Wizardquest 3 Part 20: Apotheosis

Chapter 54

               The Avatar of Phallia laughs at your taunt. Given her position, she really has no reason not to laugh- any moment now her Goddesses’ plan may come to fruition. And all that’s standing before her is a group of tired, broken, and battered Wizards and Heroes. Not exactly the best odds for the world.

                Behind you, Tabitha struggles against her baser urges, her sword tumbling from her hands and she tears at her clothing. On the far side of the room, Maya falls to a crouch, scanning the room with intense eyes that speak of a cunning, if not powerful, intelligence. With even Selene’s devolution in the back of your mind, you know that what Franklin had feared has transpired- they found a way to turn even the animal Monsters to their baser instincts.

                It’s really not much different than what Valinthia was trying to do using the same methods, and yet without their inordinate strength, the berserk Monsters stand no chance against humanity in its current form.

                But if it’s being directed like what Valinthia was doing, then by removing the controller, it should stop… right?

                “What’s the matter?” The Avatar says as she steps down from the discarded husk of her throne. “Why haven’t you come at me? Are you afraid? Or is your large Wizard brain wracking a way to defeat me? The clock is ticking, as you well know.”

                She’s right but-

                “Then I shall make the first move.”

                Wait, no that’s not-

                The plants around you seem to vibrate before exploding into action. Where they were powerful and easily manipulated before, everything seems as if another level, moving like paint under the brush of an immaculate artist- that being the Avatar.

                Vines rush forward to grab at you while thick branches from a nearby column reach out to tear you apart. If not for a timely [Gust] but Rommel, still swollen with the power of Hevensferth, you’d have been torn apart. As it stands, you find yourself taking another tumble, though Franklin comes with you, having been caught in the blast as well.

                The other Wizard raises his hand and he casts bursts of Biomancy which deflects the attacks of the various plant life, but just barely. He strains under the constraints while the Avatar watches him with an amused expression that radiates more smugness than you believe you’ve ever seen, and you’ve seen your wife post-coitus.

                With the little time bought by Franklin, you finish wracking your brain, as she surmised, for your plan of action. More than anything, you need more time. Dollora from the interactions those around you have had, is not a very stable Goddess at times. Given that her children are her greatest drive left, if anything were to happen to them of this scale there’s no doubt she would lose it. Given that you have no direct way to intervene, you’re forced to go to someone who can.

                “Cover me!” You say to Franklin as you pull out your sigil.

                “I already am you dumbass!”

                As the flurry of plant life around you grows, is pushed back, and then grows back stronger, you tap into the network and-

                {D…dear… where are you?}

                {Oh shit, Selene-}

                {I’m… so hungry…}

                A shiver runs down your spine at her tone of voice. You want to speak out to her, to do anything you can to comfort her but… but there’s no time. With a heavy heart, you take your one connection to your wife and shove it into your bag, where her voice cannot reach you, before pulling out the other one to Tobias.

                {Hey dumbass kid who knocked up my daughter!}

                {Yes, dad?}

                {I need you to contact Jackor again.}

                {In a minute, I’m a little busy fending off insane Kitsune as they thirst for my dick or my liver. Probably both.}

                {No, we need him now. He’s the only one who can stop Dollora from stopping all this madness in person and getting herself killed!}

                There’s a momentary pause before Tobias replies, {Fucking fuck shit Gods damnit fuck damn- fine.}

                Before you can hear much else from him, your attention is turned to Franklin, who cries out in pain. The plant life around you immediately swarms in, and you only keep it at bay by slapping your hand to the ground and casting, [Build the Wall] to create a barrier of sorts before blasting the ground with ice and propelling Franklin, the prone Alice, and yourself, backward.

                “Franklin, what the fuck-!” You’re cut off as you look at a surprising face attached to the man’s back. It’s Maya, the Mouse Girl looking at you with extreme interest, a bloodied knife in her hand that she pulls from Franklin’s back.

                “Oh fuck.” You shout, pushing out with a [Gust] as she leaps off Franklin and toward you. The Mouse Girl flies through the air, does a flip, and lands on all fours, her knife having flown out of her grasp.

                “G-get this fucking posion out of me!” Franklin says, his wound already looking disgusting. You draw the virulent material from his wound using your Plagamancy and toss it away before slapping a little [Mend] on his wound. It doesn’t fix all the damage, but he breathes a little easier as he returns to using his magic.

                “We can’t keep this up forever, and that damn rat is going to be back!”

                “I know, I know!” You say, taking stock of the situation. “There’s a lot to do here!”

                “Just blast her with your fucking [Plasma] or whatever you fucking faggot!”

                “You damn well know that’s a finishing move and we’re nowhere near finished here!”

                “I don’t fucking care!” He shouts. “Just use it!”

                “FINE!” You shout back. “ROMMEL, I’VE GOT THE HEAT IF YOU’VE GOT THE THUNDER!”

                The man, who is keeping an eye on his nearly naked, nearly rabid wife, snaps his attention to you and nods. Pyromancy flowing through you, you thrust your hands out at the same instant as he does and both of you cast the components to form [Twin Plasma].

                This attack, one which could devastate half of a mountain, moves to collide together. Though neither of you is outputting the raw power you did back then, it’s certainly enough to destroy much of this room and, quite likely, all of you in the process. But if it will save this world then you have to do it, and so you have.

                As the potent fire and electricity race together, the Avatar merely watches with interest before holding up both of her hands and in a split second, pulling up solid walls of thorns.

                The spells never interconnect, never form the dreaded blast as they’re blocked by her own magic. The plants explode from the powerful inferno and electricity but that’s all- they are replaced easily enough as the Avatar only grows smugger.

                “Was that all? Was that your final attack, the greatest source of magic you can produce? How have you managed to survive all these years with something so pitiful? Chosen of Solos, hah!”

                You step back, concern on your face. Those spells on their own were fairly potent but even if they’d connected, would they have had the intended effect? You’re not so certain they would. Which means you have to find another way to do this- one which will not involve Rommel, at least for the moment as his wife has jumped upon him.

                In the brief span of time that Rommel’s focus was on the Queen Alarune, Tabitha had leapt upon him and has bared him down to the ground, the Monster currently biting into his shoulder, though from normal or sexual hunger you cannot say. Bardam, who was nearby moves in and tackles into her, but she lashes out with her magitek legs, catching the man in the chest and throwing him backward.

                But that’s not your immediate concern. You have to focus on the Mouse Girl and the Avatar before you now that your gambit failed. However only one at a time can your broken body handle and frankly, only Franklin is really able to keep the Queen at bay, though only just. Any lapse of concentration like before and all of you are likely to be crushed. Which means you need a little something extra.

                In for a copper, in for a gold they say.

                From your bag you pull forth the [Trident of the Sea King] and hold it out toward Franklin. “Take this!”

                “What the fuck am I supposed to do with that!”

                “Just fucking take it and call upon Fillios! You’ll figure it out after that!”

                “FUCK!” He shouts, snagging it from you and holding it out before him. The Avatar in front of him’s eyes widen and she snarls, throwing out a greater barrage of plants than before. Not even Franklin can keep that at bay, but before they can reach a single word slips from his mouth.

                “Fillios!”

                You feel something stir, like a ripple in an otherwise still pond. It is as if the world slowed for but the briefest instant- the calm before a storm. In but a heartbeat time snaps back to normal as Franklin pulses with power and a torrent of ice explodes from him, freezing instantly the plants seeking to destroy you. The flash frozen flora ends merely inches from your face (and the rest of your body) before shattering as the man deftly slices at them with the trident, as if he someone knew how to wield the thing instead of being just some shut-in autist.

                Well, you guess he’s had his adventures also.

                “I see.” Franklin says, his voice calm, his body posture relaxed. “So this is the strength of a Goddess.” He takes a calm breath and looks up at the Avatar. “Leave this to me.”

                “Yeah, okay, weirdo.” You say, truly thankful that you now have the opportunity to focus on- wait where the fuck did Maya go? With her crawling around, there’s no good way for you to focus without fear of her interrupting or getting hurt.

                Switching on your [Mage Sight], you catch a brief glimpse of Franklin and you pause for a fraction as you behold what looks to be Fillios standing behind him, directing his actions. You know this can’t be true and Solos would smash, but well, why hasn’t he already? Ignoring it, you snap back to scanning for Maya otherwise and find her-

                Oh fuck she’s above you!

                The Mouse Girl lets out a screech and leaps down from the pillar in front of you, tackling you to the ground. Thankfully she doesn’t have her knife anymore, but good Gods are you injured. She easily forces you onto the ground where you cry out in pain as she grabs your head and smashes it onto the ground beneath. Your only saving grace is the fact that she missed pushing you onto the areas you froze or else she’d have cracked your head open. That being said, you’re really jarred and your vision spins as you feel her fumbling with your pants. Maybe you have a concussion now, but damn does this bring back memories.

                Maya snaps her head up before she can reveal your member and barely leaps back in time to miss being bisected by [Energieschwert]. The Mouse Girl hisses, tail snapping behind her as the Order swordswoman pushes herself up from the ground, one hand over her chest, the other holding her sword. She has a look of utter disgust on her face as she spits out a goblet of blood.

                “Alice… don’t-“ You begin as the woman rises and goes into a practiced sword fighting stance. Across from her Maya prepares to fight, her senses entirely gone now by the magic that the Avatar is invoking.

                “Monsters…” Alice hisses, her eyes filled with a rage. It’s only then that you realize just what’s happening with her as well. The woman’s brush with near certain death in Ectria didn’t just leave her with silver-white hair, it dug deeper than that. Selene had wondered how a human would have survived that nearly unscathed. While not a Monster, she’s something else. Something which currently is struggling to keep from breaking loose entirely.

                As much as you wish to stop her, as much as you wish to keep Alice from slicing apart Maya, the moment you try to get up, your head swims and you crash back down to the ground. The world spins around you as you try to focus your thoughts. Magic swirls about, pulling at your senses as well, the empowered Franklin unleashing Cryomancy and Hydromancy in ways you wouldn’t have thought of.

                Around you, plants begin to deflate as the man weaves both Biomancy and the empowered [Hydromancy] to steal their water and then throw them as shields or spears of water that instantly freeze to try and pierce the Avatar.

                She deflects the attacks either with plants that she rapidly grows or her own empowered body. A few make their marks, but the wounds heal quickly, only pushing her into a rage as she returns to fight the man.

