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September 26, 2022

Call of Destiny v7p8

By Josh Brown

Journey to Esidarap - Part Eight

"I have a bad feeling about that city," Buba said as he stared across the stretch of darkness separating his group from Esidarap.

Tomorrow was the big day. They'd arrive at the gates of the city about six hours after breaking camp, but they weren't ready. Not now, not ever.

"How do you mean?" Lisya asked softly. She had the same feeling and didn't need to ask but felt Buba wanted to talk about it, so she marched on like a good soldier.

Buba turned toward her. The campfire danced joyously to his right while Kate snoozed deeply on the other side.

"We're not all going to make it out of this alive, are we?" he asked.

"Buba--don't think like that."

"Something just feels wrong. Wrong and dangerous, and we're about to walk right into it."

Lisya eased herself next to Buba and guided her slender arms around his waist. There was nothing to say that would make the feelings disappear.

Mostly because the thoughts that swarmed Buba's mind were the same thoughts that unsettled Lisya's. Nothing good would come out of this final confrontation. They all knew it, but they were all behind the Wielder and his mission had to be fulfilled. Even if that meant some of them had to die for success.

The comforts of a lie, while usually grand in its ability to sooth, would do nothing for them now. The inevitable stared at them from across the dark abyss of forever night and the power of that stare was unbreakable through any means of deception or misperception. So the truth lay bare in their minds, unhidden and glorious in its massive gaze. Like a beacon in the night, the city called out to them as if it were broadcasting a single, eerie message: Death awaits you.

Buba rested his lips against Lisya's hair. The strong scent of strawberries from her shampoo tickled his nose and sent a penetrating feeling of love throughout his veins. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, never wanting to forget the way she smelled at that moment.

"Ben?" came Lisya's voice, low and sensual.

He was enthralled by this woman. The sound of her angelic voice squeezed his heart with love. A tiny swarm of butterflies flew into his stomach. At first they were hardly noticeable to him at all. But the tiny swarm reproduced rapidly, growing in incredible increments.

She tilted her head up; soft brown eyes locked on Buba's. In that moment Buba was lost at sea. Swept away by the waves of his emotions, carried away only to come crashing ashore on some deserted island. This island, however, wasn't as deserted as expected.

Kiss her. Don't! Kiss her. Don't! Kiss her... Inexperience reigned supreme as Buba's mind entered a state of civil war. Trapped on a deserted island surrounded by the crashing waves of his emotions and lost in the turbulent battle of his mind ultimately unable to do anything had paralyzed Buba to the point of frozen indecision.

The waging battle was not lost upon Lisya, though. Buba's true-self exploded to life in her eyes and she knew of only one way to put an end to the madness that consumed them both.

Lisya did what Buba couldn't.

She kissed him.

And the walls came tumbling down. When their lips met, Buba's mind cleared and all life came to a startling halt. He melted into her, lips afire with the passion of over half a century of lost loves. Electricity bound from his lips, bringing to life a part of him he'd long ago accepted as closed and never opened. But it was open now. Open and filling with the striking surprise of a gift when it wasn't even your birthday.

They made love by the burning fire and not a single thought of the future to come passed either of their minds. For now it was just two people, together at last, without anything to distract them or pull them out of the moment.

It was by no means a perfect union. All those movies that made Buba squirm with unease did little to prepare him. The stark reality between fantasy and fiction showed itself more clearly to him now than ever before. He fumbled more than once, unsure of himself, unsure of what he was supposed to do, but each misplaced attempt was met with a loving and patient hand of support and guidance. Soon his unease faded, his confidence grew, and he became one with Lisya. Mind and body and soul were released unquestionably into the waiting, willing hands of the other.

As they collapsed in exhaust, both having gotten the fullest experience, a knot exploded in the fire and sent spiraling embers into the pitch-black sky. They cuddled together with their backs to the fire--Buba with his massive arms wrapped snug around Lisya--and drifted off in what would be the last of their perfect night sleeps.

***

Less than two hours walking distance from Buba, Lisya and Kate, Brand stood with his arms crossed against his chest and gazed at Esidarap as if he were gazing at a wall with paint drying.

His group would also reach Esidarap tomorrow but the dread of things to come didn't affect his mind at all. The mission was set. The grim task at hand--killing Zadara (and that little bitch Chrava, too, if he could manage it)--was set firm as stone and unchangeable. Whatever came of the coming battle, he was ready to accept it as a price for the job that needed doing.

A branch snapped to his left but he didn't bother looking over.

"You should get some sleep," Chrava said as she stepped up next to him.

"So should you, Miranda. If you're going to stick around for this, you'll need to be rested."

"Why do you put yourself in harm's way? You could just walk away and forget about this world. After all--you're the Wielder."

