Chapter 7 - The Power unleashed!  Lightning strikes thrice!

Chapter 7 - The Power unleashed! Lightning strikes thrice!

A Chapter by TOF_Matt
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Captain Uwei Dalmasacus, elite Luppitan general, proud Marzian warrior. How can Noal Kai hope to stand on even footing with a man of that caliber? In the end, it takes no less than a contract with t

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Threads of Fate

Chapter 7

The Power unleashed!  Lightning strikes thrice!


Uwei had no words.  He’d read every move, calculated every angle, and predicted every action.  Yet still he stood there with that single white stain upon his flawless uniform, like some sort of disgusting badge of shame.


                “Flicker step… eh?” his opponent taunted, stumbling back to his feet.  “Looks like… it’s still not quite fast enough…”  Sure enough, a flock of desert birds squawked overhead as they flapped away from the rumbling storm clouds over the city.  “Bird poop isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.”


                “This isn’t possible.  You couldn’t have… I was".”


                “Watching every one of my moves?  Reading Fate changes on the fly?” the boy said, finishing Uwei’s sentence for him.  “You’re good, I’ll give you that, but nobody’s that good.  I knew there must’ve been a trick.  Every punch and every kick; you’ve been watching, haven’t you?  You’ve been watching Fate rearrange, reading the new thread configurations and reacting accordingly.  That’s how you were able to read all my moves and that’s why you were missing all those counterattacks, isn’t it?  You were testing me; counterattacking spots where I should have dodged if I had the same technique as you.”


                “Well it appears I’ve underestimated you,” Uwei sneered.  “You are correct.  All those fortune tellers who said Fate couldn’t be used in close quarters are just closed-minded fools.  It is a simple matter not of reading the opponent’s next move, but his current one.”


                “Well that and it certainly helps to have instantaneous reflexes,” the boy sneered.  “Still, that’s got to be a pretty demanding technique.  I’m guessing you need your full concentration focused on me to read my threads that quickly.  But that leaves you vulnerable from other sides.  So all I have to do is attack you from multiple directions at once.”


                Uwei seethed.  “Impossible!  I can see a grasshopper scratch an itch at twenty feet.  I can count the birds in an entire forest.  The fact that all my focus was on you only assures that I would have seen even the slightest Fate manipulation!”


“Would you now?”


The boy’s knowing look sent a shiver up Uwei’s spine, forcing the captain to take pause.  Before he knew it, the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end.  However, this was not fear that gripped him now, but more like his body being aware of something his mind had yet to grasp.  The city street had not physically changed in these last few minutes, yet something was certainly different now.  It was as though something fundamental about the world was suddenly terribly wrong. 


                “You can see it, can’t you?” the boy asked.


The rageful red that had so recently filled Uwei’s cheeks drained away colorless.  For all his foresight and technique, there was no way he could have predicted this.  All around him, the ends of threads were detaching themselves from their hosts, floating up into the air and writhing like tentacles.  Detaching themselves!  At first only a dozen or so out of millions, but slowly and steadily more and more released themselves of their bonds.  Uwei spun and watched the phenomenon widen until there was easily over a hundred in a radius of half a mile.  This was impossible!  Fate threads didn’t un-anchor themselves like this.  They couldn’t un-anchor themselves like this! 


                “H-How are you doing this!?” he demanded.


               “It’s awake now…,” the boy warned ominously, holding up his arm.  The tattooed eye was wide open, staring intently at Uwei.  “You wanted to see it, so here it is.”

                “Incredible… This is what they meant.  The power to level armies and destroy cities.  Just what are you?”


                The boy looked at him sadly.  “Very, very unlucky.”


His young opponent reached for his left arm, gripping a harness made of belts and metal plates.  A portion of it already lay at his side, cast off like the shackles of a freed prisoner.

                “There’s no turning back from this,” he warned.


                “No, there isn’t,” Uwei responded, grinning excitedly.


The boy gripped one of the belt straps and then pulled.  The upper portion of the brace unfurled, releasing its grasp and springing off into the air.  Without a moment’s hesitation, the tattoo sprung to life like a wild animal waiting at the door of its cage.  It twisted and turned up his bicep, reaching around with spindly black arms, hugging the entirety of the appendage.  The boy dropped to his knees, his face contorting and his teeth gritting, betraying great pain.  He held his infected arm firm as it flexed and jittered, trying to break free.  Finally, after several seconds of this, he slumped forward, abruptly turning limp. 


