Chapter 1 - Grab hold of destiny! There's no such thing as luck!A Chapter by TOF_Matt
In a world where Fate takes the form of a massive of weave of threads connecting everyone and everything, Noal Kai races to find an answer to why his mere existence throws all of destiny into chaos.
Grab hold of destiny! There's no such thing as luck!
Ella Gant turned the busted
tail pipe over her mouth and a solitary water droplet slid down and teased her
from the rim. She shook it free but it
all but evaporated by the time it reached her tongue.
cried, as she dragged her body across the sand like a dried-out slug. “I can feel it! We’re done for! No miracle rescue for us this time!”
She tossed the twisted hunk of metal away and fell to the ground in a plume of dust. A few feet behind her, sixteen-year-old Noal Kai was still scratching his head over the rising smoke in the distance " the only thing left from the wreckage of what was once their ride.
“I just don’t understand it. It was a steamobile. It runs on water! How could it have caught fire?” he asked aloud.
“Really? Out of everything that’s happened in the last two weeks, that’s the part you don’t understand!?”
Ella buried her head in the
desert sand, reducing the rest of her complaints to inaudible muffles. Just how long had they been out here anyway? It felt like hours since they’d abandoned the
smoldering wreckage of the car, but the sun had barely moved an inch. At least they were alive, both having managed
to escape the fire relatively unscathed.
Maybe Fate really was helping them out.
He took pause at that thought
and squinted over the horizon, but the golden
thread continued to stretch onward into infinity. Fate, help him? It was official; the heat
was making him delusional.
“Hey, come on, we gotta keep moving,” he urged to
Ella, who was now slumped over a rock several feet away. “Hey, didn’t you hear me? I said we have to go! No?
Fine, I guess I’m just going on without you. You hear me Ella? This is me walking away now… You hear that Ella? Ella?”
The only response he got was her short emerald hair whisking in the desert breeze. This was a trick; it had to be. If she expected him to-. No, absolutely not. There was absolutely, positively NO way that he was going to…
Noal’s feet sunk deeper into the sand with each step. He shifted his body to compensate but was only rewarded with Ella’s head slumping over his shoulder, throwing off his balance. She was about a foot taller than Noal, and far more athletic than dainty, which made her awkward to carry. At least the thirty pound supply bag on his chest evened his center of gravity out.
“Geez, how can a woman who hasn’t eaten in almost three days still be so heavy?” Noal mumbled. He could’ve sworn he felt her knee him in the rib.
Noal wandered onward, putting
his faith in the seemingly endless line of the golden thread, as he always had
before. Once or twice, a small town or oasis
crept up over the dunes, but then vanished just as quickly " mere mirages. By the time the dancing elephants and
bikini-clad women appeared, he had all but given up on finding any real
salvation. So his skepticism was perfectly
warranted when, a couple of hours later, a massive city conveniently appeared
in the distance. Noal kept expecting it
to vanish as he got closer, but this mirage was particularly stubborn, growing
larger and larger until he found himself in the monolithic shadow of its outer
“I don’t care… if you’re real this time or not. I can’t take another step,” he confessed to no one in particular, collapsing to the ground.
He lay there for a good, almost relaxing few seconds, before piercing excitement erupted above him.
“We’re finally here!” she shouted. Noal lifted his thousand pound head just
enough to see the silhouette of Ella, stretching out as though waking up from a
nap. “Isn’t it wonderful Noal!?”
Noal seethed. “Well, don’t you seem suddenly energetic?”
“Oh… right… Hmm, well I guess I must’ve suffered a bit of sun stroke, didn’t I?” she said, turning to him with a pitiful false cough.
Her feigned weakness morphed into an indifferent shrug. “Well either way, we’re here now; no sense in getting angry.”
“And where is here exactly?”
Ella pointed to a hanging sign high above them that read ‘Welc_me to Fortun_ T_wn.’ Noal glowered but Ella was impervious to it.
“Come on, get up! I can’t wait to have a look around!”
An exhilarated shrill pierced
the morning market buzz as Noal pulled his head from the water trough after
nearly drowning himself. Beside him, a
black horse that’d been drinking simultaneously neighed in approval.
