The man is bored, falling through a Time Abyss may have been frightening the first few millenniums, but after a while you’ll get used to it. A man could only shout so much for so long before he needs something else to do to pass the time.
Time, that’s the only thing he has in abundance here. If time could be converted to currency, he would be the richest man in the Grandiel continent. His wealth would be worth more than all the nine kingdoms combined, he could buy and sell them three times over and still have enough spare change to build the greatest library the continent has ever seen.
The man likes reading. Or used to, he can’t remember why he had stopped. He really wish he had a book with him now, that and knitting. With so much free time and space available, he could knit a sweater for every single man, woman and child that had ever lived. Hell, he could even knit the longest scarf that ever existed, enough to wrap the continent in a warm safe cocoon. Wouldn't that be a sight?
But alas, there are no nearby libraries or stores that sell knitting supplies available, so he had to settle for watching. Sometimes, if he concentrates hard enough, he can see events that happen across time and space. So the man watches. Unfortunately, the man has no choice on the matters of what he sees. If he’s lucky, it will be a pleasant scene that could stir up long lost memories of a previous life. The birth of a first child, a wedding ceremony, a family dinner, a birthday party, the first kiss etc.
But if he is unlucky, it would be something very unpleasant and disturbing. And the man must see it through to the end, he is not allowed to look away or else the scene would continue re-looping until he gives in. And let me tell you, for every one pleasant scene, he had to suffer through ten soul-crushing ones. Scenes so terrible and horrifying, they made the man question himself if humanity is worth saving, and why he hasn't gone mad yet from observing them.
Which is why when the man suddenly finds himself sitting in a chair surrounded by a beautiful garden near the ocean, being offered tea by a beautiful little girl, he wonders if he has finally lost it.
“So good of you to finally join us. Would you like some biscuits with that?”
“Mr. Pope and I are surprised it took you so long to arrive. Or that you’re still in one piece.”
“I imagine you took the scenic route to get here. Did you do so because you enjoyed watching the view?”
“Now, I know you didn't travel this far just to gawk at me. So go ahead, ask me your questions.”
… Are… you… real?
“Okay, not quite the question I was expecting but whatever. I can assure you I'm real.”
…What is… this place?
“Again, not the right question that you should be asking. This place is The High Garden. Do you mean to tell me you have no idea what this place is before coming here?”
“Oh for the love of me and my two sisters. Come here.”
The exasperated girl reaches across the table and touches the man’s forehead.
“Should have done this earlier.” the girl grumbles.
“Hmm, a soldier. Which should explain your lack of vocabulary. Extremely well-read, odd considering you've barely managed to string two words together. A noble heart and a pure soul, a rare combination, especially in your line of work.”
The girl suddenly frowns.
“Your priests made a terrible mistake and mixed up the runes, amateurs. And they really should have read the instructions carefully. Really, 50 thousand souls? What am I, one of the Ancient Ones? What would I do with that many souls?”
The girl continues rummaging. The man squirms uncomfortably in his chair. He doesn't enjoy being close to someone as beautiful as this, even if she has the face and body of a child. The man is aroused, something he thought was not possible due to the time he spent in the abyss. The man thinks this is wrong on so many levels, it feels like he’s cheating on his… wife?
Did he have a wife? The man is sure he has. Why on earth would he jump into the abyss in the first place if he didn't have one? The man is positive he did it for her. She is the world to him. But for the life of him, he couldn't remember her face, and for some reason, this causes him more fear and suffering than the time he spent in the abyss.
“Shadows moving across the land. Ah, the Grandiel Continent… so that’s where you’re from. You’re a long way from home, soldier boy. Wait, this is… Oh, you poor thing.”
The little girl wrinkles her forehead. The man could have sworn there was a hint of sadness and pity in her eyes but he couldn't be sure because she suddenly flashes him her most brightest and attractive smile. It took all his will power and the memory of his wife to prevent him from falling for this beautiful little girl right there and then.
“Never mind, I am sure there are other fish in the sea, soldier boy. Anyway, let’s see… Storm Sworders… Razors… The Walking Blade… Mmm, I would have gone with Staby Staby Knife Men. Why would Helena allow something like this to happen? It’s counter-productive. Unless…”
The girl slumps back into her chair, contemplating. The man takes this chance to observe his surrounding. They are in a majestic garden with a great view to an even grander ocean. He could hear the sound of waves crashing into a nearby cliff. During all his travel in the Grandiel Continent as well as the visions he receives during his fall in the abyss, the man has never seen place that could equal its beauty. It is simply… out of this world.
The man looks at the table in front of him. On the table lay all type of mouth watering desserts, cakes and biscuits. The man is hungry but he is sure that if he took a bite of the food, he would never want to leave this place. And that would mean never seeing his wife and failing his… mission?
What is his mission again? He couldn't remember that either. This is getting rather worrisome. The man is sure he was sent on a mission to stop something from happening. Or was it to start something? It should be one of the two. The man wonders if his superiors would be mad if he failed to choose the correct one.
Anyway, the man’s train of thought is cut short like the waves crashing into the nearby cliff. It’s because the girl suddenly clasps her hands together loudly and announces:
“I don’t usually do charity cases or make it a habit to intrude into one of my sister’s domain, but your unique case intrigues me. And I have taken a liking of you, soldier boy. You shall have all that you originally wanted, and then some more. Consider it as a reward for all the sufferings you had to endure in your life, and what you had to go through to get here. Now, to seal the deal.”
The girl reaches over the table, grabs the man by the collar, and kisses him. The man is taken by surprise and couldn't stop her in time, but he wonders if he would have refused if he knows the kiss was coming in advance. The sound of the waves suddenly gets louder. Were they always this loud? The girl releases him and licks her lips.
“That wasn't actually necessary, but what the heck. It’s not like there’s someone higher than me who could scold me.”
The man tries to say something but the sound of the waves keeps getting louder and louder until he could barely hear himself think over the noise. He could hear the girl just fine though.
“Now listen here and this is very important, soldier boy. All my gifts could only get you so far, the rest is up to you. Ultimately, my assistance would most likely be futile, just like building a sandcastle to stop the ocean from rolling in. But maybe with you there…”
The girl strokes the man’s cheek lovingly, just like how a mother would stroke her favorite child.
“… it’s enough to turn the tide.”
The man tries to shout something to make himself heard over the deafening waves but the girl ignores him. With a flick of her wrist, the man is sent crashing into the nearby ocean, never to resurface again to this world unless the girl wishes for it. The girl turns to the chair on her left side and picks up a stuffed teddy bear.
“Come Mr. Pope. It’s been eons since we've visited my sister Helena for tea.”
The girl pauses for the moment, as if listening to something.
“Of course I don’t know for sure whether he will succeed or not.”
She gazes into the endless ocean and smiles.
“Only time will tell, Mr. Pope. Only time.”