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Courage - Kindness - Fear


The mighty roar of the sea was tumultuous and terrifying as wave after wave of water crashed against the legs of the colossi that stood with defiance against the endless assault. Even as dawn approached, the light seemed to be suppressed and muted, hidden behind a subtle cloud of darkness. All of this reminded the three champions of their promise to the goddess of honor, and her inevitable return when she would discover that they had been unworthy of her faith.

"We lost them..."

Neither of her sisters immediately said anything in response to the words Fear had spoken, for they continued to stare southward where the thieves had fled upon their strange metallic vessel, and none of them could quite explain what had happened. The culprits were creatures they had never seen before, and had successfully stolen hundreds of their sleeping kin before any of them were even aware what was transpiring.

The waves had washed away the thieves and their tracks, and Fear could see no way of following after them. Even if she could, there was the great sea that stood between them, and the anxious champion recalled the last time the water had nearly claimed her life. The cold. The dark. She couldn't help but shudder at the memory and clutched the amulet that warded away the cold wind.

Courage turned and stalked away angrily, and Fear realized that her sister likely needed time to calm down and rest after chasing the intruders throughout the confounding halls of the colossus. When she had found Courage standing at the edge where a hall opened out into the outside above the sea, she felt panic upon thinking that her reckless sister would leap after her quarry. Fortunately she had not, but the shattering terror was only replaced with the throbbing pain of shame afterward.

"I promised to protect them." Fear said, her voice weak with guilt, and silent tears trailing down her cheeks.

Kindness placed a hand upon her sister's shoulder, and spoke softly.

"There was nothing you could do, Fear. But... I know She will forgive you as well."

Her sister shifted suddenly as arms reached out and held onto her. Fear let herself be enveloped in the soft embrace of Kindness, and she could not stop herself from crying as her thoughts tormented her with vicious mockery.

Too weak to stand without the support of her sister, and too weak to prevent the thieves from escaping. She was supposed to protect them, but she could not fight. She was just pretending she was anything more than a burden to those around her.

"I... I'm glad you are still here..." Kindness murmured to her sobbing sister, and continued to cling onto her. The winds were howling and tugging at them, but the two remained rooted where they stood and found themselves unbothered by its presence.

The humiliation hurt, as anguishing over their defenseless kin only caused her to ache all over, but Fear felt the pain abate a little since she was not suffering alone. She wanted to hide and flee from her failure, however her sister refused to let her go. Kindness kept her from running away.

"Shouldn't you comfort Courage?" Fear asked, and was surprised by the sudden bitterness of her own voice. The unspoken resentment.

"Please, do not do this."

"It's the truth. There is only one of you, and you should be with Courage now. Not with me." She recognized the scorn she held for herself; how she despised her desires to be of use, but ultimately being useless, pathetic in the end. She should not be keeping Kindness away from those that may actually serve a purpose.

"You deserve my compassion as well, Fear." The tender touch of her tone and the gentle strength in her arms all were akin to powerful chains that held the anxious and stunned champion now caught in contradictory pain and relief. But Kindness was wrong; making a mistake! Fear was aware that if she accepted the solace of kindness, she would only bring suffering to both of them when she inevitably failed again and again in the future. If she separated herself from her sister now, she could avoid that painful path... she could avoid letting everyone down.

"Am I interrupting something?"

Both Kindness and Fear turned to look at their sister who had returned and stood with an irritated expression directed towards the duo. Her arms were crossed in front of her, and none of the anger she had when she left seemed to have faded.

"No, it's nothing." Fear said as she stepped back and looked down before Kindness could explain. Courage shook her head, exasperated with the feeling of defeat. "Enough of that! We're going to get them back!" She shouted at her sulking sisters.

"How? We cannot. You already know this." Kindness answered, and stepped towards her brash sister. She stood between Courage and the sea beyond, refusing to let the reckless champion from continuing. The roar of the sea did not abate; the clashing waves and violent winds a reminder of the inevitable fate of any who would dare trespass in its domain.

"We walk on water, like our maker." Courage replied.

"Did you hit your head when you smashed into those walls? We cannot." Kindness spoke firmly, the difference from her quiet voice had caught Courage off guard, and created an uncomfortable silence that lingered for too long.

"Perhaps you can't, but Fear and I aren't afraid." With those words, Courage grabbed Fear and pulled her past the angered Kindness. She leaned close and whispered to the anxious champion. "We can do this. Don't be frightened, sister." Between two pillars on the precipice of the crown, the two of them peered over the edge to the sea below.

"I can't." Fear whispered to herself, and tried to free herself from her sister's grasp.

Courage simply sighed, her vice grip unbroken. "Then you would abandon your kin? You would betray our maker?" She asked with vehemence. As she spoke, her hair began shimmering, her skin faintly glowing, and her words were suffused with power.

"What would you do if you found the thieves? Will you fight them? Kill them? Is that what you think our maker would want?" Kindness interrupted and took hold of Courage's shoulder. However her subtle resolve did little to extinguish the conviction of Courage, and fear found herself alone against the world as her two sisters argued with each other.

"I would make them give me back what they took!" Courage yelled, and shook Fear with her frustration.

"And how would you bring them back? You cannot carry all of them." Kindness stepped back with sorrow in her eyes.

"I would use their ship! I'm not a fool, Kindness. I know what I'm doing, and I won't let you stop me!" Courage fiercely pointed her finger at her sister, and glowered. Her shimmering visage seemed to flicker after she had spoken.

"So be it, I will not stop you." Kindness said, but could not look at either of her sisters, ashamed after relenting to Courage's demand. Even when Fear sought her gaze, she could not look.

"I'm taking Fear too."

"As I said, I will not stop you, but... please, promise me this. Promise me both of you will come back."

Kindness wanted to cry when Courage approached and embraced her. She wanted to cry when her foolish sister spoke more madness to her. "I wanted you to come with us." But Kindness found that no tears would come. Courage continued to speak to her, as she held her. "Have faith in us, Kindness. We'll be back and laughing about this before our maker returns, isn't that right, Fear?"

Fear remained silent, but her skin began to shine, and her hair glittered with light as her inner flames stirred and crawled out towards the surface. Courage grinned and let go of Kindness, and the quiet champion watched as her two sisters stared out to the endless horizon.

"The power within us is the same as her's. We can and will do this." Courage bravely claimed, and called upon the might building up within her. The wind around her seem to sing and dance beckoned by the presence of otherworldly power.

Courage leapt from the colossus, soaring through the air, falling and falling, until she alighted upon the surface of the sea. The waves were pushed back, as they crashed against an crystalline barrier that tossed scarlet light outwards, and the water beneath the champion calmly rippled, separated from the rest of the raging sea. Akin to a truly massive beast, the waves lumbered and roared all around her, but Courage stood defiant against the great cacophonous presence.

Fear fell down beside her, afire and tense, surrounded by the sanguine sea and crystals conjured by her sister. She hesitantly took a step forwards and found that the crystals furthest behind her suddenly shattered, but the new shards were created ahead.

"We just have to keep moving forwards! We'll find them before she comes back!" Courage called back as she charged forth in the direction the thieves were last seen traveling.

Fear looked back to the three colossi, and the barely visible red figure atop one. She raised a hand in farewell, and promised that she would come back before following after her crazy sister.

---


Anger. Anger. All of them were swallowed by anger; the immense waves of water that raged without relent upon the scarlet shards that protected them, and Courage whom would only brazenly push onward, ignoring the calls for rest and reason from her exhausted sister.

There had been no respite, no moment of recuperation for the two champions, and Fear felt the fire within her become smaller and smaller as the crystals she conjured consumed more and more of its warmth. She was grateful that the amulets Chailiss had gifted them offered some shelter from the cruel winds and cold rain that came from above, but she could not continue this endless chase for much longer.

"Courage! Please! We need to stop!" Fear desperately called out, but her sister remained marching through the turbulent tides, ignoring her pleas and fatigue.

Summoning the last of her strength, Fear surged towards Courage and grabbed her sister by the shoulder. The action caused both champions to come to halt, then Courage turned back and snarled. "Do you see any land!?! We have no choice but to keep moving!"

Fear could see her sister breathing heavily from strain after sustaining the conjured crystals for so long. Fear felt the exact same strain and anxiety became dread as she couldn't see a way to save themselves, let alone their missing kin.

"Go! We can't stop!"

Courage pushed her forward? Backwards? All sense of direction was lost as there was only the sea and the darkened sky above. There was nothing to guide them. The crystalline barriers were fracturing faster and faster, there was less to shield them from the crashing waves.

"We can't! It's too much! We have to find land!" Fear shouted and looked back to her sister, and found only a few lingering red crystals where she had stood before. "Courage? Courage! COURAGE!"

Stumbling as she was struck by the water that rushed past the last of her shards, Fear frantically looked for any sign of her sister, her hands sinking into the bloodied sea, but grasped nothing.

Another shatter as the last crystal broke apart, and a powerful wave slammed into the terrified champion, pulling her beneath the surface.

Where? Where? Where? Fear's mind raced as she tried to find where Courage was. It was dark, and she couldn't breathe. The sea was choking her, strangling her with its immense strength. Courage... where are you?

She could the roar of the merciless sea echoing in the abyss around her, she was sinking further and further while her limbs became stiff and brittle.

Then she saw the light. Faint. Small. Red.

Courage was deeper in the darkness, but her skin still shone, and her hair was shimmering. It was enough for Fear to follow and reach out towards. So close, and yet so far. Her hand seemed to almost touch, before it broke away, and Fear could only watch as part of body slipped away and sank further. Drowning. Immersed in the memories of thousands upon thousands of corpses in the sea.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No! No! NO! NO! NO! No...

She couldn't keep her eyes open any longer. She couldn't move her body as even the protection afforded to her by her amulet was not enough to resist the cold grasp of the deep. She only felt numb, the words in her head were no longer making sense. Courage scolding her for sleeping, Kindness asking her questions about her favorite flower, Curiosity challenging her in a myriad of games, Wanderer singing when she thought there was nobody listening, and Homura...

She only wished she could've seen them all one more time.

Then there was nothing.

---


The song of the sea seemed sorrowful as the coming of dawn painted the vast stretch of water red and orange and pink. The sun had emerged over the horizon, but its presence seemed suppressed. Despite its keen gaze revealing the truths of the world and illuminating the land with its majestic radiance, there was also a shadow. The semblance of peace seemed on the verge of shattering, as if a terrible creature had grasped the throat of Galbar in its jaws and would soon to bite down.

She had waited for their return with desperate hope. She had prayed to her maker, to the King in Heaven, to any whom might hear her and offer her aid, but she was only greeted with silence.

Kindness was alone.

With the return of the sun, she had known her sisters would not come back. She had known that the sea had claimed them. She had them go because she was weak, and found that the inner fires that blazed in her sisters were so much more brighter than her own diminished flame. They could laugh and cry, dance and dash, and become overwhelmed by their feelings of pride and shame, but Kindness could not. Her emotions were always locked behind an obstinate veil even when she wanted to feel as free and strongly as those around her.

"Kindness."

The quiet champion looked behind her to the red goddess that stood facing her with an enigmatic expression, neither joyous nor angered. The same face as her two sisters. The same face that had given them their lives and purpose. All words eluded Kindness, and she could remain still. She was surprised by a sensation upon her cheeks. The wet feeling of a tear trailing downwards.

"Come child, you need not speak." Homura stepped towards her crying champion and held her in her arms. The first sin that had stained her creations, and taken their innocence from them too soon. Homura could only console Kindness, ease the pain, but not entirely erase it. She knew that more would come, and that this was only the beginning of something sinister that had seeped into the world.

"Save them... please." The mortal in her arms whispered, pleading with her.

"We must return to Keltra." There were three colossi, but only one champion to direct them. Their journey could not resume until more champions could command the colossi, but Curiosity and Wanderer were still at the fortress.

"No, we need to find Courage and Fear. We cannot leave them." Kindness retorted.

"Shh... sleep." Homura murmured before striking Kindness in the stomach and then placing a palm upon the champion's forehead. Kindness could not react as she found herself exhausted and falling into the realm of dreams.

The red goddess lifted her sleeping champion with one arm, resting her against her shoulder, then turned to look upon the colossi that would not move without guidance as she had ordained. She held up a hand, and called upon the innate divine power as she spoke and the world obeyed.

"The Red Goddess gives you wings!"

Bursting from their backs and sides, great celestial wings emerged from each of the colossi. The massive metallic creatures lifted themselves into the air, and glowed with an aura - a red radiance that enveloped them and sang otherworldly music that echoed all around. Their wings remained motionless, but carried them upwards, and Homura stood atop the crown of the colossus in the center.

"Let us make haste. Our enemies and our allies await us." She pointed with Daybringer, and the colossi bellowed in response. Then they soared across the sky westward like a great comet coming to crash upon the earth. Homura looked to Kindness with a sorrowful smile.

"I will explain in time. I just need more time..."


Homura


&






It was dark between the Galbar and the pale moon that had been scarred and assailed by the hands of the cruel divine, but the sole satellite and its heavenly radiance called to Homura, as the goddess of honor ascended upwards by the endless reach of Daybringer.

The golden spear had extended from the surface of Galbar to the massive crater that marked the center of the moon, and allowed the red goddess to reach her destination without encountering any trouble.

Then she heard a voice in her mind, piercing and tumultuous, yet filled with cosmic lucidity.

”I s̪͌ha̰͐ll͢͡ ̱̎div͈̋ô̠rc̆ͅe my͍͠ ͈̎touch f͉͋rom̧̒ ͖̓ṱ̀ḫ̌e ̡̋G̘̕al̛̞b̍͟ar̢̓'s surfȧ̦ce͇͝,͙́ an̼̄d r͖̀ȇ͙m̹̍aiņ̑ hè͓r͚̍e. Yoủ͚ ͇̘̱͑̃̇ḧ̨̡̲̪́͊̀͘ả̘͕̜͆̀vê̪̹̄ ̄͟m͖̠͙̊̌̈́y ̟̀w͔͑͐͜ò͎͎͈͕͌́͞rd̬̼͂̊.̠̼̘̈͑͒”


A promise. An oath. Homura felt compelled to seek out the source, and further understand what had happened. She feared what she may find, but continued her ascent. The song of the stars was the only solace from the harrowing silence surrounding her.

Daybringer had not struck the moon, for Homura could not ascertain whether it was awake or sleeping, so she had aimed for right above the crater. She could see the celestial light of her weapon’s tip illuminating the desolate realm. She could see deep within the crater, at its center, the presence of one of her siblings, and all around that crater, a cobweb of fractures, ravines, and craters that reeked of Iqelis’ ruinous power and marred the pale jewel.

This massive, deep crater that hollowed so much of the moon was like one great socket, and sitting within it was an unimaginably vast eye. There was nothing about Yudaiel’s ephemeral form to see, but Homura still felt it when the Prescient’s gaze suddenly was fixated upon her.

A sea of consciousness began to reach out toward Homura from that crater, but it came slowly, like the rising tides on the Galbar’s shores below, rather than aggressively surging at her like some oncoming storm. Daybringer, leveled right at Yudaiel’s pupil, offered some cause for trepidation and caution.

In response, the weapon was withdrawn as Homura came closer and closer to the vast eye, she allowed herself to let go and be drawn in by the waves of thought towards her sister. The red goddess closed her eyes, and spoke softly. “Show me.

One piercing note of sound erupted from nothingness and swept away the moon, the stars, the black voids between: all of the cosmos that had been arrayed before Homura’s sight were gone. Only sound remained. The note faded, but its echos resounded off of something, and in a majestic humming an alcazar was constructed.

Every bit as magnificent as the Monarch’s own jade halls, this palace was nonetheless different. All the grand columns and walls and vaulted ceiling were white, but they did not gleam like marble; it was as though hewn from the pallid stone of the moon, and upon every surface were engravings that were as beautiful as they were abstract and incomprehensible.

Space and reality moved in strange ways. All the palace was visible, and yet the walls were real and solid. In one moment Homura observed all from outside its grounds, the next from within a grand foyer, and the next from within a great hall that she knew to be its largest and finest, the very heart of this grand place. There were a dozen-dozen rooms large enough to have fit all of Keltra, the fountains and ponds outside were almost so grand as seas, and yet the scale and grandeur of this chamber seemed vaster still.

A pillar of flame erupted from a dais at the far end of the hall, and it projected a glowing warmth that filled the whole palace and made it feel somehow… homely. The crackling of the fire bid Homura welcome.


I have spoken with our vile brother, Iqelis. He was stained by godblood after committing the most grievous of sins. I ask now, would kin-slayers such as he be welcomed in this palace?” The red goddess asked after she bowed before the pillar of flames.

The very mention of that other god’s name elicited the flames to flare brighter, and for a long moment, the heat that they exuded was not comfortable. The bone-white stone all about Homura was not brightened by the growing pillar of fire, but rather it became grayer and darker. Her own shadow grew, too, larger and larger until it swallowed the room.

From the all-encompassing darkness there came the perception motion, and then the black was revealed to be a writhing swarm of flies, incomprehensibly vast, and at its center, one insect ever so slightly larger than the rest: Iqelis, Lord of the Flies.

The glowing white floor returned somewhere below, and was visible for all of a moment or two before clouds of dead and dying flies fell down to cover it. Time accelerated, and under the Flow’s withering march, the flies became dust. Iqelis, revealed now as the obsidian and many-armed fiend that he was, had his knees likewise give out as he was seized by some force of entropic recursion. The Lord of Doom had his knees and arms and teeth into smaller pieces that in turn became smaller and smaller until they were dust, and then nothingness, and Iqelis was left there before the returned pillar of flame, naked and crippled and feeble and broken. Hardly welcomed!

