Camden stumbled through the sandy terrain. It was horribly hot, he felt like he was melting in an oven. The air was bitter with a faint taste of copper. The Galactica Spellbook weighed heavily in his arms. He knew it was a horrible plan, but what choice did he have? Given what they all knew, Ekeko could very well be behind this, and if he was, then someone needed to stop him. Camden wasn't sure how he was going to do it, but the result would be to send Ekeko to another realm, preferably the Unworld. A disastrous, and frightening nightmare realm that if one goes in, there is no way to leave. Alive that is.

He didn't want to accept this as his fate, but couldn't think of another way. His magic was powerful, but could it really defeat a god?

"Camden!" The sorcerer gasped and turned around to see Serena and Charlie dashing through the sand towards him. "What are you guys doing here? I thought I told you to stay put!" He asked in a panic. Didn't they realize how dangerous this place was? Were he and Serena always this careless?

"Don't think we're going to let you do this on your own, you're my brother, you imbecile!" Serena yelled. Camden winced a little, he was not used to seeing Serena so furious, especially at him. "Sissy, this isn't up for discussion. You guys need to return back now. How did you even get in here?"

"We know some ancient spells too," Charlie said matter-of-factly, with a little smug grin on his face. His grin fell when the ground shook beneath them. The sand shivered and rumbled before a large black, scaly body, bigger than any ship rose out of the sand. A massive snake head, with a narrow snout and a wide neck flap that flapped in sequence with the massive raddle at the end of its tail. "Ekeko." Camden gasped, he moved in front of Serena and Charlie. The massive snake, foretold to be well over 100 feet in height, towered over them, with eyes like jewels peering into their very souls. Camdwn swears it was looking through their lives and past lives.

The snake god hissed, its mouth opened to reveal two large fangs dripping with yellow venom. It looked ready to strike, a thin membrane sliding over its eyes for protection.

"Stop!" Ekeko immediately closed his mouth and looked to his left. A human child, a boy roughly eight stood next to him He had striking blue hair and emerald eyes. His skin was so pale and it almost looked translucent. He appeared to have a very frail frame with his school uniform hanging off him like wet clothes.

Both Charlie and Camden recognized the boy immediately, "Thomas." The boy smiled weakly, "Hey Charlie. And bigger Charlie. And Serena." He gave them a polite nod, "It's nice to see you all. I was hoping you'd show up."

"What's the meaning of this, how are you here?' Camden demanded, looking between Thomas and Ekeko. The snake didn't appear interested in killing them anymore. Did Thomas have some kind of control over the serpent?

"I'm really sorry," Thomas sighed, he reached out a hand towards the snake deity, petting its head like some domestic pet when it lowered down to his level. "I really wish I could change how things turned out, but it just wouldn't have worked if I did."

"What's going on?" Serena took a step closer, but Camden stopped her with his arm and gently pushed her back a step. She frowned, feeling like their roles had been changed. She was the big sister, she should be protecting him.

Thomas sighed, "You were always so kind to me, Charlie. You always wanted to be my friend. I wish I had taken you up on your offer, but I couldn't. You see, I was dying."

The doctor sighed, pulling away his stethoscope, "It's getting worse." He told Thomas's parents, Karolina and Joseph. "He's not going to last this spring." Thomas coughed, spitting up blots of blood into a white cloth. He winced at the biter copper taste on his tongue

"What do we do?" Karolina asked, squeezing her husband's hand. Joseph looked very distraught, he shook his head in denial, "My son is strong, he won't die. He can't!"

"I'm sorry," the doctor sighed in defeat, "But it's getting worse. The infection has already reached his lungs, it's only a matter of time before he succumbs to his illness."

"What are we supposed to do?" Karolina demanded through tears, Thomas struggled to keep strong. He had known for a while he was severely ill. It had gotten worse over the years. He was dying, the realization hadn't quite set in yet. He struggled to believe he was actually dying. Even now, he felt his body grow weaker by the minute.

