Cinnamon and Vinegar: Part Eight
Doing the Impossible
I felt like I'd been sitting on a sopping wet, miserable, uncomfortable cloud, staring down at the world I knew. Staring and wishing.
The moment I noticed that the universe was about to be sent into total chaos, I was shoved off of that cloud.
I heard a rustle of a bush behind me as my captor vanished from sight, presumably about to cause an ambush on Cerulean. It wasn't difficult to locate the exact source of the noise. Amadeus was still visible, but his twin would definitely make a beeline for me before he could notice him.
My heart was pounding like a metronome set to sixteenth-notes, and I felt tears rush to my eyes. I had to leave before Cerulean could see me and get caught into this. I turned to leave, but my head unwillingly whipped around to Amadeus. He had turned his thumb and index finger so that I faced him. With both hands, he gently patted the air twice, and I found myself incapable of changing position.
"FAITH!" Cerulean cried as he recognized me and initiated into a strong gallop.
"Don't come near me!" I warned in the middle of his plight towards me. He skidded to a stop, his face taking on a disappointed expression. "Go home. Don't worry. I'll live."
"But—"he started, but was interrupted by Amadeus casually walking into sight.
"Look, it's kind of hard interrupting a moment like this when one of you is completely convinced that you're both alone, but it has to be done. Right, come with me and I'll let her go, don't come and I'll take her life."
"Are you my twin?" Cerulean blinked, to be answered by a grim smile and nod from Amadeus, the latter's evil side finally showing again. To me and certainly my captor's surprise, Cerulean approached him, grabbed his hand, and shook it firmly.
"Well. Nice meeting you. Almost. I was expecting someone a little stronger, but as I can see that you aren't as capable as you sounded, then I'd like my little friend back now. And I mean now."
"How insulting," Amadeus hissed, taking a good step back from Cerulean and snatching his paw out of his adversary's firm grip. The winged Xweetok's eyes widened as the Crystal Boomerang materialized. The Blumaroo gave it a couple of tiny practice swings in the air, weighing the artifact even though he'd had plenty of time to get acquainted with it. "Now, I'm sure you know what this is."
"No," Cerulean uttered, his pupils expanding until they almost completely ruled out his amber irises. "NO!!"
"Come with me now or I'll kill you both," the bright orange Blumaroo warned.
"He's lying! He wouldn't kill either of us!" I cried.
"You. Silence." As he put his thumb and index finger together, with the gesture pointed at me, my lips suddenly felt stuck together. My efforts to speak resulted in muffled, incomprehensible syllables.
And I hated myself all over again.
I dreamt I had a petpet that night; a faithful creature who hated to leave my side, and was absolutely precious to me...
Why I was thinking about that dream right then, I had no idea until I realized Faith hated to leave my side. She was precious to me... And now I saw her after truly losing her. She wasn't a petpet, she was Faith...
I felt my emotions crumble away with it. All the peaceful times and shared laughter were replaced with... with... nothing.
So much had already happened before this. The entire week lead up to something like this. Faith had carried so much of me away with her, without being able to help it... It made me sick...
He laughed enough to infuriate me, while sending Faith into a state of shock. She buried her head in her hands, and whilst she had been silenced by my dreaded twin, I could practically feel her thoughts. Wait — I did. Whether it was another gift of Creator's Children or maybe something my mother, the Creator, just let me do right then, I had no idea.
Cerulean, I'm sorry... Amadeus wouldn't have used me as bait if we never met.
"Faith," I assured, taking a step towards her and heavily resting one hand on her shoulder, "If I never met you, then I would have died a long time ago."
She looked up at me, a glaze of tears over her eyes. Yet I could still make out the awe in her face — like just one last tiny miracle. I stared into her gaze more, and her next thoughts came to me. He's scared of you, Cerulean. Just a little bit. You're the one person he wouldn't kill. Ever.
Well, I already had an advantage.
"So, your name is Amadeus?" I grinned at my brother. "I'm not letting you ruin our moment. Again. That was you with the blue disc thingy in the floor, I know it is."
He stared at me as though I had just warned him to look out for demonic flaming Yurbles crossing the street. "You're coming with me."
"No," I countered. "I trust Faith. I know that this is what I must do."
I snatched her wrist into my hand and started running, running like the dickens, running faster than time, running for my life, running for her life, running, just running.. Not running like I ran from Hunters: my spirit was running now, not my body. My companion was lacking at first in speed, until Amadeus yelled, "GET BACK HERE!"
