The Trials of the Lost Goddess

Chapter 2

Rin woke up groggily when the sun's rays filtered through the window and rested on her sickly pale skin. She grunted and stretched out, swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, yawning deeply with a scowl. It took her a moment to realise that she wasn't in her room but in Asgard and remembered why she was here. She let out an audible sigh of frustration, glaring at the sunrise venomously. She wobbled onto her feet, a little bit startled at her sudden fragility before walking over to the mirror to get a good look at her face.

"Oh f-!"

"Megumi, you're up early," Mai commented as she sipped her coffee.

Megumi smiled brightly as she tossed her golden locks.

"I feel beautiful as well as look it today," she announced happily "I feel like the sun, absolutely glowing!"

"Yeah, you're blinding," Mai smiled softly as she averted her eyes to Megumi's sudden boost in beauty.

Megumi suddenly narrowed her eyes at Mai suspiciously.

"What's wrong, Mai?" she asked slowly whilst stalking over to her and Mai averted her eyes gripping her coffee mug.

"Nothing…" she murmured.

Mai jumped as Megumi came very close to her and looked her in the eye. Megumi gasped, backing away with wide, alarmed eyes.

"What's wrong with your eyes?!" she shrieked at the slit pupils.

Mai grimaced.

"Sssomething to do with usss being potential goddesssesss…" she hissed and Megumi shrieked louder.

"Oh my God, what's wrong with your voice?!"

"Do you mind?" Riku snapped as she opened her bedroom door to glare at them "I'm trying to sleep."

Megumi and Mai stared at Riku blankly for a few moments before bursting out in laughter. Riku frowned at them, very cranky about being woken up.

"What?!" Riku barked viciously and Megumi just fell onto the sofas whilst Mai raised a steady hand to point to her head.

Riku lifted her hands and patted her head then paused. There was something on her head, two somethings in fact and they were…twitching. Riku scratched them and a purr rumbled in her throat after she felt a surge of satisfaction from it. The girls laughed harder until Rin's door creaked open where the laughs faded at her haggard appearance. Rin ignored them, scanning the room before pointing at her target, Megumi.

"You," she said, unaffected by Megumi's beauty, Riku's ears and Mai's eyes "Need make-up."

"No I don't," Megumi snorted "You need make-up."

"That's what I meant. Need it now."

The girls tried to get closer to Rin, wondering why she suddenly wanted make-up but she was covering the majority of her face with her hair so it was hard to determine what was wrong.

"I don't see why you need it," Riku shrugged.

"Are your eyesss different too?" Mai asked "They're not red anymore…"

Rin squeezed her eyes shut.

"Make-up. …And contacts!"

"What kind?" Megumi asked warily.

"Something to cover spots up," Rin answered.

"Aw, sweetie, I'd love too but my make-up is only tailored for me," Megumi sighed regretfully and wandered to the sofa near her room.

"I don't have any," Riku's cat ears flattened.

"Me neither," Mai shrugged "But when I wasss with Horusss, he ssshowed me thisss place where you can order and get whatever you want jussst next to the main entrance into the palace. I don't think you need to pay for anything, but they ssshould have make-up and contact lensssesss for you if you need them."

"It is really hard to understand you with all that hissing," Megumi commented with a raised eyebrow as Rin quickly made her way to the door.

"Is it easy to spot?" she asked quickly.

"You can't misssss it," Mai nodded.

The girls shrieked as Rin suddenly collapsed in front of the door and Rin hissed in pain, turning over to cradle her arm.

"Oh my goodness, Rin!" Megumi gasped as she covered her mouth "When did you get that bruise?!"

"Just now," Rin grunted as she got back up to her feet "I'm struggling to run, I even have to be careful about walking. My legs are so feeble and I'm bruising easily."

"You do not look well at all," Riku murmured.

"I don't feel good either," Rin sighed as she opened the door "I'll be right back."

"Wait, do you want…?"

But Rin was already gone.

"What's all the noise about?"

Everyone turned to see Ren, sopping wet.

"Girl, what happened to you?" Megumi wrinkled her nose at her salty scent and shuffled away from her.

"I woke up like this," Ren huffed as she pulled some seaweed out of her hair "My pillow is soaked through."

"Hey, girls!" Hana burst in with her arms full of fruit and vegetables.

"Where did you get all of that from?" Riku asked with a wrinkled nose as Megumi took an apple.

"Oh, there are lots of plants on my balcony," Hana replied as she went to the counter to put the food down, sorting into the different types of fruit and vegetables she had harvested "I was checking them for weeds this morning and they suddenly just came into bloom. Next thing I know, I'm harvesting tomatoes from what was once a sprout."

"Tastes good too," Megumi smiled and gave a thumbs up.

"Where's Rin?" Ren asked after checking Rin's room.