A barrage of other hypnagogic scenes flashed by: the mocking words and eye of Iqelis as he had first offered his foolishness and presumptions to Yudaiel, when they had met outside the palace. Then came their struggle as the two had raced up the palace and each filled the Codex with their dueling ideals and goals and conceptions of Time, and then came a glimpse wave of doom that had been hurled at the moon to crack and shatter it, and then the piece of that same wave that had been deflected down to wreak havoc upon Iqelis’ own machinations on the Galbar, days later!

Faster and faster the fevered images had been presented, too quick to truly understand all of it, but the emotion and intent was conveyed easily enough through the medium of ideabstraction. The pillar of flame emitted no smoke, but it breathed out a hatred and frightening malevolence towards Iqelis. At some point the room had grown so torrid that Iqelis’ broken form had been reduced to little more than a heap of slag, but then the blaze’s heat grew greater still, and the whole hall became one great crucible that tested Homura’s mettle, and that demanded her to yield her own thoughts.


I am acutely against the nihilistic nonsense he profusely pontificates, and he will suffer punishment for his grievous crimes.” Homura replied, only sparing a brief glance towards the melted manifestation of the god of doom.

The red goddess gracefully wove her hand through the illusion of reality, delicately touching each abstract atom and guiding them towards her. She resisted the temptation to recreate her champions and allow herself to enjoy their comforting company.

Her concern for them had continued to creep upon her further and further as she saw more and more of the world that the divine had built; sacred sanctuary seemed in short supply for many mortals across Galbar.

Forgive me, for I cannot atone on behalf of our brother, but I hope you will accept my gifts.” Homura said, as she called forth fabricated elements and shaped them into three primordial humans. They lacked any facial features aside from slits that suggested where such features should be found, and their scalps were without hair, as bald as the barren surface of Galbar once was. Their smooth skin was ashen and unblemished, akin to the pure white moon before the deprivations of Iqelis had been afflicted upon it.

Beings forged from earth, water, wind, and fire, to act as our shepherds for our creations. They will be the mortal expression of our will and desire, serving us, worshipping us. However, they are quite fragile, and their inner fires must continually feed lest they consume themselves.” The goddess of honor continued, as she caressed and cradled each of her conjured creatures in her arms. The three humans slept; softly breathing and restful as their maker held them, though they did not dream.

They seek sculpting from the divine, you may shape and paint them however you wish. I only ask that you guide them.” Homura arose and offered Yudaiel a small smile, as she stood before the altar of fire once more.

The column of flames danced to an exuberant and rapid beat, and its flickering light made the hall glow brighter. The wisps of dreams that Homura had fashioned into the likeness of humans vanished in a blink -- ideas were ephemeral, after all -- and the hall itself dissolved away. The ruined heap that had been Iqelis was long done, the blemish vanished as soon as he had been out of mind, and the flames breathed in. Homura found herself flung forward, pulled inexorably in, but the fire did not hurt even as it burned away her body.

She was formless now, resting upon a white rock. Above her was a sky of glass with a mirrored sheen. Upon the magical mirror, the Galbar presented its face before her, and her Sight was so potent that she saw more than just the verdant landmasses and the azure seas, the cerulean ribbon of an atmosphere and the drifting clouds within: she Saw the surface itself, and could discern even individual grains of sand if she squinted at a given spot. There were more meaningful things to examine than sand, though. Great, lumbering colossi wandered across the land and through the seas. They numbered eleven now, for one of them had been broken, and they each obeyed their programming and harvested the world’s bounty so that it could be refined and bent to the Creator’s will.

All except for three, that was, for three had been captured and had their cause subverted. Those champions whose presence Homura had longed for mere moments ago were now there; she could See them clearly, and yet they could not see her. Within the innards of one colossi, the vermillion hair of Courage and Fear flew wildly as they gave chase to some metallic fiend as it fled, another strange automaton upon its shoulder. It was a curious sight, but even more ponderous was how they all suddenly began running backwards.

With the Flow of time reversed, the sun rose in the west and set in the east, the rain erupted out of the land and the seas and hurled itself up into the heavens, and Iqelis arrived to offer a gift of seven lifeless humans. Even stranger than seeing this reversal, this perversion of reality, was Homura watching herself from some omniscient and higher angle.

The Flow quickened, and they looked further back to witness her encounter with Voligan. Ten-hundred-hundred husks were arrayed before Voligan, and Homura’s triplet champions eagerly claimed them all and carried them back into the colossi. And so it was for all those other deities that had already met with the lady of honor.

Cracks appeared in the magical mirror that had revealed all these sights, and when it shattered, a new scene was apparent: the colossi were moored upon an open plain and totally voided, with all the humans that yet remained having been laid out in the dancing moonlight. A hundred thousand and then more than half that number again were there, and the moon was pleased with the gift. In the dusk, yet under the protection and guidance of Yudaiel’s ever watchful Eye, the first of them roused from their long slumber and were stirred to begin a long journey.


So be it. You shall have your humans, but I am wondering why you would keep them on Galbar, and not here with you?” Homura spoke with a silent voice; lacking shape and sound. She considered the location she had been shown, and contemplated the meaning of Yudaiel’s choice, while awaiting an answer.

The open plains gave way to the sight of a dark and misty jungle that had come to flourish along the edge of the dead Tlacan Sea. The moon was bright, somewhere above, but this was a rainy day. Droplets fell from the clouds above down into the oily glass of the sea’s surface, and then they shuddered and became mist and rose back into the air again, refusing to join with that dreaded mire. So a great haze came to hang over the land, so thick that it all but blocked the bright lunar light.

But the humans were no longer walking, breathing creatures; their inner fire had spilled forth, and now they were candles. Through their light, the black night was illuminated, even here in such lands where the moon’s brilliance could not reach.


Hmm… I shall lay your gifts down where calamity once struck, and you may awaken them then. The land will be reborn, and I promise I will protect your people from the depredations of doom and despair.” Without an actual body, the attempted and nonviable act of bowing became a source of bemusement for the red goddess. She simply refrained from shifting.

Though she did not suffer the strange susceptibility to illness and decay as mortals would, Homura had been able to enjoy the many pleasures offered by the ability to perceive through the senses; the yearning for touch and the feeling of being physically embraced by the many wonders of the world, the taste of thought and the music of memories cultivated through the tangible self and its interactions with all of creation. She enjoyed having a body to express herself.

Despite this, Yudaiel’s wordless articulation clearly conveyed her intentions as well as meaning, and Homura could appreciate the wonderful mingling of the abstract and the allegorical in the visions Yudaiel conjured. She wondered whether the great seer would be opposed to manifesting a physical body in the future, but ascertained that mentioning such silly concepts now would be brash.

It will take time to return and deliver them, but I see no other obstacles. I shall make haste, but before I depart, I must ask you; what is your name, and what is the name of your creation? I am Homura, and it is a pleasure to speak with you now.” The temptation to gesture towards the pale radiance of the moon, and to herself while she spoke was prevalent, but Homura wanted to explore formlessness for a moment more.

Perhaps it was good that Homura was formless in that moment, for otherwise she might have felt a crazed whiplash as the land below spun beneath the horizon. The stratospheric winds had a powerful voice, and through their screams and bellows, a name was formed. The ground grew closer; sand stirred and billowed here in the dune-sea that had been wrought when the goddess’ mind had blasted away mountains and made dust of whole hills. The sandstorms echoed the same name as they blew and blew, over oases and through the ruined heap of the fallen metal colossus. They reached land’s end. The waves whispered the same name also, from their foaming mouths that glowed orange in the sunset, and the palm trees and their rustling fronds joined the great chorus:

...Yu̳̦̎̔d͖̦̔͂a̼͗ï̩͚̓e̺̽l̺̮̆͆...


The endless sea’s horizon swallowed the sun, but a pale opal took its place in the heavens, beautiful even with its great crater and cracks. It was the grandest and brightest of all the jewels in the night sky, the socket of the sharpest eye, the Galbar’s moon and twin sister. It was what it was.

A shooting star descended from above, a fiery trail marking its glory. It did not crash into land or water and die in a great blaze as meteorites were wont to do, but rather fell halfway through the celestial sphere and then came to rest hanging in the air just before Homura’s view.



The star had no voice, but voiceless things could speak in dreams, and so the stone offered itself as a token of favor. It made a solemn vow too, to show her something wondrous or beautiful or alien… whatever thing she desired to see, it would show.


And when the dreamscape sublimated away and Homura was adrift once more before the real moon, Daybringer in one hand, the moonstone rested in her other.

And then a resounding voice echoed through the void, the Monarch of All proclaiming His will and bestowing upon Homura the highest place in His court of law, all as the Prescient had foreseen.

The moon’s stoic face was reticent to surrender any indication as to what it thought of the announcement; it offered no congratulations to Homura or either of the other ‘fortuitous’ two, but likewise Yudaiel said nothing to sully whatever pride or joy they might have felt. Flames of envy and hatred could burn, but they seared best when they did it slowly, gingerly… like the sun’s rays.

Thank you, Yudaiel, for your hospitality and your kind gift. Hmm… whenever you have need of me, should any of those among the divine decide to bring you grief, call upon me and I shall come. Forgive me now, for I must make haste and return to my mortals and my duty. Until we meet again then.” Homura said, and found the silence of space as hollow as her words, her empty promises and attempts at offering solace were worthless if she could not adhere to them.

There seemed nothing else she could say, so the red goddess turned back to the Galbar and aimed her golden spear. Daybringer stretched forth until it had struck earth, and then carried Homura back to the planet. Her departure was as swift as her arrival, across the void and through the sky, until she descended upon land. For the entirety of her journey, she refused to look back to the moon, and the all-seeing eye that dwelt there.


Homura

Courage Kindness Fear


Each thunderous step shook the land as three colossi marched from the western wastes of northern Termina to the eastern lands protected by the intervention of Homura during the calamity. The presence of the goddess of honor had permeated throughout the region as the flora all around grew a myriad of red akin to her visage, a veil of scarlet leaf upon numerous pale branches dancing in the wind like her hair and clothing. Homura herself guided the procession of giants towards the vermilion forests and flowery fields, focused upon reaching the eastern edge of Termina with haste, so that she might make further progress towards completing her pilgrimage. Nigh two-hundred thousand humans still slumbered peacefully upon the three colossi, awaiting to be awakened by the touch of the divine.

Before their trek brought them to the threshold of the fields and forest, Homura held Daybringer aloft and the three colossi came to a halt. The land that lay between that which had been ravaged by the calamity and that which had been preserved by herself was littered with debris; scorned stone and uprooted trees ripped apart during the violent storm. A vast plain strewn with the pieces of the world that she had failed to protect - their destruction a result of her ineptitude and ignorance as a goddess. She could not even protect her own creations when they were close to her, when she could see their faces and hear their hearts.

The mockery of Iqelis and the cannibalism of the north weighed heavily upon her, but such burdens would wash away once she created the Inverse Fire and held the key to paradise. She would seek atonement soon and award the world with what waited at the end of the Sacred Path, but for now she must continue her quest to spread the seeds of humanity across Galbar.

Beyond the broken corpses of the once-mountains and the tall trees was a living land that would be surely be trampled by the three colossi should they press onward, so Homura sought a means to traverse the verdant realm peacefully. She closed her eyes as she contemplated, and her champions descended from their positions atop each colossus, then approached the goddess.

"These are the trees near Keltra! Are we returning now?" Courage asked, alone as her sisters seemed to preoccupy themselves with observing the terrain or looking back towards their massive mechanical beasts of burden.

"No. We are traveling further east for now." Homura replied, and turned to face her three champions. Courage, Kindness, and Fear proceeded to bow before her as her eyes shimmered with heavenly light and her voice resonated with power. The world seemed to warp as the wind around them silently pressed and pushed against them, lifted them, and held them. Though they were free and filled with motion as their loose garment and long hair billowed slowly, an unseen force kept them from moving.

"We won't be walking over the trees, will we?" Fear asked, her eyes peering over the shoulder of the goddess to the scarlet forest that stood silently, and the champion felt dread upon consideration of its potential demise.

"Why not simply turn back and avoid this. Navigating the sea seems the appropriate course, I think." Kindness offered in an attempt to alleviate the concern she could glean in her sister's tone.

"That would be inefficient regarding time. This is an opportunity." The goddess spoke firmly, and refrained from mentioning that she could not recall the exact path she taken to arrive at their current location. Such information was deemed unnecessary.

The world was much larger than even the goddess could comprehend, and she ascertained that there was truly no wrong direction to take aside from backwards which seemed to insinuate either a mistake or cowardice. Memories of the northern realm and its profane circle of life caused Homura to include the act of not choosing a direction and remaining fixed as another wrong direction... or lack of it, she concluded.

"An opportunity?" Courage asked as she felt curiosity supersede her worries, and allowed herself to grin with excitement. Neither of her sisters shared her enthusiasm though, but that would not bother her.

Three sets of red eyes focused on the goddess of Homura and awaited an explanation.

"It is time you three learned to dance."

There was a brief moment of bemusement between the three champions after hearing those words. Courage, Kindness, and Fear considered what their maker meant, but found themselves only further confused.

"Hmm..."

"Dance?"

"Sounds like fun!"

---


"Enough! Attempt it once again from the beginning."

Homura had quickly discovered that teaching did not come easily to her, but she refused to surrender to the ire that had steadily increased as her three champions demonstrated what she imagined a colossus would do if you continually punched it in the head for a long period of time. Perhaps it could be said that the barely functional mechanical creature could still perform better than whatever the trio in front of her were trying to accomplish.

Kindness was just repeatedly rotating...

Fear would flail with flimsy reluctance and almost seemed to stumble when she leaned too much into any motion.

Courage was close to understanding rhythm and certainly conveyed her passion, but she was also a safety hazard to those that were close to her which prevented any cohesion with the other two.

Homura felt pain from observing them and wondered whether she should just ask Iqelis to end her suffering.

"Look at me!" Courage exclaimed as she slammed her rear into Fear's back, her victim thrown to the ground with her assailant laughing nearby. The prone champion sighed before she rolled onto her back and turned her attention to the sky. It was easier to accept defeat, it seemed.

"Courage, you have interrupted our practice and have yet to apologize to Fear." The quiet voice of Kindness cut though the laughter of her sister, and ushered an uncomfortable silence.

"Why? It looked like she was going to fall anyway."

Kindness chose to ignore that remark with an empty expression much more potent at conveying her displeasure, and then moved to sit beside Fear. Courage turned her gaze away with anger, and grumbled to herself as she returned to her dangerous attempt at dancing once more.

Both quiet champions simply rested with their gaze upwards, taking in the vast majesty of the heavens above them. Both thought the same to themselves, truly beautiful. The sight brought them tranquility and eased their troubled minds.

"Would you like to practice with me?" Kindness asked the suddenly anxious Fear, a small smile upon her face as she saw her sister hesitantly consider the request.

Fear nodded, and then the two stood up.

The red goddess watched the duo as they prepared to dance with each other, amused by the unexpected development. She had stared up towards the sky as well, to the pale moon scarred from foolish fights between the divine, and wondered what the Monarch of All thought of all their petty squabbles and conflicts. Iqelis had reeked of divine death, the stench of godblood upon him. It had sickened her.

"Hold my hand, Fear, like this." Kindness took hold of her sister's hand and softly chuckled.

"Are you sure? I, uh, don't want to trip you." Fear averted her eyes from her sister, and felt heat rise from her chest and warm her cheeks. It muddled her thoughts, and paradoxically frightened her in a way that she wanted to welcome.

"You won't." And Kindness once again began... rotating. Homura sighed as her most reticent champion slowly pulled her most meek champion in a circle around herself. Homura agreed, there was definitely no risk of anyone tripping.

Courage became discontent to continue her thrashing, and dashed towards the three colossi. "I'll be back!" She shouted behind her as she leapt and bound further and farther away.

Fear felt herself tremble and recede into her mind where she could pretend she was gracefully guiding her sister through a wondrous weaving of ephemeral motion and melody.

"Something is bothering you." A gentle voice interrupted Fear's thoughts, and she saw that her sister wore a soft smile. She did not think that Kindness was capable of mockery or violence, and such a thought brought the anxious champion comfort. Enough to speak.

"I want her to trust us. To rely on us." Fear confessed.

"Why would you think she does not trust us?" The subtle shift in her sister's smile reminded Fear of the times when Curiosity would ask about Homura and the sorrow of the past. Kindness had inherited her haunted smile, it seemed.

"Because we're a burden. We're too weak to be reliable. All that we've done, she could've done by herself much faster. She doesn't actually need us, it feels like. I don't understand; Is she disappointed in me? Have I done something wrong?" Fear struggled to hide the hurt and the doubt within herself, lest she become nothing more than a burden for Kindness as well.

"She would not have created us if we were only a weakness to her. I think that she is afraid... of losing us. You heard her when she spoke with the other makers; their concern for death and destruction spreading across the world." Kindness contemplated her next words with an enigmatic expression that Fear found both curious and concerning. "To garner faith with our maker, we must become worthy of it. Fear, we will have to become brave. For our own sake, and for her as well." She proclaimed.

"How?" Fear asked.

They continued their boring and languid twirls that could only be compared to a broken gear during its death throes as it eventually grinds to a halt. The duo seemed determined to carry on their awkward act while they conversed.

"Why not prove yourself? Ask if we could navigate the colossi by ourselves while she seeks some required respite. Surely she will value such usefulness and when she returns, she is more likely to be quite affable, I think." Kindness offered after a moment of quiet pondering. Her words had tempted Fear, and the bashful champion felt conviction rise within her.

"I can be brave." She whispered to herself with newfound resolve, as her eyes flashed with sudden levity and she grinned. Kindness could almost mistake her shy sister for the much more brash Courage then.

Kindness let out a small surprised gasp as Fear reversed her pull without warning, and altered the repetitive rotation of their dance; its direction and its pace.

Then she altered it again, returning to the previous direction, but increasing the speed further. Kindness was forced to use more of her strength to keep hold of Fear as she seemed to heel and careen back and forth.

