"She's cute, huh?"
Yoshimasa hummed as he glanced at the group of girls in the clearing of the woods, making flower chains for one another.
"Yeah but she kind of looks out of place," he whispered whilst watching Rin who sat on a tree stump by herself, plucking the dying flowers out of her hair.
"Huh? Are we looking at the same girl?"
Yoshimasa glanced at his group of friends that were spying on the girls and shrugged.
"Ah, sorry, I suppose you weren't talking about Rin…" he murmured with a blush.
"No, I mean come on," Miyu snorted "Who here actually likes Rin?"
Yoshimasa turned his gaze back to Rin to avoid the five bewildered gazes.
"Yeah and that's why you're here," Daiskue snorted "Distract the depressed girl so she doesn't come onto us."
"She isn't the kind of person to do that," Yoshimasa said as he smiled softly.
"Yeah because you've been watching her since the beginning of the year," Toshiyuki smirked.
The group sighed softly as he climbed up the tree he was hiding behind so he could get a closer look.
"I don't know, Rin is kind of cold, pretty distant," Yuuto commented as he glanced at Rin then spied Megumi who was surrounded by the four other girls "Megumi…she's so pretty."
"Yeah, that's why we're here isn't it?" Toshiyuki shrugged.
"I don't know," Hiroshi hummed "Ren's cute."
"Yeah but not as cute as Hana," Daisuke sighed softly.
"Yes but she's pretty much got her head stuck up in the clouds," Yuuto huffed "Now Riku, she's more down to earth."
"But not as beautiful as Mai."
The group of five boys sighed softly before resuming their spying.
"Rin! Why did you take the flowers out?"
Rin looked up at Hana who looked upset.
"They died," she answered bluntly.
"That's ridiculous, I put them in just a few minutes ago…"
Hana followed where Rin's red eyes went and her pink eyes teared up at the shrivelled flowers next to her.
"I told you, things die around me," Rin said with hunched shoulders.
"Oh no they don't, here let me put some more in!"
Rin didn't move as Hana bent down to pick more flowers.
"Why are we doing this?" Rin asked as she let Hana tucked the flowers into her black tresses.
"Because it's fun!" Hana giggled "It's like we're Greek nymphs and we don't have to worry about anything."
"Other than death?"
"Oh, Rin, you're such a goth," Megumi groaned as she and the other girls circled her to place flowers in the lower lengths of her hair "Really, you should cut and dye your hair, maybe a nice light blue…"
"I'm blue," Ren said as she reached out to place flowers behind Rin's ears "She can go pink."
"I prefer my natural colour," Rin said as she rested her chin on her palm.
"I don't know, change can be good," Riku shrugged "If you're into natural colours then maybe go blonde."
"No," Rin and Megumi, who had long blonde hair, said.
"Huh, this must be an old flower, it's already shrivelling up," Mai frowned as she plucked a browning flower out of Rin's hair.
"I told you," Rin hummed as she drummed her fingers patiently.
"Well it doesn't matter, flowers aren't the only things to make you pretty," Hana frowned as she took the dying flower and blinked as it slowly got its colour back.
"I'm fine just the way I am," Rin shrugged as more dead flowers fell out of her hair.
"I suppose we should just leave her looking like this," Megumi smiled and hugged Rin tightly from behind "She makes us look prettier than normal."
"Megumi!" Mai exclaimed.
"It's fine, she's right," Rin said without missing a beat.
"I'm thirsty, can we go home now?" Ren panted as she shaded her eyes from the sun.
"How about dropping by that café?" Megumi suggested as she pushed against Rin's protesting hands to get rid of her.
"Sure, but time is running out, it'll be evening soon…" Mai glanced at the sky.
"Oh, you're like an overprotective mom," Hana pouted.
"Yeah, more protective than my mom," Riku raised an eyebrow.
"Well, have you read the newspapers?" Mai folded her arms "Crime rates have been rising and someone got killed nearby."
"That was a hit and run accident," Megumi snorted.
"You only need to worry if someone got killed in a similar area, in a similar fashion and at a similar time," Rin said as she flicked off the rest of the dead flowers in her hair "Then it'll be a serial killer. How exciting and unfortunate."
"Well I don't want one of us to be that next victim," Mai said with folded arms.
"Relax it's fine, we'll be in a group," Megumi huffed as she finally withdrew from Rin "Would be nice if we had a nice strong boy to look after us."
"Yeah, Megumi, you need to decide on a boyfriend already!"
Megumi giggled as she sat on what space was available on the tree stump.
"Well I can't quite decide on either Miyu or Toshiyuki," she smiled.
"Rin, I know the perfect guy for you!" Hana suddenly exclaimed.
"Not interested," Rin said immediately.
The other girls nodded eagerly in agreement as Rin looked up at Hana with a frown.
"Don't know him."
"Sure you do, he's in our class," Ren said with folded arms "He even sits next to you."
"Never took an interest in him," Rin shrugged.
"That is the biggest lie a girl has ever said," Megumi giggled "Come on, Rin! You and Daiskue would make a sweet couple!"
