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Atmav





There had been a long silence as Atmav set in for a lonely night under the stars, nestled in a small hole in the side of a hill. She could not sleep, however, the battle between Yimbo and herself were as fresh on her mind as it had been when she was with the Selka. The images of the Selka crushed under the weight of the great beast lingered, bringing a great sadness with them. Atmav had not meant to cause such death, she had merely been defending herself and those Selka were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At least, that was what she told herself as the sadness of her deeds washed over her. She curled in a ball, still clutching the wing she had ripped out of her back, and began to sob. Her feelings and anger had blinded her rational thought at the time and it had caught up with her. After all, Atmav was new to these strange lands, scared and alone as the unknown of Galbar bore down into her very being.

She could not think. She could not see what was right nor wrong. Most importantly, she had been abandoned by perhaps the only being she was familiar with. Her enemy seemed to have known that she would suffer being away from all that she knew, and she knew that he would relish in that fact. It was this hopelessness and paranoia that had driven her thoughts, scared that Vakk would come for her and a fear that he was still around her, merely toying with her.

A foreign presence could be felt in her mind, with a ‘pop’. It was neither strong nor pervasive- but simply there, lurking. Then a layered voice spoke, smokey and baritone came honeyed words, ’What troubles your mind?’

Atmav’s head instantly snapped up, her hand moving to use the wing as a weapon against whoever was there. Yet, she saw no one. No living soul was around her, as far as she could tell and the fact disturbed her more than anything else. After a few moments of observing her surroundings, she let out a sigh before shrinking back down into her ball.

“I truly am going mad, aren’t I?” she asked herself, leaning against the wall of her natural shelter.

’I wouldn’t say so, Atmav. The voice came again, lingering on her own name before silence returned.

Her head moved up to observe her surroundings once more to find nothing directly speaking to her, resigning herself to her paranoia and fear. “You are a voice in my head, nothing more. That is the true definition of someone starting to become mad,” Atmav spoke, focusing her gaze upon the dirt in front of her. At least the voice she had come up with was something mildly comforting, if not the comfort mainly came from finally being able to speak again.

’Madness? Was it madness that compelled you to pray? To plunge yourself into the unknown asking for help with but a whimper? Mortal, this is not a figment of your imagination, but an answer to your cry. So tell me, how do you answer?’ came the voice’s honeyed words in but a whisper.

Atmav’s gaze shifted towards the night sky, looking for someone watching her and not seeing one but knowing that she was. She swallowed a dried mouth, as the mixed feeling of relief and shock flowing over her as she slowly got to her feet, sliding against the wall. “An answer to my cry...,” she repeated as she continued to scan the stars. “I thought the other gods had left me to my fate.” she admitted.

’Now we come to the question.’ the voice said, ’What is it that you desire? Tell me, so that I might know.’

“I want to be rid of the debt that I owe to Vakk,” Atmav answered, her words flowing out more quickly and desperately than she might have wanted. Her heartbeat was quickened, her breathe picking up as some semblance of hope filled her now.

’A debt to Vakk? The Kinslayer?’ the voice said, intrigued. ’What do you owe the God of Speech?’

“I owe him any task he may ask of me in exchange for my freedom from the prison he calls a home,” she said before her head cocked to the side. “The Kinslayer?” Atmav asked, confused of the title that Orvus had used while referencing her enemy.

’Vakk has murdered the Goddess Li’Kalla. Though she persists now in different forms, the crime has still been committed. I do not know the answer as to why, however.’ the voice said pausing for a moment before continuing, ’A task in exchange for freedom? A difficult choice to make, but you made the one you thought wisest. An admirable quality. Still, your heart is weighed down by what that task might be, is it not?’

“Yes, I am,” she started, her gaze moving back to the dirt as she crossed her arms over her chest. “I have already done so much wrong that I am afraid Vakk will make me do something else,” she began to let out a sobbing sound once more, “I already cannot forgive myself for what I have done.”

There was a long silence, the small presence in her mind abruptly vanishing as if it never was. This caused a light panic within Atmav. Then, from up above, there came a voice in the night. ”Look at me.” it said softly.

Her head snapped up to see the form of Orvus and for a moment she merely stood in awe at the figure, her sadness was still ever growing in her heart but the sight of a deity caused her to have a moment of reflection. She was silent before she slid back down the wall, the grip of her severed wing loosening before it dropped to the ground.

”You carry in your heart much remorse, for what has happened, and what will happen. Your rage and paranoia have blinded you from seeking the truth. I know this, for I have seen it. It was me. It is me. And it shall be me until this world fades to dust.” Orvus said, floating closer to Atmav with unwavering eyes. He spoke again, his tone kinder, ”Your freedom, has become your prison, and you don’t even know it. To forgive oneself of guilt, can be achieved by those willing to sacrifice. Yet even I can tell you it won’t be easy. To remove your debt, is to remove your choice. Vakk will come for you, either way. What would you do, knowing what you know, if you refuse?” the God asked, now but a few feet away from her face.

Atmav looked at the ground, thinking of the words that the god had said and in what she would do if she would encounter Vakk again. Vakk had become a being far more powerful than she could possibly fathom and to defy him alone seemed like a call of the embrace of death itself. She began to doubt herself as she shook her head away from any feeling of triumph that she may get out of this encounter. “You ask that I defy someone who has become a god. I-,” her voice began to waver before she covered her mouth with a hand caked in blood, “I don’t think I would have the strength to resist him alone.”

”To defy a god is to court death most certainly. Yet, we defy death anyways. It is in your nature to survive and to live, this I have seen. Whether death claims you now, or later, it will claim you. Perhaps it will even claim me and the others.” Orvus said, floating back but still gazing upon Atmav with glowing orbs. ”You have strength, Atmav, more than you think. It comes in many forms. From the mind to the body, even to those we might call friends. You must learn to shed your paranoia and fear, lest it consume you entirely and you become the very thing Vakk wants you to be- a weak toy. I cannot take your debt from you, but I can help you face it.” Orvus said.

“I don’t know if I want to face it… I don’t know if I can admit to myself that Vakk will win no matter what I try… I wish he had never brought me back from the dead,” Atmav said, her sobs growing louder as she leaned forwards, holding herself up with her hands. “I can’t bare to think of facing him,” she continued.

Two feet landed before the figure of Atmav, hardly making a noise as the God spoke, ”Perhaps we were all better dead, but we are here aren’t we? You might not have a choice to face Vakk, whether you want to or not. You simply need to be ready for it when he comes, and he will come.” Orvus said emotionlessly, as he paced back and forth infront of Atmav’s body. After a moment of disapproving silence, Orvus spoke again, ”It is not your place to cower or to hide Atmav. You are a warrior are you not? Why don’t you fight? Will you really let that worm dictate your future? Will you really let him control you like this? Crippled and broken and afraid? Powerless…” he whispered.

His words rang true within Atmav’s mind and slowly did her gaze turn back to Orvus, the sniffling and sobbing coming to a light halt. “You are right. My old master would have flayed me for thinking this way. I am a warrior,” she said, forcing herself to her feet before she stared back at the blackened being in front of her, “My future is my own and Vakk, nor anybody else will dictate it.” Her voice was still shaky and her emotions were still out of her control, but her statement had made it clear that she knew what would need to happen when Vakk came for her.

“I will try and fight my mortal enemy as much as possible. Vakk will have no sway over my actions.”

Orvus slapped his hands together in one quick motion, then as he pulled them apart, something formed within his hands, long edged weapon, crackling with red energy. In the blink of an eye, he slammed it into the ground before her. In the starlight before Atmav, there stood a greatsword almost as tall as Orvus. The handle and hilt were dotted with starlight, reminiscent of the night sky up above. While the blade was crude, and cracked with several lines of scarlet energy emanating from a central line running vertically along the length. The sharpness of the orvium glinted off the light of the Lustrous garden, revealing its sinister nature. Orvus moved to the side, and beckoned to the blade, saying, ”Then claim it.”

Atmav looked at the blade, merely marveling in what had just been created in front her very being. She gave Orvus one last look before her hands grasped the great hilt of the blade. With a heave, she pulled the Greatsword from the ground and held it above her for a few moments as she continued to gaze upon its glory. A great feeling of power washed over her as she looked at the god, a light smile coming across her face.

She leaned the ballads again her shoulder, allowing it touch the top of her upper wing before she bowed to Orvus. A genuflection to someone she thought to be truly worthy of her respect and admiration.

“I will prove myself worthy of being the wielder of such a blade,” she said, not looking up from her bow.