Homura observed how the stability of Kindness prevented Fear from leaning too far, though she still stumbled quite often, but those slips always stirred and shifted Kindness out of her stiff movements. She wondered if Fear would truly approach her again with her request despite her command to leave such alone for now.

Slowly, but surely, the two tapped and stepped in rhythm, their limbs stretching and shapes swaying, attuned to the laughter of Kindness and the happiness of Fear. They were dancing.

Then the earth shook, and the two champions fell to the ground.

They all looked towards the west where the three colossi began striking the land with their immense metal hooves, then rising to stand on their rear legs and unleashing a tumultuous bellow. Leaping between the glittering crowns atop each colossi, Courage struck swiftly all of the pillars. Her hands were a blur, and a ringing chime reverberated through the air - an ethereal and chthonic melody that awoke the melody of the massive, the chant of the colossal.

Homura simply smiled as she saw the three titans succumb to the song and danced.

---


The red forest stood still and silent. The trees and the flowers were respectful as an audience, allowing the procession of performers to peacefully step forth onto the metaphorical stage before them. Homura held Daybringer in her hand, the golden spear had shorten itself to the length close to her forearm. She then brought the small weapon close to her mouth and spoke. "Hello Kel-Phenalah! It is an honor to be here!"

The red goddess gracefully gestured to herself, and then to the two behind her, Kindness and Fear. Much farther back was Courage leading the three colossi. All of them seemed apprehensive, nervously twiddling their fingers, even the ever stoic Kindness blinked repeatedly with anxious energy.

"My name is Homura and these are my heralds; Courage, Kindness, and Fear!" There was a lack of applause since plants could not clap with excitement.

"Allow us to captivate your souls with our performance, and awaken the beauty of love and joy within them. We are not trespassers in your realm, we are pilgrims seeking passage through. Let us show you!" Homura announced and then held Daybringer aloft.

Rivers of light emerged from the spear tip, flowing and weaving through the air, forming a veil that shrouded the goddess and her entourage. Great radiant pulses sailed across the sky, and suppressed booms echoed. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Serpentine streams of light arose from the blinding veil, hissing as they arced and waved with the wind. Upon growing to immense lengths, they would burst and release a soft sound - a crystalline inhaling sound, fractal and lethargic, but building in intensity until it merged with the repetition of the larger booms. A myriad of more and more streams had risen and replaced their shattered forebears, differing lengths and shapes resulting in various volumes and sounds.

The celestial light from the center of the veil peeled back, unfolding like the many petals of a flower as it bloomed, and revealing the red goddess standing still. Then she stepped towards the forest, her elegant stride laced with movements in sync with the beat of the booming waves and ethereal melody of the starry streams. Swinging her feet, and bending her arms, with measured strength and divine grace. Homura reached a point where the light encircled her, and she danced in the center. Her hands and feet would clap, her hair following her form, and her face painted with enraptured bliss, she was powerful and free.

Splash - Clap! She seemed to guide the rivers of light with her body and its enchanting motion. It imitated her, clashing and twisting, swiftly soaring only to enter into a lulled tranquility then surge once again in a cycle. A colossal canvas of colorful cadence and chords created the stage she performed upon and a beautiful background behind her. She sang as she danced, her words were both demanding and playful:

You won't be healed with hatred-

You can't be cured through cruelty-

Pray and let my light reach you-

Pray and gift your love to me!


Homura held out her hand to the trees and the flowers, and their natural beauty was reflected in her red eyes. She smiled with predacious yearning, and exuding an arrogance that the pretentious and narcissistic could only dream of achieving. Her mien seemed to suggest that it is only expected that everyone else should be as equally delighted by her presence.

I am divine, majestic and beautiful-

So worship me, worship me, worship me, please hehe-

Pray and let my light reach you-

Pray and gift your love to me!


The red goddess pouted, and walked along the inner length of the circle of light. She shook her head with frustration, and her hair fluttered in agreement. Back and forth, around and around, she vehemently conveyed her ire as she lashed out and sulked like an angry and confused child.

She stopped, and looked back at the forest with concern. Her demeanor had suddenly changed as she brought her hand daintily towards her face, and attempted to hide her cheeks that turned bright red. She glanced away.

I'm not selfish, no, I'm just honorable-

And a goddess should have followers-

Focus on me, all eyes on me, and only me-

Don't look away, don't leave...

I don't want to be alone!


The circle collapsed and the rivers of light surged towards the singer. She was swept into the current and pulled beneath the blinding tide, her voice drowned in its intense symphony of sound. The music roared; it continued to marched forth and resonated with power.

"Be brave." An encouraging whisper went unheard over the otherworldly orchestra.

The light parted and formed into a circle once more. In its center stood Kindness and Fear holding onto each other. The latter was trembling, anxiously looking in every direction. "I can't do this." The meek champion mumbled to herself. The music soared, rising higher and higher, the same sounds repeating and repeating, tense became the tune.

"I'm with you. We can do this together." Kindness pressed, her eyes peering deep into the depths of Fear, reaching out towards something inside... a far away hope.

Then they began to dance. They swirled and swayed, the glimmer of their hair and their dresses illuminated by the light, skin gently glowing, and with expressions of euphoria. Fear lifted Kindness from her feet leading her through the air in her arms, and when she leaned too much and went too far, Kindness pulled herself back, and the two resumed their twirling on the ground. The voice of Homura mingled with the melody once more.

Forgive me for my flaws, I didn't know-

Hold me, hold me, and never let go-

I wish to dance again and again before the end-

Holding onto kindness, I make my oath...


The music and the singing became quiet, then both breathed in before unleashing the crescendo of the performance. The crystalline chimes quietly flowing swift like the wind as it whispers through the woods. The reverberating booms, steady and slow like the stone in defiance of the transient touch of time.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The three colossi reared and stomped as they marched and cantered around the luminous circle. Courage leapt from crown to crown, whirling and twisting with fierce agility. Her hands were a blur as she struck outwards upon landing, and she let the massive machines merge with the starry streams that shattered and echoed all around. Kindness and Fear simply waved at their sister as she soared high above them across the circle.

The light was then carried further, the sounds stretched to last longer, and allowing the emotion to endure - the cry from Homura's heart continued to persist. Howling and broken, her words were woven within a desperate and distorted filter.

I will always protect you, no matter what-

I promise you'll never be afraid when I am near-

Pray and let my light reach you-

Pray and gift your love to me!


Time then turned slowly; the light languidly poured forth and flickered like flying embers from a bonfire, freed from the weight of the world. The intensity of the melody lingered, yet also drifted away akin to a dream when morning comes. It seemed far away. Homura had yet to awaken from her slumber, and enjoyed the serenity offered in the moment. She arose from the lake of light that formed beneath the performers.

Can you hear me? Can you hear my vow?

Only my faith to guide me now...


The music faded into the forest, beckoning the goddess to follow it. It suffused the flora and the earth, and ingrained itself into their souls. There was no resentment or scorn. No violent rejection.

"We may pass through the forest without hindrance." The red goddess looked back to her champions, and smiled.

Before Courage, Kindness, or Fear could react, they suddenly sank into the liquid light underneath them. Even the immense colossi were consumed by the celestial water, and the procession found themselves falling through the void faintly illuminated by stars and shimmering symbols. They fell along a path that was repeating their performance to them, and the champions saw themselves through the eyes of their audience.

They fell towards another sea of light, but found themselves alighting on their feet - upright and unharmed from the great descent. Before them was Homura and the forest, as though they had never moved at all.

"Let us continue onward." Homura said as the strode towards her confused champions with her familiar stern expression.

---


They traversed the red forest, heading eastward. Twilight bathed the land in lulling light, gentle and quiet.

Courage looked across the vast stretch of treetops in search of its end, and perhaps a familiar place. She glanced down to the strange sight of massive hooves merging and passing through hundreds of plants without disturbing them.

She watched as the three colossi simply walked through the forest, without anything to mark their passage. There was no shaking of the earth, nor thunderous roars from each step. Just the whisper of the wind as they wandered farther and farther. Courage could not explain how the difference to their means of transportation had occurred, nor could she quite articulate her feelings on the change.

She found that the rumble and booms of their journey had become a welcome way to relax when neither of her sisters chose to converse with her, and the lay of the land had become too much for her to try take in all at once.

It would be fun to come back, and take time to really see everything, she thought to herself.

She struck the pillars of the crown as many times she considered would direct the beast of burden forward a great distance, and then she leapt to where her sister stood atop her own colossus.

"Hey Fear. I'm bored. Come with me to ask our maker about the weird walking through the woods without stepping on anything, ya." Courage asked as she poked her sister.

"No... let's not, Courage. She would've called us if she wanted to explain." Fear replied, but her twin simply sighed. Courage couldn't help but find her sister's aversion to confronting the unknown an annoying trait.

"Come on. Come on. I know you wanted to speak with her as well." She tried, refusing to let go, and aiming at the desires she knew her sister tried to conceal.

"We can't just leave our positions. How will the colossi move then?" Fear shot back, emphasizing her words with a strike against the forward pillar. Its chime resonated and the colossus continued its march.

"Just hit it more than once." Courage said, as if explaining a basic concept to an idiot.

"Huh?"

"Like this." Courage proceeded to demonstrate, and seemingly timed her attacks in sync with the steps of the other colossi. Fear merely watched her sister with a sense of awe. She felt foolish for never realizing that such an efficient way was possible. "That should do it, for a while at least." Courage continued, and chuckled at the sight of Fear. "Now that you lack such a flimsy excuse, let's go see our maker." Then the brash champion grabbed her sister, and leapt towards the canopy of the forest where Homura was.

The red goddess remained still and silent as they approached. The branches beneath her bent, and curved upwards in defiance of gravity, reaching towards the deity with their wooden hands adorned in scarlet leaves.

The two champions bowed before her, continually reminded of the power of divinity when in her presence. Courage was the first to speak.

"Yo! You've been keeping to yourself lately, and Fear is all worried for you. Stop being so distant with us, so she doesn't have to worry. Oh, and what's with the quiet walking? What happened to the loud and powerful steps of our colossi?" Fear fought to silence her sister, pulling on her hand, but the other champion was too strong with reckless resolve, so she simply surrendered and stood ready to face the oncoming wrath.

"She need not be concerned, as I have previously said to her. As for your question, we are walking upon the sacred path. Our song became a spell that rewrote the rules of reality. While we tread through Kel-Phenalah, our forms will be effectively intangible as a result. The forest will remain respected and unharmed, while the colossi can safely pass through their domain. That is what happened." Homura answered calmly, and then looked over her shoulder at the duo. The shadows beneath her eyes chilled them to their cores.

"Oh." Was all Courage could say.

Fear felt compelled to challenge the goddess, as she could not accept being told to let go of her fears. Her hand clenched Courage's, and her sister noticed.

"Don't ignore us!" She suddenly shouted, and her voice seemed so much more stark in the profuse silence.

"Please... can't you trust us?"

Homura seemed to contemplate what her champion had said, and the two mortals hoped that she would open up to them. Courage could admit that though the goddess was with them all of the time, the deity had started to seclude her thoughts from them. Explanations had to be asked for, and banter was started solely by them since leaving the northern realm. Courage realized that their maker was willingly keeping secrets from them then, and wondered what that truly meant.

"What do you mean?" Homura asked.

"You want us to help you, right? But you haven't let us do anything on our own yet. You've told us what to do each time. We won't become reliable if we always depend on your guidance, so let us do something to prove ourselves. Please." Fear let herself plead before the goddess, desperate for her maker to understand. She had bowed a second time, and saw that her sister had joined her.

"So be it."

Both champions looked up to see Homura facing them. It took them a moment to realize that they had received permission, and then they jumped with joy. Neither could contain their excitement nor pride upon being bestowed the opportunity to prove worthy of their maker's faith. Zenia is likely to blame for such silly displays, but Homura kept that thought to herself.

"We won't fail you!" Courage proclaimed, and Fear nodded in agreement beside her.

"Very well. When we reach the sea, I shall depart for the pale orb above. You are to protect your sleeping kin from danger until I return. Should any of the divine approach, you are to reveal yourselves and comply with whatever they say. The colossi are to remain still, as I cannot protect the sea from their crossing from afar. Do you understand?"

"Understood!" Neither of the two champions would complain aloud that Homura was still directing them around, as this would be the first test. The trial of proving themselves was only just beginning.

"Then inform your sister. Also I do not approve of your reckless piloting of the colossi, Courage. I expect you to adhere to caution when controlling them as there is still much we do not understand regarding their nature." Homura gestured towards the third colossus - the only one with a champion controlling it. She could see Kindness watching them from afar, and hoped that between the three of them, nothing would go awry.

Courage and Fear leapt towards their sister, and hastily told her of their task ahead. The gentle champion was happy, and congratulated her two sisters for their efforts in acquiring more work for them. They laughed and spoke for a moment before returning to their respective posts. Afterwards, all three champions were back to directing their colossi and night descended upon them as they finally reached the sea.

Homura had not immediately left, and accompanied them farther out to sea where the light of the moon was reflected in its water. Homura gazed upon its marred face in the shifting mirror, then looked up to the bright piece of heaven itself.

"I will return when the sun rises. Stay safe until then." The goddess announced before she extended Daybringer, the golden spear stretching skyward all the way towards the moon. Homura ascended as the weapon pulled her along its length, and the three champions were left alone to prove themselves.

However, the night was young, and none of them could have foreseen what would wait for them in the darkness...


Chailiss

&

Homura





The God of Cold was busy at work, teaching the young Nisshi champion the ways of the world. After they had gone about burying the Bjork kit, the two had a long conversation about what had transpired. Chailiss had listened to the young spirit, offering advice and insight when he could, but he hid his own feelings upon the matter. She would not understand them as she was. The champion of his needed growth and experience in the world. Something that would only come with time and she had plenty of it.

When the Bjork came and called upon him for guidance, he helped with what he could and reassured them that fire would be a fierce tool come winter. He helped the best he could and then the two wandered some, dwelling upon his failure to protect from another God, his worst fear realized. How could he have allowed such a thing to happen?

That had been a few days ago now and the Nisshi had much to learn. She still had no name and she was growing frustrated, for Chailiss had said it would come in time. When she felt she knew herself well enough, the name would come naturally. They had just been about to cross the lake when something unexpected happened.

Another fear realized.

An explosion. But not just any explosion. He barely had time to react before the psychic blast assaulted him. He let out a grunt of pain as the world around him shuddered. Birds and beasts alike bolted and the Bjork took to the water.

The spirit let out a cry of fear and zoomed about his head. “What that, papa?" She asked in a pained voice as she searched for the unseen threat.

Chailiss did not speak right away as his divine perceptions took hold and pain became a dull ache. He could hear more explosions, light in the dark, pain in the-

He snapped to attention and turned to her. ”Listen to me. Listen to me carefully. I must go now, I fear something terrible has happened. Stay here, see to the Bjork. I will return!” and before she could protest, Chailiss took to the sky, and exploded down to the south, taking his divine form once more.

It was only when he had grown higher that he could witness the devastation that occurred in the south-east and that was coming. Thick dust blotted out the sky, traveling at winds that would rip his trees apart and scatter them like fallen giants. Already he could see the approaching stone, cast like meteors beginning to rain down. What had happened? Could he even stop this?

No!

His demeanor hardened at once. He would not let more tragedy befall his realm, he couldn’t! Chailiss pushed, pressing himself to achieve speeds he had never gone before and to his luck, he managed to reach the ocean as the death cloud approached. He skimmed the water, his plan was to meet the storm head on but then what? What could he do?

Then it hit him. He had to contain it.

He pooled his divinity together, and from the winds that whipped around him, Chailiss fashioned a small icy box. The design was simple, unlike Zenia’s obelisk, but it would do the job- at least he hoped. He began to slow down once the dust cloud was near and then the god opened the box. There came a POP and then the box, like a vortex, began to pull the dust, debris, and everything else into it’s maw. Like a wolf it gobbled it down without care of what it was consuming. The god, in the meantime, was battered by intense winds and wisely, he began to fly backwards, save the storm engulfed him. He could not let it pass.

He would not let it pass.

This went on for a long while, as the clouds and Chailiss battled for control. Soon the box began to hum a sickly sound, glowing like a star with the amount of power it was consuming. This was not the end of the storm however, for though he was saving his land, there was more going west, south, and east. Whatever had caused such a thing had been most destructive. His mind flashed to Ruina… Perhaps it was another test? But this was… It felt wrong. He pressed on regardless, for the storm's winds began to change and the dust and debris were becoming thinner. It was yielding before his might! The artifact would be able to contain it all! He pressed his advantage, chasing it down now like a thunderous hunter.

Then the box’s hum grew louder and louder, until at last, the lid shut with a tremendous clang, leaving Chailiss in the midst of what remained. With a powerful gust of north wind, he blew the rest that threatened his land away. He had saved his north, but not even he had been able to contain it all. Chailiss felt the drain then, as little as it was. He looked down at the box, brimming with chaotic energy and destruction. He could feel the danger within wanting out of its prison. He could never allow such a thing. But where to safeguard it?

Where?

He pondered the question as he turned to go back to his realm. Nisshi would be frantic, hopefully she had stayed where she was.




Light emerged from the southern sea, radiant and red, and approached rapidly as the sky and water seemed to merge into a single crimson canvas. A second sun wandered across the sea accompanied by three colossal creatures that followed in its wake, and wandered directly towards the god of the cold. Closer and closer, until behind the veil of light, only perceived by divine sight, was a red goddess carrying a golden spear. Even from afar, unrelenting was her scarlet visage, graceful was her mien, and unforgiving was her fierce eyes. The God of cold had stopped to witness her.

She spoke, and her voice reached his ears, and her words were as sharp as the spear she wielded. “My name is Homura, and I come bearing gifts. I have no intention of harming you.” With each step upon the surface of the water, she drew near to him, and she seemed surprised to find her breath coalesce into mist and swirl in front of her face before dissipating.

