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The Wandering Benefactor

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA Taking place in Dwayna's Terrater universe, the sometimes genius, sometimes moronic scientist Clarence Atwell recounts a time when he was sent into the past by the dragon-god Atonus, as a means to an end. The means in particular? To assure the survival of a time-traveling drifter who has been subtly affecting moments in the past that are meant to lead up to the present day in which Clarence resides. Faced with a threat he cannot handle alone, Clarence must do whatever is necessary to have this wanderer survive the conflict he is destined to face, lest his entire existence fade into nothingness.

Contains stuff like violence, profanity, and blood in case you're not a fan of those things in the literary form.
Terrater. The world named after one of the deities that helped form it, an entity of incalculable power, whose very existence can either change those who near the planet that shares her moniker or destroy them entirely. I’m but one of many who experienced a change like this in my own right, though mine was quite minimal, all things considered. All I really do is heal a little faster than the average human, comes in handy for the occasional accident, saves a trip to the hospital and all the inconveniences that provides. I could’ve asked for substantially more, but… something about being enhanced by a concept as inexplicable as, well, magic, just rubbed me the wrong way. Not that I have anything against magic in general, just… it isn’t really for me. To be frank, I’m afraid of just how I might react to having too much power. I’ve already done a lot of damage just from the power of my mind alone, I don’t need to add to that.

As for who I am, well, these days I go by Clarence Atwell. Wasn’t my original moniker, once upon a time I went by the name of Michael Tourniquet, but I abandoned that identity long ago. I had to, initially, for my survival. A lot of people were looking for Michael, he had to disappear. That was a life I was forced to abandon, and I needed to fabricate a new name to go with the new existence I’d stumbled into. I chose the name of a dear friend and mentor, one who sacrificed himself for me, after having done everything else he could do for my safety. A friend who gives that much can’t just be forgotten, I refuse to allow that, so I carry his name, and I hope one day to feel I’ve honored him in doing so. As for what brought on all of this, well, that’s another story, but in summation, someone meddled with my brain the day I was born, for years the effects were dormant until I was just starting college, and suddenly I found myself getting top marks, which wouldn’t seem too out of the ordinary until one realizes that I was always doing my best work when I thought I was just daydreaming in the middle of a test or project. Somehow, I was given an irrationally high intellect, but it would only trigger when I went into a subconscious state. What would feel like drifting off to sleep would actually end with me doing something at a productive level that could baffle Mensa. It wasn’t entirely uncontrollable either, I eventually started to figure out how to trigger this state of mind on command, and with the right ambitions in mind I could direct where that intellect was going towards. Essentially, I became the laziest and most undeserving genius in history, and the people who gave me this unexpected little mental gift wanted to capitalize on it, at the cost of… well… I’ve already inferred just how far they were willing to go I think.

In the end, I managed to put a stop to the schemes of my aggressors, alongside another friend who nearly sacrificed everything himself, had I not managed to snatch him away from death’s grasp. He’s a cyborg now, though he adjusted to that impressively well, given the circumstances… but here I am rambling about all of that when I’d said this was in summation. All that really needs to be said is that my friend and I were running and fighting for a long time, and after plentiful bizarre shenanigans, we found refuge in Terrater, welcomed with open arms, and we both managed to even more miraculously find our soul mates along the way. With that you could probably just slap a ‘happily ever after’ on our stories and leave it there, but Fate wasn’t done with me yet, and that’s where this story really begins.

With the unfamiliar pleasantness of freedom and security at my disposal, I was free to make inventions for whatever purpose I so desired. I’d just finished crafting a unique sort of flying apparatus in the fashion of the wings of dragons that frequented the land, and I’d moved on to create a helmet to match. I soon began carrying both of them around with me to continually test out, almost entirely for the fun of it, but one day when I was about to go for another joyful flight test, I felt a sort of… pull… as if something or someone was gripping at my very soul, dragging me from reality itself. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t even think of resisting before I was no longer in my usual plane of existence. Once I got enough wits about me to look around, I saw a plethora of landscapes surround me. It was as if I’d stumbled across a land where every ecosystem could thrive, but rather, this was the home of only one native inhabitant. Standing there before me at the center of all these habitats was a dragon that seemed to give off the full spectrum of color.

