The calling voice was distant, only above a whisper in his old ears.
It was deep, deeper than any human could speak, yet it was so gentle.
"Open your eyes, Alexander!"
The order was, unlike the other words, loud and clear, causing the dead man to obey and open his heavy lids. He was greeted with pure darkness. It surrounded him, consuming his old, dead body in any means. "W-Where are you?", he croaked. "Who are you?"
"I am, what you mortals called, The Shadow, the Guardian of the Orb. To your first question, however, I am unable to give you an answer. For you are in the void."
The Shadow...the very creature who guarded the orb he wanted to use to create the gate. "What do you want...", he whispered, broken, exhausted. "I have failed, I have died."
"Indeed, you have."
Its response was calm, not angered at all.
"But that is not the reason I have called you for."
"What is your reason then?", the old baron asked. Suddenly, a light appeared. It was so bright...brighter than any other thing he had seen yet, even the orb.
"I want to tell you why your plan was destined to fail since the beginning."
"What do you mean?", Alexander breathed, hugging himself as the temperature seemed to drop.
"You have believed that the power of the orb is served to fight me back. That I am a shadow cast by this old artifact older than the universe itself will ever be."
The confusion came into the old baron's mind, eating it away within seconds. "What do you mean that I believed it? Was it not true? Was it all a lie?"
"No, not a lie. But it is far from the truth. You could not know it, no one knows it but me. I have guarded the secret since it had been created."
A light, brighter than the orb could ever be, suddenly appeared in front of the dead man, blinding him, causing him to close his eyes.
"I am not a shadow of the orbs' power, Alexander, I am the power."
"What?" Nothing the Guardian said made sense to him. Its words are only a sea of confusion.
"That means that the orb is my creation, and it had created the universe you know. As it stood, I had to contain it. I have created a vessel in the form of one great orb, balancing gravitation and expansion in an even. But not only that..."
The glow formed into a circle, and suddenly a picture appeared in the middle, the orb.
"I have noticed that the orb itself needed to be split, so I did it with care, forming each piece into a new one. A smaller version, but kept the main orb, the source of the others, close to my side. That was...until Daniel came."
Daniel...the man Alexander tricked into the Oblivion, tainting his soul for his own favor. The old baron would lie if he said he did not regret it, but done is done, and cannot ever be changed, not even with the orb, for time is lost, and cannot be restored. "What did you do to him?", he asked, barely above a whisper.
The Guardian hummed, the sound echoing through the void they were in, causing the naked man to shiver. Even though it could not be seen, it could be felt, and that was enough for it to be feared.
The image changed, showing him the young man, lying unconsciousness on the floor, bleeding non-stop. Alexander gasped, his pale eyes widening in shock. "W-What happened to him?" The shadow gave a long-lasting sigh.
"He did not flee, he stayed where he was, accepting death like it was a part of his journey."
The picture moved, the red mass forming tentacles that caressed the young man's bleeding cheek.
"Daniel did not even try to escape me. He accepted it as punishment. But he deserved none. Even though many murders were done by him, his soul was still as white as the light of the image before you. He is pure, only his mind is tainted with pure insanity. He deserves a good afterlife.
As for you..."
The temperature seemed to get colder, and the voice suddenly dripped with anger.
"You have used my power, me, to get what you want. You have abused the knowledge you possess only to find a way to the gate that would only have led to your death. It would have been no use. The simplest way to see your love again would have been to just accept death."
The Guardian released a loud roar that seemed to shake the void itself to release its anger. A sigh followed and the image changed again and showed his castle, restored, but surrounded by a red mist that was unmistakably a part the shadow.
"I have claimed your castle as the new hiding place for the artifact and your servants to protect it. I will make sure that no one like you Alexander van Brennenburg, will take it, or they shall meet the same fate as all the kings and queens, hunter and barons, lovers of nature and explorer have."
"What do you want to do with me?", the old man asked, now only realizing that the ancient being said nothing about that.
"Your fate will be the same as Daniels'. Many others may have said it, but I am no vengeful creature and I do not think you deserve to live in the hell I created for those who would not learn. I will let you pass the gate, enter the world you craved, to see your love again, but under one condition…"
The picture showed to Alexander changed again, and the young Daniel was shown. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, now looking normal again, stood next to him, holding a book in hand.
"I have granted them access to the wonders of this other world, and I know you know much more of it than you should, using one of the smaller orbs to get the needed information for the portal. Give the knowledge to them, give all the knowledge you possess, then, I will allow you to see your love again."
Without hesitation, the baron nodded. "Yes!", he agreed. "Yes, I will give everything you want. I just want to see my love again!" The Guardian cuckled, and the light disappeared.
"Very well. You will lose it as you wake up. Now, my dear friend, close your eyes, and enjoy the piece. I will be watching, as I always do, even when I rest.
Alexander did what he was told, closing his eyes, relaxing back into the now warm darkness. Minutes passed, and he slowly lost consciousness. The Guardian has forgiven him, Daniel and Agrippa were happy, and soon, he would be too.
"Sleep tight, Alexander, my dear friend."