Dust in the Wind - Part Eight
The gathered crowd melted away as Brand led Adara toward her tent, the Sword of Destiny stayed at her neck the whole time. Not that anyone seemed to notice or care. As they walked through the people, groups of them started to fall to their knees. Everyone's eyes were on Brand; more specifically Brand's right arm. There were a few shouts that Brand couldn't understand, but right now he didn't care much. He wanted to get to Adara's tent, to Buba, and avenge the death of his future wife and child. The moon hanging high in the sky was full, surely not a good sign.
There was a murmur bouncing off the tent walls outside, sending a shiver down Lisya spine. She had a feeling something bad was about to happen and that was enough for her.
"Listen, Ben, we need to get out of here. No time for talk."
The front of the tent, the only way out, was cast in numerous shadows. The back, however, was clear. Lisya reached into her boot and pulled out a small, sharp knife. She stepped around Ben but before she could pierce through the fabric of the wall...
"Don't even think about it," Brand said. He shoved Adara into the room, causing her to trip over a chair and land awkwardly on her side. His eyes had turned cold as they landed on Ben and locked in place.
Lisya spun around, staring at Brand like a deer frozen in place by on-coming headlights. It wasn't so much what she saw that startled her, more so it was what she didn't see. Brand's true-self was gone and all that remained in Lisya's eyes was her ordinary black and white view of the world that she remembered as a child. For a second this raised an alarm, then she saw his arm and the way the candlelight was reflecting off of it. That was when she knew he'd changed. His true-self wasn't gone; it was just beyond her range of vision. Much like Adara and her sister.
"Brand," Lisya whispered, "you need to understand something."
Still those cold and dark eyes remained on Buba. Brand felt nothing at the moment but the simple desire to plunge this sword in his hands straight though Buba's oddly shaped round head. He wanted to see the terror in Buba's eyes as the blade soared toward its goal. But most of all, he wanted to see Buba's lifeless body just as he'd seen Megan's a short while ago.
"Listen to me!" Lisya screamed.
Adara pushed up from the ground and returned to her feet. Despite her short embrace with the dirt-covered ground, her white robe remained spotlessly clean. Slowly, Adara lifted her hands; her eyes began glowing green.
"Really now, Adara. You of all people know it's not wise to attempt that on the Wielder. Come on! Wake up and smell the defeat. Brand isn't your otyle anymore. He's not even your equal anymore. Face it darling, you are Brand's chew toy now."
Almost instantly Adara's eyes returned to their normal sparkling green color. She let out a hesitant sigh, casting a quick glance at a very silent Buba before stepping in front of him, effectively blocking Brand's view.
"Get out of my way," Brand growled. His heart was thumping so hard there were moments when one might have fully expected it to leap clear through his ribcage and out into the world. Boiling blood ran through him like he'd never felt before. He'd been angry and down right pissed beyond all imagination, but this was different. This was the first time he truly felt he was out of control. Yet something inside of him was trying to hold him back just a little harder.
Then Buba's towering frame rose from the cot. He was almost a good two feet taller than Adara, but still she could look more menacing than Buba ever had. He rested a meaty hand on Adara's shoulder and guided her to the side. As Buba's hands dropped to his sides, Brand lifted the sword.
"Kill me," Buba said. "Please kill me."
The pleading look that locked onto Brand's eyes shook him. All at once Brand was cold. Buba wanted to die. That simple demand was all that Brand had had in mind but now that Buba had asked for it, Brand found himself uncertain as to his course of action.
"How could you kill her!" Brand shouted.
"If this turns into some melodramatic love-fest with everyone forgiving everyone I think I will puke. Well, I can't really puke seeing as I'm just a sword, but I speak metaphorically."
"He didn't do it," Lisya said. "He was taken over by Chrava. If there's anyone you should be extending your wrath toward it should be her. She may not have done it in the flesh, but she took over Ben's mind and did it just the same."
"It's still my fault," Buba said. "Kill me, please. I'm begging you."
Brand looked between Lisya, Buba, and Adara. His bloodlust was fading. His confusion was growing. Didn't Adara mention something about this earlier? Buba had been possessed. Buba couldn't even kill a fly much less someone he cared about so deeply. He had to have been drugged or brainwashed or possessed, that's the only explanation. Still Brand felt so angry at the moment. He needed to hurt someone.
