That night The Philosopher had many dreams. They swirled around his head like a kaleidoscope. Upashna, The Princess of EarthSea. The gatekeepers, Extor, Free and Mingus. The stone walls of the labyrinth, the forest of trees, the desert with four suns. He could no longer remember who he was or what he was searching for. The tome falling from his bookcase.
He heard a familiar voice call to him. This could not be. I must still be dreaming he thought. What is happening to me? My dreams have always provided insight into my life. From where does all this confusion come?
“My love, awake.”
The voice called again, but The Philosopher could not awaken. He was deep into the dream he was dreaming but the voice he thought he heard was from Kara, his love, lost at sea almost eighteen years ago. He often dreamed of her but her voice sounded so close as if she were standing next to his bed.
“My love. I am here. Wake up.”
The Philosopher forced his eye to open using his hands and saw a figure much more than a dream image of Kara standing aside his bed.
“My love. I know your thoughts are confusing to you. I am here to help. I am always here.” Kara said.
“Kara. What are you… It does not matter. It fills my heart to see you once more but by what nature are you here,” asks The Philosopher?
“My love. You must listen. We do not have much time. I am here because in a few hours Extor, the gatekeeper of the third gate, will require you to give him all the memories of your life before the moment the tome dropped from your bookcase. Because of our love and the promise you made to me on the night of my death to remember me always, you will refuse and be denied passage. Then you will wake up in the home where so many of our memories were made and continue your life as if the events of the last few days never happened.”
“I will never give up the memory of you and the times we shared. Those memories are the only reason I am still alive today. I will never let go of my memories of you, of us.”
“I know my love. That is why I am here,” spoke Kara. “Remember when we would stroll hand in hand down the cobbled stone streets of South Port and I would jokingly pick out other women for you to pursue in the event of my death? I know you took it as a game and played along but if Upashna had been in our small village during those times, she would have been the only one I would have chosen for you. Our time was brief but it was as full as all the other years of my life combined. Your destiny is beyond this realm and with her, my love. You must give up your memories of us in order to fulfill the destiny you were meant. You must do this for me, for you, for us and for the rest of mankind. My love. I will always love you. You must now forget me.”
“She is a princess, Kara. I am a …,” says The Philosopher. He paused for he no longer knew what he was, having already given up so much of who he thought himself to be. He stood up to embrace the image standing next to his bed but when he reached out his arms she disappeared.
“Philosopher. Wake up. Extor is waiting at the gate. Wake up.”
“Kara. Don’t leave me again. I can’t lose you again. Please. Don’t go,” screamed The Philosopher but his words fell into empty space.
“Philosopher. Are you still dreaming? The affects of a little too much wine last night, no doubt. Wake up. Extor is waiting,” said Upashna.
“Princess. Upashna. I am sorry. I was dreaming. Please give me a few minutes to gather my thoughts. Please a few minutes,” said The Philosopher.
Upashna could see The Philosopher was visibly shaken most likely by some dream but she had too much respect for him to intrude. She knew he would soon be confronted with a difficult choice. “Of course my dear Philosopher. Take the time you need. I will wait for you outside the tent.”
The Philosopher gathered his few things and placed them inside his pack. He cupped some water into his hands from the bowl on the night stand and splashed it upon his face, rinsed his mouth and picked up his staff. “Good morning Extor. Please accept my apology for keeping you waiting. What is it you ask of me?”
“There is no rush he with no name. Would you like to have some breakfast first?”
“No sir. I am ready. What do you require of me for passage through the third gate and into the Other Realm,” asks The Philosopher?”
“For passage into the Other Realm, you are required to surrender all of the memories of your life prior to the moment you entered the hidden path and the realm of magic,” said Extor.
“No. This is not fair,” shouted Upashna. “Mangus took his name. Free took his desire and now you want to take his memories. You ask too much of him!”
“Must I remind you princess you are not permitted to interfere in any way,” says Extor in a stern voice.
The Philosopher then speaks. “Please Upashna. I appreciate your concern but the weight of this decision is mine.” Then he confirms Extor’s request. “I must surrender all the memories of my life up until the moment I entered the hidden pathway seeking the aid of the Wizard of SwanSea. Is that correct?”
“Yes,” replies Extor.
“Then, I will retain the memories of meeting Upashna, camping at the entrance to the labyrinth, meeting your brothers Mangus, Free, and you, Extor?”
Extor was surprised by The Philosopher’s question but from his interpretation of the guidelines given him by the Council Of Wizards all memories before his entrance into the realm of magic must be surrendered. “Yes. Based upon the guidelines I have been given, you will retain memory of your experiences after your entrance onto the hidden path. If you decide not to pay the toll, all memories after entering the field of magic will be forgotten but you will retain all of your memories prior to the moment the tome fell from your shelf.” Replies Extor.
“Will I remember the dreams I had during the nights after I entered the realm of magic,” asks The Philosopher?
“As far as one can remember their dreams and if the dreams occurred after you entered the realm of magic, then they can be remembered. Yes,” says Extor. “You have ten minutes to decide.”
The Philosopher looked over at Upashna. Then he walked over to her and held her the way he held Kara the first time they embraced in front of the library in South Port on the Isle of Havnor. Once again he experienced that same feeling of foreverness he experienced with Kara that first day. He heard Kara’s voice, “Thank you my love. You will always remember me from your dream last night. Remember also the time I said you will find another love as great as that which we shared. You have found her. I love you.” Then the voice ended.
Upashna was surprised by the embrace of the Philosopher. She thought he was saying good bye. She had the experience of never wanting to let him go. The same experience The Philosopher had when he first held Kara and now when he held Upashna. “Please do not leave me Philosopher she whispered into her heart.”
The Philosopher looked into Upashna’ multi colored eyes. “Are you ready my princess. The Other Wind awaits.”
…to be continued.