The three colossi behind her continued their march, yet to come near with their languid steps slowing their progress. Standing atop the heads of the massive creatures were simulacrums of Homura, indistinguishable in appearance, but lacking her divine aura. Strewn across the backs of the three titans were thousands upon thousands of sleeping creatures similar in shape to the goddess, but without any distinguishing features. They were blank, and seemed to desire to be sculpted into something more

The red goddess came to halt, and gestured towards the parade of three colossi. “These are my heralds; Courage, Kindness, and Fear. You will find your gifts upon the backs of those creatures, the sleeping humans. You may take freely, and mold them into whatever you wish, as it is my intention that humanity become the physically expressed vessels for the will of the divine.” She said, and awaited what the cold god would do next.

The divine orb that he was, dissipated in a frigid swirl of snow until at last all that remained was a cloaked figure that had no discernable legs. He hovered down to the water, freezing it where he went only for the lingering waves of the colossi to break and grind them apart. He neared her, holding a box of ice within his grasp. His voice was deep when he at last spoke, with a lingering ethereal ring to it. ”Greetings Homura, she who walks the scarlet sun.” He said, nodding his head in her direction before looking up at the colossi. ”Well met, Courage, Kindness, and Fear.” He also gave a small nod to them before his attention fell back on Homura, not before he lingered upon the gifts she spoke of. ”I am Chailiss, of the Northern Realm.” He paused, ”I must say, it is not everyday a Goddess comes giving gifts so freely to my shores, but it is an occurrence of late. Tell me, my Lady, why have you taken this upon yourself? Why do you wish this for humanity? I am curious.”

My honor compels me.” Homura answered after a quiet moment of contemplation. Then she slightly smiled, and held out her hand towards the cold god as though beckoning him. “I have heard of your work from a friend. I would be grateful if you accepted my gift, as she has, and that we would coexist in peace afterwards.” Her head leaned to the side, her smile tilted, and the intense fire in her eyes flickered.

Chailiss glided forward to her, his shoulders slouching as if a great burden had been lifted off him. "It is good to hear that Zenia is well." he began, "It is even better to hear of peace. After all that has transpired in this world so far, a heavy weight remains with foes openly declared and more remaining hidden. I will gladly accept this gift of yours." he came to a stop before Homura and looked to her hand as if unsure of what to do with it. He then spoke again in a quiet voice, [color=deepskyblue]"I must admit that I fear for the safety of all things, including this mighty gift. These humans, I have seen what fate might befall them when angry Goddesses lash out. And now," He looked to the source of the explosion, then the moon. "Especially now, after whatever this latest devastation. Something terrible has transpired, can you feel it on the air?"

Shame simmered her gaze, and she hesitated with her hand anxiously withdrawing, but before she allowed herself to be defeated by cowardice, conviction returned and stirred her hope for the creation of a beautiful world instead of one left in ash and ruins. Her hand became steady, and her voice was strengthened with revived resolve. “Then let us clasp hands in honor of peace, and as a symbol of a promise to protect life. I will fight for those that cannot fight for themselves. I will defend them from the terrors of the cruel and malicious. Will you fight beside me?” She asked, and held out her hand once more.

This time the God of Cold did not hesitate to clasp the Goddesses hand as he formed solid appendages. His touch was a cold one but perhaps not as cold as she had thought. Her own touch seemed to turn the ethereal wisp of Chailiss a purple as blue and red met. "I shall when the need arises, for honor and peace. We must not let those who would bring about ruin and doom continue on their course unabated. We must find those who are like minded as us, so that we can come together against these forces. I do not wish for war or for further destruction but we cannot let the world we have labored over be threatened continuously. So yes, you have me, Goddess of Honor."

Her hand still in his, she bowed before him. “Then please forgive me, Chailiss, for I must make haste and cannot appreciate the beauty of your lands for as long as I had hoped. Perhaps we can continue this conversation elsewhere, do you have a dwelling or home you prefer? As I said before, you may have as many of the humans as you wish, I only ask that you give them meaning and many memories of all the wonders of creation.” She arose and let go of his hand before she looked over her shoulder at the three towering colossi that patiently awaited further guidance from the red goddess. “Shall we?

”There is nothing to forgive, Homura. I understand completely. When the time is right and you venture into the North, only speak my name and we shall find one another again.” He nodded to her, ”I shall honor your request. There is much room in my realm but the conditions are harsh. I think ten thousand should suffice for my purposes. But please, I know you are in haste, tell me more about these humans?”

Homura held aloft her golden spear, and then pointed it towards the northern lands. She remained silent as the three colossi began their great march, the song of the sea disrupted by each of their massive steps. The waves that surged towards the two deities were either immediately frozen, or turned to red mist, and after the sea returned to its lull, the goddess answered.

They are yet undefined and will yield easily to your will when you sculpt them. Though your land may be harsh, their minds are strong and they will strive to endure the trials of the cold, but… they are in need of guidance. Show them the sacred path, and they will follow it, and feel free to aid or hinder them on their journey. There is little else I can say, aside from there will be others also influenced by our fellow divine, and they will certainly differ.” Homura conversed while walking towards the shore, and even though she seemed at ease with Chailiss, her tone lacked warmth.

“I have ordered my heralds to bring your humans to land, is that acceptable? Such a small number of them should prove simple for you to transport, but I ask that you handle them with care while they sleep. Their lives are quite precarious, ever requiring sustenance to feed their animating fires. Perhaps you will change that though.” Homura continued until she quieted herself. “Keep them from the sea until they learn how to protect their fire, please.” She said, and then pressed onward.

Chailiss said nothing for a time, as if intent to listen. When the shore came into view he spoke again. ”Of course, this is acceptable. Do not worry, perhaps in time they will come to use the seas but not now. I shall take them inland and they will thrive there. I am cold, yes, but even I know it to be a precious thing.” He fell silent again for a time, then asked, ”Is there anything I can do for you now?”

She hid her feelings of shame behind an impassive mask, and considered his question for a time. “I… hmm, have you heard what may have caused that attack upon the land south of here? I was too weak to prevent all of the destruction it unleashed, and had come here to help those that I had been unable to help before, but I still have yet to know the source of the attack. What was the purpose?” She asked of the god beside her, but also perhaps questioned the Monarch of All as well. She could not completely conceal all of her anger and sorrow in her voice then as memories of water polluted with death brought a sharp pain to her chest.

Chailiss shook his head. ”I know not what happened. I too, had to contain the blast.” he lifted the box to show her, ”You came upon me afterwards. Do not blame yourself for what transpired. We did all we could do. Whoever caused it, is to blame and, when they are found out, they will be punished. I shall make a pact with you, like I did with Yoliyachicoztl, the goddess of heat. She gave aid to my lands after another Goddess murdered some of the inhabitants. We know not who, but if either of us find out we shall tell and give aid to another. I say the same to you, if I find out, or you, we shall tell one another who is to blame. Does this sound reasonable?”

Homura nodded in agreement as she walked, but the dread she had known upon birth, the fear of inevitable war and the annihilation of all life, had bothered her. It pierced her calm visage, and rushed was her answer. “I will offer as much as I can, but I have very little. I was foolish and allowed myself to naively believe that only other honorable aspects existed. I promise I will provide you with any information I discover. I am truly grateful for your support, it will be needed when discord rears its ugly head.

”We are all young, Homura. You are no fool for thinking such a thing and now you know better. Wisdom shall only come with age and honor, with it.” They arrived upon a sandy beach, tall foreboding pines before them. ”And here we are, in agreement upon the shores of a cold harbor.”

Will such words bring consolation to those that have suffered for our hubris, our ignorance, our selfishness? I have proclaimed myself a goddess, and cannot allow such devastation to happen again. I cannot.” Homura stepped upon the sand, so similar to the land she had come from, but colder. The trees differed, though they were still beautiful, and their presence evoked a yearning to truly explore this unknown realm before her; to see what waited beyond the boundaries.

I will teach the first tenet of honor here in this realm: the truth of the self. I will return, but could you assist my heralds with transporting your humans. I must confess, I am curious how you will shape them.” The red goddess stepped farther.

Chailiss nodded. ”Of course, take your time.” the god of cold said, flying up to her heralds.

Before they could reach the shoreline, Courage, Kindness, and Fear were visited by Chailiss, and all three immediately bowed. Each of them introduced themselves to the Lord of Winter, and offered their service. “The other divine simply lifted their gifts with their magic, your grace.” Kindness explained, while Courage interrupted her. “We’re now protecting our kin, and helping to direct the colossi.” The brash simulacrum of the red goddess, demonstrating by striking stony spires that protruded from the head of the colossus she stood upon. The creature seemed to react, and turn in the direction Courage had struck, then turned back to its original course after the human hit a different pillar.

“Be careful, Courage!” Fear shouted, scolding her sister. The three colossi were close to each other, and the center colossus Courage controlled almost collided with the one Fear controlled. Courage laughed, and felt her face heat up with embarrassment. “Sorry! Sorry!” Kindness simply smiled, and spoke to the god once more. “How can we help, your grace?” She asked.

Chailiss chuckled and flew up to get a better view of the colossi and their passengers before flying back down to float in front of the middle one. ”Remarkable, truly. So alike but different all the same. I too have a champion of my own, a spirit I fashioned from the winds and cold. She would have liked to have met the three of you I think, but alas, I had to leave her behind. One day, if fate aligns, perhaps you will meet?” He focused on Kindness after a short pause. ”Magic? Yes, I suppose it would be called that. To make reality bend… Ah, Kindness, Courage, Fear. I require ten thousand of your sleeping kin.” He then turned around and lifted a hand, before the Colossi came a mighty crack and water droplets hanging from the mist of the air and the trees began to coalesce into a large sheet of ice before them. When the sheet had completed, it resembled a very shallow bowl, with a lip to keep anything from falling out. The ice hovered before them, then floated closer to the still Colossi. More droplets formed an icy bridge that further became a sort of docking area for the Colossi, allowing easy access to the sleeping dreamers. ”Will this suffice?” he asked them, floating closer before stepping on the central bridge.

Courage suddenly chuckled while Kindness and Fear answered his question with respectful bows, “It shall suffice.” They both said, which only elicited more laughter from Courage. Between giggles, she spoke and pointed at the circle, “Suffice! Like ice!” and laughed again without repentance, as her sisters sighed with shame. Kindness looked to her sister, Fear, and smiled. “Shall we?” She asked, unintentionally imitating Homura’s earlier proposition to Chailiss.

Feeling the presence and power of the cold for the first time, the eyes of the three champions widened with surprise and they looked between each other as though seeking an answer that none of them had. Courage was the first to step upon the bridges, and she quickly placed her palm against the ice to ascertain its integrity. She was filled with mirth as her sisters joined her, “When we’ve finished, the last to unhand this ice will have to sing with Wanderer when we return to Keltra!” she challenged, but found defiance in their fiery eyes. “We accepted!” They both answered back, and then the trio began their work of carrying their sleeping kin to the great circle of ice.

They leapt and dashed with haste, competing with each other until the massive disk was laden with ten thousand sleeping humans, and the three champions turned to the Lord of Winter with expressions of jubilation on their faces. While they had worked, they had seen the shores of the northern realm from afar. When they had beheld its beauty, they paused their task in order to honor the other creations of the divine with reverent bows.

“Those trees must be twice the height of the trees near Keltra!” Courage had exclaimed in awe, as Kindness remained silent. Fear whispered words of wonder to herself, a deep yearning to return to this realm and explore had manifested in her heart. They joined the dreamers upon the circle of ice, and awaited what Chailiss would do next.

Chailiss hummed with approval from where he stood upon the ice, walking over each dreaming human as they came. When the task was at last done, he came in front of the three heralds and there he outstretched his free hand. ”You have done well, Kindness, Courage and Fear.” His gaze fell upon Fear in particular for the briefest of moments, as if he knew in her heart what she desired but then it moved on. From his hand, droplets came to form crystals of shimmering blue that were swiftly contained within a strange metal. Three pendants of deep beauty, a stark contrast to the heralds of scarlet. ”I thank you for this help of yours, please, take these pendants for your own. They will provide cool comfort, a reminder of this realm, even in the hottest of places.”

Each of them received their gift, and bowed their heads in gratitude. “You honor us greatly with these gifts, your grace. Thank you.” Kindness said, and then the three arose with delight in their eyes, as they immediately adorned themselves with their pendants and smiled at each other like fools. “We will cherish them.” She continued, and looked to her two sisters that had begun poking each other. “Oh, yes! We will! Thank you!” Courage said after she heard an unspoken word from her sister. “Thank you, your grace.” Fear followed after with an abashed look.

”You are most welcome.” the god said, his hand falling back to his side. ”Now… Let us awaken your kin.” With a wave of his hand, the ice bridges shattered, disconnecting from the Colossi. Then there came a great lurch and they began to descend to the shore. It was a slow fall but when they at last reached the bottom, the ice settled into the sand. Chailiss next flew above them all and a cool wind began to blow towards them from the trees. It carried the refreshing scent of pine and sap. Next a strange change began to overcome the sleeping dreamers. Their bodies… Began to grow. Taller than the heralds, and taller still with lean, athletic bodies. Their proportions and appendages matched their newfound height and when that was finished, their skin began to take the shadows of light and deep browns and tans. Hair burst forth from their heads, all lustrous, thick and long, in shades of darkest black, to lightest brown. It mattered not their gender. Their faces were the last to form, with high cheekbones, many almond shaped eyes and other pleasing features that made these people attractive in their own right. When these changes had at last settled, Chailiss hummed a subtle melody and weaved a bit more of his ‘magic’, or at least they thought so. As it seemed the very air swirled about each of them, rustling their new hair.

The god then outstretched both hands and his own form changed to reflect the new people. But he was somehow grander, taller, but with striking blue eyes. His voice then rang out, ”Awaken my Children, awaken and breathe the fresh air.”

And they did. Slowly at first, the first few yawned as they sat up, followed by more and more. Courage had hastily dashed to a few, then helped them rise to their feet, speaking words of encouragement and offering guidance. “There is no need to be afraid, welcome to the waking world, my brothers and sisters.” She said softly, and smiled as her sisters joined her in assisting their kin arise from their long slumber.

“They all seem so different, and yet so alike. It is strange and overwhelming.” Kindness whispered to her sister, Fear, when they were close, and gestured to the myriad of shapes and tones among the many altered humans. “Is that so wrong?” Fear had asked, and her sister contemplated the question while they continued to show how to stand, and how to walk to those that had never stood or walked before.
Chailiss descended as well and walked among his people for the first time. He spoke as they looked at him with reverence and awe in their eyes. ”I am Chailiss, god of Cold and Lord of these lands that you will come to know and call home. You will come to love these lands as I do and thrive within them. I shall walk with you and teach you all that I can in the days to come.” His gaze fell upon the Heralds and with his free hand he pointed to them. All eyes fell upon the shorter trio as Chailiss spoke. ”These are the ones who protected and cared for you in the journey of dreams. They are Kindness, Fear and Courage. Names that describe their very being and ideals you will strive for. Yet there is one who you shall know as equal to me, Homura, the Scarlet Sun, protector of life. She is Honor itself and this shall be the highest tenet of your people. One you will have in your hearts and know with your minds.”

The three champions gathered near Chailiss, and bowed before him once again in order to demonstrate the way of honor. “Your words are very generous, your grace. We will strive to exemplify such sacred standards, and promise we will return to your realm again to provide proper respect.” Kindness said, as her two sisters held a hushed conversation between themselves. “Maker’s breath! I do not think I can remember ten thousand names, and they have differing faces! This is insanity, and I love it!” Courage whispered to Fear. “They are endless, Courage, and I can feel all of their eyes on me. What if I stumble?” She whispered back, but Kindness had already arisen, and they arose with her.

“If I may ask, where is our maker, your grace?” Kindness asked.

Chailiss let his hand fall once more and turned his head to the trees. ”Within. Her first edict flows.” he said cryptically.

“Then we shall await her return upon the colossi. If you would excuse us, we shall make our departure.” The champion replied and remained calm, unlike her two sisters which wore puzzled expressions after hearing the answer of the god of cold. The trio looked to the trees, and wondered where Homura had wandered to, but they were not told to follow. Their gaze turned to the mass of humans along the shore, and then they bowed before they leapt from the land back to the massive creatures that stood still over the sea.

They waited until scarlet light poured forth from between the trees, the many branches casting a sea of shadows upon the bustling shore. The light announced the return of the red goddess, as she emerged from the forest and approached Chailiss. Her radiance receded in the presence of the humans, until she seemed no different from her champions aside from the golden spear she carried. “So it is done, brother. You have sculpted such diverse life in this land, and I have been both humbled and dismayed by what I have seen.” She said, in a voice that subtly conveyed emotions as conflicted as her words.

Your garden is infested with a mockery of our work, but perhaps I do not understand the purpose of bringing forth such creatures. As you have said, we are all still young.” Her tongue seemed as sharp as her spear, and she stepped close to Chailiss, and spoke softly. “Have you seen these creatures that call themselves the children of the singing maker? Hmm… perhaps you have detected their stench?” She sardonically asked.

With his new human body, Chailiss was capable of emoting by more than just words and body language. At first he raised an eyebrow, but it slowly fell and his face became hard. ”They are called the Bjork. I know not why they were made but they exist now and have as much a right in this world as any other. Is that so wrong?”

Homura closed her eyes, and breathed slowly after she had realized how foolishly she had presented herself. Upon opening her eyes, she spoke firmly, but without the vile that had previously laced her words. “No, it is not, but has another god decided to insult me indirectly? Our creations capable of such potential as the shepherds of our gardens… reduced to animals that mindlessly war with the beasts and plants around them? This singing maker has abandoned his children, and the world suffers for it! Starvation, violence, and death, as despair and greed run rampant! How can we call ourselves divine if we let such mindless sorrow continue?” She asked as she answered, and allowed her impassive mask to conceal her ire from the humans around them to avoid frightening them.

