Dust in the Wind - Part Nine
At first Brand thought he was dreaming. That assumption didn't last long though. Unless this was one of them mass hallucinations that the government claims are the real reason for UFO sightings.
"Megan!" Buba shouted.
All Brand could do was look up at this apparition in stunned silence. The first few seconds he was so overwhelmed with joy, then he realized something that made his heart twist with shame. If Megan was some kind of spirit now, she surely saw him as he killed Adara. There was only one thing that that expression of disappointment from Buba could overcome and that was if Megan knew that he'd killed someone.
"Brand," the ghostly image of Megan said. Her voice was as beautiful and caring as Brand remembered it. "I don't mean to sound like some bad movie here, but if you are seeing this then that means I've died. I can't begin to describe to you what you mean to me. I'm pretty sure you'll know it by the time this recording comes into play.
"For many months I've been working with Adara, learning the ways of magic in this world. This would seem fruitless now, I'm sure. But that doesn't matter. You need to know that my death was for a purpose. During my time with Adara I've come to discover why she is so accepting of the prophecies that rule this world. I've also come to accept these prophecies and my place in them.
"You will come to a point in this journey where you are faced with a terrible task. Adara asked me to tell you about this because she feared the results of hearing it from anyone but me. I don't really know how to put this gently so I'll just tell you outright. You will become what this world knows as The Wielder. You will become one with The Living Sword of Destiny and it will be your job to see through to the end of the prophetic code for this world. This is your destiny, Brand. As much as you don't believe in such things, I'm here to tell you they are real nonetheless.
"This world has come to its end and we've been brought here to fulfill its final chapters. You are no doubt wondering why us. Why three people from a world that is vastly different? Our worlds are more alike than we know, Brand. Your job as The Wielder will not end when this world has closed the book. As we've been told from the beginning, we are merely passing through here to learn.
"Our world has been infused with people from this world. For centuries Zadara has known a way to travel between both worlds and she has constantly been sending people from this world to our world. Slowly she's built up a rather large army that has infiltrated all areas of our world with the rather boring goal of simply taking over. Not very imaginative, I know. But Zadara is aware, just like Adara, of the prophecies. She's aware that soon this world will cease to exist and she has no intention of losing her power hold.
"It'll be up to you and Buba and Lisya, as well as a few others you've yet to encounter, to free our world from the terrible days ahead. But first you must bring this world to its end. And that won't be easy for you. The task is simple. But simple tasks sometimes take on enormous weight when it comes to the heart.
"To bring this world to an end you must destroy the children of the gods. They can only be killed by decapitation and only with the Sword of Destiny in the hands of the Wielder. That is you. Be warned, however. The three sisters contain within them the power of the gods. It would suit you well to kill Zadara first. For each sister that dies the remaining get even stronger. Adara and Nadara will both submit willingly, but Zadara will give you a fight that could very well be the end of you. Tread carefully my love. I believe in you and know you will find the answers to all your questions in your heart."
As the image faded away, Brand turned his attention to the fallen body of Adara. So many questions were flowing through his mind right now. Perhaps the biggest of all was from where did this third sister come? He'd only heard of two up until now. Things were much more complicated and getting worse.
"What was that?" Buba asked.
"A memory cube," Lisya said. "They are rare."
She knelt down beside Adara's body and removed the small wooden box from her dead hand. As she held it up, she shrugged. "I've never seen one, personally. They are magically powered. If Megan was learning from Adara, she no doubt got it from her and learned how to use it."
"She got it from that old woman we traded when we first got here," Buba said. "I remember. It was when we found the guitar."
Brand looked toward Lisya and Buba, unable to focus on them for long. Megan was right. He didn't believe in destiny and this was all beginning to be too much for him. He'd killed Adara. Now he was being told he was suppose to, perhaps not first, but still. That didn't make the weight of what he did any easier. He'd killed her out of rage before he even knew he would have to do it. His decision to kill her was wrong no matter how he tried to cut it now. He'd have to live with that for the rest of his life and right now he wasn't too sure he could. Maybe there was some consolation in the fact that Zadara would be more powerful now. If he were lucky, perhaps she'd kill him before he could finish the job. He was the Wielder now. Did that mean he alone could alter the course of destiny?