A few moments of quiet reflection passed and finally the boy placed a foot on the ground and stood back up.  Uwei felt the change in Fate almost immediately.  The threads in the distance stabilized, while those around the boy intensified, lashing like a great Hydra’s heads.  Uwei could only stare in dumbfounded astonishment at the beast before him.


              “Your name,” Uwei asked. 


“What?”


“Your name.  It is of consequence to me now.”


“Noal.  Noal Kai.”


“I will remember it well.”


Noal came at him with a vigor he shouldn’t have had.  From behind, loose threads from nearby objects latched onto his body like a kraken’s tentacles grabbing a ship in uncharted seas.  They spun and swirled behind the boy, wrenching free the objects they were attached to.  Fences uprooted stake by stake, trees tore from their roots, wagons flew into the air like weightless leaves, and entire slabs of stone ripped themselves from the sides of buildings.  Now all that force was coming straight at Uwei.  So this is what they meant by Human Hurricane.


Noal slammed into him like the head bull of a raging stampede.  Uwei blocked his attack at the very moment the funnel caught up; a deadly wind tunnel of debris that enveloped both of them.  Uwei pushed his opponent off and Noal leapt into the air, giving way to a flying melon cart concealed behind him.  Uwei quickly flicker stepped out of the way, letting the cart smash into the ground.  He barely recovered before he was set on his heels again, this time by the whistling of a wooden stake that embedded itself into the ground directly in front of him like an arrow loosed from a bow.  He weaved left and right in succession as three more failed to skewer him by mere inches.  Uwei stopped to catch his breath only to see a dark silhouette descending from the sky.


Noal landed right on top of him, fist extended outward, and caught Uwei square in the jaw.  It was the first time he’d been struck in ages.  Enraged, Uwei was about to counterattack when he spotted the growing shadows at his feet.  Looking up he found Noal’s entourage of rubble looming in the sky, falling like mortar fire.  Uwei dodged the hail of debris by leaping side-to-side, using the shadows as a guide.  Just barely out of his reach Noal was doing the same.


Before the shower of death pattered out the boy came at him again.  Noal swiped and Uwei dodged, but then winced as a rock the size of his head crashed into him from behind.  Uwei howled in frustration; he needed three-hundred-sixty degree vision to keep up with the storm!  He twisted his sore back muscle back into place just as Noal sailed by, perched precariously on a flying concrete block.  Uwei had little choice but to flicker step out of the way again, but the unstable threads made his technique unreliable.  Rather than emerging firm footed, he was thrown into the air, tumbling end over end.


The two of them were now airborne, high above the city, both caught in the updraft of the spinning tornado.  Uwei grabbed the remains of a wooden patio next to him and steadied himself upon it, feeling completely overwhelmed.  It was like the entire battlefield was against him, and still he had no clue how the boy was doing this.  Motus Totalus, the primary law of fortune telling, stated that no thread could change unless affected by an active decision or direct manipulation.  But that was exactly what was happening here.  Somehow, this boy was changing the Fate of all these objects without touching them.  Somehow, he could break the law of Motus Totalus!  He looked down at his opponent, now climbing a makeshift stairwell of swirling junk, dodging meteoric strikes of loose stone and wood.  This was truly the ultimate weapon to use against a fortune teller.  How could such power belong to this young kid!?


A shrill scream pierced the air, breaking Uwei’s concentration.  Not far away, a woman hung to her home’s frame as the window sill ripped away.  Noal immediately broke off his pursuit, heading straight for her.  The boy leapt off the very same window sill that put the woman in danger, grabbed her, and pushed her inside the safety of the house, just as a massive piece of granite smashed down on them.  Moments later, he emerged from the house again, and hopped across the debris field, putting as much distance between him and the civilian as he could.  He looked up to Uwei, his face scratched from pebbles and wood splinters and the side of his pant leg split open revealing a long gash from his knee to his ankle.  That boulder must’ve grazed him.


Of course!  Uwei understood everything now!


Before Uwei could act, a massive sign that read Gracey’s passed between them and suddenly Noal was gone.  Before Uwei could spot his opponent, he felt a massive impact in his chest that knocked him from his perch and sucked away all sense of time and space.  When Uwei re-awoke, he found himself floating listlessly, staring up at the dark clouds and surrounded by pirouetting rubble.  The world quickly shifted back to full speed and before he knew it he was hurtling out of the sky to the ground below.  Seconds later, a massive impact on his back winded him.  Purple spots filled his vision and the last things he saw clearly were the silhouettes of falling rubble descending against the backdrop of the gathering storm.


