Prologue:

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I sat at the edge of the forest overlooking the Crystal Castle that was isolated in the center of the vast lake. There was no wind, and the entire forest was too quiet for comfort. The water was still, shiny and reflected the Crystal Castle like multiple mirrors. Both the crystal and the water reflected the light of dusk backwards and forwards like a kaleidoscopic vision that was hyperreal and hypnotic. I couldn't look anymore and felt sick.

I splashed the cold lake water on my face and pressed my mature hands against my eyes feeling the contours and angles of my adult face. Hours ago I had been a little boy and now I was a man. I looked at my reflection and thought how strange it was to be in this form again, the form of the Great Wizard Phoenix. Unlike my childlike form, my breath was hot and my body radiated a burning light. This flaming energy encompassed me, but I wasn't burnt. It was like my body was a cross between the tangible substance of a man, and the airy mystique of a spirit, and I felt as though I was made of fire itself.

It had been a few hours since my friends and I had defeated the King of Wishes, but I could still feel the magic in the air. The King had spent many years granting people's wishes and forging magical contracts that the undoing of his spell was slow and knotty, like a pulled thread unraveling an entire tapestry. I felt dizzy, but there was nothing that I could do about it.
Most of the people who had made a contract with the King retained their experiences as though it were a dream, but for me it was different. I belonged to the realm of magic, and didn't have the luxury of forgetting the past. Instead, my mind had the added burden of witnessing events that supposedly never existed along with its new paradoxal equivalent. It was like wearing 3D glasses in the cinema, one realty red and one realty blue.

Time and space rearranged itself around me. I didn't move from where I was, but I knew so clearly that I was not in the same place anymore. There was a sudden freshness to the air as a gentle breeze rippled across the still lake breaking its mirror like surface. Even the moon didn't look as lonely as it did before, as a tiny halo of stars began to emerge out of the darkness of night fall. Before, the Crystal Castle had looked distant and fragile like a glass ornament, but now its outer walls had a renewed confidence and brilliance like polished quartz. It was deja vu seeing the castle like this again in its pure natural state before being corrupted by the King of Wishes. A new era had begun.

I felt the pressure of the spell finally lifting and I was regaining my orientation again. My body was strong, but my mind felt fatigued from all the memories mixing together. I fell back into the grass and closed my eyes. I wasn't asleep, but half dreaming, half remembering a ghost of a memory wrapped in the sweet fragrance of nostalgia and lives lived long ago.

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