The Orion sector, Rito III, 3158 GST (Galactic Standard Time)
Reginald Ravensblade, Harpist of Time, sat idly watching the roulette wheel spin as the small gold ball travelled around in the opposite direction waiting to find its home. He was in the Maytag Casino, the largest, most prestigious gaming establishment on Rito III, a pleasure planet known for its gaming establishments. Reg had been on the planet for a week and had just finished his latest quest, another task where time had been manipulated. Several unscrupulous men had found an ancient relic and were using it to alter time to win at the various games of chance, most notably this very game of roulette.
Reg was dressed in a fine silk black tuxedo with crimson bow tie and cummerbund. The sword hanging from his left hip was conspicuously out of place, but no one had called him on it even though he had been sitting at the table for some time. The large stacks of chips sitting in front of him were a testament to his skill, so perhaps the sword was as well. Either way, the other patrons, as well as the casino's employees, were leaving him alone. His thoughts were interrupted by his sword.
"My Lord, he comes," the sword announced in a hushed, almost reverent voice.
"Who?" Reg asked, absently grasping the pommel, but still watching the wheel.
"22, black!" the Dealer announced as the wheel slowed and stopped, showing the ball sitting in the pocket of the black even number.
Reg watched as a modest stack of chips were slid over to his position at the table. He had been steadily winning for the last several hours. He removed several chips and leaned forward and placed them on 23 red.
"The Creator," Timekeeper replied. "He is looking for us."
This time Reg did detect the reverence in the sword's voice. Reg looked up as a short, unassuming, elderly man sat down to his left at the gaming table. The old man was dressed in a tan cotton jumpsuit, of the kind worn by elderly men everywhere. Zippered in the front from crotch to neckline and held in place by a built in belt with a silver buckle. Attached to the belt on his right side was a large rune inscribed ring holding several intricately wrought keys of differing size and shape. He had closely cropped hair the color of burnt orange and crystal blue eyes. A strange dress for this upscale establishment.
"Harpist, we finally meet," the elderly man said by way of introduction. "I am Dao."
"I have been halfway expecting a meeting for some time," Reg replied with a nod. "You look more like a maintenance man than who you truly are. The key ring is an unique touch."
"Maintenance man, Creator, it amounts to the same thing, do you not think?" Dao chuckled. "You like the key ring? It holds the keys to the universe."
He could feel an almost imperceptible shudder from his sword. He glanced down at it with a frown. "Melvina said that eventually you would want to meet me."
"Yes, you are an anomaly," Dao eyed him intently. "I am very curious about that."
"How so?" Reg asked. "Because I, a mere mortal, was able to draw Timekeeper?"
"No. More like you, a mere mortal, are fairly pulsing with Eldritch," Dao replied. "That is a little strange considering your race."
"A gift from a friend," Reg shrugged. "An unintentional gift."
"Yes, very strange circumstances and very unique. I was surprised to learn that your body was able to cope with the change," he smiled. "I also wanted to thank you for saving my daughter."
"You are more than welcome, I was honored to help," Reg replied with a shrug and smile. "But, that is not why you are here, is it?"
"Perceptive, very perceptive," he replied. "No, it is not why I am here. I need a champion, a troubleshooter, if you will."
"I already have a title and an occupation," Reg replied drolly. "And I am sure that there would be conflicts of interest."
"No, you misunderstand me," the man shook his head. "I do not want you, just your impressions. Your recommendations as it were. No, I want your friend and benefactor, one Aaron Whiterune, styled thief."
"Then ask him, not me," Reg replied absently, more interested in watching the wheel spin and tracking the rotation of the ball. "I would not presume to speak for him."
"It is not a voluntary position," he replied with a shrug. "I need to know how he would handle himself under less than ideal situations. Is he as resourceful as he seems? Tell me everything you know about him."