* * *


From her spot on Lieutenant Bloc’s shoulder, Ella watched the two combatants come crashing down onto a rooftop far in the distance.  Moments later, the great hail of swirling debris smashed into them, completely leveling the building to the ground in a gritty white cloud of destruction.


                “Noal!”  


The shockwave from the blast rocked the crowd several seconds later and Ella fell from her perch.  At first she thought the force had caused Bloc to drop her, but then when she looked back he was pointing to the panicked crowd and she knew he’d done it on purpose.  A cloud of straggling debris from Noal’s attack had veered off course was rocketing straight toward them.  Without a word, Bloc grabbed a bundle of nearby threads and Ella instantly understood.  He heaved as hard as he could and a nearby sheet metal roof ripped itself from its hinges and tumbled into the air.  Using a pair of threads on either side, Ella guided the roof over the panicky mob just as the deadly hail rained down on them.  The roof dimpled but didn’t break. 


Ella let out a sigh of relief but it turned out to be short-lived.  Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of Priscilla sprinting toward ground zero.  The princess vanished into the white debris cloud and Ella leapt to pursue.  That damn girl!  Why was royalty always such a pain in the butt? 


Ella leapt into the wall of smoke and was immediately plunged into obscurity - she made it only a few feet before completely losing herself.  She spun on her heel, but found nothing but dense grey in every direction.  The chaotic screams of the crowd and quakes of falling debris dampened to eerie silence here; all she could hear now was the impending rumblings of thunder.  Through the dust and soot she choked out Noal and Priscilla’s names, but her voice didn’t so much as an echo.  A few broken Fate threads whisked in the wind like tall grass.  She reached up to scratch her head, but quickly winced as a mild static shock bit her. 


                “What the"?”


Suddenly a bright light flashed behind the cloud accompanied by a deafening crack.  Ella turned to see a silhouette grow like an ink-stain on the cloud, and a second later Noal flew out of it straight into her open arms, impaled by a blinding zigzag of bright light. 


The confusion quickly passed.  She looked down at her companion, horrified to find him barely conscious.  His arm was charred like a badly barbecued steak.  A single thread extending from Noal’s shoulder now glittered with tiny sparks.  Ella followed them back into the dissipating cloud where Captain Uwei Dalmasacus stood with a sword drawn and pointed directly at them.  The thread wrapped around the blade in his hand before stretching up from the hilt into the sky above, directly into black clouds where lightning flashed and thunder boomed.  The rain that had threatened for so long began pouring down.


Victory never seemed farther.


* * *


                “This is Ramiel,” Uwei declared.  “You are now among the few to have the honor of seeing her.” 


Noal weakly looked to his shoulder.  A familiar charcoal wound burned where the bolt of lightning had run him through.  Now he knew exactly what’d happened to Jack. 


“I have to admit, I never expected you to take it this far,” taunted Uwei.  “You really are every bit as remarkable as they say.”


The blood stung Noal’s eyes now, but he had to force them open.  Around him, the objects on the ground had begun to stir again; it wouldn’t be long now.  Noal pushed himself off Ella just as a cinder block flew by, attempting to decapitate him.  He stumbled under his gelatin legs, but The Power didn’t care as it began throwing debris at him again. 


                “I understand now.  Motus Totalus, the law of Conservation of Fate.  Somehow you can break it, can’t you?  That is the root of your power, but that’s the part you wanted me to figure out, wasn’t it?” 


Half the captain’s jacket was torn to shreds now, hanging off him revealing his chiseled physique below.  His once perfectly combed hair was a frizzled mess, and cuts were slashed across his face.  Yet Noal had seemingly only managed superficial wounds " the captain’s spirit was alive and well. 


“You almost had me fooled with those quick reflexes of yours.  There was a moment when I truly did think you were in control of it all.  But after seeing you rescue that woman, I knew.  All this, it was never directed at me was it?” Uwei surmised.


                Noal conceded, gripping his arm, vainly trying to keep it under control.  “The Power doesn’t much like being caged up all the time.  Removing stage one of this brace is usually enough to give it a little wiggle room, enough for a small effect.  Stage two really lets it stretch out, but usually the only thing on its mind is some major payback…”


                Uwei smiled.  “At which point you hoped to catch me in the collateral damage.” 

