Nikola studied the metal
wall before him. Gray and smooth—it wasn’t shiny, but it did mirror enough that
he could see a spectral reflection looking back—nearly hidden as though it were
in a heavy fog. His gaze drifted from his reflection and focused on the small
numbers stamped on the metal. 1894. He had hammered each number into the metal
using his stamp kit to mark the year of the experiment for history’s sake. He
had considered putting the month and maybe even the day, but decided to leave
them off in case he had to postpone the event due to complications. If things
went well, he might go back later and add them.
“You ready Nik?” A muffled voice came
from outside the closet-sized chamber.
He opened his mouth, but no words
formed. Nikola cleared his throat and tried again. “I’m good to go, Sam. Throw
He stroked his black mustache a couple
of times for luck. A habit he often caught himself doing when he was nervous.
The sound of metal making contact with metal told him the large circuit switch
had been pushed into the up position. After a moment of silence a hum started.
As it grew louder, electrical sparks ran up and down the walls like miniature
lightning bolts jumping back and forth between the four walls of his small
room. One of the sparks jumped from the metal to his arm. “Ouch!” Nikola
grabbed his elbow.
“You okay in there?” Sam sounded
“I’m alright. It’s just—Ow!” He jumped
as another bolt hit him. “Mensch, that smarts.”
“Ow, ow, ow—” Several more streams of
electricity popped his body.
“You want me to shut it down?” His
friend asked almost as though it were a statement.
“No. Not—ow—yet. Let’s give it a
chance—ow—to work. I’ll—ow—let you know if things become too painful. Ow!”
He heard an unhappy grunt from outside.
Samuel was a good friend. He was also a writer, not a scientist. Nikola was
concerned Sam might shut the experiment down to save his friend even if it were
against his wishes. “I’m good, Sam!” He held in a cry of pain to avoid negating
his words. “Honest—I’ll let you know if there’s a problem.”
“Alrighty then. I’ll make sure your
tombstone says He said ‘I’m good’ when they ask me what to put on it!”
Nikola managed a grin despite the
The pain stopped even though the bolts
of electricity continued to arch throughout the chamber. He realized they were
traveling though him without making any contact. He smiled.
The chamber vanished. For just a moment
he saw a blurred lab around him and then it vanished. The air swirled around
him like a gentle breeze, though not enough to mess up his well-groomed, wavy
black hair. Gravity released him for a moment and he floated several inches off
the ground. Then it returned with the force of a fast moving stagecoach coming
to a quick stop.
He lost his balance and fell to the
ground. He was lying in a field of tall grass. He squinted to allow his eyes to
adjust to the sun, flexed his arms and legs a bit to make sure nothing was
injured and then stood. He was on top of a hill looking over a large meadow
with trees lining the distant horizon. Exiting those woods was what appeared to
be a small group of soldiers. He dropped to his knees to let the grass hide
him. It didn’t appear he had been noticed. The group—seven men—walked toward
him, but not directly. He wasn’t their destination. He was sure they would pass
well to his left.
He held his flat hand above his eyes to
block the sunlight and focused on the soldiers. Elves! His thoughts
almost spoken before he stopped the sound from revealing himself. My God!
They’re elves! He repeated several times in his mind.
Something grabbed Nikola and dragged him
several feet across the grass on his back. He sat up quickly and looked around.
Nothing. He was pulled a second time, this time with more force and some pain.
He was pulled again. He watched in both
fascination and horror as his clothing and all possessions on him became
intangible, moved through him and fell to the ground. This time he was being
pulled with such force it felt as though he were wrapped in chains and being
pulled in multiple directions. The meadow and the soldiers were gone. The world
again a blur.
His body slammed hard—nude—to the wooden
floor of his lab. He struggled to breath. At least one rib must be broken. As
he moved to get up his shoulder gave way to pain. It too was broken. He looked
up to see Sam’s stunned face.
