Desmond Tiny scowled impatiently, his short but slender fingers dancing across the strings connected to the past, present, and future. Clinging to these strings were the fates of unnumbered, unnamed souls, stories twisted and luck tested as their lives were almost carelessly altered by Destiny's whims. Unlikely coincidences, odd timing, brief encounters – small, simple matters that changed one's life… These were the subtle opportunities that Destiny was most fond of.
Anyone with the misfortune to meet the tiny man would just assume that he would pleasantly pop in when an ugly situation just happened to happen, as if he had nothing better to do. Like that one time he was found sipping tea while bullets flew over his head World War II, or warming his chilled feet by the fire that had blazed across Europe that was caused by a cow kicking over an oven. No one ever assumed that Destiny had spent hours, days, months, and even years shuffling through millions of different outcomes, carefully picking the ones that would lead to Germany's severe economic depression, or someone accidentally hitting a certain restless farm animal with a milk bucket. No, people just assumed that he just happened to be there at a particular time at a specific place. It actually disappointed him that no one ever bothered to ask. He would have liked to brag about his genius and hard work.
Unfortunately, he couldn't just go around spreading chaos and mayhem willy-nilly. No, no, no. There were rules and limits that even Destiny had to follow. Rules and limits that ensured that the balance of the dimensions stayed stabilized… Laws that, if broken, would result in the current figure of Destiny being discarded and replaced by one of the many scrambling to take his place. Laws that would wipe the very memory of his existence off the face of the realm of existing.
And so, to ensure that the eradication of his existence wouldn't take place, Destiny never acted with so much arrogance as to break the rules and limits. He only… bent them. Never broke them.
At least, not until now.
"You have acted as a fool."
Desmond tried not to let the irritation flash onto his face as he continued to artfully manipulate the delicate strings. It had been a long time since someone had called him an idiot, or had talked to someone powerful enough to have the nerve to say so.
"I might have. And I might have not. It really depends on your point of view. What was that human saying? Look at your glass half full?"
"Cease your meaningless words," it hissed angrily, a presence pulsing against Desmond, a slight frost creeping towards him. "There is no time waste… You have, on many accounts, infringed upon our laws. It is a miracle you have yet to be punished. But now you have meddled far too deep for far too long. Not only have you changed the courses of Darren Shan and Steve Leonard. You have deliberately altered the courses of those they associated and are involved with to an unforgivable degree. You have created a misbalance."
"Oh dear. That does indeed seem to be a problem." Desmond sighed, finally placing the strings down. After a moment he began tapping his finger against his chin thoughtfully, as if he was musing about the weather. "Well, how about this. I go and fix this little problem by balancing things out. As much as I loathe it, stop planning the next civil war? Or perhaps present the cure for cancer?"
"You know the retribution you must pay."
"And yet you won't enforce it on me."
The seeping cold spread at a faster rate. "What makes you come to that conclusion, cousin dearest?"
Desmond laughed, his eyes cold. "You would have simply killed me on the spot, but yet here I am."
There was a pause. However, the chill slightly receded. "Your insolence knows no bounds."
"And you're still here. So you must have something in mind. I don't believe you'd dropped by just to say hello in quite some time."
"You are held in quite a high esteem among us… It has been decided that you will face a… different atonement."
Desmond placed his hand on his chest. "I'm touched, truly."
"You are mistaken if you believe your judgment will be lightened," the presence jeered. It immediately returned to its former stoic tone, as if embarrassed that it had shown emotion. "It would be disappointing if Desmond Tiny were to disappear in such an unspectacular manner, and that would hold very little satisfaction. The method I devised –" (Desmond could hear a slight overtone of pride) "–will be much more entertaining for us, I ensure you."
"Wonderful. I did always want to go out with a bang."
The presence seemed to grow restless because it couldn't provoke a satisfying reaction. Tendrils of a substance with a darkish hue began to curdle around Desmond, slowly swallowing his body from view. "You're curious, aren't you? Hm…? No?" The presence continued to seep until only the small man's eyes were peering through the cocoon of oppressing smoke. "Well, you are quite fond of human sayings, are you not? A free hint: What comes around, goes around…"
Desmond clutched his head… It felt odd… A pounding sensation… Is this what humans called a headache? It was… uncomfortable, to say the least. He closed his eyes – everything was a blur. Spinning. Blurry and spinning... He realized he was sitting. Sitting on what? Carpet? He tried to stand, but ended up falling in a clumsy heap.
All of his limbs felt sluggish. Restrained. As if he was on sedatives. Simple movements that had been done with impossibly nimble reflexes were now a struggle to complete. He forced himself to open his eyes… He squinted.
His mind, once filled with an uncountable number of thoughts flitting through his brain – calculations, plans… Once processed at inhuman rates are now filtered to small, abstract ideas… How had his mental capacities deteriorated to such a state? Not only the state of his mind, but his senses… His sight, sense of touch, smell, feel, and even taste felt so extremely insignificant… Frustrating. It was too frustrating.
As Desmond gradually grew conscious of his surroundings, he slowly became aware of an irritating, frantic voice that continued to increase in volume. How annoying. What he wouldn't give to be able to eradicate the source of it with a snap of his fingers… (Which he had attempted, but found that he had a… temporary loss of his abilities.)
"Darren… Oh my God. Oh my God… Snap out of it – There's a huge s-spider. It – it bit Steve and… and he's… He's…"
In front of him stood a frantic Annie and a single unconscious Steve Leonard, still being caressed lovingly by the poisonous fangs of Madam Octa...
Oh, this… This was just too good.
Desmond couldn't help but burst out laughing at the deliciousness of irony.
In the shadows, the scene of a frightened Annie, a dying Steve, and a maniacally giggling Darren Shan was observed by one very perturbed Larten Crepsley.