Written for The Daily Prompt: Back to The Future, posted August 4th, 2013
Times of Turmoil
The old man stumbled, suddenly distracted by a call in his mind.
The world around the old man faded away, replaced by an ancient world that possessed his mind and informed him of an entirely different ‘reality’ than he had been experiencing a moment earlier.
In this older world he felt younger, stronger, hornier.
Desert sands had replaced the mild meadows full of flowers the old man had been strolling through only a few moments ago.
Who had summoned him?
What must he do here?
In the distance a plume of dust marked the passage of a caravan. The young man set off to find his ancient destiny.
The body of the young man that the old man now possessed was very strong, well toned. The young man was nearly naked, his brown skin glistened slightly with sweat. A sack of alum powder hung from his sash.
The old man fingered the small leather bag, remembering what it was for, he applied some of the powder to his skin to stop his sweat.
Conserving moisture was a critical part of living in this desert’s heat.
Few people in this age knew this secret of the alum powder.
The old man had taught the secret of alum to the young man’s fathers during a later visit he must still make to that earlier time.
Aside from the precious alum powder, the young man carried a bronze sword and bladder of water. The young man was a soldier, as his fathers had been before him.
The old man observed the caravan as he caught up with it.
There were few guards, some of whom were wounded. The caravan had recently survived a raid. Perhaps the raiders had not made off with the best of its treasures.
The nobles, soldiers, and merchants would be wary.
But the presence of the old man within the young man’s body meant only one thing, the caravan carried an artifact, an artifact out of time itself.
The old young man could physically sense the artifact as they grew closer, as if it were a part of their shared body.
Suddenly, the young man was gone. He had travelled ahead into the old man’s body, while the old man fully possessed the body abandoned by the young man who had been riding it.
The young man’s body seemed to fall in upon itself, shriveling and wrinkling, until the young man appeared old. His sword fell from hips and hid itself in the sand, safe from the prying eyes of the caravaneers.
The water in the full bladder turned sideways, vanishing from this dimension.
The old man’s loinclout changed from a clean, neat cloth to a shabby, dirty affair.
The old man considered losing his sandals as they changed to match the decrepitude of the rest of his appearance.
The old man approached two of the caravan’s guards who had dropped back to ‘greet’ him.
The old man tensed for the blows, pretending to be ignorant of any fighting skills.
When both guards struck the old man he fell to the ground and groveled.
The old man knew that only one of the caravan members could be a sensitive, like himself.
Ordinarily, two or more sensitives could not tolerate being together with the artifact carried by the caravan. It took extraordinary training for a sensitive to shield themselves in the presence of the Divine Rod of the Ruler of Time.
This was the artifact the old man was here to steal.
But, as usual, the time-tables had all been changed again; the mission put on hold for so many centuries was suddenly reactivated. The stolen rod would soon be returned to those who had first summoned it into being.
The old man considered the deaths of the people who now greeted him with a beating.
If necessary, he would design a death customized to each victim, none of these poor souls were prepared for the subversive attacks he might launch against them.
The old man could turn the minds of each member of the caravan against themselves.
Begging for mercy, the old man pretended to writhe in pain upon the ground.
After a few more dutiful kicks to the old man’s back and sides the guards relented, satisfied the old man was in no shape to be any threat.
As the old man rose to his feet he was shoved back down to his knees.
The caravan came to a stop to allow the old man to approach the caravan’s master.
Scraping worn knees across blistering sand the old man crawled forward and begged for mercy and protection from the elements.
The caravan master frowned, then vanished from his own body as the caravan’s sensitive ruler peered out of the master’s eyes and surveyed the old man carefully.
Clearly the caravan master and his sensitive ruler did not get along well. The ruler was probably corrupt and cruel. The old man knew how to turn their poor relationship with one another against them.
The ruler frowned with the caravan master’s eyes, unable to enter the old man’s body. This one would need to be trained to give up his flesh. He must be a barbarian form the north to be so ignorant of the customs of the ruler’s tribes.
The sensitive ruler of the caravan slipped out of the caravan master’s body, allowing the master to return, and silently informing him what he should do.
