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August 08, 2022

Call of Destiny v4p4

By Josh Brown

Dust in the Wind - Part Four

While the celebration of the hero reunion played on, Lisya reacquainted herself with friends and family. She'd been gone for over two years, working undercover for Adara and now that she was back, she was easily slipping back into her roles as friend, sister, and daughter.

The community as a whole hadn't changed in all that time. That more than anything didn't surprise her. There was a part of her that had hoped things would be different, but she had grown up here. She knew nothing ever changed. That's why she was more than happy to spy on Zadara for Adara. The change helped her to grow as a person. The experiences alone far outweighed anything that had happened to her in her life here. There was no thought in her mind that she was sent on that mission for another reason all together.

When Ben and Megan passed by, Lisya offered a quick smile before she settled down in front of the large fire, the centerpiece of the camp. Flames licked the sky while the occasional resident tossed another chunk of wood onto the pyre. So much had happened to her in those years; so little had happened to the people she held closest. This was a boring life and she knew the people knew it. But they were happy, and that counted for something, right?

As the music died down for a moment, Lisya watched while two young girls tried to get Brand to stay for one more dance. He politely bid them goodbye, then headed straight toward Lisya. She blinked as he dropped down on the bench next to her, catching his breath. "Some party."

"All for you and your friends."

"And you, from what I hear. Something of a legend around here."

This surprised her, to say the least. She laughed, but the puzzled expression Brand offered the laugh gave her pause. "Really? You're kidding, right?"

"Not in the least. I've heard a lot about you over the months. These people were very proud to have one of their own on a secret mission for Adara. There was a huge buzz about the place when a rumor was started that you would be returning soon. Funny how I knew you would be returning but not my friends."

"Maybe they didn't know."

Brand winked, pushed up from the bench then said, "Oh, they knew. They just didn't want me to know." He started to lumber away, but Lisya frowned sharply and jumped to her feet.

"Get Adara." It was all Lisya could say, barely containing the panic in her voice, before she pushed past a dancing couple and ran through the mass of people toward the nearest gateway out of the camp.

***

"Tell the guards to clear a path from the east entrance to my tent and Brand's tent. No questions. Then you know where to meet me."

One-eye nodded to Adara and disappeared into the sea of people nearby.

Adara peered up at the sky. The stars seemed dull tonight, not a twinkle in them as they rested in the black blanket of space. "The celebration of reunification shall turn black as the chosen are split again. One shall fall. One shall be destroyed. One shall die. The battle they wage shall forever seal the fate of their lives. Souls shall be devoured as good turns evil."

The words hung in the air like a nightmare that shows itself whenever you close your eyes. Adara knew this day was coming. She knew there was nothing she could do to stop it. No. She was lying to herself and now, here among the people that worshipped her, she was not going to lie anymore. It was within her power to stop this all, but she chose not to stop it. She firmly believed this was how it was supposed to go, so she had chosen not to interfere. The world was about to change forever and it wasn't going to be for the better, all because her will to see this through could override the feeling of guilt she felt as she let it happen.

"Adara!"

When Brand called out, Adara quickly lifted her hood to hide the tears that started to betray her outward appearance of calm purity. She had betrayed them, Megan most of all. Now all she could do was see it through to the end, the end of the beginning.

"Adara!" Brand echoed as he came to a halt. "Lisya thinks there's trouble outside the camp walls. Come on."

Without a moment's hesitation in the celebration around them, Adara and Brand made there way to the east exit. Once outside the gates, they found Lisya staring toward the towering trees to the north.

"What do you see?" Adara asked.

"I see..." Lisya paused to turn around and face them. She gazed silently at Brand with an expression of pain.

"Lead us, Lisya." Adara said quietly.

They went along the path around the outside of the camp, approaching an opening in the side forest. Benches could be seen wrapped around the inside of the opening in a circle. The closer they got the more that came into view. Then Benjamin's large frame came into view. He was kneeling down next to an overturned bench, speaking to someone.

Brand started to call out. The words never made it past his lips though. He froze only momentarily then blasted off with such force a cloud of dirt flew up from the path.

Adara reached out and rested her hand on Lisya's shoulder. "Is she dead?"

All Lisya could manage was a nod. She was staring hard at Brand and Buba. "I saw the change right away, from within the camp. I'd kept glancing toward their light to see where they were going, Ben's spirit is so bright to me..."

One-eye came up next to Adara and said, "Let's do this."