"My family was at a loss, " Thomas continued, lightly stroking the snake's snout, "My father heard about this place, The Sands of Time, and found a way inside. He brought some back and was able to produce a mixture that he then injected into my blood. For just a short time, I was healthy. I was okay. But then I went to the lavatory and my illness returned. That's when you found me, Charlie."

Camden and Charlie's eyes widened, remembering the incident clearly. "You were dying," Camden shook, his eyes flickering with tears, "So you decided to stay here to keep yourself alive? Why stop time then, why freeze everyone, but leave the three of us mobile?"

Thomas looked ashamed, "I was brought here by Father to stay alive. As you know, living here nothing about you changes. While inside, you remain the same, even though the rest of the world continues onward. After my parents were unfortunately killed, I couldn't bear to lose anyone else. I don't want to live here for eternity when everyone leaves me. I froze time to keep everyone I know alive. It's okay though, the reason you three are alive is so we could finally be friends. I can finally be your friend, Charlie. Serena."

The children looked disturbed, while Camden had his head down, his bangs shadowing his eyes. If anyone were to look closely they would see his lips were pursed together in a thin white line, with his hands balling into fists so tight a little blood was leaking through his clenched fingers.

"We can all be friends," Thomas continued, opening his arms in hopes of encouraging a hug, "It'll be just us. I can make myself an adult too if I want, so I and older Charlie can be friends too. It'll be great!"

"Great?" Camden growled through his teeth, finally lifting his head enough for Thomas to see the murderous look in his eyes. "You think this is 'great'? Our families are frozen in time, we're away from everyone we love, and the worst part is we have no way of undoing this. And for some reason, you think it's 'great'?"

"Um... well..."

Ekeko hissed lowly, his black-forked tongue slipping out to lick the air. Camden eyed him cautiously, every muscle in his body tense, he tried to ignore the instinct to evade this beast and get himself and the kids out of this mess. He forced himself to glare at Thomas, "What do you plan to accomplish? Just the five of us, laughing and playing like we did as kids? What about them?" He waved to Serena and Charlie, "They want to return home to our parents, we all want to return to our families."

"But if you do that, then everyone else will die." Thomas cried, "I can't just live knowing I'm going to outlive everyone I love!"

"And what about us?" Charlie asked, taking a bold step forward. Serena was right beside him, looking disapprovingly at Thomas. "Our parents are stuck and we can't see them anymore." Their eyes grew misty remembering how scared they both had been realizing their parents weren't going to move or play with them anymore.

Thomas opened and closed his mouth, appearing to consider their words. Ekeko hissed lowly, his eyes glowed a sinister green color which soon matched Thomas' eyes. "That doesn't matter anymore," Thomas said, his eyes looking distant. Camden noticed it immediately and grew tenser. "You guys are my friends now. We'll be friends forever. Isn't that great?" His right eye twitched before an unruly smile stretched wide across his face, displaying his teeth.

"Thomas, we can't be your friends." Camden said, glancing at Ekeko, "The realms can't stay frozen in time forever, and eventually, whether you want to believe it or not, you're going to grow bored with us. Just five people stuck in one realm forever without any outside interaction isn't healthy." He knelt down to Thomas' level, "I'm sorry I wasn't there to help you. I'm sorry I didn't fight hard enough to learn the truth of your illness. However, forcing the world to stay still for you is just selfish. They have the right to live just as much as you do. Stopping time isn't going to fix anything."

Thomas shook, the green in his eyes flickering on and off. Ekeko hissed lowly, long tongue flickering out in frustration. "You...You don't want to be my fre-friends?"

"I'm sorry, but we can't."

His eyes glowed green as a heavy scowl crossed his face. Before anyone could react, the snake lunged, fangs bared and ready to bite. Camden jumped out of the fast, a millisecond before Ekeko's mouth sank into the black sand. Thomas groaned, gripping his head in pain, "Stop it... I don't want this."

