Dark Souls: The Princess and I

Chapter 18 - The Games of Gods

Chapter 18

The Games of Gods

Sat upon a mattress of clouds held up by the bed frame of golden sun and dressed in a light dress of white, the room Orlai occupied was the size of a small house. Paintings of varying shapes, sizes, and scenes adorned the walls all masterpieces that attracted the eye with their dazzling colors and painfully detailed depictions of large beasts and rising suns. Sizeable cabinets filled with exotic silk clothing and glittering accessories of all kinds between each painting made from rich mahogany. The walls and floor glossy marble stone each tile of the floor was etched with an image of the sun, ceiling decorated in fluffy clouds, walls giving life to mountainous crags of trees and snow, to be within such a room of royalty, wealth, and artistry would fill any soul with invigorating awe and inquisitive wonder.

Shrouded by thunderclouds of fury Orlai glared out an open window showcasing a fantastical city of gold and white, bright blue sky and blazing sun above the tall skyscrapers as warm, fresh wind blew in gently from the open window. Mythical winged horses and beasts of all sizes and shapes pulled lustrous carriages of exquisite design, Orlai’s eyes glimpsing finely dressed people of glittering sexual appeal within. Guards armored in shining armor of gold sun flew in formations between the traffic and buildings on white feathered wings carrying weapons of flame. On the streets below merchants called out to passing Gods and Goddesses holding aloft wares so gem-encrusted Orlai could see the glints from ten stories up, Anor Londo paled in comparison to this hold of the Gods but nothing shocked her more than what had brought her here.

Orlai was a Goddess, a mighty being of divine unstoppable wrath whom the masses of man worshipped in their great cathedrals of stone. Recalling the cosmic strength, infinite power, and euphoric release that had wracked her body she shivered, limbs tingling in remembrance of the stimulation. Even the city of legends and Gods before her seemed bland and unimpressive when compared to the experience of her own ascendance, though recalling the discovery of her origins brought forth deep sorrow and furious rage. Orlai fell back on the bed, hugging herself tightly and fighting the tears that threatened to flow.

A body clad in black steel, pale face carved from snowy white marble and scarred by the black touch of flame, one eye burned away leaving the other to stare blankly at the sky, lifeless. Once that eye of stony brown reflected passionate emotion, deep sadness and worry coexisting with affection and loyalty, and instead a sightless gray ball of glass clouded by the fog of death had taken its place. The whole encounter had been so sudden and abrupt Orlai could barely make sense of it all. One moment they were walking across a grand bridge through the lustrous city of Anor Londo chatting like normal, the next he laid dead at her feet from an angel come from the heavens themselves and she, caught in the rage of grief, became a furious Goddess swathed in flames of annihilation. How had she come to this place, how was she a Goddess, what was this city of Gods and why, or how, did it exist? Questions clamored loudly for answers, no amount of logical thought and conjecture on her part formulating a plausible response, unable to recall much other than beheading the angel that had killed the man in black, somehow traveling here with a means lost to her, and then encountering the larger-than-life giant with white glowing eyes who called himself her father and King of the Gods. Thrown into this bedroom after somehow reverting back to normal, if this human body was normal for her, Orlai had been left alone in the grand room of wealth and power to stew in the confusing maelstrom wreaking havoc on her mind.

Hand to forehead Orlai sifted through the jumbled mess of thought rattling between her ears, one set her own, the other from some girl named Astra. The new memories, those able to be made sense of, held few answers but could affirm that the man with the glowing eyes and hair of flame was in fact her father.

Resembling Orlai perfectly Astra, and in turn Orlai, was a Goddess, obviously, but one held above the rest of the other Gods and Goddesses due to the title “Daughter of Flame” and treated like a princess because of it. What the title stood for Orlai could not discern, the dream she’d experienced after nearly dying to the Stray demon resurfacing instead,

White clouds floated, a warm breeze swirling her hair, the child floated through a bright blue sky looking down at the world far below from a shimmering palace of golden sunlight. A grand mountain range stretched beneath host to a shining city of white and gold…

Brave and bright, the people walked the streets of the city and towns proudly singing the praises of the land of prosperity and strength, the land of Lordran.

