Chapter 2: The Balance Blade
Coming out of unconsciousness was nothing like they portrayed in the movies or on television. It was more like the sensation of suddenly falling awake after a long, deep sleep. One moment I was unconscious and the next moment I was not. I took a deep, sharp breath and sat straight up. Blood rushed to my head and black spots crawled across my vision. For a second I thought I was going to pass out again which, if anyone is counting would make three times today. I reached out blindly and planted both my hands on the ground behind me. Thunder growled in the sky above me and a big, wet snowflake landed on my nose. I looked up into the crystal blue, sunny sky and vomited over my shoulder. I wiped my mouth with the corner of my sleeve and slowly pushed myself to my feet. Lightning sliced through thin air and snowflakes drifted down from nowhere. The shattered shell of my car sat in front of me and I could hear voices yelling behind me.
“I can’t hold it much longer Avalar,” Crenshaw squeaked, his voice strained and tense.
“Just a bit longer Crenshaw, with all the Chaos seeping through its hard to gather Order,” Avalar growled, his voice under the same strain as Crenshaw’s. I planted a hand on my throbbing head and turned to face the road. The scar in the sky had stretched to a full blown wound and the creature from the other side was pushing its way through. It had pushed one, thick, black leg the size of a skyscraper through the scar, stepping over it like a ledge. Bending at the waist, the creature stuck its right shoulder through the top of the scar, a black, tar-like substance dripping off it to steam like acid on the ground. The creature looked like a black, slimy shadow with thin dreadlocks hanging around two wickedly pointed horns. Mouth held tight in a grimace, the creature’s glowing red eyes were the only way to tell that had any dimension at all. Tearing my eyes away from the horrifying thing, I tried to focus on the road in front of me. In the very center of the road, knee on the dashed yellow line, Avalar knelt with the tip of his sword thrust through the pavement. His head rested on the hilt of his sword and his mouth moved in silent prayer. In front of him, just far enough to stand in the grass on the side of the road, Crenshaw stood with his hands clasped together. With sweat pouring down his face, he held both his index and middle fingers together, squeezing so that his hands shook. Thick, thorny vines had ripped through the ground next to him and raced forward, winding their way around the giant’s leg and torso. As I watched, Crenshaw’s body quivered from exhaustion and he fell forward onto one knee.
“Can you close the fucking thing or not?” Crenshaw yelled.
“I don’t know if I can close it but I can at least knock it back a step,” Avalar yelled. Blue light glowed in the air around him, gathering into three thick balls. The quivered balls of energy grew until they were the side of tires and twice as thick. “Down.” At Avalar’s command, Crenshaw dropped to the ground and the balls of energy shot forward. With a quick jerk of its leg, the creature tore through the now limp vines but couldn’t move fast enough to avoid Avalar’s attack. Crashing into the creature’s leg, stomach and face, the ball’s exploded on impact, spraying a blinding ellipse of blue light across the sky. Crenshaw glanced over his shoulder at Avalar with a grin but his face dropped when his eyes fell on me. Reading the look on Crenshaw’s face, Avalar grabbed his sword and whipped around. The blade cut a thick arc through the air and though it wasn’t close enough to touch me, I flinched away from it.
“Holy fucking fogswamp he can see us,” Crenshaw said in a hushed voice. A deafening bellow sounded behind Crenshaw and the creature’s black arm broke through the smoke that had replaced the explosion. Avalar and Crenshaw turned to face the creature but walked backwards to stand next to me. “Kid, you have to get out of here.”
“And where’s he supposed to go Crenshaw?” Avalar asked.
“I don’t know but anywhere is better than here right now,” Crenshaw said. The creature’s head popped through the smoke and its red eyes narrowed on me. Electricity jolted through my arms as the creature’s eyes found mine and power rushed up my legs. The creature’s eyes narrowed and its mouth stretched with fury. Pure energy raced through my body and gathered in my right hand, seeping out my pores and growing from my palm. Crenshaw gasped before I even realized what I was holding.
“A Blade of Balance?” Avalar asked, confused. I brought my right hand up in front of me and found it wrapped around the hilt of a long, thin samurai sword. Intricate etchings worked their way up the side of the blade and a long, strand of golden fabric hung down from the bottom of the plain black hilt. I flicked my wrist, sending the blade humming through the air. Without my control, my wrist worked the blade through a complex series of motions and as it cut through the air, a dull white light shown from the blade’s thin edge. Crenshaw shifted his gaze from the blade to my face and frowned.
“What are you kid?”Crenshaw asked. Without a word I took a step forward and took a deep breath. I once again worked the blade through the air. The sword responded to my command as smoothly as if it were another limb extending from my hand. I felt power flow from my body and into the blade, mingling with the white energy gathering across blade’s razor thin edge. Thin blue lines swirled through the white light, the two colors pooling and shifting like oil and water. “Avalar is that?”