                In the far corner of your vision you see Rommel trying to reason with his wife, his words falling upon deaf ears as she pins him in place with her magitek legs, her long, lizard tongue licking the wound she created in his shoulder as she travels up his neck to nibble at his cheek. Despite the blessings of the God within him, he’s faltering, unable to bring himself to harm his wife.

                Damn, it’s all falling apart. With only Franklin able to come to bear against the Avatar, it’s only a matter of time before either Dollora arrives- if Jackor hasn’t delayed her- or Franklin falters. And in the meantime, Alice stands likely to break Maya- or the other way around. If only… if only you weren’t so damn useless lying on the ground here!

                Weakly, you thump your hand upon the ground, this action making you woozy. It will take too long for you to get your bearings back, and Alice is already swinging after Maya- she’s very likely to kill her, though the nimble Mouse Girl is making the injured woman work for it. Bardam is rising from the ground again, though you can tell he took that blow to the chest a little hard as well- he seems winded while going for this sword. And Veronica…

                Wait… Veronica?

                The woman, forgotten by the Avatar as she focuses upon Franklin, stands upon the remains of the Queen’s flower bed, her mace retrieved and in her hands. She does not make for the Avatar, who is but yards away, but instead holds her mace with both hands in front of her chest as she swells with holy power, her mouth working furiously.

                Something feels off in the room as Veronica’s words reach a fever pitch. The Avatar herself seems to notice as well, throwing up a wall of plants, ones which refuse to have their water drained as they’re reinforced with Biomancy, as she turns her head to view the new threat.

                “Solos, I beg you, as your devoted daughter, grant us your grace that you may see with clarity the forces that seek to break your family, our families. Let the light which blinds your eyes clear that you may see in the world as it is, such as we do! In your name, in your light! Take of my strength and purify this place!”

                You know Solos heard her words. Perhaps he even took them to heart to grant her wish, her prayer, or perhaps she merely usurped the power he granted her and used it to fulfill her selfish wish. Perhaps you’ll never know, but as she finishes her words, a blinding light builds from her before flashing outward and enveloping the room.

                When it reaches you, you’re not certain what she did. As your vision clears, you the glow about her gone as she collapses to the ground, becoming lost in the garden about her. You cry out to her and realize as the words come from your mouth that they’re clear… and you can think correctly.

                Gasping, you pick yourself up, though you’re still in incredibly pain, and survey the room. Both Alice and Maya are staring at each other with wide eyes, a clarity present in their vision. On the other side of the room, Tabitha looks at Rommel, blood dripping from her mouth, horror on her expression. Did… did she reverse the effects of the ritual? That’s… that’s insane but you need to make use of it and-

                “No! The Avatar shouts. The children of Dollora will not escape their fate!” She raises her hand into the air and you feel the lifted tension in the room begin to wane. Maya and Alice place hands upon their heads again, crying out in pain as the force of the God’s power upon the world, the leylines themselves overwhelm even Veronica’s faith.

                Tabitha, breathing heavily, one hand on her head, shouts out to you, “Wizard! Please! Stop me before I- grha… ahhhhhh!”

                The next moment the lucidity is gone from her as she returns her hungry gaze to Rommel. He tried to push her off but was unsuccessful. You can feel him searching which is magic, his own lucidity and the analytic gift of the God of knowledge telling him what needs to be done. But no man should ever have to harm his wife, nor should any man have to harm his friends.

                And yet, the lesser of the two evils falls upon you. With your intimate knowledge of her magitek, it’s a simple thing to disable them, and their back-ups with a [Reverse Polarity].

                Tabitha collapses onto Rommel, unable to comprehend with her lizard brain what just happened. Now, with her source of locomotion disabled, Rommel gently grabs her head, kisses her forehead, and rockets her off him with a [Gust]. She flies backward to hit the floor on her back, the Lizardman staring up at the ceiling for a brief instant before passing out from her accumulated injuries.

                “Thank you!” He says, rolling to his feet, one hand on his shoulder where the bite wound is. It’s still bleeding, damn it must be deep. Which means you have your extra Wizard for as long as he’s up, unless you can stop that bleeding. But at least you have him, and his empowered abilities from Hevensferth to aid you.

                Rommel adds in his might to the battle, striking the Avatar with bolts of heavenly lightning that scorch the ground around her while making her cry out in agony, her wounds rekniting, though not without cost. The smoke above her swirls still, blocking out the sunlight, but Rommel’s spell slinging is oddly accurate as he slices plants apart and strikes at the Avatar.             

                He runs by as he dodges plants that the Avatar throws at him and tosses something at you, a vial that you catch, but only just barely. A brief look tells you what you need to know about the man’s plan, and you shove the bottle in your pocket before turning back to the other concern keeping you from turning your full attention on the Avatar.

                Alice moves in, her normally fluid movements slowed by her injuries, allowing the more feral Maya to move out of the way of her attacks. However, injured as she is, clouded as she is, she’s still very skilled. As you turn about you catch Alice perform a feint, tricking Maya and turning about to slice through her with her enchanted sword.

                “NOOO!” You shout, thrusting out your hand and sending volts of electricity. Her sword arcs through the air as the arcs of your electricity race against it, the air coming alive as Maya realizes her mistake, her doom impending. Despite her skill, however, Alice cannot outrace the raging tempest of your magic.

                “GGGGAAAAAHHH!” Alice shouts, her whole body going rigid. She falls forward, her sword piercing the ground and missing Maya, who skitters away from her. The woman twitches on the ground, panting, yet finding it impossible to rise.

                Maya, despite her brush from death and you freeing her, dashes toward you, her animal instincts causing her to ignore the neutralized threat and move toward her objective- that being the closest male present. Well, given she stabbed Franklin in the back you hope that it’s just a sexual thing…

                Alice, a full-grown human female, could take your electricity, but Maya? No, you might just fry her trying something like that. Besides, she’s too nimble for you to hit, which means you need to be a little more subtle about this. And subtly is your specialty.

                “This is taxing my patience.” The Avatar says as the two other Wizards wear her down. Franklin’s spells have already lost much of their potency as the Avatar has begun reinforcing the plants to Biomancy to keep even the empowered Wizard’s spells from dehydrating them. On the other side, she’s begun to protect herself from the strikes above her, making a cover of thick bark that explodes outward when struck by lightning, forcing Rommel to move out of the way of shrapnel, as well as blocking his razor sharp wind.

                She raises her hands as her defenses go up and you feel her begin to draw in more energy from the ground beneath her. You need to hurry and add your strength to the battle… though perhaps that won’t be enough either.

                Well, not that you can focus on that, of course. You’re too distracted as Maya leaps upon you again. Of course, this time you were expecting this.

                “You want semen, you little punk?” You shout as she staggers you backward before leaping off as she realizes you’re not falling down- though fuck if you were about to. Tearing off the cork of the vial, you toss it at Maya.

                The Mouse Girl sniffs the air before her eyes go wide. She grabs the vial from the air and leaps out of the way of any possible follow-up spell. In a single gulp, she downs the potion, a look of delight on her face which quickly becomes dull. She drops the vial and looks at her hands before looking back to you. A goofy smile comes over her face and she makes for you, her movements slower than before.

                And with her slower movements, you’re able to finally catch her. Taking a page from Rommel’s book, you cast [Rock Solid]. Though Maya sees the earth coming up to get here, there’s really nothing she can do about it as her reaction times become sluggish. The rocks latch onto her frame, covering her except for her head in a shell of rock that locks her in place.

                “Sorry, but you’re grounded.” You say, before flicking your wrist and sending her scooting backward with a [Rock Slide].

                With that taken care of, you can finally turn your attention back to the Avatar as- ah shit.

                Her channeling finished, the Avatar surges with power and fires raw energy into the air. The smoke gathered there disperses immediately, flooding the room with sunlight again. Her green skin seems to shine in the morning sun, her figure looking invigorated. Around her, bark gathers and forms armor while a dress of vines covers up her nudity. Roses sprout from her wings as a spear of bark and thorns forms at her side and she pulls it from the ground before twirling about, ready for battle.

                “Very well.” She says. “It seems it is inevitable that we must do this the hard way.”

                The pressure of the demi-god before you is hard to ignore. Certainly this is not your first battle against forces far beyond your ability to control or comprehend, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Back then you had more working limbs, after all. Of course, back then you also believed your choices would alter the very course of the world- not much else is different here. It seems everything you do keeps the balance of this land in check, doesn’t it?

                Gods, you’re tired.

                But there’s no time for being tired. Still suffused with the lingering crumbs of [The Baker’s Legacy], you wipe your mouth with your sleeve and pull your staff from your bag, holding it out before you while your other arm hangs, limp. You don’t strike a very imposing figure, but this Avatar, this magnificently sculpted creature filled with the strength of the world and the faith of a fanatic Goddess should still be afraid of you. Very, very afraid.

                “Alright, I’ll admit.” You say, staff still held out before you. “That’s a pretty cool costume. Did Phallia lend it to you from her laundry basket? I bet it smells like smegma though.”

                “Your taunts mean nothing to me.” The Avatar says as she walks toward you with the grace of an angel. “Only your screams will cause me any reaction and it will be joy.”

                “Oh, you must not have understood the joke, because it’s a reference to your Goddess having a massive dick that she-“

                The spear flies from her hands almost faster than you can react. With a push of earth under your feet, you [Rock Slide] out of the way as the spear sails where you were a moment before impaling itself into the ground behind you. It shudders a moment later and returns to her hand, though you notice this as she begins to charge at you, every step she takes causing plants to spring to life.

                Spear pulled back to strike at you, you merely stare at her with a calm expression as she’s forcibly thrown to the side by a large, steel ball striking her ribcage and then exploding into flame. To her credit, she spins as she does this, flowers blooming under her turn, wings slowing her before she turns the thrust of her spear toward Franklin.

                The Wizard, buffed by his own biomancy, pushes off the spear and moves aside, throwing up spikes of plant life from the ground to impale her. In turn, she spins about and directs the spear of bark away from her before decking Franklin across the face with her open hand. The man flies on his back as she completes the motion, then leaps into the air. Sunlight shining through her plant-encrusted wings, she hovers above you, now radiant in a way that would make a follower of the Twins weep.

                 Rommel shoves his remaining [Ball Busters] into his pocket before reaching out and calling down lighting through his gift from Hevensferth, the bolts scorching the ground about her as the Avatar flips and twists through the air. The man makes calculated strikes not to hit Veronica, but his opponent knows this as well, keeping her close to make certain he can’t hit her correctly before throwing the spear again. He dodges out of the way, but when it hits the ground, this time the plant life around it explodes upward, grabbing the man’s leg and dragging him down as thorns seek to tear apart his flesh.