Samuel Clemens stared
at the strange device sitting before him. Jules Verne couldn’t have imagined a
more fascinating contraption. A large metal box covered in lights and
switches—rounded, riveted corners—with bundles of cables and hoses running to
massive generators with electricity jumping back and forth between tall metal
rods above them. Inside the box—beyond the thick metal door with a large metal
handle reminiscent of a ships steering wheel—was another metal box. Inside that
inner chamber was the most brilliant idiot he’d ever known. Only a fool would
risk his life this way in the name of science.
He watched in horror as his friend
Nikola Tesla materialized magically several feet above the floor in front of
him and slammed to the ground like a dead fish being tossed to a cutting board.
He was certain Nik was inside his metal contraption just moments earlier. Several
seconds passed before Samuel’s mind registered that his friend was naked. Only
when the body began to move did he find the strength to approach Nikola.
“Good God, boy—what the hell happened!”
He pulled off his jacket, rushed to his friend and tossed the cover over
Nikola’s shoulders as he helped him to his feet.
“Ow!” Nikola fell as he tried to stand.
“Perhaps I should sit a moment before I get up.” He looked up at his friend
smiling. “I’m going to need some help getting from the lab to the cart. I think
I have a few broken bones.”
“Why the hell are you smiling?” Sam
helped Nik to a sitting position. “You could have gotten yourself killed!”
His smile grew. “It worked. I traveled
to the past… I think.”
His large grin diminished to barely a
smile. “I swear,” he looked Sam directly in the eyes, “I think I saw elves.”
iam stretched his arms nearly to their
breaking point and locked a hand on each side of the large rock. With his feet
strategically placed under him, he lifted. Despite the strength of his
magically mutated body, he struggled to stand. With a second effort he managed
to get the rock to an acceptable height, take a step to his right and drop the
heavy thing onto the wagon.
A smile formed under the trunk that hung
over his mouth, between the two large tusks that stretched forward—one on each
side of his face. His bulky gray skinned left hand wiped the sweat from his
face as his right hand brushed back the long red, orange and yellow hair that
blew in the breeze looking almost like a fire burning on top of his head.
He looked across the area he had just
finished clearing and his smile grew. The vegetables growing in the garden next
to where he had been working were flowering and would soon produce fruit. The
wheat that would grow in this new garden would feed the few animals he planned
to get and make bread for him to enjoy through the winter. He wasn’t a farmer—a
warrior most of his life—but he was looking forward to being a farmer. His
neighbors—all farmers—were a library of information and a treasure of help.
With their support, he was well on his way to a successful farm.
The ground began to shake. He steadied
himself—planting his large rounded feet firmly to the ground. His brow furrowed
as he focused his attention on movement in the center of his vegetable garden.
Liam staggered several steps backward as a massive light blue crystal pushed
its way through the soil. When it finally stopped rising, the crystal—at least
ten feet across—stood nearly twenty foot tall.
The large gnome—he still considered
himself a gnome even though he stood nearly seven feet tall and was built more
like a warhorse—pulled his cloth shirt off and tossed it to the ground in
frustration. Nearly half his garden had just been destroyed before his eyes.
Wearing only his laced cloth pants with his muscular gray chest glistening in
the sunlight, he walked across the damaged rows of vegetables and gathered the
plants that had been torn from the soil in hope he might save a few of them.
Nikola sat in his library chair
and studied the schematics of the time chamber. He wasn’t interested in the ink
and paper copy in his lab. The newest design was still being perfected in his
mind. He wouldn’t commit the work to paper until every detail had been worked
replace the metal walls that created the inner chamber. As an organic material,
he hoped it would absorb the energy created by the machine instead of
transferring it to the contents of the chamber (especially if he were the
Tests that followed his less
than perfect trip to the past—if that is where he was (elves!)—had shown
that everything but organic matter traveled back with no problems. Organic
matter on the other hand always returned violently back to its proper time.
Nikola was convinced that living things were more strongly tied to time than
stone and metal. Even wood and cloth eventually returned when sent back, but
much slower. And when the material was soaked in a chemical bath to better
destroy the cells of the once living animal or plant, it would take much longer
for it to return. In fact, some wooden trinkets were still unreturned several
weeks after sending them. He had hopes they would stay gone.