When one is fleeing the apocalypse, they do not typically slow down to tiptoe around the primroses.
Our heads whipped around in unison to look at each other. I let her wrist go and we began running on all fours at the exact same moment.
Faith was turning brave again. It was what she did. Times got desperate and she did something selfless, amazing and even (well, maybe especially) stupid, and the moment that danger left us, she was back to the calm, pleasant Faith I knew.
That thought made me begin to hope so desperately that danger would leave us then.
We were plunging through the forests, hand in hand, running desperately from something.
I knew I had to keep that beast from pouncing on us. Maybe I could change the future which I had dreamt. In the dream, we held onto each other's hands so firmly, but it had slowed us down. This time would be different. That beast wouldn't get close enough to pounce.
And then the song began. Faith showed no sign of detecting the soft melody, but if I didn't know its significance, then I wouldn't have heard it, either. Still, I somehow had a gut feeling that I was the only one who could hear it.
"Thou of precious, yet of might;
"Lift your wings from the ground and learn to fly;
"The invisible, the unheard; all will change once awakened."
She managed to sneak a single, sideways glance at me. With that, I didn't hear her thoughts, but I knew I was precious to her. And I was strong... But I could already fly. What was the invisible and unheard? It was Faith. Her true self was invisible and unheard: she was not her name or appearance but brave and then calm. I had awakened, and everything had changed.
Then, I saw the hideous orange-and-black creature swoop over us. He was flying without moving his wings. He stood in front of us, and Faith and I stumbled back, moving towards each other. We were both scared to death. One and the same, our arms found each other, and we desperately clung to each other's sides. I then noticed that we had gone in a circle. We were back at the start, by the house covered in vines. Running was futile. We had to face him.
The next five lines of the song came:
"No breath, no words: those are the things only you can do;
"See the invisible and hear the unheard
"Bring forth this legacy when needed most;
"Wield the blade which is too heavy for the rest,
"Allow your fire to blaze above the best."
"You'll never like me, will you?" Amadeus hissed with a scowl at Faith. I had no idea what that meant. In response, she gave him a firm glare. I was busy thinking of the lyrics.
The red Xweetok wasn't the invisible and unheard. Something else was. It wasn't a person. It was multiple things, things only I could do. But what?
I couldn't believe my twin's cruelty as he held up the Crystal Boomerang and prepared to strike us both on the spot, but just as we cringed in its ever-shifting light, he pulled it back to his original position by his side. He was toying with us.
"Faith was half right by me not killing either of you," he stared us both down. "I think I'll go ahead and do away with her, and put you to sleep already, just because you're getting on my nerves."
Put me to sleep...? If he was only hurting one of us and he was hurting Faith, then what was he going to do to me?
The melody started again.
"The brave when needed, then calm and pleasant,
"She is drowning , so seems;
"Yet the truth is she's being keelhauled."
Now it was singing about Faith. She was the only person who did that. I had thought she was caught, but she was being keelhauled the entire time.
"See the invisible and hear the unheard.
"Sink the ship, free her spirit,
"Be wary when she nears you;
"She has yet to be saved."
Amadeus repeated his taunting movements multiple times. We knew he'd strike whenever he wanted, and these were our absolute last minutes.
The first two lines which had just been sung annoyed me; I wanted to free her spirit so badly, and the invisible and unheard were likely just more properties of Creator's Children. The third line: I should have been wary even when we were catching up to her back in the Silent Lands. The fourth line was just annoyingly obvious. Sing something useful already! I inwardly screamed.
My frustration was washed away when I realized she was looking at me. Sweet, calm and resigned. I knew that the end had come. She wasn't brave now, not when danger was about to swallow both of us whole. Why? We were so close to what instilled that courage in her, and she was almost like she was on a regular day, asides from the glints of tears in her eyes. No bravery. No doing what was right without regards for her fate.
And then I realized — on the Valence mission and at Cloudpoint, those times she had gotten brave previously, there had still been a single spark of hope, a single chance. Now we were here in fear. Everything was lost completely to us. Bravery would be futile. She just wrapped her arms around me and buried her head in my mane. I began to subconsciously pat her on the back as the next verse came.
"He has her rope in one hand,
"Your terror and hatred in the next.
"Remember these words,
"You will hear them again,
"But only by your own accord.
"See the invisible.
"Hear the unheard."