                A blast of cold wind flash freezes the plants as Franklin uses his boosted Cryomancy. The spear retracts and the three of you stare up the at the Avatar above you. Her side, which was broken and leaking fluid as it burned pushes the steel ball out from it while the skin and plant life sheds, reknitting the broken flesh. She does not look smug now, merely neutral, as if you’re not worth her time any longer.

                Raising her hand up, you feel magic concentrate there before she throws it to the ground below you. A terrible rumbling is heard as the ground splinters and cracks, revealing a massive tree that rapidly grows before you. Wicked branches sprout and grow, forming sharp tendrils that creep toward you while roots tear apart the earth beneath.

                “Move!” Franklin says, pulling backward. Rommel picks himself up and does the same as you watch the explosive growth, transfixed by the prone form nearby.

                “Get her!” You shout, pointing to Veronica and making to run toward her. A root slithers beneath her and bursts from the earth to coil around her, but before it can, Rommel propels himself forward, using a blast of air that is perfectly calculated to grab her and then form a shield of stone to block the tendril. Despite the barrier, it cracks into the rock, tearing it apart. He only barely pushes himself and Veronica out of the way as the tree continues to grow, threatening to overtake the entire room.

                “We have to get them out of here!” You shout, looking at the trapped Maya and the immobile Alice. Franklin dashes forward, the ground turning to ice around him as he does the same, grabbing them with magic and pulling them away from danger.

                Which leaves Bardam and Tabitha. The man, his shoulders slumped from exhaustion can only watch as the tree reaches out toward him. He did all he could to keep Tabitha contained, the Lizardman hissing and spitting as her legs became little more than dead weight.

                Your magic does not offer you the same mobility. Without your chair, all you can do is try to mimic the motions of the others, using a combination of Cryomancy and Aeromancy to propel you across the ground, albeit at an extremely painful price. The ground below grows more and more dangerous as you race closer and closer to them. You believe yourself to have outpaced it and will make it in time when Bardam rises, sword in hand, and dashes past you with a burst of strength you didn’t know he had.

                “Tell her I’m sorry.” He says as you pass him, a look of bewilderment on your face. A moment later you reach Tabitha and hear metal shattering followed by a cry of pain. When you flip about, your expression grows from surprise to shock.

                Behind you, where you were but a moment before is Bardam, the Avatar’s spear impaled in his chest. His breastplate is shattered while his sword, the enchanted [Conviction], lies broken from his attempt to block the blow. It appears to have failed, unable to stop the Demi-God wrought weapon from piercing him… and yet his body was enough to have kept it from piercing you.

                A ragged cough comes from his chest as the spear is retracted, flying back into the Avatar’s hand as she narrows her eyes, a look of annoyance on her face. Beneath him, plant life rises up and drags him down into the earth, obscured from sight.

                “Oh… Oh Gods.” You whisper as you witness it. But the tree keeps growing, and you need to escape. Keeping your eyes on the Avatar, you grab Tabitha and propel yourself backward again, away from the growth. It does not, however, appear to be slowing in any regard.

                “Become fertilizer beneath me!” The Avatar shouts as the ground rumbles even further. Even though you got away from her, even though Bardam sacrificed himself for you, this thing is going to get you.

                Oh well fuck that.

                Tossing your good friend Tabitha to the side as she tries to snap at you, you push yourself up to your feet and slam your staff on the ground before channeling magic into it. On the other side of the room, you see Franklin do the same while Rommel also begins to gather magic. Before the Avatar can do anything, the three of you throw out your spells.

                Ice, thick and tough cascades over the tree, halting the progress of the roots and covering the bark with its frozen death. A bolt of lightning larger than you’d seen before comes from the skies, clipping one of the Avatar’s wings, causing her to curse and dip from the sky. It smashes into the center of the growing tree however, causing the ice to shatter and explode outward, slicing into the armor and skin of the Avatar while tearing into her wings.

                For your part, you unleash… plague. As a root rises from the ground and freezes, you grab it. The moment Rommel’s spell channels through, tearing the tree asunder, you infiltrate the ravaged humours of the plant and [Inoculate] all of them with the filth in your bag before causing a [Fester] of such potency that the tree ripples, bursts, and then detonates what’s left of it.

                Filthy debris rains about you, but you don’t care. Mask still on your face, you limp through it, expression angered as the Avatar struggles to stay airborne. None of you knew what the other was doing, but you’re tired of this Avatar’s games, of the suffering she causes. You think it’s about time to clip her wings.

                Though you caused some injury to her, the Avatar’s bottomless well of energy allows her unearthly flesh to heal, the surface wounds knitting back together while her wings, which she still flaps work harder to keep her airborne. And yet airborne she will remain unless you can do something about this, something a little more permanent…

                “Rommel!” You shout. “You know what to do!”

                “The hells I fucking do!” He says, but he still shoves his hand in his pocket anyway, muttering as he runs about the room, working on something.

                The Avatar turns to him, but has to fight back spears of frost being thrown by Franklin as he brings up plants, takes their water, then uses that to drive at the Avatar. The fluid motion in which he weaves all these magics speaks of divine guidance or extreme training. Being Franklin, it could be both.

                Though he focus is on repairing herself- which is happening faster than you’d like to admit- and her fighting off Franklin, she is able to spare a thought for you as you sling [Fireball] at her. Plant life around you seeks to entangle your feet, but little does she know that you don’t really need those at the moment. Instead, while you’re being grabbed by smaller roots and vines, you’re pulling together the parts of something.

                Seeing you being dragged down and your spells missing her or being ineffective, the Avatar turns her full attention to Franklin. Despite the pain you’re going through, with your attention now back on your task, you’re able to complete it quickly. Though it takes you a lot of effort, you cast [Ice] on the plant seeking to break your already busted leg and smash it with your staff. Surpressing the pain, you fall backward into the chair that has formed behind you- one with wheels.

                Broken pieces of the [Wizardmobile] put back together, you take your reformed mobility and use it in the best possible way- to go directly at the Avatar.

                Though the ground is bumpy and filled with decaying plant matter, you drive yourself forward with magic, staff held out before you as you channel [Flame Lance]. The Avatar notices the spell and turns to face you, wings almost fully healed. She pulls back and away from you, trying to fly back up into the sky as you fire the [Flame Lance].

                The spell goes wide, however, missing her by a good margin. She looks at you, confused, until the already bright day gets even brighter. Her head snaps upward and she looks at the opening of the plant-wrought building, which is now burning from your spell and spreading in accordance to the rest of your magic. Thick, dark smoke begins to pool again, beginning to cast the room back into a gloom.

                “No, I don’t believe you will be doing that again.” She says, gathering power to stop your smokescreen. Before she can release it, however, she pulls back as Rommel lunges toward her, blue-hued dagger in his hand. She spins the butt of her spear and clips him in the chest, propelling him across the room and into Franklin’s arms, the two sliding backward.

                She looks at them with a smirk and raises the spear to throw when her expression changes to pain and she drops to the ground, clawing at her back. When she turns away from you, what you see is a little female golem made of Aluminum, stabbing its sharp little arms repeatedly into her back and wings.

                Sharp little arms coated with the [Herbaggedon].

                The virulent herbicide spreads up her wings and begins to break apart the empowered plant life there. Roses wilt and die while leaves shrivel and fall off, causing her to fall to the ground, unable to keep flight. While the blackness spreads to her body as well, she grits her teeth and pulses with magic, causing the sections poisoned to thus slough off her body, effectively shedding the wings and the little golem which did the damage. Before Valinthia can get away, however, the Avatar catches her with her free hand and crushes her in a fashion which turns the rock into dust.

                “NOOOO!” Rommel shouts, trying to gather the particles of his friend from the wind. But he’s unsuccessful, and the traces of the golem are swept into oblivion.

                Face filled with rage, the man abandons the logic granted by Hevensferth and slaps the ground with his other magics. Pyromancy and Geomancy play in harmony, turning the ground beneath the Avatar into a bubbling mass of lava that seeks to destroy her form utterly with [Lava Flow]. Bereft of flight, she sinks into the lava and begins to burn, her feet being consumed in the primordial liquid.

                This doesn’t bother her, however, as she jams her spear into the lava and propels herself outward, showing that her feet with not annihilated, but instead horrifically burnt. Even then, the skin sheds and falls off, revealing new God-wrought flesh appearing. And yet the wings haven’t tried to regrow, instead leaving only blackened skin which refuses to heal…

                “No more games!” She shouts, and runs at Rommel, spear leveled. Even though her feet are burned, as they moves they grow more hale again while the devastated ground around her bursts back to life. She moves with an unnatural grace as she slashes the spear, catching the surprised man off guard and slicing his beard off along with making a rent in his chest. Blood flows down his front as he gasps, only being saved from the return blow by Franklin blasting the Avatar with the chill of winter and creating a wall of [Ice].

                He pulls back but her spear bursts through, stabbing into the man’s arm. He grunts and tries to pull away, but from his wound springs flowers, ones you recognize as being particularly poisonous. Franklin’s complexion immediately sours and he spasms, falling to the ground while the spear retracts. Rommel gathers him up while you gallop, figuratively with not with onomatopoeia over the uneven ground, toward the Avatar.

                She turns to face you and your barrage of magic, both Fulgromancy and Pyromancy, using her spear to deflect them with expert precision and a look of anger. She hisses, “This is taking too long. Where is Dollora?”

                “Maybe she figured out her sister is a bitch, or maybe an asshole whispered in her ear.”

                “You do not have that kind of power!”

                “Thanks for the compliment!” You shout, barreling forward with a burst of speed. She looks surprised by your change in tactic and makes to receive you with her spear, but you zip out of the way with another burst of magic that jars you horrifically as you appear by the wall and slap your hand onto Franklin.

                Though your contact is brief, you’re able to identify the toxin, one you’re quite familiar with, and pull it out from him before slipping around. Rommel takes it from there and fires a barrage of small [Ball Busters] through the ice, shattering it into pieces as they tear into the body of the Avatar, who cries out in surprise, if not pain.

                Wheeling around for another pass, you take hold of the shattered ice and coat it upon her legs, trapping her in place. She struggles and frees herself from the bondage, but not before Rommel is able to pull Franklin back, the other Wizard coming to as his God infused system restarts, his innate Biomancy allowing him to recover from the wound now that the toxin is gone.

Though you managed to keep her still for a moment, it’s not enough. The light of the sun is no longer infusing her but she’s still no worse for wear and all of you are taking more damage- you can’t do this for much longer.

