. As a result, the protagonists will have to uncover their whereabouts in order to return to Earth and, as these and other mysteries play out, they realize that their dreams are foretelling a catastrophe that will completely destroy the universe.
The story is entertaining and clever, does not go overboard with gratuitous violence and proposes good problem-solving approaches for young people, fostering self-betterment and self-fulfillment during the plot, in which fighting is not necessarily required to be victorious.
In relation to the psyche of some of their companions in the story, it combines and fosters relationships between grandfathers and grandchildren, nephews and uncles and even between fathers and sons.
There is a strong emphasis on the innocence of the children in the story who, in the end, turn out to be the protagonists with a fundamental role in the events to come.
It makes clear, among other questions of interest, that in this world we should reject the hate and racism that is unfortunately so common in society.
The theme follows the tenets of many philosophical tendencies applied in a way that is simple and easy to understand. To give you an idea, it is somewhat similar to the movie "A wrinkle in time", but with a much less convoluted and therefore much more understandable approach.
Furthermore, it is a story that is very adaptable and easily merged with other movies from the fiction film industry, given that the multiverse it develops takes into account these possibilities, making my product something that interweaves cinematic sagas to create a great extended world of the likes of DC or Marvel. In this vein, I could give the examples of the motion pictures "John Carter", "A wrinkle in time" or even the "Alien" or "Predator" sagas...
Finally, I would like to stress that throughout my trilogy I create creatures never seen before, as well as reusing or re-approaching other types of previously created creatures, examples of which include Strata, Snucks, the sky watchers, jinn, werewolves, vampires, cyborgs and many, many more...
Chronicles of Destiny 16 (The Awakening)
Manuel Jesus Quesada Ruiz
Chronicles of destiny 16 (The awakening)
In the dark of night, under this stormy sky, I find myself sitting in front of a sheet of paper. The light is dim and, with my body and sight debilitated due to the passing of time, I begin to write the first lines of those wonderful events I experienced so many years ago. All the while, I cannot stop asking myself the question that we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Will I be remembered?
Some will say that if you have children then you will, but I take a different view. I think that for someone to be remembered, they must tell their own story. Otherwise, as the years go by, your children and your children's children will more than likely forget you. After three or four generations, all that will remain will be a merely physical and superficial biological legacy, a scant trace of the organic vestiges of your being, barely related to what you once were. I, for example, know nothing of my great grandparents and less still about their grandparents.
Will I be remembered? That question always returns to my mind and even haunts me at times. More so, because I know the true answer to the mystery of life, the reason why each and every one of us is here.
Which is why I know what I must do. I will tell you what I have to tell, although many of you will not believe me due to the inconceivability of all I will reveal in the future. But my conscience knows it is the pure and absolute truth.
It is ironic, then, the first title under which I will begin these words, "The Beginning", as I sit here with my life nearing its end. In truth, I have no fear of death, as that transition holds no secrets for me.
I very much doubt that anyone who has visited the afterlife and knows how pleasant it is could fear it. Also, because of that, as I continue to be ground down by the routine ailments of old age, at my ninety years and feeling my mind is still rather young, I feel the need to put down on paper, under this soft candlelight, everything I experienced in that glorious place.
I still ask myself why I chose to return to this planet. The senseless globalization, the conflicts between major powers and poverty are scourges that should have been overcome long ago, but instead they persist and, truth be told, they make me question the decision I made.
Perhaps I returned to experience what it would be like to raise a family, or to be able fulfill myself as a person in the place that witnessed my birth, or perhaps it was to recover the feeling of living a life in which I could go unnoticed among the people. What do I know? What I do know is that it was an irrevocable decision and it is precisely that which defines people's futures, their resolutions and the way they approach them based on their own individual ethics.
The memories of that wonderful place still invade my mind, memories of its sincere and honest people, true friends who I had to leave behind and who, in what remains of this finite life, I will never see again. Wonderful people who will be forgotten were I not to tell what I must tell.
I need no further reasons to do so, summoning all of my strength and asking the Gods that I may not reach my end during the process, I have decided from today, on this cold and stormy winter night, to set out everything we experienced there.
There. The world that only a few of us can begin to dream of and that we all come to know.