Chailiss was silent for a moment, as if in contemplation. "We strive to do better." he started. "There is no insult to you, Homura. I have walked amongst the Bjork for a time and I can assure you, what you see upon the surface goes much, much deeper. They are a people with a culture, traditions, experiences. They feel loss, happiness and anger. They may wear the fur and look of animals but they are alive and deserve a place in this world now. It wasn't their fault that their god created them and left. That is why we, you and I or any others must strive to protect all life. Regardless if it is deemed inferior. If we don't, then we are just as worse as those we fear will destroy everything. We must be better."

His words hardened her gaze, however she remained silent as he spoke while the cold caressed her skin and diminished her rage with its calm presence. She allowed frost to form across her visage, and the ice sank its fangs deeper into her. The fires of heaven within her burned, but the hurried and fervent dance subtly slowed until its graceful motion would be imperceptible to all, yet still exuding the same possessive passion.

I have promised to protect life, and I shall, but I will not condone a cycle as cruel as what I have seen here. Faith will fester like a wound as sin seeps further within this system that perpetuates hatred and strife. Each generation begets a greater division between the divine and mortal until that which is sacred will be forgotten, and only the profane satiation of their carnal desires persists. Would you have these humans emulate that forsaken path as well?” Homura gestured to the gathering, but her sight never strayed from Chailiss.

Something seemed to click on the god of cold’s face. A deeper understanding of the dilemma he found himself in. He matched her gaze with the same intensity. ”You would wish for everything to be the same, wouldn’t you? Not in appearance, but as we are- Without needs, simply being. Would you give them the same powers as we? So that they might never grow bored of their stagnation? Would you have it be forever cold? Forever warm? No need to eat? No need to drink? No need to reproduce? With no struggles? With no meaning? What did you intend by giving us humans as a gift? They are mortal, their lives are short, should they live forever in bliss without choice, or should they be given the tools to make their own? To have their own purpose? Their own lives?” His voice became softer, ”What you see as sin, Homura, I can only see as beauty. This world… With these gods, it could never start out as you wanted, but perhaps in time… I will not pretend to know what He intended for us to make, but do you think He would prefer a stagnant beauty, one that never changes, that is perfect beyond all accounts or one that is imperfect and can be improved upon, together? You may think me a fool, Homura, but even paradise would have flaws.” he grew quiet then, as the humans around them watched and waited.

Her hand raised, Daybringer raised, and the weapon was pointed. Homura held it outward, its shaft stretched towards him, while its shimmering head came to halt before her heart. “You have become a fool, brother. Filled with delusions that have corrupted your divinity and I know no cure for such. I shall say it once more, with these mortals as witness to my words. I shall never bring harm to the denizens of your realm, and will protect them from the threat of annihilation. Should you lack faith in my oath and believe I will ever betray it, then strike me down now!” She shouted and let her words carry far. She stood steadfast while the weapon awaited the will of the god.

Chailiss’ face became as hard as ice. He looked to the shaft and then to her before shaking his head. ”The only fool I see is the Goddess who would have herself killed needlessly. We may disagree, Homura, but that doesn’t mean you need to die.” He turned to the side, as if to leave, but gave her one last look. ”Our oath will remain. Now leave and do not return until you see reason.” His words had become cold but with it said, Chailiss put his back to Homura and left her.

The red goddess seemed as still as stone, unmoving for a time until she swiftly turned and strode away from the cold shore. With each step, her radiance returned, farther and brighter she became, but too far from the eyes of mortals for them to perceive. The three champions atop their colossi were confused by the lack of any ceremony with their departure, and waved in farewell as they followed after their maker.



Homura

Courage Kindness Fear

Wanderer and Curiosity


Once more, two hundred thousand sleeping humans had been placed upon the three colossi, but after the loss of those before, Homura herself had forged walkways with a multitude of alcoves to prevent anymore from falling. There were a myriad of balconies with sturdy balustrades, and various fixtures to grasp which provided balance to any that stood upon the back of the titans. Perched atop the head of one of the three colossi was the champion known as Curiosity, and she enthusiastically enjoyed the view her precarious position offered her; the endless expanse of earth, sea, and sky, all which called to her with their vast and untamed elegance.

Her four sisters had chosen to rest after their great efforts to pack so many of their sleeping kin, and now they slept atop the outer wall of Keltra, while Homura had turned her attention to the distant north. Curiosity could feel the anxious apprehension of the red goddess from afar, and wondered whether she would be a burden for her maker if she attempted to console her now in her time of need. Without any further contemplation, the champion leapt from her perch and was soaring through the sky with grace towards the lonely deity standing in the farthest fields of the dreamers.

"Apologies for intruding... but can't I be of help?" She asked with hesitation since it seemed her maker was lost in the realm of thoughts, and an uncertainty continued to grow within her. It frustrated her that from the moment she had been born Curiosity continually struggled to comprehend the cryptic often contradictory expressions of Homura; the shadow of a smile that always seemed so sorrowful. She only wished she could find a way to understand her maker.

"You have already helped me... and all of your sisters as well, Curiosity." Homura shifted to face her creation, and softly smiled as her reflection looked back at her with concerned eyes. Despite their identical appearances, the red goddess could always easily identify which of her champions she was speaking to. Each possessed their own traits and thoughts that were unique to them; Courage with her feral grin always reckless, Kindness with too much awareness of others, and Fear with too much awareness of herself, and lastly, Wanderer whom seemed to avoid her, while Curiosity seemed to always seek her wherever she was.

"I can do more though, can't I? Fear wouldn't answer any of my questions, and Courage said I should just ask you. Please! What happened before Wanderer and I were born? I need to know!" Curiosity interrupted the thoughts of the goddess and reached out to hold onto Homura, as though she were afraid that the red goddess would suddenly vanish from her sight without warning. Despite the close proximity between them then, the feeling that there was nothing that connected them to each other became profuse, and Curiosity felt so apart from her maker. Her hand touched the welcomed warmth of Homura's shoulder, and even such simple contact with the goddess brought solace to the awakened human. She never wanted to let go, she realized, for she would be lost without her.

"Enough... I have commanded your sisters to remain silent, and I will command you to cease your pointless questions as well. You asked how you can be of aid; then do as I ask, and do not seek out the pain of the past. You must only walk forward on the sacred path." Homura ordained with a quiet voice woven with divine will, as she pushed the hand of her champion away, and a compelled Curiosity could only comply with a respectful bow which concealed a feeling she would describe as resentment.

"If that's what you wish, Homura." Curiosity had quickly stepped back after averting her gaze and felt shame for using the true name of her maker. She recalled her sister, Kindness, warning her that she should let it go, but the feeling in her chest only urged her to press further. The champion chose to exercise patience, and decided to only attempt again in the future when Homura herself could choose to rest for a while. The human hoped for such a future to arrive soon.

"Come with me. It is time to gather your sisters." Homura announced, and began walking towards the great wall of Keltra, as Curiosity obeyed and walked beside her. They reached where her sisters slept, and the red goddess spoke once more. "Arise, champions!" She called, as Curiosity joined her sisters when they stood up and bowed before their maker. "We have prepared ourselves for the journey ahead, but the sacred path will certainly prove arduous, as honor demands sacrifice!"

Light brightly bloomed akin to the power of the stars atop the red wall, as Homura held Daybringer aloft and illuminated the land with her radiance. "Let us step forth into the darkness, and guide ourselves towards the light! Let us protect life! That which we love, and consider precious! We will fight! We will not bend! We will endure! For the King in Heaven! For our love! For our honor!" Power resonated in her voice, and stirred the air into motion, as it danced and sang in rhythm with her chant.

The celestial light had washed over the five mortals; it seeped beneath their skin into their inner fire, and evoked a yearning passion in them. In their minds, visions of an unknown paradise strengthened their conviction, and though they could not know what waited them on the path ahead, they were eager to continue onward.

Divine eyes watched them with great intensity, but her blinding aura hid the tears from the sight of her champions. "Courage! Kindness! Fear! You are to accompany me as I spread the seeds of humanity across Galbar." She proclaimed, and the trio bowed in recognition as the goddess then addressed the other two. "Wanderer! Curiosity! You shall defend Keltra and protect the remaining humans while they sleep." She proclaimed, and the duo bowed in recognition as the goddess lowered Daybringer.

"You have all been given your orders, and now we shall depart." Homura said before she stepped towards the edge of the wall. She leapt forth, the celestial light following her, and the five champions lingered in its absence. They shared in the sense of fulfillment they all felt, and bid each other farewell with little tears of joy. The three that were chosen to join the red goddess then jumped from the wall as well, soaring through the sky until they had descended upon the shore beside their maker.

---


Courage looked back to Keltra with fondness in her eyes, as the red walls reflected the brilliance of the sun and seemed to shimmer like the shiny stones her sister had gathered. "We will be back!" She shouted to the two sisters and to the hundreds of thousands that still slept and to the citadel that promised her it would protect her loved ones, she shouted to all that she had left behind, even though they could not hear her. With a satisfied grin, she jumped once again and alighted atop the head of one of the three colossi. Kindness and Fear similarly leapt and landed upon their own respective colossus, while Homura simply strode across the surface of the sea ahead of them.

The bridges that had been rebuilt to connect the three titans to the land suddenly shattered, and the massive creatures were freed from their inactive state. Slowly they stirred, but did not turn or take any steps forward, and only the great groans and grinding of their inner workings suggested they were even awake. The three champions found themselves in similar situations standing in the center of the crowns atop each colossus without any guidance regarding control. "Ah... how do we direct these things?" Fear asked of her two equally confused sisters, having to shout in order to be heard over the howling winds.

The circle of pillars roughly hewn from stone sang with a power and presence akin to Daybringer, and Fear wondered whether she could control the creature through touch and will, as Homura controlled her golden spear through touch and will. She placed her palm upon one pillar, and focused her mind on making the colossus walk. She was shook out of focus and lost her concentration with the rumbling beneath her feet and the crashing of waves. She could hear the loud laughter of Courage as the colossus she stood upon took a step and sent the sea surging in all directions afterward.

"How!?!" Kindness called faintly, the farthest from Fear on the other side of the central colossus and had also yet to discover how to operate her own colossus. Her question was answered with a demonstration from Courage; "Like this!" The champion replied before she struck one of the pillars near her causing the colossus to suddenly turn, and narrowly avoid a collision with Kindness.

The two other champions repeated their sister's example, and the direction of their attacks determined the direction their colossi would walk. Each strike was a single step, but every step traversed a great distance, and so they followed in the wake of the red goddess.

Homura held Daybringer and raised the golden spear like a banner, letting its light illuminate the path ahead. The song of the sea was ferocious and booming as it shook with each step of the colossi, but the deity was unbothered by the waves which simply splashed against an unseen shield around her. The colossi themselves walked upon a red bridge submerged beneath the surface of the sea, a path to protect the creatures that existed in the water, and to avoid that which might cause them to stumble. The path would fade as the procession marched eastward along the coast, and nothing would remain of their passage.

---


Wanderer and Curiosity still stood atop the towering red wall, watching as the luminous entourage disappeared beyond the eastern horizon, akin to the now familiar descent of the glorious sun during the time of twilight. Their gaze then turned to the fields of sleeping humans, and the edict of Homura that compelled them to protect them. "There was four hundred, ninety-one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five of our kin to be left here according to the last census we did." Wanderer stated to her sister, whom only responded with a nod of agreement.

"We should bring them inside these walls, ya?" Curiosity asked with a glance over her shoulder towards the inner area of Keltra, empty except for the great structure that stood atop the rise in the center. The building seemed large enough to contain the remaining humans, but the lack of any gates along the walls meant that the slab on a wheel they had been using would not be useful. "Any suggestions for how we could do that though?" Asking another question after her sister still had yet to answer, and an uncomfortable silence had lingered for too long.

"We have no other choice." Wanderer concluded before she simply jumped towards the fields without further comment, leaving her sister in sudden solitude. Those words had left Curiosity frustrated, but she could not see any alternative either, and so she jumped forth as well. The two of them traveled quickly, and reached the first of the unawakened vessels scattered across the land, as still as statues as they slept. Neither of the two champions spoke to each other as they both carefully held onto one dreamer, and then began their journey back to Keltra.

Though the wind sank its fangs into their skin, it did not bother them for they were only concerned for the delicate beings they held in their arms, and they let the fire burning within them provide warmth for their passengers. "I wonder if Homura will let me name you, or if you will be allowed to name yourself." Curiosity murmured to herself as attempts at conversing with Wanderer while they flew through the air had proven fruitless. Their trip proved uneventful, and the duo had arrived at the fortress with ease, stepping into the vast structure.

They found the interior to be just as empty as the area around the building, there was nothing except their shadows and an aura of loneliness that pervaded the hollow space. "It's too quiet." Curiosity commented as they placed the two bodies on the floor and looked around for anything that could offer more comfort for their kin. "I imagine that will change in the future." Wanderer replied, and then the two set forth once again to collect more dreamers and slowly fill the halls of the fortress.

Their arms and legs ached after they had carried one hundred thousand, but they pressed on. It became difficult to see as their vision blurred and they breathed heavily with exhaustion after they had carried three hundred thousand more, but they persevered. Even after four hundred thousand had been carried, Wanderer could not comprehend it... but Curiosity continued to speak and pester her with words. The quiet champion refused to surrender before her sister silenced herself, even if her irksome sibling was unaware of this competition. It gave her the strength to press onward, and she could only speculate what gave Curiosity such incredible endurance.

In the end, all four hundred, ninety-one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five dreamers had been safely transported into Keltra, and both Wanderer and Curiosity collapsed on the floor among them. The two could hear the beating of their hearts, and each tired breath that escaped them. "It is done." Wanderer said, and Curiosity chuckled. "It is."

Wanderer yawned and closed her eyes, letting her inescapable fatigue lull her into the realm of dreams; such a kind respite would be most welcome and the champion allowed herself to smile... until her sister spoke again. "Are you tired?"

"Yes."

"Can I sleep beside you?"

"No."

"Please?"

"..."

"Pretty please?"

"Fine."

Wanderer could only weakly sigh as she heard her sister shift herself and roll closer to her. She let out a gasp as her hand was suddenly held, and she opened her eyes to see Curiosity clutching her hand. The other champion remained silent regarding an explanation, but Wanderer was content if that meant she could finally rest.

"G'night Kel, good night Kiki, good night Xohan-"

"Be quiet!"



Homura & Voligan & Zenia



On the north eastern coast of the western continent Courage continued to carry vessels onto the waiting collosi, each trip transporting close to a hundred of the dormant dreamers, and with the assistance of Kindness and Fear, as well as the direction of Homura, nigh two hundred thousand bodies had been placed upon the three titans. Courage could feel the weight of exhaustion on her arms and legs as though she were laden with unseen burdens, but she pushed on through the fatigue with a resolute grin and hungry gasps of breath. Kindness preoccupied herself with gently gathering the flowers and migrating them around the paths the three humans work had created, while nearby Fear rested upon a column of stone.

Homura was content to merely watch now as little remained for space on the three titans, and she would have to venture forth before she could deliver the remaining majority of humanity. She stood atop a similar pillar as the one Fear relaxed upon, and could see far across the fields the unawakened humans slept in. More than eight hundred thousand still dreamed, remaining pale and featureless, ready to be sculpted by the other divine. The red goddess looked upon the rest of the world, wondering what her peers had produced as of late.

With a soft rumble the stone next to Fear took a vague humanoid shape as Voligan took a form more palatable to mortal senses. He looked over at the dreamers, and then back towards Fear, Courage, and Kindness. "I am Voligan, a pleasure to meet you, Goddess of Honor. You have been busy, sister. A new race, capable of mimicking our abilities of thought, and the first champions of the gods." His voice was mildly unpleasant, like two rocks scrapping lightly against one another.

"Since our siblings and I brought the continents into existence, there has been busyness across the world. The continents have been shaped and filled with life, both with the intention of cultivation and protection, and the intention of violence and destruction." He moved over towards the dreamers, examining them closely. There was potential there, that he could use and shape for his plans.

"I have a request, sister. In return for a favor that you can call upon later, I would like to take a group of these mortals and shape them. They will be an answer too the forces of destruction and evil, though not the last. Our sister Ruina will doubtlessly continue her 'tests' and the Gods of Industry and Parasites seem to have goals they'll achieve at any cost." He returned to Homura, watching Courage with amusement. "Do we have an agreement?"

Homura sighed upon seeing Fear flee from the presence of the god that had manifested near her, and concealed her ire with her champion behind a calm smile. Before she could reply, Courage had dashed towards Voligan and raised her hands defensively. The red goddess approached the Great Bearer of Lands, and bowed before him. "I am honored by your visit, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Homura." The three awakened mortals were gathered around her, Courage facing the God of Earth with defiance, while Kindness and Fear stood beside their maker. Homura herself arose with grace, and gestured towards the field of humans.

"These humans have been created to be a mortal expression of our wills. I intended to make gifts of them to all of the divine. You may take freely of them, brother, and make of them what you wish." She answered, before she paused and continued. "We have an agreement. I will not allow evil to pervade this world, even if I must battle my kindred to protect that which is good." the red goddess spoke with a cold fire that burned in her eyes, her spear held tight in her hand.

As if summoned by Homura's fierce declaration in the battle against evil, a flicker of a golden dot appeared on the horizon to the north. It sped like a bullet above land and water alike, zipping in an erratic pattern perceptible only to the divine. It cut a line through clouds as it passed, approaching at dangerous speeds. Moments later, before Voligan could deign to reply in the ongoing exchange, the golden bullet smashed into the side of one of the titans with a loud smack that sounded like it dented the titan and broke whatever it was that hit it. With a brief groan, a silhouette fell from high above at the site of the impact - a golden-haired goddess in a torn white dress careened freely from high above and soon after crashed into the ground with equal weight cracking dirt and rock to make a small impact crater. Unfazed, the new arrival stumbled to her feet and brushed herself off, before delivering an unabashed smile at the gathered party of deities and mortals.