Camden's heart thundered in his chest as he sized up the snake. The serpent slowly raised its diamond-shaped head, long tongue slipping out to flicker rapidly, tasting the air around it. Its gem eyes seemed to grow thinner into twin lines. He swears that the snake was smirking at him.

"Arg!" Camden cried out, his leg burning. He crumbled to the ground and grabbed his hurting leg. The pants were ripped, revealing a nasty gash oozing blood. "Oh no..." Realizing what was happening, he could feel his entire being growing tense.

"Camden!" Serena and Charlie raced to him. Serena gasped upon seeing his leg, "No..." Camden winced, trying to ignore the horrible pain coursing through his entire being. He couldn't stop himself from crying out in agony. Thomas stood in horror, his green eyes flickering to brown, "Charlie." The green returned as the snake hissed lowly at him. Thomas gripped his head, shaking in denial, "Y-You said I-I could keep my friends. Th-this isn't what I meant!" He broke down in tears, "This shouldn't be happening. Reverse it now!"

Ekeko only hissed at him, snapping his jaws near Thomas as a warning before slithering towards his prey.

"Stay back!" Serena jumped in front of her brother(s), wand poised to blast him. Ekeko seemed to chuckle, a devious smirk on his lips. "Serena, get away from him!" Camden ordered, "Now, sissy!"

"He's going to kill you!"

Camden struggled to get up, urged by his younger self, "Come on, Camden, we need to go!"

"I'm trying," he sobbed, losing all strength as the venom ran its course. Ekeko chuckled darkly, sliding past Serena. The princess screamed, blasting his side with a powerful spell, but it did nothing. "No, leave my brother alone!" Ekeko opened his mouth drawing in Camden's life force. Ghostly blue energy flowed out of Camden's body. Camden's eyes rolled over white, his skin seemed to grow trailer and stretched thinned across his skeletal frame. All his hair turned white and started falling out in patches.

Charlie gasped at the horrible sight, never in his short life had he never seen something so disturbing. He tried to think of a way to stop the rapid aging from happening, but could only whimper in defeat. There was nothing he could do. Thomas' eyes shook his head in denial, "This wasn't supposed to happen." In a fit of rage and desperation, he broke into a sprint, using his magic to try and dispel the snake's power. He knew of a weakness regarding the snake, it had been a moment of weakened judgment on Ekeko's part. Mainly because they had spent years together. Ekeko had slipped up for just a moment.

He dashed to Serena's side, hands glowing with power before snatching Serena's wand from her. "Hey!" Serena tackled his back, fighting to get her wand back. Thomas shoved her off, nearly elbowing her face in the process. He didn't waste a moment, aiming the wand at Ekeko, "Swuevil!" A blast of pure light magic, erupted out in powerful jets, colliding with Ekeko's head, knocking the reptile god aside. Thomas shook with an effort to keep his spell going, draining himself of all the available magic he had. While the magic in Sands of Time kept him youthful, he still needed his own magic to remain healthy. Every bit of energy was draining away until he gave. He collapsed into the sand, the wand in his hand seemingly weighing thousands of pounds.

Camden lay struggling to breathe. The withdrawal of his life force had stopped but he wasn't the same anymore. His hair had grown substantially long, reaching past his shoulders, it had thinned out and been bleached white. His eyes were gray and his skin was sickly pale, saggy, and covered in liver spots. Every time he breathed, he wondered if it would be his last breath. He couldn't see. Everything was too dark and blurry. All he could do was feel, he felt the hot sand beneath his skin, could feel grains getting stuck under his nails as he dug in his fingers. He could hear, though not very well, the sounds of the kids around him panicking. He could soon feel someone grabbing his hand and squeezing. For some reason, the gesture was comforting, albeit a little bittersweet. Was this how he'll die?

