A Fistful of Destiny - Part Eight
When Brand emerged from the tree-covered divide, the sun was barely visible beyond the divide. The flickering flames of fire that warmed Borodan and Miranda called out to his chilled bones. All day he sat there in the middle of those trees with his mind adrift. His past rolled over, dredging up worms of all shapes and sizes. At first he tried to stomp them out but those memories just slipped away only to return again in short order. Some time around mid-day, Borodan had called out to him. But with a little assurance that he was all right, he was left completely alone. Just as he wanted it.
The fact that Megan was truly gone never really made as much impact on him in the aftermath of her demise until Brand was fully able to grasp the situation as he sat there among foreign plants and animals and forced himself to see reality for what it now was. She was gone, plain and simple. She was not coming back, no matter how hard he wished for it. And he felt it like a sledgehammer to the chest.
"Hungry?" Borodan asked.
Over the fire a small beast had been skewered and found itself roasted for the small band of renegade escapees. Borodan went to yank off a leg but Brand just shook his head as he knelt down next to the fire.
This whole mission had been a disaster since day one. So the only logical choice left to Brand was easy. Fate chose him to be the wielder of destiny and wield he would. Fate, however, was going to have another thing coming. Brand's metallic fist clenched tightly, the licking flames reflecting off the smooth silvery surface of his hand and arm like an animated tattoo. Yes, fate was going to regret calling him. Of that, there was no doubt.
Then there was Miranda, sweet, innocent Miranda. Brand peered through the flames as she picked at her roasted mystery meat. She was avoiding him and he didn't blame her. After his abrupt departure who wouldn't be? What must she think now?
Brand stood and walked around the fire pit. As he approached, Miranda looked up for a moment before paying even more attention to her meat-picking ways.
"Sorry," they said simultaneously.
Brand crouched next to her and chuckled. "Not your fault," he said. "Honestly. I was just..."
She lifted her gaze, hesitantly. "Don't worry. Won't happen again."
It was a comforting sentiment but he didn't want comfort. He didn't deserve it. He plucked the meat from her hand and set it aside. "You don't know this, but I lost someone very close to me recently. When you, uh... it just--I was confused."
In the silence that followed, Brand studied her face with keen interest. The pre-dusk sky mixed with stretching fire had a puzzling effect on her. In the darkness of night, he had seen a demonic expression mapped on her features by the firelight but now the flames painted a new, almost angelic, glow about her. Her innocence was frightening. This poor girl that had been kidnapped by strange men with bizarre items of destruction and yet here she was, ready to fight for the freedom of countless others that she probably didn't even know.
For the briefest of moments he saw Megan hidden in that face but then it was gone and all he saw was Miranda. An intriguing girl with mystery and sex appeal. How could he resist such a combination? Before, easier than he would have expected. What was stopping him now, though? No matter how he looked at it, it was the same thing. One little word composed of five little letters. Megan. The meaning was nothing now. A lie, yes, he knew that, but he fought it. It had to be true for a little while.
Fate, huh? Well, fate can take a vacation. The Wielder's in town and he has a few things to say on the subject of destiny, fate, and all their little friends.
The Sword of Destiny was responsible for many things and watching over the Wielder was the prime duty, no matter how painful it was. To watch over the Wielder was, of course, secondary to keeping the strands of destiny in order but the Wielder was constantly shifting those strands with each passing second so things became muddled quickly.
This Wielder was different. The vast canyon of useless knowledge could barely begin to scratch the surface of reality in order to help control the forces of destiny. Yet, he seemed to be the closest of all Wielders to stepping onto the path of righteousness and using the power of destiny for good.
That was until now. Something had changed in him and the Sword of Destiny could see it. He was standing on the fork in the road that all Wielders come to in the beginning of their journey. Whichever road he takes will determine the course of this Wielder's destiny.
Was Destiny so jaded to think it was impossible for a Wielder to take the right road? Without a doubt. It has never happened to date so why would it be any different now?
The Sword of Destiny had no doubt this Wielder would fall as all the others before him. But there was a subtle need somewhere in the folds of destiny for this Wielder to prove the Sword wrong.
If anyone could do it, it was Brand. Of that, the Sword was positive. Whether that was admitted or not.
"Quick introduction for the newbie," Megan said. "The name's Megan. I was the Wielder's lover and I carried his child. Alas, I'm dead now. Life sucks. I know. No worries, though; I've come to save the day!"
Kate didn't know whether to cry or faint. So she opted to stare bewildered instead.
