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April 15, 2024

Call of Destiny v5p1

By Josh Brown

Shadows of the Past – Part One

Man... always remains attached to the past: however far and fast he runs, the chain runs with him. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Brand sat at the foot of his cot with Megan´s leather backpack in his hands. The beaten and battered material had seen far better days, not to mention far happier ones. Her smell was still strong on the backpack, mingling with the worn leather in an all too haunting way. Inside he would find her hairbrush, a few of her favorite CDs, and a couple packs of cigarettes. That much he was certain about. The question rolling through his head at the moment, however, was what else he´d find in there.

"Stop stalling already and open the blasted thing! I´m just dying, pun intended, to find out what´s in there."

Rolling his eyes, Brand gazed up at the low ceiling of the tent with a sigh. He wasn´t sure about this arrangement. More and more he was starting to hate whoever gave this sword the ability to talk and didn´t teach it any manners.

"Don´t be so daft, my man Brand. I was the most perfectly polite and well–mannered talking sword ever to grace the gods´ green earth. I was also the only talking sword, mind you, but that´s another story. My point is that after countless years and countless Wielders, I´ve grown into this loving, affectionate voice of reason that you now hear. If you want to hate someone, hate all those idiots that possessed me before you."

"What–ever," Brand murmured.

Brand eyed the bag in his hands, a frown tickling at the corner of his lips. He wasn´t ready. Not yet. So instead of opening it, he set the backpack aside and stretched out on the cot. His left arm draped across his face and he closed his eyes. He needed to get his mind off of Megan for the time being, so he decided to do the most dangerous thing he could think of: he struck up a conversation with the sword.

"Sword?" Brand asked. "What´s your name, anyway?"

"´Tis a fine question, my son. I´m still waiting to find that out myself. It´s up to the Wielder."

"Now I have to name you, too? Fine! You´re name is Sword."

"You can´t name me sword! How undignified!"

"I could call you piece of shit," Brand replied with a grin. "But, I´ll let you pick."

"Sword it is! What a glorious and deserving name, bravo!"

Uh–huh. Somehow Brand knew that was coming. "What´s your purpose?"

"You really are daft, aren´t you? Well, let´s see. I am the Sword of Destiny... hmmm, what could my purpose be? Perhaps my purpose is to annoy the hell out of people until they cut off their own head, thus saving the universe from their future actions! Or maybe I´m just here to look pretty. Golly gee whiz, I wonder what my purpose is."

"Something tells me you aren´t too far off," Brand muttered. "Seriously, Sword, why were you created in the first place?"

"In moron–speak, it´s an accident that I still exist."

"I–"

"Now, since I´m sure you´re going to insist you aren´t a moron so you have no idea what I´m talking about, allow me to alleviate your puzzled little, and I stress little, mind. The gods, in all their infinite wisdom, decided they wanted to have a little test and see if the humans were worthy of living among them. So they created me and sent me down to attach myself to one of them. The original plan was to see what would happen if a human was in control of his own destiny.

"Naturally, as I´ve stated on so many numerous occasions, the said human did in fact take control of his own destiny. However, instead of doing what was right, he took the power he now possessed and enslaved the world for over three–hundred years."

"Three–hundred years? How is that–"

"Because I prolong life. Hello? Do you not listen to anything? Anyway, as I was saying before someone with half–of–a–half–of–a–brain interrupted me. The gods watched and learned; some of them even had wagers going on up there. It was all fun and good times for them, they couldn´t care less what was happening down here. That was until the first Wielder decided to up the stakes. He greatly upset the balance of power in the heavens when he killed one of the gods. They didn´t realize just how powerful they´d made the sword. By then, though, it was too late. The gods were powerless against the Wielder. They gave him full power of destiny and that even overrode their power.

"So, as the story goes, the first Wielder was eventually assassinated. Even with the power of destiny, he wasn´t able to prevent his lover from stabbing him numerous times in the throat. Some still say that proves there are things more powerful than destiny. Anyway, the gods tried to bring me back into the heavens, but alas, they couldn´t touch me. So they locked me up and left me here, hoping nobody would ever find me again. Unfortunately, fate had other ideas and over the millennia, Wielders have come and gone. Some started out with the purest of intentions, but ultimately, every single one of them ended up using the power for evil.

"The question on everyone´s mind now, however, is if you will be the same. The prophecies foretell that you are different. Not that it matters. As soon as I merged with you, the prophecies were no longer valid. You control your destiny now. You can do whatever you want."

