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.

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7. Memories and meetings

    Someone was playing a flute somewhere nearby. Kanat groaned, trying to sit up. He quickly found that was impossible. Straps had been pulled tightly across his chest, arms, and legs, binding him tightly to a hard surface.

    His first reaction was to try and shift into a more fluid matter. Smoke, perhaps. But the right feeling just wasn’t there. A divine binding, maybe?

    No. It wasn’t the binding. It was him. He was a weak, pathetic mortal, who could be bound easily by lesser enclosures.

    The flute screeched a sharp, dissonant note, and his eyes shot open.

    “You’re awake,” a female voice said from his left. “Finally.”

    Hands reached out, undoing the straps that held him down. As soon as they were gone, he sat up, groaning and attempting to run some feeling back into his hands. How long had he been bound like that, and why were they releasing him now?

    “Come now, look at me love,” the female voice whispered.

    He turned, and found himself staring at a memory. Long red hair, in intricate braids. Fierce blue eyes, crested by a pure white tattoo. She was smiling. That was never a good sign. She was also alive, which was impossible.

    Tani?!” he said in disbelief.

    His former girlfriend’s smile grew. “Kanat! I knew it was you.” She cocked her head as he didn’t answer, the smile fading a little bit. “Come now, love. No words for me?”

    “You… you should be dead,” he managed.

    “That’s no way to greet a lost love!” she protested. Her hand traced the side of his jawline, brushing an errant strand of black hair from his face. “You should be thanking the fortune that brought you to me!”

    “I was kidnapped at gunpoint!” He pointed out. Looking at her and hearing her speak only reminded him of why he’d left her in the first place. “That’s not fortune. If you knew it was me, why did you send a human to apprehend me?! You have some nerve, Tani, to treat a god that way.”

    “A god no longer,” she purred, and his blood ran cold. How did she know?! “It’s so strange, isn’t it? When you left, you were the great, all powerful god. The one who was too important to spare time for me. I was a nobody, after all. A mere mortal. And now the tables have turned. I am the legend, and you are the nobody.”

    “Did you just kidnap me to talk about the old days?” He demanded. “Make me suffer for what happened.”

    “I kidnapped you so that we could be together again,” she said it as if it were the simplest thing in the world. “You, a god, and me, a legend.” Her words left him speechless. This could be bad. Very bad. She took his hand, holding it a firm grip. Her skin was hot. Almost too hot against his hand. “I understand why you left,” she continued, coming closer. She had always been tall, and she was nearly eye level with him now. She pulled gently, and he stood, as if in a trance. They were mere inches away. “When you left me, I wasn’t worthy of you,” she continued. “I was no one, and a god cannot love a nobody. But don’t you see? I’m so much more now. I have sought immortality, and I have found it. I am worthy now. I can help you achieve eternity again. Return to your godhood. And then we could be immortal together. Forever.”

    Kanat felt himself shaking, and he pulled away from her. “T’haila…” he stammered, forcing himself to use her name instead of the nickname he’d given her. “I can’t. You don’t know what’s happened since…”

    “It’s the girl, isn’t it.” Her face fell, and he saw anger flash behind her eyes. “Who is she, Kanat? Another nobody that you’re courting? A mortal that you dabble with for your own amusement? What worth does she have to you? She doesn’t deserve you.”

    “No, no, it’s not that!” He said hurriedly. Gods she was terrifying when she was angry! What had immortality done to her? She hadn’t been so… intense before. Sure, she’d been determined, but not like this. She thought she was a goddess! “She’s not a girlfriend. I’m not courting her. She’s part of my punishment.”

    “Punishment?” she raised her eyebrows.

    He nodded, refusing to speak any more. He didn’t want her to get involved. He had to get out of here as quickly as possible. If she got angry while he was trapped as mortal, he’d be defenseless against her. He had to get away. The intensity of those eyes frightened him. Once they might have drawn him in, but times changed. This was dangerous territory he was wandering into. It was best to avoid this kind of topic. Especially with a girl like his ex girlfriend. She’d been a dangerous little viper then. Who knew what had happened to her now?

    “Come now, love, you can tell me,” she whispered, reaching out to him again. He stayed frozen to the spot as she gently caressed the side of his face. What was wrong with him?! He’d never been so paralyzed around a mortal before. “You can tell me everything,” she promised.

