Three as Three - Part Three
Being told that someone wanted to kill him wasn't exactly Brand's greatest moment. He pushed down the urge to lunge at this strange man and tackle him to the ground for several reasons really. It was highly possible this guy was serious and did want to kill Brand. It was also highly possible this guy could kill Brand. Last, but certainly not least, Brand had no idea where in the hell he was, nor how to get out; he figured this mystery man had some answers.
As luck would have it, he didn't need to worry too terribly much. The man rolled his eyes as if he'd heard everything that flew through Brand's mind then bellowed: "I won't, however, even though it will ultimately mean my own death and the death of many people I love."
Was there a sudden chill in the mist that surrounded Brand? He couldn't tell but he did feel quite a bit cooler now than he had just a moment again. Words linger at the tip of Brand's tongue but he held them back. Now wasn't the time to speak. He just knew.
"Soon you will awaken, Brandon. Tell my daughter that you are to see the ruins before anyone else and you are to do it alone. She will not argue with you. When you get to the ruins, you are to seek out and find a prized possession that will lead you through your journey and become your most cherished companion. Of all the people you will interact with on this journey, this will be the only thing you can trust with your life."
"What-" Brand started. But before he could continue, the man was gone. Then out of nowhere, Brand fainted and fell face first into the misty surroundings and vanished.
No, no, no, no, no! Megan staggered back; her eyes were stuck on the hilt of the knife as it protruded from Adara's stomach. Already blood was beginning to seep through the white robe, turning it red around the unseen blade that reached deep into Adara's internal organs. Megan collapsed to her knees trying with all her might to look away but she was transfixed at the scene she'd created. Nothing had ever compelled her to do such a thing before in her life. How could she possibly be capable of stabbing another person, much less someone she cared about somewhat?
Ever since their arrival here, Megan has felt herself being pulled in two directions. She couldn't place the feeling or even fully realize it, but it was there none the less. Now, now that pulling had finally gotten strong on one side and she was yanked over a threshold she'd never been through before. Darkness was creeping into her very soul and she was helpless to stop it.
Adara looked down at the handle of the knife as it stuck out of her stomach. She glanced at Megan, quirked a brow, then... she smiled. "Ow." Her words were like a teasing lover's, playful and harsh all rolled into one indistinguishable mass of confusion. Adara simply pulled the knife out of her stomach and tossed it again. She cupped her left hand under the wound and trapped the blood that flowed in her hand. "Do not worry, Megan. I am unharmed."
Megan stared. She was frozen in place. So frozen, in fact, she no doubt didn't even know she was alive at this very moment. All she could do was look at Adara as tears trickled down the sides of Megan's face.
Two steps later, Adara was at Brand's side. She leaned down and parted his lips, then, brace yourself, she poured the blood from her hand past Brand's lips.
"What are you doing!" Megan shrieked. She obviously rejoined reality.
While the blood slowly drizzled across Adara's fingers and sought out refuge between Brand's lips, Adara murmured softly, "I'm slapping my kin in the face."
Brand was not going to be happy if he ever woke up. That was for sure. Megan curled up as tight as she could on the floor and slowly rocked back and forth. She didn't say so, but deep inside her hungry to kill Adara was still very strong. It took everything she had to stay here in this spot and not lash out at Adara again. Indeed, this started the moment they stepped through that doorway but Megan choose to ignore it. And ignore it she did until just a few minutes ago when her anger had opened up a doorway inside her soul that was pretty much the equivalent of inviting anyone to come on inside and have a grand old time.
Adara coaxed the remaining drops of blood from her fingers into Brand's awaiting mouth, then lowered her head and murmured in a strange language that went completely over Megan's head. The words had a rhythm that flowed and for a while, Megan actually started to relax. She felt herself become more and more at ease as the words escape Adara's lips until Adara had finished. When she stopped, Megan was once again in control of her emotions. She had no desire to end Adara's life and, honestly, she didn't even remember that five minutes ago she stabbed Adara in the stomach.