It all began with a dream. In it, children all very different from each other were seated around a giant bonfire with warm, multi-colored flames. Located in a clearing, it was surrounded by an immense field where giant ears of corn swayed. A huge wall bordered it with its golden veneer and a multitude of engravings and odd hieroglyphic inscriptions representing everyday situations with people, animals and other creatures. That titanic barrier extended horizontally and vertically as far as the eye could see, and beyond. The truth is that titanic structure appeared to have no end.
The youngsters gathered there were talking, feeling mutual peace and love in their hearts, while they bathed in the warm and infinite orange sunset.
That dream that made no sense, in which I was one of those boys, used to repeat itself at certain times in my life. It seemed to present itself again just when it was about to be forgotten. Like a loop, it returned in the same way as the time before; that was its special peculiarity.
I remember that I first experienced it when I was six. It came back, exactly the same, when I was thirteen and for a short while it presented itself once a week. In it I had very warm, fluid and open conversations with my companions around the bonfire, but when I awoke I had forgotten them. I did remember, in contrast, how good it felt to speak to those children who were so similar to me. At the end of the day, the phrases and words did not matter. It was simply the feeling of being there that fulfilled me completely and I wished with all my might that those moments would become real.
How innocent I was back then. I did not know that, in the not too distant future, I would set out on an adventure that I would never be able to forget. An adventure that I want to last forever.
But enough about me. Perhaps it would be best to begin this story with the lives of those who were always by my side and who were decisive in fulfilling the preordained destiny, the birth of that superior being who came to rule all and who managed to spread peace, love and balance throughout the entirety of the vast universe.
CHAPTER 1: THE BEGINNING
If the important thing is to begin, it does not matter where we do so. We can center the beginning of this adventure on a young man named Antonio Jesus.
He was a sixteen-year-old boy with a thin complexion and a slovenly appearance, who was no taller than five feet seven. His elongated face was framed by long, wavy, brown hair down to his shoulders. His green eyes with a slightly blue tinge stood out against his fair skin and not overly pronounced aquiline nose.
Back then, Antonio was what people called misunderstood, his childhood having taken place within a difficult family that had left its mark on him. He found it very difficult to trust the people around him.
From a very young age, his only companion was a Nintendo video console his parents had given him to prevent him from interrupting their lives, far too hectic to busy themselves further with the little one.
He often recalled the time that they left him abandoned at the school gates, possibly the most painful moment of his life.
On that cold and rainy day, very similar to this one, he waited like a dog with no master by the school's green railings, in the hope that his father would come and pick him up with that large, old umbrella he liked so much. He would arrive at any moment and, after giving him a comforting kiss, he could tell him every last detail about how his classes had gone.
However, the hours passed and a thoroughly soaked Antonio began to entertain the idea that something bad had happened to his father. With all notion of time lost to him and feeling a raging hunger in his belly, the sorrowful boy decided to walk, with an unbearable feeling of abandonment.
After advancing a number of yards, taking shelter under the balconies and other ledges of the facades, he saw his father in the distance. He was wearing a dark raincoat, a top hat and carrying the closed black umbrella in his right hand.
As he walked up to him, Antonio noticed his eyes were glassy and red, which together with the serious, almost shaken, expression on his face was evidence that he had not had a good morning. He reeked of gin and, out of the blue, grabbed his son by the front of his shirt and slapped him repeatedly while saying:
-You despicable boy, because of you I had to leave the casino early and I didn't win big on a bet. All you bring me are problems and bad luck.
With all of his hopes shattered, Antonio cried inconsolably, not from the pain of the blows he had received, but from the devastating words spewed by his father. On hearing the heavy sobs of the boy, his father took pity on him and unfurled his large umbrella to shelter him, whispering:
-Son, in this life you can't trust anyone, because they'll all try to hurt you any way they can. In time you'll realize it's not worth fighting for a world in constant suffering, much less suffering for it. Come on, wipe away those tears and let's go home. I forgive you for making me come here.
Without another word, they walked together along the cobbles of the cold streets of the town as a painful sense of abandonment took hold of the youngster. Luckily that feeling was alleviated to some degree by focusing his attentions on the history amassed in the cold stone facades that sheltered them.
When they arrived home, as usual, Antonio shut himself in his room. After drying his hair with a towel, changing his clothes and eating a sandwich, he picked up the only thing that made him forget about his everyday problems, his video console. He sat down next to an oil radiator to get warm, connected up the console and put on the headphones connected to the television, turning up the volume.