Homura remained still as the celestial crashed into one of the colossi, and continued to be still as that divine entity then crashed into the earth near her. However, upon the sight of Zenia smiling, the inner fury within her had withered away her welcoming presence, and the red goddess exuded an aura of wrath. "An unexpected visitor bringing mayhem with her. It seems one of the more foolish among the divine has found us, and wished to provoke us with her pestiferous presence." Her tone was sardonic, and as sharp as a her spear.

The goddess took the jab in stride, her smile unfaltering as she tucked some of her crater-hair behind her ear. "Sorry about that," she exclaimed with a sheepish tone that did nothing to faze her enduring spirit of confident recklessness. "I was trying to see, like, how close I could get, you know, before I had to stop. But, like, I'm still getting used to how much stuff there is pulling me down. So I went too fast. But I'm fine! It's no problem." She assured noone in particular before weaving her fingers together in front of her and cracking her knuckles all at once. Her eyes scanned the area as if the three mortals did not exist. "What are you two up to? Making statues?"

Tracking Zenia's crash landing and giving an amused chuckle at her arrival, Voligan raised a hand in greeting. "Hello, Goddess of Revelry. I am Voligan, and this is Homura. These statues are her creations, humans. I've requested some of them for the purposes of counteracting our sister Ruina and our brother the God of Parasites, as they seem intent on 'testing' and infesting this world. Homura has agreed to help in further endeavors to counter them and any other evils that may be set upon Galbar. What brings you here? Aside from seeing how fast you can go before crashing?" His tone was light and amused, looking over at the dent Zenia had left on the side of the colossus.

"Oh!" the bright-haired goddess exclaimed and bowed in that lackluster way that she had deigned to respect the Monarch himself with. "I am Zenia! I uhm, well, I thought it looked interesting. I just came from the north; Chailiss and I made, like, the whole place and it's great and has real big and cute animals, and, you know, really large trees and canyons and lots of land. It's great, and there's all this really sweet white stuff that's great fun. But I'm exploring! Making more places great. That kind of thing." Zenia nodded to herself after speaking. Her attention could only last so long of course, and she soon started eyeing the three champions with greater scrutiny.

Homura exhaled her anger with a huff, but was quickly appeased by the honor of introductions, and the fortuitous lack of any premature harm coming to her creations. She was concerned with the lack of respect Zenia seemed to convey in her bow, as though the golden goddess was too preoccupied with petty thoughts of herself to even consider how another being would react to her folly or the repercussions of such careless actions. Then there was the taunting smile that seemed to shout, I could not care less about others, I wish only to be amused. Homura could hear its voice mocking her, but concealed her ire beneath an impassive mask as she spoke.

"You may also harvest from this field of sleeping humans, Zenia, as they are my gifts to all of divine, yourself included. You may make of them what you will, and they will conform to your desires though such changes will be limited in a capacity. However, I imagine you would have them perform frivolous festivities and continually engage in hedonistic acts, so no issues should arise. Now the choice belongs to you; will you accept my gift?" The red goddess asked, and refused to let the images of humanity being reduced to something so inane and irksome pervade her mind like an insidious poison.

Unlike their creator, the three humans that stood in the presence of the three divine felt elated as it was the first time they had ever encountered other beings capable of communication. Courage quickly found herself enjoying Zenia's lighthearted demeanor, and offered the goddess an impish bow, much more mischievous than reverent. Kindness and Fear looked between Homura and the two other deities, filled with uncertainty regarding how to behave before gods and goddesses. Kindness spoke, and bowed as well. "It is an honor to meet you both, my lord and lady. My name is Kindness, and these two are my sisters, Courage and Fear."

Zenia's attention fell squarely on Kindness, and her face radiated a riotous delight. She appeared to put Homura's solemn and respectable offer aside for the time being to launch forward with a single leap, closing the distance between herself and the others. The ground crumbled beneath her feet as she landed, so ill-contained was her energetic haze. Her gaze was still on the champions, curious and eager. "Ohh! They can like, talk!" She erupted with unbound glee, giving Homura the grin of a temptress. "Hello, Kindness! Courage. Fear." She greeted in order from closer proximity, pronouncing their names clearly as though that'd help. "I am, like, really loving your names. And the lookalike thing is a classic, I did that to, you know, the one with all the sour destructive energy about her. Real serious, that one. I didn't stick around."

Content with having doled out enough of her questionable wisdom, Zenia faced Voligan and Homura properly. "You'd... give some of these to me? I knew I felt, like, a good thing about you. All dependable. Isn't that right?" she turned to get some confirmation from Voligan but did not wait to hear the Great Bearer of Lands' reply. "Anyway, I have to decline. I couldn't accept such a thoughtful gift without, like, giving you something."

Voligan nodded, looking over at the champions. "Mortals like these will be needed." He mused, watching their interaction with Zenia. "We can't interact against the machinations of Destruction, Parasite, and Doom personally. The resulting battle will only destroy the mortals involved, not to mention the area they need to live on. More champions will need to be empowered."

He looked back at Zenia, shrugging his shoulders with a grinding noise. "You could give her something in return, perhaps creating something her own creatures lack. Or offering a future favor in return for some of her, freely offered, creatures. Gifts in return for gifts don't have to be immediate, after all." He paused, thinking. "We could use the extra help, as even as gods we can't be everywhere at once."

Homura considered the words of both Zenia and Voligan, her head having lulled to the side like an ancient tree that had endured the trials of the weather for a long time, and she pondered to herself while Courage stood tall with pride upon hearing a call to action. The human pointed towards the great earth god, and spoke with bravery. "I will fight! Let me prove myself in battle." A fierce grin emerged on her face, as Courage continued. "I want to protect Kindness and Fear, and the others! I ask that you allow me to fight."

"Patience."

With one word, Homura doused the ample ardor of Courage through her severe voice which demanded obeisance, and then the human stepped back to allow the red goddess to speak. "You will be called upon, but you must be ready to strike only when you are most certain of victory. If you act recklessly, you suffer the risk of making a critical mistake and suffering the resulting consequences. We must gather more power before we act, as Voligan suggested." As Homura spoke to her humans, Kindness pulled upon Courage's arm, and whispered to her sister. "And... remember to show forgiveness, sister."

While Kindness held onto her scolded sister, Fear stood before Zenia after the golden goddess had unleashed unrestrained mirth upon them. The lone human lacked the lexicon to describe the staggering felicity she had been struck with, and stood stunned as the exuberant diety had turned her attention to her fellow divine. "Thank you." Fear said, feeling as though she had been blessed by simply being in the presence of the Goddess of Revelry.

After she scolded her creation, Homura softly smiled towards the god and goddess. "A promise to... dance with me later will suffice as something sufficient in return, sister. Secondly, these humans are a gift to you, brother, and you are not beholden to give me something in return. You have created the land upon which we stand after all. It is I who is indebted towards you, I think."

"Nonetheless, feel free to call upon me should you ever require aid Homura." He looked over at the scolded Courage, chucking to himself again. "Yes, patience. There will be plenty of fighting in the future, I am sure." He moved over to where the humans were being carried and gathered one hundred thousand of them. They stood suspended in the air around him, held by floating orbs of soft earth, to prevent them from falling as he travelled. "Some of these dreamers I will guide personally, to be our sword and shield against the machinations of our...less kind siblings. The others I will place around Galbar and let them flourish or fall in their own right, so long as it naturally occurs." He nodded at both of his siblings in a final farewell.

"Zenia, Homura. It has been a pleasure to meet you both. I will call upon you, should I need your aid in the future. Do not hesitate to do the same." With that, he headed away from the two goddesses, rapidly gaining speed as he continued on his mission.




Zenia, who had stood in an almost zombie-like state while considering the full breadth of Voligan's suggestions, ripped out of her daze to wave after the Great Bearer of Lands. "Nice to meet you! I like your work!" was all she deigned to call after him before turning her gaze back to Homura and her three identical champions. She clapped her hands together triumphantly and grinned at the other goddess. "That's what I'll do! I'll, like, pledge to help you, Homura. You're being so nice, and I also don't want, you know, bad things to happen, so I'll assist with whatever you need. We can start with dancing, for sure, if that's what you want. I'm something of a movement-master," she ranted with exuberant energy.

Homura refrained from externally sighing after she waved farewell to Voligan, and hesitantly nodded in agreement as her fellow divine that had yet to depart continued to prate, but it seemed she had acquired another alliance which meant that enduring the presence of Zenia was well worth it. Even after Voligan has claimed his share, there were hundreds of thousands that remained.

"Sister, if we have an accord, then collect some of these humans and teach them. Guide them in the way of Revelry, whatever that means. We can arrange a time to dance another time, as the many other divine that I have yet to greet and give my gifts to await, and the world will not stand still while we do nothing." Homura did not voice aloud her concern that if she simply enjoyed herself and the act of dancing now, she may waste even more precious time. The sky was filled with soaring lights, and the melody of the land softly brushed against her ears, as the song of the cosmos filled her with heavenly bliss.

She spoke and was akin to the stable stone standing against the force of a relentless river, as the profuse glee of the golden goddess washed over Homura but had yet to erode her stoic façade. The three humans continued to watch the interaction between the deities, until they were forced to shield their eyes with nothing but their hands as Homura began to blaze brightly with sacred radiance. Then the red goddess offered her hand outwards to Zenia, and her voice resonated with power.

"Let us clasp hands to physically symbolize our promises to each other." She said.

Zenia did not seem to need much convincing or thought. She stepped forward without hesitation, a triumphant and giddy grin plastered on her face as she watched Homura. A moment later, Zenia's hand fell in with Homura's and squeezed it firmly as pure reaction. With it came an unbridled jolt of exuberant energy, hinting at the barely contained whorl of delight - and as Homura herself had said, Revelry - within the golden-haired deity. Even a simple touch was like the sudden rush of elation from having experienced something new and amazing, if such a thing was a material being able to impose on others.

"For sure!" cried Zenia with excitement. "I think I'll take them to, like, that other land I saw on the way. They can help me look for, you know, a good place. And I'll teach them everything I know." Left unsaid but radiated from that shine in her eyes, was that it wouldn't be a long lesson.

Then they both heard a message uttered in their minds; a warning from another goddess. Memories that were not their own, and a conversation they had not joined, yet it seemed as if they had stood there as it happened. The voice of Ruina seemed to echo, lingering until it receded from whence it came, and there was nothing that immediately followed it. The brief, but sincere smile upon the red goddess quickly vanished after the warning was received. What ephemeral jubilation she had known upon holding hands with Zenia was forgotten as she became burdened with fears of the future. She remembered her words with Voi upon the bridge, her concerns of war, and its inevitability.

"It seems Destruction and Doom have encountered each other, and have quickly quarreled. I have yet to speak with either of them, so perhaps I should remedy that. Hmm, this may seem strange considering our circumstances, but you have my gratitude, Zenia. I pray that the majority of our fellow divine are as cordial as yourself and the others I have spoken with." Homura held Daybringer tightly in her hands, and glanced towards her three champions, knowing that none of them had heard the message from Ruina.

"It is time we depart." She explained to them. "We will return and deliver the remaining vessels, but now we must wander across Galbar in search of the other divine." Her proclamation elicited rejoicing excitement in Courage, Kindness, and Fear, as they hastily began gathering what meager things they had claimed during their period of work. Courage held onto a red flower that she tucked behind one of her ears, while Kindness precariously carried a collection of shiny stones from the sea shore in her arms. Fear remained empty handed, having chosen to sleep when the three were given the opportunities to rest. All of them were still occasionally distracted by the two goddesses that exuded an aura of their combined aspects; filling the air with resolve and joy.

Zenia had remained unfazed by the distant message and the barrage of memories, in so far as she deigned to show she had registered Ruina's announcement at all. Her smile remained steady and she continued to look unbothered as Homura's champions set to work. Whether it was due to dull ignorance or a refusal to let her mood falter was a mystery for another day, as the sudden surge of activity inspired the golden-haired goddess to do the same. "She sounded as serious as she looked when I met her!" she erupted in loud thought, before turning to the field of dormant humanity to survey what was on offer.

"Her words really, like, confirm your words, though." Zenia admitted briefly, in a rare lowering of her voice to slip past the champions. Even so, her demeanor remained impenetrably bright. She drifted in a skipping step across the landscape, using her divine sense and might to lift several thousand of the dormant beings from their resting place to hover with her instead. "I'll make sure both I and they are, you know, ready. I'm, like, on your team now. Good girls gotta stick together. Come find me, like, whenever, yeah? I'll treat you to a real party."

With that, the golden-haired Zenia leapt into the sky, lifting her sampling of human drones from the ground with her as she made her way upwards from whence she came. Instead of crashing into the colossosus again however, she drifted eastwards, out over the ocean. The humans followed her like a dutiful flock of birds, except for one, who clonked harmlessly into a titan in Zenia's place and fell out of her control without the goddess noticing.

Homura continued to dwell upon the unsettling evidence of her previous ponderings and perspective of the pantheon after once again she had waved farewell to another divine. She compelled herself to remain calmly composed, and continued to attempt to alleviate her concerns with thoughts of her purpose, and the gift of humanity shared with her peers. The red goddess wore a wry smile now, and preoccupied herself with watching over her creations. Then there was a terrible explosion.




In the opposite direction Zenia had flown towards, in the lands west of where she was now, the earth was ruptured and ravaged by an intense divine power that was larger than any Homura had seen before. Sound reached her; a deep and vast roar that cracked stone and shook water, even the air seem to shatter before its immense violent push. The cacophony reverberated and rumbled like a colossal snarling beast, there was no shelter from its presence. The red goddess had the distinct pleasure of hearing each and every fracture and burst of rock and tree, while the grass and flowers could not even utter a whisper before they had all perished.

The soil by her feet had shifted, and though her humans could not perceive its effect in its entirety, the goddess of honor witnessed as all of the land around her stirred to unwilfully accommodate the radically aggressive alteration of Galbar's north western continent. Her gaze turned to the great cloud of debris, massive chunks from the destroyed mountains, and an endless storm of dust and ash, the aftermath soared towards them.

Homura ignored the cries of her champions, as all three of them had been tossed aside by the thunder, even the mighty colossi had fallen. Without warning, Daybringer extended until it was longer than the three colossi that had been mostly unburdened of vessels after the explosion. The weapon had grown to massive for her to effectively wield, so she simply threw it at the wave.

Without her golden spear in hand, she surged towards the oncoming wave of destruction with the intention of halting it before it could harm more life. She leapt and dashed across the damaged landscape, traveling the great distance in long and swift strides. The world blurred around her, but she sharpened her sense and reflexes until everything was clear to her. In her heightened state, she observed the slow crawl of dust in the wind, and lethargic quivering trees. The frantic dance of the sea of grass she tread upon became slow and playful. Time seemed to slow for her. She passed her thrown spear that had yet to reach its destination, stepping underneath the shaft as though it were suspended in the air above her.

Closer to the torrent of broken mountains, Homura could better discern each piece of the storm, and hastily amended her plan. She leapt up and ascended towards the unhurried weapon, until it was within her reach. Then she touched it, and it was adjusted to her size. In her grasp, it shone with celestial light that illuminated the tempest, and the red goddess became heavenly fire that merged with the radiance of Daybringer. Faster than mortal eyes could perceive, the golden spear slashed and cut through the flying calamity, each strike eviscerated its momentum and suspended stones in the sky. Homura channeled divine power, and her mind burned with cosmic lucidity as she was everywhere at once.

"Ten thousand thorns tranquil pierce!" She chanted and had spoken without hesitation, as an energy within her emerged and demanded to be heard. Her voice resonated with her conviction and shape, as the light that was her reached far and fast. She soared through the sky, and saw traces of herself in a myriad of stances and placements as she fought off the storm. Her position shifting and her body dancing between each clash with the debris so quickly, that it seemed as though thousands of her were moving in sync to defend Galbar.

The entire encounter was finished before the last of the mountainous fists had crashed upon the land, and a massive ring akin to a small simulacrum of the ring which encircled the planet, was all that remained. Homura was the fire that held the ring aloft, a corona of light that lifted the ruins of the devastated earth. Her form was woven between the massive chunks of debris, and she strained to prevent them from causing anymore harm. She could not carry the circle for much longer, and called upon more of her power.

Slowly she retreated with the ring back to the shore where her humans still slept. She watched from afar as her champion had arisen, and the three colossi stood still after they had also arisen, but her heart hurt upon the sight of the vessels that had fallen from their backs. She could not concern herself with their loss yet, as the fiery ring weighed even more heavily upon her. Anger and sorrow blinded and weakened her, as she cursed herself for her failure to protect all of creation. She could look towards the pale moon, and could only listen as it was scarred once more, as regret seeped its fangs into her.

"I shall make a shelter for the faithful!" She proclaimed desperately, and allowed the winds to carry her voice across the land in every direction. "And it shall be known as Keltra."

Strenuously directing the massive ring towards the shore, she guided it to the ground. Its shape was sharply defined, an incandescent circle, from which sections splintered forth and drifted towards the center. The fragments formed a large vessel with openings along its base faintly resembling the structures within the divine palace. Her burden landed upon the earth, and became still, its light and fire fading as the mass returned to stone.

From the ruination of the land to the west; the devastation of its mountains and forests, she had forged the first citadel. Her essence had infused the ring and keep, its towering walls were stained scarlet like her fierce eyes. The bastion in the center was as large as two of the colossi combined, and stood like a bulwark against evil as it loomed atop a rise in the land at the center of the ring. A hundred doorways led into the central structure itself, but there were no gates along the outer wall preventing access to those that were unable to climb or fly over it.