There was nothing to like about this scenario. Brand couldn´t help but feel as if it was some kind of practical joke. Give a talking sword to someone and have the sword convince him he is in control of destiny, then sit back and laugh at the crazy stunts he pulls! If it was true, there was so much potential to be had. It remained to be seen, however. For now he remained skeptical. What had he seen that proved anything so far? Sure, he mystically teleported from the middle of crumbling ruins to the camp, but that didn´t count. That could have merely been a hallucination. He didn´t believe that, but he tried to convince himself.

Suddenly he had horrific visions of something he´d read or seen but couldn´t exactly put his hands on. Forced into a battle to protect the world from evil and unable to do anything but accept that which fate had handed him. Assuming he was to be on the side of good. If the sword had any say it in, Brand was doomed to fight for the side of evil.

No. He couldn´t. He´s struggled to turn his life around for far too long to let some screwy sword try to tell him he was just going to end up back where he started. You´re losing it Brand; you´re starting to think of that sword as a person. It´s a sword for God´s sake! ...A talking sword. Brand rolled onto his side as if he could escape his own thoughts by turning away from them.

"Cheer up, chump. You do have one thing the others didn´t have."

"What´s that?" Brand asked.

"You come from a different world and your future is there. None of the other Wielders had that chance. They were all doomed to life and die in this world. Well, some of them tried to escape it. But it didn´t work out."

Brand wasn´t too sure he wanted to know more.

***

At first she didn´t believe her eyes. The written text was shifting and changing at random intervals all over the pages. Lisya blinked a few times, then rubbed her eyes and looked again. Sure enough, the big book of prophecies was in a state of upheaval. Somehow, Brand was altering the future at a rapid pace. The last she knew, he was in his tent alone. So, how could the future possibility be altered?

She slammed the book closed, then turned to Buba. Oddly enough, she could still see the words in her field of vision, flowing all around Buba´s face. It faded, but for moment she was more than a little disturbed.

There was a light blue and red intermixing within Buba´s solid white true–self. She studied it quietly, trying to make out a pattern but it was too random to have a pattern to it.

"What´s wrong?" Buba asked.

Lisya shook her head. They´d been bunking in Adara´s tent ever since Buba had been possessed and it just seemed like the most natural thing to do after the incident with Brand. He needed time.

"You know Brand well, Ben. Any idea what he´ll do now?"

There it was. A familiar faint orange shimmered within Buba´s true–self, telling her right away that he was uncertain. That made his reply all the more interesting.

"Leave maybe. Seems to be what he does."

He didn´t sound uncertain to her, at least. The true–self never lied, though. There was something else going on in that mind of his and she really wanted to know what it was. "You sure?" she asked.

Buba nodded. "Yeah. He´s going to flee."

So why are you so uncertain? She couldn´t help but squint at him. In all the months that she has known him, Buba has never once lied to her and he wasn´t really lying now. He just wasn´t speaking his whole mind. That was one of her weaknesses with this gift. She saw more than she should and it made her far too curious about the unspoken information people kept to themselves.

"Ben," Lisya said, "what aren´t you telling me?"

Buba looked at her with huge, sad puppy–dog eyes and she was assaulted with a wave of concern. His answer explained a lot. "I´m afraid he´ll leave without me." Buba looked down at his hands, an unwelcome frown carving into his face. "And I wouldn´t blame him," Buba murmured as his eyes averted from those hands that were stained with the death of Megan.

"Oh, Ben."

Before Lisya could make a move toward Buba, Brand stepped through the tent flap. His hair swept his shoulders as he looked to the left and the right. Lisya had never met another human without a true–self and it was more than a bit disconcerting to her that she couldn´t see Brand´s. It left her with an uneasy feeling of uncertainty about him. Truth be told she´d gotten so used to reading people´s hidden feelings that she almost didn´t know how to act toward him. She was lost without that addition information and it through her off balance, much to her annoyance.

"Buba, Lisya," Brand said, "pack your stuff. We´re leaving at sundown."

And there it was. Almost at once the orange hue that had invaded Buba´s true–self was gone. The blue and red still remained, again a mystery to her, but she could see by the shades of pink that Buba was thrilled to hear Brand say those words.

When she looked back to Brand, she found herself suddenly suspicious. He´d given her no reason to be suspicious, but she found she couldn´t help feeling that way. She even knew why she was suspicious. It didn´t make it any easier, though. This was going to be a long, long journey.

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-03-03
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