    “It’s not… not something you need to concern yourself with,” he managed to stammer out. Her skin was so warm against his. What did she want?!

    “Of course it’s my concern. Come now, Kanat. That’s no way to treat me.” Her hands were on his shoulders now, close to his neck as if she were about to hug him- or choke him. “I’ve waited all this time for you. Anything concerning you is my concern. Come now, love. Tell me.”

    He said nothing. Her face changed in that instant, and he saw dark anger there once again. She stepped back, and lifted her flute to her lips. “Tell me,” she ordered, and began to play.

    The music hit him with the force of a physical blow. A wave of euphoria practically knocked him senseless. It encouraged him, soothed him. There was no danger here. There was no evil. Nothing except him and the music. And he found himself telling her. The music pulled him along like a fish on a hook, until he had spilled out the entire story.

    She set the flute down, and he shuddered, like a man coming out a trance. She was smiling again as she approached him, stopping about a foot away.

    Don’t let her come any closer, he found himself wishing silently. Please. This is too dangerous. She shouldn’t be here. Shouldn’t be alive. I can’t fight her or stop her. What do I do?! Panic began to surge through his mind. He hated feeling so powerless. The last time he’d felt like this, he’d been trapped in a net by a mortal, lying on the ground and waiting to find out what would happen, unable to shift or escape. Of course, he’d ended up courting her. He’d courted a lot of mortals… But mortals had short lives! Usually his affairs didn’t come back to haunt him. Not like this. Now the past was standing right in front of him. That was dangerous.

    Jinea and Nith would throw a fit, he thought. They’re probably watching me now.

    “So the girl is the one you meddled with?” she asked softly. “She’s nothing. Nobody. She means nothing to this world. Why would she mean something to you?”

    Kanat forced himself to speak. “You were a nobody once too.”

    That, of all things, brought a smile to her face. “But no more,” she replied. “I’m a legend now. Just like you.” She sighed as he didn’t respond. “Come now, Kanat. You loved me once. You praised my intensity. My strength. It was you who gave me my magic flute, after all. You are the one who helped me become a legend.” She was moving now, circling around behind him. He tried to turn to follow her, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. He felt cold, and realized he was shaking. What sort of spell had she put on him? Was it even a spell?

    “You know,” she continued, “I always wondered why you gave me that flute. At first I thought it was just a trinket. A sort of bauble, to amuse me, and hold my attention. But now I think it was a test.” She stepped into view again. “You knew I wasn’t worthy. So you gave me a chance to prove myself. A chance to be worthy of you. Haven’t I passed?” Her voice was still soft, but Kanat was afraid she’d get angry again. “Haven’t I proved myself to be enough? I’m a legend now. And when you get your godhood back, we’ll be perfect!”

    He was saved from answering by the door to the room slamming open. T’haila spun to see the girl storm into the room, followed by another human.

    “What did you do with him?!” she demanded, striding straight to Kanat’s side. He’d never been more relieved to see a mortal in his life.

    Excuse me?” T’haila demanded.

    This,” the girl growled, “is my demon! Nobody touches him but me. So what are you doing with my demon?”

    “Nothing,” T’haila finally got a smile on her face. “We were only talking. Isn’t that right, Kanat?” she shot me a glance.

    “His name’s Kanat?” the girl asked, surprised.

    “Yes, though you’d do best not to spread it,” T’haila shrugged. “Don’t worry, I didn’t break him. I was just going to visit you, as a matter of fact. We haven’t had a chance to talk since you came here.”

    “Since you kidnapped me!” the girl corrected sharply.

    “For your own good, love,” T’haila smiled. “Come. Let’s talk.” She put a hand on the girl’s arm, and guided her towards the door. Stopping just outside, she looked back, and jerked her head in Kanat’s direction. Then she was gone.

    He was too busy watching her to notice her guard come up behind him. Too distracted to realize what that head jerk had meant until the fist crashed into his chest, knocking him to the ground and winding him. His hands were yanked behind his back, and tied with rough rope. He was pulled to his feet, and then a hood went over his head, turning everything black for the second time that day.

 
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