Nor would she.
Adara moved toward Megan and held out a hand. As Megan took the hand and stood, she didn't even realize that five minutes ago there was a hole in Adara's rope and a blood staining the fabric. Now, the robe was whole and the blood was nowhere to be seen.
"Wait here," said Adara.
Megan sat down at Brand's side and took his hand. It was warmer than normal, perhaps a good sign. She glanced at Adara for a moment, confused. How did she get to the floor so far away? It was silly not to remember and not really one to bring attention to the fact that she could be pretty dense at times, Megan just let it go.
"If he awakens-"
Brand shot up in the cot and opened his eyes.
"-Call me," Adara chuckled. "Welcome back, Brandon."
Megan shot forward just about as soon as Brand did. Her arms rushed around him, she squeezed him with all her might (which wasn't much). "Brand! I'm so-"
"I must seen the ruins first and I must see them alone," Brand muttered as he pushed away from Megan and got to his feet. He was naked, but didn't seem to notice or care. He simply picked up the pile of clothes he recognized and started to get dressed.
Megan looked desperately at Adara for answers.
Apparently Adara had heard something that she knew was true. She merely nodded her head once then stepped aside as Brand walked passed Megan, then Adara and headed out of the tent.
"What?" It was all Megan could think of to say.
"Three as three; the journey begins." Adara turned to Megan and for a brief moment there was a deep sadness visible within her eyes. When she blinked, it was gone. "Megan, Brand has been visited by the gods. My father, if I'm to guess. It will probably be a while until you see him again."
"But... I don't understand."
"We must prepare you for your future. You play a very important part in this journey and without you, it wouldn't be possible. Brand has his own things to attend to in preparation, as does Buba. Both are off right now, preparing. You were the lucky one to end up with my fullest attention and guidance on your path."
Megan turned to the path Brand took as he left and slowly nodded. She followed Adara toward the door, still not fully understanding anything at all. All she could really know was that Brand was alive still. The question on her mind at the moment though was simply: What is going on?
She didn't even notice as she stepped over the bloody knife that lay on the floor. The very knife she had stuck in Adara not too long ago.
When Buba finally woke up from sleepwalking, boy was he in for a shock. All around him, sweaty men marched forward. His wrists were shackled together, his legs were bound, and he was being poked and pushed to keep moving ahead. He was a head taller than all the men around him, however, and could clearly see where he was or more to the point, where he wasn't.
In contrast to the drab, campy setting of the campgrounds, Buba found himself being led through a huge, bustling city alive with uncountable numbers of people. Right now they were passing through some kind of market. Shops of all different shapes and sizes lined the cobbled street they walked on. Dead ahead, a good distance away, Buba could make out the outline of a large fountain as it sprayed water high into the sky.
A filthy beggar stuck out a tin-cup, mumbling something about change. One of the men surrounding Buba snatched the cup and hurled it onto the roof of the nearest shop then stabbed the beggar several times before moving back into formation around Buba. It terrified Buba to watch such a thing happen, he started to scream out but something jabbed his side and he turned to look forward so he didn't lose his balance. He couldn't help but wonder, if this was the same place he followed Brand and Megan things sure do change dramatically.
At the same time, he finally realized he had been sleeping up until now. How on earth did he get to this town? Surely these people didn't storm into Adara's camp and kidnap him. There's no way Brand would have allowed that. Well, Brand might have allowed that but there was definitely no way Megan would have allowed it and she definitely wouldn't have let Brand just sit and watch.
As they approached the fountain Buba's eyes alerted him to a sight he hoped he'd never see face to face. There standing on the rim of the circular fountain was the woman of Buba's nightmares. A shudder ran down his spine and for a second he started to back away. Until he ran into a large, pointed stick. Had he moved back any farther, well, let's just say that stick would have been intimately familiar with Buba at that point. So, instead, he continued to move with his captors. This couldn't be good.To be continued...