Ekeko snarled, his thin eyes became slits, as he opened his mouth ready to strike. Thomas held up Serena's wand, pointing it at the snake, "Stay away!" Ekeko's eyes glowed green and Thomas struggled to not let his influence affect him. "Stop it! Please..."

'You wanted to live, mortal. I gave you the chance,' The snake hissed sinisterly in his mind. Thomas sobbed as a wave of nausea hit him. He didn't want to fall under Ekeko's influence. He couldn't kill the last few people who mattered. "Please, I don't want this."

'Then I guess it's your turn to die!' The snake lunged nearly biting Thomas. However, Charlie sent out a strong blast of light magic directly into the snake's eye, causing him to roar with fury. 'You dare!'

Charlie stood in front of Thomas and his family. His hands glowed with magic. The young boy, only five, sneered at the snake, baring his teeth as he shot another powerful blast of magic. While he wasn't as strong as his parents or his sister, at least not yet, he could at least distract it long enough for Serena and Thomas to save his future self. "Stay away from them!"

Ekeko roared, before another blast of magic him in, this time from Serena. Ekeko snarled and spun around, his massive tail sweeping them away, throwing them all back as far from him as possible. The group screamed before landing in the, thankfully, soft sand. It was difficult to get up. Serena checked on Charlie first, he had the wind knocked out of him but seemed fine. Thomas got up fairly quickly, having gotten used to the unstable terrain. Far ahead, he saw Ekeko charging towards them.

"Camden, wake up!" He looked to see Serena and Charlie trying to wake up Camden, who lay motionless on the ground. It didn't look like he was breathing. A horrible knot grew in his stomach, heavy with guilt. This was all his fault. He had been lonely. Ekeko didn't see a reason to steal Thomas's life force, considering he was already dying.

"Father, why are we here?" Eight-year-old Thomas asked. His father smiled sadly at him, "I'm sorry, son. I'm sorry e couldn't give you a stronger body. You'll survive here, you deserve to live. I love you." He kissed Thomas' head before stepping out of the portal.

"Father!" Thomas rushed to the opening but was ultimately pushed back by the powerful magic in the seal. The boy cried, pounding furiously at the portal until it disappeared entirely from the realm. He fell to his knees and sobbed. He could feel the magic of this realm effecting him in a way. He never noticed himself aging or growing, but now he noticed it stopped. It was like every molecule in his body stopped moving and he was just there. Thomas didn't know how to describe such an alien feeling. He waited there for an unknown amount of time if that was still a concept in this place. It could have easily been a few years and he wouldn't have known.

Regardless, he felt the ground vibrate lightly then violently. Soon a long shadow fell over him with a deep hiss, "Mortal, how did you get into my realm?"

Thomas gasped and looked up to find a giant snake glaring down at him. He shook with fear, unable to find words to speak. The snake grew annoyed and opened his mouth, "Rude humans have no place in my realm!" He went to strike but froze, reluctantly closing his mouth, "You're dying, aren't you? How despicable. A human child, no less, has only a few months to live. That's not even worth wasting my venom on." He leaned in to glare at Thomas, "Why are you here then, human?"

Thomas shook as he struggled to speak, "I-I'm Thomas..."

Ekeko sneered, his tongue lapping out the air around him distastefully, "Don't speak to me as if we are equal, human. You are nothing but an insect to me, Ekeko, the demonic snake god of this realm. I'm known throughout space and time for my power. Speak to me with utter fear and respect, mortal, and I may not kill you."

"It doesn't matter," Thomas huffed, growing irritated by the snake's blatant bias against humans. "I'm already dying, and my parents basically abandoned me to be here all alone. I never had a say in anything! If you want to kill me, go ahead and do it. There is nothing left for me. Everyone I know back home probably thinks I'm ready dead."

