Don't Eat The Foliage - Part Five
"Me?" Brand glared at the cloaked woman near him, then turned and looked questioningly at Megan. He'd just assumed Megan was messing with him earlier, but now, now he wasn't so sure. Thinking, thinking, clearly these people didn't really expect him or his friends to be the ones that would change their pathetic existence. He looked back toward Adara and frowned. "Listen, you must be high or something. What makes you really expect any of us to believe this? We are just here to get a book that was stolen and get home. That's it. Sorry, no time to change the world."
"Do you believe in destiny, Brandon?" Adara asked quietly.
"There's no such thing as destiny. That would imply some guiding force in the universe and there simply isn't one. Everything is random. We live; we die, that's it. Whatever choices we make, we make. We don't make them because that's what we were supposed to do; we make them because that's what we want to do. And I don't want to be here, doing this, for you. Nobody can tell me our choices are preordained."
Megan lowered her eyes, listening to Brand's words. She believed in destiny; she had since the first day she saw Brand. At that moment, she knew, even as young as she was, that Brand's life and hers would be forever intertwined. But, she also knew he didn't believe in it. Like a lot of other things, he had a hard time believing in much, except for his uncanny knack for getting into bad situations.
"Fair enough," Adara said. "You are still young. Inexperience tends to cloud the way people view certain things. In time, however, you will believe. Trust me, Brandon. You will believe."
"You know what? You can stop calling me Brandon. My name is Brand. Thanks." Brand clenched his fists for a moment; Megan took note of this and tensed slightly. "We are looking for information. Do you know who stole our book? If not, we will be leaving."
Adara lightly dipped her head. "I know who stole your book, yes. However, you are not yet prepared to confront the thief."
"I'll decide when I'm prepared. Give me the info and we'll be out of here in the morning."
"I cannot." Adara replied.
"Because I will not send you to your death."
Brand rolled his eyes. "According to you, we are destined to save you and your people, right? Well, news flash, we can't do that dead now can we? So if we go and confront the thief, we won't die. Ah, so now your destiny works against you, doesn't it?"
"Not exactly," Adara countered. "There are certain forces at play here, Brand. Forces you do not want to go up against unprepared. These forces can alter the course of destiny& in theory."
Brand turned to Megan. "Is it just me or am I hearing a whole lot of bullshit coming from a certain someone who will remain nameless?"
For her part, Megan just remained silent. She was absorbing the information as it came, but really had no time to sort through it and make any kind of decision one way or the other. She just shrugged to Brand.
Getting no help from Megan, Brand turned back to Adara and frowned. "If there is such a thing as destiny, which there isn't, then who could possibly have the power to alter its course?"
Adara looked at Brand in silence. This was far more complicated than she'd expected. All the others that had come through here, those that were thought to be the chosen ones, were much easier to deal with. Now that she thought about it, these three fit the profile better than any of those ever had. She had to make a decision, for better or for worse, so she did. "I am one of those people," she said softly.
Megan shifted her gaze to Adara, surprised. Brand let out a laugh that carried into the night sky. "Oh, now we are getting somewhere. I think I finally see where I ended up. You are some kind of insane cult leader, aren't you? Wait! Let me guess, the book thief is also one of those destiny altering people? Am I right?"
"You are correct about the book thief," Adara confirmed. "As for me, I am not an insane cult leader as you so eloquently put it."
"This is ridiculous."
Megan rested her hand against Brand's arm, then asked quietly: "How is it that you can alter the course of destiny?"
Brand looked at her, about to tell her she was out of her mind, but Megan squeezed her hand against his arm and he let it go. Instead, he turned back to Adara, waiting for the answer.
"In simple terms," Adara replied. "I am a child of the gods."
That fact alone was staggering. The implications of it, however, sent Megan's mind reeling. She let it seep into her brain, staring in disbelief at the robed woman before her. Too many strange things had been happening, but now she had a faint grasp on some of them. The doorway, this place, this woman only she had seen, they all were unbelievable and it was hard to imagine they were really happening to her. Despite herself, she found she was actually starting to accept the things she was hearing. Somehow, she had to. The alternative was unthinkable to her.
"So let me get this straight," Brand said. "We have stepped into some kind of freaky mixed up reality, where we are destined to fight some evil force for a group of... of... filthy homeless people, and you are the child of the gods? Does this sound realistic to you?"
"Again, you are mistaken." Adara lifted a gloved hand. It disappeared in the darkness of the hood, then dropped back down to her side. "The book that was stolen from you, was in fact, one of three copies of prophecies for this land; religious texts, if you will. The last half of that book contains prophecies about you and your companions. This battle is not only going to be waged here. The land you come from is also under attack. What you learn here, you will take back with you and you will use it to continue your destiny and save your own people."
"What are we talking about here?" Brand asked. He no longer had any doubt this woman was a total nut job. It was funny though, and it kept getting funny. So he kept pushing the issue. He didn't realize that Megan was actually accepting what she was hearing and trying to figure out what the ramifications of all this would be.
"Do you believe in magic, Brand?" Adara asked. Before she let him answer, she backed up her question. With a wave of her hand, the burning fire froze in place. It was as if she pressed a pause button.
Brand took a step back, rammed into the bench and ended up sitting again. He blinked several times, staring at the paused fire, then narrowed his eyes at Adara. "I already know that fire is fake. I could stick my arm in it."
"We have too many children around here. I assure you, it is very real. A few simple spells were placed on it to prevent accidents."
The orange hue continued to bathe Adara's left side, but the flickering of it had stopped. Megan released the breath she hadn't realized she been holding, then looked quickly to Adara. "You are ripping apart the very fabric of everything we've ever known. This shit doesn't happen in our world." Megan stood and waved an arm around wildly. "This shit is fantasy. Made up to tell silly stories for us to read and enjoy. And now we are standing here and you are trying to tell us it's all real. How do you expect us to take this? What do you expect us to do?"
As soon as Megan stopped speaking, she fell back onto the bench and let out a shudder. She'd sat listening to all this and it finally caught up with her. Before she realized what she was doing, she'd released all the turmoil boiling within. Relief overwhelmed her, but the questions still hung in the air. Brand's hand landed on hers and for the moment, she felt safe. He always made her feel safe, no matter what was going on around her. With a blink, her gaze slowly turned back to Adara
Adara's reply was quiet and simple: "Believe."To be continued...