The Power had intensified its assault now, and Noal was draining what little stamina he had left just dodging its ceaseless attacks.  Fate’s every thread latched onto him like vines in a forest hell, hurling, splitting, and collapsing everything around him.  The turnabout was certainly not lost on Uwei, who’s smug grin had returned.


                “A double-edged sword.  I wonder, do you even realize the amazing gift you have there?” the captain asked.  “No matter how much we fortune tellers train, we are all limited by Motus Totalus.  You are playing with practically unlimited potential!”


                Noal sneered at the captain.  “You just don’t get it.  This isn’t a power I was supposed to have.  This isn’t a power anyone should have!”


                “My poor deluded friend.  Even now you still don’t understand that destiny is immutable.  You cannot fight what Fate has made of you.  Your attempt to do so is precisely what’s holding you back.”


                “No Captain Uwei, you’re the one that doesn’t understand.  My attempt to change my own destiny is precisely what keeps me going forward.”


                The captain shrugged.  “Then unfortunately your potential will remain just that.  If you cannot fully accept that which Fate has given you, then you have no chance to defeat me.”


A thunderbolt cracked down from the sky and struck Uwei’s sword.  The spark twisted around the blade which screamed like an eagle.


                “Lightning… most people fear it.  To them, it is one of the most powerful, random phenomena in nature, but the reality could not be further from that.  Did you know that lightning always follows the path of least resistance?  As it so happens, a Fate thread offers little to no resistance; much less than even the air itself.  Because I understand this, its power is bound to my will.”


Another plank of wood slammed into Noal, just one of many objects that circled him like a pack of wolves.  Noal breathed heavily, fighting just to stay on his feet as he wiped away the stinging combination of blood and rain water from his face.  Meanwhile, Uwei chided him further, swinging the flashing blade back and forth, creating a mesmerizing blur against the grey backdrop.


                “I have embraced my destiny without resistance.  I am a warrior, through and through.  I cannot change this anymore than I can change the color of my skin, or the fire in my heart.  I follow the warrior’s path, and right now, it leads me straight through you.  I’m afraid that is the difference between us.”


Exhausted, Noal stopped fighting it.  Inevitability, immutability, destiny, Fate had dominated his life ever since that fateful day back home.  Perhaps it was time he accepted that truth.  He ceased his acrobatics, laid back against a piece of concrete and watched both the Luppitan captain and The Power’s proxies close in on him.  He turned to Ella, who was frantically waving her arms in the air, no doubt attempting to Fate manipulate against The Power’s will.  It was futile, really.  Noal closed his eyes.  Ella screamed at him from afar, but they were nothing more than listless echoes to him now.  He took a deep breath and waited for destiny.


* * *


That quitter!  If they got out of this, she’d kill him herself.  Ella considered using Fate to yank him away, but the tornado of objects circling him would fillet him alive.  Meanwhile, Uwei readied his deathblow.  She felt completely helpless; she couldn’t do a thing.  Couldn’t, it was her most hated word.  Wasn’t that the word she’d left home to escape? 

Uwei swung his blade and a white streak blazed down from the sky, screaming like a hawk descending on its prey.  She couldn’t help but look away and cover her ears.  There was that word again.  In all her years away from that place, was she still living in a world of couldn’t?


Ella forced herself to turn and watch.  She couldn’t give up, is what she couldn’t do.  If she had to grab that lightning bolt and turn it around with her bare-hands, so be it.  She broke into a sprint just as the bolt left the tip of Uwei’s blade, its pitchfork branches clawing away at the air in search of life to snuff out.  It reached out, ready to grab Noal. 


Except, it never did. 


Inexplicably, the bolt stopped barely two feet in front of him.  Correction, the bolt was being stopped, by the young princess Priscilla, who now stood between him and fiery death.  Ella squinted in shocked amazement as the air in front of the girl washed, waved, and pulsated, but did not buckle.  As her eyes adjusted to the intense bright, Ella could swear she saw something else too; something enveloping Priscilla’s arm. 

Ella turned white.  It was another hand!



A tall, voluptuous form phased into view; a female with protruding curves and distinct crescent shaped hair.  She was about a foot taller than the princess, who was now standing inside the semi-transparent figure.  Uwei’s lightning bolt swirled into a ball at the end of the apparition’s hand, then absorbed into her body, circled around, and dispersed with a blinding flash.  When Ella reopened her eyes, the guardian angel was gone and Priscilla was alone again, her body smoking heavily.  Moments later, the princess crumpled to the ground like a rag doll.


