We have this thread already, but I thought that there is no problem with having one just for DF in its own subforum. Also, a warning - COLD DAYS SPOILERS in this one. The Empty Night I looked at the night sky and it was empty. No stars or even Moon. Nothing but a darkness. The only source of light was ahead of my boat, on a small island hidden from the world. The last bastion of humanity. The Demonreach. It was once a prison for the worst monsters of this world. Until we released them all to fight even worse monsters from the outside of it and save the day. We did save it. A day, that's it. The next one wasn't so lucky for us. The results of the battle weren't pretty, but ultimately this decision was the only reason why Earth still existed. Not for long though. With the Outergates destroyed there was no way that we could win this war. Not even with God's help. Only I was pretty sure that Nietzsche would have it right this time. God was dead. Oh, and one more thing. When I said the humanity? I meant just myself. Just so you know. * I docked the boat and went to a small cottage on the island. There wasn't much things inside. A table and few chairs. Also, the Three Swords. The Blackstaff. Gungnir. Mjolnir. Aegis. The Cornucopia. Gandiva. Ruyi Jingu Bang. Amenonuhoko. And many other powerful artifacts that I could find around the world. But they weren't as important as was an old skull with a spirit living inside. “Hello, Harry,” said a woman's voice. “Hi, Lash,” I answered. In the past the skull was home of Bob, a spirit of intellect. But Bob was dead now. As was pretty much everyone else. Actually, that wasn't technically the truth. Saying that someone is dead suggest that their spirit moved on to a different place. But there were no other places anymore. The Outsiders unmade almost all of the Creation and everything and everyone simply ceased to exist. “I bring a gift,” I said. “What did you find?” “The Pandora's Box.” “Does it still contain the hope?” “I hope so,” I smiled. * My brother once said to me that it ain't over 'til it's over. He probably stole it from someone, but it fitted the situation. It wasn't over. Not yet. That's why I had this crazy idea how to save the world. I couldn't go back in Time, because it didn't exist anymore. The Past was already consumed by the Outsiders, they slew the Future and at the moment they were busy destroying There. What remained was Here and Now. It's a lot of capitalized words, but we are talking about absolute ideas. Anyway, if I wanted to save the world, or you know the World, I needed to recreate it. Easy, right? Right. Someone once compared the creation of Demonreach to the creation of internal combustion engine when most of the other wizards could only make wooden axles and stone wheels. In this metaphor I was trying to create a nuclear reactor. Scratch that. If that was the case, at least I would know it was possible. No, it was more like creating a warp core using episodes of Star Trek as a blueprint. Not the greatest idea. Then again, Odin once called me the most talented wizard he met since his old student, Merlin. Maybe even more talented than him. I really hoped that these weren't empty praises. * “OK. Let's rethink it once more time,” I said to Lash. “I will attempt to recreate the world using forty two most powerful artifact I could find and the power that still remains inside Demonreach. Normally it wouldn't be even a fraction of what we need, but in truth we are not creating world, but making the Outsiders do it for us. And then make them forget that something like that ever happened.” “In very simplified terms it's what we are trying to do.” “Great. What are our chances?” “Zero. You are just deluding yourself into thinking that it will work. And so I am, foolishly trying to help you with it. But at least we will go with the boom.” “Pretty decent chances then.” “Could be worse,” she said. * I was sitting down in the circle created by Merlin a very long time ago. Or technically never since there was no Past anymore. All around me were forty two artifacts that should help me do what I need to do. At first I planned to use only twelve, because it was a great number for the stability of the ritual, but in this case the power was much more important. Beside, as far as numbers go forty two was kind of fitting. In my hands was the skull. It was probably the hardest thing about the whole ritual for me. Lash wasn't going back. Her job was to protect my soul from being erased when we are “rebooting” the world, as Uncle Butters would call it. Her sacrifice for my survival. One of countless that happened and I hoped that also the last one. * It turns out that recreating the world is kind of boring. You expect some epic fireworks, but in the end one moment you are in the old world and in the next you are in the new one. Though it was a little disorienting. I realized that I was still on Demonreach. Which was kind of weird since I didn't visit it till my adulthood and I was hoping to reset time a little earlier than that. Then I noticed my reflection on a nearby water. “Oh, boy,” I said looking at the face of Harry Dresden.