Now, Terrater’s dragons tend to only have one associative color, generally tied to their elemental affinity. Only one dragon could possibly display a full rainbow, but at the time, I was a little too taken aback to connect the dots and realize this. The dragon introduced themselves as Atonus, and the utterance of their name was enough to cause a sort of shiver to run through anyone who understood the depth of its meaning. Literally speaking, it meant ‘elemental,’ in the dragon speech, but this inference implied something more, something godly. No surprise there, Atonus is also known by many of this world’s inhabitants as “The Great Dragon,” overseer of the many “elements,” a term I use loosely, as they’re more in line with what one would associate with the classical Greek elements instead of the scientific ones. Still, that’s hardly anything to scoff at, especially as the native spirit dragons of Terrater all had their particular magical abilities directly connected to Atonus, and very few match their power among the vast population of the planet.

The Great Dragon seemed to look me over before commenting that their sister, Terrater, had chosen a good mate for Scarlet… Oh, right, Scarlet’s the name of my wife, I neglected to mention that… I also seemed to gloss over the fact that she’s one of those aforementioned spirit dragons. Plenty to say about all that, but I’ve already spent far too much time on my backstory, what’s important here is that you know just how closely connected all these spirit dragons are with this particular deity (The answer being very). Those connected to spirit dragons through any sort of bond, but especially through a spiritual one like mine and Scarlet’s, are also often within Atonus’ gaze. In this instance, my peculiar sort of intellect and the more conscious wits I’d developed by necessity were being sought out. Atonus was seeking someone with the capacity to assist a person in need, but the real peculiar part of this whole ordeal was that said person needed this help thousands of years ago. In most instances a person in the present day like myself would’ve been a tad late to that party, but Atonus didn’t bend to time’s will the same way the majority of us do. They could make temporal shifts whenever the situation called for it, and this was one of those moments.

A man who had much to do behind the scenes regarding Terrater’s development, from its earliest primitive days, had faced a threat that was beyond him alone, and there was no one in his time who could assist. The man casually went by the name Deon, short for Gideon, but history knew him by a different name, “The Wandering Benefactor,” a temporal drifter who always seemed to pop up whenever there was conflict to be had somewhere, generally when it involved the lineage that became the royalty of the world, the DragonFire family. Despite my relatively short time in Terrater, I was decently aware of this folk hero, he’d even popped up in my time, apparently released from his time-leaping responsibilities in the face of peacetime, and now I was being drafted by a dragon god to assure such a moment even takes place. That’s a pretty weighty responsibility, but Atonus truly believed I had the capacity, and I wasn’t about ready to argue with them. They said they’d place me near the sight of where the confrontation transpired. The identity of the threat that needed to be dealt with? Well, she was a creature from a planet called Vehn, a world that warred with the closely connected planet Vehl. They were as opposite as day and night, Vehn a world of complete order, Vehl one of total chaos. The beings of Vehn were often called Order Angels, and they looked the part, looking very fair and radiant with feathery white wings and the powers of lightning at their disposal. Their Vehl counterparts were, appropriately enough, known as Chaos Demons, with ash-like features, pitch-black wings, and a control over fire. Despite what one might presume, neither side could be really be considered good or evil, merely two philosophical extremes, and I’ve met a number of good Order Angels and Chaos Demons. What I had never encountered for myself though, was an evil Order Angel, despite the fact that I was made perfectly aware they could align themselves with wicked acts as easily as charitable ones. I guess even with the warning the whole concept seemed rather unfathomable. When you’re exposed primarily to an Abrahamic religion for your entire life, you often just assume that angels are an objective force of good beyond all comprehension, but time and again I was reminded that these are not one and the same. To be fair, I shouldn’t have had so much trouble believing that order could be corrupted, if anyone knew that for a fact, it was me. Nonetheless, this was a being that could slaughter hundreds of unprepared humans before they could react, it was no surprise even this one would need assistance.