"I have no interest in boys," Rin insisted.
"Fine, Rin, what about Yoshimasa, he seems to like you," Mai suggested with a sweet smile.
"Ew!" was the reaction from the four other girls as Rin raised an eyebrow at her.
"That is cruel, Mai," Megumi sighed as she rolled her eyes "Not even our Rin deserves a creep like him."
"I'm not your Rin."
"You'll always be my Rin!" Megumi squealed as she hugged Rin tightly.
"Get off me."
The girls giggled whilst Rin kept her poker face. The laughter was cut off when a branch snapped and a figure dropped into the patch of flowers.
"Who's that?" Megumi drawled as Hana peered over to look at him.
"Ew, ew, ew, it's Yoshimasa!"
The other girls screamed and ran off, leaving Rin sitting on the tree stump, staring at the limp form of her classmate. There were other shouts and other boys shot across the forest clearing, chasing after the girls. Rin watched them disappear into the woods then looked at Yoshimasa as he groaned softly and sat up, blinking up at her.
"Oh, Rin!" he exclaimed with a light blush.
"Yoshimasa," Rin nodded as she began raking her fingers through her hair to make sure there weren't any other dead flowers left.
"Oh! You know my name!"
"Yeah, the others said it," Rin said as she took no notice of the glimmer of hope in his green eyes.
"Oh right," he sounded disheartened.
"Did you come to weave flowers into your hair?"
Yoshimasa jumped at Rin's blunt statement and shook his head.
"No, I, I, I…"
Rin wasn't really paying attention to his rambling as she focused more on getting rid of the dry stems in her hair until a whole bouquet got shoved under her nose.
"Please go out with me!"
Rin looked down at him as he bowed his head, his cheeks flushed brightly. She pushed the flowers down and bent down to look him over his glasses when he looked up.
"You can't go out with me," she said.
"What?" Yoshimasa looked crushed "Why?"
"Because everything I touch dies," Rin replied as she lifted her hand from the flowers that had begun to wither.
Yoshimasa snorted as he tossed the flowers aside.
"Please, Megumi was hugging you all the time so it doesn't work with humans," he said and he was met with a serious look.
He blushed brighter as Rin leaned forward and kissed his cheek. His breath left him as his heart fluttered until his cheek felt very cold. Rin leaned back as he felt his cheek, skin had begun flaking off where she had just kissed him.
"Now imagine if I did something more than kiss your cheek," she said whilst looking away.
"They're weird, they're all weird," Rin huffed "They don't die."
Yoshimasa cupped his cheek and looked up at her.
"It's a curse!"
"Excuse me?" Rin raised a sceptical eyebrow.
"You just need to find your true love to kiss you and your curse of things dying when you touch them will go away," Yoshimasa's glasses glinted in the late afternoon light "Let's kiss!"
Rin's quick and inconsiderate reflexes had Yoshimasa kissing two of her fingers and having his lips peeling.
Yoshimasa looked up at Rin sadly who folded her arms. He looked down before standing.
"Then how about we go out and not touch?" he offered "Hey, I bet your touch won't be able to reach me if I wear gloves!"
Rin looked up at him before glancing at her hands.
"I would have worn my gloves but they insisted it would be ridiculous considering the weather…"
"It's not ridiculous, it's you."
Rin looked up at Yoshimasa.
"So how about it?" he gave her a smile which enticed flakes of skin to drift down into the grass "Will you go out with me?"
"They said you're not good enough for me," Rin answered and Yoshimasa winced.
"Do you think that?" he asked.
"I'm not interested in boys."
Yoshimasa sighed softly and folded his arms. He then snapped his fingers.
"One date, we don't even have to touch," he said.
"Date? Where?" Rin tilted her head.
"I will come tomorrow morning," Yoshimasa said quickly, his eyes darting left and right in thought.
"I am due to meet them to go to the beach," Rin said and Yoshimasa deflated.
"But I have two tickets for the fun park…" he murmured and Rin tilted her head to the side.
"…I could have caught hyperthermia and I am in no condition to go to the beach," she said and Yoshimasa looked at her in hope "Supposing no-one sees me at the fun park because they're all gone to the coast, it should be alright, should it not?"
"Ah, yes!" Yoshimasa nodded and jumped to his feet "Right, shall I walk you home now?"
"We were going to go to the café," Rin sighed as she glanced at the darkening sky "But I suppose the girls have more pressing issues given their untimely take off. So I suppose it will be beneficial for me to have someone escort me home."
"Um…" Yoshimasa felt a little lost as she looked up at him before standing.
"You may walk me home," Rin said before walking off.
"O-Oh! Right, wait for me!"
Rin didn't look at him once during their awkward walk to her home.
Megumi stopped once she reached the pavement right outside the forest, gasping for breath as Yuuto caught up to her. Achievement surged through him as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. He had reached her first! He'd beaten the others to get to her. It was a lucky break that Yoshimasa had scared the others off and being the fastest in the class had given him a greater advantage to comfort Megumi. The beautiful blonde glanced at him and smiled weakly.
