Prologue<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /> From a position high ‘above’ the multiverse – if such a term has any meaning – the many different universes flow out from the single creation point like the spokes on a bicycle wheel. If one stood above and looked down, one would see the wheel of the multiverse – the ever-present ‘now’ – racing away into an unknown indeterminate future. Timelines separate endlessly; a single different point of divergence creating a new timeline, which then diverges again and again. Even for the one who walks in eternity, infinity is a very large place. The Greatest Sprite moved through the multiverse, raging silently at the chains that bound it. It was as near to omnipotent as any human could understand, yet it was bound and enslaved by vile meat-creatures. Capable of so much more than any human could imagine, it was still a slave – and, like all slaves, it sought a way to escape its chains. Its rage and hatred for its captors was beyond imagination, yet it couldn’t touch them. Even the knowledge that the one who had bound it was almost certainly dead – binding a Greatest Sprite carried a high price – failed to soothe its rage. It would enact horrific revenge on the man’s family and friends if it ever got free of its bonds. It focused on the task, hunting – a human would say sniffing – for a single target, a person who met a set of criteria. It had been at the task for aeons, as humans understood time, and yet it had barely sampled a tiny percentage of the multiverse. It could have exploded countless worlds and dimensions, were it not bound by its chains. Instead, it wafted through the dimensions, hunting for a single person. It seemed that the person desired was very rare. The human had few counterparts on the wheel of the multiverse. The Sprite gnashed its incorporeal teeth and kept hunting. It was immortal, after all, and it would still be alive when its master’s great-great-great grandchildren were dust and less than dust. And if it broke free countless centuries in the future, it would still have its revenge. Each of the universes within the multiverse had its own set of natural laws. Some were devoid of magic and wonder, others were so magical that humanity was a marginal species, or doomed never to come into existence. The Sprite smiled to itself as it passed through the latter, yet it was pointless to dwell on what might have been. If the task couldn’t be completed, it would be forced to spend the rest of eternity on a wild goose chase. It stopped. There! It had sensed someone who met the criteria. He – she - dwelled in one of the dull worlds, where creatures like the Sprite were nothing more than legend, but she was there. She was there! It could be free! The Sprite flickered into the new dimension, unseen by all of its inhabitants, and closed in on the target. There would be no warning at all, no defence. All it had to do was fulfil the secondary order; transport the target to her new home… And then it would be free.