He tried to forget about everything that had happened, but he could not, so he decided to turn off the game and throw himself face down on his bed. It was not his fault at all, he repeated unconvinced, but such an intense feeling of bitterness and despair welled within him that he broke down crying uncontrollably, and while holding his pillow to cover himself and avoid being heard, once again, as usual, he heard the heated arguments between his parents.
Perhaps these events defined Antonio's personality as a teenager, his characteristic introversion. However, there is no evil that does not lead to some good, and they say time heals all or almost all wounds, so as he grew up he learned how to deal with his everyday troubles.
* * *
Several years later, his father contracted a degenerative disease that left him in a wheelchair and forced him to stay at home, spending more time with Antonio. His distinctive top hat was always on the coat stand. To begin with, he loathed the situation because the very sight of his son irked him, and rather than do anything with him, he preferred to remain in the parlor playing his grand piano.
Over time, those negative feelings waned and the boy that the father repudiated become his closest companion. Antonio was able to coax the odd smile out of his father after school, during the long afternoons that they began to spend together. The convalescent even proposed to introduce him to his great love, playing the piano.
That growing union also led to his parents gradually reconciling with each other, ironing out their differences and attempting to put them behind them.
One ordinary afternoon, on a day like any other, Antonio's father handed him a handwritten note in a sealed envelope, asking him to open it and read it just before bed. He also begged him never to mention its contents, because they expressed his most sincere feelings, which embarrassed him.
Night came and, already under the sheets, though eager to reveal the thoughts of this father, Antonio waited until not a sound could be heard in the house, a sign that everyone had fallen asleep. He opened the envelope, carefully removing the note and read it:
"Son, I'm writing to you because I realize the harm I've caused you as a father and how badly I have treated you. I don't intend to justify my actions with these words, I just want you to know that everyone, including you, carries a monster inside and either due to fear or injustice, that abomination emerges to feed on disaster, taking advantage of chaos and human iniquity, its favorite food being the hate, malice and bitterness we generate for it, as if it were an offering to make it stronger and stronger and able to conquer every fiber of our being. I believe I have mine under control, but that did not used to be the case and I still hear its howls, especially when despair, frustration and the inability to forgive the damage done invade my soul.
The truth is, having felt its presence and that fear within me, it caused me great impotence, which, drop by drop, poisoned me and polluted my relationships with my loved ones.
Unfortunately, you were one of those worst treated by my monster and I blame myself for it. I offer you my most sincere apology.
They say that God is just and I firmly believe that I fell ill through divine intervention. It was not a punishment, I now realize, but a massive gift, because thanks to that I have discovered the greatest treasure I could obtain, a wealth that was right in front of me, right in front of my eyes from the very beginning and that I had failed to appreciate until now. You.
I love you in the sincerest manner possible.
Faced with that unexpected confession, Antonio cried with joy, anxiously awaiting the dawn of a new day.
The following morning, during breakfast and after an initial embarrassing exchange of glances, Antonio plucked up the courage. He knew he was reneging on the deal, but he told his father what he thought anyway, following a form of enlightenment. All of the maturity he had developed to defend himself from injustice was poured into his speech, interrupted by long pauses that he used to breath and wipe away his tears.
-I never understood why, having tried to get your attention in every possible way, I could never manage it and every failed attempt to get close to you seemed to tear out a chunk of my heart. That feeling of oblivion and emptiness, with no relief that could make me feel any better about myself, made everything around me turn gray and it was like I could barely make out anyone or anything in that state. It's been like that until this very moment when, seeing you sat in front of me, worried about my well-being and having written that note, all that fog has disappeared and everything gray has turned clear and in perfect harmony. Forgiveness is my greatest virtue and that's why I say that you are my father, I'm proud to be your son and I love you. We'll escape our darkness together to face a future without fear and trusting one another, which is why I think it's right to start this new stage with a single phrase. I forgive you. A new day begins today for both of us.
The hug between the two of them did not last long, but for Antonio it felt like an entire lifetime. After that gesture, night after night, his father remained by his side when he was not working, telling him little by little the reasons why he had become the way he had. He was particularly sorry for having championed the idea for so long in his life of not trusting anyone, driving him towards an absolute distrust of everyone, even those most dear to him. The deepest of reasons for this attitude were never revealed to the youngster.