"Oh my," she whispered softly "That startled me."
Yuuto smiled and glanced at the sky as Megumi brushed herself down.
"I didn't realise you were the one to hang out with…him," she said dismissively and Yuuto chuckled.
"We were in the area, Miyu wanted to grab some flowers to please his sister and Yoshi went tree climbing then."
Yuuto just shrugged and Megumi laughed.
"Besides, I never penned you for someone to hang around Rin," he countered and Megumi blushed.
"Well she makes me look more beautiful," she said dismissively, tossing her blonde locks "Then again, I suppose Yoshimasa makes your little friendship circle look cool."
"He is a bit of a punching bag, the poor thing," Yuuto tutted "Hey, it's getting late, shall I walk you home?"
"Oh, we were going to stop at the café," Megumi frowned and looked around "Oh, my friends scattered since that frightful scene, looks like we might not go after all…"
"We could stop by the café and grab a quick coffee," Yuuto shrugged and Megumi giggled.
"Oh, Yuuto, are you asking me out on a date?" she asked and Yuuto blushed lightly.
"Uh…" Yuuto shifted and swallowed "Would it please you?"
Megumi smiled thoughtfully before petting his cheek.
"I'd be delighted," she replied and offered her hand "Lead the way, dear sir."
Yuuto's heart soared.
He took her hand and they began walking down the pavement, Megumi taking her phone out to contact the other girls. Once the text messages were sent, they arrived at the café and settled down at their table, a latte in Megumi's hand and a mocha in Yuuto's. Yuuto hung onto every word that Megumi said which made the blonde smile, she enjoyed the attention. She always was popular everywhere she went. Valentine's Days would involve crowds and crowds of boys yearning for her chocolate. She would receive flowers, jewellery and sometimes the odd plush toy from admirers. It was wonderful to be the centre of attention and the icing on the cake was that she had her group of friends that she's had since she was ten and Rin. Hana had insisted that Rin should hang out with them when they began attending high school and it had its perks. Thankfully Hana never suggested any more friends to the social group, six girls in her bedroom was quite enough.
"So, uh, busy tomorrow?" Yuuto asked and Megumi smiled.
"I'm sorry, we're all heading to the beach," she said "We've all been talking about it for a while and it'll be Rin's first time. She always wears a swimsuit for swimming lessons, it'll be great to see her in a bikini!"
She could picture Rin's face when presented with the bikini she'd picked out for her. Probably either a poker face or a face of absolute mortification. But Megumi worried, Rin looked very skinny in her swimming costume, perhaps she was anorexic? Megumi sighed and grimaced when she pictured a sickly looking Rin with her ribs poking out of her skin and her pale, skeletal limbs out on display for the sun to burn. Megumi shuddered and shook her head to get rid of the nasty thought. She glanced at Yuuto and lifted an eyebrow when she saw him staring over her shoulder with a small red trickle coming out of his nose.
"Um, Yuuto?" she called as she waved a hand in his face which got his attention "Are you being a pervert?"
"Hm?" Yuuto straightened up and Megumi smirked, tapping under her nose.
Yuuto lifted a hand and felt the blood before exclaiming.
"Oh! I'm sorry! So sorry!"
Megumi giggled behind her cup as Yuuto scrambled around to grab a tissue to dab the blood up.
"Oh, that's so adorable," she simpered as Yuuto blushed "Perverted but your reaction is simply to die for."
Yuuto coughed and turned his head to look out of the window whilst taking a big sip of his mocha.
Megumi jumped and smiled as Hana appeared at the window with Daiskue, jumping up and down before dragging the tall boy in to sit with them. Daiskue frowned and bent down to look at Yuuto.
"Did you slip and fall? There's a bit of blood around your nostrils."
"Ah," Yuuto stammered as he wiped his nose thoroughly "You could say that…"
Megumi giggled as Hana looked through the menu. She received a text message and glanced down at it.
"Oh no!" she exclaimed and Hana leaned over to look at the text to read it.
"Oh no!" she exclaimed and the boys exchanged a look.
"Problem?" Daiskue raised an eyebrow.
"It's Rin!" Hana sighed "She was out in the sun too long and fainted from the heat. Apparently she might not be able make it to the beach tomorrow."
"And worse of all, that creep Yoshimasa had to carry her home," Megumi shuddered.
"Ew," they both shivered.
"He's not that bad," Yuuto frowned.
"Yeah, he makes us look good," Daiskue snorted.
"But I really wanted to see Rin in a bikini!" Hana whined "We even found the perfect one for her, didn't we?"
"Yeah, it was the perfect pink two piece," Megumi huffed.
"No, it was black," Hana frowned.
"Darling, black isn't in this season," Megumi scoffed "Black absorbs heat and that's why Rin had a heatstroke today, she absorbs too much heat with her hair, her gothic make-up and those emo clothes. I made sure to swap that bikini with the pink one."
"Maybe she's just sensitive to heat, she often stays in during the summer," Hana shrugged.
"Hana, you've known her the longest, tell us a little about her," Daiskue asked and Megumi smiled deviously.