“Come on Ferdinand.
Leave that one alone,” said its straw hatted owner, pulling the animal
away. He muttered “weirdo” under his
breath as they walked off.
“Satisfied?” asked Ella.
“You can’t be serious.”
Noal returned her enthusiasm with bemusement, wiping himself off before they made their way into the crowds of the dilapidated market street. A thick musk was first to welcome them " some foul combination of smoked street meat and sweat-stained clothes. Noal had little chance of pushing his way through the sea of people given his small stature. Instead he opted to navigate its nooks and crannies, resolved to taking the occasional jostle with chagrin. Through the various arms and legs he spotted spindly merchants atop soiled blankets, shouting themselves hoarse to everyone and yet no-one. Those without the shelter of a rickety stall or stone house relied on the shade of the towering protective city wall. Probably an engineering marvel in its heyday, the stone barrier now cast uneven shadows that mimicked the undulations of the large chunks eroded out of it.
wandered through that scorching hot desert for this? The place was a dump! Ella had promised him class and culture; a
city with some history to it. In
reality, Fortune Town was nothing more than a crumbling mosaic of poorly
constructed buildings, rusty roofs, and decaying streets. The only history here was the unwanted bits
that travelers ditched before heading
“I can’t believe I let you drag me all the way out here for this.”
“Me? Wasn’t it your golden thread that led us here? Or are you trying to tell me that you just happened to stumble across this place in the middle of the desert with no map and your horrid sense of direction?”
Noal mumbled, “well… yeah, I suppose".”
“Then what are we arguing about!? Honestly, you’d enjoy life a lot more if
you’d just lighten up a bit. Maybe even
show a little bit of, oh I don’t know, enthusiasm from time to time.”
“Enthusiasm!?” Noal blurted. “Please tell me exactly why I should be ‘enthusiastic’ that we travelled all this way and spent the last few hours on the verge of death just to reach this dirty, run-down, shanty-town of a city!”
“Run-down? Look around you! Look at this architecture! There must be over half-a-dozen generations of folk that put this place together!”
“Yeah, half-a-dozen generations of drunks, hippies,
and gamblers. Ella, it’s like they took
the slums of every other city, squashed them together, and then dropped them in
the middle of nowhere!”
Noal pointed to a precarious
looking building with a sheet metal roof, perched atop another equally
precarious looking building. The entire
structure swayed with even the slightest breeze. However, none of this put a damper on the
ear-to-ear grin on Ella’s face. Was it
possible this was actually what she was expecting?
“Hey, I like it,” she said with a shrug. “Maybe they don’t have the best engineers, but at least it shows that normal people have potential too.”
“The potential for what? Building a death trap? It’s a wonder that this place has survived as
long as it has! Honestly, who in their
right mind would live here!?”
At that moment, a small red
ball rolled up against Noal’s foot and in his frustration he launched it into
the sky without a second thought.
The ball landed high above
them, catching a guard rail on a rooftop.
It wasn’t long after that Noal felt a slight tug at his cloak.
“Mister, what’d you go and do that for!?”
It was a young child, probably
no older than five or six years, his eyes welled with tears. Behind him, a small army of onlookers stared
“I… uh… sorry I didn’t mean.”
“Honestly,” Ella said, rolling her eyes. She knelt down on one knee and put a hand on the child’s shoulder. “It’s alright kid, don’t cry. Here, want to see something cool?” she asked. The sniffling kid wiped the tears from his eyes and nodded. Ella picked up a small pebble from the street and surveyed the area, licking her finger and drawing some invisible calculations in the air. “Watch this.”
Ella pulled back and tossed the small pebble up against the side of a wall. It ricocheted to the opposite side, disturbing a crow. The crow took off, shaking the metal trough it was sitting on and dislodging the small pebble once again so it rolled across before falling off and striking a hanging chime outside a balcony door. A few seconds later, the door opened and a woman had a quizzical look around. Not finding anyone, she shrugged and shut the door with a bang, shaking the entire structure and dislodging the ball, which rolled down the rooftop. It launched itself off the edge, fell two storeys, and landed right into Ella’s outstretched palm.