"Exactly. I'm the Wielder and it's my duty to destroy the evil that now rules this world. We won't even mention that that evil is so fully realized because of me. Besides--I don't know how to get home."

Chrava looked up at him, eyes wide. "What?"

"Yeah. Don't know how to get home. That takes the cake, huh? Came here by mistake and now, now I'm wrapped up in some bizarre superhero shtick that I have no control over. Hi-lar-ious."

"Stop your bitchin," Sword said. "You know you love it."

Ignoring the sword, Brand looked down at Chrava and shrugged. "So, I go on. Why not? Lost the love of my life. Lost my unborn child. I ask again--why not? Buba might die. I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that. You bet your cute little ass I am. But, should I die..." He shrugged again. "As the saying goes: Shit happens."

"Don't talk like that," Chrava whispered.

"You can go whenever you want. I can't guarantee you won't get hurt--or worse--if you stay. Already you've done more than enough for me and for that, I'm thankful. You don't have to die trying to prove you're thankful I released you from that prison."

If you only knew, Brand, Chrava thought. She gazed at him through half-lidded eyes without knowing what to say. Did he say I had a cute little ass?

Finally she said: "Tonight could be our last night in this world, Brand. The last time we'll be free and able to do whatever we want. Once we move out, the mission will be on and there will be nothing but the mission."

"There was this stray cat I used to see every time I went to work. His hair was all in clumps and he stank worse than a skunk, let me tell you. But there was something about him, some weird sexual magnetism. Cause every time I saw that cat he was getting it on with another cat. As grungy and disgusting as that cat was, the lady cats still loved him something fierce."

Chrava was nodding. She said, "Grungy--yes. Disgusting--not by a long shot."

Brand grinned at Chrava. Every part of him was trying to revolt against the coming wave, but he resisted. The revolt propelled him farther into the darkness. "Tomorrow we fight and perhaps die," he said.

Chrava stepped closer to him, her eyes studying his features with careful consideration. "Tonight," she whispered, "tonight we live."

Brand grabbed Chrava's arms, yanked her fully toward him and kissed her with a hungriness he didn't know he possessed. There was no love in the air, at least not on Brand's side of the embrace. Chrava, however, had fallen for this wielder of destiny in her own twisted way. He held the key to her redemption and she needed to find that key before she was lost in the closet of her own making.

Off by the fire, Borodan looked away from the heated exchange and turned his back to them. The last thing in the world he wanted was not a memory of what those two were about to do. He sunk off to sleep easily, thankful for his ability to sleep during the noisiest of situations.

Brand tugged at Chrava's clothes as she thrust her body against his, making the chore all the harder. She was as hungry as Brand was and what little self-control she had was quickly vanishing. She shoved Brand back with a jerk of her hands and sent him sprawling to the ground. It was a surprise to both of them, but they didn't take the time to muse over it. As she ripped off her own shirt and pants, she dove onto Brand while he was trying to get his own pants off.

The ground had a cold, dead feel to it. Not that Brand or Chrava noticed any. She drove her tongue deep into his mouth. Her hands explored the packed muscles of his arms, gliding over the warm steel of his right arm with its smooth surface as if it were made of water.

There on the ground they fucked like two creatures that depended on sex to stay alive. There was no love involved in this. It was a lust-filled expression of lost cause that began and ended with the simple need to disappear from the world one final time before the end came. So they disappeared in each other, thrusting and grunting and sweating like there was no tomorrow.

For once the sword was speechless.

When it was over, they stared into the blank sky above as their naked bodies heaved up and down with ragged, heavy breathing. The windless sky did little for their sweaty bodies, but that didn't matter much. Both of them were lost in their own thoughts.

Chrava felt more complete than she had since her falling out with Zadara. Hope had returned to her. It was small and stretching, but it was hope nonetheless.

Next to her, Brand could only stare into the dark nothing that was the sky and feel the regret he had longed for. Megan's death had left him feeling hollow, almost emotionless. Now, though, now that he'd taken advantage of the woman he only knew as Miranda, he could feel the disgust in himself that he needed.

"What happened to the cat?" Chrava said sleepily.

"He died."

***

Unbeknownst to Brand or Chrava, Megan was present for the entire show. She watched as they ravaged each other and could only stand there with her arms crossed, wishing with all her might that she wasn't dead. As if wishing would bring her back to life.

Once the happy couple was asleep, Megan knelt down beside Brand, and a soft sigh escaped her lips. "You needed to move on, Brand. Bit quicker than I would have expected..."

She reached out and passed her ghostly fingers through Brand's cheek. For a moment Brand opened his eyes and looked through her. He couldn't see her but sure felt the icy-cold fingers of death.

When he went back to sleep, she stood and sighed once more. "Only wish you'd picked someone else. You're so going to flip out when you discover just who your little fuck-bunny is."

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-09-22
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