PART TWO: SKIP’S TRIP
Skip lost focus of all that happened in the present. Deep down inside him, he felt something awaken and he reached out to it. The sights and sounds of the present faded away and gave away to something foreign yet powerful.
Skip was suddenly in a dark lake of unfathomable depth. He had never been in that place before but it felt as familiar to him as any other place he had ever frequented. This place gave him comfort and peace. He never wanted to leave the Lake and yet…
He remembered what had happened that fateful night… He and his beloved family had been attacked by monsters. His family had been broken. He had witnessed his own mother and sister hideously tortured and had prayed for it to end. Skip had seen his father’s mental state deteriorate. He had come to the realization that his own fiancee had betrayed him. He shuddered just recalling that uncomfortable truth. Skip felt like an absolute failure and like the suffering that had been afflicted on his family that night was his fault.
“Skipper, it wasn’t your fault at all,” he heard a firm, reassuring female voice speak to him in the void. He was more swayed by the melody of the voice than anything else in the world.
He opened his eyes and beheld an incomparable beauty. She reminded him of someone he had seen that night- of a woman that had caused him to hope against all hope. The beauty before him was almost identical to her but somehow felt different.
“Who are you?”
“I am Maris, daughter of Ula, your Protector,”
“My… my Protector you say?”
She smiled and nodded.
“Why should I have a Protector? I am not… special,”
“That is where you are wrong, son of Sedna. You are very special and Gaia honored me by making me your Protector,”
“I don’t understand… why would I need a Protector?”
“You have been appointed Guardian of this Lake, Skipper. This Lake possesses powerful properties that you can access and control. The Divine Goddess saw it fit to grant you such great power,”
“What is this Lake?”
“It is referred to as a Primordial Lake. It possesses magical properties that are unlike any other lake in existence. There are not many like it in all of Creation but the Creator willed it so that it could never evolve as other Lakes and Oceans of similar magnitude have… It was by Her will that the Lake remained as it is just as it is Her will that you become its Guardian,”
Skip shook his head confusedly.
“It shall all make sense to you in time, Skipper,”
“Why do you keep calling me Skipper? Everyone I know just calls me Skip?”
She chuckled and he found himself sheepishly smiling in response. “A force of habit, I’m afraid, even after all these years,”
“Years? I just met you,”
“That’s just the thing about this Lake, Skip- Space-time does not occur regularly here,”
“What?” Skip asked surprised. He turned around and saw nothing constant save for the dark volumes of water. He was suddenly alone and then surrounded by family or friends who were different from the friends and family he knew. Some were older than he remembered them while others were younger. Maris herself constantly faded in and out of existence.
“Am I… Am I dying?”
“Certainly not. I believe the term you once used was that you were having a bad ‘trip’,”
“A bad trip as in drug-induced?”
Maris chuckled but then nodded.
“How do I get back to my current time? How do I make this ‘trip’ end?”
“Simple. You need only will it so,” Maris stated.
“Will it… so?”
“Skip, it’s really not that hard. You just have to concentrate which, I know, is difficult given the current predicament you find yourself in,” stated a voice that was nearly identical to his own.
Skip turned to face his own doppelganger albeit older than he was appearing before him.
“Whoa! Who are you?”
“Simple, Skip. I’m you only older, wiser and… of course, more handsome, right, Maris?” his doppelganger teased.
“Skipper, do not follow his bad example and take after your father,” Maris warned Skip shaking her head at his doppelganger.
Skip shook his head.
“This is all… very confusing. How do I get out of this… um… situation?”
“The Lake follows your command. So, if you want to return to your present time, you just have to command it to do so and it shall heed your command although you might want to instruct the Lake to bring your family here to you if you want to save them from the present torture they endure,”
“Lake, I… um… Command you to… bring my family to me! Now!” Skip stated nervously. He waited and waited and yet nothing happened.
“Nothing… happened?” he asked.
“Oh man, I remember when I was like you… I mean, I am you but only older, wiser and more handsome…. Well, you need to command it with confidence, see? That way, it will bid your command,”
Skip nodded and closed his eyes and used every bit of determination he could amass in demanding his family came to him and by the time he opened his eyes, his family was there with him.