“Here you go kid.”
The crowd gasped a chorus of oohs and ahs before breaking into full applause. Ella patted the kid on the head, beaming with unmistakable self-satisfaction.
“Show off,” Noal muttered.
Another tug pulled Noal’s attention downward where he found a second child underneath his cloak, pulling at his left arm.
“Hey mister, what’s wrong with your arm?”
“Don’t touch that! Go, shoo!”
Noal yanked the kid out and turned his body away. The kid scrunched his face and stuck out his
tongue before him and his friends ran off down the street, giggling as they
picked up pebbles and rattled them off a block of sheet metal shacks.
Ella snickered. “You know if you really wanted to show off, you could’ve just shown it to him.”
Noal shook his head disapprovingly and pushed his way through the crowd into a back alley, away from the onlookers.
“Noal wait! I was just kidding!” a voice echoed through the alley behind him a few second later.
“That’s not funny Ella,” he scolded, continuing to storm off without even a cursory glance over his shoulder. “You know it’s not.”
“I know I
know. But you saw how they all
reacted! You’d capture a lot more hearts
with a smile and some enthusiasm than your grumpy old demeanor!”
Noal stopped in his tracks and turned to her with a roll of his eyes. “Right, because I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that most of these Fringe-folk have probably never seen an act of Fate manipulation before in their entire life.”
She smiled. “I do so love a virgin audience.”
“Look, I’m glad you’re having fun showing off to the locals, but don’t get too comfortable. We’re only staying until I can figure out why the golden thread led us here and then we’ll be on our way. I don’t think the locals would be too enthusiastic to see what I can do.”
“You want to leave!? But we just got here! Tell me Noal, what exactly do you have against cool showers, comfortable beds, and meals consisting of more than just expired military rations? I’ve got a good feeling about this city. From here on out, our threads are connected to good things.”
“Oh right, and I suppose these are the same threads that got us into that mess in the desert? Fetching rubber balls aside, sometimes I wonder if you really are the genius fortune teller you claim to be.”
“Hey!” Ella snapped. “You think it’s as easy as all that!? Playing with the laws of Fate is tricky business! One wrong tug or pull and I could unravel the very fabric of existence!”
Noal rolled his eyes. “Right. Look, all I’m saying is that trouble seems to follow you around like a lost little puppy.”
Ella was fuming now. “Oh is that so? Why don’t you say what you really want to say - that I was supposed to predict the trouble with the car, right? Well I couldn’t! And why not? Because of you! There’s no lost little puppy around here Noal. There’s just you; you and your damn Power!”
* * *
Ella had practically dared Fate with that outburst of hers, and if she’d learned anything in her time with Noal it was that Fate always made good. Sure enough, Noal suddenly doubled-over grasping at his left arm as though it were suddenly on fire. That could only mean one thing; the Power was waking up.
Beside her, a carton of bottles rattled, then further down the road a pool of fountain water rippled. There wasn’t much time. She closed her eyes and focused her mind as she reached into her waist pouch and pulled out her seeker deck. Her heart hammered against her chest, but she forced it to slow with deep, calming breaths: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand. Now wasn’t a time to panic.
Ella opened her eyes and
scattered the cards. They fluttered to
the ground, all except for one. It hung
suspended, bouncing up and down as if on a string. She reached out and touched it with her finger
and a hundred glowing threads flared into view, each of them wrapped around
people, places, and things; the Threads
of Fate. She searched frantically
for that one frayed thread, the one thread that now vibrated out of synch with
the rest. A hundred threads, a few
Ella reached out and grabbed
the card between two fingers.
The Death card.
Her eyes raced even more
furiously now until they found their mark: one thread in particular swinging
violently. It stretched down the street beyond
a group of playing children, past a saloon and hotel, and ended at a familiar
black tethered horse. The horse bucked
violently, its master completely unaware of what was happening. Seconds later the Fate thread snapped, as did
the horse, tossing the rider to the ground.