The snake paused for a minute, taken aback by the child's disregard for his own life. It was impressive. Most humans would fall to their knees begging for mercy, only to be destroyed by Ekeko. Now a human child, one who clearly wouldn't survive in the outside world was here betting his life away. Ekeko hummed, curiously as he lapped the air around them. The pleasant taste of magic comes from the child. Interesting.

"You wish to die, human?"

"Of course not, but it's already happening!" He huffed and sat down, "Just hurry up and make it quick." Much to Thomas's surprise, the snake god chuckled, "I will not take your life, human. Your life force is of no use to me, it'll barely satisfy my hunger. If you would like, perhaps we can strike a deal."

"What kind of deal?" Thomas's eyes brightened curiously.

"You are magic, is that right?" And his nod, Ekeko continued, "Then you will assist me. And in return, I shall let you live in this realm. Serve me as my slave and you will never have to die."

Thomas considered it just for a moment. If he decided to stay here (not that he had much of a choice, but maybe Ekeko would kill him if he didn't) he would never die. He would stay eight forever and never feel sick again. But then again, his friends, and his family, what about them? "Would it be possible for me to still see the people that I love?" He inquired carefully.

Ekeko cocked his head, "You wish to view them from my realm?"

"If that's possible..." He glanced away, feeling small and insignificant, "I just want to be included somehow, even if I can't be with them anymore."

"I'm already offering you a chance to live forever, you shouldn't be so selfish." The snake hissed.

"I'm not, really, I'm grateful! I promise I'll do whatever you ask, I'll help you with whatever task you want. I just want to see my friends and my family. Please, that's all I ask. "

"Fine," Ekeko huffed, "But only because I pity your pathetic display of familiarity. How disgusting, to want to watch those you love grow old and die."

Thomas didn't answer, he knew Ekeko was right.

"I will allow you to peer through a portal, but know it'll only be brief. Don't take my hospitality for granted, human."

"I won't, thank you so much!"

From that moment onward, Thomas was allowed to peek into the world to watch his friends and family. He often looked at his parents, watching them grow older and older until they were killed in an accident at the Conjururo's Board with one of the newest magical inventions. Apparently, the original inventor failed to test his product out properly and, in a rush, looked over any safety measures needed. Needless to say, he was banned and rightfully arrested for negligence that cost the lives of three people. Thomas' parents, and a sweet little girl who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thomas had been nothing short of heartbroken and refused to look out into the real world for a while. He grew curious as to how long it had actually been. For him, it could easily have been hours, but for anyone else, it may have been years or even decades. When he looked out again, he found Charlie, all grownup. Charlie was a handsome young man standing proudly in the Conjuror's Board as they explained his new job.

Thomas had heard of Midgard, it wasn't talked about as much in Hexley Hall, but a lot of professors spoke of it in an almost fearful fashion. Midgard's magic was ancient and chaotic. It was never changed or adapted like it was in the Ever Realm. Not to mention, Midgard seemed to be the place for all things strange and mystical.

He watched Charlie leave his home and family, saying goodbye to his twin nieces: Selemene and Filamina. They were Serena and Fin's children. The girls were upset he was leaving, both being four, they threw a passionate fit until Charlie promised to bring them back toys and treats, as he always loved to spoil his nieces.

Then Charlie met Jasmine. A lovely woman who took him on a tailspin through Midgard. Their love was sweet and cute, at least on Charlie's part. It should be noted that Jasmine was a bit more forward with her intentions than Charlie. She tended to take the initiative most of the time from holding hands to sharing their first kiss. It made sense that Charlie would fall for her. She fitted right in with their unusual family.

Through it all, Thomas couldn't ignore the jealous feeling in his heart. Here was still only eight, but out there his friends had all grown up and started living their own lives. He had to miss it all and there was nothing he could do about it. Or was there?

"Please, I beg you. I just want my friends!"

"Enough!" Ekeko snapped his jaws at Thomas, making the boy jump in fear. "Why would I want more humans here, I can barely tolerate you!"

