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January 30, 2023

Call of Destiny v4p3

By Josh Brown

Dust in the Wind - Part Three

Deep in the back of Adara's tent there a bowl of water sat patiently waiting for someone to make use of it. As it so happened, today was the bowl's lucky day. In the calmness of the afternoon the water within the large, rounded bowl started to stir. Moments later, Adara was pulling herself out from the water, using the sides of the bowl for leverage until she was back on solid ground. Then she reached back into the water and helped Megan up through the water to dry land.

Megan was more than a little shocked for several reasons. For one, she just used a bowl of water as a doorway and two, well, she was fairly large now and getting larger as she neared her eighth month of pregnancy. So, needless to say, she was surprised when she could fit through the opening of the bowl. Also interesting was the fact that neither one of the two women were wet. Not a single drop of water had touched them, even though Megan was positive they had emerged themselves in water on the other end.

"Like I said, easy." Adara smiled at Megan. "Are you ready? Benjamin and Brand are both here."

Megan nodded. It'd been six months since she'd seen either of them and while she truly had missed them, so much had happened in those six months. So much knowledge had been passed on to her from Adara that she couldn't help but think of everything different now. Megan was pretty much prepared for anything now, so meeting up with Brand and Buba shouldn't be too bizarre, right?

While it was her goal to find Brand first, Buba was just passing Adara's tent when Megan stepped out. "Megan!" Buba blurted as he rushed to her and hugged her with glee.

"Look at you, Buba. You know I don't believe I've ever seen you with a beard of any kind before. Brand and I had a side bet that you couldn't grow facial hair. As usual, I was right. I guess today really is my lucky day."

Buba grinned and motioned to Lisya. "I want you to meet Lisya. She came for me when Chrava had my mind all muddled and took me away. Then we traveled together to get back here. She's real neat, you should like her."

As Megan and Lisya chatted for a few minutes, all four of them headed toward the training arena. There was a vicious sword fight currently in progress, so the group turned their attention toward it after coming up next to One-eye, who was seat near the entrance. When he noticed them, he offered a wink for all before turning his attention back to the battle.

Both men were shirtless, which gave Megan a rather wonderful view of some well-sculpted bodies. The broad back and shoulders that faced her were dripping with sweat and she could literally see the muscles straining with each swing of the sword as the thick, shoulder length brown hair on the man seemed to keep sweeping his shoulders clean of the little droplets of perspiration. If she hadn't been in love with Brand and carrying his child, even from behind she would say she was in love.

The crowd let out an astonishingly loud gasp as shoulder muscles forced his opponent's sword out of his hand then rapidly swung the blade to his neck and halted just millimeters from contact. After the moment passed and the sword fell to the ground, while the two fighters congratulated each other the crowd erupted into huge applause.

Needless to say, Megan in all her distracted reverie didn't even realize that the well-muscled shoulders belonged to Brand. When he turned toward the group and a huge grin crossed his lips, Megan seemed to be the only one that didn't recognize him. Sure it was just for a moment, but she was utterly in denial this massive force of muscle could possibly be Brand. For the moment, at least. The second it did dawn on her, again her luck was reaffirmed. To fall in love with the muscled back of a man with regret, only to find out it was the man you already loved. Isn't life grand?

Again Megan found herself the target of a hug. This one was just as enthusiastic as Buba's with a little added something that confirmed her eyes weren't fooling her. This was the Brand she knew. Even from the outside she could feel a great calmness had taken over in his life. She hugged him back, as tightly as she could, for the first time realizing just how much she had missed him.

"Look at all of you!" Brand cried out. "I hardly recognize you. You're bigger than a house, Megan. And Buba, you're so thin." Then he paused and blinked. "Shit. Buba has a beard!"

"Someone owes me a hundred bucks," Megan said playfully.

"Buba, you look like a grizzly mountain man with that beard! We've been growing our beards the same amount of time and all I have is this dinky thing."

"If you could call that a beard," Buba grinned.

Once more introductions were made to Lisya and the entire group of six headed off to the center of town. Apparently, despite their own uncertainty, someone had known they'd all return that day. A celebration began immediately and continued well into the night. It was almost like a scene out of the Twilight Zone as Megan and Buba felt like the outsiders and Brand was the one that fit in with the people so well; that had never happened before.