”I would expect nothing less from one so talented as yourself.” the god said eyeing Atmav. His gaze fell upon her back, to where a wing should have been. He moved closer, inspecting the wound with a god’s eye. After a moment, there came an icy touch upon her back, then a tingling sensation. ”Your wings are easily broken. No more.” and with his words, Atmav’s wings shrivelled and fell off, only to be replaced by an explosion of ethereal starlight as new wings sprouted from her back. Long, and elegant as they were powerful, the wings shimmered with pale, translucent light, twinkling with a million tiny dots of silver.

”Rise Atmav. Rise to claim your own future.” Orvus finally said.

Atmav looked up at Orvus before she got to her feet, moving the new wings with delight as she looked upon the wings with pure joy. “You are too kind,” she finally said, looking at the god with what had turned into a very wide smile. There was very little sadness left in her, having been replaced by the mixed feelings of pride and happiness, now knowing that she would not allow any other to own her.

”Kind? Perhaps or perhaps I simply saw a soul that reminded me of myself. You are not the only one with struggles, Atmav. Even Gods have their own challenges they must face and overcome. Remember this, maybe it will prove useful. Now, I must leave. Your path is your own, pray to me if you like but do not expect me to always answer.” the god said, beginning to float up into the air.

“Before you leave, what is your name?”

”Orvus, the God of Desolation.” he uttered, before vanishing in the night sky.

“Orvus…” she repeated as the smile slowly faded from her face, though the happiness very well persisted. Atmav sat back down, looking into the night sky, now content with her situation and no longer worrying about Vakk’s tyrannical hold over her. For once, she settled in for a sound sleep, the first good sleep she would have since arriving on Galbar.









Eurysthenes





There was something strange, a drifting consciousness floating through the air where time seemed to slow to an immense crawl. The consciousness, looked around, seeing three being standing over a body, one marred in the blood of a gruesome murder that could have been avoided. It stared for a few timeless moments, wondering what to do before it decided that it did not want to visit the Sky of Pyres quite yet. Such was not the fate of a god, at least, not a true god.

When it anchored with the bloodied one, it’s memories came back in a sudden flow of before it realized what had truly happened. Vakk had been murdered, perhaps a fate it may have deserved for charging in with no plan and no contingency. However, it refused to die in such a way not without fighting for longer than any would properly realize as even in death, Vakk lived. It hid within Eurysthenes’ presence, knowing that it would likely be none the lesser until it was alone.

By the time, Eurysthenes had made it back to the Infinite Maze, Vakk has made itself comfortable within the form and had begun to speak whispers into the back of Eurysthenes’ mind. The Lord of Speech allowed time to pass, knowing that it could do what it wanted with what the puzzling gods mind.

”We exist together now… two corpses, in one grave.”

Vakk’s words cast a long silence as the its presence was announced within Eurysthenes, but its words were far different than what Eurysthenes had known. These words were spoken by a cacophony of voices, no booming voice that Eurysthenes would find familiar but the weight of those words were all the same.

It seemed there was no getting rid of him. Eurysthenes wondered how it didn't see this before, back when they were celebrating victory. There was a space in the spirit where another lurked and festered, like a disease waiting for the time to spring. This would take some getting used to.

”Vakk… to be like, which is to be done. Who are you to decide that you are not?”

”I am a god immortal, dying would not be befitting in my nature nor would it be yours,” That One stated, giving an evil chuckle as it moved around Eurysthenes’ form. Vakk was clearly not used to such a small space as the body of Eurysthenes, finding it most uncomfortable to be in. However, it eventually settled in with another laugh next the other godly soul.

”Your body is my own now,” the voices chimed with a sadistic pleasure.

This One pushed against Vakk, smearing it into an uncomfortable position again. ”One which inhabits something does not own it. What lies maliciously in a body, bringing grief and pain to that which it inhabits?”

That One shifted once more, pushing back the oppressive soul of the other before speaking, ”There is no need for insults, Eurysthenes. I am no less a parasite than you are, gaining pleasure at the expense of myself.” Vakk’s voices did not give Eurysthenes the pleasure of being dissatisfied, instead continuing to speak with the sadism that only Vakk could carry.

”It is not parasitic to seek to right wrongs, Vakk,” it said, ”Were I you, I wouldn't be speaking with such cockiness.”
It said simply. Riddles weren't as entertaining if the other could see the answer in the riddler’s mind.

This One raised an arm, and touched the wall. ”Tell me, Vakk. Can you feel this? Can you see as I see?”

Vakk took a moment before the many voices spoke once more, ”Yes. However, it is strange. I am still not used to inhabiting your form.” The soul of That One began to stir once more finding refuge away from Eurysthenes’ soul in order to find some figment of comfort.

”Now, you tell me. Were my crimes truly worth death?”

This One considered the question for a second, which was more than it thought Vakk deserved. ”Yes.” it said. There was a certain sternness to its voice which said more than the word alone could.

”That means you would be deserving of death as well. Breaking me in this maze, just as I had broken Li’Kalla,” Vakk said, its voices chiming with a chilling tone as the words flowed with the same power of Eurysthenes own words. That One finally settled into a spot on the opposite end of the form, briefly thinking to itself in a light silence between the two. It had brought back up the time of the Maze, the time when Eurysthenes tortured Vakk as it had attempted to reach the Sky of Pyres.

As Vakk shrank back, Eurysthenes advanced, pushing That One even further into the recesses. If the soul within a body could smile spitefully, this is what This One’s soul was doing.

”Yes,”, This One admitted, ”but you were the one that died. Why is that? Because there were more of us who were in agreement with me. And what does that tell you of deserving? What does it say about how others perceive right and wrong, Vakk?”
The tone in its voice was what you could call petty and smug. It had won, it was in the superior position, and it knew it.

”It tells me that you are no better than I. But you have committed the far more heinous act of murder,” Vakk retorted, not allowing itself to be fully pushed without resistance to the words of its host. The soul pushed back, asking, ”What gives you the right to live more than I?”

”You only condemn it because you were the one affected by it. Nothing gives me the right to live more than you,” Eurysthenes says simply. ”however, the will of others gives me the means to.” it concludes.

”If that is your prerogative, murderer,” That One responded before the soul stopped pushing against Eurysthenes’. There was a long silence between them as the two figured out what to do next, neither coming across a suitable topic to insult each other on. Many long drawn out sighes happened at once before Vakk chose to speak again, this time commanding, ”Build me a new body so that this may not plague either any longer.”

Eurysthenes shrugged. ”I won't do that. You're too cruel, and you will hurt innocent people. No,” it said

”Innocent? So you defend thieves now, hm? How odd that you and the other gods would defend so heinous crimes,” Vakk commented, its many voices filling with a disdain for Eurysthenes denial of his request.

This One hid a snort with the back of its hand. ”Woe betide you, Vakk. Truly you are the epitome of suffering.”

”Well… I did get killed. I suppose it is justified.”

This One didn't deign to reply.






The Guardian and The Hunter.





The scent of the soul led the beast, over the oceans once more and onto the continent of Kalgrun, an unfamiliar land but a land the beast must go. It moved through the night sky, following the scent quickly before it was inevitably led back to the ground, following the path of the thief nearly perfectly. When its massive paws hit the ground, the creature stalked upon the ground, flicking its tail occasionally as it moved through a forest. While it may have once gotten bored and killed a small animal for fun, Ya-Shuur had taught it only to kill when hungry which made the beast ignore many smaller creatures.

It eventually happened upon a beach of a large lake, the way to Hunter’s Eye, but the water did not stop the creature of Vakk. The water was merely ground and it walked across it with ease, the fragile tension of the water being untouched by it. Soon enough, the scent lead it to the coast of Hunter’s Eye and the being was unaware that it had stepped onto more holy ground. It followed the coast, leaving massive pawprints in the ground as it eventually came to an area where Hermes had stopped. There was a moment of pause with the creature as it began to sniff the air around the spot, attempting to determine which direction the thief had gone.

The Hunter was not alone.

Across the water, another shape, and a new scent appeared. A colossal wolf with dark black fur. As he approached, Fenris stared at the Hunter and let out a menacing growl. Fenris knew the beast was unfamiliar. It did not even carry Kalmar’s scent, it was not native to this region, and he had not been told to grant it passage. It did not belong here. It had to be driven out.

The Hunter’s head snapped towards the direction of the growl, its tracking halted for the time being. Something dared to challenge the hunter. In response, the beast raised the spikes on its back and unsheathed its claws before letting out a bastard noise of a growl and a hiss. Its fangs were pointed right at Fenris before it slammed the club of its tail on the ground, displaying its own stubborn dominance.

Fenris was unphased. He was larger, and, he assumed, more powerful. The Guardian of the Hunter’s Eye continued his menacing approach, teeth bared as he continued his low growl. This was his home, and his purpose was to guard it. He would not submit.