"Off to get make-up," Mai shrugged "Ssshe ssseemsss to have bruisssing on her face becaussse ssshe'sss been injuring herssself too easssily."

Hana shrieked at Mai's hissing, prompting the older girl to cover her mouth and blush.

"Oh yeah, Mai's going to be sounding like that for a while," Riku said with a bright smile.

Rin crouched by the counter, ignoring the person's concerns, adjusting to her new contacts. She had already applied the make-up and her eyes were stinging a little from the contact lenses she had just gotten in with the person by the counter's help.

"I'm fine," she hissed at the faceless man "Just give me a minute to adjust."

She pushed the tube of make-up into her pocket, blinking carefully as the lenses settled over her pupils. It was her first time using contacts and thanks to the quick crash course on putting them in, she had managed to get them in and possibly injure her eyes permanently. She took in deep breaths as she fully opened her eyes slowly and saw Jörmungandr in front of her, hands out and about to cup her cheeks.

"Hel?" he hissed and Rin pushed his hands away.

"I'm fine and my name is Rin," she said and Jörmungandr hissed before picking her up by the arms "Oi."

Jörmungandr turned and went through a couple of corridors before arriving in a common room with a pool, French windows leading to a garden, a sofa and two doors that probably led to two bedrooms, Fenrir's and Jörmungandr's. The whole place looked new and the only thing that might have been used was the pool, Jörmungandr's hands felt a bit cold and damp and his hair was dripping a little. Unless he had a shower or a bath… Jörmungandr paused by the sofa, his tongue flickering out slowly as he seemed to figure out how to put Rin down on the sofa. Rin glared at him as he looked at the sofa then at her legs, huffing before looking to the room with the wolf's head engraved in it.

"Fenrir!"

Fenrir came out, combing his hair and spotted Rin with a raised eyebrow. He then saw Jörmungandr and snorted with a smirk, making the younger brother hiss at him angrily.

"You still not sure on how you can use your arms?" he said amusedly before putting the comb away and walking over to them.

"Ssshut up, it wasss easssier for you becaussse you had limbsss to begin with!" Jörmungandr hissed at his older brother.

"Please make him put me down," Rin said calmly to the wolf.

Fenrir stood opposite them and frowned, examining the way Jörmungandr was holding Rin then looking at the sofa. He looked like he was deep in thought, his hands moving up and down like a seesaw as he took his time to analyse the situation.

"It was a long while ago since I last saw her being carried," he murmured as he moved his arms around Rin's body "Um…I can just about remember how they would carry her…oh, I don't know, I always carried her on my back."

"I don't want to be carried, I want to be put down," Rin said "I'm not weak nor am I a little doll. So, I beg of you, please. Put me down!"

"Like this…"

Rin felt Fenrir's arm loop around her knees then around her shoulders and she was being carried by him instead.

"Yes, Mor would always carry her like this," Fenrir nodded with a satisfied smile "Odin a little less gentle when he found her."

"Mor?" Rin repeated and wriggled "Put me down!"

"It meansss mother," Jörmungandr explained as he took a hold of her ankle and lifted it to look at her leg stretched out.

Rin tried to jerk her leg out of his grip but he was just too strong and she didn't have the strength that she once had to resist him. Fenrir's nose brushed against her cheek and she flinched away, his nose was damp and cold.

"She's wearing that skin coloured paste that covers spots," Fenrir said and Jörmungandr snapped his head up to attention.

Rin froze at the two stares she got from the human turned creatures.

"I'm not your sister," she said quickly.

"Why are you wearing the passste then?" Jörmungandr asked.

"There's quite a bit on you too," Fenrir raised an eyebrow.

"…Bruises. And a lady must make sure her appearance is impeccable."

"There's no shame in having bruises, you'll probably be covered with them by the end of the trials," Fenrir frowned "And how did you get the bruises on your face?"

"The stone floor helped when I fell over on these legs," Rin drawled as she nodded to her skinny legs "How can anyone use these kinds of limbs anyway?"

"Ssstill, that'sss no reassson to wear ssstupid make-up," Jörmungandr hissed in displeasure "Allow me…"

Rin pulled away as Jörmungandr's wet hand began getting closer to her face…

"You two!"

The brothers and Rin snapped their heads to the door when it slammed open, revealing a very irritated looking Thoth.

"And the perceived queen of Helheim," he said with a curt nod "You're late for the first trial. To the gardens, now."

Fenrir and Jörmungandr met each other's gazes before speeding out of the room.

"Put me down!"

The gods and girls were lined up before the beautiful garden, waiting for Rin, Jörmungandr and Fenrir. Ren admired the wonderful sight in front of her. A stone ledge separated them from the lush green grass that was stretched out until the horizon. Tall majestic trees were littered across the landscape, reminding the young girl about her grandma's orchard. Ren turned her head when Jörmungandr arrived and stood behind her whilst Fenrir carried Rin into the garden where the first trial was to take place. Hana and Megumi opened their mouths to order the wolf to put her down but were nudged by Poseidon and Ares sharply to keep their mouths shut. Thoth regarded the way Fenrir carefully sat Rin down on the stone ledge and cleared his throat.