He was beginning to believe
time travel by people—other than very short jumps—might be impossible. Nature
apparently didn’t like it when things weren’t where they were supposed to be.
It quickly returned them where they belonged and did so with enough force to
let you know not to try again.
His thoughts were
interrupted by a loud popping noise from outside his house. At first he thought
it might be gunfire or fireworks, but quickly realized the sound was too
rhythmic—coming from some form of machine.
He tenderly rose and made his way
to look out the library’s window. His arm and leg were no longer in casts and
he was healing well, but he was still quite sore from the trauma of his journey
through time. He shook his head when he saw the horseless carriage approaching
the house. On one side was his friend Sam with his wild red and white-gray hair
waving above his head and under his nose (his mustache nearly hiding his
mouth), on the other—steering with the buggy’s tiller—was Theresa—her reddish
brown curls bouncing around her ears and neck, tamed only slightly by the
leather strap of the goggles she wore. Theresa had a knack for collecting
unusual things. This motorized cart was most likely her latest find. He limped
to the front door to greet them.
He waited for Theresa to turn off
the vehicle before speaking. “You have a new toy.”
She smiled as she lowered the
goggles from her face—letting them hang by their strap around her neck. “It’s a
‘Ladies Phaeton’ I managed to wrangle from Frank Duryea in Massachusetts.” She
untied a leather satchel she had secured to the side of the car and went to
greet Nikola. Sam followed her. “They’ll replace the horse and carriage.”
“Maybe.” He studied the vehicle
from the front porch. “But not before someone improves them a good bit.” He
waved to his writer friend. “Hi Sam.”
Sam smiled and nodded. “Nik.” He
then turned to Theresa. “Our historian friend here has found something very
interesting.” He looked at Nikola. “I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to see
what the young lady has to show you.”
She opened the pouch and pulled
out a skull. “As you know, I dabble in archaeology.” She presented it to Nikola
and sat on one of the four wooden rocking chairs lining the front porch. “A
friend found this while digging for fossils in Africa.”
Nikola examined the skull. At
first it looked human, but on a closer inspection, something seemed different.
It was longer and narrower than a normal skull. The eye sockets appeared oddly
shaped and slightly closer to each other than they should be. He was sure there
was more that wasn’t quite right about the skull, but with a cursory look
that’s all he noticed.
“There were several skeletons of different
shapes and sizes in the buried chamber they found—no two alike and none quite
human.” She looked at Sam and back to Nikola. “I know this’ll sound crazy, but
he thinks they’re gnomes and elves.”
Nikola turned quickly to Sam. His
mind raced with visions of the elves he had seen. “Elves.”
“If that’s not crazy enough for
you, the art, tools and weapons that were unearthed there are reminiscent to
items found about 2500 BC, but they estimate these date back to between 100,000
to 150,000 years ago. At least 60,000 years earlier than any real art or tools
should exist—if they were human.” She shook her head. “There’s evidence of a
civilization that predates Mesopotamia—what we thought was the first
civilization to exist—by tens of thousands of years!”
Nikola watched Theresa. She had
the glow of a child opening presents on Christmas morning. Her hands moved as
though they were trying to tell the story her words couldn’t. They stopped long
enough to reach back into the leather satchel and remove several light blue
She handed the largest crystal to
Nikola. “These were there, too.”
He held the crystal. In the
sunlight the thing almost seemed to glow. He cupped his hands around the
crystal and held it close to his face. “It’s glowing!”
“I know.” She handed the
remaining crystals to Nikola. “That’s why I brought them here. I figured you
were the closest thing to an expert I knew.” She looked at Sam. “Sam seemed to
think you’d be more interested in the bones.”
