Chapter 49: Fury
I stood atop a ring of earth, surrounded by crumbling land and a swiftly growing storm. The fury of the land was born of a single source, one man’s anger and pain. I stared at him as he charged towards me. I knew why he was so enraged, but I wondered if his anger was righteous. I had listened to his enemy, but never truly knew who the villain was in this. I had never before considered Claude and Kadmon were equally terrible. Claude’s words had stroked fears I still had at the power of Kadmon and others like him, but was Kadmon really so bad? He may have had this world’s best interests at heart, simple right or wrong may not matter in such a case.
I wondered if I was the only one left standing. This man’s focus was entirely upon me, channeling every ounce of his rage towards me, and I returned his attentions. Had he not noticed my companions’ participation? Were they dead, having been swept away into this impenetrable tempest? And what of Claude? This had all been his plan, yet I was the sole focus of Kadmon’s fury.
I had nowhere to go. The ground behind me had grown unstable and collapsed. Much of the earth before me was only now beginning to cool and there was no clear path around Kadmon’s march. Exhausted ritualists lay collapsed to either side of me, barring easy escape in those directions. I took a deep breath and braced myself for the wrath of Kadmon.
He did not disappoint. In a short few moments, he had closed the distance. He lunged for me and swung wide with a powerful punch. Instinct and terror alone allowed to barely avoid the fist, and instead it shattered the stone upon which I stood. I gulped. The power of the blow showed it would take nothing for him to crush the life from me, if he managed to catch me. I threw a wild and desperate punch. I dared not hope it would ever connect, and I could barely contain my shock when it did. It hurt. Immensely. It felt as if every bone in my hand had disintegrated. His flesh was hard as stone and his glare settled upon me with contempt, as if he were mocking my weakness.
I dropped back, clutching my injured hand. I tried to focus my thoughts. I prayed I could activate the healing ability that I had accidentally invoked so often before I understood what I did. My next heartbeat lasted an eternity. Then I felt bones mend and the bruising fade, but it happened too slowly. Kadmon laughed viciously, finding amusement in my failure and slowly advanced.
I stepped back, retreating from the promise of more pain. I stumbled when I reached the edge of my tiny platform of safety. I heard rocks tumbling away behind me. A quick glance back revealed that the heated stone seemed cool and solid, but there weas no way to be certain. A swift glance to my opponent revealed that I had no time to form another plan. I pushed doubt from my mind and leapt backwards, falling the few yards to the cooling stone floor of what had once been a shallow crater.
The stone was hot to the touch, enough to hurt but not enough to burn. I took a deep breath and sighed in relief, but my reprieve proved short lived. With a terrible crunching crash, Kadmon landed behind me. He glowered down at me, his eyes staring directly into my soul.
“Why?” His voice growled and grumbled like an enraged predator, threatening all who would dare question his power but especially me. “Why would you ruin everything?” He lunged at me, hands open wide, hoping to grab me and crush me.
“I had to, Kadmon.” I scrabbled back out of his reach. “I couldn’t risk everything from getting out of hand.”
“You little fool!” He roared in frustration as I managed to elude him again. “You have condemned this place to the flames of chaos!” With an furious gesture he pointed to the center of the crater. “It has already begun! You have doomed us all!”
I risked a glance to where he pointed and saw that the center of the ritual circle was collapsing. The land beneath where the moon had rested and where Kadmon had directed his ritual was falling away. Stones flaked and crumbled, before falling into a quickly growing sinkhole. “What..?”My voice was stolen by a tremendous blow.
Seizing on my distraction, Kadmon managed to connect a blow, throwing me back and onto the harshly solid stone. I found myself wondering if it would have hurt less if the stone was still half-melted. I lay there, trying to collect my thoughts and put them back in something like working order.
Kadmon walked over to loom over me with a satisfied grin. He knew there was little I could do to stop him. I wasn’t a fighter and he was all muscle and power. Nothing could stop him from finishing me off. He leaned down slightly, still looking down at me with disdain.
“The ritual was designed to be completed.” My swimming thoughts struggled to see what he meant by stating the obvious. “While the things we did were not wholly undone, without my direction in the final moments the nexus is collapsing. It is both the strongest and weakest parts of this world’s body. Did you really think that such a momentous occasion, such as our ritual, would not have repercussions?”
He stood up, glaring down at me with a mix of anger and… Was that sadness? “Your meddling prevented me from having the strength to close the nexus. Now all I can do is be satisfied that this world will live…” He sighed sharply. “Though I suppose it is somewhat comforting to know you will die before we tumble into oblivion…” He reared up to land a final powerful blow upon my head.