Thomas sniffed, "I just want to have friends. Do you want friends?"

Ekeko snorted, "I've lived in this realm longer than you can imagine, boy. I have no need for 'friends', they are nothing but a nuisance."

Thomas waved his hand opening a window to peer into the realm where he saw Charlie playing with his nieces, they were using magic to tag one another, changing the color of their clothes. The twin girls were laughing happily, chasing their uncle down and blasting him with blasts of harmless blue and green magic. It showed Charlie countering a blast and it bouncing off his wand and hitting an unaware Cedric, changing his favorite purple robe to a dark blue color. The glare he sent their way made them all tense up and before anyone knew it, he had his own wand out and was shooting harmless blasts at them. The group laughed running away screaming as Cedric chased them down, waving his wand.

Ekeko hummed, looking closer, "These are you friends?"

"Well, Charlie is, he's the guy with brown hair, the rest are his nieces, sisters, and parents. That's Princess Sofia, his mom, and, his dad. They're very powerful sorcerers."

"I can tell," A plan began forming in his mind. Ekeko may be well-known, but he wasn't as powerful as he looked. He merely played up his god act, but in actuality, he was one of the lowest-ranking gods around. Sure, humans would have trouble destroying him, but with the right spell, they could. Hence, he had to be cautious around humans, especially sorcerers. But, if he were to steal the magic of some powerful magic users, he might gain the respect he deserved from his fellow gods and goddesses. A sinister smirk grew across his face. He needed magic, and while he couldn't go against Cedric and Sofia, their children were a different story. This of course was unknown to Thomas. If he had known, he would have never accepted Ekeko's proposal.

But Thomas, despite being alive for almost two decades, was still only eight. If he stepped outside into the real world, he would age rapidly, with the disease catching up quickly.

Thomas decided last minute he wanted both future and past Charlie to be his friend. They probably would have been friends if he hadn't been sick. As for Serena, he thought she was more interested in her kids than in being friends. Camden didn't have kids yet, or at the very least probably wouldn't due to his wife's infertility. He hadn't thought his plan through as much as he should have, but he had been desperate, he didn't want to be lonely anymore.

"Camden, please wake up!" Thomas rushed to where Seren and Charlie were, he knelt down and rolled up his sleeve to bite his thumb, teeth breaking through the skin. "Open his mouth!"

"What are you doing?" Serena demanded, horrified by the blood dripping from Thomas' thumb. "Just do it," he snapped back, "My blood is magically infused with the sands of time, it might help." He could only hope it would. It was able to save him in the beginning, he hoped it could help Camden. Serena hesitated but knew they didn't have much of a choice, Ekeko was coming in fast and they wouldn't be able to hold him off on their own. They needed Camden.

Opening her brother's mouth, Serena watched Thomas drop a few drops of blood on his tongue. The magically enhanced blood seeped into the tissue.

The ground began to shake violently. Serena shook her brother, while Charlie screamed for him to wake up. Slowly, almost comically slow, Camde opened his eyes, looking bleerily around. His appearance looked more youthful, at least compared to how he looked just a few moments ago. He appeared to be in his late fifties, rather than in his late seventies. "Charlie, I'm sorry!" Thomas screamed, "I'm so sorry, please, we need your help!"

Ekeko slithered up and raised his large head to strike, fangs dripping with green venom that appeared to have steam rising off it. Camden coughed and raised the family wand, his voice hoarse as he recited an old spell, "Kematian!" A blast of violently vibrant magic erupted hitting Ekeko in the face, causing him to roar in pain. Camden whimpered, nearly collapsing. Serena, Charlie, and Thomas, all grabbed ahold of him, each wrapping their hand around his wand, together they pushed all their magic into the spell. They yelled together: "Kematian!" The next blast of magic was more powerful than before. It attacked Ekeko, searing his scales, burning his very being. Their combined light and neutral magic consumed the ancient serpent until he fell dead in the sand. All the life forces he had consumed throughout his entire existence poured out through his mouth, some of it rushing toward Camden, rejuvenating him back to his former self, a man in his mid-twenties. Camden sighed, feeling sore but otherwise fine. He sat up and laughed when his sister and younger self threw themselves into his arms.

