The Day of the Great Culling
Gren, smiling, stepped through the wooden door of the Forgotten Layers Inn. Looking back over his shoulder, he said, “But I *have* to go. It’s a new Broot promotion. Jake wants me there for the unveiling of his new ‘Vanilla Broot’ soda. I signed a contract!”
As Gren moved down the steps, his brunette girlfriend and proprietress of the Inn, Izira, appeared in the doorway, languidly leaning against the frame. “Come back to me soon, my Ranger.”
“As soon as I can! I’ll bring you back some of those chocolates you like so much.”
Izira smiled and absently touched the pearl-crusted locket with the lily that Gren had given her.
Grinning and whistling a happy tune, Gren headed down the gravel path toward the portal that led back to RhyDin. He stepped purposefully towards the area that he was so used to entering; with the confidence of someone that had made the journey hundreds of times and no thought that anything could be amiss. But there was no teleportation, no disappearance of Gren from Izira’s pocket realm. No blue flashing lights to signify Gren’s departure. Gren took several steps forward, as if his mind had not registered what had happened. Blinking, he moved back into place, and took the several steps forward again. Nothing. He stood there bewildered for a few awkward seconds, before he turned and looked back at Izira on the porch. Izira stood there at the doorway staring at him, her hand pressed to her mouth.
And just like that, RhyDin was gone.
The next few days were the most difficult for Gren. His friends, his Ranger’s guild, the duels, his life that he had previously known had vanished. Izira also mourned the loss of her friends like Eva. Luckily, he and Izira had each other. They wondered if it was just a disruption in the walls of the pocket dimension, but Jeremiah affirmed that nothing was amiss there.
As the weeks went by, they began to notice an increase in visitors to the Inn. They asked hopefully if anyone had heard of the world called RhyDin. Most did not. The very few that did merely shrugged and told them it was like it had dropped off the face of the universe.
RhyDin and the Red Dragon Inn was a hub of many different peoples and travelers going from one world or dimension to another. With this ‘nexus’ now gone places like the Forgotten Layers Inn began to receive more traffic. Gren found himself keeping busy helping Izira and Jeremiah. There was always wood to be cut, floors to be cleaned, food and drink to be served. The steady work meant that Gren soon put the calamity behind him as best as he could, and concentrated on his new life at the Inn.
The months passed into years. Gren and Izira were married in the gardens, and Izira bore him a son, whom Gren named after his lost Ranger friend, Bernard. They had held out hope that someone might know something about what happened to the lost world of RhyDin, but no one ever did.
Those years turned into decades. By the time the Duel of Guns would start up in 35 A.N., Gren was well into his sixties. His son Bernard had taken over the day-to-day duties of the Inn, and Gren mostly passed the time sitting on the wooden porch. He would spend peaceful days looking out over the expansive gardens, and telling visitors about his adventurous days as a Ranger in this mythical place named RhyDin. He still told the story about how he won that Diamond by beating a liontaur (pitch black, mud-filled pit, etc.). The story of how he battled an anarchist through seven districts of the city. The story of the disgruntled unicorn that became a noble steed. The story of the redhead from you-know-where who pretended to be married to him and destroyed his credit rating. Children laughed and adults shook their head and smiled at the crazy old man.
Gren never found out who he really was. Izira had the gift of experiencing people’s memories, but it was a latent gift that only manifested itself if she thought that she was going to lose someone very dear to her. Trapped within the confines of the Inn’s realm, unable to go to other worlds like Creosa because of the increased workload of running the Inn, Gren’s life was no longer in danger. He spent the rest of his life blissfully ignorant of his origin. He was Gren Blockman, the former Ranger turned Innkeeper who now sat on his porch telling his little stories.
And so, life went on.