It had been a long and arduous journey already, and the traveller had only barely ascended past the foothills. The roads -- and with them, any sign of civilisation -- had long since fallen away, and the skinny, malformed trees did nothing to keep the biting wind from stealing away any warmth the sun's weak rays provided.
It had to be done though. Lives were at stake. The future was at stake.
* * *
The ridges made for the easiest travelling. The weather was harsh, but favourable. Storm season was still a month away, and without much snow on the ground the climb was far easier. The scraggly trees were by now long-since gone, and a monstrous peak loomed overhead, tearing the sky asunder with its snowcapped bulk.
The journey was about to get tricky.
* * *
The blizzard hit about halfway through the ascent, ice and wind ripping and roaring past the traveller's eyes, turning the whole world into a white haze. Sounds were muffled thanks to the snowfall, but the traveller trudged on regardless, trusting his feet to remember the old path home. Waiting out the storm would mean death by freezing.
* * *
The temple was, as always, unnaturally warm. Steam rose off the traveller's snow-soaked coat as he hastened to the inner chamber. There was no time to waste getting comfortable.
WHy haVE yoU ComE HERE, old maN? yOU Were tOLd noT TO RetURn.
My lord. The world is in peril. I would not have come back if there was any other...
THerE are ALlWayS CHOICES, traveLLEr. YoU have cHOSEN... poORLY. AgAIn. a PrICe wilL BE pAId.
I understand, my lord. But please, You must help us.
i must DO nothIng. BUt i alREadY knOW whAt It is yoU wiLl asK oF Me. and It will BE doNe.
It will end 0-0? You will preserve the timeline?
IT waS alwaYS liKEly to bE 0-0, FOoL. No mattER thE timeLIne. DO you NOt wAtCH tHE foOTbAlL? BUt i HAve noW enSureD it.
Th... thank You, my lord.
ReJOIcE. The worLD shAll live. yoU, on THE otHEr hanD, have disTUrbed me fOr the FINAL tiMe. GooDBye, OLd MAN.
* * *
And so Aston Villa versus Stoke City finished 0-0, preventing a hellfire-fueled catasrophe from consuming our planet. Few will ever know or appreciate the sacrifice one hero made to ensure that this match turned out as it did.