"Why him?" Reg asked intently, now more interested in the conversation than the wheel. "He may not like being manipulated. Strike that! I know for a fact he will not like being manipulated."
"Many reasons," Dao shrugged, "not the least of which is the fact that he is dangerous where he is right now. Too strong for the current climate, if you will. His abilities are upsetting the status quo. I would rather make use of his unique talents than to have to put him down."
"Are you even sure you could?" Reg chuckled, thinking of his friend. "Many have tried and yet he still stands. If he thinks you are truly a danger he would put down the rose swords and call forth the 'Hand of Death'. I do not think even you would want that."
"No, absolutely not," Dao smiled. Reg chuckled having seen that very same smile on Aaron's face quite a number of times.
"No, I need someone that could instinctually correct shifts in balance," Dao explained. "There are numerous worlds and Mythos where his talents would be of assistance."
"He is single-minded and does not react well to authority," Reg tried to describe his friend. "He does not like people being taken advantage of. He never backs down from a fight, but he does not look for one either. He despises tyranny of any type, or any type of oppression for that matter. If pushed he does not just push back, he shoves. Hard. He is loyal to a fault. Balance that against the fact that he has no use for authority and no qualms about his chosen professions. Does that give you some insight?"
"Yes it does," Dao's smile became genuine. "He is exactly what I need. After that glowing review it is about time I met him in person. Do you still harp?"
"Excuse me?" Reg replied, perplexed by the change in direction of the discussion.
"I asked if you still harped," Dao repeated himself. "I ask because I would like to hear you play. Melvina speaks highly of you."
"Here?" Reg replied, sweeping his hand around the crowded casino.
"True," Dao nodded and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them the room was silent and more importantly empty.
"Harp for me Reginald Ravensblade," Dao commanded. "Harp for me and I will tell you a story..."
He called himself Dao and he had been searching the Universe for sometime; searching for a fragment of what was left of his home world, Archan. He had a name at one time but, with no one to communicate with or introduce himself to, that name passed into obscurity a long time ago. He remembered his nickname though, funny how you can remember the things that taunt and torment you yet important things end up drowned in the waters of Nepenthe. His nickname was Dao, and that was all that he had.
Some within Dao's race had achieved the highest plane of existence and had cast aside their corporeal forms. They existed as pure energy and thought, able to live amongst the stars, Dao was one such entity. That was the only reason he had survived the cataclysmic event that destroyed his home world, although it very nearly destroyed him.
After Dao regained consciousness he had tried searching for any of his family or friends and when that failed he reached out searching for anyone that might have survived the catastrophe. Surely, someone else must have survived? He had searched and sent out energy, feelers if you will, all to no avail. He could not believe that he was all that was left of the thousands that had achieved astral enlightenment, that he alone survived when others of even greater intellect did not. He grieved for the lost for some time and then decided that the best course of action to honor the dead was to start anew, start over and build a new world. He wanted to create something that would last, something that would be protected, something that would survive.
When the star providing warmth and light for his world died, taking his planet with it, a new star had been born. The left over matter created a solar system with eight planets, seven of which could support life. Dao was cast adrift on the solar winds, for time immeasurable, until he healed from the aftereffects of the explosion and was strong enough to chart his own course. Staying relatively close to his original home world, he chose this new solar system and its third planet as his new home and settled on an island in an archipelago south of the equator. He had named several of the planets in this solar system. The third planet he named Andor, the fourth planet Goth, the fifth planet Tarra, and the sixth planet Omegadon.
The third planet was not uninhabited; in fact two separate, distinct sentient races had been seeded on the planet and had risen to the top of the food chain. As equal predators it naturally occurred that they became mortal enemies. Both races had reptilian characteristics: the Wyrms of the Sky were more serpentine in nature and the Guthards were more lizard-like. It amused Dao that life, it seemed, always started with the reptiles, although he had had a hand in that. Both races were born of Eldritch and commanded the power within all living things.
.... There is more of this story ...