Atonus proceeded to ask what I would need for the task to be completed, and I merely stood there thinking it over at first… but knowing the sort of obstacle I faced, I knew at least what to ask for, though I wasn’t sure how the dragon would provide it. Now, they did do so, but… I’ll leave the specifics of that for later. Once I had everything I needed, I remembered saying that I’d do my best to maintain the timeline, though I feared the consequences of failure… Atonus merely stated their trust that I would ultimately succeed in assuring my continued existence, before finally sending me back to the mortal realm… several millennia into the past. They’d reminded me of one last thing as well, to avoid interacting with Scarlet while I was outside of my temporal stream. She’d only be away for so long on this crusade, so that simply elevated the level of urgency to complete this mission in a timely matter.

I took a moment to just observe this Terrater from the distant past, perhaps more surprised of its familiarity than the scattered differences. Sure, the structures were different, many of them doomed to be destroyed in a far more outreaching conflict, and the familiar trees were naturally either far smaller or non-existent, but the place hardly looked like a land I would presume existed thousands of years ago, not by any stretch of the imagination… Of course, I was looking at it from an Earthling’s perspective. I had to remember just how massive a civilization it really was under Orn’s rule. It was clear to me that was hardly just some romanticized historical fluff. I could only gawk for so long of course, there was work to be done, I had to find some time-shifting cowboy in this massive place, and that was going to be the easiest part of the whole ordeal. To further assure I wasn’t spotted by anyone who would only come to know me in the present, I took off my flight pack and pulled out the dragon-shaped helmet which I had attached to it, fastening it on to cover my facial features as I began my search. The question ultimately came down to ‘where would a guy from the old west most likely be found?’, and I found the answer of course, in the nearest tavern. Not so strange, but what was strange was the lack of, well… anyone else. The place was barren, there wasn’t even a bartender, Deon was just pouring his own drinks, with a pile of silvers on the table to pay off a tab that only he was keeping track of. It occurred to me then that… well… the bar wasn’t the only place that was lacking in a population. The entirety of Central Park and its surrounding area was devoid of people. Considering the ludicrous number of people who made Terrater their home, this seemed… fishy, to put it lightly.

I was about to turn back and make sure I wasn’t just being deluded when I heard a glass clang against the table behind me. I turned around to see Deon was now approaching me, stoic as ever, but there was an uncertainty to him. I can’t fully describe it, but, his eyes just seemed to twitch a little, as if he were either hiding something that ate away at him… or he’d had too much to drink and the only thing eating away at him was the liquor. Either way, I froze still as he approached, unsure just what to think at this point. He glared at me for a few seconds, an eyebrow raised as he tried to make sense of who I was and what I was doing here.

“Kid, you know this area ain’t safe at the moment for civilian-types, don’t ya?” he finally said, his voice gravelly yet comprehensible.

“Ah… I’m afraid I didn’t quite get the memo, sir… I’m sorry,” I murmured, glad that my face was covered up because I had to have looked pretty pathetic, quivering as this inebriated frontiersman continued to glare at me with the accompanying inquisitive brow-raise. I didn’t even bother to correct him that I wasn’t and haven’t been a ‘kid’ for some time, but I figured it had to have been more a matter of perspective to him. This guy had been roaming Terrater and Draconia for eons upon eons. As far as he was concerned, probably every unfamiliar face belonged to a kid just by relative length of existence.

“Ain’t no memo goin’ ‘round… I reckon you must’a not heard the warnin’ from earlier. Reckon it’s mighty strange no one told ya, nor the fact you didn’t have the common sense to just follow the panickin’ screamin’ folk out… Guess I ought’a lay out the facts for ya so you can skip town ‘fore you get blasted off the face’a the earth…” He turned around and motioned for me to follow him back into the barroom, which I hesitantly obliged to do.

