Three as Three - Part Nine
Without even the ability to close his eyes, Brand was pretty much screwed. Not that closing his eyes would make it all go away but he would have been able to pretend just a little more easily that he wasn't about to die. Instead, he was stuck watching as Zadara prepared to shove her bloody finger into his mouth. That was so unsanitary. Course, she was aiming to kill him so what did he expect? Well, he didn't expect Zadara to stop right in front of him and smirk but she did.
"You should see your face right now, Brand. My how miserable you look."
Screw you, Brand thought. He couldn't say it but he could hope with all his might that she was a mind reader. If she was though she never made a show of it. She just continued with her yapping. "I asked you before, so let me ask you again. Do you realize what you've found here, Brand? This," she sweep her hand back, motioning toward the sword that hovered over the altar, "is one of the most prized relics in our world. Mere peasants have risen to become kings because of this sword. There's so much myth about it that nobody truly knows what it's capable of but some say that those that are worthy to wield it are drawn to it.
"This sword was forged from the very metal used in the walls of the heavens then dipped in the blood of a unicorn. Do you have any idea how powerful the blood of a unicorn is, Brand? No, you don't because it's impossible for you humans to comprehend the sheer force that holds this universe together. So, imagine my anger when I hear someone like you is drawn toward such a powerful object. I should be the one that wields that blade. In my hands the world would finally become its true potential."
Zadara had slowly been inching back toward the sword, now she faced it once more. The fierceness inside of her was rapidly boiling out with each passing word. It was a small favor she was moving away from Brand and he was glad for it.
"What's that you say?" Zadara murmured without looking back at Brand. "You ask why I don't just take the sword? Very good question, Brand." He hadn't actually asked, but then again it was a good question and he was more than willingly to hear the answer. Anything to keep her bloody fingers away from his mouth.
"Simple answer really," Zadara said. "See these bones? These are all the hands and arms of people not chosen to wield the sword. See what happens when you try to take the sword and it doesn't belong to you? The rest of their bodies are somewhere in these ruins. Nobody ever gets out of here after sustaining an injury like that.
"So," Zadara turned to look at Brand again and grinned, "I'm going to release you. If you want to live, you'd better hope you are truly chosen. You have two options after I release you. You can try to take this sword or you can take the blood. The blood will kill you. There's no doubt about that. The sword however, will only take off your arm. It's up to you."
And with that, Brand could feel the control of his body returned. He stood there for a moment, his mind racing. The choice seemed reasonable. He was called here, right? The question begs, Why is Zadara trying so hard to get Brand to take the sword? What will happen when he takes the weapon that will give Zadara the kind of advantage she needs? Something was very wrong at this moment. As usual he had absolutely no idea whatsoever what that was.
Ah, what the hell. He was here to get the sword, so he was going to get the sword. Several steps later, he glared at Zadara. "I'll take my chances with the sword, bitch."
The light streaming from the ceiling caused the sword to practically shimmer with anticipation as Brand stepped in front of it and Zadara took several steps back. Zadara watched with greedy, narrowed eyes. She was ready to pounce but given what she told Brand, as if she could be trusted, there was no way she could take the sword.
So Brand decided to wait. "Why, exactly, are you so eager for me do this? What's in it for you?"
"Just take the sword!" Zadara hissed.
"And if I say no?"
"Then you die!"
That can't be right. Brand eyed Zadara suspiciously. Only the chosen one could wield the sword. A sword so powerful a peasant could become a king with it and here was Zadara, trying her damnedest to get Brand to take the sword. If she didn't need him alive, he'd be dead already. He had the advantage. Oh yes he did and now he was aware of this.
"Kill me then," Brand said. It was a gamble, sure. But really, she wouldn't actually kill him... right?
Uh-oh, Zadara marched straight toward Brand with a fixed glare of pure rage. She was really going to kill him and there was nothing he could do. Well, almost nothing. Without thinking, Brand grabbed the hilt of the sword and pulled it off the altar.
A cold shock ran up his arm, along his shoulders, then down his spine. He stood there, frozen in place as time all around him seemed to slow down. Zadara was continuing to move toward him, but now it looked like she was moving underwater. As he watched her approach, there was nothing much else to do. Sure, he had the sword now but really... how many times had he used a sword in his life. Uh, none. Amazingly, the sword itself seemed to become ten times lighter only seconds after he'd taken hold of it. Clarity inched through his mind. Only seconds after taking hold of the sword, he felt more awake and alert than he'd ever felt before in his life. He had no idea what to do with this sword, but he was damn glad he'd taken it.
"I would recommend departing now. But that's just me. Why would you want to leave when there's a maniac running at you with intent to kill?"
The voice was soft, almost a whisper. It caused Brand to spin around and hold out the sword with the end mostly pointing at the ground. Very scary. "Who said that?"
"Were you raised by a otyle or what? Get out of here before she catches you and kills you."
Easier said than done. Brand tried to find the source of the voice, but he couldn't really pinpoint which direction it had come from. It was as if it came from everywhere at once. He spun around again and stepped back. Zadara was a lot closer. It was almost comical to see that fury in her eyes as she moved toward him slower than a turtle. Funny, but he didn't have time to laugh. Right now he just wanted to be back at the camp. That crazy-ass fire that gave off no heat would be a welcome sight compared to this.
Almost as soon as he thought of that fire, there it was in front of him. He turned on his heels, then fell back, into the fire. A yelp flew from his lips and he dived forward, escaping the firing pit of hell only to realize it didn't burn him at all. It was a childproof fire! He dropped the sword and looked around in awe. The camp was just as he remembered it. Somehow he'd moved from the ruins to the middle of the camp without even blinking. The sun was starting to set and the people were mostly milling about near the food tent.
Brand sank down on the nearest bench and sighed.
"Do you mind? I don't appreciate being discarded in the dirt like a piece of garbage."
Again that voice. Again Brand looked around. "What the hell?" He murmured.
"The sword, you idiot."
The sword? Brand knelt down next to the sword and looked at it oddly. "What? A sword that can talk? Please tell me I'm high."
"I don't care what you are. Pick! Me! Up!"
Quickly, Brand picked up the sword and frowned. "Uh."
"Now clean me. What have I gotten myself into this time? I made that nice peasant boy king and he turned out to be one of the most monsterous tyrannts this land has ever seen. Okay, fine. So be it. That's not my fault. But now, now I seem to be with some imbicle that can't even tie his own shoes!"
Looking around, Brand lifted the edge of his tshirt and brushed the dirt from the sword. As he listened to the rambling, he couldn't help but feel a little crazy. Was he actually hearing a sword talk? Every second he was in this world he seemed to find something even stranger. This was really taking the cake.To be continued...
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