Having forged a solid relationship with his father, Antonio spent as much time with him as he possibly could and his father repaid him by teaching him his profession as an engraver of jewels and precious stones. Every day, when he arrived home from school, he received the lessons given strictly by the artisan, but he always allowed his son the freedom to gradually perfect his techniques, just as they had done with him.
From then on, the boy felt more alive than ever, although there was still something missing for him to be complete. Something like a good friend, company of his own age and with his same tastes, an equal.
One day, like any other, he met that person. It all began during a Literature class. Antonio had to write a summary of the book titled "Tales of Count Lucanor". Unable to find it, as all of the local bookstores had sold out, he had to borrow a copy. For some reason, Antonio addressed the neighboring class setting out his problem and specifically one boy offered to lend it to him, one who introduced himself as Manuel.
He was of the same age, had short, blond hair, was thin like him and also had very fair skin. His most distinguishing features were his bulging greyish-brown eyes and snub nose. On first impression, he seemed like a boy with an energetic and spontaneous personality, who was well mannered and had a strong sense of responsibility.
Manuel lent Antonio the book without hesitation, making him promise to return it when he finished his summary.
Two weeks later, the two agreed to meet at the former's house to fulfill the agreement. After crossing the threshold of his home, a very comfortable place to be honest, Antonio started to show a certain nervousness as Manuel showed him to the parlor, where he met his new friend's parents.
After a few minutes, the discomfort appeared to shift over to Manuel, so Antonio asked him what was wrong. Slightly embarrassed, he confessed that he had left a game called Dungeon Keeper on pause on his desktop computer and that he wanted to continue the game because he had reached a very difficult level that he was unable to pass. Antonio was very familiar with the game and offered to help. In that small room, in front of that old desktop computer, what would be a long and lasting relationship between the two of them began.
The two new friends quickly hit it off thanks to their shared loves and likes. This fortuitous change in Antonio was immediately noticed by his mother, who knew Manuel's parents well, and she spoke to them secretly, with the two families procuring that the boys spend as much time together as possible. Many adventures and misadventures, fights and reconciliations occurred between Manuel and Antonio.
* * *
One fine winter's day in December, Manuel's father, Antonio's namesake, offered him the chance to earn some money. If he wanted, he could pick some of the fruit from the crops growing on his land together with his friend. Obviously, Antonio accepted readily, not for the money, but to be able to work side by side with his great friend.
The night before the big day, after going to bed, Antonio once again experienced a dream that had been repeating itself practically since his birth, but that, somehow, would not quite dissipate from his mind. That dream, clearly recognizable, featured a bitter difference in the turn of events. All the children remained around the great multi-colored bonfire surrounded by giant ears of corn under the eternal sunset, but several of them started to argue and get angry for no apparent reason. Then, the infinite wall in front the fire started to lose its golden color, turning a much darker tone. Apparently, that golden hue was produced by a layer that was beginning to crack, revealing the black material underneath that made up the titanic construction.
Everything that was happening was reflected in the sky. The sunset began to fall and a meteorite appeared, with no trail or glimmer whatsoever, heading full speed towards the top of the great wall, hitting it squarely and unleashing a tremor that shook the very foundations.
For no apparent reason, everyone there began to climb up the immense wall, using the carved projections as support points. Shortly after, the climbers began to feel the people, animals and other beings represented there coming to life, suffering from the push and pull of their hands and feet and even letting out cries of pain. On his ascent, something grabbed Antonio by his left arm, and when he looked, he saw that one of the sculptures was identical to his friend Manuel. With his same voice, he got his attention, repeating:
-The cave is the path; the cave is salvation. Only you can prevent chaos.
Antonio jerked awake, drenched in sweat from the nightmare, sitting up in bed as he analyzed what he had dreamt.
Reflecting on his nightmare, he reached the conclusion that it was meaningless nonsense and that his recent encounters with Manuel had triggered these strange images in his subconscious. He simply let it go; furthermore, it was seven o'clock in the morning, time to have breakfast, get dressed and head to his friend's house to start the first day of the harvest during which, of course, he would prove his worth.
On the way, Antonio recounted his dream and Manuel told him that the land where they were going was home to some very ancient caves, though no longer accessible in the present day because they were virtually flooded. Inside, several springs emerged from the rock itself and they only stopped flowing during the driest of summer months. Nevertheless, he promised Antonio that, when they stopped for a snack, he would show him where to assuage his curiosity.