“Interestin’ little helmet you got there by the way, what did you pick it up at a market or somethin’ an’ just had to start wearin’ it around? Ain’t the time or place to think you’re a warrior, all’a them are outta town right about now, you’ll only get yourself in a heap’a trouble pretendin’ to be one’a them,” Deon quipped as he moved behind the bar and motioned for me to take a seat at one of the stools. I did so, furthermore removing my helmet, perhaps just a slight bit peeved at his scathing comments toward my craftsmanship.

“I didn’t buy this off anyone, I made it myself,” I said to correct him, though I couldn’t defend myself regarding the part about not being a warrior. Pretty much the truth of the matter there, I definitely wasn’t such a thing.

“So, you’re a blacksmith in trainin’ then? Tryin’ to impress ol’ Meren I’ll bet… She won’t be impressed by nothin’ if you get killed,” he said as he grabbed one of the remaining bottles of whisky and poured himself a glass, quickly downing it before pouring one for me as well, which I… respectably declined.

“Yes, you’ve implied something dangerous lurking around here quite clearly now… I’m assuming this is the tyrannical order angel’s doing?” Now that I’d shoved away some of my initial timidity, I figured it was about time I get straight to the point.

“…Yeah, ‘course it is, kid. With all the crazy magic goin’ on in this world, you think there’d be a massive evacuation just on account’a anythin’? Takes a real menace to scare these people off, and that’s exactly what we got… that’s exactly what I gotta deal with I reckon… I saw her once already, when she gave her warnin’… and zapped a whole bunch’a poor innocent bastards who got too close. She made an example outta them, said she’d do the same to anyone who challenged her claim to the area. Said she was gonna force the King to rule with the iron fist the world needed, and he’d know it once he returned to see her havin’ so easily dominated a fraction of his land. All a bunch’a hogwash, but lord knows what kinda damage she’ll do if she gets to that point… I’ve seen conflicts, battles, wars, usually I’m just driftin’ in an’ out an’ dealin’ with a few outlyin’ problems, easy goin’… but this one… She’s nothin’ like what I’ve dealt with before… It’s like I’m fightin’ a heavenly angel’a God, ready to smite me to Hell… but I gotta do it, I gotta stop this thing… It’s… what I do…”

I didn’t expect to get all that out of him upon simply bringing up the order angel, but, evidently, it had been plaguing at Deon’s mind pretty badly, likely he just saw an opportunity to vent out his concerns and he took it. It was strange hearing him speak so helplessly. All the legends claimed he was always cool, confident and level-headed. Guess they didn’t account for the entirety of his life story… Bizarre circumstances aside, he was, as a matter of fact, still human.

“You don’t have to do it alone at least,” I ended up saying without even thinking, as if Atonus themselves had just fed me my lines. Deon looked over at me in befuddlement, looking unsure if he was supposed to laugh at such a claim.

“Kid, if you’re tryin’ to infer you’re gonna be of any help, I reckon you might take this the wrong way, but, I haven’t seen you in action, you might just be a liability, there’s no point in riskin’ some overambitious fella getting’ zapped to oblivion just ‘cause he thinks he could gimme a few extra seconds of backup.”

It was hard for me to take that the wrong way when I wasn’t even confident that I was the right man for the job. He made a reasonable argument, from his perspective I was just some stranger who didn’t know the level of danger I was in by still being in this side of town. But I couldn’t simply stand idly by and have him believing that. Otherwise this whole thing was going to blow up in my face… and then reality would follow suit.

I pulled out the electric shield that Atonus had given me, and showed it to Deon, the one bit of proof I had that I felt would convince him of my capability. Oh, by the way, now's a good time to finally clarify this... Upon my requesting of something that could nullify such dangerous levels of electrical energy, Atonus granted me this yellow, diamond-shaped device, something that, when under one's possession, could have them instantly repel such an element. Absolute game-changer when you're facing someone whose entire theme is essentially holy-lightning. “You recognize this I bet… Looks familiar? If the gods of Terrater had anything to do with your presence throughout its history, you must know a gift from one of them when you see it.”

