Epilogue: The Number 139

The lone tree stood atop a small, gentle hill. Shin-length wild grass grew in all directions on the seemingly endless plains, though a single dirt road stretched north-south to his east. At his south, a stone mountain stood overlooking the lands that stretched before it, a citadel hidden at its horizon carved base. To the east and west, farmlands laid for as far as the eyes could see. Straight up to north was where a mountain range stood, though at that distance, the heaps were hidden by the curvature of Tearha. Yet, a tall stone spire jutted out from the horizon, piercing the clouds like a needle through the earth itself.

The Watcher stared up into the canopy of the tree, light sparkling through like morning stars. It still felt odd, seeing light-brown leafs as a healthy sign for a plant, but that came with the idea of living in a world where a version of autumn – Leaf – came after winter, and a summer – Sear – would be next. 8 seasons. 49 days each. Nearly a year had passed since the end of Light's reign in Everwind. Or, as those on Tearha called it, 6 seasons.

From what he knew, Luce and Adelaide had headed into Katoki at the start of Fall, earlier than they had planned, and had lost contact since. Nadier's whereabouts in Devara were more precise, though The Watcher had been requested to stay out of the dark elf's way until the storm had passed. As for the continent of Eltar itself, a new parliamentry government had been set up in temporary management. For The Watcher, he had separated from Miguel when he landed on the western continent and had spent the time between exploring the lands. It was not until recently that he regained contact and was asked for a meeting.

Creaking wood and clattering hoofs had him turning away from the tree and back to the east. A cart filled with mostly emptied baskets dragged by a bane black mane pulled to a stop at the bottom of the hill. From the steed, a man in khaki coloured pants and dirt brown shirt dismounted. From the cart, a young girl with brown braided hair vaulted off the far side, denim shorts and white singlet muddied from the day. Finally a teenage boy, just slightly taller than the girl, stood to height, with hair of deep navy blue and a receding elf ear. The boy, in a crisp white shirt and black pants, exchanged a glance with The Watcher before nodding. For a moment, The time traveller thought of Miguel.

The man from the horse spoke muffled instructions to the kids before turning to walk up the hill, leaving the young teens to explore the nearby field.

"Hello, Watcher!" the man greeted as he closed.

"King Adam?" The Watcher asked in confusion. The man did not carry the regards of a royal in his eyes, nor did any of his physical cue suggested so.

Laughing it off, the newcomer reached the summit. "No, no. I can't be king, even if I wanted to. All that pressure? I'd collapse into a pile of weeping goo." He held out his hand and The Watcher took it. "Jax's the name. Farming's my game."

"A farmer?"

"We can't all be kings and queens. Someone needs to tend the fields."

Jax had a shine to his onyx hair, paired with eyes so brown that they almost looked black. His facial features were nothing extraordinary. Rough skin, rounded chin, dimpled cheeks. He was an average man with an average build. Aside from the thin muscles and tan developed from working the lands, Jax was ordinary in every other visible way.

The Watcher shrugged, smiled, and asked, "I thought I was supposed to meet the leader of the Clovers?"

"Apparently, you're looking at him."

He cocked a brow. "Isn't that King Adam?"

"Nah. Adam just thought it'd be smart if everyone assumed it was him. We took a vote. They said it's me, but I haven't really done any "leading" since." Jax placed his hands in his pockets and slacked his back, relaxing with a deep breath. Turning back to the kids below, he continued, "That's my daughter. She's dating the boy over there. Junior Vallertes. Miguel's son. Honestly, I'm kind of conflicted as a father. Junior's a good kid. Straight as can be. But I've always wanted to do that scene from Bad Boys Two."

The Watcher guessed, "Where Will Smith went bad cop on the boyfriend of Martin Lawrence's daughter?"

Jax smiled. "Yeah! I mean, that always looked cool. I wanted to try it once as a father and be the bad cop that goes, 'I will find you!'." He turned back to The Watcher. Jax noticeably retrieved two objects from his pocket and handed them over. "Anyway, here's what I wanted to give you."

The Watcher turned the items over. "A handheld radio and a playing card?" The walkie-talkie was more compact than most models he knew of, fitting into just half his palm and owning a sleek, polished white steel casing. The card itself was nothing extraordinary, save for the design on it being an artwork of a 3-leaf and 4-leaf clovers growing from a stalk. "I didn't even know radio worked here."

Jax laughed. "Neither did we. We spent about ten thousand a pop for these from some futuristic universe, then modified them ourselves. You charge them with magic or solar power, and they bounce the signal from any other of them within range. Put a little magic juice in them and they go far if there's nothing to block them. A lot less underground or in forested area." He took out his own and spoke into it. His right arm glowed a very faint brown as he did so. "Hey, Tehir?"

A short moment later, a gravelly voice replied post-beep, "Yeah?"

"Dare you to get Cray to shoot a fireball out his window?"

Almost stoically and without question, the voice replied. "Sure, give me a moment."

Jax gestured towards the spire in the distant north that pierced the sky. A few seconds later, a flash of red flames lit up the top of the tower's eastern side. The two man laughed at the spectacle of using futuristic grade technology to pull-off what amounted to a game of dare with unimaginable powers that could burn the clouds themselves.

The Watcher pocketed the radio before asking, "And the playing card?"

"Homing magic. Courtesy of Miguel." Jax took his own card out, which had what looked to be a three-leafed clover. He tossed it in the direction away from The Watcher. The card spun and floated along unseen currents of air, gently moving away at the speed of a brisk walk. "It'll hover towards the next nearest card in the general direction thrown. Good to have, since there are no satellites in Tearha. This way, you'll be able to find one of us if you're ever in trouble."

Slowly, the card descended. The boy named Junior looked up as the card spun towards him. Just as he was about to catch it, the girl jumped in front of him and stole the card before dancing on her feet and throwing it back to her father.