He smiled. “I’m quite interested
carefully along the bank of the large lake that sat in the center of
Froghaven—stepping over and between the small light blue crystals scattered
across the sand and grass. He occasionally adjusted the leather straps holding
the massive battle axe he had secured to his back to make carrying the burden a
little easier. He didn’t anticipate needing the weapon, but figured he’d rather
be foolishly cautious than expectantly unarmed.
the large crystal destroyed his garden, this was the only place Liam knew the
crystals existed. Larger ones like the one in his garden would be found at the
foot of the mountain that overlooked the jungle-like woods. He hoped to find
answers to why the crystals were no longer confined to Froghaven—and if the why
presented a danger.
his knowledge the crystals at the base of the mountain grew very
slowly—taking years to rise even a few feet. There were many theories about
what caused the crystals to be pushed up through the earth. The most accepted
thought was they were somehow reacting to the magic that permeated all of
Froghaven. As they absorbed the energies they expanded. But no one knew for
sure. Liam was fairly certain it was very uncommon for the crystals to spring
up through the ground the way the one did in his garden. If he were going to
find answers, they were likely to be here.
felt the ground trembling and heard a cracking sound from somewhere ahead. He
quickened his pace to investigate. Passing through a tall row of shrubs he
arrived in time to witness several large crystals rising and pushing against
other crystals surrounding the mountain. As they met, the crystals were
breaking. Crystal shards littered the ground around the larger
crystals—fragments of the collisions.
* * *
Froghaven—near the edge of the cliff that overlooked its massive trees—Crissins
examined several large crystals that had recently appeared around Sanctuary
Point—the gnome fortress that rested at the top of the mountain. With her were
Talla, the court historian, and Talla’s daughter, Dhayli. This was Dhayli’s
first time accompanying her mother on official business. Talla felt the
eight-year-old was ready for more than lectures and simple field trips. Plus, being
near Sanctuary Point, the trip promised to be safer than most ventures outside
of the kingdom.
these things are just springing up everywhere?” Talla asked as she watched over
Crissins’ shoulder. The wizard was crouched—studying the soil where the crystal
broke through the ground.
fascinating, isn’t it? In a scary sort of way, that is.” She stood and turned
to Talla. “There are twice as many of these huge things at the base of the
mountain in Froghaven than there were just a month ago. And they’re growing
much faster than I’ve ever heard of them doing before.” She swept her hand
toward the distant valley below. “A few of these crystals have been found as
far as twenty miles from Froghaven.” She looked back at the crystal next to
them. “And of course these are all around the fortress and the outer sanctuary.
It’s only a matter of time until they start tearing apart the walls and
buildings. Thankfully no one has been harmed—yet.”
you found anything?” A voice called from the nearby trees.
three looked to see the elves V’rellis—captain of Sanctuary Point’s guard—and Rein—his
daughter—exiting the forest and moving toward them. If their lack of leather
armor (which they typically wore) didn’t indicate they were not on patrol for
the fortress, the three rabbits V’rellis carried and the deer Rein had over her
shoulder clearly indicated they had been hunting. They dropped their game to
the ground a few yards away from Crissins, Talla and Dhayli and joined them
around the crystal.
pointed to the woods. “We encounter several more while hunting. More crystals
are appearing every day.”
know.” Crissins nodded. “And there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to where they
appear or how frequently they form.” She put her hands on her hips. “Quite
frankly, I’m at my wit’s end.” She looked at Talla. “Our historian, however,
did have an interesting thought on the matter.”
walked toward the mountain’s cliff—making sure she was far enough away from the
edge to look safely at the forest below. The small group followed.
old legends tell of a time before Froghaven existed and the crystals were only
found below the ground.” She pointed toward the ruins—barely visible from their
viewpoint. “Tunnels—crystal mines—protected by the wizard’s keep were said to
run for miles underground.” She turned back to the group. “They’re just rumors
and legend. I’ve never heard of anything that collaborated the story.”
we find the mines,” Crissins shrugged, “we might find some answers.”
ground shook. A large crystal broke through the ground below Dhayli’s feet and
pushed her back. She staggered toward the cliff.
Talla screamed as they helplessly watched the child fall from the edge. By the
time they reached the edge she had disappeared below the thin layer of clouds
that clung to the mountain side.
