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Her fingers latched around the haft of the staff, her body shaking slightly with anticipation and panic. She wasn’t sure which was the predominant emotion right now, really. All she knew is this guy seemed to be kind of threatening, and she could sense something within him that made her skin itch. She lowered her staff a bit more, keeping it ready as he assumed his more defensive stance. She didn’t have to survey the landscape, Forge did that within her. Even as he refused to help her, he helped her. He needed her, as much as the Gods needed him. She sensed their power in her, welling. Not all of it, she couldn’t handle more than a microcosm of what they contained, but enough. Ares knowledge spilled through into her mind, she saw the same tactical advantages any seasoned warrior would - and more. Millions of years of warfare cycled through her mind, the greatest military minds tactics and reasonings justifying themselves before her eyes. She knew how to fight, she’d known that even before meeting the Wizard, but even now she understood much, much more. She knew how to gauge even the most subtle of motions, to understand the intent behind even the slightest twitch of a finger. She discerned the defensive stance, as subtle as it was meant to be - and she took one of her own. Her confidence fleeting, she knew she was strong - but how strong was she? She couldn’t be sure, and she didn’t intend to die trying to find out.

“My name is Fo…er…Kassandra. My name is Kassandra, I am the Vessel of the Wizard, who is the Champion of the Old Gods. And you are?”

She asked the question with an obvious desire for an answer, this man didn’t seem to be much of a threat, and she didn’t want to fight someone only to end up killing one of the good guys. Yet, what was he? Was he a good guy? Truly? She couldn’t know until things progressed, but she wouldn’t be the one to launch the first attack. Still, she needed to be ready for anything. Pulling her staff back, she put the butt against the ground once more. For all intents and purposes, she looked completely exposed and harmless. Yet, the staff began to glow - a pale orange light flickering at the very end of it, even as the ground began to emit that same glow in various locations. If intentions were discerned, it would seem she only prepared to defend herself. Yet, who really knew what was going to happen.
Kassandra roamed the streets at incredible speeds, her footfalls dropping heavily on the ground - indenting the asphalt and the concrete with each step. She loved it, the smells, the sounds, the sights. She was growing accustomed to it, and she was falling in love with it. The memories and the knowledge of Forge, the knowledge of the Gods, flowing into her mind. She knew where she was, when she was - and what she was now. She understood the world around her in a way she’d never been able to before, and she found herself beginning to love it. Yet, something seemed off. Forge was screaming in her mind, yelling at her to stop. She either wouldn’t, or couldn’t, listen. The sound of his voice fading into the recesses of her mind, she continued her jovial jaunt through the city streets.

“Kassandra, please. Stop. You’re hurting people, hurting things. That’s not what this power is for. You are the vessel of the Champion, you are here to protect. To save. Not to destroy. I understand your power is new, that you want to test your limits and see what you’re truly capable of - but you have to stop!” Forge screamed, as he grabbed at the strings of thought - pulling at them trying to find the one with the weakness to let him resume control, if only for a moment. She ignored him, running through the streets slapping at cars - with each minimal touch they seemed to cave upon themselves. They scraped along the ground with her touch, metal grinding on asphalt catching the attention of the people - who screamed and ran in terror at the very sight of her. She lavished it, a smaller framed woman she was never a threat in her own time. People treated her unkindly, and now she had the power to make them stop.

If she could find a way home.

Suddenly she felt something wash over her, a sensation of power that didn’t seem to emanate from her own core - but from outside of her. She shifted, turning her head just in time to see a man pulling a sword. That seemed weird, considering what era she was in - and the things she knew now. People here didn’t use swords, they didn’t even think of them as effective weapons. Why would they, when guns were so plentiful. She turned her feet in that moment, and skidded herself to a stop - the asphalt launching up like a wake boarder’s wave when they made a sudden turn - raining down on the people fleeing her rampage in stark terror.

“H…hey there, fella.” She said cautiously, as he inched closer to her. She eyed his sword warily, wondering if she were still susceptible to such things causing her harm. Her own hand shifted around the haft of her staff, letting the butt of it touch the ground as she stood her ground. She didn’t know the full extent of her power, but she was damned sure not going to let this guy hurt her - which as he closed the distance slowly, she began to think might be his intention.

“Forge…what do we do?”

“No. You don’t get to ask for my help now, after you’ve ignored me since we merged. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself, young one.” Forge whispered back, and then she felt his presence descend into the darker recesses of her mind - out of reach for her thoughts to find. She sighed, and shifted her feet - falling into a standard spear stance - with the front of the staff, whose claw-like end held an orange-glowing orb, aimed directly toward the approaching swordsman.