***

The first thing Brand saw was Buba's large frame, kneeling next to a fallen bench. The second thing he saw was Megan, limp on the ground. Without thinking, he bolted toward them, jumping over a bench, landing awkwardly and stumbling until he fell down next to Buba and Megan. "Megan!" He screamed, but not nearly loud enough to overthrow the celebratory music in the background.

Her face was a pale-bluish, her neck red and splotchy, starting to bruise. "What happened, Buba?" He demanded, as he tried to find a pulse in Megan's wrist.

For a moment, there was silence. Then Brand looked toward Buba and frowned. He found Buba staring at him with a grin wider than the Grand Canyon.

"What the hell?"

"I killed her." Buba said before letting out sadistic laughed.

The words must not have registered; Brand looked down at Megan again, unable to find a pulse. He never could find someone's pulse. Behind him, Adara stepped around and stood at Megan's head looking down at her. One-eye and Lisya stayed behind, looking over Brand's and Buba's shoulders.

That was when the words finally sunk in.

Brand's head jerked up and he glared at Buba. "You what!"

Rolling his eyes, Buba said. "I killed her and her pretty little baby..." The words couldn't be finished. Buba's head snapped back as Brand's vicious fist tried to smash through his jaw. As the gentle (not so gentle at the moment) giant crashed to the ground, Brand was on top of him in a blink and pounding his fist's repeated into Buba's skull.

One-eye and Lisya both tried to grab at Brand's massive arms and shoulders, but he shoved them both away without a second thought. "What have you done!" He screamed at Buba, blood covering his hands as his knuckles continued to crack away at Buba's face.

Adara lowered her hooded head and murmured softly. Her hands clasped together in front of her while her head slowly raised. "Sleep," she said softly and Brand dropped down on Buba faster than a sack of marbles dropped off a skyscraper. Lisya and One-eye, who displayed surprising strength for such a small man, pulled Brand away from Buba.

The mangled face, complete with broken bones, didn't stop Buba, however. He was on his feet in no time, stretching. While blood just ran out of his face, coating his arms and chest with a particularly disgusting shade of red, he looked toward Adara and grinned. "Lovely night."

Adara unclasped her hands. Still holding them in front of her, she spread her palms and fingers straight and held them together like she was praying. "Expilita melito heretya!" She shouted, then twisted her hands apart in a rapid flick of her wrists, palms thrusting out toward Buba.

"Oh, wow. Like that-" Buba let out a shriek of pain that sounded very feminine. The ghostly form of a young woman seemed to peel itself out of Buba's back as if she'd been hiding inside him and a strong wind had pushed her out. The scream lingered in the air as the see-through image faded away. Buba fell to his knees, right in front of Megan. Maybe it was a good thing his eyes had swollen shut. He cried out in pain but it didn't last long. As soon as Adara again murmured, "Sleep." Buba, too, dropped to the ground unconscious.

"Take Benjamin to my tent. Brand goes to his own tent. I want guards on both tents; neither are to leave." Adara shook her head and looked down at lifeless body of Megan. "Get the funeral pyre ready for two days from tomorrow."

As the others prepared to follow the instructions Adara slipped away. She took no path, had no direction in mind and most of all, she didn't care. All around her the beauty of the forest, the life of the forest mocked her. She had allowed Megan to become her friend, despite the foreknowledge that Megan would die. Since the chosen ones first arrived, she had planned on keeping them at a distance for that very reason. Now, surrounded by the continuous life of nature, all she could think about was that dead body she'd walked away from. The body that once possessed her student and her friend was now vacant of life and it was all because of her.

Adara pulled her hood back. As it dropped to her shoulders, she spun around, glaring at the enormity of the forest. Her naturally calm demeanor was lost that night. For the first time in uncountable millennia, Adara unleashed the facade of the virtuous, immaculate, unwavering demigoddess that was expected of her. Pure blinding rage colored her eyes in blood red as she reached for the sky. "I shall turn upon thee with splendor beyond that which even you, the gods, have seen before. I shall not bow down to these prophecies any longer!"

As flames burned bright in her eyes, Adara spun around again, arms spread wide. For a single moment she lit up, her maroon skin became brighter than the sun, blinding all within a hundred miles. The moment came and went, but its effects would live on. The music died along with the celebration. Adara's eyes turned back to their normal shade of green. She covered her head with her hood, then returned to the camp.

The path home was easy. All the trees that once were, were no more. For a hundred miles every living tree had been turned to dust.

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2002-11-25
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