Despite the size of Fenris, the Hunter continued its display, backing away as Fenris attempted to come closer. The Hunter let out of bark warning the wolf to back away from interfering with its work. For a singular moment did the beast look away to consider retreating before it let out another bark at Fenris.

Fenris barked back, even louder. He inclined in a direction away from the lake. The message was clear. He would accept nothing less than the Hunter’s retreat or surrender.

It growled before it dug its feet into the sand, flicking its tail towards the spot the Hermes had fished at. The Hunter did not know if Fenris would be able to smell the trail the thief’s soul had left, but it could not retreat without giving up the hunt. Its loyalty to Vakk’s orders was not going to be questioned and the resolve of the Hunter would not break. A roar was let out in a final attempt to end the conflict before blood would be shed between the two.

Fenris did not care. In response to the Hunter’s roar, the Guardian charged, surging across the water with immense speed and aggression.

The Hunter took to the air, leaping onto unseen ledges and inclines with great speed as well, yet it was not retreating. It moved towards Fenris, still gaining altitude before eventually allowing itself to free fall towards the massive wolf.

Fenris leapt up to meet the Hunter. Although it could not defy gravity, the speed from his charge and his powerful legs allowed him to reach the same height, putting the two on a collision course.

Yet, the smaller hunter leapt out of the way of the collision, landing on some invisible ground before it pounced onto the passing Fenris. The Huner’s claws dug into Fenris as teeth began to stab into skin and it away. The attack was nearly insignificant Fenris, but the determined hunter held on for dear life.

As they fell, Fenris rolled in mid-air so that his belly faced the sky. With the Hunter clinging to his back, he intended to ensure that the smaller creature would take the impact first, and then be pinned by his vast weight.

With a split second of instinctual thought, however, the Hunter saw the water not as something to plunge in to, but as a ground that Fenris would surely shatter it against. It lead to the Hunter disengaging from Fenris and using the beasts back to jump away from being crushed, but a bit too late to slow down as the creature still hit the water with force, though not so crushed by the weight of the wolf. The Hunter let out a loud yelp as it skipped along the water only once before it treated the water like earth once more.

Fenris too landed as if the water was solid ground, and quickly recovered. Lightning quick, he rolled back onto his feed and began charging toward the Hunter as it was still recovering itself. Which only gave the intruder enough time to get to its feet and attempt to spin, accomplishing nothing for Fenris had been anticipating some sort of clever maneuver.

The wolf stopped short just before it reached the Hunter, and only after the Hunter finished its movement did Fenris strike, jaw opening as he lunged at the beast.
The Hunter could only respond by leaping at Fenris’ face, aiming to attack the wolf’s eyes before the two met with tooth and nail.

Fenris’s jaws closed around the lower half of the Hunter’s body, the long razor sharp teeth biting through the smaller canine’s flesh. It was then that one of his eyes came under assault, as the Hunter desperately scratched and clawed. But Fenris did not relent. The pain only made him bite down even harder. He flailed his head left and right, ripping the Hunter’s flesh even further.

Then, finally, the pain became too much. With a mighty heave, Fenris flung the mangled Hunter across the lake, sending it soaring, but he did not pursue it further. Half his vision was gone. His right eye was a ruin, crushed and scratched, hanging from a gaping socket. He threw his head back and let out an anguished howl.

The Hunter skipped across the water upon landing, the lower portion of its body bloodied to a rather alarming notion. However, free from the grasp of Fenris it did its best to do a limping run away from the massive wolf as he dealt with his ruined eye. The Hunter knew, at the very least, of what path it must take now, but it knew it would need to heal for some time which would serve to slow its progress. Yet, the time now was to retreat, moving away from the Hunter’s Eye and towards a different area of Kalgrun.

It ran and ran, unknowing if Fenris was still following until it collapsed upon the ground, exhausted and the adrenaline of the fight wearing thin. The Hunter let out a low whine before it looked around for its adversary, who was nowhere to be seen. Vakk’s beast let out a low sigh before it began to lick its own wounds. These wounds would be with it for a good while, but that would not stop it from completing its task.

Its task would be delayed even further.

There was a whistling from above, the sound of something falling from great height, and suddenly the Hunter was struck directly in the head. Its vision darkened, and everything went black. Little did the hunter know: it had not been something, but instead… someone.




Kalmar stood before the unconscious beast, his expression one of puzzlement. He had been wandering Kalgrun when he heard Fenris howl, and he rushed to the wolf’s aid only to find that it was missing an eye and the attacker had fled. Naturally, he tracked the trespasser in the direction it had fled, and was surprised at what he saw. He had not made this. And there was no trace of Phystene on it. Why was it here? Why had it went to the Hunter’s Eye? Why had it fought Fenris? Who sent it?

There was only one way to find out. He pressed a hand against the beast’s forehead. In its unconscious state, any resistance would easily crumble. He began to sift through its memories, most of which had been of a relentless search, until finally he reached the beginning. A memory of a creature… no, a god, the very same god who was said to have attacked Li’Kalla.

Vakk.

It was he who created this monster. But it had not been for the purpose of invading Kalgrun, no, for Kalgrun had merely been one step on its journey.

It was searching for Hermes, who Vakk called a thief.

Before he could even ponder as to why, he heard yet another howl, once again from Fenris. Another intruder?

He hurried back, leaving the beast where it fell.






A Lauder & @Not Fishing Production
Broken


Slowly, Atmav’s senses came back to her, the spreading of pain in her left wing and hushed voices as she began to stir in the night’s sand. She moved her head to look her wing, torn and dislocated from the fight with the lizard, a problem she could not afford. However, her head short to see a group of Selka huddled around a large pile of bones, partially rotting meat attracting flies and other carrion eaters. Attempting to lean up, she felt a hand press firmly against her chest, pushing her down.

Instinctively, she grasped the arm with an almost crushing force, causing the Selka that hovered over her to let out a light yelp before trying to retract the hand. Atmav looked at the Selka and gritted her teeth, wincing from the pain that had spread from her wing. The woman leaned back in the sand before the Selka put a finger to its mouth to hush her, something that was met with a bit of resistance as she asked, “What?” The voice she used was perhaps a bit harsher than she had intended, but the feeling of helplessness was not something she liked nor wanted to continue before she shoved the Selka away and sat up.

The pain that spread from her wing was immediately unbearable, and she let out a minor cry as her hand went to grip her shoulder. Atmav turned her head an what she saw was a matter that she did not like, the wing had nearly been pulled out of her back. Her noise had attracted the attention of the Selka who rushed over to inspect her, suffocating her in a crowd that was most troublesome. Moving to stand and pushed through the crowd, Atmav did her best to ignore the pain trying to find some fresh air away from the following Selka. A hand gripped her arm as she moved.

“Stop. You are unwell,” the Selka said, a female, smaller than the others but noticeably more stout.

“I am fine,” Atmav growled ripping her hand from the grasp of the Selka before a man stepped in front of her, holding up his hands to get her to stop.

“No, you are not! Your wing is close to falling off. We have to do something for you, after all, you ran towards danger rather than away,” the male said, earning a light scoff from Atmav as she straightened her form to tower over him. For a moment, it looked as if Atmav would rip the man asunder before she let out a sigh and looked at the ground, knowing that without her wing a lot of her mobility had been compromised.

“Fine, but do not mob me,” Atmav said, slouching as her hand gripped her shoulder harder.

“You heard her go back to doing whatever,” the man said, raising his voice to the crowd. They slowly dispersed to doing differing tasks, some doing strange games and others merely talking, it was a strange sight to Atmav who was very much a stoic warrior. The male grabbed her attention once more and motioned for her to follow back to the place that she had awoken. She sat down to see the male before looking at the ground disgracefully, though of course expressing her dissatisfaction completely was hard given she just had a mouth. The male cocked his head and motioned for her to lie down and she begrudgingly obliged the man.

“My name is Ihorangi,” he said as he looked at her wing, clearly not knowing what to do. He gave her a smile before he asked in a light-hearted voice, “Do you have a name? Or should I just call you, Broken-Wing?”

Atmav scoffed before looking the man over, being silent for a few moments before she answered in a more neutral tone, “Atmav.”

“Well, Atmav. Your fight was quite something to watch, you did not have to do that for us though,” Ihorangi said, moving to touch her wing. Only for the hand to be intercepted by Atmav’s own, wrenching it away from its path.

“I did not do it for you. That thing was probably the only source of food I could find, do you know how long it had been since I had fresh meat?”

“I do-” Atmav interrupted the words of Ihorangi.