“Grand Wizard!” Rommel shouts, one hand on his chest, the other in his pocket. “You know what to do!”

“Are you fucking retarded?!” You shout back to him, knowing full well that the retard here is you. Still, with your friends unconscious, insane, or… otherwise… you need to do your all for whatever Rommel has in mind. You just hope it’s something useful.

Turning about on your chair, you hold up your staff and say to Franklin, “Give me a little water to work with.”

The man nods and deep from aquafers below which supplied the plant life here before, he draws forth a torrent of fresh water. Being a plant, this does not bother the Avatar very much as it envelops her. If the temperature changed even a single degree, she might have more cause to worry, but as it does not, she instead keeps her focus on you, even as the water about her hands in place.

A pulse of magic pushes from your staff and from the water about her, extreme pressure forming and tearing into her flesh from multiple locations. In most creatures, this would have severed her into many pieces, turned her into nothing but cheese. Unfortunately, this is not most creatures, and even though you sever and break her apart, she reforms almost instantly in the water before shouting and causing it to burst apart from her, soaking both you and Franklin.

“That, was annoying.” She growls, holding her spear out toward you, her turn to summon energy. It feels like the condensed power of the fading sunlight is forming there, and even though Franklin does his best to try and stop her, she merely gestures with her other hand and causes a ripple of vines to burst forth, taking his attention.

From her spear a beam of pure solar energy fires forth, cutting through the plant life and ground beneath at an astonishing rate. The sudden shift you’re forced to do throws you from your vehicle, sending you toppling to the ground. You groan as you stop rolling, blinking and looking up right before something heavy lands on your chest, driving the wind from you and nearly breaking your sternum.

Struggling for breath, you look up to see that the Avatar leapt upon you, her foot driven into your chest. She holds up her spear and says, a look of excitement on her expression. “Now, may the world finally be rid of you, you annoying child. May Nerg have mercy on your soul.”

“NYYYYAAARRRGGGGHHH!” Comes a shout from behind. The Avatar turns her head for the briefest instant as Maya leaps upon her back, the Mouse Girl naked and somehow having slipped out of the binding that Rommel made for her.

Even though her eyes are filled with that same insanity as before, it seems focused, as if she’s fighting desperately against it. But without a weapon of any sort, the best she can do is annoy the Avatar, who looks at her with revulsion.

Ignoring you, the Avatar of Phallia plucks the screeching Mouse Girl from her back by her neck. Despite Maya chewing at her hand, the Avatar seems to feel nothing, merely staring at the bestial Monster.

“Disgusting.” She says. “An abomination wrought by Dollora’s hand. Would that we were the only ones given such form, shaped by Phallia’s hands and perfect as such. That we share a connection to the outcast Goddess is revolting. But look at you now. No more than the beast that you are, thrashing against all reason. I pity you.”

With a simple twinge of her fingers, Maya’s neck cracks and the Monster goes limp in her hand. The Avatar stares at the Monster for a long moment before tossing her over her shoulder, to land in a heap next to Franklin, the man only just breaking free from his own distraction.

“D-damn you!” You shout with the last vestiges of your breath. Another one lost… though you didn’t know her as well as say, Rommel, Maya had saved your life multiple times. And yet, like Bardam, she sacrificed herself for you, as many others have in the past. Feeling incredible agony in your heart, you wish to cry out in despair, but find nothing but pained whimpers coming from your lips.

“You bitch.” Rommel says, stepping up behind the Avatar. She doesn’t even look as she thrusts her spear backward into his chest. A solid “thunk” is heard, followed by pieces of stone hitting the ground. Confused, the Avatar turns fully about to see Rommel standing there, reinforced with an armor of stone and the metal of his golem friends. Perhaps the power of love is not the end all be all, but with enough friends, anything is possible.

In his hand, Rommel holds the [Runite Dagger], the blade coated with black fluid. The Avatar’s eyes go wide, but she’s unable to avoid Rommel’s swing in time. He slices the blade, making for her chest but instead hitting her legs as she leaps back. The wound is shallow, but it doesn’t matter as it draws fluid from both legs. The virulent herbicide spreads through her legs, causing her to stumble, a look of concern appearing on her face.

“I promised her a fucking headpat!” Rommel says, tears in his eyes. “And Bardam promised Veronica he’d-! And Valinthia is-“ The man rubs at his eyes and holds the dagger up. “Nerg’s hells are too good for one such as you! I’ll kill you, then kill you again! I’ll kill your bitch of a Goddess too! All of you can go to the hells and when it’s my time, I’ll kill you once more!”

“R-Romm-!” You shout, trying to stop the man as he leaps forward to drive the knife into her chest. The Avatar turns to him, face a mask of pain and anger, and holds up her hand to grab Rommel’s as he drives the dagger mere inches from her breast.

“Fool.” She hisses before snapping her hand in a sharp motion and turning Rommel’s wrist to a 90 degree angle.

The man drops the knife, as the hand is not much use for anything but excruciating agony any longer. He backs away, looking at his hand with anger more than anything, so much adrenaline in his system causing him not to feel it. Instead, he socks her in the face with his other hand, which accomplishes little more than to make her smile.

“That’s actually adorable that you believe-“ She cuts off as he pulls the hand back to reveal a steel ball radiating Cyromancy. He fires the [Sheer Cold] into her face and it explodes into ice and sends her reeling backward, but with her legs being eaten away by the [Herbaggedon], she stumbles and falls back as she claws at her face, dropping the spear.

“I thought Avatars were supposed to be dignified.” Rommel spits, picking his knife back up from the ground and stalking over to her. “The ones I read about in the book were. But I guess Dollora and Solos have a modicum of divinity. Phallia? All she happens to be is a coward and a fucking dick.”

Before he can drive the knife down into her chest, the Avatar points at him and a flurry of bark from her chest fires at him. It does little against his armor, but it does have enough force to drive him back, the man grunting and pulling away to shield his face. In this time, the Avatar stands up, her legs not working well, but enough to accomplish the feat while the breaks the ice upon her face. The mangled visage returns to her normal, beautiful expression, though it is marred by anger.

“Insolent wretches!” She summons the spear back to her hand and slams it into the ground. “I have had enough of this! I will no longer suffer you to live!”

“Then you should have tried to kill us before hand instead of fucking around!” You shout, lungs finally filled enough to allow you to speak. Fury grips you as you grab your staff and hold it out toward her. “Haven’t you and your bitch of Goddess caused enough pain? Enough suffering? Suffer us to live? I’ll turn that on you a thousand-fold!”

“I too have cause to be mad.” Franklin says, rising from where he was examining Maya. “To twist and pervert the beautiful things of this world, to take the minds and bodies of others using the fell fruits of my own workings, and to force me out of my damn house and away from my wife because of your bullshit- this is unforgivable.”

The Avatar does not look at any of you as she turns her head up to the clouds and begins to pull mana from the leylines. The three of you sling spells at her, but the barrier of energy from before appears before her. Rommel curses and tries to pull it down, but he backs away, gasping as his eyes go wide.

“F-feedback!” He says, before dropping to a knee, good hand to his head. “I-I can’t break the barrier, even with Hevensferth’s help!”

“What the fuck-“ You say, staring at the enraged Avatar. She swells with magic, though for what purpose, you don’t know. But it makes your very bones hurt as the magical pressure rises.

“If I cannot destroy you by physical means, then I shall do so my magical means. I will tap into the very force of the Gods and tear apart your souls!”

“Can she do that?!” You shout, feeling your heart beating faster, your head growing faint.

“I don’t want to find out!” Franklin says. “Do something!”

“We have to destroy the barrier with sufficient force!” Rommel says. “We’ll use the [Twin Plasma!]

“No good!” Franklin says. “We need something stronger!”

“Stronger than [Plasma]? But nothing’s stronger than… No, wait.” You snap your head over to Franklin and say, “The ultimate spell.”

His eyes go wide, “You can’t mean… but do we have the power for it? Only the ancient Wizards could cast that spell!”

“Individually, no! But with the three of us, we have a chance!” You snap to Rommel, “Use the strongest [Lightning Bolt] you can muster! Franklin! [Ice]!”

“What are you going to do?!” Rommel asks, beginning to pant.

“I’m bringing the fire.”

Rommel’s eyes go wide, understanding what you mean finally. He turns to his wife before closes his eyes and nodding his head in a curt gesture. A spell any beginning Wizard knows of, but cannot come close to mastering. A mixture of the three basic elemental spells that any good Wizard should know, something you once aspired to learn, when you first started your quest.

Standing up, despite the incredibly pain of your body, you look into the eyes of the Avatar who stares down at you, still caged by her barrier and close to destroying you utterly. If she understands what you’re doing, she either cannot do anything about it, or does not care- it is her loss. But in the end, it’s your loss as well. When you fire off this spell, it will be the end of you, possibly of your friends too. But if you don’t everyone is dead anyway.

“Heh, you can’t save us this time, Hardinclouse.” You say, holding up your staff and preparing a [Fireball] with every shred of magic you have left.

On the two other sides of an equilateral triangle about the Avatar, the two channel [Ice] and [Lightning Bolt] with an insanity that can only be created by that of a God. Though you lack such means, you pour your all into the spell, even as you feel your consciousness slipping from her drag upon you. But with plenty enough anger within, you reach a crescendo with your spell and shout,

“NOW [TRI-DISASTER!]”

The three of you cast your spells, a stream of power enough to destroy almost anything in existence. When they meet together about the Avatar, the powers swirl, intermingle, and create tempestuous magical strength-

Yet the barrier holds.

No… this can’t be. [Tri-Disaster] should be strong enough to do this! The only answer then is that you haven’t reached enough force to create the spell. Something is lacking, one of you isn’t putting in enough force with their magic! Mind racing against the clock, you realize who that someone is.

It’s you. You’re the one who isn’t putting in the strength. Broken, battered, drained, you don’t have the strength of a God assisting you like the others. You magic, famed to be the greatest of the Wizards of Deleor, is not enough in the situation it matters most.

Tears forming in your eyes, you cry out to someone, anyone. “GODS ABOVE! GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO PROTECT MY FAMILY! DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN! DON’T LET PHALLIA WIN!”

Your consciousness now fading as the last vestiges of your magic slip, you whisper, “Please…”

Something warm touches your shoulder and you gasp at the familiar sensation. Power, raw as the heart of a volcano flows into your blood. You feel yourself become one with the earth again and you dare glance behind you to see the form of Sveth standing behind you, though if he’s really there, you can’t be certain. But what you are certain of is the power now flooding into you, enough to make your plea into reality. Gritting your teeth, you shout with everything within you and empower your [Fireball].

