A Fistful of Destiny - Part Seven
The statue of Buba was hideous. Any other position would have been all right, but to have him frozen in time on his knees with his head thrown back in pain was just too hard to look at. So Lisya had covered him with blanket and now stared at the ghostly lump as she sat on the end of her bed.
Somehow she went from planning to tell Buba that she loved him to turning him into a stone figure that she could look at for all the days of her life. The facts were simple. She only knew a little of the magics as Adara had taught her and she wasn't in the right frame of mind to be attempting anything. Her plan of attack was basic to core yet somehow it all exploded in her face. The spell was supposed to knock him out long enough for her to drain the rage from his life force. But, of course, it backfired on her. She should have known better. The deepening bruise around her eye was not nearly enough to make up for this travesty. Kate was right. What have I done?
It took the innkeeper all his strength to pry that woman away from Lisya, even though on some level Lisya hadn't wanted to be freed from the confused fear that poured from that woman. She had every right to lash out at Lisya and she should have done far worse than blackening her eye.
Lisya reached toward the blanket-covered block of stone but her hand didn't get very far before it collapsed in her lap. Ten spells later, the morning attacking like a menacing evil preparing to devour some souls, and still Buba was trapped in that stone fortress. Nothing worked. Nothing that Lisya was knowledgeable in, at least. She needed someone more powerful, more trained, more prepared to deal with this gigantic mistake. Assuming it wasn't permanent.
A knock on the door pulled Lisya out of her thoughts. Who was left? Hesitantly, she stood and moved toward the door. The only person left was the innkeeper come to tell her to get out of his place of business--not likely but you never know--or Kate, back to beat Lisya up a little more. Whoever it was, it didn't matter. Lisya flung open the door without a second thought and there stood the knocker.
All the emotion that was Kate last night was gone. She was still upset and more than a little depressed at the turn of events, but she was in full control of herself. Lisya stood there a moment and just gazed into Kate's true-self until Kate's voice caught her attention.
"I apologize for last night," Kate said meekly. "It isn't my place to judge what goes on between the Wielder and his companions."
Lisya was shaking her head and about to answer when she realized Kate was preoccupied with something else. Her eyes were darting all over the place as if she were trying to locate something that was obviously there but hidden in plain sight. "Do you smell that?" asked Kate. But she didn't wait for a reply. "It smells like the air after lightning strikes. And it's coming from in here." She frowned deeply. "But lightning can't hit in here... so..."
Lisya turned just in time to see a blinding white light fill the room. She slammed into the wall hard as her arms shot up, trying to block the light from her eyes. Somewhere far away she heard Kate let out a shriek. Or was that her voice shrieking? There was no heat with the light, but it was painful nonetheless. Her eyes burned with a fire the likes of which she'd never experienced. Lightning? In here? Sure enough, she could smell that singed-air smell wafting at her nose.
"Oh, my, sorry bout that. You ladies need a hand here?"
The light was gone, but so was Lisya's sight. She blinked at the darkness that swallowed her vision as it faded in increments. Soon she could make out the outline of the bed, the statue of Buba, and the new arrival. She--the voice was a dead giveaway--stood next to the covered statue, eyeing it as if she expected it to attack her or at least greet her. When it didn't happen, she ripped the blanket off it and chuckled at what she found. Protesting was at the forefront of Lisya's mind, however her vision had finally cleared enough. She stood in silence, gaping at the woman that had suddenly appeared. This was no ordinary woman.
Megan smiled and said, "Lissy, you got some splainin' to do."
"How much useless garbage do you have in that head of yours?"
"What do toilet paper and the USS Enterprise have in common? They both circle Uranus looking for Klingons!"
Brand rolled his eyes. His mind was a gold mine for Sword; he knew that. After countless centuries of Wielders all from this world, Sword was finally attached to someone from a different world with new experiences and new information. Sword was in sword heaven. Brand, however, was in Wielder hell.
He sat on a high tree limb, looking through the forest divide and watching the misplaced army base as patrols kept the perimeter safe. It was mid-morning now; still no sign of Haley and Brand was ready to attack. But he waited. Diving in blind would get him nowhere. He needed a plan, or at least something resembling a plan. As of now, the best thing he could think of was to take out the patrols, then just walk on in. If he could get close enough before they started blasting him with automatic weapons.
"Got room for me?"
Brand glanced over his shoulder at Miranda as she teetered dangerously close to death. He reached back to give her a hand, helping her to climb onto the branch next to him. As her legs dangled over the limb, she at him. "Borodan wanted to make sure you were considering the animals in your plans. He can get them to do anything he wants and they will die for him if he asks."