"This first trial will test an important virtue that a goddess must possess to have her throne," he said as six pegasi landed behind him "Your task shall be to befriend these creatures. Take as much time as you need."

As he stepped aside, Riku, Hana and Megumi dashed forward to pet their pegasi. Poseidon, Thoth and Ptah let out a tired sigh as Riku and Hana scared off their pegasi. Meanwhile, Megumi's pegasus let Megumi hug its neck and Megumi beamed smugly at the other candidates.

"Show off," Hana snorted before folding her arms and watching her pegasus graze a few metres away from her.

She wandered over to a tree and touched it, making the blossoms rapidly bloom, fall and then apples began falling around her. She caught one and began creeping forward to the pegasus, offering it. Riku on the other hand was chasing her pegasus around like a maniac, making Ptah and Thoth exchange a look.

"I'm losing hope," Ptah said.

"Trust the Greeks to befriend them immediately, they practically live with them," Thoth muttered as he adjusted his monocle.

"Just remember that this is only the first trial," Ares said as he watched Megumi settled down with her pegasus under the shade of the nearest tree.

Ren and Mai were staring at their pegasi with calculating looks. Mai flickered her tongue out to taste the air and stepped forward carefully. Her pegasus lifted its head at her and she froze on the spot. They made eye contact and didn't move for a few minutes until the pegasus backed away, making Mai sigh softly. Ren carefully took a step forward next and her pegasus turned tail and flew off a couple of feet away.

"That isn't even fair," she huffed and placed her hands on her hips then looked at Rin.

The frail looking girl hadn't even lifted a finger, she was just lounging on the stone ledge that she had been put on, not even glancing at her pegasus. She drummed her skeletal fingers on the stone idly whilst Fenrir and Jörmungandr kept exchanging looks behind her. Ren looked at Rin's bony legs and winced.

"Rin, do you need help?" she asked and Rin looked at her lazily.

"Ren, I'm supposed to be the goddess of death," she explained "I'm supposed to be the queen of literal hell. Do you really think I have a chance?"

Ren frowned and folded her arms.

"There must be a reason why they assigned this particular task to us," she said.

Rin rolled her eyes and lay back, arms crossed behind her head to act as a pillow.

"You go and try to complete it," she said dismissively as a leaf landed on her forehead and shrivelled up "I couldn't care less."

Ren twisted her lips then turned her head sharply at Mai's sharp gasp. Riku had managed to pounce onto her pegasus and it was flying around in a panic. The poor girl lost grip eventually and Mai was quick to catch her. Ren shook her head with a giggle before glancing at Rin again.

"You sure?" she murmured.

"I'm pretty sure it would be cheating if you helped me befriend her," Rin nodded with a bored sigh "Don't mind me, just go and claim your position as a goddess."

"I'm pretty sure Megumi's won this round," Ren snorted.

"Isn't stopping the others," Rin yawned and closed her eyes.

She dozed off quickly and Ren sighed, pushing a wet strand of hair behind her ear then advancing carefully towards her pegasus. Hana and Megumi were sitting together, feeding and cuddling their pegasi with gleeful looks. Riku was still trying to force befriending her pegasus with the use of pouncing and Mai somehow had to botch her attempts to befriend her pegasus to save her from falling to her death. It was only the fifteenth time when Mai caught Riku that the cat girl had enough.

"I'm just going to watch it for now," she decided whilst lying on her front, legs in the air as she played with the grass "It's pretty."

Mai seemed somewhat relieved before returning to her own task of getting closer to her pegasus. It proved to be difficult because no matter how quiet she kept, it would always hear her and move away. Mai began to feel weary, most probably because she didn't get much sleep last night. But she persevered, no task should be left uncompleted.

Ren felt like she was making progress, she was slowly but steadily getting closer to her pegasus. It took a while but eventually she managed to pet her pegasus's neck. It froze for a while and she did the same thing but then it turned and nuzzled her hand. It accepted her. Ren broke out into a massive smile as she gently hugged the pegasus, enjoying the feel of its coat. It snorted when her wet hair was pressed against it and she pulled away, petting its nose gently. Ren then looked over to Rin who was still dozing, her pegasus grazing and still waiting for her to approach it. She grimaced softly before nudging her pegasus to follow her where they joined Megumi and Hana.

"Piece of cake," Megumi grinned as Ren picked up an apple to feed her pegasus with.

"Easy for you to say," Ren murmured "It took me ages and Mai seems to be having a hard time with…you know…"

She gestured to her face and the other girls nodded grimly.

"It's very unbecoming, I feel so sorry for her," Megumi sighed.