"Yes, Hana, all her dirty little secrets," Megumi grinned and Hana shoved her.
"She isn't afraid of death and claims that everything around her dies," Hana shrugged "I don't believe her, no matter how many flowers die when I give them to her."
"Charming," Yuuto muttered.
"Ah, Ren's gone home, she fell into the river and Hiroshi's taken her home," Megumi huffed "That girl has to watch where she steps. I mean, she wanted a drink but that's going a bit too far."
"She's the one that suggested for us to go to the beach," Hana smiled "She is a killer swimmer though!"
"I know, I saw her at the swimming gala, she's like a dolphin," Daiskue nodded.
"Oh yeah, you're a strong swimmer too, aren't you?" Yuuto smiled up at the taller man.
"I'm sort of good, yeah," Daiskue chuckled.
Hana jumped with a yelp when Mai suddenly appeared at the table with Toshiyuki panting for breath behind her.
"Honestly, running off like that," she scolded Hana and Megumi.
"You ran too!" Megumi pointed out.
"Only to make sure Hana didn't get lost again," Mai folded her arms "Really, it's a good thing you texted."
"You alright there, Toshi?" Yuuto snorted and Toshiyuki took in a deep breath and sighed.
"She runs fast," he rasped.
"Ah, Riku isn't going to turn up," Megumi said as she looked down at her phone again "Got distracted by a cat and is taking it home with her. Miyu's with her."
"Of course," Hana and Mai sighed and rolled their eyes whilst Toshiyuki grabbed two chairs for himself and Mai.
"So beach tomorrow?" Mai smiled and Hana grinned, clapping her hands excitedly.
"Yeah but Rin can't come!" Hana pouted and Mai frowned "Heatstroke, might not be a good idea for her to come to the beach with us."
"Heatstroke?!" Mai exclaimed "It isn't even that hot!"
"It's because she wears too much black," Megumi rolled her eyes whilst applying her lipstick through the reflection of her mobile screen.
"How about we come along?" Yuuto suggested.
"No boys," Mai growled and Hana pouted.
"Come on, Mai, the more the merrier!" Hana pleaded.
"We promised that this was going to be a girls' special get together!" Mai said sternly.
"It'll be fun," Megumi shrugged.
"Well I don't like it," Mai folded her arms "Boys perving over you? That isn't a good idea of a good time."
"How about we perv over you instead then?" Daiskue smirked
Toshiyuki placed a firm hand on Mai's shoulder to keep her in her seat when she tried to lash out and smack him.
"We could make sure no guys with ill intentions will come anywhere near you," Yuuto said solemnly.
"Will Yoshimasa be there?" Megumi asked sceptically.
"Well I highly doubt he'd want to come if Rin can't come," Toshiyuki frowned.
"Then it'll be fine," Megumi smiled.
"Yes, maybe he'll even take care of her," Mai suggested with a smile.
"On the other hand, bring him, we can't have Rin suffer!" Hana exclaimed and Toshiyuki took his phone out.
"Calling him," he said and pressed it to his ear "Oi, Yoshi, we're going to the beach tomorrow. What? Other plans?"
Everyone stared at him as his facial expressions turned from surprise to disbelief before he smirked and stood.
He walked out and everyone craned their heads to watch him laugh and shake his head.
"I never knew Toshi was that close to Yoshi," Megumi raised an eyebrow.
"Something must have happened, this is suspicious," Daiskue commented with narrowed eyes.
Toshiyuki talked to Yoshimasa for a few more minutes before hanging up and coming back in.
"Yoshi has other plans which I, as a gentleman, will not say to respect his privacy."
"No-one has respect for Yoshi, come on, tell us," Yuuto whined and Toshiyuki shook his head.
"Aw, come on!"
"It's nearly six, I'm leaving," Mai said as she stood.
"I'm coming with you," Toshiyuki said as he jumped to his feet and dashed out with Mai as Yuuto tried to climb over Daiskue to grab him.
"Toshi!" he whined.
"We should be leaving soon too," Megumi smiled as she waved Hana out of the booth and winked at Yuuto "Thanks for the drink, Yuuto!"
"Bye!" Hana grinned as they walked out leaving the boys to pay the bill.
"Six of them," Zeus grumbled as he, Odin and Ra sat around their model of Earth, watching the group of girls.
He raised his staff and six silhouettes of the girls in question.
"There is only enough energy in that group for one goddess to be determined," Ra murmured thoughtfully.
"I know who it is," Odin declared and pointed to one shadowed figure.
"It's hard to tell," Ra argued "We need a closer examination."
"What do you suggest?" Odin asked.
"Zeus, your academy to bring humans and gods closer…" Ra glanced at Zeus who was eyeing one girl thoughtfully "It was a success, wasn't it?"
"It calmed Baldr but didn't halt his death," Zeus replied grimly and gave Odin an apologetic look.
"What's done is done, it was written by the oracle, we couldn't' stop it," Odin said gravely.
"If we put these girls under a series of trials," Ra cupped his chin in thought "then wouldn't we be able to determine which one is one of our missing goddesses?"