When the now empowered magic reacts with the other two spells, all three seem to freeze and snap away from you, sending you recoiling, your vision blurring. You swear you see the magic form a triangle shape as it swirls faster and faster about the Avatar, who screams within her barrier, within what will become her tomb.

Power unlike what you’ve witnessed before swells within the true [Tri-Disaster] and the world goes white as it detonates, sending the raw, elemental force of the world through the room, and perhaps half the Cradle.

Well, at least the bitch should be dead, you think before all sensation vanishes. This time, for sure you’ll awaken in Nerg’s Halls. But at least you did it, you saved the world. Again and for the final time.

With your final breath you whisper, “I love you, Selene.”

>The End

>Story continue?

                Aww fuck, Nerg’s hells look just like the Queen’s domain. What a pain in the ass and- wait a minute, you’ve played this game before.             

                “F-Fuck.” You groan, picking yourself up from the ground where you’d fallen uncincious. You do, however, slip back to the floor as you’re in no fit state to do much of anything. You half expect to be in El Dorito, but no, you’re still in the Queen’s flowerbed. How strange, shouldn’t this whole place be devastated? Or perhaps-

                Ravaged lungs gasping, you turn your vision towards where the Avatar was and see nothing. There is no trace of the transformed Queen present, nothing to indicate her magic being present. In fact, now that you think about it, the leylines no longer thrum with that magic! You… you did it! You defeated her and are alive somehow! But… how?

                Turning your gaze aside, you see the other two Wizard picking themselves up, looking confused as well. It’s… impossible. You should be dead, and yet here you are. None of you put up a barrier, so barring divine intervention-

                You gasp and turn on your [Mage Sight]. Standing before you then is the tall form of Sveth, the God’s back toward you. He’s staring at something behind him, and you notice that both Fillios and Hevensferth are present too, standing before the Franklin and Rommel respectively. While you’re surprised to see them, you’re more surprised to see the looks of terror on their faces at whatever they’re looking at.

                Shifting your body about, you look behind the solid God in front of you and your blood runs cold.

                Standing in the middle of the room is possibly the most definitive existence of the word, “father” that you can describe. He is tall, taller than even Sveth and has a muscular, yet not overly so, build that defines each and every muscle, as if they were they exemplar for what any good muscle should be. His beard, which is silver-blonde, the same color as his long hair, reaches to his chest and almost blend into his white robes.

                While all of this is striking, what truly draws your attention and what hold your fear, are his eyes. They are the color of a stormcloud and seem as tempestuous as one as he looks upon the three Gods before him with enough sternness to cow the greatest beings in existence. It is a look you have used on your children before, and even without it you would recognize him.

                In the center of the Gods, where the Avatar of Phallia once stood, is Solos, the God of Gods, God of Men, and creator of all as you know it.

                “You have broken my commandments.” He says with a voice that rumbles like the heavens. “I had tolerated your affairs enough, but you have made a step too far. I can no longer turn a blind eye this willful disobedience. Nor can I turn a blind eye to the misery of this world wrought by the meddling of my children.”

                From behind him you see the familiar form of the last person you expected to see here: Phallia. The Godess of plants holds her hands upon his waist as she looks downcast, as if she was the one betrayed. “Solos… please have mercy, they may have helped Dollora create another atrocity but they’re still my siblings!”

                “No. They knew what they were doing.” He says, holding up a hand. “I knew I made a mistake giving this world another chance after my wayward daughter’s actions. I knew it and yet I did not want to believe it. But I will rectify my mistakes now and start anew, beginning with… with Dollora.”

                He snaps his fingers and reality warps. Then, as if pulled from thin air, appears Dollora, the Goddess of Monsters, looking surprised as she stares up at her father. She opens her mouth to say something but her lip ends up quivering as a look of infinite grief appears on her expression. Unable to say anything, her shoulders slump and she looks down, defeated.

                In the presence of such a being, what can even the Gods do? Here you are, but one man, witnessing perhaps the end of the everything as you know it. In the face of this, what can you do? You may have won the battle, but perhaps relying on the divine aid, you ended up losing the war.

                And yet… and yet… surely there is something you can do? Something you can say?

                Now more than ever, you must wrack your brain and think, think of anything.

Chapter 55

                “H-Hold it!”

                The congregation of Gods, the creators of this world, perhaps the universe as a whole, turn their impossibly knowing gazes upon the broken and battered form of a simple man. Under the intensity of their stares, you feel your own insignificance in all of this, you understand that no matter what happens, your life is worthless against the infinity that such beings represent. What is a man, but a miserable pile of dreams and suffering?

                And yet… and yet…

                You raised your voice before them. For the briefest instant, you have been witnessed by all the Gods and now they judge, giving you the briefest of moments to explain yourself. For what kind of mortal would dare presume to interrupt a God?

                Only an insane one, of course. Too bad Tobias isn’t here, but you’ll just have to make do.

                Clearing your throat, you push yourself up to unsteady feet, despite the agony of it. Your body is broken and not going to be fixed, that much is evident, but you’ll be damned before you let this sham go on. In truth, those probably are your two options anyway. And you’ll be damned if you let yourself be damned!

                “You’re just going to kill her? End Dollora? Are you fucking retarded?”

                The assembled Gods, even Dollora, gasp in surprise at your tone. Hevensferth gives you an imploring look while Sveth reaches out a hand to silence you.

                “You. I know you.” Solos says, staying Sveth’s hand. “A Wizard named-“

                “Who cares what I am.” You say, slapping your hand to your chest, which hurts. “At the moment all I am is someone who has fought tooth and nail to stop this travesty, and I am NOT going to just let you end it all without at least saying my piece!”

                “Insolence!” Phallia says, raising her hand toward you. Power wells up there, enough to obliterate you to the point that not even Nerg would take your soul. Solos calmly places his hand on hers and shakes his head, eyes tired.

                “No. That’s enough.”

                Phallia looks at him with concern before narrowing her eyes and turning away, arms folded under her breasts. Before her and Solos still kneels Dollora, her animal eyes searching your expression, a look of bewilderment on hers.

                “You’re right, that is enough.” You spit. Well, he didn’t obliterate you, so you’re going to talk. “You’re the God of Gods, the one who created everything, and yet you can’t see what’s right before your eyes. You claim that your children broke your commandments and that’s why Dollora must suffer, but don’t you break your own commandments? Don’t you meddle in this world far more than any of them do?”

                “Merely because you are gifted a modicum of my power does not give you the right to speak in this manner.”

                “Speaking of which, why did you give us this power? After Dollora supposedly did what she did, you barred the others from interfering, but then you went and made Wizards? Doesn’t Holy Magic also exist? What about that time you saved Veronica from death? Hasn’t your hand been far more prevalent upon this world than others?”

                Before he has a chance to speak, you push further, all your frustrations spilling out bare before the God of Gods.

                “You say you cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by their meddling. But you didn’t react until all three of them gave us the power to stop even further suffering. Were you even watching? Or did you not want to watch? Was it only when you felt guilty enough that you stepped in?”

                “Wizard…” Fillios begins, but you hold up your working hand to cut her off, much to her surprise.

                “Oh no, no, no. Let’s move onto the next part of your reasoning here. You think that just removing your children or whatever the relation you have with the other Gods, I don’t fucking know, will somehow alleviate the suffering? You think starting over is just going to magically make things better? I mean I ain’t gotta explain shit when I cast a spell but I better fucking think of the consequences you fucking faggot ass retard.”

                “Did he just call Solos a faggot ass retard?” Sveth mutters, staring at you with a mix of horror and respect.

                “So you’ll kill Dollora, or return her to your body, or whatever fanfiction called a divine book you want to read says would happen? What will that do? Will all the Monsters revert back to their original forms? Or will Monsters vanish? What happens to us, huh? Doesn’t Dollora have a touch upon basically everything that moves? Even better, if the Monsters return to normal, they’ll fucking KILL US.”

                Pointing an accusatory finger straight at Solos, you look him in his storm-grey eyes and say, “Now tell me, hypocrite of hypocrites, why your daughter of all things, deserves to die by your hand?”

                The room is deathly silent. No other God or mortal dares speak as Solos’ gaze bores down upon you, drilling through your eyes and into your soul. Slowly, Solos extends his hand to hover just over Dollora’s head. She gasps and then looks down again, as if accepting her fate. It seems that despite your best efforts, he’s still going to do what he set out to do. Maybe he’ll never acknowledge how much of a faggot he is, but if he thinks he’s going to get away with this scot free…

                Your hand slides into your bag for something you picked up during the battle. Power channels into it, the last remaining you have from Solos as he prepares to annihilate Dollora. So be it then, you’ll just have to be swift and-

                “And so you’ll slay her without any form of arbitration? Just like that?”

                This time the God’s attentions are turned to another voice, the one positioned behind Hevensferth. The God steps aside as Rommel drags his own broken form up. He pointedly does not look at you as he growls, “Even if you don’t acknowledge your own hypocrisies, perhaps you could acknowledge that your anger is misplaced. That perhaps Dollora is innocent this entire time.”

                “Rommel…” Hevensferth begins, hesitant to allow you further. But at the same time, he knows his sister is probably innocent. Given what he is the God of, he cannot just let this lay, can he? Knowing this full well, he begins to shudder before finally turning to Solos and saying, “Let the mortal say his piece as well!”

                “Et tu, Hevensferth?” Solos mutters. “Then so be it. You believe I am in the wrong, for punishing her for her actions?”

                “The only thing Dollora is guilty of-“ Rommel says, dragging himself closer to Dollora. When he reaches the kneeling Goddess, he places his one good hand on her head, just below Solos’ hand. “-Is being a weakling who won’t stand up for herself when she did nothing wrong.”

                Dollora’s eyes go wide and she begins to cry, tears more pure than the highest mountain spring pouring from her eyes. Though you wish to interject, you know that Rommel and Dollora have more of a connection than you ever will. And so, even though you want to add in your voice as well, you allow Rommel to say what all of you are thinking.

                “So you say your children meddling in this world is a capital offense, that Dollora’s actions are egregious, and once again brought about a calamity which you wished to avoid by issuing your commandment. Personally, I’m all for the Gods keeping their noses out of our business, but at the same time, I cannot ignore how fundamental they are to everything that makes this our world.”

                He slowly begins to pat Dollora’s head, the Goddess’s tears continuing to flow, unabated. “Yeah, the world is some shit right now. Monsters going berserk, war on multiple fronts, distrust and anger between Man and Monster. And yet it wasn’t Dollora’s fault. In all of this she is innocent.”

