Howard crouched down in the crevasse beside the others, his mind racing with the possibilities brought on by this latest excursion. He’d succeeded. He’d finally managed to extend the protection he had devised for himself to everyone else. He had finally overcome the detrimental effects inherent to crossing the dimensional barrier between Earth and this place. And now he and his friends were about to confront one of the extra-dimensional beings that had clearly been the basis for the Earth mythology of dragons. He was no biologist, but even for a physicist, it was an exciting thought.
Even as he sheltered on the dragon’s doorstep beside Jason, Sway, Alistair, Sylvia, and Joe, his thoughts turned back to what he had read earlier that day: if Alonius was to be believed, some power, something inside of him was driving him forward – pushing him onwards. It was a something that he had lacked in that brief hour in which he had experienced total, utter lucidity: something not himself that drove him to create, to invent, and to seek greater understanding.
What exactly was an Avatar, anyways? Was it a person that lived inside him, like an alternate personality? Was it his own spark of inner genius as distinct from his self? A manifestation of his subconscious? Was it some sort of extra-dimensional entity that had attached itself to his quantum-etheric matrix? What did it want? Did it want anything at all? Could he talk to it? Hold a conversation with it, perhaps? Or was it something more subtle than that?
The stone was rough and hard beneath his hands, and even as he heard the footsteps of the King of All Dragons retreating back to its cave – even as the heat of the great wyrm’s breath faded into the warmth of the umbral daytime – Howard Mitchell closed his eyes, looked inward, and asked silently, “Can you hear me?”