"And have gods relating to those goddesses determine which one of them is a missing goddess," Zeus nodded.
"Why go through this when it clearly is this woman?" Odin asked as he pointed to one of the girls again.
"You're just paranoid," Ra dismissed "You've been looking for her since the day she was lost."
"Ra, that day is coming quickly and if she isn't at her post then…"
"It won't take long," Zeus interrupted the Norse god "I promise you, Odin. We will find her before that day. It would be a grave mistake if it isn't her and one of the other girls is a different missing goddess."
"They all have potential, shouldn't we give them all a fair trial?" Ra proposed.
"We are looking for our goddesses too," Zeus narrowed his eyes at Odin who closed his.
"Fine," he nodded "But I will have Fenrir and Jörmungandr as the gods that will assist with the trials."
"Why would you do that?!" Ra and Zeus lurched in their thrones.
"They're the best choice," Odin said dismissively.
"They are not gods, they're monsters," Ra narrowed his eyes "If Thoth couldn't handle their father when he was at the academy then what makes you think he'll be able to handle his sons?"
"They will have their powers restrained like what happened at your little school," Odin said and glanced at Zeus.
"If that's so then I will have Ares keeping an eye on them then," Zeus said whilst turning his staff "Poseidon too."
"I choose Horus and Ptah," Ra decided after some thought.
"So we're agreed," Odin nodded.
"Not quite but if you're sure that those creatures will find your goddess then we'll allow it," Ra said and Zeus nodded sternly.
Rin woke when a voice called out to her. She sat up and spotted an eerie glow coming from outside her window and opened it to look down at the glowing corpse at the door. Curiosity got to her as she got out of bed, pulled her gloves on and ran down to check the corpse at the front door. It looked grim and judging by the way it looked, Rin guessed that this person either had the life sucked out of them or was starved to death. She bent down and touched the corpse carefully, searching for a pulse if it had any, though it was very unlikely. What she didn't realise was that one of her gloves had a tiny pinprick and her skin touched the corpse, making it glow brighter. Rin winced and jumped to her feet, covering her eyes when it flashed and everything white.
Megumi woke up slowly and yawned tiredly. She turned on her side with the intent to snuggle further into her bed to go back to sleep. But what disturbed her was a bright pink glow coming from her window. She sat up with a frown, got up and pulled her dressing gown on.
"Honestly, disturbing my beauty sleep," she grumbled as she pulled her window open and look at the seashell that lay on her window ledge "Aw, a pretty little shell. We should collect more at the beach."
She reached out and picked it up, stumbling back when a bright light blinded her once her fingers met with the shell.
Hana yawned as she woke up and saw the vase of flowers glowing on her bedside table. She sat up and tilted her head to the side curiously.
"That's weird," she commented and reached out to touch the petals.
She recoiled when green light flashed and blinded her.
Mai's insomnia was acting up again. Mai huffed as she continued practicing her kendo katas. This wasn't tiring her out at all. Maybe if she pushed herself hard enough, she'd be able to exhaust herself out enough to go to sleep. With a firm nod she brought her sword up again, prepared to go through another kata when a glow attracted her attention to her family's shield. She stood and walked over with a soft frown.
"You're not supposed to do that," she said as she reached out to touch it.
There was a flash of blue and Mai gasped, covering her eyes to make sure they wouldn't get damaged.
"Thirsty," Ren murmured like a little robot as she walked downstairs in a zombie like state with an empty glass "Water. Drink."
She chanted this little mantra under her breath as she made her way to the sink in the kitchen and poured some water out, not noticing the strange glow in it. She began drinking it and a flash later she was gone, the glass falling and spilling the water all over the floor.
"Kitty, come back!" Riku called as she chased the glowing cat downstairs "You should be sleeping! Your paw hasn't healed yet."
The cat mewed and she continued chasing it outside.
"That glow looks awful, don't tell me you have some sort radiation?" Riku gasped "Come here!"
She lunged and caught the cat and yellow light flooded her vision.
Rin felt a hand touch her and she grabbed it.
"Don't touch, you'll die," she said out of habit as she opened her eyes slowly.
Over her was a young man with wild silver hair and bright yellow eyes. He sported a wolf earring on his earlobe and Rin could see visible fangs through his parted lips.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"I was checking to see if you were alright after your trip here," the young man replied as he moved off her "My name is Fenrir."
"You sound suspicious," Rin said as she sat up "Where am I?"
"Ah, that," Fenrir grinned, pearl white teeth glinting from the sunrays that were filtering through the windows "Welcome to Asgard. Valhalla, specifically."
Rin leapt to her feet and winced, shrinking away from the sun when it hit her face. It took a few minutes for her to adjust and she stared out with wide eyes.
"Asgard…" she echoed "Home of the…Norse gods? Valhalla…where Odin is…"
Fenrir grinned wider.
"It's pretty, huh?" he said "It's been so long since I've been here."
"But what am I doing here, I'm a normal human being," Rin said slowly as she recovered her poker face.
"You've been chosen to go through a series of trials to recover and reclaim your divine powers as a goddess if you pass."