                “Cil!”


Noal collapsed to the princess’ side.  Ella was about to shout a warning about the apparition, but she herself couldn’t decide if it’d been real or not.  Was it just a play of the light?  A sign of exhaustion?  She looked back at Captain Uwei.  It would’ve been a reach to say he looked shocked, but something had unnerved him as well.  Ghost or not, that young girl had just stopped his most powerful attack. 


                “Cil, what were you thinking?” Noal pleaded.


Ella dashed up to the pair and crouched down next to them as Noal blabbered on.  The smell of electricity was still strong in the air.  Carefully, she inspected the young princess’ body; there wasn’t a scratch on her!  Wasn’t that the same attack that had severely burned Noal’s shoulder!? 


                “Ella what’re you doing?”


                “Just, gimme a sec, okay?”


Ella felt the threads up and down the girl’s body.  They seemed perfectly normal.  No thread was unaccounted for, nothing was out of place.  Ella felt no aberrations or strange vibrations.  Where was the wound!?  Ella wiped the sweat from her brow, only to realize that her palms too were wet.  She pulled them away and they dripped copiously.  Wait.  That wasn’t sweat; it was condensation.


Priscilla’s body wasn’t smoking.  It was… steaming?


                “Really, do you even know what it is that you’re protecting?” Uwei asked. 


                “You son of a… what’ve you done!?” Noal shouted.


                “Uwei, what is she?”


“Ella-!?” Noal protested, but Ella motioned for him to quiet down.  “How is it that anyone, let alone a fragile young girl like this, escapes a Luppitan captain’s strongest attack and comes away looking like she just got out of a shower?  She’s not just some political prisoner, is she?  She’s got something your government must want pretty badly.”


“Hmph, it’s not my place to ask about such things,” Uwei dismissed.


             “So that’s how it is then.  You’re government says fetch, and like the good little dog you are you comply,” Ella sneered.


                Uwei smiled widely.  “I’m afraid you misunderstand.  They could have told me, but the fact of the matter is my dear, it wouldn’t have mattered even the slightest bit.  As a warrior, it isn’t my place to question my orders.  They are simply the form in which Fate leads me from one conflict to the next.”


                “There you go again with that destiny garbage!” Noal shouted, suddenly injected with a burst of adrenaline.  “What does being a warrior have to do with doing what’s right?  Are you telling me destiny’s big plan for you is to capture a little girl for an evil empire?” 

Uwei smiled and chuckled.


                “Right and wrong?  Evil empire?  You really are a child aren’t you?  You, like so many others, fail to see the whole image embroidered in the threads.  Do you honestly think that a person’s mere motive can even hope to have the slightest impact on such a complex tapestry?  Does motive stop sickness from spreading?  Does it stop land from becoming infertile?  Does it stop storms and hurricanes from laying waste to innocents?  Does it stop death?  No, the fact of the matter is that even the best intentioned nation must expand its territory and assimilate new knowledge.  It is as I’ve said all along; those that embrace what Fate gives them will thrive, while communities like this, who are happy enough to simply exist, are doomed to rot and die at the whim of this planet.  That is destiny.  Now come!  I have waited long enough for the conclusion of this match.  Let us end this, so I may move on to greater things.”


The captain sneered, a dog at the end of his leash.  The debris on the ground had started stirring from their brief rest, but this time Uwei wasn’t content to sit back and watch.  He stepped through the minefield of broken homes, swinging his lightning blade and cutting down the makeshift projectiles that wandered across his path like ripe melons.  He was ready to finish things, right now. 


                “Noal,” a weak voice whispered.  Both Noal and Ella turned to the young girl lying at their knees.  She was… smiling?  “Noal, you aren’t alone.” 


                     “What?” 


           “There are things about Fate that you don’t understand " that nobody understands.”  She reached up and touched his cheek lightly, but unlike before Ella didn’t feel a shred of anger.  “But understand this " you are not alone.”


The change in Noal was as immediate as it was obvious.  He balled his fist tense, his once drowsy eyes now fiercely flexed.  Destiny was the word they most hated.  To lose to a great man was one thing, but to lose to this tool of the state?  But what were their options?  She’d watched their opponent slice through every rock, every picket, even a kitchen sink.  Their attacks fell listlessly to his feet, no more dangerous than the autumn leaves.  Uwei’s perfectly controlled technique splashing against Noal’s perfectly out-of-control curse.  What chance did they really have?