Borodan? Who is that? Oh, the beastmaster. He finally had a name and it was Borodan. "I'll keep that in mind," said Brand. "Thanks."
In actuality, Brand hadn't even bothered to think about that. If these two were going to help, then maybe things would be easier than he expected. A flood of animals would surely toss those soldiers for a loop. There was something to be said for cannon fodder, though. Borodan might not much appreciate it if Brand decided to flood the soldiers with animals just so they get slaughtered while providing a distraction.
Miranda was looking at him expectantly. "What?" Brand asked.
"I asked what's on your mind."
"Just thinking about a plan. Sword said Doogie Howser came by a couple of times, but she's still trying to find a way to get at the sword without getting caught. So, I'm stalling for now."
The blank expression Miranda wore gave Brand a chuckle. "Sorry, Haley, the girl that helped us escape."
"Why did you call her Doogie Howser?"
"Not important," Brand said. "What about you? You have family waiting for you? Wondering what happened to you?"
"No," said Miranda quickly.
He glanced at the chip on her temple blatantly. She didn't want to talk about her family, that much was clear. But what about that chip? Why did she not want it deactivated? This girl was a mystery and Brand was intrigued. "Want to tell me your gift yet? I may need it in the coming battle."
She shook her head. "I can hold my own without it. If things get desperate..." She let her words hang in the air but didn't bother to explain any further. Instead, she changed the subject. "Is it true you killed Adara?"
Curiouser and curiouser.
"I killed her. It was a mistake that I'll regret, I'm sure."
That was an understatement. If Zadara was getting more powerful because of Adara's death, Brand still wasn't entirely sure he was going to be able to kill her. He just had to make sure he didn't kill Nadara next, then, hopefully, everything would be all right. Sure, Sword said he would kill Nadara next because that's what some stupid prophecy said. But he was determined to piss off the prophecy gods and not follow their little pre-ordained plan. He was the Wielder now; he could make his own choices.
That dream, though, it haunted him. What would he do if he found Nadara and it turned out she was exactly like that abomination in his dream? One could hope that that was actually Zadara after a dose of extra power, cause he wouldn't have any problem killing that. If it was Nadara, though... he didn't know what he would do.
Miranda was staring at him. Had he missed what she said again? Not likely, she didn't have that expectant look like before. Now she was just, sort of, watching him like he was some kind of circus freak. "Do I have a booger in my nose?" he asked. In his experience, that line would kill any chick staring up his nose. Didn't anyone ever tell her it was impolite to stare? Was he that good looking? Doubtful.
But she just took it and tossed it away as if he hadn't asked something disgusting. "No, no boogers. I just find you... fascinating." Was that another word for attractive? Brand felt an all too familiar tingle and he suddenly found himself very self-conscious.
That self-conscious feeling exploded into what it really was as Miranda leaned toward him pressed her lips into his. He kissed back, no denying that, but it didn't last long. Guilt washed over him in that awkward moment. He pulled away and would have fallen off the branch had his steel arm not shot up and grabbed the limb above them. He blinked at her, and then without a word swung from the branch and climbed down the tree.
Nowhere to hide out here, so he just headed into the divide, twisting and turning among the trees. With hope, Miranda wouldn't follow.
What just happened? Thoughts are okay. Actions are bad. That's how it's always been. Megan had her drifting thoughts, Brand had his, but they never acted on them. Never. Every step he took seemed to bring another wave of guilt over him. He was faithful, dammit. A million faults, sure, but the one thing he wasn't was a cheater. So what just happened? Miranda must be a succubus trying to steal my soul through sex. Yeah, that would explain why she didn't want me to break her chip. It somehow prevented her from doing her dastardly deeds. Okay, even if that is true, she's still got the chip. Unless that was true and she wanted the chip because she truly loved me and it was the only way for her to achieve her redemption. Otherwise, she would have to suck my soul and we'd never be able to be together. But that didn't matter. Megan was the only one for him, the woman that was carrying his child, the woman that would be with him for the rest of his life. The woman that... He tripped over a tree root and fell to his knees.
The woman that was dead.
There would be no child, no love, no nothing anymore. She was dead. No longer would she walk in any world and tell him he's being an ass. All his powers of destiny and the one thing he wasn't able to change was Megan. She died before he had the sword. He took the sword because she died. What kind of fate is being a Wielder if you can't save the one person you love?
Brand scrubbed at his lips with the back his hand, furious at himself for letting that happen. All of it. Megan, Miranda, it didn't matter. He was more helpless now, as the Wielder, than before he took up the sword and became part of some psycho fate. It all spiraled back to the beginning. All the way back to that stupid job in that stupid bookstore that had cost Megan her life. Knowing me had cost Megan her life.To be continued...