"Riku looks so adorable with her kitty ears though," Hana chimed and imitated a cat.

"Why thank you!" Riku grinned as she rode her pegasus over to them.

"Oh, you managed to befriend it!" Megumi said with a surprised look "I thought it would never happen with you bouncing all over the place."

"If you lot can do it then so can I!" Riku cheered and her pegasus reared up "We're going to go flying now!"

"Oh that sounds like fun," Hana perked up.

"Let's all go flying," Megumi proposed.

"Mm, nuh-uh," Ren shook her head "I prefer to keep my feet on the ground."

"Suit yourself," Hana shrugged as she and Megumi mounted their pegasi "Let's go!"

"Yeehaw!"

Ren smiled as they took off then saw Mai sleeping with her head on her pegasus. She smiled wider but it faded as she saw Rin still napping and her pegasus still far away from her. She sighed and shook her head.

"Oh Rin…"

She wanted to go over and encourage her again, however considering the situation she decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to interfere with the others and their trials. So she refrained herself from moving and hugged her pegasus gently.

"Wow, it's so beautiful!"

Riku, Hana and Megumi admired the view above the clouds whilst they circled around the palace that they had stayed the night in. The wind blew their hair back as their pegasi flew through the clouds and they spiralled through the sky gleefully.

"Imagine, we could do this as much as possible if we pass the trials!" Riku cheered.

"Probably not you," Hana said as she brushed her hair out of her face "Egyptians don't have pegasi."

"You'll be surrounded by cats though," Megumi shrugged "And in Egypt."

"Oh, I've always wanted to go to Egypt!" Riku squealed as she clapped her hands together "I would love to see the pyramids, see the tombs, oh! And go down the Nile!"

"Yeah but crocodiles," Megumi snorted and Riku winced.

"Meanwhile we could be in Olympus!" Hana cheered "Although we should be careful of Zeus."

"At least we won't be surrounded by doom and gloom," Megumi snorted "Sounds like Rin's headed for that. Not that it doesn't suit her."

"I don't know," Riku murmured "The way Ren described Helheim seems scary and cruel."

"And Ren sounds like she's going to be underwater for the rest of her life if she passes," Hana frowned "Norse mythology doesn't sound very nice."

"I know right?" Megumi scrunched her nose "I mean, a wolf, a snake and a goddess being siblings? What's up with that?"

"The gods don't seem to welcome them nicely either," Hana sighed "I suppose I can understand why, I wouldn't want to get cosy with a giant snake or a scary wolf."

"Especially the scary wolf," Riku shivered "Poor Rin, being carried around by that monster."

"I'm not sure what's worse," Megumi sighed "Having those hideous bruises, those ghastly legs or being carried around like a little pet by a horrible beast."

The girls shared a collective sigh before screaming when their pegasi suddenly began flying down and swooping on the fields.

"I'm hungry," Riku pouted as she and Mai rubbed their stomachs after a couple of hours since the trial started "I want chicken."

"It isss roughly lunch time now," Mai nodded "I sssaw a dining hall…"

"Let's go eat!" Hana said as she pumped her fists "Come on, Rin!"

"Not so fast."

The five girls looked up at Thoth who slammed his hand into the wall to catch their attention.

"Miss Rin won't be going anywhere until she completes the task."

The girls protested as Rin cracked an eye open to watch them.

"But it's lunchtime, she'll starve!" Megumi exclaimed "She's starving even now, look at her!"

"She can't leave or she'll be disqualified."

"Right, I'm off," Rin decided as she got to her feet.

Fenrir and Jörmungandr were quick to block her path, Jörmungandr hissing softly as a warning. Rin swayed slightly due to her fragility then glared at Thoth.

"Look, I'm not going to put up with being handicapped like this," she said venomously.

Thoth narrowed his eyes at her and Ren was quick to jog over.

"A moment please?" she murmured to the brothers and she pulled Rin aside "Rin, just do as he says and it'll be fine."

"Ren, you have no idea what it's like!" Rin hissed and pulled her arm out of her grip "Look what you've done to me, even though you were as gentle as a flower!"

Ren gasped at the mark she had made on Rin's bicep and stepped away holding her mouth.

"Oh my, I'm so sorry," she whispered.

"I don't want to put up with this, Ren, I'm basically someone who should be in one of those medical bubble things!" Rin growled "And if I do win these trials, I'll be locked up in Helheim and we both know how horrible Helheim is."

"But you would be queen, it won't be so bad," Ren tried to soothe her.

"I'll be all alone," Rin grumbled "And even if you die, there's a low chance that any of you will end up in Helheim, it's a place for sinners and cowards."

Ren opened her mouth then closed it again, shaking her head.

"I'm…not sure what to say…"

Rin rolled her eyes then Ren gently touched her shoulder.