“A good while! You are lucky I did not descend upon your tribe too and eat them!” Atmav threatened before releasing his hand, clearly frightening the poor soul. Seeing his shocked and frightened expression made her stop and think for a moment, knowing that they were only trying to help her at this point. “I’m… sorry,” she paused to look into the night sky and watch the stars, the man relaxing in her presence, “I am not used to being in this position. I have come from a place of pain, somewhere I don’t want to go back to.”

Ihorangi gave a solemn smile to her before said, “I am sorry to hear such-”

“You have no reason to be sorry for me,” Atmav interrupted again before her head turned to face that of his again. She saw his whisker twitch as he got annoyed look, having been interrupted twice would have probably done that to anyone. She turned back to look upon the night sky before she spoke in a neutral tone, “I’m sorry.”

“I would like you to know that you can stay with us until your wing is healed,” Ihorangi looked at the wing before meeting her face, “That may be a while.”

Atmav sighed, looking over at the other Selka, watching them dance and play like the innocent beings that they were. She knew that she would disturb this innocence if she stayed, for she was a killer among bystanders that held her in high regard. “I do not want to be a burden,” Atmav stated, moving to get up again before Ihorangi pushed her down, this time not receiving resistance from the wounded one.

“Nonsense,” Ihorangi said, earning a sigh from Atmav who merely turned from on her side, sand clinging to her and staining her feathers. The selka sighed and stood up and in one last display of hospitality said, “Let us know if you need anything.” Then he went off to join the others.

The wounded one felt like crying, letting out a few stuttered breathes and curling into a ball. It was not the pain from her wing that made her feel this way, but it was the kindness that the Selka were showing her that made her feel this way. The unwounded wings on her right side moved over her, acting as a blanket as she let out more stuttered breaths, emotions of mixed happiness and unbelief flooding her. This was the first kindness that had been shown to her in this world ever since she had escaped Vakk and the little hell that he had created. Everything felt wrong though, she did not want to believe such kindness could exist in a world where Vakk called himself a god.

Atmav allowed herself to drift off into a sorrow filled sleep, however, her dreams did not comfort her as they only brought back memories of Vakk filling her pain. Her creation, his words, the endless talking of the echoes in her ears, it was all a hell. Soon her memories turned to that of paranoia, images of Selka stabbing her in her back as she slept drove her dreams to a rampant curse. If it were not for the stabbing pain in her back, she would have likely remained in that hell for the rest of the night.

She jumped, awakening with her heart racing and looking at the sleeping Selka with paranoia racing through her mind that they were a measure Vakk had taken to keep her under watch. Atmav refused to trust them, but she would stay with them to make sure that Vakk did not call for some form of a hunt on her. However, if Vakk truly were a god, surely there were others that would break her from her binds to Vakk, ones that were some form a benevolent or really just not like Vakk. The berserker got to her feet and walked towards the water, going in enough to where she was ankle deep in the ocean.

“If there is any other god out there, release me from my debt.”

She waited for a moment, wondering if anything to happen and after a long while of silence, she released a sigh before she kicked the water up.

“Fine! If it is only you, Vakk! Then- then!” words failed her as she fell upon the water and released a pained cry, no longer knowing what to do with herself. She continued to cry out, hoping for some answer before she felt the hands of someone on her back. Atmav looked up only to see Ihorangi, her emotions ran rampant as she broke down again. Soon, she felt other hands placed upon her, comforting hands that did not hurt her or wish pain upon her.

She knew not what to think.


Mr. Vakk and Mr. K’nell





There had been a silence, even in the crashing of the ocean against the rocks of the small island, as Vakk merely stared into the air in a deep thought. The thoughts of K’nell spreading his attack amongst the gods deeply troubled him, knowing that any future plans would be destroyed if all the gods were rallied against this minor offense. He had not thought that Li’Kalla would have been allied to any other god given her seemingly anti-social disposition, apparently she had been deceptive.

The Lord of Talk let out a sigh before he retreated to the depths of Sanvādam, mentally preparing himself for what may happen in his meeting with the likes of K’nell. The Dream God was an unknown entity and Vakk knew that he would have to tread carefully, past experiences shaping his plans and easing what was a natural aggression. The darkness of his realm allowed him to concentrate, looking back into Li’Kalla’s memories to find the essence of K’nell and grow familiar with it. A mental lock had been made as Vakk came out of the false memories, preparing to speak through Galbar and directly into the other god’s mind.

”Vakk wishes to speak with you, dreamer.”

Vakk’s word ran through Galbar, silent to all others except for K’nell’s mind. With that, Vakk relaxed his senses, his muscles, and his thoughts as he simple let go of reality for a moment to attempt to drift to sleep. However, as much as he tried to deceive himself of this relaxation, Vakk felt that he could not sleep as it was not in his nature. The power he would be surrendering was what concerned him, there would be no escape if K’nell meant him harm, but it was a gamble he would have to take. Knowing the price, the Lord of Speech let out a relaxed breath before the whispers of his Echoes faded into the background.

Sleep had come.




A black plastic telephone rang sharply. The secretary's veteran hand came down quickly and scooped it up to her ear. She nodded and carefully placed the phone back down, standing up from her cushioned computer chair, “Mr. K’nell will see you now.”

Vakk blinked, his form having been replaced with that of a brown haired man in a simple brown suit who sat in a cotton seated chair. The smiling secretary stood by a door across a thin blue carpet, her freshly painted fingertips on the copper knob. Other people who were waiting in their own chairs looked at Vakk expectancy.

The Lord of Talk looked around, exceptionally confused at the sight that surrounded before he looked down at himself, only adding more to his confusion. He looked over his hands, he remembered having those once but it had been a long while since he had the experience of opposable thumbs. Perhaps, all would bring them back into fashion. Vakk shook himself out of his stupor before standing from the seat.

Vakk straightened his tie, something that came naturally to a foreign object. His steps rang against the hard floor as Vakk felt truly nervous approaching the door, making sure his hair was slicked back correctly and that his suit didn’t have any wrinkles. How Vakk knew to do these things, he did not know nor did he exactly have the mind to care. The secretary pushed the door open for Vakk and the man stepped through.

There was a click as the door closed behind him. In front of him was a wide, spacious office with long and low cabinets and drawers on one end, and a bookshelf on the other. In the middle sat a squat yet regal desk, with floor to ceiling windows behind it, revealing the twinkling city skyline amid the purple dusk sky. A wide smiling man sat at the desk. He was dressed in a midnight black suit with an equally black tie and a freshly shaven face. Combed silvery white hair sat atop his head and sparkling eyes were held underneath a creased brow, “Mr. Vakk!” A grainy smooth voice called to the Lord of Talk, “Please take a seat.” His hand motioned to a padded chair facing the desk.

“Could I get you anything? A coffee, perhaps a drink?” The smiling man lifted a tiny tin, “Smoke?”

Vakk skeptically moved forwards, giving a suspicious look. He stepped towards the desk as he began to speak, ”For someone who slanders me, you are remarkably… generous.” There would be a silence following before Vakk rubbed the lower part of his nose as he glared upon K’nell, eyes narrowing further. ”Why?” he asked, leaning back into his chair.

“Ah,” K’nell let out the sound as he pulled the tin towards himself, “Before we get into it, I don’t suppose you mind if I smoke, then?”

”By all means,” Vakk said, making a nonchalant motion for K’nell to do what he wanted.

“Very good, then,” K’nell said as he stubbed a brown cigarillo between his lips and struck a match. He brought the glowing stick to the end of the cigarillo and let out a few puffs, his hands illuminating as the cigarillo caught. Exhaling, he let out a smooth cloud of smoke.

Vakk watched silently for a few moments, before he spoke, ”Now, onto business.” His voice was cold and calculating as both men knew what the subject was about, only there being the matter of who went first. It was Vakk’s initiative that dove him to go first, asking a most curious question, ”What is your relation with the goddess, Li’Kalla?”

K’nell dabbed the end of his cigarillo onto an ashtray and sat up, “Now, Mr. Vakk, it has come to my attention that you had filed a complaint in regards to the process against you for the harassment of a Miss Li’Kalla. As you are aware, I have approved your hearing and have been provided the security VHS for review, but as always, I’m here -- for you.”

“Please,” K’nell folded his hands together and smiled, “I’m all ears.”

Vakk blinked a few times, ”VHS?”

“Yes, you might remember that one of our stockholders’ is avidly against betamax, now please,” K’nell leaned forward and wiggled his nose free from some lingering wisps of smoke, “I’d like to hear your complaint.”

