Ah. Finally we make it to this moment.
The moment I believe I’ve determined the most effective way of teaching you, Future Heir.
Granted, it was only a couple of cycles. Almost nothing in the grand scheme of things, and it’s not as though you are difficult or unpleasant to teach. But, after all the work I’ve gone through — trying so many various teaching methods, seeing what material you remembered and which methods caused you to remember more — just to make your transition to being the Keeper easier than my own?
Well, I couldn’t have you wasting it, now could I!?
Therefore, I waited, and I tested, and now, as I have determined, I shall tell my advice in the form of a story. You seem fond of those, and you certainly seem to remember them remarkably well.
And, just to be extra-certain that you’ll remember this event, I shall use a more… intense tone to tell my tale.
… I certainly hope you remember enough that this will help you. Don’t make all my efforts pointless, Future Heir! I shan’t forgive you!
I’m sitting in my comfiest chair in my office. Only a few moments late, you come in and, wordlessly and without looking around at all, float toward the spot I normally have you sing from.
I interrupt your preparations, “No, no, we shan’t be practicing today — and no, we will not be going over theory. It’s almost the Harvest, remember? I thought we could take the opportunity to rest. It’s not as though you’ll fall behind, haha!”
“… Alright. I’m not gonna say ‘no’ to that.”
Dropping your bag, you simply float down to sit on the ground.
“You know how I sometimes act as a storyteller?”
“Of course I do. You’re involved in ALL the arts, aren’t you?” You remove a drink from your bag.
“Ha! Yes, yes I am. Well, I have a story I’d like to share with you. About a place called the ‘Crossroad of Infinity.'”
Shrugging, you reply while opening the drink, “Alright. Sounds interesting, I guess.”
I begin, in the most dramatic tone I can muster, “The Crossroad of Infinity is precisely what it sounds like: It is the meeting point between all other places, times, and… well, everything!”
I realize a potential hurdle mid-intro, so I cut-in with the question: “Have you ever heard anything about other dimensions? Other worlds?”
You’re removing one thing after another from your bag, “Yeah, of course. Like in fairytales, right?” some sort of pillow, “A kid falls into a volcano,” a small snack, “but instead of ending up burning, they come UP and OUT of the volcano,” a book — which you glance at and put back in, “into some weird, mirror-world or whatever.”
“Precisely! Although, it’s quite a bit more expansive than simple mirror-worlds. Every story you’ve ever heard — that anyone anywhere has ever heard or thought of — there’s a matching world out there that coincides with it! Every variation of those stories, every alternate-ending you could dream up — and everything you could never dream of in a million years! All of them!”
I’ve been getting more animated in my actions. You’re staring at me.
Is that good? …I hope so.
“Okay… I think I get it.”
Well. No stopping now.
I keep up my animated tone, “However, only one spirit can exist within the Crossroad at a time. Only a single person can use the Crossroad to travel. This being is called the ‘Keeper’ of the Crossroad of Infinity.”
Finished pulling things out of your bag, you settle into a more comfortable position on the ground.
“Now, because the Crossroad connects all timelines, it operates on a timeline of its own. One that can never cross itself. So no two Keepers can ever meet — except when one dies and the other begins their journey.” Like us right now. “This also means a Keeper can never return to a reality they died within. Such shenanigans are only possible while still alive within that same reality — and only if the reality itself allows such things.”
I pause. Your face is expressionless.
“… Nope, you lost me.”
Alright, let’s try: “A Keeper can’t go back to a place they visited to, let’s say, fix a mistake they made. They can’t go to an earlier point in their own timeline — nor can they live within the same world twice. BUT! If they found… a medallion that let them time-travel whilst they were still inside that reality? Then they could use it.”
Your face is even more more blank than before.
I’m sorry, Future Heir. But I can only explain certain things so well without you experiencing them yourself.
Nothing to do but continue on, really.
“Now, quite often new worlds come with new laws of physics. So whenever a Keeper travels to a new world, a body is formed for them to suit these new physics. And it is always the approximate, equivalent age the Keeper was when they first connected to the Crossroad. Their original body, meanwhile, stays safe and sound back inside the Crossroad until they return–“
“– Aaarrreee we ever going to get to an actual story?”
Oh dear. You look so annoyed! “Haha, patience! I’m setting it up!”
“Uuuugh! You always take so long to explain things, though!”
“Hahahaha! I can’t help it! You’re so much fun to tease!”
“Ugh! Just get on with it!”
“Alright, alright! Haha!
“Well, because they lose the bodies they live in other worlds with, and because the Crossroad’s timeline moves separately from all others, a Keeper’s memories of each world are… summarized. If they weren’t, the Keeper wouldn’t retain any memory of what they experienced without overwhelming their original mind with the information.”
And oh dear… How much information it quickly becomes…
“So when they come back, the extended, or complete, memories of their time in those worlds end up stored in some conspicuous item — like a plant, for example. Or the fruit of one. And when the Keeper touches them, they can relive that old life in a matter of moments!
“And finally — only one thing left before I can start the actual stories…”
Oh, that GLARE…! “…”
“… Just get on with it, already!“
“Hahaha-! -Ehem.” So CUTE! “…Well, the current Keeper of the Crossroad? Is me. And soon, you.”
Hm? Your look of confusion is gone.
“… Oh, so this is one of those interactive stories.”
Oh. Well, so long as you remember this, that is fine. Believe it is only a story.
Just remember the story, Future Heir.
Mentor died soon after that. I’d like to say I mourned them, but… We never actually got all that close.
However, that means everything from this point onward I can remember clearly, thanks to the memory crystal.
As for my newfound connection to the Crossroad — I know I felt different after Mentor died.
But I couldn’t tell you how, since I have no clear memories from before that moment.
In that way, I might as well have always been connected to it.