Homura strode from where she stood back to her quiet fields, allowing herself to find and worry about her three champions before she could concern herself with the consequences of what had happened. Courage, Kindness, and Fear were silent as she approached, each of them wore solemn expressions. Courage was the first to speak, the flower that had been tucked behind her ear gone. "We couldn't... they fell, and we couldn't!" The champion fell to her knees and began weep, still trying to convey herself. "The water, they just sank, and we were choking. They wouldn't move! They wouldn't... no matter what we did."

Homura turned her gaze to the shore, where more and more vessel were pulled to land by the waves. She could not see the sacred fires within them. She knew they would never awaken. "Courage, do not blame yourself." She said, as she stirred herself forward despite the aching pain in her chest, and held onto her crying champion. The red goddess was not surprised when Fear crashed into them and clung tightly to her as well. Kindness merely stood, struggling to smile for her sisters. She remembered the soothing presence of the goddess of revelry and thought that was what Zenia would do to ward away the sorrow, but the thought that she had lost the pretty stones she intended to give her stabbed deep into her.

Homura looked towards the lone champion attempting a calm visage, and spoke softly. "Kindness, will you console your sisters for now. I must retrieve the fallen and honor them." She stood with Courage and Fear clinging upon her like the leaves upon a tree. She gently removed them, and allowed a little more of her power to provide them with the strength to fight their pain. Kindness moved to switch with the goddess, and began comforting her two sisters. Homura walked towards the waters edge with grave purpose.

"I apologize. I could not protect you. I was weak and foolish. I cannot atone for this, but even so... allow me to honor you will never know the blessing of life." Homura held out her hand, reaching towards that nothingness once more. Her honor was always beyond her grasp as her promises to protect life had proven empty. Without further words, she danced. She could no longer articulate her thoughts, and expressed herself through the surrender of her body to truth and its motions. Her grief manifested in graceful sweeps of her arms like the waves that washed along the shore. Her defiance of despair evoked when she kicked outwards again and again while she swirled and shook.

She stepped upon the sea, walking across the water as she danced. She would be gentle to them, as she guided their silent shapes back to the surface. More and more bodies arose, and drifted towards the red goddess as she shone like a beacon. When they came close, their forms became ethereal light that danced with her, and sang. Homura prayed to the goddess of revelry in her reverent performance, and tapped into the lingering traces of Zenia's presence in the land.

Courage, Kindness, and Fear watched as the sacred fire conducted the light of the fallen, and an otherworldly music reached their ears. They watched as the light began to fade, and all of the empty vessels had been consumed by a heavenly radiance. Then they mourned quietly for the two hundred thousand brothers and sisters that were gone.

After the funeral when Homura returned to them, Fear asked the red goddess what their plans were now. "There is little time. We cannot wait. We will continue our journey." She had answered.

The three champions found the displaced stone slab and began to work once more. There was no laughter, and very little conversation aside from the directing and following of orders from each other. Homura had realized that she could not leave her humans alone, and chose to create two more that would follow in her path. Her citadel would offer sanctuary, and it will be defended.

"Awaken! Wanderer and Curiosity! You have been blessed by my presence, and have been given the opportunity to fulfill a purpose. Come and aid me now. Carry your brothers and sisters to the three creatures that will carry them across Galbar!" And two more shards flowed from her palm into two vessels. Red eyes opened, and Homura saw two more reflections of herself. Two more champions of honor to help her. After they had spoken, Wanderer and Curiosity joined their sisters in their work.




Homura


Homura walked along the shore as she contemplated how she would transport the many humans across Galbar, the details of the operation requiring more finesse than she had initially expected. The created mortal vessels were fragile, and the red goddess quickly surmised that none would survive the journey if she simply carried them all. However, her efforts would not be in vain in an act of divine providence, and she would find a solution as something suddenly caught her attention far beyond the edge of the horizon.

Homura allowed herself to smile, as she held out Daybringer and the weapon began to blaze brightly with its celestial light. Power hummed violently in the air; the only forewarning before a burst of cosmic power was unleashed, and the golden spear in the hands of the red goddess stretched forth across the vast sea towards the unseen. Farther and farther it reached, until the its point had vanished over the horizon and only the eyes of the goddess could perceive where it went. The shaft had then broken into segments, held together with massive chains, as Daybringer curved along the surface of the planet during its journey.

The spear lunged towards massive creatures that had wandered the oceans of Galbar in search of their preferred food. Homura knew not which divine had created such life, but she sought to use these beings as a simple remedy for the complicated task of transporting her humans. Her weapon began encircling the colossi, its chains forming circles and weaving around their limbs and bodies. Three of the giants then found themselves bound as they slowly marched onwards unaware of what had trapped them, until the chains around them lifted them from the oceans, and brought them back to the red goddess.

Upon returning, the chains of Daybringer released the titanic creatures, depositing them in the sea with the crashing of waves and rumbling of the earth announcing their arrival. Homura called forth sand and stone to stand against the great watery tides surging towards the land. The two primal forces collided and clashed, until the sea had relented, and Homura stood upon the shore shrouded in sacred flames. She gazed upon the three behemoths that became lethargic after their short ordeal, her presence compelling them to bow and await her commands.

"Come forth, immense beasts of burden! Carry the seeds of humanity across Galbar!" Her edict echoed far, and was heard in the hearts of the three colossi. Their minds were malleable to her words, and their thoughts were guided by her voice. They had understood her command, but remained still. Homura called forth more of her power and the land arose as three massive bridges formed and connected to the giants, one to each of the three colossi. "Now is the time to awaken." She whispered to herself.

The red goddess turned to her own creations scattered across the fields, and approached them, of the one million she had forged, nine hundred and ninety-six thousand remained. She stood before three, and pondered how to proceed as the faceless pale statues seemed to simply ignore her. Her memories of her own birth inspired her, and she prepared herself for what was to come.

"My name is Homura and I have created you. Know that I am the honorable servant of your Lord. You shall see His will done, for there is only His will. You shall be instruments of creation for this world known as Galbar. The work that remains for us is indefinite, yet such is the nature of our Lord's realm." Homura proclaimed, as she cut her hand with Daybringer, the spear had become small, shorter than her forearm now. Red light poured from her wound as she continued. "Rise! Heed this call of mine! Become the humans of Galbar!" And three crimsons shards emerged from her palm and sank into three of the vessels near the goddess.

The three statues awoke, faces appearing upon their ashen heads as red hair hastily grew from their scalps. Light gathered around them and garbed them in dresses akin to what the goddess wore, and when their eyes opened, three creatures identical in appearance to Homura saw their creator and the world around them for the first time. Homura spoke swiftly and her voice seeped into the essence of their existence. "Your aspects are Courage, Kindness, and Fear. You have been blessed by my presence, and have been given the opportunity to fulfill a purpose. Come and aid me now. Carry your brothers and sisters to the three creatures that will carry them across Galbar!" She said and pointed towards the three colossi.

The awakened humans fumbled with the words within their minds, unable to articulate their thoughts yet, but the red goddess was not patient and had wandered towards a rise in the land. She peered back at them over her shoulder and smiled. "Allow me to guide you." She said as she slowly raised her hand, and a massive slab of earth ascended in sync with her motion. The slab was sturdy, and beneath it emerged large cylinders of stone to act as wheels. "I have gifted you that which will make your first task much more swift. Gather your kindred upon this slab and roll them towards the three titans." She explained to the three humans.

Homura watched as her creations became more and more aware, before they began the process of putting the still dormant humans on the giant slab. The three discovered that despite their small size, they possessed great strength, and the one with the aspect of Courage let loose a loud laugh as she jumped high and far to collect more and more. The one with the aspect of Kindness laughed as she found that moving the slab upon the stone logs proved to be almost effortless. Fear simply did as she was asked, and continued to silently place more vessels upon the slab.

Eventually, the slab had been loaded with almost a thousand still humans, and the three awakened pushed their burden across the bridge until they reached the back of the first colossus. They then returned, and repeated the process, over and over again, as the fields full of sleeping humans slowly began to empty. The three humans happily conversed while they worked, and Homura was glad. Another step towards enlightenment had been taken, and soon the seeds of humanity will spread across Galbar.








The Story So Far...

01. (Re)birth
02. Homura & Voi - The Creation of Daybringer and Origin of Humanity
03. Homura - Courage, Kindness, and Fear
04. Homura & Voligan & Zenia - The Creation of Keltra
05. Departure - Curiosity & Wanderer
06. Chailiss & Homura - Arrival in the Northern Realms
07. Iqelis & Homura - The Birth of Ea Nebel
08. Learning to Dance - Independence
09. The Theft
10. Homura & Yudaiel - Visions on the Moon
11. The Roar of the Abyss
12. Apostate & Homura - Pride & The Eternal Fire
13. The Gnosis
14. Tuku & Pride
15. Homura & Jiugui
16. Viho & Fear I
17. Viho & Fear II
18. Homura & Tuku
19. Homura & Phelenia
20. Homura & Sala
21. Viho & Fear III
22. Home with You
23. Apostate & Homura II
24. By the Bonfire
25. Strawberry
26. Deliveries & Duels?
27. Yoliyachicoztl Week
28. The Monarch of All & Homura
29. Chailiss & Homura II
30. Prelude to Ea's Trials I
31. Lorelei & Keltra I
32. Aethel & Homura I
33. Cath Melainea & Homura I
34. Apostate & Homura III
35. Lorelei & Keltra II
36. Prelude to Ea's Trials II
37. Lorelei & Keltra III
38. Chailiss Week
39. First Trial of Ea Nebel
40. Lorelei & Keltra IV
41. Lorelei & Keltra V
42. Lorelei & Keltra VI
43. The Holy Quintet I
44. Second Trial of Ea Nebel
45. Third Trial of Ea Nebel
46. Pride & the Recusant I
47. Keltra & the Recusant I
48. Voligan Week
49. The Holy Quintet II
50. The Last Trial of Ea Nebel
51. The Holy Quintet & Zima I
52. Homura returns to Keltra
53. Chailiss & Keltra
54. The Holy Quintet & Keltra
55. Fear & Zima Flee Keltra
56. Eschatli & Keltra I
57. Charis & Keltra II
58. Wanderer & Keltra I
59. Wanderer & Keltra II
60. Reflections & Keltra
61. Fear & Zima I
62. Reflections & Keltra II
63. Zima, Fear, and Yesaris
64. Homura returns to Keltra II
65. The Birth of Desire
66. Fear, Viho, and Zima
67. Journey to Nalusa
68. Fear, Grimm, and Zima
69. Nice
70. Reflections & Keltra III
71. Fear is broken
72. Fear becomes Vale
73. Fear & the Labyrinth
74. War in Nalusa
75. Change & Reconstruction
76. Homura & Aethel II
77. Fear/Vale, Garle, and Zima
78. Pride & Keltra II
79. The Season of Strife
80. Fear II Joins her Sisters
81. Honor & Vengeance I
82. Honor & Vengeance II
83. Death's Embrace

Homura & Voi


Homura was immediately delighted by Voi and his amiable introduction, her concern regarding the potentially capricious and cruel nature of the other divine had been alleviated ever so slightly. Now she was eager to uncover more of his intentions, and whether or not he may be of any assistance to her. She ardently hoped he had realized that the gods and goddesses of this new world must work together in order to avoid their mutual annihilation. She then considered additional elements to incorporate into her greeting as uncertainty on how to proceed continued to bother her... she glanced towards her empty hands, and then towards his hands hidden beneath gray gloves and pale blue sleeves. She raised one hand outwards, and reached out towards him.

"Let us clasp hands together and exemplify honor. This is the beginning of a new age of wonder. Our time has come, and there is much to be done." She spoke with a newfound resolve, and stood tall with pride as a goddess should.

Voi was slightly taken back by Homura's response. Her excitement, he was not expecting but, was a pleasant one. So Voi clasp her hand with energy, "Sure sister, let's clasp hands and celebrate this new age for all of us." Speaking with vigor, "I have already gave my part but, yes there is more that needs to be done."

Homura would feel that his hand felt weird. While it felt solid, she could feel a coldness to it and a odd sensation that she was holding on something not of flesh.

"Hmm, your aspect is that of the soul. I am seeking to seed Galbar with life, and I hope you would allow me to avail myself of your power in this endeavor. A soul should have a physical form to interact with the material world after all. I will create creatures in the image of the gods; tangible vessels for the spiritual and sacred to reside within. That is my intention." Homura held onto his hand throughout her explanation, radiating warmth and fiery passion from her palm. Her other hand was gesturing frequently to emphasize her words while her eyes blazed brightly with passion conveying her conviction.

"To create life based on us..." Voi sounding intrigued, true he did have his own plans for Galbar which included making something alive on the planet. He did not know what at the moment unlike Homura. She certainly is passionate about this, and life does need a soul to live.
"Some of the others have already started to seed Galbar with life and I have yet to add my part to it." Speaking sincerely, "I will help you with this Homura, though I have spent some of my power to create something. I still have plenty in me for this endeavor."

She simply nods as she lets go of his hand, relief washing over her. "I will gather the materials to construct these vessels, and then you can instill souls within them. I intend to offer these vassels to the other gods and goddesses, and allow them to sculpt in accordance to their desires." She continues while exuding an aura of confidence before she strides towards the sight of Galbar, then turns and glances back at Voi.. "As you have said, the journey has already begun and others have wandered ahead of us. Let us be on our way to Galbar."

Then Homura slowly raised up her hand, her palm outward and facing the void, as though she were trying to grasp something. Her eyes were closed as she summoned forth her will and divine power to create this unseen force upon a lone piece of heaven. She could feel herself be strained as she called to one of the many stars that illuminated the darkness, pulling it towards her. The immense luminous entity could not sense her from so afar, and refused her summoning.

"I am a celestial servant of the Monarch of All! I invoke His name and command you! Heed my summoning and bend to my will." Homura spoke and her words were filled with power. The solitary star finally relented and soared through the endless sea of shadows before it alighted in front of the goddess. In the lavish halls of the palace it shone with an otherworldly light that gracefully mingled and melded with the austere of the sacred architecture. The star began to dance and sing until its shape changed, and it became a golden spear that remained adrift above the goddess. Slowly it descended until it was within her reach, and Homura grasped it.

The stellar spear lacked an intricate shape, however it was inscribed with runes and intricate patterns that invoked divine vigor. Its bladed point glistened and glittered in a myriad of colors continually changing. Its length seemed to shift again and again as the goddess slowly slashed and cut around her in a reverent dance where weapon and wielder became attuned to each other. Homura could sense the life of that she held onto in her hands, its yearning for meaning that was akin to her own. "I shall name you, Daybringer."

Afterwards when she stood still, and the spear was as short as her arm, she lulled her head with a haunting smile towards Voi, and pointed Daybringer at Galbar afar and awaiting. "Shall we?" She asked the other god.

"Daybringer, a interesting choice of a name for a weapon." Weapons... he has not even considered making weapons at all. Maybe in the future but, he does not see the reason now to make one. Though the way she created it. Using a star as a core and shaping it to her will. It was quite the sight watching it all happen. Giving him ideas for the future. But, that is for later. Now is the time to forge new life.

So Voi smiling though it would be impossible for Homura to see or tell. He walked forward next to her. "Yes we shall," and Voi started to walk across the bridge to Galbar.

Together they walked for a time, under the gathering of stars and across the nothingness that was the void. It was bright and it was dark, for there was little to be illuminated and yet the radiance of the heavenly palace shone upon them. There were no turns in the path, and the two divine followed the sight of Galbar. The bridge beneath them was a construct both physical and ethereal, undefined and yet clear as they walked upon it. The goddess was grateful that it was there. Everything was quiet, and a strange melancholy seemed to linger as though painful memories pervaded existence and refused to fade; to be forgotten. Homura simply marched onward.

The void seemed incomprehensibly vast and Homura recalled that it was intended to be their prison. The void lacked meaning. It was neither beautiful nor grotesque. It was a solitary existence that was the border between creation and oblivion. Homura tightly held onto Daybringer, letting the weapon banish her dread slightly. She appreciated the presence of Voi as well, and though the other god remained an enigma, he was quite courteous and kind.

"Voi... when war rises, will you fight or flee?" She asked softly, her voice faintly echoing in the emptiness all around them. Though her weapon was weightless in her hand, it burdened her then. Those that desired peace must be prepared for war.

It was felt odd for Voi to walk on the bridge with nothing around them but the empty void. The void that was suppose to be their prison as their father said. Weird though, it did not feel like a prison but, maybe that is because he can not see walls and locked door. Either way, they have something special in this so called prison, Galbar and what they can create here. Which some of the others have already started.

"War?" Voi asked confused. What war could she mean? War with themselves? A bit unthinkable for him at the moment. Very everything still be new and fresh. Including themselves but, he has seen already some of the actions and know the aspects of his siblings. Conflict might arise between them and if such a war happens. Where would he be?

"I suppose when war comes... I will fight if I feel I need to." Sounding a bit uncertain, Voi is a watcher, a observer. Making sure that balance of live of death is in balance. Thus, he should be impartial but, if push comes to shove and matters becomes heated. Fighting is probably what he would do.

"Though I have to ask in turn, what would you do when war comes Homura"? Voi turning his head towards her, the blue lights for his eyes staring at her.

She was silent for a time, a cryptic expression upon her face as she seemed to contemplate. With her gaze upon Galbar, she attempted to answer his question with words that brought forth a forlorn, yet content look from her. "I know I would protect all of creation and seek to preserve that which is sacred. I know I would sacrifice myself to do so, fighting until I have been slain. My own annihilation does not frighten me... But perhaps peace will persist, and I will perish before I am ever called to battle."