At some point during the party, Brand and Megan found time to sneak away and talk quietly. They discovered themselves walking along the very path they took the first time they went exploring. This time, though, Brand kept his hungry hands off the foliage. When they reached the cliff's edge, Brand helped Megan to the ground, then sat down beside her and held her close with his big arms wrapped tightly around her extended belly.

"It almost doesn't seem real anymore, does it?" Brand asked.

"Six months is a long time, Brand. You wouldn't believe half the things I learned in that time." She paused and looked up at Brand. "Maybe you would. You seem to have learned quite a bit yourself. But you're right it doesn't seem real. It hasn't since we first stepped into this world. Sometimes though, like right now, I think it feels more real than it ever has to me."

"Can you believe Buba? He's lost so much weight, yet he can still polish off three pies with room to spare."

Don't do that Brand, Megan said silently. Part of her had hoped the time apart would make him more open, as well as more at peace with himself. However, she just received her answer to that hope. Two for three on luck tonight. She leaned her head against Brand's chest and closed her eyes. He wants to avoid talking, while she wants to talk. One of them was going to win and the other was going to lose. She didn't feel the least bit bad for Brand because he was going to lose. "After six months," she said softly, "I've come to find I don't want to be without you, Brand. We love each other, soon we're going to have a child, and I think we should be together, forever."

In the silence of the night, as Megan's words hung in the air, the noises of celebration from the campsite filled the background. It was a joyous occasion and the people were preparing for their liberation of this terrible life. If they only knew the terrible, terrible cost of that liberation perhaps there would have been a lynching mob awaiting our return. Why am I thinking about this, Megan asked herself?

Then the answer came. "I agree, Megan," Brand said with a quiet voice. "I've loved you for so long, I don't even realize why we were playing this foolish game of 'we are just friends'. Maybe we needed the time apart to fully realize we needed to be together forever. Or maybe we've both have come to a place in life where we can admit we are ready for this. I love you, Megan. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you."

"I'll never leave you, Brand. I promise you with all my heart and soul, I will always be there by your side. You will never be alone in this, or any, world again."

When the promises were said and the commitments proclaimed they returned to the party, hand in hand. Brand, something of a local role-model in this community - Megan couldn't help but shudder at that thought, was swept away by a couple of adolescent girls who couldn't wait to get a chance to dance with the man. Megan bid him good luck and told him not to break too many hearts, then went for a short walk around the perimeter with Buba. As they reached a small park area right outside the camp, Megan took a seat on a bench and sighed softly.

"Long day, huh?" Buba asked.

"Very long. I've done more walking today than I have in some time."

"Adara must have taught you a lot in six months."

Megan smiled. "She taught me more than even I wanted to know. The forces we will soon face are far superior than any of us has imagined Buba. I have no doubt in my mind we would have all died had this past six months not happened."

"That bad, huh?"

"That bad." Megan tried to stand, but needed a hand. Buba reached out and pulled her to her feet. As the stood there and looked at each other, Megan let out a slow breath then smiled sadly at Buba. "I want you to know something." She said. "Despite anything that happens before this is all over, I love you Buba and there is absolutely nothing that can change that. You have been there as a friend to us since we were stupid teens and you have been the strongest, most influential influence we've ever had. I truly believe if it weren't for you, one or both of us would never have made it past teen-hood. You are the father neither of us had and nobody will ever take that away from Brand or me. Not in the long run. Brand has a terrible time dealing with emotions, but he'll always come around in the end."

Buba wiped his eyes with the palms of his hands then embraced Megan and thanked her from the bottom of his heart. Then they pulled apart and Megan envisioned her voice box turning to dust from the strength of Buba's fist as it thrust into her neck. She slammed back against the bench behind her, the force of the blow toppling her and the bench backward.

As Megan gasped for breath, she tried to push herself up. But Buba was there, next to her in a flash and several sharp kicks to the stomach followed his arrival. Megan couldn't scream out no matter how much she tried. Again more kicks to the stomach. The more Megan coughed, the more her mouth filled with blood. She collapsed to the grass, her arms pressing tightly to her stomach. Everything had become a blur around her, but she could still hear the music from the party in the background. Life went on as her life slowly faded away from her. With the last struggle for breath failing, all Megan could think of was how peaceful this part of the world was at this moment. Funny, she'd always thought there would be thunder and lightning and violent winds to accompany her into death.

The last thing Megan saw before her life completely slipped away was Buba's face as he smiled and winked. He said, "Not so lucky now, huh?" But the words never reached her ears. The world turned to darkness as it blinked out of existence.

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2002-11-18
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