During the laborious day, Antonio could not stop thinking about the nightmare. It terrified him that he might be able to foretell something bad for his friend. On the other hand, he consoled himself, it was just a dream and these fantasies never come true, less so those set in epic worlds. Only that way could he focus on what really mattered, working hard to make a good impression.
On the other hand, Manuel insisted on him giving him details and Antonio repeated his story in more depth, if only to give them something to talk about. However, he ended up telling his friend about his fear that something bad would happen to him.
Manuel, without stopping work and very calmly, truth be told, revealed his opinion through careful reflection:
-Antonio, I'm sure that we all carry a universe within us, an infinite, eternal universe that is transmitted from father to son through the inheritance of our being. This theory could be argued based on the similarity between a galaxy and the iris of the human eye, for example, but what would that mean? That all humans house a mini-galaxy inside us that functions autonomously without us being aware of it and in it live an infinity of living beings with their own universes and so on and so forth?
There could, then, exist infinite universes within other worlds, continuously being born and dying by virtue of an eternal energy that, in turn, contrasts with and feeds nothingness, establishing a perfect equilibrium between all things and all beings.
According to this theory, there would be different sources of energy of different intensities, which would explain heroes, demigods, gods, demons and other beings that now only live in legends, but were very much present in years gone by.
I think that, if all beings carrying interior universes are unaware of it and cannot intervene in their own set of worlds, everything would function correctly and the balance between the void and energy would never be altered. But, what if a very, very ancient and long-lived being could control its interior universe?
Antonio, perplexed and amazed at the elaborate response, showed with his involuntary gestures that he did not consider the theory to be completely crazy. Then, with a broad smile, he said:
-Buddy, if that were the case, I would try my hardest to control my own universe, but, considering that the most brilliant minds in the world can only manage to use three percent of their brain capacity, I think it's a given that we will never see it done.
In the same confident and polite tone, Manuel answered:
-Ha, ha, ha, that's true. At the end of the day... It's the typical nonsense I tend to think about once in a while. What's clear is that we think and that is clear proof that we exist, as someone smarter than us once said...
This conversation was interrupted by Manuel's father, who told them to stop work and have lunch.
During the break, Manuel asked his father if he could go with Antonio and show him the caves, which were very near to where they were. However, very regretfully, he told his son that it would be best if Antonio went alone while they prepared some tools for the new job they were going to do afterwards, so they could make the most of the time that they were so short of. This seemed like a good idea to everyone and Manuel explained to Antonio the path to follow so he would not get lost.
Walking in a straight line through the countryside, Antonio came to a small pond situated under an age-old walnut tree. In the shade of that great tree, crystal-clear water sprang from the heart of a limestone rock. The lush vegetation that accompanied the walnut tree and the sound of a multitude of birds sheltering in the foliage intoxicated Antonio with a wonderful feeling of peace.
Unable to stop due to the little time he had, he continued on his way, following the instructions that he had been given.
Some ten yards on, following a small path full of blackberries that was quite challenging to navigate, he came across a protruding rock in front of which was a twisted, dull-looking olive tree with two trunks that covered the entrance to what would be the mouth of a small, narrow cave. Because the entrance was no more than half a meter in height, Antonio had to crawl downhill on the fine soil through a long section until he reached a kind of chamber where he could stand up unimpeded. The light from the entrance was enough for him to take a look around.
Apparently, the entire area he had crossed was dry, and so the boy thought that, once inside, there would be no problem exploring one of the forks that opened up ahead. Ignoring the warnings of Manuel and his father about not venturing too far in, he took the route to the left.
As he advanced the light grew dimmer, to the point where he had to use his lighter to continue. The growing humidity inside permeated his clothing and it started to stick to his skin. It also made it harder to light his lighter, his numerous attempts to light it hindered by the refreshing current of air that continually extinguished the flame when he did manage to.
After around a hundred yards, the last few with no light, using his hands he felt what might be the end of the corridor, a cold wall that sweated virtually freezing water. Intrigued, he tried again to use his lighter, but it would not light.
In the dark, he tried to retrace his own steps. He reversed clumsily, fearful he would not find the way out or that some form of vermin would jump onto him. During the foray, for no apparent reason, Antonio was struck by memories of his loved ones. The look of his father sitting in his wheelchair, a thought that led him to think about how long it would take him to return to his old ways with his false gambling friends. He also wondered how long his relationship with Manuel would last until, for reasons of destiny, one of the two would take the first step towards unhitching himself from the other and following his own path in life. He became very sad at the prospect of them losing touch.