                Hevensferth slowly nods his head while Solos, his hand over Rommel’s waits, and listens. “So if it’s not Dollora who did all of this, then we’d have to rule out the others, right? These three standing here have no power over such things, nor could they create such influence. They provided us boons, yes, but only after we came searching for them and only a month ago! What’s been going on has been happening for far longer!”

                He looks about. “I don’t see Nerg or Jackor here either, which means you’re not concerned about them, are you?” He doesn’t wait for a response and merely continues, “So if it’s not them, and it’s not these three, then that leaves either Dollora or Phallia.”

                “Indeed.” Phallia says. “And these Monsters, these children of my dear sister, are bound to her as plants are bound to me. Those which have sentience are due to her influence, not mine!”

                “And yet who do the Plant Monsters owe fealty to? Whose name is on their lips every time they slit a throat, or infect an innocent? Dollora accidentally made them Monsters, but it is not to her whom they serve. In truth, it would be the beast Monsters which are more likely to be under her control, yet as we have demonstrated, it was the Plant Monsters, the very Queen of their kind, who have thrown this world into chaos this time, controlling the leylines and infesting people with mutated spores.”

                He nods around the room. “And what a stupid plan for Dollora to enact if this was her fault. What has she ever done that would make you believe that she wished for anything but her children to flourish? They’re currently living rich and fulfilling lives alongside humans, so why would she want to throw that to the winds? How would that further anything she desires, or even harm her sister, if you are to blame her for the same actions as the past?”

                Dollora begins to sniffle as his hand works around her head, the angelic appendance working without his attentions, moving as if it knew what to do without his input. As it continues to soothe the Goddess, he presses forward.

                “And what reason would she have to do this now, of all times? Were not her Monsters empowered before the meddling of that idiot over there? A meddling you clearly allowed to occur, thank you very much. She could have induced a chaos like this centuries ago, yet she was content to cry every day in her little space, a place you easily could breach as you demonstrated here today. She could have reached out with her power, directed her children, and driven them to cause havoc, yet it was the Plant Monsters, those she the least connection with, who were the instigators this time around. Perhaps it could be blamed entirely on them, but would three other Gods have agreed to come here if it were only that? Would I be so fucking pissed if it were only that?”

                He shakes his head and growls, “No, there is someone to blame for all of this and it is not Dollora. You need only look down beside you to find the architect of this misery.”

                Solos turns his head slowly to look down at Phallia. She blinks up at him, face scandalized, tears forming in her eyes. “Solos you can’t expect to believe the words of a mortal in this. Their fragile lives are filled with such misinformation, such hatred, that they cannot help but make false accusations! This one had troubles with those who used my name in vain, much as warriors use Sveth’s name without his consent! I cannot help those who wish to abuse a connection with me, just as you do not punish those who use your own gifts in an unfit manner.” She looks at you and Rommel the entire time she says that, punctuating that point.

                “I see.” Solos says, nodding his head. “You would blame Phallia for the actions of others, when the root cause is something more, something stemming from a hatred I should have stopped long before.”

                “Hatred?” Rommel says, laughing. “Of course she would hate her sister. Anyone would hate someone who tried to have her killed. But tell me, what kind of depraved being would sit there and meekly offer themselves to their fate rather than fight back, than to try to lie and weasel their way out?”

                Solos looks down at Rommel, his eyes narrowing. “You would insinuate that Phallia wishes for her sister’s demise?”

                “Of course. She’s always wanted that, the jealous bitch, but you’ve been too blind to notice.” Rommel’s eyes go wide then, as if he had an epiphany. “Or perhaps you just didn’t want to see. Because that would imply you made a mistake, a mistake just as grand as-“

                Rommel’s voice cuts off as Solos stares at him. The man feels around at his throat before looking back at the God of Gods, who now has an imperious expression upon his face. “Do not presume to speak as glib as you did before. You know nothing of what you speak and you have done little to earn a sliver of my attentions. Your words are wind in this, even though you became a Wizard.”

                “Then what of my words, your radiance?”

                Solos looks up to see a pitiful figure rise from the center of the room. Veronica, broken and battered, has a look of serenity on her face as she kneels, clearly unable to do much more than that. “Oh Solos, hallowed be thy name. As your servant, I humbly sit in your presence and ask your leave to speak.”

                The God sighs, an all too human gesture, and says, “Devout daughter, speak thy words.”

                “Blessed be. In thy radiance I am humbled. However…” She looks up, expression firming. “I cannot be too humble now. In this most serious of times, I must say my piece as well. From my travels across this land and my battles with these Wizards have I seen the faith, true and reciprocated, being used to further these ends. When I ask for your guidance I knew the gentle pulse of your power for which I borrow is a consent upon your will. Much as I believe the Priestesses of the Dark and those of the Plants receive the consent of their own Goddesses.”

                She places a hand to her heart. “It is my opinion, one which I pray you receive, that such feats could not be accomplished without the guidance of Phallia toward and end which would leave her sister at your mercy, to be unmade, and with it, the unmaking of the Plant Goddesses’ crimes.”

                Both you and Rommel’s words seemed to have little effect upon Solos. Veronica’s, however, does. It is profound enough to make Solos frown, his concentration put into considering her words as the niggling sensation of doubt creeps into his thoughts.

                “Solos, I understand she is one of your blessed, but that she would turn you against me is unthinkable! I do not know what Dollora has done to possess them in this manner but-“

                “Shut your trap.” You say, waving your hand and accidentally releasing a [Gust] that sweeps through and ruffles the clothing of everyone present. Solos seems unaffected in the slightest, but Phallia glares at you as she pushes down her skirt, knowing you saw what was underneath. Not that it matters anyway as you continue.

                “If you won’t listen to us Solos, then how about them, your own Gods, eh? They back us as well.”

                Solos looks to the other three Gods, who nervously look between themselves, then to Solos. They nod their heads and speak, starting with Sveth.

                “I have judged the worthiness of the Wizard before you and found his resolve as solid as rock. His words, experiences, and deeds paint the picture of a man who believes steadfast in his convictions and would not lie. It is my opinion that he is correct, and that Phallia has perpetuated this act.”

                Fillios speaks next. “Those who would worship me and are content to leave well enough alone were not spared my sister’s attentions. Were it not for the actions of the foul mouthed Wizard, then they all would have been lost and… and I don’t know if I could…” You see her expression change multiple times, Dollora watching her with extreme empathy.

                “I am but an observer, one who has watched the events unfold and corroborated with my siblings. When it is all put together, however, it seems likely that Phallia… has been related to these actions.”

                Solos looks at each in turn, his face growing darker and darker. He takes a deep breath and says slowly, “You would have me believe that, without proof, Phallia has been the one who orchestrated, against my will, such chaos? When all of you, Dollora included, have defied it for so long? I have ignored, perhaps even tolerated such minor infractions as punishment for such is… is…” He closes his eyes and swallows before continuing to speak. “But how can I sit back any longer? How can I allow such hatred to perpetuate? Without proof of wrongdoing, Phallia has been clean and by my side almost constantly and where I can see her.”

                Rommel taps his throat until Solos relents and allows him to speak. “Yes, except in places you can’t see her. Probe my memory, you’ll see proof of her and her plan. Of her trying to directly destroy a mortal.”

                Solos holds out a hand to do so, but as he does, Phallia brushes against the man and he gasps, placing a hand to his head as if in pain. The God of Gods reads through his memories and frowns before saying, “Such a memory you’ve shown does not incriminate Phallia, but in fact it exonerates her and shows the true criminal.” He turns to Dollora and narrows his eyes. “You sought to murder him in the scar you tore in this land?”

                Rommel’s eyes go wide and he holds up a hand. “No! That’s not right that… look, she tried to push me into the chasm but… no that doesn’t sound… but I remember-“

                “Human memory is fragile, but this is… distressing.” Phallia says, pulling back to Solos, her face a mask of fear. “She… she tried to kill him and yet he thought… oh no.”

                You narrow your eyes and clench your good fist. Damnit, damnit all to the hells. Did she just alter Rommel’s memory? If so then your greatest piece of evidence is gone, lost to the winds and instead as done the opposite for you. He’s already against you and your words, but he’ll take whatever he needs to not have to face the truth. If only there was someone who could help, someone with evidence, someone who is able to see both sides and has the information you require. Someone like…

                “JACKOR!” You shout to the sky. “REVEAL YOURSELF YOU FAGGOT!”

                Solos, ignoring you, places his hand upon Dollora’s head. He looks down at her and says, voice angered, “Do you have last words, my wayward daughter?”

                She looks at him, eyes still filled with tears and says, “I love-“

                Another hand appears atop Solos’ making the God of Gods pause and look at the newcomer.

                Standing there is the Trickster God, the one and only Jackor. He has a look of consternation on his face, as if he’s warring within himself if he wants to do what he’s done. Eventually he sighs and looks up at his father.

                “Don’t… don’t kill Dolly, please?”

                “You of all the Gods ask for my favor?” Solos says. “You, who hides in the shadows and serves only himself? You, who is tolerated only just by your siblings? You would ask that I spare she who is unredeemable?”

                “Yeah.” He says. “Yeah I am.”

                “Why?”

                “Jackor, what are you doing?” Phallia hisses.

                “Because she didn’t do anything wrong.” The God says, shrugging his shoulders. “Because everyone here is right, and that Phallia is the only who perpetuated it all. Even back to the beginning.”

                “What do you mean?” Solos says.

                “The Chasm of Regret, as the mortals call it.” He shrugs. “It was only supposed to be a simple prank that I helped with, nothing more. I couldn’t have expected it to turn out like this. How could I have foreseen such an event tearing apart the family?”

                The God’s shoulders slump as he looks away from Solos. “I thought the joke would be funny, but it’s gone on too long now. Someone has to end it, so read my memories, ones which slight of hand can’t alter.”

                Solos touches Jackor and his eyes go wide open. His mouth opens, then closes, before he turns to Phallia. His entire form quivers and he looks at her, confusion spreading upon her face.

                “Solos, it’s Jackor. You cannot believe anything he says, cannot believe anything any of them say! They’ve always been out to get me, you know this! You can only trust me!”

                “Can I?” He whispers, putting a hand to his face. “The mortals… your siblings… now this. Oh, what have I done?” He moans, a sound which rattles everyone, especially the Gods.

                Here was the God of Gods, acting in such a very… human manner. His actions, his words, they all speak to what you first noticed about him. They are the bearings of a father who just wants to do right by his children.