Deon glanced at the relic with a newfound sense of intrigue on his face. I could see the gears turning in his head, his familiarity with how the diamond shaped object looked like a piece of a prevalent holy symbol he’d seen plenty of times in the past.

“…What the hell… Kid, you didn’t go robbin’ this from some priest or somethin’, did ya?” Okay, clearly, he still wasn’t entirely convinced, but I chalked that up simply to his disbelief over what was staring him right in the face. He’d come around one way or another.

“I’m not a thief, certainly wouldn’t do something this particularly blasphemous. Even if I lacked the morality, there’d be no practicality in stealing something from an entity that could probably zap me into oblivion whenever they pleased.” My logic seemed to overtake his cynicism, finally, but he still didn’t look too much more confident. If anything, I think I saw a further shade of grief manifest on his face, likely on account of him having to bring someone else into the mix. Still, to his credit, he never insisted that I stay behind from that point on.

“…I think it’s ‘bout time you gimme the lowdown on who you really are, kid…” Deon quietly said, motioning over to a booth away from the barroom for us to both sit down more comfortably, as to hear my entire story. I explained to him what Atonus had told me, that the dragon deity was well-aware of the threat this angel faced, and that they were willing to give Deon some extra assistance, from a future where he was ultimately successful. If that future were to remain a reality, we had to win this fight, for the sake of what was seen by many to be an ideal outcome for the planet. Despite this being the most comparatively preposterous explanation yet, he was far more accepting of this than he was before. That trinket from Atonus was an argument-killer.

“So… You come from the future then… Would explain why you were really coverin’ up your face an’ all this whole time… So… If you don’t mind me askin’, kid… We both know the bigger-picture reason for this little showdown to go our way, but… ‘side from your life, what’ve you got bankin’ on this success? I mean, personally?” I didn’t expect that question, I won’t lie. Deon didn’t exactly come across as a highly empathetic fellow, and here he was asking why I was willing to risk my neck for the future I hailed from. I wasn’t sure what to tell him at first, if I should even tell him anything at all, but considering we were both men out of time, I figured there’d be little risk of paradox to at least give him a sincere answer.

“Well, I’ll admit, most of my recent life hasn’t been the greatest… In fact, before arriving on Terrater, you could say I’ve lived a goddamn nightmare, and I wasn’t waking up... but the final outcome… well it’s been greater than I could ever imagine, far better than what I feel I’ve deserved to get there, but nonetheless, I was finally blessed after years of curses. See… I have a soulmate apparently…”

“Soulmate? You’re… hitched to a dragon?” That seemed to really shock him, I assume it was because he probably only really associated with one other human soul-bound to a dragon, and she was, well… the queen.

“Yeah… I was just as surprised as you are. I mean, I thought Scarlet was a lovely lady from the first time I met her, but I never would’ve predicted it could’ve been meant to be…”

“IXEN? You’re bound to General goddamn Ixen… Christ, kid. I thought the helmet was familiar but… look, don’t take this the wrong way but you don’t exactly look to be the general’s type, y’know?” Oh, I knew, others had thought the same thing, even if they didn’t openly express it, I could usually tell from the look of astonishment when they found out we were mates. Funny enough, in contrast, it’s one of the few things I’m absolutely sure of.

“Guess it just goes to show looks aren’t everything,” I said calmly before I felt a hollowing feeling strike at my chest. Mentioning Scarlet this much was making me feel the distance in our bond, separated by time and space. “I’ve spent so long, feeling unsafe, looking over my shoulder, waiting for something to jump at me and end it all before I could even blink. I figured that would be my end, inevitably, even with a close friend by my side. I knew there was no guarantee for survival, no guarantee that I’d see the next day… until Scarlet entered my life. I’ve never felt safer; never felt more like I could take the risks I’d have turned away from before. She’s made me feel like a complete person, not some broken, paranoid bastard afraid that the world was out to get him… even if that last part was somewhat justified. Her fire is the greatest motivator I could ever ask for, and I would do anything to assure that nothing got in the way of our bond. I know I risk death, tagging along with you in this fight, but I’m not backing down. I’m fighting for the one I love more than anything in this realm of existence, and I’ll stare into the abyss of every Hell imaginable to win that fight. For her, the opposition could be the universe itself. I’d take my microscopic odds and let it ride.”