* * *
heard a scream and looked up to see a small gnome child falling toward the
large crystals surrounding the mountain. If he didn’t act quickly she would
axe’s strap was held in place by a leather cord secured with a slipknot. He
pulled the end of the cord and the axe fell to the ground. Running as fast as
he could toward the closest crystal he jumped and planted his foot directly on one
of its flat surfaces. From there he pushed himself toward a nearby crystal and
continued to another—using the large crystals like giant steps to climb up to
the falling child. Once he was near her, he jumped to intercept her.
huge right hand grabbed the girl and he pulled her to his chest. From there he
turned their decent to the ground from a plummet to a calculated dance from
crystal to crystal until he managed to stop—holding onto a crystal with his
free hand and his feet firmly resting on its flat surfaces. Still several yards
above the ground he looked for a clear area below them and dropped. Holding the
child with both arms now, he landed with both feet squarely on the sandy soil
and gently lowered the girl to her feet.
readied himself for screaming and crying when she looked up at the monster
before her. Instead, she smiled. “You’re Liam, aren’t you?”
how could you possibly know that?” Liam’s brow furrowed and his trunk
mama told me about you.”
She’s the court historian.”
looked at the child for a moment. “Tearjon’s kid?”
eyes widened. “Yeah, he was my grandfather.” She studied his arms and legs.
Though he was mostly covered in chainmail, there were a few places near his
hands and lower legs that showed his skin. “Are those scars from the mimic
turned away from her and went to retrieve his axe. That was a part of his past
he had tried very hard to forget—or at least ignore enough to be able to live
with himself. He picked up the axe and secured the strap across his chest.
“Where’s your mother?” He looked up toward the mountain. “Was she up there with
nodded. “Yes sir. And my Aunt Crissins and Uncle V’rellis. Oh, and Rein.” She
looked up past Liam to where he was looking. “We were looking at the big
wizard, historian and captain of the guard.” He nodded and sat on the ground.
“Very well, we’ll wait here for them. I’m sure they’ll be along shortly.”
* * *
Talla called out running to and grabbing the girl. Tears ran down the
historian’s face—she shook as she held her daughter. “I thought I’d lost you.”
She looked at Liam who was standing nearby. “Thank you.”
nodded and turned to the rest of the group as they approached. He nodded his
greeting to each of them and addressed Crissins. “The child said you were
studying the crystals. Have you found anything?”
but we think we might have an idea where to look.” She smiled. “We’d love to
have you join us.”
Theresa and Samuel stood next
to Nikola facing the forest. Nikola opened the wooden box in the back of the horse
drawn cart they had ridden there. He removed a pistol-like object. It was
constructed of shiny silver metal with small copper looking boxes and tubes
afixed to various places along its body. In the front—where the barrel should
be—was the largest of the crystals Theresa had given him wrapped in a gold coil.
Surrounding the front of the crystal barrel, suspended by thinner silver coils,
were smaller slivers of the crystal.
“Okay, why are we here and
what the devil is that?” Theresa asked.
Nikola smiled. “The crystals
you brought me were amazing—in many ways.” He held up the gun. “Let me start
with this. I found the crystal reacts to silver and gold—gold more than silver,
but both.” He pointed to the gold coil around the large crystal. “Using gold I
was able to tap into the crystal’s energy. The silver and crystal slivers help
me control and direct that energy.” He pointed the gun at a nearby tree. “With
this I can generate a beam from the crystal’s energy, directing the ray
wherever I wish.” He squeezed the gun’s trigger. The end of the crystal along
with all the slivers created a bright flash. At the same time a flash formed on
the tree where the gun pointed. The two-foot diameter trunk snapped like a twig
and the upper part of the tree fell to the ground. The newly formed stump and
the fallen tree top both smoldered at their scorched broken ends.
Nikola’s smile grew with the
gasps he heard behind him. “Oh, it gets better.”
He twisted the coil around
the large crystal and the small slivers suspended around it moved tighter in
front of the larger crystal.