"Rin, you might not even pass the trials," she whispered "Look at Megumi and Hana, one of them will probably take their position as a goddess instead."

"Just because they were the first ones to finish this particular task?"

Rin snorted.

"Doesn't mean they've got guaranteed places."

"Rin, it's not like you're really the goddess of death," Ren whispered "You've got nothing to hide. So please? Just continue these trials then we can go back home when the real goddess is chosen."

Rin sighed slowly before walking carefully back to the stone ledge. She glared at Ren before lying back down and closing her eyes. Ren huffed before shaking her head and joining the other girls.

"Let's go," she said and they reluctantly left.

Rin listened to their footsteps leave along with the gods. She glanced over at the brothers.

"You really want your sister back?" she raised an eyebrow "You're delusional enough to push her identity onto me?"

"We'll take every chance we can get," Fenrir replied with a grim look "to at least see our sister once again before Ragnarok."

"Our futuresss don't look so bright in that prophecy," Jörmungandr said glumly "It wasss a very violent ssseparation we had to go through and before…"

The brothers glanced at one another uncertainly.

"Before we meet our fates," Fenrir continued "it would settle us to have some closure to say goodbye and good luck to our only little sister."

"Well I'm not the goddess you're looking for," Rin said dismissively as she looked away.

Jörmungandr hissed before glaring into space. Fenrir sat back, folding his arms whilst eyeing the pegasus hungrily. His brother snorted as it prompted the poor winged horse to back off. Rin apparently didn't mind, just keeping her eyes closed and ignoring the fact that her potential brother was potentially jeopardizing her chances of finishing her task.

"Hungry?" Jörmungandr whispered.

"You have an abundant supply of food in the sea whilst I have to put up with the scraps they feed me and they barely feed us as humans so forgive me if I just want to sink my fangs into that supple hind," Fenrir snarled lowly "I was chained up no less. At least you could move around freely."

"Hmm, yesss but I've been getting harasssssed by that hammer wielding blockhead whilssst peacefully passssing my time," Jörmungandr hissed, his tongue waving.

"You'll have your revenge," Fenrir snorted "Don't worry."

Hana picked at her food whilst Riku and Mai eagerly dug into their steaks, apparently very hungry. She kept looking at the door, hoping for Rin to come through at any minute.

"She wasn't even trying, is she really just going to stay there forever?" she asked which had Ren shrugging.

"Think about it this way," she proposed as she pricked a roasted tomato with her fork "Would you want death to come towards you?"

"Not one chance, I'm too young to die," Megumi nodded before taking a bite out of her corn on the cob.

"And Rin really needsss to be careful with moving, remember," Mai said which had the other girls shivering "Oh get over it!"

"It's just so unexpected," Ren explained "You hissing is the last thing I expect when talking to you."

Mai flicked her forked tongue at her balefully as Riku paused in her eating, looking up at the other girls.

"Should we go back and cheer her on after we're done eating?" she asked.

"I wouldn't."

Poseidon and Ares came over with their plates of food, sitting next to the girls.

"It can be tricky to befriend pegasi," Ares explained "It looks like your friend just has a stubborn one."

"Rin hasn't even lifted a finger, maybe the pegasus just doesn't want to be friends?" Hana suggested.

"Now, now," Poseidon held up a finger "If my gloomy brother, the God of the Underworld, can have his own loyal pet, then I'm sure the perceived queen of Helheim will be able to befriend a jittery pegasus."

"Yes but there's a difference between horses and dogs," Ren commented with a raised eyebrow.

"Why are we even waiting for her to finish?" Megumi asked "I befriended my pegasus first, I win, can't we just get over it?"

Both gods frowned at this and Ren cleared her throat.

"Megumi," she said tentatively "I don't think the aim of the trial was to be the first to befriend a pegasus."

Megumi frowned as Poseidon nodded.

"It was to test a virtue," he explained "Thoth never said anything about a race."

"Virtue?" Hana repeated as she perked up "Like brains? I know I had to use mine to get to my pegasus."

"We aren't at liberty to say," Ares shrugged as he ate his grapes.

"If it isss intelligence then Rin'sss going to need a lot of it," Mai sighed as she sipped her water.

Rin glared as the apple in her hand shrivelled and began rotting away and threw it aside. Her gloves were still in her room so everything she touched withered away. Her stomach was protesting loudly, it wanted food. She couldn't leave the garden to go and get them and she couldn't go to get food that wouldn't rot at her touch and the only food available was the apples that Hana had grown. Rin paused and gave a glance towards the brothers. …Or just Fenrir, Jörmungandr was gone. Fenrir tilted his head at her and Rin sat up. He didn't even look away as she took her shirt off, keeping it around her wrists so her hands were covered.

"It is rude to stare," she said as she managed to pick up an apple without killing it and took a large bite.

"You're supposed to be my sister, I'm just a wolf and there's not much to see," Fenrir shrugged.