The remainder of the lyrics came in that one burst. The obviously-placed pronoun of "he" was referring to Amadeus. He had control over Faith whenever he wanted — and the Boomerang, which I now had a renewed hatred towards. The last two lines triggered something new inside of me then. Not before. They were repeated several times, but only their last instance inspired me.
Anger. Longing. Frustration. So much that we couldn't get out of. We should've avoided it all. I should have avoided it all. I should've saved Faith earlier.
Now she was about to die.
Amadeus was still laughing. Faith was still clinging to me. And then, of all the people who I thought were safe right then...
"CERULEAN! YOU'RE MADE OF LIGHT MAGIC! THE BOOMERANG CAN'T CORRUPT YOU!"
That was it. We whipped our heads around to see Rubia standing there, calling to me. She had Faith's canteen slung around her wing. My jaw fell open.
"IF YOU DIE NOW, I WILL KILL YOU!"
Faith's eyes widened. She mouthed something to the Hissi, but the silence spell was still in effect, so it was futile. A frustrated expression came over her face, and Rubia gave her a pitying glance before shouting, "That goes for you, too!"
And then I realized so much more.
Light reveals all that is kept hidden in dark. I was light. It was dark. Darkness cannot quench light.
Rubia was right. The Boomerang wouldn't corrupt me. It couldn't.
I ran, Faith suffering from a mild push as I let her go. For two seconds, I ran. They were over before I realized it. Two seconds wasn't long enough for Amadeus to realize what I was doing.
If this long shot didn't make it, we would all be separated. I would never again live one of those days, those happy, happy days. Drinking tea and reading and talking about life. Playing chess and visiting with friends and learning. And eating. Plenty of eating.
But none of that would ever happen again, unless I made it over this final hurdle. And what would replace those times if I failed to do this?
Rage and fury frothed within me as I rushed towards Amadeus. He was still soaking in Rubia's words, and then I startled him so badly...
He turned in my direction, his emerald eyes widening in alarm...
He didn't try getting away from me. He didn't try. I let my fury control me. My muscles rippled with the force of anger as my face twisted into a snarl...
He didn't know what happened. But I did. I knew so well what I was doing. I grabbed his forearm with both of my bare hands. He was still holding up the Boomerang...
He tried to snatch the Boomerang up with his other arm, but I stopped him with my right, my left one holding his first limb. Before I knew it, we were initiated in a firm match of "Gimme" parallel to two children fighting over a plaything. But oh, the irony. This was no plaything.
I had gotten onto my hind legs and he was still taller than me. Just a little bit. That... That infuriated me. He always held the Boomerang right there, just a teensy little smidge out of my reach. Just as he had been dangling Faith right in front of my nose for too long.
It turned into more of a playground scuffle than a dispute over a toy. We were combining arm wrestling with tug of war as I reached higher and he ducked an inch away from me. I was clearly not about to grab the Boomerang at that rate... And then I realized.
I didn't really want the Boomerang. I just didn't want for him to have it.
I sprang into a tackle, a tackle harder than any I ever had before. Every Hunter I'd ever fought, Oukse, Rachroth, the Cloudpoint Monster and the rest of all my previous enemies combined... They didn't ignite this same force within me when I had fought them. This... This was triggered by Faith's immediate danger and own bad experiences.
He gasped as his back collided against the firm ground. His hand splayed open, the artifact sliding across the mud. I pinned his shoulders down with my forepaws, and glanced over at the Boomerang.
"No — please — leave that alone," he sputtered, his voice cracking and sounding quite out of character.
"Says you and what army?" I sternly asked with a defiant glare down at him.
"Says me and the traces of magic I've still got from the Boomerang," he hissed, clenching his hand into a fist. And then he jerked his softly-glowing wrist violently to one side. I gasped as my balance was completely upset, and I stumbled a few feet to the side before dizzily regaining my footing. In the meantime, he had gotten hold of the Boomerang again and was now standing a yard in front of me.
It was strangely unnerving to me that an infamously deadly artifact I thought I'd never even see was now pointed at my face.
"Throwing this can be used to guarantee a spell's success and desired results on someone, not just hack and slash," Amadeus explained, and that caused me more confusion than it cured.
And then I realized that my feet were stuck to the ground. I could do nothing. There was no more running. My twin heaved the Boomerang to his side with both hands, and then swung it at me like a sword.
The weapon slipped from his hands and spun towards me. It was slow; either he had done it that way on purpose, or it was the will of the Boomerang itself. I didn't think it was possible for anything to shine and glitter and gleam so much in so many ways in every color of the rainbow — and then some. I don't know the names for some of the ones I saw, especially not in the overcast forest.