It galloped up the street, completely out of control, straight toward the
group of playing children. Fate threads
all around tangled in chaos. Ella broke
into a sprint, but she would never reach them in time. That meant there was only one alternative; she was going to have to stop that horse.
She was going to have to change Fate.
Focusing her mind, a thousand
Fate threads flared out in every direction.
She searched for anything she could use; a wagon, a few bystanders, some
hay, none of it would help. Only seconds
were left when she spotted a hanging billboard, just a few feet from the
children. It must have weighed a half
ton at least - her one shot.
She quickly traced a path of threads back from it to her, grabbed them, and leapt into the air " spinning and twirling, her jacket fanning out around her like a dancer’s dress. Ella worked the Fate threads through her fingers with intricate precision and, with each twist, the invisible lines stretched and pulled, whirling around her like streamers. Finally, she returned from the sky to the cobblestone road, finishing her performance with a courtesy. Her dance was done, but off in the distance the real show was just beginning.
On a nearby roof, a two foot
thick strut supporting an enormous water tower suddenly snapped like a
toothpick, toppling the silo over. The
water roared across adjacent rooftops like a tsunami until it smashed into a
steam turbine, wrenching it free of its hinges.
An unaware worker turned and screamed at the sight of the oncoming wall
of water, but at the last second he conveniently lost his balance and fell on
his back. The generator sailed over his
head, missing him by mere inches, before crashing into the sign’s support beam
and falling into the empty alley below.
Ella admired the chain reaction from a distance. Her carefully manipulated Fate threads whipped and writhed, pulling on every object they were attached to, twisting and re-forming the very fabric of destiny like her own personal game of cat’s cradle. Everything thus far had gone according to her plan, until the sign unexpectedly held stubborn to its perch. The horse was mere feet from the kids now, with their fearful faces dead in its sights. Ella gritted her teeth. Had she miscalculated? No. With a bone-chilling creak, the sign finally gave up and came crashing down directly into the stallion’s path. The wild beast bucked onto two feet, wailed in panic, then lost its balance and fell to the ground. Disaster averted. Almost.
By now most of the kids had scattered
to safety, but the youngest of them was still frozen in shock. An ominous, swaying shadow crept over the
crying child as the towering barrier, once its protector, began to wobble. Ella hadn’t thought that far ahead! Quickly, she followed the sign’s threads back
to her, grabbed, and yanked with as much force as she could muster, but the
sign still fell anyway in a spectacular explosion of dust and dirt.
Gasps and screams filled the
air. Ella squeezed her eyes closed; she
couldn’t bear to look.
“Oh my baby,
Ella forced one eye open and
was rewarded with a huge sigh of relief.
The child was still alive, unscathed and crying furiously. The horse lay on its side just a few feet
from him, likewise shaken but unhurt. The
cheers from all were equal parts relief and astonishment, for as the dust cloud
settled the improbability of the situation became clear. The massive bar sign now lay in the street,
but on the wrong side!
“I don’t believe it,” exclaimed one man. “That’s… that’s impossible!”
“It’s a miracle!” shouted another.
The locals looked around in a
confused stupor as the child’s mother ran over to comfort him. Meanwhile, over a hundred feet away, Ella
pumped her fist in victory.
“Yes! Did you see that, Noal!? Now that’s what you call a close"!”
However, Noal wasn’t celebrating " quite the opposite, his face was scrunched in frustrated shame, unable to even look at the scene. From under his cloak she caught a glimpse of it; the snaking black lines of the Providence Eye tattoo imprinted on his left arm. It winked wickedly at her, as though proud of the chaos it had caused, before shrinking to its familiar slumber. Lucky for them, no one but her seemed to have noticed; they were still mesmerized by the near-catastrophe ahead of them.
“My word, that is one lucky kid,” a random bystander mused.
Ella let out a shaky sigh. Luck? Luck had nothing to do with it.
© 2011 TOF_Matt
Threads of Fate - The Golden Thread
AboutMatthew Chan grew up in the harsh Tundra of Ontario, Canada, braving freezing temperatures, taming wandering polar bears, and helping the local populace battle the occasional giant ice spider - in ot.. more..
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