"A fair bit of mythology includes bestiality and incest," Rin raised an eyebrow.

Fenrir smirked cheekily.

"You want me to leer?" he asked.

"I didn't say anything about wanting anything," Rin sneered.

Jörmungandr chose to come into the garden at that moment with a basket of golden apples and hissed displeasingly.

"Put your ssshirt back on!" he scolded her whilst approaching the semi-nude girl.

"I'm hungry and everything that I touch dies," Rin snorted as she took another bite "Plus your brother says that there's nothing to see."

Jörmungandr batted her apple away, placed the basket down and swiftly pulled her shirt back over her head to cover her chest.

"The godsss, essspecially the Greek godsss, are lecherousss," he hissed as Rin glared at him.

He offered the golden apples to her.

"Thessse won't die," he promised her "Try."

Rin snorted and grabbed an apple, expecting it to start rotting…but it still remained its shiny golden colour. She blinked in surprise, much to Jörmungandr's enjoyment and gingerly took a bite, glaring at the entertained hiss. Jörmungandr flicked his tongue at her glare as she lay back down, still eating. The snake brother retreated to sit with Fenrir. Rin was in the midst of her second bite when her pegasus made a snorting sound. She turned to look at the beautiful white winged horse, her eyes trained on her. Specifically the shiny apple in her hand. Hadn't she eaten a couple of Hana's apples? Rin even left a pile for her. But it was still there and all Rin remembered of the pegasus's movements was her just…sunbathing and walking around the trees a little bit. Rin shrugged as she dipped into the basket and threw a golden apple at her. The pegasus eagerly caught it and ate it happily.

"Fussy eater, huh?" Rin snorted as she gobbled it up and pricked her ears at her again.

Rin couldn't help but smile a little wryly at the spectacle as she picked up another apple and tossed it to the pegasus with as much strength as she could muster. She neighed happily as she jumped to snap up the apple once more, shaking her mane out and snorting expectantly for another apple to be tossed over to her. Rin weighed a particular heavy apple in her hand and swung it at the pegasus, raising an eyebrow as she jumped to catch it then trot around happily, as if she'd won a prize.

"Showy, aren't you?" she commented before the apple was consumed.

So it became a little game between them. Jörmungandr went back and forth with baskets and more baskets of golden apples much to Fenrir's and Rin's amusement because this pegasus's appetite seemed insatiable. Rin even managed to do some trick shots, although a bit awkward with the little strength she had in her arms and in her sitting position. The sun began to set when the pegasus finally settled down and began sunbathing in the sunset to which Rin flopped back down into a lying position, exhausted. Throwing an arm over her eyes, she began to drift off to sleep.

"We're going to be here all night," Fenrir huffed and folded his arms "Jö, could you go to Odin and ask him if I can go into my original form? It's getting cold and I miss my fur."

Jörmungandr nodded and left the garden.

"Rin's not done yet?" Riku whined and flattened her ears "But it's bedtime."

"It might take all night," Ptah said glumly as he picked up the basket of kittens Riku had been cooing over.

"Oh, not even Rin can spend that long finishing something," Megumi snorted as she tossed a grape into her mouth.

"Ares, you're required in the garden," Thoth said as he walked into the room where they were all gathered "Odin has granted permission for Fenrir to turn into his beast form temporarily."

"Can't he summon one of his own gods to keep an eye on him?" Ares sneered.

"I share your frustration, however you were selected to help keep an eye on the beasts and not Hephaestus."

Ares snorted as he rose from his place, brushing past Thoth on the way out.

"Hephaestus?" Megumi inquired with a frown.

"The lame and deformed blacksmith of the Greek gods," Ren supplied then smirked "Married to Aphrodite."

Megumi dropped her grapes in horror as Riku and Hana burst out into fits of giggles.

"Ssstill want to be a goddesss?" Mai hissed with a smirk.

Ptah smiled as Riku began rolling around the floor, howling in pure bliss. Poseidon chortled before clearing his throat.

"He's not so bad," he tried defending him "It's what's on the inside that counts and he is a skilled blacksmith."

"But surely, I deserve better!" Megumi demanded "I don't want to be married to a deformed god!"

Poseidon's smile wavered and he bowed his head a little.

"Don't worry about that, the marriage between them fell apart," he explained and Megumi looked up at him with narrowed eyes "In fact, Aphrodite disappeared shortly after Hephaestus caught her and Ares together and humiliated them in front of the Olympians."

"Really?" Megumi looked torn, she wasn't sure whether to be embarrassed or relieved.

"We all thought she was just having a temper tantrum but when Eros reported that she had been neglecting her duties, we tried to look for her. But like Demeter, she was gone, hiding amongst the mortals."

"We think Bastet disappeared because she got lost," Ptah murmured "She wandered a lot and when she didn't appear for the next few days, we found that she was most probably lost amongst the mortals."