Serena even went so far as to bump him in the head with her small fist, "Don't ever do that again!" She looked furious, angry tears rolling down her face. Camden nodded and hugged her tighter, "I'm so sorry, Sissy. I didn't mean to scare you guys." He let them go, before turning to Thomas who stood back, unable to meet eye contact. Camden carefully stood up. He approached Thomas and knelt down to him, "Thomas."

The boy sniffed and offered Camden a weak smile, "Hey Charlie."

"Thank you for helping us, we wouldn't have survived without you."

Thomas snorted bitterly, his eyes growing misty, "It's my fault this happened. I shouldn't done this. I'm sorry."

"I understand," Camden patted his head before pulling Thomas in for a hug, shushing the boy when he began to cry.

Serena and Charlie both watched, their hearts breaking, neither moved, not sure if they should say anything or not. "I want to leave," Thomas said, wiping his tears away, "I can't stand to be here any longer. I want to leave and go home."

"What will happen when you leave, Thomas? Will you die?"

"Yeah," he nodded, before smiling at them, "But I rather die on my terms than live here all alone forever. I don't know why my parents thought this was a good idea. They must have thought I would be better off without them or something. I don't know. I probably will never know. But I want to see the sunset at least. Something pretty before I go."

Camden nodded, "I know where you can see the prettiest sunset in the world." He grabbed Thomas' hand and took out the Galactica spellbook. "Let's go home, all of us."

There was something strange in the air, but neither Cedric nor Sofia knew what it was. They had a brief moment of uncertainty-

"Mama, Papa!" Their two kids, Serena and Charlie, tackled them in hugs, both crying happily. It took the princess and her husband by surprise. Regardless, they happily hugged their little ones. "Darling, why are you crying?" Cedric asked, wiping his daughter's tears away. Sofia cooed and rocked their son, Charlie, gently kissing his head.

"We just missed you, Papa," Serena said, blurring her face into her father's robe. Cedric and Sofia exchanged worried looks, before noticing the motorcycle left by Camden. Sofia recognized it as one of the strange bikes that her and Cedric's evil (though not so much so now) counterparts used to travel through different realms. But why was it here, and who did it belong to?

Thomas stared at the setting sun, amazed by the warm color decorating the skies above. He and Camden were sitting on the top of the tallest tower in the Enchancian castle, under a cloaking spell so as to not draw any unwanted attention. "If almost forgot what the sunset looked like," Thomas whispered, he was much older now, his body now that of an adult. His skin was pale and thin, his eyes tired and baggy, and his whole body looked incredibly frail and almost skeletal. "Thank you for staying with me during this. I would hate to go alone."

"I know." Camden sighed, "I'm sorry I didn't try hard enough to help you. "

Thomas shook his head, "It's not your fault. What could you have done? Magic can't heal this. We tried everything. I'm just glad that I get to see my parents again. I've been missing them for so long, I almost forgot what they looked like. I remember doing something similar with my folks. Where on nice evenings like this, we would sit out by the lake and watch the sunset. My father would tell us some funny story about his summers as a mischievous teen, and my mom would talk about how silly he was trying to woo her."

"That was a long time ago."

"No, it was yesterday." Thomas smiled, his body becoming transparent until he was nearly invisible. "Thank you, my friend."

"You're welcome." In those final moments, Thomas was gone. His body had faded into oblivion, with only the magical sense of him lingering just a little longer. Camden broke down into tears and sobbed quietly to himself.

