He stood in his customary spot, looking out upon the horizon as always. Every word that had passed his lips he meant, every syllable had carried the promise of the threat, and his actions would show the truth of them.
This isn’t wise kid, you need them, and they need you.
Tyler didn’t want to listen, he didn’t want to be reminded. Too much had been lost already, he’d done his part and it had gotten him nothing but sadness and pain.
Let it go Tyler. There’s more for you to do out there, and these women mean to make it happen. Don’t be a hypocrite man, you’ve done more in the recent past than you’ll admit to.
The voices wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t relent, and wouldn’t cease to hammer at him this time, each one of them coming quicker and making a more definitive point than they ever had. Worse than their mere presence though was the fact that they were right, but he wouldn’t tell them that. In life they’d been his friends, his family, but he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction that they were getting to him. A small curl of his lip indicated his amusement at past events, how they’d lorded over being right when he’d been wrong, though it had been all in play. If they realized what he was thinking now there would be absolutely no end to it.
“I’ve made my decision,” he said quietly to the air, his eyes never wavering from the horizon.
It’s the wrong decision, said the next voice, causing him to look down as the pain of losing her hit him yet again. Our granddaughter is asking for your help, as are the descendants of our friends. It’s your responsibility to take charge and return to the world.
“I won’t,” he growled, not wishing to alienate the spirit of his wife but not wishing to continue this any further, “I gave everything to the world, we gave everything, and nothing came of it. We’re reviled, called betrayers and villains, and nothing’s changed. The Dark is still on the rise and those that try to fend it off are as mistrusting as they are misguided. This world doesn’t need me anymore, and it certainly doesn’t want me.”
Are you certain you’re the same man? The older voice almost made him grin, but the next words didn’t.
The man I knew wouldn’t piss and moan and carry on like this. He’d have already welcomed those young ladies in and done what he could to convince them to stay and make this old world a better place. Might want to look in a mirror sometime soon kid, just to make sure you didn’t swap skins with someone else.
“I have made up my mind,” he growled, “They don’t belong here, and the world is no longer my concern.”
“Maybe it’s you that no longer belongs here,” said an infuriatingly familiar voice, standing far too close for Tyler’s liking as he turned around slowly. Beholding the newest incarnation of the Creator he couldn’t help but snort in derision as he looked upon the face of Joseph Williams, a favored teacher at his old school and a man whom Tyler had looked upon with great respect during his high school years.
The wizened old face of his former coach looked at him with something between frustration and expectation, as though attempting to scold and prepare for trouble at the same time. It was a wise move in Tyler’s estimation, but one that could easily backfire on him at any second. All he had to do was say the wrong word.
Turning to face the Creator fully Tyler squared his shoulders, ready for anything should it come. But instead of looking to fight the divine being stopped only a few feet shy of going nose to nose with Tyler. His dark, rheumy eyes sought to bore into the Champion, perhaps seeking to weaken his resolve. It didn’t work, and wouldn’t so long as the Creator was in his presence.
“These women are here to help Tyler, and you need to let them.”
“I recall the last time you tried to tell me what to do, and it didn’t go over very well.”
The old man’s face pinched slightly as though in annoyance, “That time I didn’t account for what, and who, I was dealing with. I won’t make that mistake again.”
“Then you should walk away now,” Tyler said, “Even if you help them it won’t matter. My mind is made up, and they’ll be leaving soon.”
“Not if I protect them.”
Tyler raised a single eyebrow, hardly surprised by the audacity of the arrogant being. He didn’t truly give a damn what happened so long as the women were removed from his place of serenity. They could wipe the southern portion of the peninsula clear of the hellcats and claim it as their own and he wouldn’t bat an eye. All he cared about was being left alone.
“You’re jumping into the middle of something that doesn’t involve you,” Tyler said, “If you want a repeat of the last time I’d be happy to oblige, but dragging these women into it with you is just shy of being a coward.”
“Tough talk from a boy that runs from his responsibility.”
Tyler shook his head as the barb failed to sink in, wondering just how the Creator had managed to get by this long when he obviously knew little to nothing about the beings that he supposedly lorded over. Be it as it may that the being was responsible for the lot of them it was more akin to an absentee parent than a true caretaker of all races and species. He’d expected a great deal more from a supreme being in his youth, but those illusions had faded greatly throughout the years, and for good reason.
“Help them as much as you like, it won’t make a bit of difference. You’ll fall, they’ll fall, and if I have my way you’ll be exiled from this place as well.”
The Creator went absolutely silent as he glared intently at Tyler, his jaw clenched so firmly shut that Tyler could almost hear the human teeth inside grinding together. Pain meant nothing to this being, it would simply keep coming and coming, utilizing one form after another in order to meet its own ends. Tyler didn’t care, he’d dispense the pain again and again in order to make his point.
“Think this over Tyler,” the Creator said finally, his voice grave and serious, “I will not-“
“Oh go away already!” Tyler snapped, “You’re not telling me anything interesting or new! You want to fall with them? Fine! I’ll knock you down like I did before, and then later you can come back and tell me how much of a fluke it was! You think I asked for this? You think I wanted any of it? NO! I would have rather died along with my friends long ago, with honor! Instead I get to stay here and listen to you, that damned overgrown snake, and anyone else with an opinion tell me how I’m doing it all wrong! I’ve got news for you, I’m sick of it! Take your damned purposes and destinies and cram ‘em where the sun doesn’t shine, I’ve had enough of it!”
The Creator was silent for a moment, the wind passing between them as the fading sunlight glared dully off the bald pate of his assumed form.
“Are you done?”
Tyler glared at the Creator so intensely that he saw the being tense, no doubt readying itself for a blow.
“I’ll be done come morning. I’d advise you to find a new form by then.”
“And why is tha-aah!”
Tyler didn’t give any warning, didn’t even bother to speak as he reached for the power within, finding it came easily to his call as he reached out with one hand, crossing the distance between himself and the Creator in a blink as the snapping and crunching of bone reached his ears. The Creator, or rather its body, slumped and then collapsed as Tyler allowed it to fall, the flesh and blood form fading even as he watched.
“This one’s broken,” he said to the empty air, knowing the Creator could still hear him. Inhaling deeply Tyler looked out to the far horizon again, exhaling into the coming night as he thought of the battle to come.