These insecurities made him even more fearful than the darkness enveloping him, making him despair and start to walk too fast. Disoriented, he started to stumble time and again. He feared he did not know where he was going and could not find the cave opening anywhere. He should have found it by now, or at least the light emanating from it.
Suddenly something leapt on him. Grabbing him firmly by the torso, it lifted him several inches off the ground and pushed him violently in the opposite direction to the one he was going in. Antonio managed to plant his feet on the ground, but stumbled backwards until his back hit what must have been the icy wall at the end. He fell to the ground due to the abruptness of the impact. Terrified, bruised and confused, when he caught his breath, he called out time and again for help in the hope that someone would hear him.
On receiving no reply, he got up and tried to move forward. Unbeknownst to him, in front of him was a hard, wet wall, similar to the one at the end of the cave. Surprised, he thought that his body could have spun around during the impact and that was why he was facing the wall.
Fearful of finding himself in front of the powerful beast that had treated him like a rag doll, Antonio felt the other walls of the cave with his hands. With the minimal help of his wet lighter, he tried to find somewhere, any crack that could be hiding. He hoped that Manuel and his father, on seeing he had not returned, would come to the cave and try to find him with the help of the fire department or the police.
As he explored, Antonio realized that there was a small hole in the lower part of the right wall that he might fit through. He dropped down, crawled a little and managed to enter with difficulty. Scared, he closed his eyes, with his body in the fetal position and with his back to the crack through which he had entered. That way he felt safer, and at least he would not get any more lost than he already was.
When he had the courage to explore his surroundings again, he thought he could see, in the distance, in some direction, a faint glow. Thinking it could be his imagination, he concentrated on focusing his eyes to see if his mind was playing tricks on him. The faint light was still there, and so, in the hope of it being another way out, he decided to crawl towards it. As he advanced, he clutched the lighter with his hand, hoping to be able to use it.
Crawling through the mud, he reached a point where the roof was higher. From there he could stand and advance much faster, now on his feet, towards a light which appeared to become larger with every step. Undoubtedly, it was an exit, but when Antonio reached it, he froze.
It seemed that he was in front of a dense curtain of crystal-clear falling water that covered the entire hole in the wall. The noise it emitted was very soft, almost musical.
Cautiously, he first tried to put his hand through it, then his arm, and finally, his head, with which he saw the wonder of a magnificent and imposing full moon stationary in the clear night sky.
He took a step back, in shock, while pondering how night could have fallen so quickly. There was absolutely no way that he had been in the cave for that long. Antonio came to think that the dark path, that perilous route, had taken him to a new place, yet to be explored, just like in "Journey to the Center of the Earth", which he had recently watched on television. He smiled. A feeling of euphoria was sweeping over him and urging him to explore everything. He was daydreaming about the possibility of everything being just like in that movie.
He also thought that stepping out into that world would be like being reborn. As he crossed the waterfall completely, his skin felt a pleasant, warm climate, like spring or early summer.
A ledge and a sort of stairway to the left of the exit took him to a natural viewpoint from which he could make out the dense mass of vegetation that sprawled in every direction. An amalgam of aromas, among which he could distinguish jasmine, mint and innumerable other fresh plants and various mosses that grew in that moist area intoxicated Antonio's sense of smell, who was unaware of where he was walking, downhill.
As he looked around, he had reached the end of his descent, a clearing covered with grass crossed by a placid stream. Flowing into it were four small waterfalls each hiding entrances to caves similar to the one he had passed through. The course of the transparent water opened in the center due to an enormous rock.
On top of it, an elderly man was sitting there, athletic in complexion and five feet six inches tall. Clear blue eyes almost touching his snub nose shone from his elongated face. His white locks were long and straight, and his white beard divided into perfectly symmetrical braids. He was wearing a light pair of bulging pants made from fine fabric, his chest protected by smooth steel with no sleeves that allowed one to see the many purple runic symbols tattooed on his arms. From his appearance, he could have been a great warrior in his youth, a fearsome fighter who at times did not even have to fight to win a battle.
On discovering the boy, he looked at him fixedly with an affable smile:
-I've been waiting for you Antonio, what took you so long?