Again Lisya spoke and this time Brand heard it well. "Or you could blame Adara. She knew it was going to happen."
Brand jerked his gaze to Adara so fast he thought he'd snapped his own neck. His bloodlust had just shifted to a much more accessible target. His grip on the hilt of the sword tightened. Had his knuckles not been metallic, they would have turned whiter than Adara's robe.
"This is true," Adara said. "I knew this would happen."
Maybe it was the calmness in her voice or maybe it was the uncaring tone, but at that moment Brand wanted nothing more than to stick this sword right into Adara's neck. And he almost did it. Almost. But then she said something that froze him.
"As did Megan."
Everything spun out of control for Brand. His right arm dropped, the sword's tip dipping into the dirt as it hammered down. The first thing his mind latched on to was that final conversation. Megan had been seeking closure. She knew her hand was over so she put all the cards on the table. Perhaps she was even trying to get Brand to realize his heart before it was too late. And he did. He admitted his feelings to her and to himself before it was too late to do so. She knew.
Slowly Brand lifted the sword. Its dirt cover tip came to point directly at Adara's chest. "How could you let this happen?" Brand asked. "How could you possibly know this was going to happen, yet still do absolutely nothing? You let her die for your own stupid causes! She wasn't a part of this any more than I am! What gives you the right to drag us into this twisted game we wanted nothing to do with!"
"I didn't," Adara said. "Don't you see yet, Brand? This is your call of destiny. You were destined to become the last Wielder this world will ever see. You were destined to bring this world to its final chapter. It was written long before either of our worlds were created and now it's playing out as it was foretold."
"Destiny? You keep throwing destiny in my face. Is it your destiny to be there at the end?"
"I've been here since the beginning."
"Brand, no!" Buba shouted, too late.
Lisya covered her face with her hands, horrified.
One lunge was all it took. The sword slid through Adara's left side as if she were made out of butter. Brand stood there, face to face with Adara, while the blade of the sword sparkled in the candlelight where Adara's blood mingled with the metal. "Perhaps you've been here too long," Brand muttered. He stepped back, withdrawing the sword as he went. Then spun around in a full circle with the sword rising. As he turned back to Adara, he brought the blade down and sliced her head clean off her shoulders.
For a moment Brand stood there and watched as Adara's body crumbled to the ground next to her head. Thunder ripped through the night, silencing the crowd that had surrounded the tent outside and causing the fabric of the tent walls to shudder. Adara's blood ran down the length of the sword and coated Brand's metallic hand before he released the blade. It fell to the ground, sending up a puff of dirt.
The earth quaked then in unison with a constant thunder that sounded like a freight train passing by endlessly, knocking Brand, Buba and Lisya to the ground. For over a minute the ground heaved, knocking over the table, sending the chairs to their backs.
When it ended, Brand returned to his feet. Adara's head looked up at him with that still unnerving expression of calmness and for a moment he also thought he saw thankfulness in those now dim, dead eyes. Unable to bear the look, he turned away.
His gaze locked on to Buba's. The silence between them was thicker than molasses. Brand could see the pain flowing from those deep brown eyes. Not just pain, though. Disappointment, too. That was when he realized what he'd just done. All the trouble and all the pain he'd caused his friends in his life, not once had he done something as idiotic as this. He's just killed a living, breathing person in cold blood. All his life had been screw up after screw up but now, here in this alien world with these alien people, he'd finally crossed a line that could never be uncrossed.
"What have I done?" Brand asked.
He wasn't really expecting an answer, nor did he want one. In that final moment before he acted, he had heard what Adara was saying and finally understood it. Destiny was not something he believed it. Not, that is, until now. At this very moment, looking into the eyes of the man he most looked up to, Brand found himself believing in destiny for the very first time. But not the destiny of hero's that Adara tried to spin. No. His destiny was to make that one fateful mistake that would cost him Buba's acceptance forever. And here it was. There was no escaping this now.
Then all holy hell broke loose.
A bright light filled the room, blinding all the occupants and knocking them to their knees. As Brand's eyes adjusted, he could only stare in disbelief. Hovering over Adara's fallen body, in a misty, ghost-like state, was Megan looking holier than an angel.To be continued...