Deon looked down, gave a slight “Hmm…” before looking back up to me with a look of greater understanding.

“You got somethin’ to hold onto… Nothin’ better to have when havin’ to do-or-die. I’ve got my own reason… Less on account’a love I guess you could say… but ever since I saved a hatchlin’ dragon in that ancient Draconia, ever since I really understood what it was like to protect someone, and to give ‘em your allegiance, your promise… I’ve pulled through some dark patches in this temporal little journey… If only to assure that little fella his life would really mean somethin’ in the end.” So it wasn’t just because a dragon god told him to. I mean, that makes sense, the guy probably would’ve just dropped his guns and let someone do him in long ago if he didn’t have personal motivation. Still, it was so peculiar, the Wandering Benefactor himself just casually talking about how he once saved a dragon from many millennia. Even to him that had to have felt like centuries by this point. Guess when you hold onto something and your mind stays healthy, it can weather through the years with the proper determination.

Our chat came to an end there, Deon getting up and motioning for me to follow him out of the abandoned watering hole. “Nothin’ else for it, I’ve held back long enough, an’ at least now I reckon I got an ace up my sleeve… better get ourselves ready, don’t wanna be rusty for this little shindig…”

We made our way to an opening in the park, a circle of grass and dirt in the middle of a well-forested area. It reminded me of a creek I used to frequent in my youth, had a very similar grass patch surrounded by trees. Funny enough I used to sometimes imagine having epic battles in that spot… At that point something clicked in my mind, a risky move perhaps, but it felt like the kind of risk worth taking.

“Deon, maybe one of my gadgets could come in handy?” I inquired, pulling off my flight pack and handing it over to him. He glanced at it inquisitively, but didn’t immediately shoot down the offer, so I continued. “See, I’m worked out a means of flight; true, wing-powered flight, for wingless humanoids. Essentially, I worked out schematics for dragon wings and made a device capable of simulating their moments and propulsion through the air with the utmost accuracy.”

“Huh… Well, that’d at least solve the problem’a leverage if I could stay on her level the whole time… We’ll see if I can handle this contraption without eatin’ too much dirt…” he said, slinging the device onto his back. From there I began to instruct the intricacies of both the flight pack itself and the nature of flying in general, giving him pointers of which I could recall from the lessons Scarlet had given me when I first tested it out. I needed my hand-me-down knowledge to be as on-point as possible since we only had the rest of the day to get this right. Deon didn’t want to wait any longer. Thankfully, whether it be my hidden talents as an instructor, the fact that I’d worked all the kinks out of the machine, Deon’s phenomenal adaptability, or some combination of the three, he took to flight like a champ. After a few hours he was not only keeping himself in the air and landing gracefully, but he had the maneuverability down as well.

“This is amazing! You’re starting to look like you’ve had wings all your life,” I said to him, and he merely gave a humble sort of chuckle.

“Nope, just been preparin’ for ‘em… namely a more feathery kind with a halo to match… or a pair’a horns, hell if I know anymore.”

As dusk fell, we’d taken a break for a moment, rested a little, but really, there was nothing else either of us could do, it was time to bring this whole thing to a head.

“Alright… Angel! I know you can hear me!” Deon shouted loudly into the air, drawing his rifle. I could hear the slight wobble in his voice. He was still terrified, but he was doing his best to hide it. I think there was more reason to that than just his personal fear as well… Despite the fact that most of the town had been evacuated, I could feel the eyes of onlookers hiding away somewhere, like they knew this was the one chance they might have in their lifetimes to see this hero of legend, and that it was worth risking their necks to get that opportunity. Eventually a harsh light began to emanate from the north side of the forest, and truly like a heavenly revelation, the Order Angel descended from the sky, wings outstretched as lightning began to crackle all around. She may have had no knowledge of Christian doctrine, but it still felt like she was emulating the rapture, and we were the damned souls left to be punished.