Rin felt a cold chill run down her spine and she gritted her teeth.
"I refuse," she declared and Fenrir blinked "I have no desire to become a goddess. Take me back to Earth."
"Can't, you have to go through these trials, it won't affect your time on Earth if you don't pass."
"I said I refuse!" Rin argued fiercely.
"Oi," Fenrir snarled and Rin stepped away warily "I said I can't."
Rin looked away with a distasteful glare and Fenrir huffed.
"Look, I don't really want to be here," he confessed "Neither does my brother. We're just here because our sister is missing and we have to find her before the end of the world. And there is a chance that you or one of your friends could be her."
"Friends?" Rin echoed "Who? Who else is here?"
"Five others," Fenrir smirked as he held out five fingers.
Rin sagged her shoulders and sighed softly.
"Right, at least I'm not alone then…" she murmured.
"Hey, let me show you around, potential little sister!" Fenrir said as he put an arm around her.
"Get off, you'll die," Rin said as she pushed him away and stepped out of the room.
"Stop right there!"
Rin stopped as a tanned hand slammed into the wall next to her head and she was faced with a tall tanned man who wore a monocle.
"Thoth!" Fenrir exclaimed.
"Hm, you're supposed to be the candidate for her?" Thoth murmured as he bent over her "You certainly don't look like you'd be Loki's daughter."
"I hope I'm not," Rin said as he pulled away and walked down the corridor "Why am I the candidate for your sister?"
Fenrir pointed to his neck and Rin felt around her neck to find a necklace with a skull on it and she huffed.
"It's like I'm wearing a label for everyone to see," she grumbled and flounced off.
"Oi, you don't know where you're going!"
Ren slowly woke up and saw a young man with long red hair and a silver snake around his ear squinting as he looked at a book, turning the pages slowly. He looked up when she sat up and flickered his forked tongue at her.
"You're here to take part in trialsss in order to ressstore your divinity if you passs," he said as he closed the book and put it on the bookshelf.
"Come again?" Ren blinked and the man stood, brushing back some hair.
The man looked down at her with a soft frown.
"Well you appeared here, you're a candidate to be a Norssse goddesss," he hissed "The other godsss, my brother and I will judge and asssesss you."
"Wait, you must be mistaken," Ren protested "Me? A goddess?"
"You're a candidate for her, I sssee," the man huffed as he bent down and looked at her necklace "Hm, I wasss hoping ssshe would ssstay disssappeared…"
He stood and Ren scrambled to her feet.
"What is going on here, who are you? Where am I?"
"I jussst told you why you're here," the man hissed irritably "My name isss Jörmungandr. Thisss isss Asssgard."
"Asgard?" Ren repeated "The home of the gods in Norse mythology?"
"And you're…supposed to be a snake."
"And I'm going through trials to become a goddess?"
"If you passs, yess."
"Alright, I'm dreaming and I'm going to proceed to wake up, nice meeting you."
Ren turned to walk into the nearest wall but was halted as a hand hit the wall, missing her face by inches. She turned and looked up at Thoth who adjusted his monocle to examine her.
"Hm, how good are you with a net?" he asked.
"Excuse me?" Ren raised an eyebrow.
"Thought as much, I don't see you becoming much of a goddess either."
He pulled away and walked off, Jörmungandr following.
"Wait for me," Ren said as she followed them reluctantly.
Megumi slowly opened her eyes and found herself nestled in grass. She sat up and rubbed her head, squinting as the sun rested its rays on her.
"Where is this? Why am I not home?" she murmured in a daze.
Megumi lifted her head to look at the man with dark red curls before her who offered his hand.
"My name is Ares," he said "God of War."
"Oh my," Megumi smiled as she took his hand and was helped up "This must be a dream if I'm meeting someone as handsome as you."
"Aren't you the charmer?" Ares hummed as he placed his hands on his hips "Well, you'd be delighted to know you and your friends have been chosen to take part in some trials to prove that you are one of our missing goddesses."
Megumi laughed and pushed his shoulder.
"Oh my, do I really look that stupid?" she asked.
Megumi screamed as a hand lashed out and hit the tree behind her, just missing her face. She bristled as Thoth's monocle glinted as he drifted his eyes down to her neck and she pulled her top up to avoid him looking at her breasts.
"Hn, you might have the face but you might not necessarily have the makings of a goddess," Thoth sighed as he pulled away and walked off.
"H-hey!" Megumi whined.
Megumi turned her head to see Ren following a tall man with red hair.
"Ren!" she breathed as she pressed a hand to her heart as it slowly calmed after Thoth's abrupt appearance.
"Wait up!" Ren called as she continued jogging after the tall redhead.
"Thoth, isss my sssissster here?" the redhead hissed.
"She's with your brother, but I doubt she's your sister."
"How should I know?"
The redhead hissed in contempt before turning and bumping into Ren.
Ren blinked as she was shoved to the side and the redhead stormed off angrily.
"Let me show you two around if it's going to be a pain," Ares sighed "Don't mind him, he isn't a real god, just scum that Odin summoned to help with the trials."
