I drifted, neither awake, nor asleep... neither in body, nor in mind.

I couldn't see, but then worlds and stars took shape about me and I knew they were there. I could feel them… almost reach out, had I an arm and a hand, to touch them.

Where was I? And who was I? And, for that matter, what was I doing in this place?

I tried to speak, to cry out, but I had no voice; instead I was surrounded by an empty cold.

And so I drifted still, with no concept of time or duration. Suns and their worlds came and went, some nearer and some far. But, all the while, I felt myself drawn to something... or somewhere. Perhaps someone?

Then another world came nearer... closer, I think, than any had come before. It was as unfamiliar to me as all of the other worlds had been, yet I felt a kinship to it. Something was alive there, and then I too remembered a little of what it was like to be alive. I was no longer merely curious, and no longer was I unable, or even unwilling, to guide my journey.

It was glorious. To be alone, for so long, but then to feel others nearby. I could reach out, and I could perceive them. What a busy world it was, full of hustle and bustle, of small creatures and great beings. Some I knew to be mortals (though I could not remember why or how)… men, dwarves, and elves. And others were what mortals called gods… entities of greater power, some with a desire to interfere and to meddle, while others benevolent. And yet, still, more were indifferent - uncaring towards one another, and to those both above and below, yet still seeking something... something very important, something vital.

At that moment I began to drift again. "No!" I began to cry, but of course, there was still no sound, and no tongue to make a noise, nor even lips to pretend a whisper.

But did my panic and desperation slow me, or was it something else? Again, I reached out and I embraced this unfamiliar world, for even the unknown was preferable to the void I did know.

And so my body took form… my spirit faded, and the sense of floating left. I could feel the cold earth beneath me, and I was lying upon it, face down.

"Ho, what is this?" thundered an unfamiliar voice. "What have I caught as though a fish swimming in the ether?"

I gasped, taking my first breath… but was it my first breath?

I slowly rose, first to my knees, and then, just barely, to my feet. I found myself leaning against something smooth, but made of stone - a pillar perhaps. My eyes slowly opened, adjusting to the light. Rays from the sun illuminated a fog enshrouded temple, and though the ground under my feet was dry, the air was humid, almost alive.

"I know not from whence you've come, strange one, but I am in need. You shall be my emissary."

I looked around, trying to find the source of the voice, but to no avail. I was alone. And I was very afraid, but not because of the voice, nor due to my unfamiliar surroundings.

I was afraid because I remembered then who I was: Aradune Mithara, the Ranger, the Outrider.

But that name, that answer to my question, only brought a flood of new questions -- questions more unsettling and terrifying than anything my fragmented memory could recall...

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