The Lord of Speech gave K’nell a confused look for a second longer before clearing his throat and playing along with whatever K’nell was on about, ”These accusations are unjustly placed on me. You do not know enough to divulge such a conclusion, as ludicrous and outlandish as the situation may seem.” He cocked his head before meeting K’nell’s gaze, his voice going into a more professional tone, ”I would like to see the evidence of this harassment.”

K’nell smiled behind steepled fingers. He let his arms fall to his desk and furrowed his brow, “I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. First could we define the situation you are referring to so we can both work on this issue, together.”

”I believe we both know the situation..” Vakk stated before a smile came to his face, before he continued in a voice most familiar to K’nell, ”Mr. K’nell.”

“Ah, I hope you will understand; this is all for the sake of clarity,” K’nell raised a hand, “Before we move into the details of the processing case, it would benefit us both if you could define the situation you believe you are in, and how you see it.”

Vakk leaned back into his chair, his smile still across his face before he spoke in his normal voice, ”Very well. I believe that the situation I have been placed in is one of sabotage and greed. For you see, I do not deny having harassed Li’Kalla, I will say that I had been tricked and controlled. It was Eurysthenes who had ordered my assault and it was him who was pulling the strings. He was in control of me and I had no power to stop him. It was not until the brief fight between Li’Kalla and I that I had broken free of his control.” His eyes went over K’nell’s form once more before he asked a more off topic question, ”What exactly is this place? I am not familiar with any of these… things.” Vakk made a general gesture around him before resting his head in a hand.

K’nell sat back in his chair, “I see, now please correct me if I am misrepresenting your story: Mr. Eurysthenes had taken control of your body and forced you upon Miss Li’Kalla, to which only during physical violence between you two did you regain control and-- then what?”

”I ran. She had become... something else. Also, it should be made clear that Eurysthenes was after an artifact, a box that he sought to weaponize and take control of additional gods.”

“And what box was that?” K’nell steepled his fingers.

”A music box to soothe, Li’Kalla. She found my form to be quite terrifying and I could see she was anxious. I made it as a gift to calm her” Vakk fiddled with his tie again, finding it mildly uncomfortable, ”You will have to excuse my motions, I am not used to this form.”

K’nell waved a hand, “Don’t worry, I understand that these sorts of situations can be stressful.” He opened a lower draw on his desk and looked up, “If you’d forgive me, but before we go any further, I was hoping you wouldn’t mind if I took a few notes to better aid the process?”

Vakk motioned for K’nell to continue with a smile. K’nell gave Vakk a thankful nod and pulled out a pad of yellow paper and a pen. He clicked the pen and pressed it against the first leaf on the pad, “Right, so you had made a music box for Miss Li’Kalla in order to soothe her anxiety around you, correct?” He started to jot his words on the paper. Vakk nodded in response.

“And Mr. Eurysthenes had confronted you and told you he wished to turn this box into a weapon?” K’nell peeked up from his notepad.

”Indeed, he thought I would comply. As you could guess, I did not.”

“Certainly not,” K’nell agreed with a wide smile, “As I said, we are here for you. Now, did Mr. Eurysthenes explain how he planned to turn a music box of soothing anxiety relief into a mind control device?”

Vakk sighed, growing more annoyed at K’nell’s antics as time wore on, ”We are gods K’nell. He would most likely have used some of his divine magic to transform it.”

“I see,” K’nell scribbled something down and cleared his throat, “So upon denying him access to your box, he did what?”

”Overpowered my mind and compelled me to assault Li’Kalla.”

“Okay,” K’nell continued to write, “So, if I have this correctly. You had created a music box for the purpose of soothing miss Li’Kalla’s anxiety. Mr. Eurysthenes desired this music box and asked you to give it to him so he may weaponize it into a mind control device, upon your refusal he took control of you mind regardless and forced you to assault Li’Kalla, to which you were broke from your reverie when she had transformed into something different. Does this sound correct?”

”It may sound like madness, but yes.”

“This is a safe space, Mr. Vakk, no one here is accusing you of madness,” K’nell gave a reaffirming grin, “Now if you please, what are your prior relationships with Mr. Eurysthenes and Miss Li’Kalla before these incidents took place?”

”Eurysthenes has been… troublesome to me. I tend to try and avoid it most times, but there is something about him I am drawn to. It could be the mystery and cryptic nature of it that I would like to solves,” Vakk said before he looked down and gave a sorrow filled face. Some tears welled up in his eye but none of them would fall, ”Li’Kalla is a kind girl. I like to talk to her, K’nell, she is such a lovely being to be around. To hurt her… it makes me…”

He stopped speaking a turned away from K’nell, wiping his face on his sleeve ”Forgive me.”

“It’s quite alright, Mr. Vakk,” K’nell produced a handkerchief from his front pocket and handed it over the desk, “Would you like to take a break?”

Vakk accepted the handkerchief, wiping away his tears, ”No… no… I must see this through without interruption.”

“Very well,” K’nell nodded, “You are strong to do so, do not doubt that for a second. Now if you don’t mind, could you go into detail about what you mean when you say that you and Mr. Eurysthenes have had a troubled past together?”

”He trapped me in its maze and nearly drove me to insanity, is what itdid. That’s how it was able to easily take control of my mind, driving me to unending agony by being forced to complete his puzzles and riddles. Yet, it is my fault for going back to it to try and solve the true enigma that is Eurysthenes.”

With a furrowed brow, K’nell tapped his pen against his chin, “And how did this scenario end, on what terms between you two?”

”It made me sacrifice part of myself to escape. It made me attack myself. I am sure you could imagine I am not very fond of it.”

“Certainly not,” K’nell agreed once more, “So would you say this scenario ended with you two as enemies?”

”Yes.”

“And how long after this incident did he approach you to reveal his machinations?” K’nell looked up.

”Not too long after. I was a bit broken at the time so the timing of things was… strange, I did not know what to think other than to try and get away from it.”

“And if you could, what were his exact words to you when he revealed his grand scheme,” K’nell placed his pentip on the paper in preparation.

”Please, do not make me relive the memory, K’nell. I do not wish to have a healing wound, reopened,” Vakk detested, clearly looking quite emotionally spent from having talked about the subject.

“Mr. Vakk,” K’nell let his pen rest on the pad and he leaned his elbows against the desk, “While I won’t force you, I want to remind you that I am here for you, and this would only serve to improve the process. Would you like to give it a try, or should we continue without this statement in particular?”

Vakk kept silent for a few moments, merely looking at K’nell before letting out a drawn out sigh. The next time he would speak would be in a quite maddened voice, one much different from, ”Vakk. What is the desire that I possess? It is material yet not, corruptible and able to control thought? What is it?” His voice went back to normal, ”Those are the only words I can explicitly remember. Though I remember the answer was music. After that, it gets harder to remember until I was assaulting Li’Kalla.”

“So he never explicitly mentioned the box itself?” K’nell flipped a page in the notebook, hardly looking up.

”No, but I see no other reason for it to send me to Li’Kalla it other than to retrieve the music box. But it was not there, for it had been stolen by a ‘Hermes’.” Vakk said, remaining unblinking at K’nell, watching him write.

“I see,” K’nell looked up, “So his capture and plans for the music box is an assumption?”

”I suppose, but it would be a strong assumption, given our rivalry.”

“Of course,” K’nell nodded, “And so to recap so far: you have a rivalrous relationship with Mr. Eurysthenes to which the last time you spoke, he mentioned a riddle denoting neither a plan nor substance to which afterwards you found yourself assaulting Miss Li’Kalla and then so on.” He waved his pen and flipped the page, “What brought you to the conclusion that he had taken over your body in explicit desire to retrieve your music box from Miss Li’Kalla?”

”Because it was all I could think about during the assault. I could not control what I was doing to the poor girl before I came back into control.”

“Oh,” K’nell sat up, “So during your loss of control, he was feeding you his plan mentally?”

”More or less, feeding instructions to me. Basic ones to where I eventually could piece it together.”

“Ah!” K’nell nodded in agreement,” So it wasn’t an assumption?”

”Given that he is not directly state his intentions, it would still qualify as an assumption. At least, as far as the weaponization goes.”

“And how did he come to know about your music box?” K’nell bit the end of the pen, “Did he ever say?”

”No. I do not know how it knew of the box, but it did.”

“I see,” K’nell paused for a bit, “Do you think --to the best of your knowledge-- that Mr. Eurysthenes and Miss Li’Kalla have had social interactions before this encounter?”

”No.”

“Very good,” K’nell put his pen down and folded his hands together, “Could you by any chance, describe the events of the actual assault, both leading up to it and during.”