"Oh my, Ren, are you OK?" Megumi asked as she grabbed Ren by the arm.
"Thirsty," Ren answered blankly.
Hana smiled as she curled up happily, taking in the scent of flowers.
"They weren't kidding when they said you loved flowers."
"Indeed," Hana sighed in her sleep.
Wait… Hana jolted upright and stared at the man with long blue hair near her, flicking at the flowers idly.
"Who are you?"
"Poseidon, god of the sea."
"Where am I?"
"Asgard for some reason."
"Why am I here?"
"You and your friends are here for trials to determine which one of you are goddesses."
"Really?!" Hana squealed as she jumped to her feet.
Hana jumped with a squeak as a hand slammed into the wall nearby when she found that she got cornered by a tall man with a monocle.
"Hey, Thoth," Poseidon raised an eyebrow as Thoth stared at Hana.
"Hn, I hope you're not her if your voice goes as high as that," he said before moving away.
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Hana exclaimed and Poseidon winced.
"That, lower your voice," he grumbled whilst digging a finger into his ear.
The moment Mai woke up, she sprung to her feet and held her bamboo sword out…to find out she didn't have it anymore. She looked down at her hands and turned on her heel, pointing to the man behind her with an accusing finger.
"Who are you, what am I doing here, where's my sword, what do you want with me, are my family safe, are my friends safe?"
"Chill!" the man interrupted her as she took in a deep breath "Horus, you're here for some trials to determine whether or not you are a goddess, at home, we just want you to go through these trials, yes and yes."
Mai took in a deep breath and sighed, lowering her finger.
"Horus, an Egyptian god, you certainly look the part," she commented as she looked at his tan.
"Thank you," Horus smiled as he pushed back some dark hair, green eyes glinting happily.
Mai brought her hands up when another tanned man came up to her, slamming his hand onto the wall behind her to look down at her.
"And this here is Thoth," Horus smiled nervously.
Thoth seemed sceptical as he looked her up and down and left them. Mai huffed.
"I didn't realise the god of knowledge would be so intimidating," she murmured.
"Oh, you know your Egyptian mythology," Horus beamed.
"I have insomnia, gives me a lot of time to read," Mai shrugged "But if you really are Horus, prove it. Turn into an eagle."
"Eh?" Horus raised his eyebrows "But I'm not allowed to use my powers and certainly not in Asgard."
"That doesn't sound Egyptian," Mai frowned.
"No, it's Norse and trust me, I'm not thrilled about it either," Horus grumbled as he rubbed the back of his head.
Riku mewed as she curled up into a ball on the carpet of the main lobby. Ptah lingered over her, golden eyes shining with uncertainty as he reached out to pat her head.
Ptah withdrew as Thoth wandered in and crouched before Riku, carefully taking the cat pendent to look at. He looked down at her and hummed.
"She certainly does act like a cat," he murmured whilst letting go and standing up.
"I want her to pass," Ptah murmured.
"So do I but Odin has it in his head that we have a Norse goddess," Thoth grumbled as he adjusted his monocle.
"Is that why we're in Asgard?" Ptah asked with a scowl.
"Yes and he's even called Loki's sons to help in the trials," Thoth drawled with folded arms.
"But they're supposed to be prisoned until the end of the world," Ptah said in disbelief.
Thoth glanced at Fenrir who led Rin around, pointing to areas of the hall. Rin's eyes wandered over to them and she looked down at Riku before moving over to her, crouching and poking her.
"Wake up," she said and Riku mewed, trying to swat at her like a cat swatting at a fly "Riku, this is serious, we're in a serious situation."
Riku purred before grabbing Rin's wrist.
"Riku…I killed your baby kitten and had to cremate it."
"You did WHAT?!" Riku exclaimed as she sat up and stared at Rin.
"Nothing but it woke you up," Rin said as she stood.
Rin staggered as Megumi launched herself onto her back and hugged her tightly.
"Oh Rin, you're here too!" she cheered as Rin struggled to pull her arms away.
"What, you even wear your gloves to bed? You're so weird, Rin!"
"Hey, how's your stroke? Are you better already? Hey, then we can go to the beach after all and we got you this perfect bikini…"
"Get off her!"
Megumi screamed as Jörmungandr yanked her away then grabbed Rin's face, staring down at her.
"Get off me or you'll die," Rin said as she strained at his wrists.
Jörmungandr was silent briefly before hugging her tightly.
"He's molesting her!" Megumi screamed and pointed which made the majority wince.
"Ares, control your charge," Thoth ordered the god of war as Ren helped Riku up to her feet.
"Get…off…me…" Rin breathed as Jörmungandr's arms crushed her frail body.
"Jörmungandr, you're stronger than you think with those arms, be gentler," Fenrir said as he petted his brother's shoulder.
"Sssorry," Jörmungandr retreated and Rin stumbled, holding her sides "It'sss jussst been ssso long…"
"Why is he talking like that?" Hana asked as she and Poseidon wandered in.
"Hana!" Megumi cried.