However, the very moment his family appeared in the Lake, they all began to choke and cough violently, eerily unable to breathe underwater despite being Undine races.
“What- what is happening? Help them! Please!” he begged his doppelganger and Maris.
His doppelganger turned to his family members and confidently stated, “Oh legendary, great Lake, I thee Command, allow these outsiders to breathe!”
Immediately he stated so, Skip’s family suffocated in the Lake no longer.
His doppelganger then commanded, “Oh Ancient Lake, I thee Command, call forth the Asrai!”
As per his command, several two feet- tall humanoid creatures with fishtails for legs whose entire composition was of the lake waters appeared and healed Skip’s family’s grievous injuries upon his doppelganger’s instruction.
“Skip, where are we?” his father asked him surprisingly once he came to.
“A prime… something. A special Lake of sorts,” Skip responded still astounded by everything he witnessed.
“Primordial Lake,” Maris corrected.
“Wait a minute- aren’t you that woman? You came with those- those monsters! You’re one of them!” Zale stated immediately attacking Maris.
“I know that it appears that way but I assure you that I am on the side of goodness. The Sage of the Undine Pillars sent me on a special mission- to find Skip, my charge,”
“What nonsense is this?” Zale asked persistently trying to secure a hit on Maris that fluidly and successfully deflected his every attack.
“Father, please stop attacking her. She is telling the truth,” Skip’s doppelganger spoke to Zale. His statement caused a momentary distraction long enough to allow Maris to disappear to safety.
“Who are you?” Zale asked flabbergasted, looking between Skip’s doppelganger and his son.
“He is an older doppelganger of mine, father. I know it is confusing but… this is a version of me from the future… I think,” Skip explained.
“You forgot to mention that I am a wiser and more handsome version of you as well,” Skip’s doppelganger teased.
“Fine, fine, I get it, you are older, smarter and more good-looking. Whatever!” Skip responded rolling his eyes up at his doppelganger.
“Anyway, Skip, I’ll leave the rest of the discovery up to you. If you need me, and trust me, you really are going to need me, just will me here and I shall appear. For now, I shall leave you here with your family,”
“Thank you, Skipper,” stated Skip causing his older doppelganger to cringe.
“Stop it, you know we hate all formalities. It is bad enough that Maris never adjusted to calling me Skip,” he stated before disappearing right before their eyes.
“Oh and before I forget- call your Maris to you now, get all that unnecessary pledging of allegiance stuff out of the way,” his doppelganger stated reappearing and disappearing once more. Skip nodded and waved goodbye to his doppelganger.
“Skip, what is all this?” his mother asked him worriedly.
“Apparently I am the Guardian of this Lake. I command it now and I have a Protector too? She must have been working undercover for her to have found me,”
“If she truly was your Protector, why did she not intervene while your mother and sister were tortured right before your very eyes?” Zale inquired of Skip.
“She couldn’t blow her cover just yet. I suspect the Sage of the Undine Pillars instructed her on what to do,”
“Shouldn’t her need to protect you have overridden any other command issued by anyone else even if it was the Holy Sage? It just all feels fake,” Zale reasoned.
“Judging by the Maris I have met, my Protector must be very strong willed and deep down, she must have known that I needed to go through everything I did tonight for me to learn of my powers,” Skip stated. Skip was surprised at how elated he was describing his Protector to Zale.
His heart raced as he gathered the strength to make the command to bring his Protector to him.
“Oh great and Powerful Lake, I thee Command, bring Maris, my Protector to me!”
A flurry of bubbles suddenly arose in the water and his Protector appeared before him. She reverently bowed before him and then rushed into his arms and wept.
“I- I wanted to help them but I- I couldn’t. The Sage warned that it would be difficult but I- I never imagined it would be so horrible. Please forgive me my lord,”
“Alright, Maris, I will forgive you under one condition,” Skip informed her seriously.
“Whatever you desire, my lord, I shall obey it,”
“Under no circumstances are you ever to address me by the name ‘Skipper’. You are to always address me by the name ‘Skip’. No exceptions,”
TO BE CONTINUED…
It appears you have reached the depths of this most exciting tale. Have you not seen this before? Worry not. With a wave of my wand, find your way to the previous entry and dive back into the Lake with its Guardian…