”I remember it vividly. I had gone up to her mansion, no doubt my aggression at the time had scared her into hiding so my tendrils invaded her home before dragging her out. I asked where the box was. She said she did not know, so I tortured her. I- I broke one of the wings Azura gave her. When she told me that Hermes had taken it, I remember getting out a single warning to her, not to trust anyone. It was those words that broke her, I-I didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did but I was not in control! I- I… I fled the moment I could gain control of myself.”

Vakk looked at the floor, keeping his head in his hands before repeating a few words to himself. ”I am a coward.”

“Now, now,” K’nell comforted, “What did you do as soon as you regained your composure?”

”Like I said, I ran,” Vakk said before continuing on with his repetition of the word ‘coward’.

K’nell finished catching his notepad up with a quick swipe of his pen. He let the pad fall to his lap and steepled his fingers, “Mr. Vakk with your permission, I’d like to lead us through a hypothetical.”

Vakk looked up, breathing a little before shakily nodding his approval. K’nell inclined his head and began, “Let’s say --as horrible as it may be-- that you succeeded in your assault and came upon the music box. With it in hand you return it to your rival; why do you suspect they needed the box to control minds, and how would it be used to do such a thing?”

”Music can sway the hearts and minds of those who listen to it, my box is technically the same in that it soothes the listener. Yet, if Eurysthenes got a hold of it, no doubt he would have the melody be of control, the box could be used to amplify his powers to work on multiple gods, simultaneously.”

“So the box was already somewhat of a manipulation, if you will, and Mr. Eurysthenes would simply alter it to make that manipulation suit him?” K’nell tapped his chin in thought.

”I suppose,” Vakk shrugged.

“Is this not a correct statement?” K’nell picked up a small white vial, “Wouldn’t Mr. Eurysthenes in this hypothetical simply be altering the manipulative nature of the device to serve a devious purpose?”

”Yes,” Vakk nodded.

“Good,” K’nell put the vial back down and put the pen back to the paper, “Pardon another hypothetical, but let’s say you had the box and were of a similar ire of Mr. Eurysthenes; in this case, what would be your end goal, or in other words, the reason you felt the need to torture Miss Li’Kalla and steal away a box of manipulation in an attempt to control the Gods?”

”I cannot think of such things, K’nell. I will not discuss the possibility,” Vakk stated, shaking his head to dismiss the subject.

K’nell placed his pad down and leaned back in his chair. After a moment or two he laced his fingers together and smiled, “Mr. Vakk, I must say I am inclined to believe your story.”

Vakk allowed a small, restrained smile to come across his face before he spoke in a more grateful tone, ”This brings much happiness to my heart. Does this mean you will recall those ‘magpies’?”

“I’m sorry,” K’nell steepled his fingers, “What I mean to say, Mr. Vakk, is that I believe your story, up to the point you claim it was not of your own doing. In other words, Mr. Eurysthenes was never involved.”

”Do you suspect another god?”

K’nell blinked, “You. I believe by your own admission that you had assaulted Li’Kalla with no further help from any other God, in an attempt to retrieve your box of manipulation to which you planned nefarious deeds.”

“You see,” K’nell picked up the pad and began to flip through it, “Mr. Eurysthenes has no history with the box or Li’Kalla, and your story is ever changing up until the assault, to which you define and describe in match with other evidence. You admit to the assault. You admit to the creation of the box. You admit it is a tool of manipulation. You pose plans beyond Mr. Eurysthenes that match your own mindset, in other words, since Mr. Eurysthenes is not a possible character in this incident, these ideas and machinations are your own. You further go on to claim Mr. Eurysthenes is your rival and then accuse him of atrocious crimes in your own defense, creating a bias that cannot be ignored and on top of that you denied being able to think of such things after directly posing and assuming them yourself.”

Vakk’s eyes narrowed, any form of emotion draining from his face, ”You dare to assume I intended to harm Li’Kalla? You dare?” He raised himself from his chair and put his hands on the desk before, he lowered his voice to a growl. ”This is an insult to me, Dreamer.”

K’nell raised his brows and looked up at Vakk, “Did you intend to harm Li’Kalla?” He folded his hands.

”I would never,” Vakk growled, moving his face closer to K’nell’s face as anger and rage began to fill his expression. Then, the feeling passed causing Vakk to turn away from the other god, his hands behind his back. ”Very well. But considering this insult, I must remind you,” he began before his voice went to that Li’Kalla’s before speaking in a cold and sinister tone, ”Hermes. She will be trampled like a flower in my path when the time comes. Like you. It was your creation who caused this thus the true fault is to be put upon you, Mister K’nell. Justice will be served for her thievery, whether it is paid in her blood or your own, I care not. For soon, the box will be mine once more.” With those parting words, Vakk calmly walked towards the door, to leave.

“You're as contradicting as the day is long, Mr. Vakk,” K'nell rose from his seat, his voice still unusually stalwart “I'm afraid this won't look very well on the final report.”

”And I am afraid that any peace between us has been burned. Yet, what could I have expected of a god of dreams? That is where you live, your own deluded world. It is that deluded world that will be your fall, dreamer.” Vakk stated, before opening the the door and slamming it behind him. He could hear gentle laughing from behind the door, the other people sitting in shock as they looked up from their seats.

Then.

He awoke.


Slayer


It had been days since she had awoken on the beach, surrounded by the strange creatures that she had promptly ignored for a time. They were strange and from what she had noticed, they were too innocent to actually know the horrors of what life had to throw at them. In that regard, Atmav liked them, but she had still avoided them for she could not help but feel uneasy towards their joyful nature. Atmav could never trust something that seemed overly happy, it was just too suspicious. However, foraging for berries was a rather hard task as she never had been one to be a survivor of the wilderness.

With a sigh, Atmav knew that the strange people would probably have some food and was tempted to ask them for anything that they may have. Yet, she could not help but feel a tad bit embarrassed being made into a common beggar when she had been a guard for a king. Her wings spread and she swallowed her pride for the moment before she began to fly towards the beach, a short distance for her. Though she knew if she just flew in that she may frighten them off and she would be forced to continuing foraging for berries. As she approached the beach, she landed behind some dunes a small distance away in order to not only mentally prepare herself for dealing with these folk but to also make sure she could formulate some form of fighting strategy in case things went unremarkably south.

Then she heard some strange noises on the other side of the dune, curiously she moved to investigate. What she saw was an act of such indecency between two Selka that she let out a yelp and immediately hid back behind the sand dune to begin the process of purging the images from her mind. Though, her yelp had not gone unnoticed as she heard the two let out a sound of surprise as well. However, the words she heard were ones that she never would want to hear from even her closest of friends.

“Is that you Uraph? You can join in if you want.”

It was at that comment that Atmav could not contain her embarrassment, no longer wanting to hear such words from beings that she did not truly know. She shot to her feet, keeping her face pointed away from the two and putting up a hand to avoid seeing anything else she did not want to see. “Please, for the love of the Talk, never say such words again, Selka,” she said, the Selka giving a sound of shock and fright as they moved away from each other.

“I remember her! The one from the ocean!” the female said.

“Please stop, I just want to ask for some food,” Atmav said, still unwanting to look at the smaller creatures as she heard them shuffle towards her in the sand. With her other hand, she motioned for them to stop before she continued speaking, “I’m sorry I interrupted. Please just point me in the direction of some others not doing what you are doing.”

“You kinda already killed the mood. We’ll take you and see what we have.”

Her disappointment was immeasurable and her day was ruined, merely upon those words and actions being spoken to her. Atmav looked upon the sand as the couple led her down the beach a ways towards the core group who seemed to still be playing games and having much fun. They were a very noisy lot, but at least she could hopefully get some food from them. Luckily, her hunger was gone thanks to the horrid mental images that continued to plague her and would continue to plague her for a good while. Eventually, she looked up, her gaze being a good bit above the Selka that was leading her to their group. It would seem that as they got closer to the group, the more of a crowd formed to gaze upon Atmav, who was a strange creature to them.

“Erm. Hello. My name is, Atmav and I would like to request some food,” she said, not afraid to speak to these beings but it did hurt her pride a little. They were silent, merely looking at her inquisitively before one touched her hand from the side causing an instinctual reaction to move to a defensive stance. She knew they could understand her but that did not stop the feeling of alienness from entering her mind. However, after a moment of them backing away, they seemed to notice something behind her and began to run towards the ocean.

She turned to see massive creature stepping over the sand dunes, a large reptile that had come from the north in search of easier prey. Its massive jaws snapped before it released an incredible roar into the sky, massive legs carrying the beast quickly towards the group of fleeing Selka. However, such a situation was one that Atmav would instinctually react towards as her wings launched her to meet the beast in battle. Atmav let out a battle cry as she flew over the beast and to kick its head.