“You still insist to stand in the way of true peace, human… I had hoped you would have taken this time to realize your flawed morals and repent. I had assumed far too much of you then.” The Angel’s voice was jarringly human sounding despite all the theatrics. Maybe that was just the translator at work, or maybe it was just the glimpse of truth showing, that this being was far from a truly divine force.

“You assume I’m just gonna look the other way while you go about ruinin’ the lives of these people… for some delusional greater good that no one believes in but you. You ain’t got any right to blabber about flawed morals. Slippin’ in your little act’a terrorizin’ while all the knights and soldiers are away, and still talkin’ like you’ve got some honorable high ground over the rest of us. I’ve never seen such a two-faced, delusional wreck. So, if I disappointed you, Miss, then I reckon I must be doin’ somethin’ right, ‘cause you couldn’t be more in the wrong.” If Deon was still afraid, that speech alone made it evident that he wasn’t going to let that fear hold him back. The angel was not happy with the response, as if I even had to explain that.

“I am an opportunist. Fate grants me a moment to act, and I take it, for the sake of the Order that this world so desperately needs!” Electricity began arcing more visibly around her wings as she raised her voice.

“The sake’a Order… See, it’s bad enough you’re thinkin’ Fate was giftin’ you anythin’ like what you thought, but to think you’re doin’ this ‘cause it’ll bring order? You forcefully drove most’a these people out through fear, you snuck in this attack while the soldiers were away, all underhanded-like. Maybe your account’a Order’s different from how I see it, but this whole thing reeks of Chaos to me.” He still sounded pretty intense with his accusations, but I could catch a light smirk beginning to form at the side of his lips at that last remark, and from the angel’s reaction, I could see why.

“You dare accuse me of being an agent of chaos like a filthy creature of Vehl… and as a piddling human, a mortal insect no less… I have shown you far more mercy than you rightfully deserve. The time is nigh for me to squash a bug.” In an instant after she spoke, the electricity began to grow so intense that I could feel every hair on my arms and legs stand up on end. A long broadsword manifested from the angel’s hands. Just as suddenly, a massive bolt of lightning jettisoned from her hand towards Deon, looking to fry him in one single strike.

Atonus be praised I guess, because the lightning couldn’t even reach that old cowboy. It all just bounced off of him like a laser on a mirror. The angel looked absolutely baffled, and let’s just say, that expression was definitely unbefitting of the sort of presence she was giving off. If there needed to be any further proof this was a fallible being, that was the damning evidence.

Deon activated the flight pack, the mechanical dragon wings jetting out in an instant, and shot up into the air, firing his rifle as he aimed to take advantage of the angel letting her guard down. Sure enough, she managed to get hit by a few shots, the bullets punching luminescent white light from her body, the closest thing to ‘bleeding’ that one of these beings could do. It wasn’t going to be enough of course, not for her kind’s resilience, and she inevitably moved in to counterattack, her sword slashing at Deon in lightning-fast movements. He dodged some of them with impressive swiftness, but he couldn’t avoid them all, small streaks of blood raining down to the surface as the sword sliced marks into his face and arms. He seemed to be forcing her to hit non-vital regions, knowing he couldn’t avoid every attack, merely focusing on keeping himself from risking a bleed-out.