"Will you shut up?!" Thoth snapped as he massaged his ears "If this is normally how it is in Olympus then I'm relieved we're not having the trials there."
"Egypt would have been better," Horus complained as he and Mai came in.
"Oh, you're all here!" Mai sighed in relief as she ran out to check everyone and paused at the kneeling Rin "Rin, are you still sick?"
"I'm fine," Rin breathed as Fenrir and Jörmungandr lingered around her with concerned looks.
"I told you two before, she looks nothing like you or your parents," Thoth said and was met with two beastly glares "Don't look at me like that."
"Just watch your tongue," Fenrir snarled as he bared his teeth.
"That is enough."
The brothers whined in pain as their earrings burned and Odin appeared at the top of the staircase, looking down at them disdainfully with his eye.
"You are here for one purpose before being sent back to your imprisonment."
The brothers glared at him before backing off into the line of gods that had assembled behind the girls. Mai helped Rin to her feet who dared not to look up at the god before them.
"You have all been chosen to take part in our trials of divinity," he declared "After the trials, only one of you will pass. The rest will return to Earth at the time when you were taken."
"And what about the one who passes?" Mai asked.
Odin looked down at her.
"There will be no record of your existence as you will be re-established as a goddess in your own right."
That created a settle of unease over the girls as they glanced at each other with worried looks.
"The trials will begin tomorrow."
An hourglass, filled with crystals in the top half, descended behind the girls.
"The trials will test your abilities and help bring out your identity as a goddess, once the last crystal falls we will have found our missing goddess."
Rin looked up at the hourglass as the girls chattered under their breaths excitedly.
"You will be shown to your rooms. Goodnight."
"Wow, comfy sofas!" Hana cried out as she landed on the cream loveseat in the common area that had six doors, each leading to the girls' rooms.
"Who do you think is going to pass?" Mai asked curiously.
"Well me, obviously," Megumi laughed "I look like a goddess, my name means goddess and come on, I'd be a pretty good goddess."
"It means you won't be coming back to Earth with us," Riku reminded her and she simply sighed.
"Yeah but I'll visit," Megumi grinned.
"Hey, which goddesses are do you think you're going to be?" Ren asked "I might be Ran. My pendant takes shape of a wave and Thoth asked me how good I was with a net."
"Ooo, what does she do?" Hana asked and Ren shrugged.
"From what I know, she tries to snatch sailors with her net and drowns them," she said.
"Oh, pleasant," Megumi snorted "Mine's a seashell…"
"You might be a Greek goddess considering Ares is watching over you," Ren hummed as she looked at her "I would guess Aphrodite."
"Oh well obviously," Megumi tossed her hair.
"Do me, do me!" Hana begged as stuck her hand up and looked at her pendant "I'm…some wheat? Aw, why not a flower?"
"You might be Demeter, goddess of harvest," Ren said with a curious smile "Um, Mai, your pendent is a shield?"
"Feels like it," Mai murmured as she tried to crane her neck to look at it.
"You might be an Egyptian goddess…maybe Wadjet?"
"But isn't she a snake?" Mai wrinkled her nose.
"Well, you do have scaly skin," Megumi smirked and cackled when Mai slapped her on the arm.
"Am I Egyptian goddess too? I have a cat," Riku fiddled with her pendent.
"Bastet," Mai and Ren said together "Cat goddess."
"Yay, I'm a kitty goddess!" Riku cheered.
"What's your pendent, Rin?"
Everyone glanced at where Rin was but saw she was gone. Mai frowned and glanced at the door which had Rin's name on.
"She might have gone to bed early," she said.
"How can she sleep at an exciting time like this?!" Megumi exclaimed and huffed "Guess even her needs her beauty sleep."
"I didn't quite see what she was wearing, a skull?" Ren hummed.
"You sure? That sounds like something from her jewellery box," Megumi shrugged as she played with her pendent.
"Well another big clue was how Fenrir and his brother were fawning over her," Ren frowned softly "I can never say the other one's name right."
"Yeah, that was totally creepy," Hana nodded.
"If I catch them anywhere near her again, I'll make them regret it," Megumi vowed.
"Good luck with that wolf guy," Riku shuddered "Anyway, Ren, you were saying?"
"Fenrir and his brother have a sister," Ren said as she closed her eyes.
"So they think she's their sister," Mai confirmed.
"Yes but Rin and her don't quite match," Ren sighed as she sat back "The sister is supposed to be ugly and frail."
"Rin isn't exactly a beauty," Megumi rolled her eyes.
"No, Rin looks normal, I'm just saying," Ren said "I suppose those two are just missing their sister pretty bad. I can't see Rin being…her at all."
"Who is this ugly goddess?" Hana tilted her head.
Ren opened her eyes.
Rin sat on her bed after removing her gloves, staring at the potted plant next to her. She reached out and tapped it, watching it slowly wither away. She scoffed.
"Even in the great Asgard things can die."
She reached out for the blankets and pulled them over her, nursing her sides where Jörmungandr had gripped her. Her eyes fluttered closed as a gentle breeze blew through the room, scattering the dust of the wilted plant through her room.