The force from her kick caused the reptile to lose balance for a moment, shaking its head as it stumbled about to regain its senses. Yet, Atmav continued her attack flying directly into the side of the beast to knock it into the sand, not before attempting to snap at the hero. The reptile’s jaws struck true as it grabbed one of her wings and brought her into the sand with her. Atmav attempted to get up first but could only move quick enough to hold her hands out to stop the creature from enveloping her in his jaws, it’s tongue gently caressing the side of her face.

For a moment, they stayed there with Atmav holding upon the mouth of the beast, slowly giving in as the pressure began to get to her. However, her anger began build, as did her will to survive. With a mighty roar she dug her fingers into the roof of the beasts mouth before she threw its head away. It turned to roar but only received a punch, and another, then another. When it went to strike at her with the talons on its hands, she gripped the beast and proceeded to rip its arms off and throw them to the side. Blood caked the sand as they fought and finally when it went to strike her with its fangs, she wrapped her arm around its neck. It thrashed and thrashed, its weight bringing both of them to the ground as Atmav held on for dear life.

With another roar, Atmav pulled her grip hard enough to fill the air with a loud snap as the beasts body went limp in her grasp. She threw the body to the side, breathing heavily and forgetting about the pain in her wing completely as she focused on recovering. Atmav laid there in the sand for some time, breathing and allowing herself some time to process what had just happened. Yet, her mind went to one thought, at least she now had food. The hero sat up and looked over at the body of the beast, quite dead and quite mangled. Like a savage animal, she jumped upon the fresh corpse and began eating, ripping it open to get to its insides. Atmav eventually was pulled out of her thirst for blood as her belly filled.

With a sigh, lurched forwards onto the side of the corpse before he saw something out of the corner of her vision. Following movement, she could see the Selka moving out of the water and looking at her. She slowly got to her feet to face them as they looked upon her with awe, and that was all she saw until she collapsed upon the ground.


Ya-Shuur





Tracking was a tiring business, as was it a business that made the beast hunger for anything it could get its jaws on. It moved through trees and fields, thoroughly distracted from its original task as it sniffed the air and finding a moderate cluster of souls in the distance. The beast stalked a herd of goats and a pack of wolves, both of them equal parts food as they were significantly smaller than the beast. From the air it dropped to its belly, slowly moving forward to be above them.

Suddenly, it dropped on a wolf, crushing it instantly as its tail flicked to club a goat and snap its neck. A paw reached out and caught another by the tail before its jaws clasped around the furred animal and shook it until it was dead. The others all ran away by then, thoroughly frightened by the massive beast that had dropped from the sky. Vakk’s hunter did not give chase, thoroughly fine with what it had caught. It swallowed the wolf in its mouth whole before it moved on to swallow up the crushed one. Only with the goat did the beast decide to play with its food, tearing out its horns and gingerly tossing them to the side.

Ya-Shuur had not been paying complete attention to his herd. He had become fairly sure of the ability of the wolves to take care of the goats. This was even if some of them did end up eating a goat sometimes. But he was drawn from his thought by the sounds of worry and fear that the goats and wolves made. He ran down to investigate and found a monstrous creature ripping apart a goat’s carcass. “Hey! Hey!” he shouted as he waved his stick around threateningly. The monster was very big though. It was bigger than anything Ya-Shuur had seen before. It could have eaten him whole with one bite! He knew that if it did turn on him the best he could do was turn and run away and hopefully distract it from the other animals. He picked a stone up from the snow and threw it at the monster and continued his shouting.

The beast looked up at Ya-Shuur after the rock was thrown at it, cocking its head curiously. It raised itself up and shook its hairless hide before moving towards the Demigod without hostility or intent to kill. Ya-Shuur took a few steps back. “Uh. Go back! Go!” He waved his stick around again. The animal did not seem aggressive to him. Ever since the incident when he saw the goat confronting the darkness he had felt he could read animals better and this animal didn’t seem like it wanted to hurt him. “Go on! Stay there!”

The animal stopped in its tracks and laid on its stomach, heeding the order given to it by the kin of its master. It made a yapping noise in a slight act of disobedience, before laying its head down to merely gaze at Ya-Shuur. A wagging tail flowed across the ground, dragging a heavy club at the end of it effortlessly as it seemed to await another order. Ya-Shuur stared at it in surprise. He had not expected it to actually obey him. He frowned and looked at the stick. He knew it was nothing special. He had waved it at many wolves and bears before and they had not obeyed him. He looked at the monster again.

The only thing he could think of was that this creature was actually already tame. He took a step towards it and tried to test this. “Uh. Bring me that,” he said as he pointed at the half-eaten carcass of the goat. He paused and realized that he did not sound very confident. So he spoke again more sternly to make it feel that it had done something bad. “Go and fetch me that goat corpse!”

The beast obeyed, lifting its massive body to walk slightly back towards the goat only to gingerly lift the carcass up. Its frame was slim, easily turning despite what would be expected from its size. The carcass was dropped directly in front of Ya-Shuur before it sat down, still towering over the demigod. Ya-Shuur took a step back and looked at the huge creature warily. With his stick gripped in two hands he looked at the carcass and grimaced. Its horns had been broken off and the beast had chosen to play around with it. He looked at the beast angrily before whistling. Immediately a few wolves ran near. They gave the beast frightened looks and would not come too close. So Ya-Shuur took the goat to them and told them to eat. They nibbled at the goat a bit. They were still scared of the big beast watching them and that had just eaten two of them. But when they saw that it was not attacking them they got to efficiently tearing the goat to bits until eventually there was nothing but bones. He turned to the beast and pointed at the leftovers. “That’s what you do when you are hungry. You don’t play with your food. Hunt to eat. Eat respectfully until your hunger is sated. Now you will sit here and you will not eat until you have learned that lesson. If you move then- uh-” He realised that he had no way of punishing a monstrosity like this. But he would try. “Then I will not allow you to eat anymore goats!” He said with all the confidence he could muster before turning and walking away.

He travelled around with the herd for a week before returning to the same spot. He looked around for the beast. It remained there, simply awaiting a new order. Ya-Shuur approached it with two goats and placed them in front of it. “Well done for staying put.” He praised it. “Now show me that you have learned.” And he gestured to the goats who were staring at the beast with a mixture of curiosity and fear and bravado.

The towering beast suddenly pounced and snapped up a goat, swallowing it while the other goats simply ran away. It watched them run without giving chase instead moving back to the side of Ya-Shuur, looking at him with its small black eyes. Ya-Shuur smiled and touched the creature for the first time. He stroked its rough head and praised it for the swift and clean way it had hunted and eaten the goat. “When you hunt next time remember this. Be kind. The goat shows kindness to you because it dies so you can live. So you show kindness to it by eating only what you need and being swift when you do it. Kindness is rewarded with kindness.” As he stroked the beast he noticed how sharp its teeth and claws were. He also noticed its tail and its very tough skin. “My but you are a scary creature. What were you made to fight with such sharp teeth and claws? And with such a bludgeon-like tail.” But he knew that a monster like this could not talk even if it could understand him.

He told it to come with him and introduced it to the herd. The goats all scurried away from it and the wolves growled and snarled. But over the course of a few days they grew more and more accustomed to it. When Ya-Shuur noticed a bear or another predator trying to attack a goat he shouted for the beast to go and it leaped into the air with amazing speed and agility and scared it off. When it did this right Ya-Shuur was full of praise. When it accidentally slew the predator he scolded it and repeated to it that it should be scaring the predators off and not killing them. Soon it did this without Ya-Shuur having to tell it every time and Ya-Shuur was very pleased.




There was a great silence over Sanvādam as it’s lord had begun to reminisce, there was nothing else he could do but that. It was something he remembered he liked to do before he had come to this realm, good times when he was but a mere prince to his father’s throne. It was certainly a good life that he had been living, of course that was before something within him had changed and set him down a path that he would never return from. Yet, he could not remember what caused the change of how he got to where he had been. The memory seemed to have escaped him.

Then all he could remember was massive form coming from a lake, it’s head was beyond large and many tendrils came. Vakk had hid by burying his face in his legs, but then his deep voice had begun to speak; a terrible and deep voice that only frightened him further. However, it seemed to calm him and a certain sway had brought his head up to look at the being. It asked what he liked; thinking upon it Vakk had said that he liked music. It responded by spinning a music box that played a terrible melody, all he could remember was his mind shattering.

Vakk had shook himself free from this memory and allowed confusion to wrack his mind before his head craned so that he may see his own magnificent form. It was this form that he remembered, the form that he was most certainly frightened over and he could not fully understand how he had seen this from such a small and feeble view. Such a strange occurrence was of a mild concern to Vakk, he was not one to be afraid of himself so the reason was beyond him.

