Fate doesn't work that way

It started with three drunk gods, and one drowning mortal. It snowballed into a quest for destiny with bound gods, sky prisons, mazes of death, and far too many disasters.


10. Escape

The burn in his chest started maybe an hour later, waking him from his trance-like daydreaming. In his mind, he was riding a storm above the mortal world, blazing in his full glory. But as soon as the burn started, he was dragged painfully back into reality. He was no god. He was a mortal slave. And whatever that girl was doing, she was getting too far away from him.

    He waited for the burn to lessen. Surely it was only for a short amount of time. She’d grow closer again, and it would be fine.

    However, as time passed, the pain didn’t better. Instead, it grew worse. The burn went from a soft thud to a raging fire inside of him. And still the pain grew. He jerked uselessly at the chains, as if he could drag himself closer to her, and thus lessen the pain. It was useless. The chains held him in place, and the burn grew worse.

    Smoke began to curl before his eyes. At first he was sure he was hallucinating. The pain was making him see things. Pain did that to mortals, right? But no, this wasn’t a hallucination. He turned his head, the movement terribly slow. It was infuriating to not have full range of vision. Just out of the corner of his eye, he saw that his fingertips were smoking.

    His eyes widened, remembering Ronik’s preferred method of punishment. Would that happen to him now? Would he spontaneously combust if he left the girl’s side? There was so much he didn’t know! What if he was about to die because of this girl’s foolish plan?!

    Panic began to set in. The smoke grew thicker, and when he looked back, he saw a horrible sight.

    His fingers were dissolving. At the very tips, they were turning to smoke, fading into nothingness. What was happening to him?!

    Dimly, he heard yelling. What was going on? He wondered if T’haila had figured out the girl’s plan yet.

    Right on cue, he heard her screaming his name. He gritted his teeth. Keep her distracted. Distracted he could do. Assuming he didn’t dissolve entirely into smoke first.

    Rapid footsteps heralded her approach as she rounded the corner. Her eyes widened with horror when she saw him, and she ran towards him, stopping at the door. She produced a key and unlocked it, bolting towards him.

    “Kanat! What’s happening?!”

    “Tani…” his voice sounded more like a choked groan. “Dying… gods… help…” the pain was clouding his head. Not to mention the fact that he was turning to smoke. He actually had no idea what was going on, but if that meant the girl could get away…

    “Don’t worry,” she whispered, cupping her hands around his face with incredible tenderness for a girl who’d locked him up. “This is that girl, isn’t it. You can’t leave her side. We’ll find her. We’ll bring her back. We’ll save you, I promise.”

    The girl had run? That was her plan?! Ditch him and save herself? She’d said she’d get him out. Clearly she’d been lying.

    His wrists dissolved into smoke, and the chains slipped from him, dropping him to the floor. T’haila rolled him onto his back, gripping his shoulder tightly with alarm. Then she stood. “I have to find her.”

    No. The girl had to get away.

    He forced himself to reach for her with his smoking arm. “Tani… please… stay,” he whispered, sounding much more pathetic than he’d meant to. “Need you here…”

    She paused, and he looked her in the eyes, challenging her. If you truly love me, then you’ll listen to me.

    There was true desperation in her eyes as she knelt next to him again. She clearly didn’t know what to do. For a girl who thought herself a goddess, in that moment she was just as powerless as he was. He saw it in her eyes. Saw the terror there.

    “My flute…” she muttered to herself. “I can… I can take away the pain. I don’t know what else to do. Kanat, what can I do? You’re a god, you know more than I do. Please tell me what I can do to help you.”

    His arms were entirely smoke now. “Take away… pain…” he murmured. “Please Tani.”

    She nodded. Were there tears in her stone eyes? With shaking hands, she lifted the flute to her lips, and began to play.

    The melody was warbling and weak at first, but as it grew in strength, Kanat found the burning pain lessening. He didn’t stop dissolving into smoke, but at least it didn’t hurt anymore. He still wasn’t sure what was happening, but he knew one thing. The girl had betrayed him. She’d promised to help him escape, then left him to die. Why were mortals so selfish? At least T’haila had the kindness to release him from pain as he dissolved into smoke.

    At least half of him was smoke now. T’haila was crying. Her tears fell straight through the smoke. Kanat felt nothing. Was this his death? Was this really what it felt like?

    “Goodbye, Tani,” he whispered. “Don’t… don’t lose yourself.”

    “NO!” T’haila cried. The music stopped, and a fresh wave of pain overcame him. He let out a sharp gasp, and then he dissolved completely into smoke.

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