                “I have a plan,” he said, as though reading her mind.  Noal looked to her with a weak grin.  “Are you still with me?”


                “Are you kidding?  Imagine the notoriety we’d get if we bested a Luppitan captain!” she exclaimed, practically licking her lips.


                Noal rolled his eyes.  “Ever the entrepreneur, eh?”  He handed Cil to her.  “I need you to look after her.”


“You can’t be serious.  Don’t try and pull that macho bull-crap with me now.  You have any idea what bad shape you’re in?”


                “I’m well aware, thank you very much.  I still got some fight left in me.”


                “Oh, that’s great.  I’m sure it’ll be a great comfort as he beats everything else out of ya.”


Noal shook his head and flapped his lips mimicking her nagging. 


“Look, just keep throwing stuff at him, doesn’t matter what, just as much as you can.  Keep that sword of his real busy.”


“Noal, he’s too good.  It’s not going to".”


“It’ll work, trust me.”


“No Noal, it won’t.  I don’t know if you happened to notice that lightning infused sword of his.  He could cut through all my attacks with one hand tied behind his back!”


“Exactly.”


“Exact"?”


He put his good hand on her shoulder and forced a pathetic smile.  She shot back an unconvinced one before hesitantly resigning.  She understood, even if she didn’t agree.


                “You’ve always had a knack for impeccable timing,” he said.  “I’m sure you won’t let me down.”


                She glowered.  “This is a really stupid plan.”


                “This is the best I got.”


Uwei had stopped less than thirty feet from them, beckoning impatiently.  Noal stood up and limped toward the captain.


* * *


                “She’s right, you know,” said Uwei. 


“She’s always been a wealth of wonderful suggestions,” Noal quipped back.


“You’ve had the dubious honor of seeing my lightning stab twice and surviving.  No one has ever seen it three times.”


                “Well, there’s a first time for everything I suppose.” 


The boy wheezed out those words pitifully.  He certainly had a warrior’s spirit, if not one’s ability.


                “The only way you can ever hope to stand a chance here is to give yourself over to your nature.  Give yourself to your inner power, fully and completely,” Uwei suggested.


                “Never.  I told you, that power isn’t mine, and I don’t need it to defeat you or protect Cil.  I’m going to prove to you once and for all that I am not the Human Hurricane, I am Noal Kai!”


                Uwei sighed, frustrated.  “So be it.  Then you shall die as Noal Kai.”


Dust and debris kicked up a familiar tornado, whisking into a deadly spinning coliseum around them.  Noal and Uwei circled, wolves sizing each other up for the final strike.

Noal attacked Uwei with a foolish frontal assault, predictably swinging with his good arm.  Uwei dodged effortlessly.  The boy pressed his desperation offense but Uwei parried the blows as easily as training rookies back at the academy.  He countered with the butt of his blade, sending his opponent reeling forward.  Before he could commit the final strike though, concrete slabs and picket fences twirled out of the tornado walls straight towards him; they were of little concern.  Uwei split the slabs and diced the wood with his lightning blade, reducing them to burning embers.  Ramiel sang in her glory as Fate threads fell lifelessly around him like streamers.


The boy rushed him again and Uwei could only shake his head in disappointment.  Whatever chance Noal had stood before had evaporated now.  Uwei was well aware of his partner’s attempts to distract him but their synergy had dwindled; each of them moved to their own ends, without any real unified goal.  Purposeless chaos, that’s all it was.  He’d gotten all he could from them.  There was nothing left for him here.


On Noal’s next swing, Uwei tilted his head out of the way then grabbed the boy by the neck.  Without the slightest hesitation, he reached back and thrust Ramiel deep into the boy’s chest.  The bolt of lightning plunged into his body and followed the sword out the other side, snaking out of the wound before leaping off into the distance, pulling behind it a long streak of Noal’s blood.


His opponent’s groaned; the mucus and blood gurgled in his throat.


Thunder boomed.


Uwei bent over his opponent, the sword still pierced into the child’s body.  Noal just looked back at him, his tears gradually welling up in astonishment.  Uwei never broke the gaze.  He never looked away from an opponent at the time they realized their death; it was dishonorable. 


                “Noal!” a voice screamed from nearby.


Turning the body towards the girl, Uwei planted his foot onto Noal’s abdomen and pushed.  Noal’s body launched off the blade and sailed through the air before plowing into her chest.  The pair sprawled out on their bellies over the stone walkway, just a few feet from each other.