He let out a sight and began to delve back into his memory, this time remembering when he had eaten some of Chopstick Eyes delicious food. That was such a good time and he felt a happiness knowing that he would be able to see her again soon, just for that food as well. However, Vakk’s confusion only worsened from that point as Vakk knew he didn’t consume food like a mortal, a god was above such things. It took some time for him to shake himself free of the confusion to see if there were any other strange memories that did not exactly make sense.

One memory stood out in particular, the dance with K’nell. It was a soothing memory but a memory that he knew was false as Vakk knew that he had never truly met the dream god. Nothing made sense and he did not immediately have an answer for what such questions that he did have before a hellish realization came upon him. It was something that he had only briefly thought of in the moment, but had never truly considered.

Li’Kalla’s memories were integrating with his own, causing conflict with things that he had been doing at the time. He drew a deep, shaky breath as these memories took hold of his mind and he felt as if he had lived two different live. Vakk looked around him, seeing the Echoes that he had created, all of them moving about to find some soul that perhaps strayed into their territory. He did not know what to think at the moment.

”No,” Vakk growled, his tendrils slamming themselves against the reflective floor of Sanvādam. He would not allow for these false memories to influence him, at least not willingly and not as long as he could contain the memories. Yet, he knew that merely suppressing them memories would sever precious information that may be useful against the other gods. It was certainly a conundrum that Vakk could not leave unattended. He mumbled for a moment as he thought to himself.

It was but a few silent moments before Vakk had thought of a probable solution, simply deal with it. It would be a hard enough task, however, he would have to spend some time to sort through the memories to figure out which was his and which was Li’Kalla’s. That was something the ever impatient Vakk would have to slave over, yet, it would at least be an ease to his torture. Such a thing was not something Vakk would do, as his impatience would cause him to drift away from his original task.

He remembered yelling for help, his wing hurt, and no one would come to him. Then, the cursed speech began, much to his ire, as it spoke. Vakk could not help but feel broken, betrayed, and afraid before the being set two tendrils on either side of his head and suddenly the memory ended. Vakk only growled as a result before he looked to the Echoes around him, knowing that memory was Li’Kalla’s.

He needed to find a way to escape the hell he created for himself.


Freedom


For a time, there was a silence in Sanvādam as a mutual hatred formed between Atmav and the Echoes that forced her to stay where she was. Having no bearing of time, Atmav only watched the Echoes moved back and forth, their white eyes burning into her very being. She could give a growl back as she fought the temptation to try and break free from her prison. However, restraint was the key to the situation as rushing to would merely lead to the swarm of soulless wretches attacking her from all sides, even if they certainly seemed a bit dull.

They were nothing more but mere animals, incorporeal animals, but animals all the same. They would slash at another of one came to close which indicated some territorial nature between them, likely some personality that Vakk and they shared. Atmav learned much about this species, however, her mind was also thinking of how it was possible of how Vakk had become so powerful. She remembered how his form was not this gargantuan, or ugly for that matter, nor did he have the ability to will creatures to life. It was a strange chain of events that she could not fully comprehend since she simply missed whatever process had made Vakk into what he was.

Her thoughts stirred as she heard utterances of words, the Echoes spreading a single word around themselves like a wildfire. “Talk,” they said. Their voices were hushed and many had stopped their movement to look in a singular direction. For a moment, she could only see the darkness of Sanvādam, then there cake the gargantuan form of a worm. Such a being was hard to forget, especially the form of the one that had brought her to life.

“Hello, Vakk. Find what you were looking for?” Atmav asked, her voice was sarcastically indifferent towards the being she faced. Such bravado was something only fools would dare to do in a captive situation, but she knew that Vakk wanted her alive for the time being, even if it was just for torture.

”Unfortunately, I have run into a problem and as such my item has been lost.” Vakk stated, looking down upon the still kneeling form of Atmav. ”Have you had time to realize the position that you are in?” he asked, some tendrils gesturing to the numerous creatures that surrounded both of them. It was clear where the Lord of Talk was going with the conversation. Such talk was no surprise to Atmav, she had heard all the same from him before.

“Yes. Though I must say, this reminds me of one of our first encounters. When I was merely a war-slave who was subjected to a war that I nor my brothers and sisters wanted,” Atmav reminisced, similarly indifferent to memory before she let out a yawn. She had thought about what to do, things that may get her freedom.

”Do not try to change the subject, Atmav,” Vakk interrupted her thoughts. He leaned his head down a bit, before he continued to speak, ”Why do you resist my will? You know your loyalty to your old master was waning by the time our final fight had come.”

Atmav shook her head for a moment, knowing what Vakk was trying to do and unable to say anything about it lest he starts torturing her again. “I made a promise to protect him until my death,” she said before she began to feel cold. She knew what was going to come next, knowing that Vakk was going to use her words against her.

”But you have already died. It was by my mercy that you were resurrected. I am giving you a chance, a chance to live a normal life in this place. The only price is that you do what I ask when I need you.”

His offer seemed tempting, but she could not put things together properly. Hadn’t he last said that he planned to get them home? Perhaps he changed his mind and wanted to stay? She couldn’t think properly. There was too much noise around her, the Echoes had begun to repeat part of their conversation and they wouldn’t stop. She just needed them to be quiet. Atmav needed silence

”You will love the life you want. The Talk, nor I, will have any say in what you do.”

All she wanted was freedom and here it was. She looked up before rising to her feet, slowly gauging his response.

”Do you accept?

She silently nodded.

With that she was whisked away, Vakk’s tendril wrapping around her and navigating her through Sanvādam. The darkness gave way to light. She felt salt water spray on her face from the crash of waves against rocks, she could finally see a new world before she was forcibly thrown onto the ground. Despite her treatment, she was happy to just experience something other than torture and the coldness that had surrounded her. Atmav took in a breath of the air, slowly getting to her feet once more. Her four wings stretched out, finally being able to escape the cramped nature of her hell.

”You are free to go.”
She stopped taking in the scenery for a moment, turning to face the gargantuan form of Vakk, she cocked her head to the side, “But I do not know where we are. Where do would I go from here?”

”It is your life. Figure it out for yourself.”

“Can I at least have something to defend myself with?”

Vakk seemed to think to himself for a moment. ”No. Figure it out yourself, you were one a guardian. Now, I will remind you that I will call upon you when I need you. Other than that, you are free.”

“How will I know you need me?”

”I will send an animal to fetch you.”

With that Vakk retreated back into the depths of his sphere, leaving the woman where she was with no clue as to where to go. She looked around and saw a storm brewing in the distance. However, as she had time to properly think, she could not understand why she so quickly agreed to the offer Vakk gave. Was she really that desperate to lead her own life? Or was it something that worm did to her mind? Atmav did not know, but she was at least happy to earn a modicum of freedom even if she would occasionally have to do things for someone who had once been her enemy.

She let out a sigh and flapped her wings, taking her body into the air.

Her mind continued to go back to the conversation, how it seemed like Vakk was able to achieve what he wanted so easily. It bothered her, it bothered her immensely. However, what was she able to do? He held the power in that situation and he made a deal that she could not have achieved otherwise.

The storm grew closer, but she did not care. The winds grew, but she did not care.

She couldn’t think straight and soon the storm was on top of her.

The noise was everywhere. The rushing wind, the lightning, the rain.

She was unaware of it all until she hit the sea water.




The sound of splashing awoke her.

“Is it okay?” “Do we even know what it is?” “I think it’s just an animal.” “Can we please just get back to the fun?”

She moved her arms to push herself up, what she saw was a strange people that moved away from her upon her stirring. They seemed frightened even though she had been at their whim only a few moments before. Atmav slowly got to her feet and looked around, there was only them.

“Should we get Yimbo?” one asked another.

“Please, stop talking.” Atmav requested, the beings giving a shocked impression that she could speak. She looked them over, gauging their attitude. They certainly did not seem hostile, but she was always the cautious one and preferred to take no risks. Atmav took a single step towards them, they moved back. Another step, another few back. It seemed that they were cautious of her as well.

“Who are you,” Atmav asked.

“We’re the Selka,” one answered.

Atmav stepped to the side. “Okay.”

There was an uncomfortable silence between the two for a few moments. Atmav charged at them before she took flight, causing them to give shrill screams and running away. She could see that there were quite a few of these beings, most of them doing some form of celebration. However, as she climbed into the air, she could see no other sign of civilization and even then those Selka had no shelter. This caused her to let out a sigh before she looked back down at the Selka, they seemed to be pointing at her. Some seemed worried, others seemed enthused to see her.

She would have to keep an eye on them, but for the time being, she needed to find food.



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