“Stop, or I’ll…I’ll…I’ll shoot, I think!”
Kassandra's fingers traced the outline of the engraving, following along the ridges of the letters and the shaping of the stone. The hours she spent on this were many, far more than she should have. Her father's words echoed in her mind, reminding her of how wasteful time spent on nothing more than something pretty were. How she should use her time constructively, to learn a new skill or trade. To better herself, or her mind. Yet, she couldn't have stopped herself from doing it if she tried. The words carved in the stone, simple yet full of meaning to her. They meant a childhood of love, of adoration - and sometimes of being pushed beyond the limits she thought her body capable of. They were a quote, spoken from the lips of a man far wiser than she. And yet, time caught up to them all. She finished tracing the words, her lips curling into a frown and her eyes welling with water beginning to slide down her cheeks.

"Idle hands are the Devil's playground, child" the words etched read, attributed to Samuel - her father. They adorned the site of his grave, giving some semblance of beauty to the blood stained battlefield. Days ago the war ended here, and the old Gods lost. Her father fought on their behalf, alongside fourteen thousand men and women. They danced the blades gracefully, but the enemy outnumbered them and the Old Gods forsook them. Their blood fertilized the land, and many of their bodies still lay exposed to the prying, carnivorous beaks of the crows. The calls of the carrion-eaters echoed throughout the now barren fields, screaming for their kin to come feast upon the flesh among them. Ravens heard, and they came. They came in droves, thousands of them descending - the crows abandoned ship, taking flight into the darkening sky. Their beaks tore through flesh, pressed against bone and ripped the bodies to bits. They all, in unison, cawed their song of approval.

Except for one. One sat upon a broken spear-haft, its gaze focusing on Kassandra - never leaving her figure as she stayed amongst them. Her chest heaved with sobs, and water strolled down her cheeks as easily as it flowed through the riverbed. The raven watched her for moments longer, before taking flight. The unkindness remained behind, deciding food was more important to them than one among them behaving strangely. As it flew away, it seemed to just disappear on the horizon. Kassandra noticed none of this, as she cried over the gravestone she painstakingly carved for her father. She choked on her own tears, sobbing uncontrollably all the while cursing the gods in her head, screaming at their very existence. She tried to vocalize her feelings, her emotions - but they came out only as uncontrollable screams. She collapsed across the stone, finally her pain and heartbreak consuming her consciousness. Everything faded to darkness around her, and she slept the nightmarish sleep of a daughter who lost her father.

And Unknown Amount of Time Later

The sensation of moving jarring her body, the sounds of oars sweeping and of grumbling voices began to stir her from her slumber. She froze stiff, barely opening her eyes and looking around. The voices seemed to come from nowhere, and yet were everywhere. They invaded her mind, invaded her ears. She couldn’t locate a source. Her eyes focused in the dim light, a greenish glow surrounding the atmosphere. She looked toward the rear of the boat she seemed to be on, and located what seemed to be a man in a cloak - his hood pulled over and his head down to hide his face. Startled, she shifted further from him and sat up, her hands holding her upper body up as she scurried backwards. “What…where…how…who…WHAT IN THE NAME OF ODIN IS GOING ON HERE!?” She screamed, clearly freaked out beyond her wildest imaginations. She looked around erratically, every thing her eyes took in seemed to be impossible. The boat moved not on water, but on an eerie glowing substance that seemed to swim with faces along the surface. That seemed to be the source of the grumbling voices, now that her mind was wakening from the fog of sleep.

Her hand slapped against something that moved, and she grabbed it quickly - standing up and shifting her feet shoulder-width apart with one behind the other. She pointed the make-shift weapon toward the hooded figure. “Who are you? How did I get here, what is going on?” She spoke over herself, her words rushed and full of panic. The figure simply kept pushing on the guide-oar. Steering them through the river of souls. “Is this Styx? Am I dead? Are you taking me to the underworld, Kharon?” It seemed to be the only logical explanation for what was happening, but even her mind seemed unable to fully comprehend it.

“No, you’re not dead,” The eerie man continued guiding the boat, “but by the time they finish with you, by the time he finishes with you, you’ll wish you were.” His voice was soft, barely audible. She strained closer to hear, and the way he spoke sent chills through her spine. She held onto the stick firmly, preparing to fight against him. “You’ll see soon enough, for now…sleep.”

She collapsed.