Eventually he spotted an opening, lunging forward and slamming the back of his rifle down hard against the angel’s face, the blunt force sending her careening for the ground. She managed to steady herself, but Deon hadn’t stopped to watch, descending down the path she had fallen, forcing her to hit the surface with a well-placed kick in the same spot his last attack had made its mark, like a glowing white bullseye. Pulling out a pistol he looked about ready to take one last shot to end this ordeal quickly, but even after the major blow, the angel wasn’t entirely vulnerable, rising up kicking Deon with enough force to launch him several meters off, knocking him against a tree. I could hear the snapping of bones at the impact. He’d taken a little more than just a few bruises that time… and indeed, he was slow to get up, still on his knees when the angel looked about ready to make a finishing move of her own, picking her sword back up and looking over at her opponent with a level of fury I have yet to see equaled from anyone, and trust me when I say I have seen plenty of fury in my own experience…

I didn’t know how this would transpire, but I couldn’t just stand there and wait, this could be the end of it, and then it’d mean my future would be gone for good… I couldn’t play spectator any longer with those consequences. Deon’s pistol was still back where he’d initially drawn it, and the angel seemed to only care about where he presently was… Without thinking any further about it, I ran towards the gun, feeling like a tortoise trapped in a battleground meant for cheetahs. Somehow, I reached the pistol, but as I cocked it and went to take aim… the angel had me by the throat with her sword ready to impale me. I thought of Scarlet then… my mind firmly set on an apology to her that I would never be able to give…

Then I felt myself being dropped… no blade in my chest, no fatal wounds… Deon had somehow soldiered through his pain, sped towards the angel and tossed her over his shoulders back into the ground, disarming her once more. I could barely comprehend that I was still alive before the two had proceeded to turn their duel into one of unarmed combat, launching fists, feet, shoulders, elbows… every sort of violent physical strike that could come to mind. There was no elegance, no strategy, it had all gone by the wayside in this final round to decide whose life had reached its final, destructive page.

I don’t know how many minutes passed… Might have been hours, might have only been a few seconds more even, time didn’t seem to perceivable anymore. All I know is that by the end of it, in that flurry of deep-red blood and bright-white lifeforce, eventually the angel collapsed first… Deon, slumping forward on his knees, seemed to mutter something I couldn’t hear, and the angel appeared to weakly respond. Whatever was said in their last exchange, it culminated in him merely reaching down and promptly breaking the angel’s neck. Her body seemed to be awash with white for a moment after, and then, just like that, she was simply no more.

Deon hardly looked triumphant in his victory, he merely stayed where he was, solemn, silent, maybe even mournful in a way… Those who had watched from a distance seemed to silently converge, and I imagine one with healing powers had hastened their way over to Deon’s side, but I could never tell for sure, as my time in the past had come to an end, and in a void of indiscernibility I felt the years fly past me until I was in a present day of some sort… I still wasn’t sure if it was my own, not until I felt the strength of my bond nearly overwhelm me, and soon after, I’d found myself in Scarlet’s loving embrace.

Mission complete then… I’d done my part, Deon had emerged victorious and our timeline could continue its existence. I’d found out he had something of a fear of angels since that day, hard to blame him when he had to go through what I’d witnessed… but on the plus-side, I hear talk that a particularly kindly and tolerant order angel has been working with him to conquer that fear. News has been making its rounds lately that he’s gotten into a relationship with Dames Meren and Aria as well. Things have worked out for him, fortunately… and through all those years, he managed to get me back my flight pack as well, not too worse for wear either. Inspiring just what lengths this Wandering Benefactor goes to for people sometimes… He could’ve easily just let himself disappear somewhere, or reaped the benefits of his reputation in a more self-entitled fashion, but no, he’s lived up to his name, even returned the electric shield to Atonus just to wrap everything up in a nice little bow.

I haven’t really spoken to him much at length since that day, guess I don’t really know what I’d say to him… or maybe I just feel concerned that a conversation will just reignite the traumas of that time. I mean, that’s probably some misplaced concerns… Likely I’ll catch up with him someday, but for now, I suppose I should consider myself fortunate… Fortunate to have made it through yet another adventure in my life with an outcome that seemed far from certain, and making it out okay when all was said and done… Got to see a legend in action to boot, though I doubt most people would believe me if I said I had a part in it… but eh, can’t say I need any validation. I know what I saw, and it’ll definitely be sticking with me, no matter how many eons come and go for me the old-fashioned way. After all, in its way, it was the moment that gifted all the moments that came after, and the ones still to come.