he snow-blindness that was afflicting Hogan was beginning to fade. He no longer felt the chill of the storm that seemed to have been chasing him on his way home. As the white dissipated from his sight, the scene before him was quiet, mellow, almost tranquil. An orange sky was greeting him, with lush green hills adorning the horizon, like a child's crayon drawing. He blinked a couple times. There was a warm breeze billowing from his right, and it relaxed him as much as it could, even though he never felt so tense and nervous in his life.
He looked around himself. He was standing at an altar of some sort, a makeshift Stonehenge. There was a circular pedestal that he was standing on; he looked down and saw it carved with some sort of inscription. He quickly recognized it - the two dots with the vertical line through it was equivalent to the letter K in the book's language.
"You have come," a voice behind him said.
Hogan whipped around. There stood a... a... he didn't know what it was. It looked like it was a human, although its skin was a faint pink, almost like a pig, and two tufts of purple hair were growing from behind its pointed ears. Its eyes were a pale blue, with small irises and an almost invisible pupil. It was dressed in a robe of some sort, like something out of a hokey alien movie.
"Who are you? Where am I? What did you do to me?" Hogan was rifling questions at the creature standing in front of him.
"I have been praying here for years, hoping that one day the Ki'rath would arrive and save the cosmos. Today, my prayers have finally been answered. You have come for us."
"Who are you?!" Hogan repeated, stepping off the stone marking and charging at the other being, clutching its robe.
"Please! Do not hurt me! I mean you no harm!" the creature pleaded.
"Then tell me, who are you?" Hogan let go of the robe, throwing it out of his hand.
"My name is Ilgaira," it answered. "I am the Great Shaman of the Ki'rathians. This place is known as Ki'rathia, and you have been brought here to train for your battle against the ageless evil."
"You mean, the book I read... it's all true?" Hogan's mind was fogging up with the sensory overload.
"It is. That book has been secured in the mists of time, hidden for thousands of years, until there was a need for it to appear. It was fate that brought you to read that book, and learn of your destiny."
"Let me guess," Hogan growled. "I'm the Ki'rath."
"You are correct. You are the one who will save this universe from the ageless evil."
Hogan chuckled slightly. "I was afraid of that."
"There is no need to be afraid, Hogan. The Ki'rath has no fear."
"You don't understand, it's a figure of..." Hogan stopped himself. "Wait a second. How did you know my name?"
"I know everything about you, Hogan. The legends that my people have passed down through the generations tells of a young man from the planet Earth who will face the ageless evil and counter its every measure. That man's name is Hogan. You were in an academy of learning when you encountered the book foretelling your arrival here."
"So everything that I'm supposed to do is written in this..." Hogan checked his jacket, but the book had disappeared. "The book! What happened to it?"
"It is gone. There is no further need for its existence." Ilgaira turned around, and motioned Hogan to follow him. "Come with me. You must develop your powers before you can face A'nake."
"Is that the name of this 'ageless evil' thing?"
"It is. Follow me, and you shall learn of your quest."
Ilgaira led Hogan to a temple, where what looked like 20 other Ki'rathians - all of them violet-skinned and not pink - were waiting outside. "My people," Ilgaira announced. "He has come! All hail the great Ki'rath!"
The Ki'rathians looked upon Hogan, observing him from head to foot. Suddenly, they all began cheering, as if he had just scored the winning touchdown for the school's football team.
Hogan smirked at this display. "Sounds like they're happy to see me."
Ilgaira nodded. "I have been praying for you to come for many years, and the shaman before me had been praying for many years before, as did the one before him, and so on for what is equivalent to 17 years on your planet."
"Something tells me that you guys started when I was born."
"You are correct. As you came to being, the legend of the Ki'rath was also being created. But it was only when my people came to learn of this legend that we began to embrace it, and that is a minute fraction of the time it has actually existed."
The temple looked uncomparably beautiful from the inside. It was held up with columns made of granite, shaped into spirals. The floor was carved with sayings from the alien language, many of which Hogan recognized from the book. Ilgaira brought him into a large room, rivaling a football field, empty save for a pillar at the center of the room that appeared to climb over 50 feet tall.
"So, who is this A'nake person?" Hogan asked, trying to make himself comfortable with his new surroundings.
"It is not a person," Ilgaira answered. "It is an ageless spirit that dwells inside this universe. It seeks to build an army of captured souls which it will use to conquer every planet and every galaxy."
"Well, if this thing has been around so long, then why was I sent here now?"
"Because," Ilgaira continued, "up until now it had been warded off through other means. But now, it seeks its domination through the accumulation of the sacred talismans. If A'nake is able to find a talisman and use it during a full moon ceremony, all that it surveys will come under its power."
"But how?" Hogan asked.
"It finds a body to possess, first. Then, it is simply a matter of finding the talisman and finding a group of people to unleash its power on. But, this can only happen when the planet it is on is having a full moon. If you can take the talisman away from A'nake, however, then you shall receive its power, not A'nake."
"And if not, what? Do all of these people turn into werewolves or something?"
Ilgaira blinked incredulously. "You know more of the legend than I thought."
Hogan's jaw dropped. "You have got to be kidding me."
"I do not kid, Hogan. All beings that come under the influence of the talisman become werewolves, ready to serve the will of their master. If A'nake is their master, then they will no doubt serve its evil."
"Well, what am I supposed to do about it?"
"You are to train with me until you are ready to take on A'nake. When you are strong enough, you will travel back to Earth and search for the talisman on your planet."
"But what about my family? And school?" Hogan asked, half-panicked.
"You need not worry about your presence on your planet. You have the power to speed up and slow down time to accomodate the speed of those around you. On this planet, we Ki'rathians operate at a speed that is millions of times faster than that of Earth. In essence, while you train with us, time will be standing virtually still on Earth. Then, when you are ready, you will return to Earth, find the talisman, and keep it in your possession for the full moon."
"If that's the case, then," Hogan pondered aloud, "then why don't I train for a year or two here so that when I go back down there, I can just wipe the floor with A'nake?"
"Because there is only so much training you can do, Hogan. Once you reach your peak levels of power, only the sacred talismans will increase that power."
"So, when do we start?" Hogan asked.
"Right now," Ilgaira replied, then shaked his right hand briefly.
A low rumble grew in the room. Hogan steadied himself, trying to figure out what the training was going to be. He felt a small breeze blowing downward, ruffling the hair on top of his head.
Hogan looked up, quickly. The pillar in the center of the room had tipped over, and was now falling towards Hogan like an oversized domino. Hogan used his arms to shield his head from the imminent impact.