The master whistled a code to summon a slave. The slave would teach the old man his own tasks and make sure the old man did them well. The slave would move up in rank with the old man taking his place as the lowliest member of the caravan.
The old man hated the tyranny of the rulers, and yet he was another ruler.
The old man was fighting a war with the tyrant rulers, a war that would be won shortly after he seized the Divine Rod of the Ruler of Time.
The old man pondered the Rod’s origins.
When the Rod had been summoned it was the first of the magical artifacts received by men from the entities of the Creator Races.
Some of the members of the Creator Races sometimes appeared among men, riding them by ruling their bodies.
The old man had learned that trick on his own; there was no teacher to tie his mind to the minds of the rulers.
To the tyrant rulers, it was as if the old man did not exist.
The old man had made himself into a rogue ruler.
The tyrants knew they were opposed by people as powerful as themselves, but they could not identify any of the rogue rulers behind the rebellion.
The rogues were more skilled than the rulers they opposed. The tyrants had grown lazy and corrupt, relying too much on their slaves and dominions, rather than upon their own minds and strengths.
The Rod had been created to give humanity rulership over all of the elements, including Time. The Rod was intended to empower humanity to build a sanctuary for themselves apart from the tyrants who ruled them.
However, the original fellowship of the Rod’s summoners had been corrupted. The tyrant rulers had witnessed the summoning of the Rod and had seized the Rod before it could be sanctified.
The raw Rod was a dangerous artifact in the hands of anyone who did not understand its powers.
The tyrant rulers had sacrificed many of their members trying to learn the Rod’s secrets. All they had managed to learn was that they should never allow the Rod to meet water or blood.
Now, at last, the Rod was vulnerable. The Rod had been forced out of its hiding place by rising waters. The tyrants had feared to lose possession of the Rod, but had the Rod been fully immersed in the waters that rose behind the Aswan Dam the powers of the Rod would have been opened up to the entire planet.
Water would conduct its powers directly into the minds of everyone on earth.
The tyrant rulers could not allow that to happen.
The Rod must be kept dry at all costs.
The tyrant rulers sensed the trap waiting for them if they moved the Rod during the approaching flood. They decided to move the Rod centuries before the Aswan Damn would eventually be built.
The old man grinned, thinking about how he would spit on the Rod at his first opportunity.
Beneath the old man’s knees his bronze sword crawled through the sand, seeking the camel carrying the Rod.
Suddenly their was a loud cry as a camel stumbled and fell, it’s foot bleeding.
The old man rushed forward, cursing.
The camel’s belly opened up as it struck the sand, its guts spilling as the sword struck again.
The camel driver stared in horror as he was thrust out of his body by his ruler.
The ruler turned in the camel driver’s body and pointed at the old man, frustrated.
The old man denied the caravan ruler entry to his body.
The camel driver was sweating profusely as his ruler channeled more and more energy through his body in a futile attempt to invade the old man’s body.
The power channeled through the camel driver’s body set his body ablaze.
As the camel driver began to burn the old man compelled the caravan master’s body into action. Together with the frightened caravan master, they ran to a camel more ostentatiously outfitted than most of the rest.
The caravan master leapt over the camel pressing both hands down on its hump and swinging his legs up and forward, colliding with body of the caravan ruler’s priest with both of his feet.
The priest collapsed to the ground and died, the spirit of the caravan’s ruler was severed from the priest’s body as the caravan master cut through the priest’s heart with a silver dagger.
The remaining slaves and guards of the caravan fell upon each other in chaos as their ruler jumped from one to another ineffectively seeking anyone he could ride.
Without his priest to focus the ruler’s mind within the members of the caravan the members were coming free of his powers to enslave them.
The ruler disciplined himself. There was one member he could still enslave, but he must be subtle about it. If the others suspected he still owned any of them they would kill his host and sever his only tie to the caravan and it’s precious cargo.
The caravan ruler remembered his history, he knew how the Rod had originally been seized; now it was up to him to play the role of the hero of his people, he must somehow manage to steal the Rod back from whoever had just captured it.
The old man spit on the Rod.
The Times of Turmoil had begun once more.