"Did she know?" Brand asked. "Did she know she was going to die first? Or did I change her destiny?"
"You didn't change anything," The sword said. "The prophecy clearly states she was the first to die. Way to go. You're still a puppet! Just destiny's puppet instead of Adara's. Pretty funny, if you ask me. Even funnier if you realize the prophecy also states you'll kill Nadara next. You must have a death wish my fine wielding friend. I sure as hell wouldn't want an all-powerful Zadara on my ass. I'd need an ass first, of course. I'll just pretend your ass is mine, that'll make things easier."
"What's the point if I can't change destiny?"
"Boy oh boy. What am I? You should have thought about all this before you killed Adara, genius. She would have gladly answered all your questions in a cryptic-enough-to-drive-you-utterly-insane fashion. Me? I'll just tell you I don't know and really drive you nuts."
"Useless piece of shit!"
"I'm hardly useless kiddo. I'm just mean as hell. I do so enjoy watching you flail around helplessly trying to figure out what to do and only making it worse. It is the highlight of my day."
Brand was about to make some more rude comments when Buba's hand came to rest on his shoulder. "I know I'm in the way. I'm sorry I let Megan die, Brand. I wish I wasn't so stupid but I've accepted that now. I'm going to remain here. You go and do what you need to do with Lisya. Never you mind me anymore."
Brand heard the sigh that escaped Lisya's lips, but more to the point he couldn't believe what Buba was saying. After witnessing Brand kill Adara without mercy, Buba's disappointment wasn't with Brand, it was with himself for being stupid. He looked at Buba, unable to comprehend how to begin replying to what he said. Thankfully, Lisya beat him to it.
"This wasn't your fault, Ben," she said. "Chrava has the power to take over anyone's mind. It could have just as easily been me or Brand or Megan could have been possessed and killed herself. Don't you see? Chrava chose you because of what it would do to you and to your friendship with Brand. She was trying to rip everything to shreds. You can't let her win."
Buba first look uncertainly at Lisya, then Brand. For all the years Brand had known him, Buba was never this doubtful. He'd always stood tall on the fact that he may not be as smart as the next man but he was still smart enough. And Brand had grown to admire that Buba didn't let his being slower than most people stop him from being perhaps the wisest man Brand would ever know. For one more time in this twisted few hours, Brand was at yet another crossroads. Things had to change and they had to change right now. Zadara and her gang of thugs had been accomplishing far too much lately. They were attacked at every angle and now that it was in the light Brand was not going to let them win.
"You are the wisest man I know," Brand said. "You took in two kids that were doomed to a life of petty crime and jail. With your guidance we changed. So you may not be smart, Buba. Who gives a shit? Smart does count for a damn thing. You've always been there for me despite all the shit I've put us through and you've been there with words of wisdom that will forever ring true. That counts for far more than knowing how to build a nuclear bomb with bubble gum and a paperclip. Because of you I'm a better man. Nothing can change that. No amount of smarts could ever equal your gift of guidance."
Without warning, Buba grabbed Brand and squeezed him so tight breathing became a struggle but it was worth it and Brand returned that hug just as tight. He was still thankful when it ended and he could breathe again.
"We'll get through this," Brand said. "Now that we know what's happening we can start attacking back."
He looked down at Adara's body, then up at Lisya. Lisya was still a mystery to him. Megan's recording had said Lisya was part of the group along with others to come. Buba knew her and seemed to accept her, so Brand was sure he, too, would come to accept her. But for now she was still a mystery.
"We should get One-eye," Lisya said softly. "Adara needs to be prepared for the funeral pyre. She'll go up with Megan."
Brand nodded faintly. He was tired beyond belief both physically and mentally. A year ago he was living the boring life of managing a bookstore and partying at night. He still wished for that, every second things got worse he wished even harder for it to all go away. He'd give anything to hear Megan telling him to he's had too much to drink or Buba scolding him for calling an old lady a bitch because she was driving too slow. Still there was something found ever since this mad journey began. Something that was missing had been found and become part of his life. He'd never know what that something was but he would always accept, despite the pain and heartache, that this was his destiny. He'd have it no other way.To be continued...