"That boy..." The Watcher let out.

"Is a Clover," Jax confirmed as his card slowly returned. Once the card was back in his hand, he turned back to face the tree and The Watcher replicated his actions. "Not all of us can be old and cynical. Some of us needs to be young and hopeful."

"That's a good view to have."

Changing topic, Jax pointed to the plant and asked, "Do you know the legend behind this tree?"

"I had a fairytale of a tree back home. I wonder if it's the same."

"Shoot."

Smiling at memories of home, The Watcher began, "Back where I come from, there's this story that this tree on a hill would grant people with loyal friends and allies. Royals and armies sought it out, wanting to build an army of dedicated soldiers, but never found it. Only a little boy, a young squire, stumbling alone one day, found the tree out on an empty plane. Beneath the sunny sky, he met his first friend. The two went on to overthrow a corrupt queen, establishing peace through the lands for centuries."

The farmer chuckled. "Cute story. Does it have a name?"

The Watcher nodded. "The Tree of Crossroads, where Haven began."

"That's what we call it too." Jax turned to The Watcher, and a solemness took his eyes. "But there's another part to our legend. Want to hear it?"

Copying the former, he answered, "Shoot."

As if made for storytelling, Jax's voice smoothed over, dragging with a sing-song timbre. "Out of all the universe that exists, life takes different forms. Most of time, they resemble another life from another time in another world. And always are something different in a way. Except for this tree. In every universe, in every moment of time and fabric of space it appears in, it is a tree. It's never anything more."

He paused dramatically, looking to The Watcher in earnest. "Except in one universe. For one short moment of a lifetime, in all of the timelines of all the universes, the tree is a human for only one lifetime. And it lived a remarkable life, filled with love, honour, and adventures." He looked to The Watcher with a smile. "In the language of the ancients, do you know what this story is called?"

The latter shook his head.

"Tier. It translates loosely to 'A Moment'."

The Watcher's heart skipped. An image of his brother's face came to mind. He wondered, if the story was indeed true, and that despite being in another universe with other possible versions of themselves, will there never be another Tier? Then, he looked to the tree, and a thought dawned on him. A small smile formed across his lips. Watch over me, brother. I will find you everywhere.

Jax grinned. "Miguel said you're looking for the meaning of the number one-three-nine. Has he told you what it is?"

"There was no need," The Watcher replied, clearing his throat. "I figured it out. It's just the speed of time here in tandem to the multiverse as a whole."

"Well, that's not entirely true." Jax waved his hands in dramatic explanation. "Universes are these large broiling concoction of energy. Every so often, they form into something coherent. The rest? Not so much. We wouldn't even be able to exist in those planes. So the real question is, what is the number one-three-nine?" Jax asked.

As if a bulb clicked in his head, The Watcher replied, "A prime number."

Their radios rang with vibrating beeps, but Jax carried on. "You came from world seven. I came from world three. I know a few people from world thirteen." You've been chasing the base code of a universe with recognizable physics. A prime numbered base that cannot be divided by anything but itself. My friend, welcome to one-three-nine. Welcome to Tearha."

The Watcher let out half a laugh, surprised at having missed a theory so obvious. He had crossed hell and high waters, drudging through time and space to find something that could have as easily been solved with a little math.

Pulling out his own radio, Jax finally accepted the call as The Watcher listened in.

From the other end, a female voiced, "Hey! Anyone near Rubicum? We've got a tear here and void creatures are pouring out. Class-C is holding, but we're being overrun."

A young male voice replied, "Ruby, this is Junior. Shion and I are on our way!"

The two adults turned to look downhill to see Junior materializing a wand in each hand.

Jax shouted, "Don't you dare!"

Junior smiled, and with a flick of his right wrist, white magic sigils blossomed in the air in front of him, with more taking form further towards the west. The girl called Shion ran up to him, taking his offered outstretched hand. With a wave back to their guardian, the young teens jumped into the first sigil and was propelled through the air towards the next one. They continued, bouncing across the plains on launchpads of magic.

Their radios beeped again, and a different female shouted through. "Jax! Did you let Junior run off again?"

"He's a pretty fast kid! I'm not going to be able to stop him with a stern stare!"

Miguel's calmer voice replaced the channel. "You're with The Watcher, right? Get him to teleport you there."

Jax whined back, "Come on! Junior's strong. He can take care of himself. I really wanted to get home and relax a little."

There was a subsequent period of radio silence. The two man on the hill exchanged shrugs, wondering if that was the end of the debate. Then, a beep rang out and a new voice replaced the previous group's.

Oozing with malice that they could feel seeping out of the receiver, a woman said with a light-hearted but malefic tone, "Jax, if you have the time, please go make sure our daughter is safe."

The Watcher heard his companion gulp audibly, before the latter replied, "Yes, my love." They kept their radio, and Jax let out a stressed sigh. The Watcher could not help but laugh, which only earned him a stare that begged for pity.

Wishing to refocus the topic, The Watcher asked, "What's with this tear thing?

"Well..." Jax began, before raising his hands to demonstrate wildly with simple words, "Big explosions. Loud noises. Giant monsters. Terrible danger."

Even after a thousand years of adventures, The Watcher could still feel his hair standing on the back of his necks at the sound of potential excitement. With a toothy grin, he replied, "What are we waiting for?"

Author's Note: Hi everyone. Thank you for reading Tearha: The Number 139. The story here is a re-upload of the original serial that ran on JukePop Serials in 2016. If you like what you've read so far, and would like to support my writing, you can buy one of my books at my website. Or you could check out my Patreon to help out for the long run. Of course, just sharing, commenting, and reviewing helps a bunch as well!

Website: adenng . com

Patreon: patreon . com slash aden_ng