Serena and Charlie were still with their parents when Camden returned. He was hesitant to approach them but felt he needed to say his goodbyes. Cedric and Sofia gasped upon seeing him with their children racing towards him, "Camden!" Camden laughed and hugged them both, he patted Serena's head and ruffled Charlie's. "Is he gone?" Charlie asked, a tiny whimper coming off his throat.

Camden nodded, "Yes. We said our goodbyes and he went peacefully."

"I wish there was something we could have done to help," Serena sniffed. Camden hugged her again, "Listen, Sissy, one thing I've learned is that you can't save everyone. It's a hard lesson, but a necessary one. And when things do get bad, which they will at times, don't hesitate to come to me or Mama and Papa, or anyone else you trust. We're a family. And the family will always be there for each other, no matter what." He swiped some tears away with his thumb, "You're an awesome sister and one of my best friends. I know I can always count on you, but you gotta remember you can count on me too. There's no reason for you to take on so much responsibility all on your own."

"Yeah," she nodded, "So future me, is she okay?"

"She's perfectly fine." Camden chuckled, "Just remember you're a lot stronger than you might believe." Serena nodded and hugged him tightly, "I'm going to miss you."

"Why, I'm right here," he gestured to Charlie and patted the boy's head. "I still can't believe how small I was."

"I can't believe how big I've grown," Charlie giggled. Camden chuckled, "You will be doing a lot of growing up, that's for sure. Anyways, I should probably get going, Jasmine is waiting for me."


Camden looked at Charlie curiously. "I was wondering, do you and I, or me, however you want to put it, become a powerful sorcerer like Papa?"

Camden hummed, considering his words, "You've seen me in action, obviously I'm powerful. However, if you're wondering if we're like Papa, then no. We're not. Listen, Charlie, you should never measure yourself using someone else's ruler. Sometimes you're ahead, and sometimes you're behind. In the end, we are all running our own race. We're not meant to be like Papa, if we were we would make the same mistakes as him and he doesn't want that for us. You can ask him." He gestured to Cedric and Sofia who looked dumbfounded. No doubt they were listening in on the entire conversation. Camden would normally be more cautious, but there was no way he was going to stop time again. "Regardless, we shouldn't compare ourselves to others. Just be the best version of you. And I don't mean, be like me. Your future might not be like mine. It might change into something else entirely, which is actually pretty exciting. It opens up so many doors for you.

Just be the best version of you. Okay?"

Charlie nodded, "Okay."

"And Charlie?" He looked to his future self. Camden winked, "You'll do just fine." With a final hug, Camden waved at Cedric and Sofia before putting on his helmet and starting his bike. The nightly roar it released made them jump. He pulled up the front wheel into a wheelie before racing off to a newly opened portal, returning to Midgard.

Needless to say, there was a lot Charlie and Serena had to explain to their parents.

Camden, now just Charlie, smiled as he drove past several moving cars and busses. He wheeled his bike again, accelerating it before weaving through traffic. He hurried to his apartment building and after securing his bike, raced up the stairs. The front door was starting to open with Jazz stepping out. Before she could even say hi, Charlie scooped her up in his arms and spun them both around, surprising her with a wonderful kiss.

"Charlie, what's gotten into you?" She blushed, tucking some strands of her orange hair behind her ear, "You act like you haven't seen me in days. "

"Let's just say it's been a while." He chuckled, kissing her again. "I missed you, my moon."

Jazz giggled, "Why do you keep calling me that?"

"Because no matter how dark things can get, you always shine through." He pressed a few gentle kisses to her forehead, "You're always there to light my way when I need you. I just want you to know how much you matter to me. "

She smiled, her eyes misting up before she cupped his cheek and kissed him, "I love you too." She took his hand and placed it on her belly, "We both do."

"Jazz..." His wife smiled, before pulling out a white stick, "I wasn't feeling good the past few days and I noticed my period was late so..." She showed him the stick with two strong pink lines on it. Once realization hit, they embraced each other tightly, sobbing uncontrollably.