                “Solos…” You say, swallowing as you think of your words. “I know how… how difficult it is when your children make a mistake, when they do something dangerous and when they end up hurting others. It tears you apart inside. If you feel anything the way I do then… then you must know that such feelings can cloud your vision of the truth. Look upon the world, upon what has happened, and upon your own actions with eyes unclouded by the desire to protect. What have you done in order to keep your family together? And how have you failed to do so?”

                Solos closes his eyes and places a hand to his head. He takes a deep, shuddering breath before exhaling and looking up at the sky above. “I did it all to keep myself from blaming myself. Every little hypocrisy, every little thing I allowed. Even after Dollora isolated herself I thought that someday… someday I could… but no, I had to be strong. Too strong to bend, at least on the surface, and thus I allowed Phallia to sneak beneath me, and perform such crimes against her own family.”

                He raises his hand to Phallia and asks, “What are your last words?”

                “W-what? No! It’s Dollora’s fault, she did all of this, why would do this to me! Solos we’re meant to be together, not h-“ She cuts off as he turns his hand over to Dollora, who looks up at him with a pathetic smile.

                “And you?”

                “If such is my fate, then I want you know that I love you with every fiber of my being, now and forever.”

                Solos looks at her and chokes up, tears in his own eyes. “Oh… Oh no. What was I about to do-?”

                He places a hand to his head and lets out tears. Yes, the God of Gods, crying just as a human would. Some might think this a weakness, something which disqualified him from being a God. And yet, when you witness such a thing, all you can think is how amazing it is that Solos much you in his image, and that feeling such things is not weakness, but is a spark of the divine itself. For surely Solos had such emotions before he created man, and thus he gave them to you.

                “You… you’re going to spare her?” Phallia says, horrified. “After everything she’s done, you’re going to just spare her? She’s going to attack again! This world will never be pure until her Monsters are eliminated!” She puts a hand on Solos’ shoulder. “Come, let us return to heavens. Let us discuss this in private, where I may relieve all the tension she’s caused you, hmm?”

                “The game is up, Phallia.” Jackor says, shaking his head. “I’m sorry but you played your hand too heavy and got caught by some rats sniffing around. It happens to the best of us.”

                “Quiet you!” She hisses, turning to look at all the other Gods, who give her disapproving and venomous stares. “And the rest of you can vanish as well. I don’t need any of you but Solos! He and I will-“

                She cuts off as Solos removes her from him. Stepping back with a confused look upon her face, her mouth works without forming coherent words. “I… but… you…”

                “What do I do with you?” He whispers. “Can I ever trust you again? Perhaps… no… no it’s too much.” He says, looking away and to Dollora. “How could I refrain from ending one daughter, and then end the other?”

                “Y-you can’t be serious?” Phallia asks. “Without me, this world will wither and die! I am that which nourishes this otherwise barren husk! You need me!”

                “Do I?” Solos whispers. “I made you, I can unmake and redistribute your power just as easily.”

                She pales and says, “I… you can send me into exile for a time, if that’s how you feel. I’ll… I’ll think of how to be better! Like Dollora did!”

                Her twin looks at her with disgust, like she was looking at walking garbage. Phallia recoils from the expression before turning to Franklin, a pleading look on her face. “S-sure, I’ve erred from time to time, but tell him, tell him what a world devoid of plants would be like.”

                The Wizard looks down, his expression tortured. “We… could not survive without them.”

                “See? You can’t just be rid of me.” She says. “So I’ll just-“

                “But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. It’s better than having a genocidal bitch like you around.”

                Her expression flashes to anger before it becomes pleading again as she turns, surprisingly, to you.

                “You remember twenty years ago, when we met? When I thanked you? You’re a good sort, I see it in your heart. You understand the wisdom in letting me go, right?”

                No, no you really don’t. However, what she says might be true, that by removing her this world will be damned anyway. Perhaps Solos won’t listen to what you have to say, or perhaps he will. He’s been shown to listen to reason, as you’ve seen, so will he listen to what you have to say now? Perhaps, but you’ll never know unless you say your piece.

                To advocate for Phallia, Goddess of Plants, and the one who has made your life a hell to die, to live, or perhaps, another path? It might very well be that such a fate is in your hands. And even if it isn’t, just to have a chance after all this time to have your closure is something, even if it isn’t worth your sacrifices.  

                “No.” You say, words starting low and slow, but rising in intensity as you speak. “There is no wisdom in letting you go for your crimes. Mercy is for those who show a modicum of regret, but you’ve shown nothing of the sort. Punishment is your only recompense and it must be severe!”

                You’re shaking by the time you finish, though whether from anger, blood loss, or both, you’re not certain. All you do know is that Phallia stares at you with a look of surprise that turns to anger. She gits her teeth and points toward you, “You dare lecture me, you little wretch? It’s your meddling that lead to this world being this way, all of this can be traced back to you! I should obliterate you now and save this world!”

                A look of glee appears on her face as she holds her hand out toward you, readying herself for something… something that never comes. The Goddess looks at her hand, confused, before gasping and flipping about to Solos, who looks at her with pity.

                “Why…?” He asks. “Why are you doing this? What did I do wrong?”

                “Y-You didn’t… it was Dollora who… who…” She trails off as he looks at his expression, before slumping her shoulders, knowing she’s defeated. Taking a deep breath, she looks up at Solos with a tired expression, as if she’s given up the pretense of acting.

                “I love you Solos. I love you more than anything, and yet you showed your preference to HER.” She turns her head to Dollora, to whom she shows nothing but contempt. “Creating man together with her… having her by your side… the embraces you shared… why not me? Why didn’t I deserve it when my creations were far greater to this world than hers?”

                She chuckles and runs a hand through her hair. “Jackor was always one to pitch in for a prank. Though it didn’t go quite as intended, it did lead to my dear sister becoming what she is now.”

                Jackor looks down, his fist clenching. He knew exactly what he did and has been carrying that guilt all this time… or perhaps it was more of a fear of being caught himself that lead to this.

                “Phallia…” Dollora says, an animalistic growl in her voice.

                “My mistake, I suppose.” Phallia sighs, “Was pushing it this far. Was thinking that removing you forever was right. But perhaps I too shared a degree of guilt?”

                “Guilt you wanted expunged, so no one would find out the truth.” You spit.

                “I loved both of you, equally.” Solos says, his gaze sweeping along the other Gods, who look away from him. “Or so I had thought…”

                “It was… obvious.” Fillios says. “Your love for Dollora was more pure than anything I could create.”

                “It was solid and firm.” Sveth adds.

                “And it shone as the stars in the sky.” Hevensferth finishes.

                “Which is why it hurt them so badly when you exiled her.” Jackor sighs, sitting down on a root and running his hand through his hair. “And then to see you cozy up with Phallia after that… but what could we do? Your commandments are law and we saw the grief Dollora was under… none of us wanted to be that.”

                Dollora looks down, her teeth barred in a snarl, furred hands clenched.

                Solos watches her before turning back to Phallia, who looks up at him with pathetic eyes, tears on the brim. She whispers, “I did it all for my love of you. Any mistake I made, it was so we could be together, for eternity. With no interlopers.”

                The God of Gods takes a deep breath, rubs his temples, then sighs out. “And this is precisely why I cannot give you a pass. You are not repentant for your actions at all, and though I am loathe to… to do such a thing to one of my children I… I…” Tears begin to spill down his cheeks as he places his hand on her head. She looks at him with horror and tries to pull away, but she is unable to move, as if locked in place.

                “NO! NO SOLOS PLEASE! STOP THIS, I’LL DO ANYTHING! HELP ME! ANYONE HELP ME!”

                Her wings begin to wither away, the plants lacing her body drooping, and falling to the floor. The aura of divinity about her seems to wane as well, until it winks out, leaving her bare as a mortal as he drains all aspects of power from her. When he is finished, she slumps to the ground, naked, eyes filled with tears as she is undoubtably, no longer a God.

                Solos looks at the power in his hand and closes his fingers, absorbing it within him. Franklin gasps as immediately the plant life around you seems… weaker, as if the spark of life within them is not nearly as potent. If this continues, then soon enough they will all wither and die.

                “I see.” He says, closing his eyes. “This is a power perhaps I should have kept for myself. Used it as a foundation from what the rest of you built. But I also lacked the creativity to make what Phallia did, and to shape it in such a manner. It does not feel right to keep it to myself.”

                “Then give it to one of the other Gods.” You say. “We can’t really live that well without plants. If you can’t then make like a giant tree and imbue it with the power, I don’t care.” Sighing, you slump your shoulders, “I just want to live out my life with my family.”

                “Ah, my child.” Solos says, nodding his head. “You truly are my creation as well, aren’t you?”

                He looks at his hand and then about to the other Gods. They look between each other, eyes turning to Fillios. The Goddess of the Seas looks pensive and takes a step forward before biting her lip. She makes to say something, then lowers her head and looks at Dollora.

                “She should have the power. The responsibility.”

                Sveth and Hevensferth look surprised before nodding their heads, agreeing with the proposal. Hevensferth says, “Since they are so intertwined, she would be able to use it efficiently, and it would mesh with her current creations anyway. It is the most logical conclusion.”

                Dollora looks around at the other Gods, then to her sister, who stares at her with blank, unbelieving eyes. She whispers, “But to such an end, I would needs return to the heavens…”

                “Yes, yes, of course you would.” Jackor sighs. “I know you’re a little slow at times, sis, but can’t you see that everyone WANTS you back?”

                Her eyes widen and she looks up to Solos, who gives her a pained, yet happy expression. A soft smile appears on his face as he says, “Dollora. My daughter… my love. I cannot apologize enough for my own blindness, and the suffering it has caused. But perhaps together, we can shape this world differently, and reunite our family.”

                “Solos…” She says, tears spilling freely from her eyes as she nods her head emphatically. “I accept!”

                He holds out his hand and she takes it as he pulls her into an embrace. They pull apart for the briefest instant before she kisses him, and receives the power of life itself.

                Her raven black hair turns golden and her complexion, which was pale and cold, becomes filled with a healthy vigor. Her animalistic features- the furred and clawed hands and feet, tail, and ears- remain while her horns shrivel and reform into a halo of bark. The membranous wings at her back shoot outward and change in a wave of radiance, becoming feathers of brilliant white while her drab, feral attire shifts into a dress of woven leaves.

                As the kiss intensifies, roses of the purest pink, white, and yellow sprout from her wings, dress, and halo while you have to shield your eyes from the intensity of her power, now magnified with that of her sisters. When she pulls away from him, she opens the same, black sclera eyes as before, but instead of anger, resentment, and sorrow, you see only happiness and a beautiful smile below.

