Time was not linear. Far, far from it. Time wrapped in on itself, converged and entwined and embraced events and feelings and moments, then danced away into separate gleaming, shining, precious strands that stood alone and resonant before merging again into the vast stream.
The Preserver rested and dreamed, and time wove itself in and around and through him. Memories fluttered through his mind like gossamer-winged insects: a word that shattered centuries, a thought that changed the course of a civilization. Individuals whose insights and aspirations and even greed and fear turned seemingly inalterable tides of destiny into something new and fresh and hitherto inconceivable. Moments where everything teetered precariously on a crumbling brink, where something as intangible as an idea would send everything hurtling into oblivion or pull it back to safe, solid ground.
Each thought, word, deed, life was a mere drop in the vast ocean of time, constantly merging and separating to merge again. The concept would challenge some minds, the Preserver knew; but his mind had been destined to hold such contradictions as things being separate and having no separate identity. Grasping such elusive concepts was what he was born for.
Over all these thoughts of words and lives and ideas floated a terrible urgency and fear. Time was not linear; time was shifting and changing. But there were patterns that floated to the surface, their interwoven strands so clear and strong that even the dimmest minds could grasp them. Inevitability? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Again and again the pattern appeared in the swirling waters of time and destiny and luck, submerging and manifesting with a cold precision that made even the Preserver quail.
All the knowledge he held was precious; every memory, every sound, scent, sensation, voice, word, thought. All were vital to his being.
But this knowledge, of the pattern that had happened so often before and was about to happen again–ah, this was what made the Preserver more than important to his time.
It was what made him indispensable.
He opened to what was out there, every second that ticked by in its nonlinear, unique majesty challenging him to close in on himself, to not expose himself to the pain of the debris caught in the swollen river.
He could not allow himself such luxuries.
Not when the horrific knowledge of what had come before, and what was certain to come again, polluted the waters of time in his psyche.
He summoned all his energy, and sent forth the cry.