The youngster looked him over, discovering strange familiarities with his appearance. He had definitely seen him before, but he did not know where. As he spoke to him, his voice faltered more than he expected:
-Where do you know me from, sir, and what is this place?
Demonstrating great agility, the old man rose to his feet and leapt to the bank of the stream with incredible ease and without ceasing to smile. He approached Antonio while replying:
-All of your questions will be answered later. The only thing I can reveal for now is that I need your help. Only you can guide me down the path to saving Humanity, I hope and wish that you will.
Disconcerted, Antonio decided to ask whether this paradise with giant plants was his own world or not. The old man closed his eyes to stress the answer was obvious.
-You know that. This is not the place where you were born. You have been reclaimed by the great tree for an important mission.
Eager to believe him, Antonio decided to accompany his new friend. Following in his footsteps, he walked through the thick, dark forest, walking among the lush flora of the place. Millions of sounds made the air vibrate, deafening the ears of the youngster, who thought they were the voices of millions of wild animals, something impossible to feel in the world he came from.
The old man walked through the undergrowth as if he owned the place and Antonio tried hard not to lose sight of him, keeping quiet. He wanted to ask him how he could survive in a place like this, but he limited himself to looking at the back of his neck and then the warrior turned without a word and smiled at him. Uncomfortable at the silence, Antonio was plucking up the courage to say something, anything, to improvise, when the old man said:
-We have arrived!
It was a giant and very old tree, with the trunk split open by a wide crack almost covered by a wooden door. His guide did not hesitate to walk through it, inviting Antonio to follow. Once inside, the boy asked how old the majestic tree was, to which his companion replied that it had been there for thousands of years. Going down a tortuous and narrow wooden staircase, they ended up in a small room that, apparently, the old man used as a dining room. Clearly the man had used the spaces between the trunk and the roots of that giant tree to create his home there.
They continued until they came to a large room illuminated by a dozen old ceramic oil lamps: then the old man sat down and invited Antonio to do the same. As they looked at each other, an uncomfortable silence took hold of the room.
Not knowing what to say, finally Antonio took the initiative:
-Well... this place is pretty cozy. I guess it's your home. I wish I had one like it. Where I come from there aren't many people left out in the country.
Smiling, his host replied as he rubbed his hands together:
-It's not common for people to live in the forest here either. In fact, walking through one like this at night may be the end of you, if you don't tread carefully.
Antonio, surprised and at the same time concerned, thought, "Where have I ended up? I hope I can help this man do what he needs to do in the morning. With any luck, afterwards he will take me to Manuel and his father."
Seeing the concern on his face, his companion said to him:
-Don't worry, Antonio, I have to bring you up to date with what's happening. I know your name because, as hard as it is to believe, I've been connected to you and I've seen your dreams. My name is Marik. An ancient servitude of relations and promises binds me to this place where I have lived for so long...
The old man smiled. It had been a long time since he had conversed with anyone, but he understood that if he said too much now, he would pressure the boy.
-But enough stories, you must be hungry, I'll bring something to eat. Then we shall try to rest and tomorrow I will be able to reveal to you everything you need to know.
He picked up a lamp, walked out, and left Antonio alone in the room. After around fifteen minutes, he returned with a succulent meal composed of a large amount of meat well-cooked over a fire and a large wooden barrel that he said contained the finest beer around.
Sharing these refreshments broke the awkwardness between them. They spent the entire night talking, drinking and laughing, telling each other stories, describing tales of mythical beings, of the rise and fall of great kingdoms and things of the sort.
With not long to go before dawn, Marik showed Antonio to an adjacent room, telling him that it would be his bedroom and he could rest there. Once he lay down, Antonio fell asleep and immediately began to suffer the same nightmare derived from that beautiful dream that would come over him from time to time since so long ago.
Antonio awoke in shock coinciding with the collision of the meteorite against the great wall lined with gold.
He could see Marik in front of him. He looked worried, staring at him with his hands clasped together. On one of his fingers he wore a ring with a small stone set in it, which glimmered an intense bright brown.
As the glimmer of the ring abated, Marik looked into Antonio's eyes and said to him:
-My friend, you just witnessed the future that we must prevent. I think you're starting to understand your fate in this world.
He paused for a long while, overcome by the gravity of what he had just revealed. But he continued in a more optimistic tone:
-Get up, it's light! Let's take a walk in the forest and I'll tell you all about it in good time.