                You can only collapse to your knees at the sight. Or, as mentioned before, the blood loss, but you’re pretty sure it’s just the beauty before you. You’re not certain you’ve ever used the term “angelic” in an appropriate manner before today, as not even Phallia nor Fillios could match her. Paired next to Solos, such a sight could only make you weep, and weep you do.

                “Heh, who knew you cleaned up so well?” Jackor chuckles as he notices the root beneath him seeming more hale. “Though you’re keeping the fur? You’re going to shed everywhere.”

                “It is who I am now.” Dollora says. “The Monsters are my children, such as women are. They live, they laugh, they love, and I will not deny them now that I have returned to my original form.” She chuckles, tears still streaming from her eyes, “And I enjoy having a tail.”

                “Are you comfortable with this?” Sveth asks Solos, who nods his head.

                “I was never upset over Dollora’s children, merely they way they came to be. But I would not allow them to destroy humanity either, and thus the Wizards were created to be their protectors. It was not until recently that it occurred that perhaps man and Monster could live together in a harmony.”

                He smirks at you, pathetic little you, and says, “Perhaps it was your fault, in the end.”

                “I… I don’t know how to take that.” You say, feeling both drained and elated. “But… but though Dollora now has control over life, it does not change the fundamental flaw, that which will keep our races in conflict.”

                “The children.” She says. “I know, but I had no power to change it, and for the longest time, no desire to change it either. No desires but to weep in my corner, and watch as my children spread through violence and sometimes, if I was lucky, through love.”

                She looks up at Solos and then to her own hand. “But now… with your blessing, my love?”

                He closes his eyes and nods his head. “I would not have given you such power, if I didn’t believe with certainty that you could handle it.”

                Dollora nods and walks over to the flowerbed. She pauses when she reaches the broken form of Maya, who lays on the ground, immobile. Gently she kneels down and puts a hand on her and whispers something. Around her body sprouts plant life which grows and wraps around her, making her one with them as the form a small tree. It sits there in the sunlight, alone and gentle, and you’re certain it will be quiet and peaceful for quite awhile.

She continues forward to where Veronica kneels, broken body barely hanging on. She places a hand on the woman’s cheek, and kisses her forehead. Veronica gasps and looks at her body as her wounds are mended. She places a hand to her belly as well, and weeps, tears flowing freely there. She bows and shuffles away, giving the Goddess reign to perform her actions.

                A rumbling sound is heard as the ground beneath the plant explodes upward, revealing a well made of plant life. Within, you sense the incredible power of the Leylines, now uncorrupted by the influence of Phallia’s minions. She places her hand out, and in a fashion similar to your own work all those years ago, but more concentrated, as if the power was one with her own. With a pulse of raw power of creation, she does something that fundamentally shifts the world as you know it once again.

                From over in the corner, you hear Tabitha gasp as she comes awake, having passed out some time before. She blinks about, confused, and looks down at her legs, which are still non-functional, whoops. Ignoring that, she places a hand to her own belly and says, “What the…?”

                “It is done.” Dollora says as she twirls about, skirt swirling around her. Her expression reminds you of one you’ve seen on Selene’s face when Sophie and Sylphie were born: The joy of a mother.

                “What… is done?” Franklin asks, confused. “What did she do?”

                “The laws she wrote with only the power she had have been changed with the blessing of Solos and the power of life itself.” Jackor says, waving a finger. “Which means Monsters are now going to be able to have male children, isn’t that right?”

                “Yes.” Dollora says, holding her hands together. “It may take some generations, but Monsters will no longer have to raid for human males. No reason for conflict or violence over what should be a happy union.”

                “Are we talking like, Monster boys or something?” You ask, confused.

                “Well, no I don’t quite have that ability.” Dollora laughs, her voice blissful to your ears. “They will be as human as their fathers.”

                “Yes.” Solos says. “I believe otherwise, we will not have fixed anything.”

                “Then… it’s over.” You whisper. “It’s… done.”

                “Maybe.” Jackor says, thumbing at Phallia, who has been mute this entire time. “What should we do with her?”

                “Kill her.” Rommel says, his voice loud and clear, though his attention is on his wife. “Be rid of her forever.”

                “I agree.” Franklin says. “Though honestly, what does out input have on this?”

                “Little.” Solos says, turning back to his broken child, who just witnessed everything fall apart around her. “There is yet one opinion I have left to hear, one which would I would like to. Now then, show yourself, Nerg.”

                Something in the air begins to stink, and you wrinkle your nose. It’s not exactly a physical stench, but one that makes your magical senses tingle, as if it was curdling like milk. It’s not a surprise to know that when you look over next to Solos, you’d see the form of a newcomer- Nerg. What is a surprise, however, is what the God looks like.

                Nerg is as tall as Solos but has a far different build. Where Solos is muscle and masculinity, Nerg appears to be closer to Hevensferth in build- that is to say he is lean. His short hair is black and he wears a pitch black suit in a manner similar to that of Jackor, though he looks more like a butler than anything. His skin is a very pale shade of white, close to what Dollora had before however, and his eyes, when he opens them, are a violent shade of green that reminds you of what a corpse smells like.

                He is not at all what you’d have expected to see, in all honesty. Most depictions of the God of Death are a fat, disease ridden man with pudgy features and a jovial expression. Though he does smile, it seems to be with a hint of sadness this time as he bows to Solos.

                “Ah, a family gathering and I wasn’t invited? You wound me!”

                “You were watching all along.” Jackor says, rolling his eyes. “I bet you were just waiting for a moment like this, you drama queen.”

                “Oh please. I am quite busy recently, much and more death has been wrought, I have my duties to tend to while the rest of you galivanted about. Of course, I am surprised to find that my dear sister Phallia was the cause of the misery from so long ago.” He sighs, “Whatever shall we do with you?”

                “That is the question.” Solos says. “And you’re the one who rules the afterlife that you created.”

                “Of course, of course.” Nerg chuckles. “Her crimes are high, and obliteration would not be unwise. I’ve seen many of her stock, who grovel and try to worm their way out until they can stab someone in the back. They suffer greatly, then it is their time. Merely stripping her of her power and sending her to the world below is not enough.”

                He stands before Phallia and lifts her chin with his finger. “Dear, dear, dear sister. Your creations have been wondrous you know. Such life as they grow, such death as they bring, keeping the cycle over and over. It is beautiful. But you must be punished more.” He leans forward and says, “With no hope of redemption.”

                Her eyes widen and he turns to Solos. “You can’t bring yourself to obliterate her, can you?”

                “I… will do as I must.”

                “Then no, you cannot. Perhaps in the future, but not now. I will take her in my care then. She will be one of my charges and her suffering will fit her crimes until I believe she’s had enough. When that time comes…”

                “I will consider it.” Solos says, visibly relieved from having to make the choice now. “Take her then.”

                Nerg stands and chuckle as from the shadows nearby, the forms of two armored women with ghostly pale skin appear. One is tall and has blonde hair while the other is short, with black hair. They step up to Phallia and grab both her arms, dragging her up.

                “Oh heeeeey, I remember her!” The short one says, pointing to Veronica. “Hey! Look I’m back! Haha! Maybe I’ll get you kill you someday!”

                “Hush, Violet.” The taller one says, her expression serious.

                “D-Delilah?” You ask, surprised to see the Dullahan here.

                “Ah… Wizard. I’m sorry but I’m on official business.”

                “Oh I don’t mind.” Nerg says, waving his hand. “We’re about concluded anyway.”

                “Well then.” She says, nodding her head before smiling at you. “I was looking forward to seeing you in the hells quite a few times recently… but I suppose that will have to wait. We’ll meet eventually, one way or another.”

                “I… can’t wait.” You say, not certain of the right response here. “But it is good to see you again.”

                “Oh yeah, lady who killed me!” Violet says to Veronica. “That guy you were with said ‘I’m glad I don’t see her here.’ Or something to that effect. I’m kind of sad you’re still alive though.”

                The woman looks over to the pile of plant life which devoured Bardam, and bows her head, understanding that he’s well and truly gone. The Dullahan purses her lips at receiving no response and huffs before being chided by Delilah again.

                “N-Nerg, you aren’t really going to-?” Phallia whispers, tears streaming down her face.

                “Someone has to take this job.” Nerg says. “But at least I enjoy it. Well, until our next meeting, family, be well! And mortals? I’ll see you eventually!”

                He takes a step backward and fades from view while the Dullahans do the same, dragging the sobbing Phallia with them back into the hells.

                “Did I make the right decision?” Solos asks to Dollora, who walks up and puts a hand on his chest.

                “I don’t know. How can we know? Perhaps obliteration would be kinder than what Nerg will do to her.” She says. “But if I had to choose between her destruction or otherwise… I don’t know if I could do it.”

                You’re in the same boat, of course. While a strong part of you knows obliterating her would have been the best, there was enough though to make you question it. Maybe she’s right, maybe it would have been kinder to destroy her utterly. But she’s not going to touch your world ever again, and that’s all that matters.

                “Then it is time to return to the heavens.” Solos says, wrapping an arm around Dollora’s back. His gaze turns to you and he smiles. “I don’t know what you think of a God who has acted in this fashion, but I thank you for your part in uncovering Phallia’s deception. While we still will distance ourselves… or try to, I believe the world is in capable mortal hands.”

                The other Gods nod their heads and say their thanks before vanishing from your sight. Jackor waves at you and says, “Ahhh, maybe I should take some of that idiot’s insanity away again… ehhh just enough that I can still fuck with him, hahaha…ha… anyway, bye!” He too vanishes, leaving only Solos and Dollora.

                “Know that we’ll be watching you and go with our blessing.” She says, looking at you. “And you, Rommel. Thank you for your warmth as well. I wish you and your wife a bounty of children, and a blessed life.”

                “Thank you.” He says, bowing his head. “And you as well, Goddess.”

                “Ah.” Solos says, as if remembering something. “There is someone else with my blessing who wishes to speak with you. He is very insistent on giving his thanks.”

                You cock your head when Dollora chuckles, “Yes, yes, but he’s not going anywhere. However you should take care of something far more immediate.” She points at your bag which opens and from within flies out the heart-shaped sigil you have connected to Selene. You take it from the air and stare at it.

                “Farewell, and thank you.” They say in unison, before vanishing from sight.

                The sigil pulses in your hand and you hear from it the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard.

                {Love… are you there?}

                {Yeah.} You send, unable to keep the tears from spilling down your cheeks. {I’m here… and I’m coming home.}

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