As the dust settled, Uwei took a deep breath.  Thunder echoed through the air and Uwei allowed the gasps and whispers from distant onlookers to flood back into his consciousness.  The pattering of the rain phased back into his senses, and finally he let himself bask in the cooling droplets.  Neither of his opponents moved even an inch. 

It was over.


The rain began its work of washing him clean.  It seemed like forever since he’d last seen his own blood.  He actually savored the moment of seeing it stream off his body.  A bruise on his face began to throb as his adrenaline fell, and then another at his side where the boy had kicked him earlier.  He had precious few moments where he could feel this alive.                 

“D-D****t.”


Uwei’s veins iced up.  It couldn’t be!  Yet he turned around to face the impossible.  The boy was still alive!  Noal lifted his shaking head slowly off the sand to look up at his opponent.  His mouth was bloodied, his face bruised.  He gulped for air like a fish out of water.  Yet his glare was that same angry determination.  Somehow, even in that state, the boy had dodged a fatal wound.  Uwei was certainly disappointed in himself for that.  Noal strained to move but could only manage a twitch of his arm.  Uwei scoured the mess of threads and debris around them both, but the activity had finally subsided.  His body had quit and so had his power.


It really was over then.


“I must admit, you put on an impressive display today,” Uwei said.  “You should be proud.”


                “I’m never proud… when I need to do things like this…,” Noal replied, weakly motioning around the rubble with his eyes.


Uwei followed the boy’s gaze.  Entire buildings crumbled, their innards strewn about the street.  Pickets and metal posts stuck out of the ground reminiscent of the arrows and spears he’d see on the frontlines.  Signs, wagons, and troughs were broken and battered, hanging from the remains of rooftops, inside windows, and on the ground.  Half the city must have laid at his feet.  This truly was a battlefield.


Uwei chuckled.  “At a glance I would’ve thought this to be the work of an entire army, not one man.  I must concede that you are truly a more powerful entity than I, Noal Kai, but that doesn’t make you stronger.”  He walked up to the boy and took a seat on a piece of rubble next to him.  “Still, there is a certain parallelism between us.  You wield the chaos here on the ground.  I wield the chaos there in the sky.  If you’d only have welcomed your gifts as I welcomed mine, we would have made good rivals.”


                “Then… maybe you should… let us be on our way… and I can prove to you that I can provide a rematch like you wouldn’t imagine… my own way.”


Uwei paused.  It was certainly an interesting proposition.  Throw away the minnow and wait for it to return a fish.  He would’ve been lying to himself he said it wasn’t at least a bit tempting.


                “No, I’m afraid that would be quite irresponsible of me.  As much as I would relish another opportunity like that, I’m afraid Fate has made quite clear that I am done with you.  I must move on to the next challenge she’s chosen for me.  To linger would be unappreciative.”


Noal actually cracked a pain-filled grin and chuckled.  “There you go with Fate stuff again.  Is that the only thing that keeps you going?”


Uwei raised a curious eyebrow.  “And just what is it exactly that keeps you going?”


             The chuckle vanished from Noal’s face.  “I just thought… I thought if I could find him, one day, things could go back to the way they were.”


           “Then I am sorry that I must be the one to end that dream.  Had I no moral obligation, well, perhaps this might have ended differently.”  Uwei stood up next to Noal, and bowed graciously before raising Ramiel high over his head.  The cut would be quick and painless; there was no reason to prolong the boy’s suffering.  “The sad thing is, I wasn’t even here looking for you.  Had it been any of my peers, you very well could have been standing in my place right now.”  Uwei held the sword up.  “I suppose you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


The boy looked up at him.  “Story… of my life.”


“Now you see the difference between us.  If you’d only used your most precious resource.”  Uwei brought his arms back and then thrust downward with all his strength…

 

…they didn’t move an inch.

 

                “I did,” the boy grinned.


Uwei immediately turned to Noal’s young partner.  In her hand she gripped a thick bundle of threads.  Uwei again tried to thrust his weapon but it was no use.  His arms were bound by Fate threads!  She smiled a sly grin before yanking her arm once more.  Suddenly, all around him, threads jumped up from the piles upon piles of debris, crisscrossing him in a net like the tangled vines of the densest jungle. 


He was such a fool!


