Book 4, Chapter 17 - The Tower of Aetorin

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"Yes they are," Arthur said, staring up at the sky above the school of wizardry, unmeasurable awe crafting a smile of wonder across his face.

Antonio had known for some time Arthur had a secret hidden beneath that eye patch of his, the ability to see through illusion and artifice to the true nature of things. From time to time he'd spied the cleric sneaking a peek from beneath the patch, only to return it to its place. The priest had removed the patch entirely now, revealing a bright gemstone, perfectly round as an eye would be, but crystal clear and red in color, like a faultless ruby orb.

"Gods, it's amazing!" he breathed in wonder, still staring high into the sky, well above where the building's roof ended.

Antonio squinted into the sky, trying to catch even the tiniest glimpse of anything out of the ordinary. But even as he watched, birds flitted and soared through the very space above the pitched rooftop, and he could see nothing but the plain, wood and plaster building with the pretty round window, and endless cloud-spotted sky above.

"It is amazing," Hawk confirmed. "More wondrous than you will perhaps ever know. The Tower of Aetorin is thousands of years old, and is the culminative work of the most powerful wizards ever to have studied."

"It is?" Antonio asked. "Will it look different when we go inside?"

"It will," the mage confirmed. "Beyond the threshold, the illusion will fade, and you will see it as it truly is. And the view from that window, Antonio," he shook his head, "has made many artists weep."

"Why?" he asked, feeling suddenly quite a lot like his cousin Derek, who he was thankful had decided to sleep in after a long night out with Kaleb than come to a "dusty old library."

"You will see," the mage said. "But before we enter, you deserve an answer to your question about Keldon: how I could have met him if he has not been sent back yet." The others all turned to listen. "Imagine you stand on the bank of that great river of time, and you can see where it begins and flows past you, but the further toward the sea it goes, the more it becomes lost in fog." They all nodded. "You know generally which direction it goes as it moves away, but until you travel there, it is not exactly certain. But all along its length to the sea, time makes assumptions about a myriad of countless things that will probably happen, based upon what already has happened."

"Time predicts its own future?" Arthur asked skeptically.

"In a manner," Hawk said. "You have already decided you will go into the Tower with me, correct? You have already decided you will have a meal tonight, though you might not have decided what exactly you will eat. Perhaps you have even decided a general course for your life: your aspirations, your goals, whom you would like to marry, and so on."

"Ah, get t'the point, ye hairless, tongue-wagging—"

"Alright, Hans," Hawk went on. "My point is, somewhere downstream of us in time, events already in motion are leading to an event that will send Keldon to the past. Thus far, events leading up to now, everything upstream of us, still supports that probability. So in the future, the decision has already been made, which is why it has already happened for me, and will still happen for Keldon."

Three rather blank stares were aimed back at him for a time, but then Antonio began to slowly nod.

"So...unless something happens to change the probability that Keldon will be sent back, he will be sent back, so he already...has been?" he screwed a face, hoping he had the grasp of it.

"Exactly," Hawk said, slapping the half-elf on the shoulder. "I knew you would understand."

"So wait..." Arthur interrupted. "What happens if that happens? I mean," he ran a hand through his hair, realizing he still had his patch removed, and quickly replacing it. "What happens if the person who sends him back gets killed, or convinced not to do it?"

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