All that occurred to me right then was that I wanted something to be between me and the Boomerang.
I grabbed the wooden circle pin on my cape, and thrust it away from me as I realized the rest of my desires.
Faith. Rubia. Freedom.
Then I wanted. I wanted so much, and so hard. My desire overwhelmed me. Everything had become things I wanted, not had. All I felt was my mania for a bearable future as I felt the pin tear off of my cape, taking a bit of fabric with it. The rest of the cloth fell to the ground, brushing against my sides, landing in a pile at my feet.
My eyes were clenched shut as I clutched the brooch in front of me. My teeth were gritted, my fingers shaky. In all my life, I was never so helpless or afraid. I just hoped, hoped and wanted.
The pin was of deep brown wood, smoothed down by time's hammer, but was never made any weaker. Just like me. I ducked to the ground to try saving some part of myself, but I knew I couldn't avoid my impending magical slumber. I was shoving up all that I had left — my desire – just as the Boomerang was an inch from my nose.
An ear-splitting crash roared through the air as the Crystal Boomerang fractured into tiny shards at my pin's touch. I opened my eyes to see from below one hundred thousand diamond splinters begin to gush towards the sky and then plummet to the ground in rings, singeing two sets of perforations in the forest canopy as they met the leaves. Amadeus' face looked broken — lopsided and awkward.
And sort of funny.
I grinned at him, rubbing the back of my neck with one palm. He said nothing, but fell onto his knees.
"No! NO! My power! All I've ever lived for! I don't have a drop of magic left!" he cried and slapped his forehead as I felt my own mind clear up. I looked around to see my close companions peering around the side of our home. They were clinging to each other.
"Did it... break?" Rubia asked. "Are... those... pieces of it?"
"Cerulean..." Faith said, awed, "Do you realize you just saved us all from the greatest menace we have ever known?"
Both of them started coming towards me at the exact same moment, and they were so quick that when that single moment was over, they were already being crushed in my joyous embrace.
Wave after wave of Crystal Boomerang pieces jingled like wind-chimes as they burst against the ground. I was absolutely certain that they couldn't all fit into the original Boomerang, but it didn't matter to me. All that mattered was that I knew I'd sleep well that night, and for once not be plagued by tiresome nightmares.
My twin caught a single diamond remnant and stared down at it like it was driftwood: worthless to most, even unwanted. But maybe – just maybe – helpful to the one whom had run out of resources. As he clutched it, his grip was apparently too tight. It snapped into two chunks which were even smaller.
A few of the shards that fell burst into tiny sparks. My squeeze on my companions tightened, but not due to the lights — we were in the green now. It had been my time to be brave, and somehow I couldn't imagine anyone else breaking the Crystal Boomerang. We watched that one amazing sight together — what had caused the world so much heartache over the years was now dying in a truly beautiful spectacle.
Faith meekly smiled at me and Rubia patted my head as the three of us finally released each other. I pulled down my hood all the way so that Faith could see me responding to her smile with my crazed grin. She laughed nervously.
"Faith," I whispered, "Everything's gonna be alright."
I thought that she had maybe had enough of crying. But I didn't blame her eyes as they welled up with tears of delight.
Then we heard a new voice.
"Under the charges of kidnapping and threats of mass chaos, you're arrested. I give you credit for wanting to do something besides conquer the world, though."
Well, it looked like Evre could actually do something with her sword besides slap people.
The tip of it touched the very nose of a sweating Amadeus. The Pink Ogrin had him backed against a tree.
"What the... Where'd you..." he stuttered, to be silenced by his nose being prodded very gently with her blade. A wind stirred up, and my guardian's yellow mane blew in it.
"Oh, and let me add theft to that list of charges," she snapped as she snatched something off from around his neck. She tossed Faith's key over to her, the latter executing a perfect catch and quickly looping it around her own neck. "Now, if you'll please turn around so I can handcuff you..."
I noticed him shifting his hand very slightly, as if to hide something in it. Evre raised her eyebrows, but he acted before her and turned to face the tree that housed our residence.
Amadeus flicked a crystal segment at it. He lashed around to look at Faith and threw the other one at her.
...There wasn't any time for anyone to do anything about it... Her eyes widened at the shard which was zipping towards her...
I've been sad and sulked and cried, but until then, I didn't know that I could be depressed enough to not react to it at all. No gasp. No tears. No anything.
To be continued...