Without giving him a chance to even flicker step away, the threads tightened around him into an unbreakable cocoon, the very same threads he himself had spread by slicing up all those pieces of debris!  He’d thought that Noal’s last flurry had simply been one of rage.  He’d thought they were incapable of any kind of strategy to combat his superior skill set.  He’d thought he’d broken their teamwork and resolve.  He’d thought wrong; embarrassingly wrong.  And now he knew exactly what was coming next. 


A single strand from the hilt of his blade still extended up into the clouds, where the storm had reached the peak of its intensity.  Uwei struggled, but he knew it was pointless.  He’d already given them everything they needed to defeat him.


                “I guess destiny must’ve forgotten to tell you that this was coming, didn’t it?” Noal asked.


What a farce.


As the lightning bolt streaked down the thread, Uwei smiled a mad sort of smile.  It appeared Fate would tie him to this boy for a while longer.


                “This isn’t over.”


The last thing he saw was brilliant white before the searing pain enveloped him.  Then blackness swallowed him whole.


* * *


When the flash vanished Noal opened his eyes just in time to see the captain’s smoking body crumple to the floor.  He waited for several moments, his muscles so tense that he could barely breathe, as he soaked in a puddle of rainwater.  His eyes were lead, his muscles gelatin, but he kept his focus on that body.  It smoldered without even a twitch.  The rain stung his exposed flesh.  His arms and legs seared, his head throbbed, the smell of smoking flesh burned his lungs, and his chest screamed where Uwei’s blade had just narrowly missed his lung, but still he kept himself ever focused on that smoking body.  It didn’t move.


Through blurred vision he saw a shining white figure running towards him in slow motion.  The figure was tall, bright, like a star in the black sky.  An angel, prancing gracefully across the rain soaked ground, not so much stepping into the puddles as hopping atop the surface of one to the next.  It’s long, elegant hair flowed like a stream behind it, reflecting light that wasn’t actually there.  Not a speck of darkness tainted its absolutely flawless form.  Noal smiled.  Heaven had actually sent this beautiful, pristine creature to take him away from his pain, his problems, and his curse; to take him away from everything.  Finally, the world would be free from the Human Hurricane.


But then that also meant it would never again see the real Noal Kai.


Images of his mother and father, his friends and family back in Azraelia popped into his mind " memories from a past life.  Would they be waiting, wherever it was he was going?  But sidling with their image was Ella, and now Cil, smiling hopefully, beckoning for him to come to them.  No, it couldn’t end like this.  There was still so much to do, so much to say.  If it had been those lonely days, before he’d met either of them, things might have been different; but d****t he wanted to go on!  He wanted, just once, to hug them as Noal Kai the boy, and not Noal Kai the Great Destroyer. 


As if on cue, the angel stopped in its tracks, just a few feet from Noal.  He could feel the darkness overcoming him now, but his body was paralyzed.  All he could do was admire its beautiful proper form, its hypnotizing hair wafting in the slight breeze, and its slender figure which he could see through its rain soaked… night gown? 


                “Don’t just stand there!  Get some help!”


The words were hard to distinguish, bouncing in his head until they were jumbled.  Noal felt two arms wrap around his body and slowly turn him around until he was face up with Ella looking down at him.


                “Noal!?  It’s gonna be alright.  Stay with me.  We’re gonna get you some help!”

Her face was bruised and dark with mud.  Her wispy bob hung down over him, dripping rainwater down onto his face; its emerald sheen was now marred in dirty brown highlights.  She kept shouting at him, but her words pattered off into listless echoes.  The angel entered the frame except it was Cil, though that realization did little to take away from her otherworldly beauty.  Ella yelled at her again and Cil nodded, dashing off and out of the picture.  Noal’s view narrowed and the rain drowned out in his ears, reducing the world to a low pitch drone. 


                “Noal… Noal……. Noal!”


Soon her image yelled without voice.  There was such desperation in her face, such a genuine panic.  Darkness crept in fully now, seeping in from all sides.  Something sparkled.  Were those tears in her eyes?  Silly girl.  How many times had he told her?  They were business partners, nothing more.  Yet when the darkness overcame him he realized there were tears in his eyes too.


No angel appeared to him this time.

Threads of Fate



© 2011 TOF_Matt


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What that can't. Be the end?

Posted 8 Years Ago


WOW....I was not expecting this....now I can't wait to see what's around the next corner....

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on August 23, 2011
Last Updated on August 23, 2011
Tags: Threads of Fate, tof, Fate, fantasy, steampunk, anime, manga


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TOF_Matt
TOF_Matt

Canada



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Matthew 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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