"Wadjet was easy to fade into the background, she's been gone for the longest," Horus huffed "I worry."

"At least she can take care of herself," Ptah snorted.

"What about Demeter?" Hana asked as she sat up and Poseidon frowned.

"She's an unusual one," the god of the sea whistled "It wasn't long after Hades married Persephone, or Kore, however you want to name her. Ever since her mother disappeared, she's been picking up the slack."

Ren blinked as she tilted her head and the other gods looked at her with regretful shrugs.

"We're not sure about the Norse goddesses," Ptah explained.

"You might want to ask the brothers about them," Horus suggested.

"I don't know, they seem a bit…unfriendly," Riku winced.

"Beasts normally are," Poseidon agreed "Especially those who enjoy killing."

"I just want to know how Hel became missing if she was meant to be locked up in Helheim," Ren murmured.

"It was right after I sentenced her to her prison."

Heads turned as Odin walked in with a sombre look.

"She was still a child and frail to the point that we didn't even need to chain her to keep her in one place," he explained as the gods respectively bowed to him "On the way to Helheim, she somehow managed to escape into the world of mortals."

"Why was she sentenced?" Hana asked with a frown "Did she do something wrong?"

Odin shook his head dismissively.

"It's a matter about her parentage," he explained "and her role in Ragnarok. The wise thing to do with her is to separate her and her brothers in different realms."

"To separate a family by imprisoning them is a bit harsh," Ren commented.

"It's their father's fault. He was warned not to have anything to do with their mother and he knew just what his brood would result in."

"You can't jussst do that," Mai hissed.

"Don't question me," Odin's voice turned dark and the girls flinched.

"But if you want to separate the siblings, you could just leave Hel in the realm of mortals," Megumi raised an eyebrow.

"He can't do that, Meg," Ren said quickly as Odin's aura darkened a little "The middle brother who's a snake resides in the realm of mortals already so that's not separating them."

"She is also needed to rule over Helheim," Odin said shortly before turning away, about to leave.

"If I may," Ren spoke up to stop him in his step "what happened to Ran?"

Odin hesitated as he glanced over his shoulder.

"Who knows?" he replied "She kept to herself most of the time. Jörmungandr never took notice of her so we didn't realise that she was gone until I realised she hadn't come to Asgard after I summoned her."

He waved his hand dismissively before leaving the room.

Ares watched as the sun completely disappeared over the horizon and Fenrir shivered in his wolf form, his yellow eyes trained on Rin who didn't seem to mind the cold, she was still napping away on her stone ledge. A snort caught the attention of both Ares and Fenrir. The pegasus had begun to move. She was hesitant at first but she was steadily moving over to Rin. Rin seemed to be in too deep a sleep to notice as she continued to snooze away. It wasn't long until the pegasus settled herself by Rin's head, gently grabbed the scruff of her shirt and lifted Rin up to lean her head against her body.

"Do you mind?" Rin snarled as she glared up at the pegasus.

The pegasus snorted and wrapped a wing around her body. Rin shrugged and closed her eyes to go back to sleep. Ares let out a sigh of relief whilst Fenrir wagged his tail happily. At least they won't have to wait for the rest of this chilling night, Ares should go and inform Thoth. He and Fenrir exchanged a look. Ares couldn't leave until either Fenrir reverted back to human form or come with him to inform Thoth that Rin had finished the task and Fenrir didn't look like he was going to do either. With a snarl, he stood, paced back and forth as Fenrir lay his head in between his paws, staying put stubbornly. Ares couldn't trust a beast to be alone, he might eat the pegasus whole and cause havoc, perhaps even snatch Rin away and attempt to escape Asgard and his fate. He suddenly stopped and felt his belt.

The girls jumped as a horn echoed throughout Asgard.

"What was that?!" Ren exclaimed.

"It came from the garden…" Riku whimpered sleepily as she swayed back and forth, having been woken up by the horn.

Poseidon was the first out of the room, heading towards the garden with his trident at hand.

"Ares, what is it?!" he demanded as Odin, Thoth and Jörmungandr entered the garden at the same time with him.

Ares gave an apologetic shrug.

"He wouldn't move or transform back, I didn't know how else to get your attention," he explained as the girls arrived at the garden, shaken up and watching the exchange between the gods.

"And why did you need to get our attention?" Thoth asked with folded arms.

Fenrir growled as Jörmungandr hissed happily. Everyone turned their heads and saw Rin with her pegasus glaring daggers at Ares, Rin covering her ears.

"Rin managed to befriend the pegasus!" Hana squealed and clapped her hands.

Thoth adjusted his monocle whilst giving Rin a calculating look.

"Well done, Miss Rin," he drawled "We admire your…patience."

Rin's heart leapt as she heard his tone and struggled to her feet. But she lost balance due to the combination of lying down for so long and her lack of strength and fell into Fenrir's awaiting arms.