“Order,” Avalar said quietly. The creature let out a deafening roar and opened its mouth wide. Black slime dripped from the creature’s lips, defying gravity to stick together in a misshapen blob in front of its mouth. The blob leached slime from the giant’s mouth, pulling it from its lips and cheeks and throat. With a flick of my wrist, I whipped the sword out to my side, sending the blue and white energy to the blade’s tip. Before the creature could use whatever attack it was preparing I slashed forward through the air, pulling my blade up as I did, and the gathered energy shot out in a long, thin line. The energy ripped through the sky, cutting through clouds and slicing through the creature’s flesh. I flipped the blade around in my hand and drove the point into the soft ground. For a second, nothing happened. Then the top half of the creature’s body shift to the left and fell forward, leaving its lower half in the perfect line my attacked had punched through it. The creature’s torso crashed to the ground, disintegrating into a gush of fowl, black liquid that drenched the ground under the scar. As the creature’s body melted away, the scar shattered from the bottom up, disappeared to leave only the clear blue sky behind it. In front of me, the sword shimmered once and vanished. A silence too long to be comfortable settled in.
“What just….” Crenshaw started.
“We are leaving, now,” Avalar said. His metal arm groaned as his gauntleted hand snaked out and latched onto my collar. The battle lust that I didn’t even know I had drained from my body and was instantly replaced by fear and confusion. My brain tried to shift through and make meaning of the slough of new words the two men had used: Order, Nature, Chaos, Balance. A second tug on my collar from Avalar sent the words tumbling from my brain and a fresh wave of fear up my spine.
“Let me go,” I whined, groping out blindly for the sword that I knew wasn’t there. I closed my eyes and tried to search my body for the odd spark of energy that had summoned it in the first place.
“Even if you still had your sword it would be useless to struggle. Balance and Order go hand in hand. A Blade of Balance cannot harm a being of Order just like an Object of Order cannot harm a being of Balance.” A third tug jerked me forward off my feet and my head cracked into Avalar’s breastplate. “But considering I can knock you around you mustn’t be a being of Balance.” Avalar said, helping me to get my footing. He put his free hand on my shoulder, using pressure to steady my shaking legs and spun me to face him. “Now come, you must stand before the Council.”
“The Council?” I asked.
“You can’t be serious Avalar,” Crenshaw said, stepping forward. His afro bounced atop his head and he straightened his glasses. Beads of sweat had run dirty streaks down his forehead and his eyes were bloodshot.
“He used a Blade of Balance and was able to harness Order, he must stand before the Council and be judged,” Avalar said.
“We don’t even know what he is, taking him before the Council could tear him apart,” Crenshaw said.
“I’m human,” I said, thinking it was an appropriate response.
“No you’re not,” Crenshaw and Avalar said at the same time.
“What is happening?” I asked in a pleading voice. My head throbbed but why I did not know. I had been knocked unconscious twice, cracked my head on a breastplate and been thrown into a situation that made no sense, any of which could cause a blinding headache.
“All will become clear once you stand trial. Before any decision can be made we must decide what your presence is doing to the Order of the world,” Avalar said.
“But he destroyed the giant,” Crenshaw said, placing his hands on his hips.
“And he could be the reason the Chaos Rift opened up in the first place,” Avalar barked back. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, blue pill. He dropped the pill on the ground and stepped on it. A crack raced across the ground from under Avalar’s foot, working its way five feet down the asphalt road. Once it was five feet away, the crack broke into two, tracing a perfect circle in the pavement. Blue light gushed through the cracks in the ground and the five foot circle of black ground inside the circle shifted and rose slightly in the air. The blue light shone brightly around the circle, completely engulfing it.
“I didn’t open a Rift,” I stammered.
“Not on purpose,” Avalar said in soft, calming voice. He shifted his harsh grasp on my collar to a soft hand on my shoulder and once again turned me to face him. “I’m sorry I have to do this but I have to make sure that you are not the cause of that Rift. The only thing I can promise you is that if you come with me peaceably, you will get the answer to any questions you ask prior to your trial. If I have to take you by force I can offer no such solace.” My eyes shifted from the man’s rugged face to the sword that hung at his belt. I flexed my hand, searching for the power that had summed the blade moments ago but again found nothing.
“I don’t think you’re going to be able to summon the blade again without a little training,” Crenshaw said, stepping up next to me. He laid a hand on my shoulder. “You’re best choice right now is to just go with us kid. I know this is a lot to take in right now but I’ll make sure nothing happens to you, I promise.” I gave Avalar one last look and took a deep breath as Crenshaw led me into the shining pillar of blue light.