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J Hart F

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Changed Earth (Part 12)

"Oh come now, Diodoros. This is a moment for celebration. Don't look at me with such disgust and anger."

Ethan couldn't move. The man before him was a vision from the past lost ages ago. Everything about him was the same, but with a slight difference: bright blue eyes, curly blond hair, fair skin stretched over a round face with strong cheekbones; but there was a hint of flame coursing through every feature, circling every strand of hair, glowing in every pore of his face. Akakios had become the physical manifestation of Helios. Slowly, it all sank in as Akakios started walking in a wide arc around his brother.

"What have you done?" Ethan asked with trepidation.

The laugh was filled with mirth. "But asked for a gift and was granted endlessness!" His joy brightened the area, revealing more of the darkness in the clouds behind him. The wind naturally picked up and created a vicious torrent of blackened clouds just beyond their protected space. "Much the same way as you, Diodoros."

Ethan snapped back into himself. "I left that name behind me long ago."

The smile that faced Ethan was full of malicious intent. "Forgive me, Elder Ethan Adair."

"And I never asked for" Ethan took a step in the other direction, circling around to a better protected stance.

Without a noticeable change in posture, relaxed in his steps, Akakios' smile broadened and filled his eyes with anticipation. "There we go! Now we're ready. Ha ha ha!!!" The air started warming.

Another step showed the ground to be unstable, sinking into the marsh of a land covered by miles of snow suddenly brought to a melting point. Ethan focused half his thoughts to solidifying the ground so they could walk on it, and thought twice about it. Modifying his spell, he made it so the area he walked on would be solid while Akakios' would still be marshy. A mere second had passed as the echo of Akakios' laugh died away. Ethan spoke calmly, "We don't have to fight, brother. Societies have coexisted peacefully, and in harmony at times. Our two societies will need each other in the end, and I know you understand this."

"Your sentiments are startlingly simple minded. It's a shame I don't share them," he said sarcastically. "But I don't care to share a world with a betrayer of humanity. You know what I ask, and as long as you forbid my easy access to Antoni I will forever be at war with you."

There was no warning: Akakios continued smiling through his aura of internal light, stepping lightly through the muddles snow, and a whip of flame cracked around Ethan's body. The heat of the attack set of his protective instincts and a thin layer of stone materialized for a second to ward off the fire. He tried to show no surprise.

"Your eyes betray you," Akakios said with glee. "Not prepared for an equal on the battlefield?"

Ethan continued mirroring his brother's motions as he replied, "I have always seen you as an equal. We have simply taken matters in different stride, and at times this has led to different strengths."

"You can be frank with me." His smile had disappeared along with the touch of happiness in his eyes. Steam billowed where his feet touched the dirty water.

"Have I any reason to lie to you? What benefit would it suit me now?" A burst of flame ignited around Ethan's head. The instant it appeared, a shield formed to protect him. "Akakios... What do you expect of me?"

The difference in his smile was vibrant. The one before was actually happy, enthusiastic about what lay ahead. This new smile was sharp, dangerous, and malicious. "I want you and your pathetic gathering of impudent scum to be punished for its failures and crimes against humanity. I want justice for the circumstances we must struggle through, and I will create the perfect justice for everyone involved!"

Ethan's heart sank, even through his excitement at the impending confrontation. "Are you really so shortsighted?" Akakios' eyes narrowed. "Is there nothing but destruction and the need for power on your mind? Do you so distressingly adhere to the one sided thought process you have unerringly taken to the events that have placed us here?"


"No. This isn't enough! You have forgotten everything our father has taught us. You have neglected your own mind for the chance to be something out of your reach! Gaia will not stand for your actions, she will not help you beyond today because you have forsaken Her trust in the path to redemption."

"I don't need Her!" He stopped walking and stood squarely toward Ethan, one hand twisted in a claw holding flame while the other pointed two fingers at the ground; from which a small swirling tornado danced. "This land has always ever needed Helios to survive. Without His giving essence, nature would never have flourished and change would be left on the wayside. Science would have been stagnant and our world would be left in a primordial soup. Gaia couldn't push forward such enhancements to cellular evolution. It is He who holds my devotion!"

Ethan stowed away his emotions and hardened himself to fight his last remaining relative. "You are an abomination to our society, and I hereby strip your title as Elder to all who have followed you." The words came from his mouth, but they were not his own. His very voice had changed to a melody of harmonic intonation. Gaia had spoken.

Akakios' eyes shot open at the sound. "She," he sputtered in rage. "How can She speak from you!"

"She is with me, always."

Flame shot our of Akakios' outstretched hand in bursts meant to overtake Ethan. He was ready, as Gaia's presence stood with him. Walls of earth and stone erected themselves before Ethan as he evaded the onslaught. The wind shifted, caught in updrafts of heat generated from Akakios' attack. Billows of smoke broke through the protective barrier in random places. Lightening struck somewhere to Ethan's left and the resounding boom shattered his hearing.