"I can control the
width of the beam. By tightening the focus, I can use the beam to cut." He
pointed at the stump he had just created and pulled the trigger. The crystals
glowed and the stump began to smoke. A small flame appeared and a black line
traced several inches from the top of the stump. In a few seconds the line
covered the width of the stump. Nikola walked to the stump and removed the thin
section he had just cut loose and held the flat chunk of circular wood to show
to his audience of two. "It's a cutting tool. And it'll cut through pretty
much anything just as easily as this wood."
He walked back to Samuel and
Theresa again twisting the coil—this time opening the end. "When I open it
up all the way, it's less intense, but just as impressive." He pointed the
gun at the top of the tree laying on the ground. Its leaves burst into flames. A
moment later the leaves on several nearby trees shriveled and fell to the
ground. Nikola released the trigger. "A little longer and the woods would
be on fire. I didn't think you two would want me to demonstrate that."
He looked at the writer and
historian. They stood silently gaping at the trees.
more." He tossed a small crystal a few yards from them and pointed the gun
at it. "If I push this button and pull the trigger, I send a signal to the
crystal. Since the crystals all have the same frequency, the target—” The crystal
flashed. The once blue crystal was a darker grey sitting in a circle of
scorched grass. "It releases all of its energy."
Theresa walked to the
crystal, bent down and carefully touched the grey crystal—then picked it up.
“It’s cool.” She stood and turned to Nikola. “I’d have expected it to be hot. I
can feel the heat from the burnt grass.”
“The crystals naturally
absorb energy.” Nikola pulled a small crystal from his pocket and held it up.
“Fully charged they’re light blue. As they deplete they change slowly to red
and finally black—or rather grey. Because they are always drawing energy back
into themselves—I can only speculate where this energy is coming from—you never
have to recharge them. In about an hour this crystal will be full of energy
Samuel stepped toward
Theresa and Nikola. “You made a weapon out of the crystals.” He reached out his
hand and Nikola handed him the charged crystal. “An endless supply of power.”
The writer studied the crystal. “The benefits for man are immeasurable—limited
only by your nearly infinite imagination.” He looked at Nikola, sighed and
shook his head. “And you made a weapon out of it.”
“Yes.” Nikola nodded. “I
guess I did.” He took the crystal back as Samuel returned it. “But that’s not
the first thing I did.” He smiled. “I was saving the best for last.”
* * *
A short time after Nikola’s
demonstration in the woods, the three stood in his lab facing the time machine.
He pointed to its side. The remaining three crystals—all just slightly smaller
than the main crystal used in the gun—were all wrapped in gold coils and
affixed to the outer wall of the machine.
“Everything that’s amazing
about these crystals—” he held the gun sideways, displaying it to his friends,
“everything I’ve shown you so far—” He walked over to the large power switch
and snapped in into the on position. “It all pales in comparison to
The generators in the room
began to hum. Sparks of electricity danced across the metal rods suspended
above several devices throughout the room. Lights and buttons lit up—some
blinking—on the machine. The three crystals started glowing.
“I’ve been able to locate
what I believe is the timestamp in all objects.” He waved his hand slowly to
the room. “Everything here—everything everywhere has a timestamp. All things
resonate at a specific frequency. All frequencies fall within a specific
timestamp. Your frequency—your timestamp—determines where you are located in
the timeline.” He held up a crystal. “The frequency of these crystals fall
outside of any other timestamp I’ve encountered. In fact, they’re so far
removed from other frequencies that I question whether or not the crystals
actually have a timestamp.” He lifted the crystal slightly higher to better
showcase it to Theresa and Samuel. “I believe these crystals are timeless.”
He waited a moment to let
the information sink into their minds. His friends’ widening eyes and open
mouths told him they were ready. “By gently bathing objects in the crystal’s
blue energy and broadcasting a frequency of my choosing into the chamber, I’ve
been able to alter the objects’ timestamps.” He waited again. “I think we’re
ready to send a man back in time—this time for an extended stay.”
Theresa stepped toward the
time machine and gazed at it for several seconds. “Does it have to be a man?”