"...D'you believe in fate?"
"What about you, Krist?"
"Well, I dunno. It seems to me like we're in charge of our own destinies, y'know?"
"Yeah, I think so too."
"How do you know? What if nothing we do matters at all?"
"Hey, Shana, don't say that. Our choices are our fates, y'see? Fate isn't actually real."
"You're wrong. Fate is real."
"Well, I don't believe in it."
"Well, maybe you should."
Chains of Fate
Chapter One: Unravel
The sun slowly slips below the calm waters of the bay, bathing everything in a brilliant orange light as I reach the top of the hill. I am completely, totally, devastatingly alone. The wild, untrimmed meadow grass whispers the word as I stand there, trying to process it. Alone, alone, alone. What a terrible, crushing word. But I should have expected this.
Suddenly, I feel drained and exhausted. After all, I've been walking since dawn, with only an hour-long stop in Cezane around noon. Lunch in a dimly lit pub, and then back on the road, over untold miles of farmland, only to have this bare, lonesome hilltop greet me.
My knees buckle. Feeling weary and ancient, I crumple ungracefully to the ground (grace has long eluded me), flopping into the long, unkempt grass. I crush sweet stalks of it beneath my palms, trying to think. No one is here to meet me. Now what?
I gaze at the small town spread out below me, nestled along the shore of the Gimir Ocean. From here I can see the Elandros Bay, where I used to play as a child, where my father's fishing boat used to dock. My heart contracts painfully, even as a smile flits across my face. This is bittersweet. To be quite honest, I didn't picture my homecoming exactly like this.
I shouldn't have left. That much is evident. Here I am, three fruitless years later, arriving in as pitiful a condition as I departed in. Well, that's not entirely true. Reverently, I lay a hand on the sword that hangs by my side. My only treasure, won at a game of cards two years ago at a tavern in Remedon. I haven't been without it since. Before the sword, I had been using Father's dagger...
Goosebumps rise on my arms, and I shiver. The wind is blowing colder now, even though it is nearly summer. The sun has set, leaving luminous red rays scattered through the dusky sky. I let out a rather pathetic sigh. Thinking of my old dagger brings up many unpleasant memories. I don't like to think about those early days, when I was still new to life on the road.
What had I known about hardship? About the loneliness and emptiness that skulks in the alleys of all of our lives? This is rather poetical of me, I realize, but believe me when I say that I know what I'm talking about.
For the first few months of my life as a vagabond, I wandered through Chanceledon, my native country, always hungry, always cold, always tired. That was before I started gambling to earn money, before I won my sword. I was only fifteen years old, after all.
"Not even a hurricane can stop Calypso," Father would joke, looking fierce as always, even as he wore that familiar grin, "when she gets that stubborn glint in her eye." He was right about me. An obstinate child, as Mother always said. She is still right, and I know it. Perhaps I managed to win a fancy sword, but I am as headstrong and unyielding as I was at fifteen.
Actually, it wasn't that hard to win the sword, my most prized possession. It's never hard to win at cards when the other players are drunk. A flirtatious word here, a distracting drink there...Making a living off of card games isn't that hard, surprisingly. Even though I guess some would call it dishonest.
I flop on my back, the tall grass rising around me. "I'm a horrible person,"I groan aloud, closing my eyes. My anguish is forgotten almost instantly as I inhale deeply, smelling the familiar saltiness that will always remind me of my hometown. "The sea!" I murmur sleepily. I had almost forgotten it. But now I remember, faintly, times of my childhood, spent at the cove with Shana, Krist, and Saburo.
I smile, thinking of them. My best friends. Shana, the mother hen of the group, petite and brunette. Around strangers, she can be shy, but I know that Shana loves nothing more than her friends and family. She even seems to love them more than she loves herself, actually. I'm not a worrier by nature, as Shana is, but sometimes I can't help myself, and I worry about her. She hasn't been the same since...Well, she's had more problems than most of us.
Krist is my half-brother, my very best friend for the first fifteen years of my life. We were inseparable. A wistful smile makes its way across my face. I miss Krist, with his customary rakish grin and tousled orange hair. I shouldn't have been away so long. I only hope my friends will be as happy to see me as I am to be home.
My grin fades suddenly as I think, Saburo. How could I forget? He was always impetuous, bursting with zealous defense for his friends and burning wrath for his foes. We argued about everything. Sometimes I even hated him.
There's no question, I realize, my heart sinking. He won't accept my prolonged absence, my steady silence. He will be livid. Chewing my lip in apprehension, a bad habit that I really need to get rid of, I cast a quick glance over the surrounding hills, half-expecting my fiery friend to leap out at me.
He doesn't, of course. I let out a long breath, gazing down at my home. Elandros. Here I am, I think wryly, ready or not, like the hiding game we used to play as children. There's no welcoming party, but I shouldn't have expected one.
I didn't tell anyone that I was coming home. I haven't spoken with anyone in three long years, not even Mother. Still, a vision of my friends greeting me, welcoming me home, rose in my mind's eye as I trekked across the Elandros Downs. I sigh, remembering the depression that gripped me for the past few months and eventually led me home.
Well, so what if my quest has failed? So what if they're not here? It's fine! I want to see everyone... and I guess I'll have to face Saburo sooner or later.
Standing up, I brush grass off my worn blue breeches and flowing green shirt that unfortunately reveals part of my stomach when I lift my arms. I went through one growth spurt after another, but I didn't have much to spare on a new wardrobe. Surviving on the move with only the winnings of card games can do that to you. I don't mind, though. My clothes are soft and flexible from years of wear, and that is all I really care about.
Night has fallen completely now, and I'm ready to go. I can see the glimmering stars beginning to emerge, appearing one-by-one in the cool, dark blue sky. Under the light of the sickle moon, I can faintly make out the Elandros Lighthouse, a famous landmark that is really the only defining feature of Elandros. Yep, that's my home, all right.
I tilt my head back, squinting through the darkness at the famous, though unlit, beacon. Suddenly, a burst of light pierces the cool darkness, shining out over the bay in a gesture that somehow seems to symbolize home. My heart suddenly swells with love for my town. But there's still that nasty twinge of fear lurking somewhere under there. Shouldering my bag, which contains all my worldly possessions, I smile grimly. I guess I have to begin somewhere.
She has no way of knowing it, of course. The small boy, lurking in the tall grass, just out of sight, smiles crookedly, crossing his pale arms over his skinny chest. He has been tailing Calypso for the past few nights, following her across miles of idyllic countryside and fruitful farmland. All part of his mission, of course. She is Spiro's daughter, after all.
He watches as she stumbles down the hill, striding towards the little hamlet tucked in the crook of the sea's arm. Elandros. A dull, throbbing sensation suddenly springs to life, pounding in his puny frame. Gritting his teeth in pain, he presses a hand to his chest, gazing with slitted scarlet eyes at the brightly-lit village below him. One of them is there. He can feel it.
"Well," the boy whispers hoarsely in a surprisingly deep voice, "We'll see how this all unravels, won't we?"
A/N: I'm not sure if you, dear reader, are aware that this version of Chains of Fate is a re-write. The original was first posted here in May 2005, and garnered a modest fan base. I got up to chapter 33 in 2007 and suddenly found that I could couldn't finish it. I just couldn't. The first 18 chapters or so were pure tripe. So, even though the end was so near, I am now working on the revised version. And since won't allow two versions of the same story, I had to delete the old one. Sorry to any fans it had, but it really needed a makeover.
If anyone desperately wants to read the original, for whatever reason, simply PM me. I'd be happy to send it to you.