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Part One

“Wraiths. Delusions. Flights of fancy. That what this universe is.” The man grinned widely. “The dreams of a sleeping god.”

“And what are you to be doing,” the bull said, looking at the flute and wishing it held something stronger than champagne. “Waking him up?”

“You might say that.” He stood up and brushed himself off. “And you will forgive me for being abrupt, but I really have to destroy the keystone. This universe, or shall we say this delusion,” he said the word with heavy irony. “Farewell.” And with that he mingled in the crowds.

The Bull couldn’t believe what he heard. His world…? He started to rise, but someone grabbed his right arm and pulled him down.

“Stay down,” he heard, the voice thick with power.

The Bull looked to the origin of the voice and almost freaked out. At his side was an AlphaBull, bristling with huge muscles and black fur, dressed in a formal tux and a top hat. A blue rose was placed in the buttonhole.

“My apologies if I frightened you, my son,” the Alpha said, letting go of the Bull’s arm, “but I need to talk to you, and there isn’t much time left.” He looked around quickly, then nodded. “I have heard what you two were talking about. We have to act quickly. If he finds the keystone, everything in this universe will be destroyed.”

“You mean he was right?” the Bull said, aghast at the implications. The Alpha nodded. “But that does not make sense. Even if this was destroyed, what will happen to the other universes?”

“There will be distortions among them.”

The Bull looked to his left. A willowy woman was seated with a drink in her hand. Her face was unlined, but she had an air of intense age. She was in a robe of white silk, with a tight belt of beads around her waist. She looked familiar…

“You were the servant,” the Bull said. The woman nodded once and he continued. “What do you mean distortion?”

“The other universes will feel the shock of the destruction. They will indeed try to fill the space this one left behind, but in doing so will unbalance themselves. If the gap is big enough, and the unbalancing too much, they will also collapse.”

The Bull’s eyes grew large with fear as he thought of the chain reaction that could occur. “Is there anything that could be done?”

“Of course there is, my son,” the Alpha said, resting his hand on the Bulls’ shoulder and looking into his eyes. “Stop him from destroying the keystone.”

“But how? What can I…do?” He faltered as he stared into the Alpha’s eyes. They were of a rich golden hue, like honeyed amber. Only one person he knew had eyes of that color…

“Great Father above us,” he whispered in awe.

The Alpha nodded, then leaned in for a firm embrace, his muzzle meeting the Bull’s lips as they hugged tightly. A few moments later, they separated.

“I charge you, my son,” the Alpha said, still staring deep into the Bull’s eyes, “to stop this from happening. Stop him from destroying this universe.”

“What will happen if I refuse?” the Bull asked.

“Then everything will be destroyed,” the woman said. The Bull looked at her as she continued. “This universe is far too big for the multiverse to patch over. If this universe is destroyed, it will set off a chain reaction that will destroy all of the multiverse.”

“Are you saying that this universe is the keystone of the multiverse?” the Bull asked, amazed.

“Yes.”

The Bull did not hesitate. He turned to the Alpha and said, “Then I will accept.”

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