After she had spoken, Homura danced as she walked. She seemed to soar with each step, and drifted gracefully along an unheard melody that washed over each delicate motion. She shimmered akin to the stars, and her form flowed freely. Her hands strummed silently the shadows and her skin seemed kissed by the light. Transcendence through being unshackled by unseen chains, but precariously susceptible to sinful din and discord. She embraced the fleeting joy of immersing herself in the performance before she became still, and suddenly the mystical moment of mania had come to an end.

Then the enigmatic red eyes of the goddess wandered back to Voi and confronted his ethereal blue orbs. "Would you willingly face your demise to offer salvation for others? I fight for love of life, but what would compel you to fight? Would you fight beside me?" Her voice more quiet in the profuse silence as though she spoke from afar.

Voi stayed silent as he thought of his response. What would he fight for. A question that Voi would think about as he watched Homura start dancing. A action that Voi felt mesmerize in watching. Her graceful and delicate movements. Like a artist, unshackled by rules or chains. Expressing what their heart was to express and show to the world.

A performance that Voi was unprepared when she stopped and asked another question. After a moment to think and compose himself. He spoke but this time with a voice of certainty. "Balance is what would fight for. The balance between life and death, that must be preserved. Any one that tries to change it will feel my wrath." Voi now turning his gaze to Galbar. "But, if there is a something that threatens more then the the balance. If a threat threatens life itself then I would fight and but to give my life for it."

Voi pondered for a moment, "I guess I would and I would gladly fight side my side with you. But, what will happen then? I have made a afterlife for mortals already so they have a place to go. But, what of a gods like us? Where will we go if we go anywhere all." Voi slightly tilted his head. "I could make such as a place." Turning his head back to Homura. "What is this talk of war though? Everything is so young including ourselves. Most I imagine are concerned about creating and building. Not war, so what caused you to think about a future war?"

"When I was born, I perceived my own reflection. A sight which offered me a choice; who would I be? How would I live my life? Already my mind had awakened, but I did not understand myself and I could not immediately recognize what I was seeing in the many mirrors all around. I had chosen my shape, and my aspect became clear to me in that moment. Honor. I would honor myself, honor the world, I would be honorable. overwhelming was the joy of meaning, but... to know honor, I must know its opposite." Daybringer glowed with a baleful light before Homura hastily lifted its point toward Voi. The weapon extended, closer and closer to him until it nigh touched his chest as the starmetal uttered menacing whispers woven into a harrowing melody. The warmth of her presence vanished, and only an apathetic cold fire remained in her eyes, her impassive stance.

"There is hatred beside love, cruelty beside compassion, avarice beside altruism. War was born when peace was, and then the great battle of the cosmos began. It seemed an insidious poison had been poured into the decanter of creation. Nihilism and annihilation. We are the wanderers walking upon an unknown path; we know not what truly awaits us as we travel further and further ahead. Now we must speak softly, and become as strong as we can become, if we wish to travel very far. I have pondered this, and concluded that I must be ever ready to honorable fight as a divine warrior, otherwise I suffer the risk of a foolish defeat." The red goddess exuded dogmatic devotion, but shifted to wistful pensiveness when she finished speaking. She lowered her weapon then averted her gaze from Voi. The blade of Daybringer changed color once more, and the vicinity was bathed in its gentle radiance. Homura continued to walk afterwards.

"I... I see Homura," not quite sure of what to said in response to what she said and stopping his tracks. Her devotion and her point was clear to him. It made him think about his own birth. Being in that shard as his mind awaken before natural forming his current form. It was blurry at first, only hearing parts of what the Monarch of All. Then he started to grow and things became more clear to him. Up to finally shattering his shard and coalesce into his form. Knowing what aspect he was and what that means. A soul, a intangible and immortal thing that all living thing needs to survive.

"Still, what Homura said about knowing the other side of it. The opposite side of honor but, what is the opposite side of a soul? The thought puzzled him, what could be the opposite of a soul? Nothingness? A tangible temporary thing but what would that even be called? Voi did not know as it seemed alien to him.

Snapping back to reality and catching up with her and sounding serious, "I see you have put more thought into things then I have. Something that I should do to. Like what happens if I die and the balance becomes distorted." Gears turned in his head, perhaps a contingency be put into place to save or restore the balance if he dies. "Still, I see your point Homura and will ponder on things." His tone shifted from serious to relaxed. "But for us and near future, let us focus on adding our parts to Galbar and your own creations, these vessels of yours." Voi said and continued to walk along side her.

His voice alleviated her solemn introspection, and quickly rekindled her familiar resolve. She smiled slightly, and nodded in appreciation of his presence. "Thank you. I am inexperienced in the art of conversing, and I cannot accept alienating others now. Before I go on, I must apologize if I have acted either clumsy or crude." Her words were accompanied by a respectful bow as she came to a halt once more. She arose and her cheeks were tinged with a bashful red, and a demure gaze in her conflicted eyes. "Forgive me for my foolishness."

She seemed unfazed when the light of the stars suddenly dimmed and the continual silence was broken by the distant roar of the abyss. Galbar loomed like a colossus, an enormous yawning presence that pulled on them with its breath. Despite wandering no farther after her apology, the god and goddess had reached the end of the celestial bridge and now stood upon the edge. It did not connect physically to the planet, but remained hanging high above its surface. Homura remained impassive to the planet, committed to mending her mistake.

Voi held his hand up as to reassure her, "Now now, it is no problem to me, we all have our thoughts and feelings. Though next time, please do not point your weapon at me." Voi said with a hint of uneasiness. Returning to sounding friendly and looking down at Galbar. "Looks like we have reached the end of the road". Voi made a small chuckle and turned to look at Homura. "Time to see the planet for ourselves and leave our mark before the others make anymore changes." Voi briefly sighed at the thought of Sala adding more of her salt to the world. "See you on the ground," and with that Voi took a step off the bridge. Effortless flying down to the surface.

She blinked upon watching him walk off the edge and fall from sight until her body moved of its own volition and she was peering down at the descending god. "Oh." She simply said before she stretched out her limbs, Daybringer pointed downwards in her hands. There was a burst of power as the golden spear stirred and began to swiftly elongate, faster and further with thunderous force until the weapon reached from the sky and struck the land, the length of its shaft too far for any mortal eyes to perceive.

She stepped off the bridge, but remained balanced upon her spear. She was then lowered as the weapon became shorter as quickly as it grew, and she plunged down to the planet beside Voi. Homura looked upon what her fellow divine had created, and contemplated how to interweave her own creations into the world. There was life and there was land, the sea and sky seemed to merged and interlace with a vast amount of salt. The seeds had been sown, and the goddess was inspired at the sight of such cosmic wonder. The two gods soon approached the largest landmass.

Her feet touched the ground as her spear closely matched her own height, and she unearthed the holy weapon. She looked across the land bathed in the light of the stars, and graced with the plants birthed by the power of Phelenia. Serene and gorgeous, Homura was greatly pleased to walk along the grass and among the wild flowers that bloomed in her presence. Daybringer glimmered in her hand, and unleashed its prismatic light upon the flora, now a dancing sea of colors after the artifact had suffused them with its radiance.

It was quite the sight, seeing Galbar from this close. Before he had been watching it from afar. Watching what his fellow gods did with the blank canvas that is Galbar. Seas, land, salt, and green plants. It made him think what he would contribute to this young world. Which he still is thinking about. But, for now, helping Homura with her project is his focus.

Which once he noticed her making her descent. Voi moved to be along side her and follow where she would land. With Homura landing first before him. Landing with grace next to her. The first thing he did was take a look around. Phelenia certainly outdid herself, Voi thought. Their lush surroundings a testament to what good the gods can do to this world. Unlike some of the gods.

Turning his gaze towards Homura and saw how pleased she seemed. What is there not be to pleased with he thought. This land was fresh and alive, unlike the barren wasteland that Sala helped make. Still, this is a start and Voi was eager to begin their work. So he walked over to Homura with a friendly sounding voice. "I see you are taking in the sights and unless you wish to wait, how about we start this endeavor of yours?"

"The resilient earth, the wandering water, and the endless sky, all will be needed." Homura answered Voi as she held out her palm from which sacred fire emerged, yearning to consume and dancing with relentless passion. "Life is akin to these flames; its hunger is ever boundless and it burns all that it touches. It fears choking upon nothing, and drowning in its despair. The fire must feed for now." The earth then shook and was upheaved into the air, while water from afar suddenly soared through the sky towards the two divine. The bright blazing fire Homura held became greater and illuminated the vast fields around them.

Stone and soil gathered around the edges of the flames which hissed and whispered, fiery tongues reached out to sear the flying debris. Water quickly arrived and doused the flames that touched the earth, then steam arose from their violent interaction. The red goddess called forth massive pillars that burst forth from the ground and stabbed into the light, their long shadows streaked across the land like serpents of the void. Many rocks crumbled and melted, much water evaporated, and the fire seemed buried beneath the cacophony of elements. "Merge into life!" Homura commanded the conjured forces.

Stone became white with heat, water burned red, and wind whispered many secrets, as fire was trapped within a prison forged from the other three. Its cage was shaped similar to the goddess, but lacked her red hair and garb, lacked her curves and expression, and it remained pale white even after the heat had faded and was no longer quite what it was before. The simple vessel remained in the air, encircled by lingering elements and light that repeatedly pulsed with divine energy. A myriad of mirrors manifested around the vessel, reflecting its form from thousands of ways, and Homura patiently peered at it from every perspective. "Will this suffice?" She asks as her gaze turned to Voi.

"It will suffice," Voi said as he gazed upon the finished vessel. Forged by the combination of the elements and looking like Homura. Minus some details of course, and Voi prepared to add his part to this empty vessel. He raised one of his hands to about chest level and held it out. Quickly colorless energy started to form in his hand. It slowly growing in size and strength until it stabilized and almost showed a rainbow of colors from its form. "Now let the first life be born." Was all he said as he sent the energy to the vessel and it merged with the vessel.

Then there was a deep hum that resonated across the horizon, as the land ruptured and many more vessels emerged from the bones of the earth. Colossal rivers reached from the sea and shattered into rain that fell upon the vessels. Mighty gales wove and weaved in between and through the assembly, each vessel seemed to be filled and emptied as though they breathed. Then the great fire that engulfed the first vessel spread across the fields and scorched the gathering of statues. "A thousand, thousand vessels to spread across Galbar, and each shall have a soul." Homura proclaimed before the the immense inferno, a million dark shapes still visible in its dynamic form. The flora and earth around the divine remained untouched by the firestorm, its burning touch proved harmless.

Time seemed to stand still in that moment, and the fire raged on for an eternity, as earth, sky, and sea surged forth to satiate its endless hunger, then moment passed, and fire became embers before fading into cinders. The multitude of vessels remained, stained pale white with ash and motionless. They filled the fields, accompanied by the flowers and grass that had been unbothered by the sacred flames, and silence seemed to smother what was left of the energy in the area. Homura quietly walked through the field and examined numerous vessels with a keen gaze. "They remain dormant and dreaming until the fire within them rekindles. These vessels are malleable, capable of changing to the desires of any divine that cultivates them. They shall be worthy of becoming our instruments, I believe." Her voice filled with pride, as she speaks to Voi.

"We will see Homura, but, I have hope for them". Voi said confidently as he walked around the vessels. Carefully inspecting each one as he passed by them. Each one he can see a soul in them, each one a different color from the last and taking the shape of their vessels. Each one was marvelous, the first mortals with souls and thus life. But, there was one thing left to do and Voi knew what that was.

"Just one thing left to do for me", Voi said as he once raised both of his hands to chest level. Both his hands start to glow with blue energy and as he focused. It grow bright and started to pulsate until it reached a breaking point. At that point the lights in his lights moved above them and merged into a single bright blue orb. At that point Voi motioned his hands like he was ripping something apart and the orb briefly expanded before exploding. Its light expanding outwards before disappearing. "There," Voi said sounding a bit tired. "Now any new life that is created, born or other will have a soul."

Voi turning his gaze towards Homura, "While that is the last for me, there is still one more thing to do. Homura these are your creations and I think the honor of naming them should be you. What should we call these new life?"

A gentle breeze stirred her hair, and it fluttered behind her like a scarlet serpent. She smiled softly with content, surrounded by the dormant vessels like a mother surrounded by her sleeping children. She had easily embraced their silent companionship, finding a profound sense of serenity while among them and her heart began to beat with anticipation as she envisioned their fates woven into the world when they awoke.

"I shall call them humanity." Homura answered without elaborating further, and stepped towards Voi with her hand held out once again. Her eyes shimmered and remained radiant, but could not conceal the slight sorrow she felt upon realizing that their time together had come to an end for now. "Thank you, Voi - God of Souls." Her voice hid any forlorn thoughts much more effectively than her eyes could, as she spoke with a joyful sincerity.

"Humanity," a good name Homura." Voi said with satisfaction. "Though you do not have to include my aspect when addressing me. Voi my name will suffice Homura." Voi would smile here but, it would be impossible for her to see it. So he simply walked over to Homura and held out his hand. "We did some good work here and I have to admit I will miss our time here. So do not be a stranger will you," warmth coming his voice.

"We will meet again." She replied, and simply shook his hand after she had concluded that an introduction and a farewell should share the same gesture as though that would substantiate her hope that their paths would cross again. Gentle amusement continued to tug her lips into a gracious grin as she lets go, and allowed the god to make his departure. The red goddess waved her arm towards the vast horde of ashen bodies. "Will you keep any of these vessels?" She asked as she shifted her stance and idly leaned her spear against her shoulder.

Voi took a long look over at the humans before looking back at Homura. "I think I will take some of these vessels. I have some plans and these vessels could do apart of them. Or at least I can give them a home in this world." Looking back over to the humans. "The least I can do and trust they will be well under my care." Turning back his gaze to her, "now I must go and may we meet again." With that Voi did a brief bow before departing with a number of vessels in tow by flying. Leaving for a unknown destination.

Homura watched as he soared away, then nodded to herself with resolve before she prepared herself for her new objective; the spreading of humanity. Her senses reached out across Galbar, and she listened as her fellow divine enacted their will and created more and more. The earth rumbled and roared, waves crashed against the shores, and powerful gales blew cold and wild. She would have to ascertain how to travel this world with the vessels if she wanted to succeed in her task. "The others await. It is time to go."




Homura


Within the halls of heaven, a shard shattered as a pained and primordial scream echoed across all of existence. She was sleeping before she was struck upon birth by the searing paradox of everything; His agony both hurt and healed her, and she could sense His power become her power through her consumption of only a mere fraction of His essence. She was an aspect of Him; an unconscious intention manifested - an unrelenting desire to continually defy nihilism and the limitations of physical imprisonment. She had become another piece in the great game of the cosmos begun by the Monarch of All, and her journey could finally begin. Then the excruciating and euphoric connection was gone, and only she remained.

The words of her Lord resonated throughout her being: a divine decree to give meaning to the world through the act of creation and rebirth. It was a far away dream, both blessed and cursed, both beautiful and grotesque, and was conceieved by loneliness. The path lay ahead of her... she would become an architect, an artist, a creator. She would gather wisdom and wealth, and invoke inspiration for all whom would walk with her. That is what it meant to be a goddess, she concluded.

Bring the beauty of creation to Galbar - It was His edict as the Monarch of All, and she was his faithful servant.

Bring the beauty of creation to Galbar - It was her purpose.

---


The young goddess could feel herself awaken further; her thoughts constructing memories, and her memories inspiring thoughts, in a wondrous cycle within her mind. She began burning with an inner fire that illuminated the surroundings with a crimson radiance. She shimmered and shifted, dancing with uncertainty until she had finally chosen her common visage. Her form was reflected in the lingering fragments of the shard that was once her egg. It seemed as though the hall was filled with a myriad of mirrors as a result of her birth. In her chosen form she opened her eyes for the first time and gazed upon herself in the fragments. Stern scarlet eyes stared back at her with curiosity, until she blinked and peered at the rest of her shape.

Her body was rather simple consisting of just four limbs attached to a torso. She had only one head with an expressive face consisting of two eyes, brows, a nose, and a mouth. She looked at her long red hair that cascaded around her cheeks and her eyes followed it fell until it reached her knees - it slightly obscured her ears she noticed. Her form was adorned with a modest dress as red as her eyes and hair, accompanied by similar sleeves and boots. She gathered her loose hair into a ponytail and tied it back with a simple ribbon. She stood with her back erect, exuding a humorless aura. Her eyes piercing the skin she wore, and could see the blazing fire beneath, but she would be much more approachable in her current shape, she surmised with an attempted smile.

"I will bring honor to the world." She softly proclaimed while amusing herself with her hair, enjoying its silken touch upon her palm and letting it gently flow and sift through her fingers. She suddenly stopped and scowled, her short-lived relaxed demeanor vanished and she reverted to the stern stance she held before. Her eyes were unforgiving, and seemed to continually chastise her. She stood there, still, until she sighed, and looked away from her reflection. The red radiance was fading, and the fragments that were her shard seemed to be leaving as well. Once again, she was alone.

---


She wandered the halls of the celestial palace, seeking sounds she heard from afar as more and more shards broke apart and became gods and goddesses. Each announced their birth in a myriad of ways, and she was witness to their words and actions, but her eyes often strayed to the sight of Glabar, so distant from heaven that it seemed small and insignificant, but she felt compelled to eventually reach it... to fulfill her purpose. Her fellow divine evidently heard the same calling, as they called forth their powers to make their mark upon the world. She could sense their aspects, but their names eluded her, and she sought to remedy that soon.

"It shall be as you command, my lord." She spoke with conviction before she bowed before the Monarch of All. The palace and primordial were immense and it took her many steps to reach her desired destination, but her voice wished to be heard and traveled throughout the hall. Afterwards, the red goddess arose, and offered a sharp smile as she stepped back. She spared a glance towards the other gods and goddesses that remained, and respectfully nodded in greetings.

"I am Homura. It would be a pleasure to speak with you."



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