Last night she found herself at the mercy of a mob with dreams of getting a mere glimpse at the Wielder and his companions. They were mythic in nature and could only be viewed from afar, as far as she knew.
But now everything was different.
In short order, Kate not only got her glimpse, but she was thrust into the middle of this nightmarish circle of people. Yes, people. For it didn't take long to realize the Wielder and his companions were, in fact, nothing more than ordinary people that may or may not (this remained to be seen) do extraordinary things. The Wielder she had held up as practically a god turned out to be kidnappable and very human. And his companions? Don't even go there.
"Any questions?" Megan asked.
Yes. How can I get out of here and forget all this ever happened? Kate blew out a gust of air and shook her head.
Lisya had a question. "You can fix Ben?" Okay, so it was more of a plea.
"Uh, no. Can't fix him"
The look of disappointment on Lisya's face was almost too much to bear.
"However," Megan continued, "I can direct you to someone that has the ability to fix him. That's part of the reason I came."
Kate felt like an intruder. She belonged here about as much as Zadara belonged at the throne. Not that she would compare herself to Zadara. That psycho demi-goddess was better off forgotten. But she felt extremely out of place in the company of these people and she was tempted to just slip away. Something kept her here, though.
All her life she fought to find a place for people like her. To gain acceptance and acknowledgement for those with odd, peculiar little gifts turned out to be her life's mission it seemed. What if it wasn't, though? What if that entire battle had been in preparation for something more?
Nonsense. How arrogant does someone have to be to believe that they were even capable of living up to the standards of the Wielder and his companions? To think that she could possibly be worthy of also being a companion to the Wielder was ludicrous. Yet, here she was in the center of the Wielder's universe with her false assumptions being exposed to the true nature of what it means to be a Wielder's companion.
Kate refused to believe she was being arrogant. Instead she let, of all things, destiny be her guide. If she was meant to be with these people then she would be with them. Hopefully.
Oops. First step to being a Wielder's companion: Pay attention. Megan was talking, a lot. Kate was hoping she'd be able to catch up with context. If not... well, better not to let them know she wasn't listening.
"You'll find a man there, a very mysterious man," Megan was saying. "The people will all be like, 'What? No, don't talk about him. He's eviiiiiil.' But you'll be like, 'Tell us! We work for the Wielder and it is his will!' Of course, they will be like, 'The Wielder! Praise be to the Wielder and his companions! Come to kill the wizard!' It's best if you don't correct them."
"Shouldn't we wait for him here?" Lisya asked. Her face was kind of queer. It was almost as if she was trying to look at Megan and the statue at the same time. Very odd. Good question, though.
Megan shook her head. "Brand is on a different path right now. That's all I can tell you about what he's up to. I can tell you, though, that you will receive a message from him on your way to Plyse. So all will be peachy in the end. I'm just giving you a head start. Also, you won't meet up with Brand again until you reach Zadara's Fortress of Solitude. No so much solitudy, though.
"Anyway, once you find the wizard of Plyse, you will discover he is, indeed, a very evil little man that should be destroyed. Probably not a good idea to try, cause the trip to Zadara will be a lot harder if you're all toads." Megan winked. "You'll figure out how to get him to help you and by then you'll have heard from Brand, so you'll know what to do next. Any questions?"
There was a question lurking in Kate's mind. Two questions really. When you think about it, the question to ask if you should ask a question doesn't really count as one of the questions does it? Ah, why not? Oops, three questions.
"Am I suppose to go with her?" Kate asked.
"This," Megan said with a sly smile, "is not my jurisdiction. You need to figure that out for yourself."
Gee, thanks. Kate chewed on her lower lip in an effort not to roll her eyes at the Wielder's dead lover. How rude would that be?
"Okay," Lisya said. "Thanks, Megan. Will we-"
"Just wait and see." Megan waved and offered one final piece of parting information. "Do be gentle with him; he breaks easy." And with that, she was gone. Thank the gods she didn't leave with the same fanfare as she arrived. No blinding lights. She just kind of blinked out of existence.
Lisya blew at a loose strand of a hair and closed her eyes.
Was she trying to figure out how to get this hunk of stone out of town? Well, maybe there was a reason all this went down as it did. Because there was one thing in Kate's little bag of helpfulness that might just be useful enough to deem her worthy of the Wielder's circle.
"I know how to get to Plyse," Kate said. Her face stretched with the joy of knowing she was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.To be continued...