193 Altered Memories
It was nighttime, a beautiful night with a clear sky enhanced by countless stars wheeling overhead on their journey through the cosmos.
Max knew instantly that he was remembering the night of his mother's death. The star filled sky above him was the herald of the end.
He was floating in the sky above the town of Brumau, looking down at two figures fleeing through the alleyways of the town. He knew that the two figures below were him and his mother running from those that hunted them.
He had been scared and confused, being pulled through the dark alleys as they ran. He could remember that much at least, but something didn't feel right.
He could remember this night! The moment of his mother's death was etched into his soul! She had died telling him to protect Brumau from the beast tide for one year! So why was it that that memory felt so fake? It felt wrong.
It was strange, as if he was an observer and not remembering things from his own point of view. but he still knew his own thoughts even though he was looking down from above.
"Quick Max, come this way!"
The sound of Naomi's voice made a tidal wave of emotion sweep over him, nearly choking him with the sadness he felt.
Max knew that reliving this night would only make it worse, but he had to see what really happened. The longer he remembered, the more unsure he was about his own memories.
He kept telling himself that the voice had been wrong! He did not forget! He could remember this night! The moment of his mother's death was etched into his soul! She had died telling him to protect Brumau from the beast tide for one year.
So why was it that that memory now felt so fake?
Before long the two fleeing figures reached their destination. It was a small hill with a lonely tree planted at the summit. Max remembered the tree, it was his mother's favorite spot in Brumau. They would come here on nice days to enjoy the sun, but after tonight, the tree's boughs would not provide shade anymore.
Max drifted down until he was close enough to see his mother's face clearly as the two of them reached the tree on the hill and stopped. Tears started falling when he saw her again.
He wanted to tell her, to tell her about how he had met Zoey and Viridi, his grandfather and the others as well. He wanted to tell her that the Asurai clan was going to survive and live on thanks to Zoey. He wanted to tell her about the things he had seen and tell her he was ok, but he knew she could not hear him. This was only a memory after all.
Around the hill that Max and Naomi were now on, shouts could be heard and torches could be seen headed their way. They were already surrounded.
"Listen Max, I need you to do something for me. For one year, protect Brumau. Can you do that for mommy?"
Max furrowed his brow as he watched the scene below. This was not how he remembered it.
Naomi embraced him in a hug, and he could see tears rolling down her cheeks.
"I'm sorry little one, I wish I could have done more to prepare, but even if I can see the future, I am only human."
"Mother, what's going to happen?"
"Max, there is something I need to tell you so listen close… it's about your father."
Max jolted when he heard her words. His father?! He never remembered his mother saying anything about him!
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"Your father was someone special, someone like me who could see into the future. He was powerful and strong beyond belief, but more than that, he loved me, and he loved you Max. Even though he cannot be here to tell you himself, know that he loves you very much.
You are our precious son, our gift to this world, our hopes and dreams, all of this is you."
Max was in distress as he watched the memory play out. He did not remember any of this at all, as if his memories about this night had been fake all along!
"Your father and I left you a gift, something hidden deep inside of you. After tonight, you will not remember this until the time is right, and you have need of the gift that we left for you.
Please forgive me, I'm sorry for being such a terrible mother!"
Naomi cried as she held her son close, her tears soaking into Max's clothing. Up above, Max was also crying as he watched it all. Max finally understood what had happened. He remembered now. His mother had altered his memories, changed what he remembered and concealed the truth until the time was right.
His only question was why.
But before he could find out, Max watched the memory fade out as Naomi laid his unconscious self on the ground. She had put him to sleep somehow, likely to spare him from the scene of what was to come.
When Max awoke the next day, the tree was burned, and along with it his mother, her charred form resting next to the tree.
When he had seen his mother dead, something inside him had broken, and from that day forward until he met Zoey, his emotions and feelings had been sealed, turning him into an unresponsive husk as he mindlessly carried out what he believed was his mother's last wish.
He had buried under the tree, not even shedding a tear as he placed the last pile of dirt, his eyes dead and emotionless through it all.
Only now, watching it all take place from above could he properly grieve.
Some time later, the tears had stopped, leaving him there staring down at himself still kneeling at his mother's grave.
"So, you know why this happened I take it?" he asked, addressing the voice that had set this all in motion.
"I do," came the response, rumbling from somewhere deep below.
The scene that Max was looking at suddenly reversed, rewinding to the point where Naomi had put him to sleep, laying him on the ground.
He watched as she tenderly patted his head and placed a final kiss on his forehead before standing and walking to the tree just as their pursuers finally arrived and surrounded her.
The truth was about to be revealed.