New York City, 2016

Kassandra awakened in a bed, or what she thought was a bed. It was unlike anything she’d ever known. Sounds from outside, and the lights coming through the window despite the darkened sky seemed strange to her. Of course she’d known of fires, but these glowed strangely in comparison to any fire she’d seen. She sought her mind, her memories. She was on the River Styx, and now…now she was in a very strange place indeed. A weird, hard film over the openings. She walked to the nearest window, tapping at it. Not understanding, not comprehending. Glass wasn’t a thing her people had, but her she was confronted with it. As she finished inspecting it, her eyes took in the outside world. And she immediately jumped back, her hands reaching for something familiar - anything that could protect her. Her fingers clasped around something, and she pulled it close to her. She looked down at it, the alabaster-tone of it seeming warm in her hand, to her touch. She looked it over, a staff. Good, a weapon would be useful, she was sure.

She walked back toward the window, pressing her face against it and looking outside - she took it all in, confusion was rampant, panic close behind. Her fingers clasped the staff tighter, and she whispered in her native tongue. “Odin, fylgjagð mik”

“Odin intends to, dear. As do the others, but that will be made clear very soon.” A soft voice spoke from behind her, and she whipped around swinging the staff wildly in her panic. “Cease, Kassandra.Cease.” She stopped instantly, as if some unseen force took hold of her body and took her control in that moment. She managed to move her lips, speaking softly.

“Kharon, what are you doing here. Where have you brought me?”

“My name is not Kharon, I am far more ancient than he, as you will soon find out. You’ve already been told, but your memory and your human mind could not comprehend without my presence. You forgot to protect your own mental health, but now your health - of any kind - is something you need not worry about.”

“What do you mean?”

“You hold my weapon, and through it my power. All you have to do is speak the prayer, in Norse, Greek, whatever language you want really. I’ll answer your call. All you must do is pray to me, and I will show you everything.”

“Pray to you, false God? You are not Odin, you are not Thor. You’re not even the Trickster Loki, why would I pray to you?”

As she spoke, the Raven flew to the windowsill. It watched them for a moment, before phasing through the glass - her eyes caught the movement and she turned, swinging the staff quickly and with force. As it neared the Raven, a ringed hand touched the bone - and the Raven became the embodiment of a man. “By Odin, is it you?” Kassandra spoke with awe, as she looked upon the bearded, one-eyed vision of Odin standing before her.

“Yes, child. It is I, Odin.Come to calm you, come to tell you to trust him. Forge knows what he means, he is our champion - and you his vessel. Pray to him, and you shall understand everything, my child.”

“Yes, All-father.”

“Good,” Forge spoke, smiling. “The prayer is in your head, in your mind. Search your memories, and you will know what you must say.”

“Forge gefmikr makt, protect mik fran darknesanórr heartrinn. Save mik fran þessi jörð,” she whispered, and immediately convulsed. Her whole body seemed to be rocked by the power flowing from his body, into the staff, and then into her. She shook violently, and then collapsed to the floor for the third time in twenty-four hours…or a few thousand years, she wasn’t really sure anymore.

She awakened in the dark expanse of her own mind, and she saw through the eyes of her body - which she no longer controlled fully. She fought with an intruder in her head, battling against his willpower. They fought for control, for authority. Forge wanted to control her wholly, to be in command of her every move - but she could not surrender to him. She fought against the being who, now that they were one, she knew to be as ancient as the world itself.

“It’s my body, give it back!”

“You asked for this, in your prayer.”

“This is not what Odin promised me, Forge.”

“Odin promised you power, I am power.”

“I will use your power, if they wish it of me.” Her memories spiked of a meeting, one with a pantheon of Gods involved. She crushed those memories down, not dwelling on them at the moment. “But you will not use my body to your own desires, I will use their power. I will use your power. I will use you, not the other way around.”

“As you wish, Kassandra, but until full synchronization is made, much of my power will not be available to you.”

“I don’t care, Wizard. It will be enough.”

Regaining control of herself, she turned to see the image of Odin as a Raven once more on the windowsill, beckoning with head motions. She smiled, feeling the Wizard’s power coursing through her - she grabbed the Relic, and launched herself through the glass - shattering it around her. She fell four stories, twisting and landing with a knee pushed into the asphalt as it cracked and broke around her - up-heaving much of the street with the impact of her landing. She laughed manically, enjoying her newfound power. The Raven seemed to laugh as well, a weird, unnatural sound. As it landed on her shoulder, she broke into a run - each footstep ripping apart asphalt and ground.

She ran through the streets of New York City, the City That Never Sleeps, she knew it by now. Forge’s mind merging with her own, as much as she allowed anyway, gave her valuable information. She didn’t know the extent of herself, of what she could do now - but she was about to find out.
Just looking for a friendly spar/fight with someone, new here and trying to test out the Arena and get my feet wet, so to speak.

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I'm new to the site, but enjoy Arena threads from time to time - was wondering if anyone would like to have a friendly match to get me acclimated to the site!?
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