Then the deepened sound of a flickering roar filtered through the clouds. The air heated instantly and all the remaining snow melted instantly and began evaporating, pushing all the black smoke up into the higher atmosphere. Ethan pushed one of the blocks of earth down with his mind and looked with a solid mind and heart at a growing tornado of pure fire.

Red, orange, and yellow flames tangled together in a tight vortex, pushing and heaving upward at the coaxing of Akakios' movements. His eyes were intent and flaming with aggression. His body seemed engulfed in the same fire as the sun, spots of darkness moving slowly over his body. The heat intensified and a familiar whisper entered Ethan's mind.

You must stop this, now. Use the elements at your will! He has only one. Use his against him!

An idea struck so hard Ethan barely knew what to do. Testing the idea was slower than he would have liked. He felt the fire upon his body, burning the air until it felt like the dry heat of the Sahara. However, Ethan also felt it on another level he didn't realize until prompted by Gaia. The rumbling of the earth below him warmed in his vision: the internal fire of the Earth's core vibrant as the vortex before which he stood.

And he felt its control, felt its chaos, felt its hunger; and he shifted it. There was a struggle in the ownership of the flame, but slowly its essence died away. The tornado released into the air and was replaced by cold air rushing in to take its place.

Akakios wasn't finished. He stepped forward, lit with frustration, hands drawn to each side with an arc of flame moving between them. "You won't manage to stop me so close!" And he threw his first punch.

It landed on Ethan's chest and seared all the way through to his chest. Conjuring water over his body, he cooled the burn and readied parry after parry of the continual thrusts from Akakios. As each fist landed near Ethan's body, the water turned to ice and melted again. Ethan remained on the defense as Akakios pushed him every which way, trying with desperation more than strategy to land hit after hit.

As he began to feel a rhythm to Akakios' swings, Ethan moved his thoughts to conjuring a slab of rock. With little effort, it hurtled at Akakios and caught him square on the shoulder sending him flying to the ground with a grunt. His youthful face contorted in a mixture of pain and blind hatred.

The ground shook. Fissures broke through the earth and ice and an orange glow spread out across the clouds.

"What are you doing?" Ethan called out. "Are you trying to destroy the Earth?"

Akakios didn't respond as he got to his feet. Lava crested in the fissures.

"Akakios. Charles! You must stop." Ethan tried pulling the ground closed again but the pressure was too great.

"I will have your end and Antoni and the others will be defenseless!" he shouted.

"You'll destroy any hope you have of rebuilding this planet! You must stop!" Ethan knew he wasn't listening. Fire licked the air and started burning around the fissures as lava began spreading.

Without thinking, Ethan conjured rain to douse the fire, brought earth and placed it on top of the fissures to slow the seeping; but everything he did was hopeless as the ground cracked further down and all around them. Turning his attention to his brother, he drew up earth and rock around Akakios to encase his body, strengthened the soil with water and ice and made vines grow all throughout the mixture. He squeezed the soil to break his concentration--

and the cocoon exploded in a burst of light. His eyes hadn't changed and his mind was still set on his objective.

Alasia appeared right behind Akakios, her hard set face and drawn features terrified. Ethan prepared for an attack and brought defenses around him, but she looked away and stepped toward her leader and whispered in his ear. Her lips were taught and angry as she spoke to him. And whatever she said broke Akakios' concentration as he turned to look at her, the anger still residing in his eyes.

She said no more and waited. Her face didn't change, her eyes intent with a subdued fury, her body rigid and ready to pounce.

The words that came from Akakios' mouth were tortured, "You lie..."

Alasia didn't move. He turned to face Ethan. "This is your fault!" he raged, taking a step toward his foe.

A sturdy hand restrained him and where it would have burned water vapor flew into the air. "Charles! You can't win without losing everything we have left!"

Ethan waited in silence, watching a careful display of power amongst his enemy, still prepared to defend himself further. He continued trying to peace together the earth that was ravaged by Akakios' rage.

Slowly, Charles calmed. The wind shifted slightly and the air started to clear away the mist and clouds that clung to the area. "This isn't over, Ethan."

In half a second, both Alasia and Charles were gone, leaving Ethan to struggle with his thoughts and adrenaline. His breathing returned to normal after a few minutes, feeling the cold press against his cheeks and wound as his body started shaking . Tears came unabated.

Elder Adair. We can get you home, just stay where you are.

Suddenly, the familiar pull against his stomach brought Ethan back to the sanctuary into the arms of Alexis. He couldn't see the others standing around him, waiting their turn to help in whatever way they could. Ethan simply cried and allowed himself to fall into a fitful darkness that lasted through the entire day.

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