"Tomorrow afternoon will be the next time we gather for the second task," Thoth announced then turned to Ares "And no more false alarms."

"I'm not losing a hand to drag beasts around," Ares sneered.

Fenrir and Jörmungandr snarled at him as they began leaving the garden, Rin still in Fenrir's arms. Their gazes wavered when they saw Odin and they disappeared down the corridors.

"Well thank goodness that's finally over," Megumi sighed as she tossed her blonde hair whilst lounging in the little common room.

"I'm happy that Rin managed to befriend her pegasus, even in her situation," Ren smiled happily.

"Ssshe perssservered," Mai nodded as Riku fell asleep beside her "I ressspect that."

"How did she even do it anyway?" Megumi frowned.

"I suppose she just let it come to her," Ren shrugged "Probably the only way for her to befriend it because she couldn't run and jump like little Riku over here."

"Indeed," Mai smirked as she tickled Riku's ears.

"I wonder if she managed to eat in the end," Hana huffed "I made sure to leave plenty of apples for her."

"I don't think Rin likes apples much," Ren frowned "There was still a bit of a pile, wasn't there?"

"Not to mention the rotten apples around her," Megumi wrinkled her nose "Urgh! How ghastly!"

"Must be that goddess ability of death kicking in," Hana sighed "She must have tried eating the apples but they began rotting away in her hands."

"If that isss the cassse then maybe ssshe hasssn't had anything to eat all day," Mai hissed with concern.

"I don't think we ought to worry too much," Ren said "I saw baskets, maybe the brothers got her some food that didn't rot."

"As if they would know what food Rin would like," Megumi sighed as she lay herself out on the sofa.

"Well if she did eat, it isn't going to show on her body," Hana sagged her shoulders "Have you seen her feet? She might as well be a skeleton."

"She's gotten new bruises as well," Ren grimaced "Has anyone else had trouble with their changes? My clothes are starting to get a little stiff with the salt…"

"Me?" Megumi snorted "Trouble with my changes? As if."

The room seemed to get a little brighter as she tossed her hair with her nose up in the air.

"It'sss ssstill a little ssstrange to have thisss tongue," Mai hissed as she waved her forked tongue out "It will take a little more time to get usssed to. And Riku looksss like ssshe needsss more sssleep, maybe ssshe isss adopting the characterisssicsss of a cat."

"No problems with me," Hana grinned happily "Lots and lots of food to go around."

"Maybe but there'sss no meat," Mai hissed and rolled her eyes.

"You need your vegetables to grow up," Hana sniffed.

Mai responded by standing tall and towering over Hana who whimpered.

"Then maybe again, protein is mainly found in meat," she squeaked and Mai smirked.

Ren yanwed loudly, blinking her eyes slowly.

"I'm off to bed then," she announced and stood up "See you ladies tomorrow."

The girls collectively nodded as she retreated into her bedroom.

"We ssshould follow her example," Mai suggested as she picked Riku up "Goodnight."

Megumi rose and stretched her arms out with a loud yawn.

"Well, a little beauty sleep will benefit everyone," she sighed "Well, most people obviously. Goodnight, Hana dear."

"Night…"

Hana watched Megumi disappear into the bedroom and looked down at her hands, fiddling with her fingers.

"Rin can be beautiful," she murmured and glanced at Rin's bedroom.

She reached for some olives from the bowls on the counter and popped a couple in her mouth, staring into space abesnet-mindedly.

Rin's contacts were set aside in the cupboards at her sink along with her tube of face make-up. The water dripped off her face as she looked at her reflection, glaring at her changed appearance.

"Out of all the goddesses," she muttered sullenly whilst brushing her hair back visibly wincing when she could see the bones in her arms.

She managed to stumble over to her bed and bring the warm blanket over her body. Before lying down, however, she began to poke her body. She was convinced that she'd gotten so thin that she could feel every bone possible. Her ribs looked like they were trying to break through her skin and her neck felt uncomfortable with the skin clinging onto her skeleton. Her legs were the worst part of her body, it looked like she didn't have calves or thighs anymore. Her feet didn't look pretty either, bones poking out through her skin weren't attractive. Her clothes were sagging around her, she might have to go down to that shop again for better fitting clothes. Maybe one of the girls could give her something.

Rin lay her head on the pillows but didn't fall asleep immediately, she had been sleeping for most of the day after all. She couldn't help but feel a little jealous, the other girls were so much better off. Megumi was parading around with her heightened beauty, Hana was growing enough food for the starving children in Africa, Mai wasn't bothered about her changed appearance because at least she could walk properly, Riku was ecstatic with her feline features and Ren was just handling her seaweed hair problem. Meanwhile here she was, looking like literal death. Rin lifted her pendent to look at it with disdain. But her anger faded away quickly. She always knew that life had never been fair.

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