The child wished to join them…

Daughter of the Flame, boomed the commanding tone of a woman, you forget yourself. Hands wrapped about her, pulling her back to the clouds…

The child cried out and struggled against the hands, begging to join the people…

Daughter of the Flame, you must show restraint. Return to your stead. The child had grown tired of looking on from above. She wanted to join those she had watched over for so long, why was it she had to sit in a golden cage so others may live? What made her happiness so irrelevant when compared to theirs? You forget yourself

The dream faded, fingers digging into her head Orlai fought to bring the elusive dream back to no avail. Roaring in anger Orlai drove a fist into one of the bedposts, denting it badly from the strength of the blow. Jumping off the bed, a blaze of malice alight in her heart, Orlai slammed a shoulder into the wooden double doors trimmed by silver metalworking she screamed,

“LET ME OUT!” Seizing a masterfully crafted and decorated chair, intricate designs of angels and birds carved delicately across its legs and back, “I’LL KILL ALL OF YOU! COME AND FIGHT ME COWARDS!” The chair splintered across the door, “COME ON!” Raising a bare foot kicked at the door with the bottom of her heel, “OPEN,” Another shoulder charge, “THIS,” A second chair splintering across the solid wood, “FUCKING,” Fists pounding furiously, “DOOR!” Gasping for air, shoulders heaving, Orlai fell against the door pressing the top of her head to the scarred wood, arms braced against it. Emotion too great to remain bottled up and hidden away, a flood of tears burst forth raining down to the splinters of wood and white tiles etched with the image of a sun.

The man in black was dead. Barely a month she’d known him, the man of black steel, marble skin and brown eyes who hardly spoke, answering any question posed with a shrug or nod, never capable of holding a conversation it always seemed as if he ignored every word spoken to him and it drove Orlai insane. Yet never once could she think of a time he was not there when she needed him, never once had he betray or done her wrong, never once had he left her stranded. Despite the unwelcoming and deadly exterior of black metal a gentle man looked back those stony brown eyes beneath the black cowl. Fingernails digging into the door Orlai’s teeth ground loudly, swearing to avenge him even if the price was so steep it demanded her life for his. Standing, shoulders square and jaw firmly set Orlai glared at the door, stepping back to brace for another go at breaking it down,

“Aren’t you tired of that?” She froze, head turning slowly to a young man who looked in the age range of twenty five or so, on the bed watching her curiously with bright eyes of crimson. Curtains of silver hair flowing in the wind, brow raised high above those eyes of crimson upon a beautiful and sloping face, smooth chin and jaw almost a perfect “V” a pair of pointed ears poked out from the silver curtain of hair. Orlai didn’t recognize him, “Astra?” She twitched in disgust as his soft wavering voice lovingly tickled her ears,

“Who the hell’re you?” She snarled back, snatching up a chair leg and holding it at the ready, “I’ll paint these walls with your brains if you don’t talk ya limp-dicked pretty boy.” The man recoiled, eyes widening,

“Astra calm down it-!”

"SEBASTION!” The two jumped in surprise at the loud boom of the King’s voice as he walked into the room, thankfully no longer the massive giant Orlai had encountered from before, standing at seven feet with bulging muscles, flaming short hair, and glowing eyes of white. Undaunted, Orlai wasted no time swinging the chair leg at his stomach. The King caught her wrist with an iron grip, white glowing eyes staring emotionlessly down into hers, “You have grown even more troublesome since your time away, daughter.” He spat, a blatant warning in his voice,

“Fuck off.” She spat, aiming a kick at his groin when invisible bindings wrapped around her, mouth snapping shut. Orlai growled in pain through closed lips as the King grabbed her hair and dragged her to a nearby chair, dropping her roughly into it, pulling up a second for himself,

“Leave us.” He growled, fixed on Orlai. Sebastian nodded quickly and hurried out of the room, closing the doors behind him. The King regarded Orlai inquisitively as she struggled against the unseen force keeping restraining her, glaring lightning bolts out her eyes and into his, “I can see you are angry with me, Astra, and since I care little for this tantrum I will not have you interrupt me with pointless crying and whining. I will ask you a question and you will give me an answer, and then I, as a kind and understanding King and father, will allow you to ask me a question which I will answer. Am I understood?” She nodded, “Good.” He said warmly, arms spreading with welcome, “Now,” His voice rumbled, sitting forward putting his hands together, “What do you remember about yourself?” She felt the pressure on her jaw release,

“I fucked your mom.” A brick of force slammed into her head

“Wrong.” Orlai grinned back defiantly into his burning eyes, warm liquid dribbling down the side of her head, “Try again.” He growled,

“You.” Orlai spat,

“Me? What about me?”

“I thought it’d be obvious.”

“What would be obvious?” He grunted, eyes narrowing suspiciously,

" That you want it in the a-.” She guffawed as his fist mercilessly drilled into her stomach, out of the chair and into the air to hammer her ferociously against the white wall carved with mountainous crags of trees and snow. Blood trickled down her back as she gasped for air,

"TWO CHOICES,” His voice boomed, face inches from her own and warped with dark fury, “EASY WAY," He jerked a thumb at the chair, ”HARD WAY." Spinning he hurled her across the room.

Orlai’s eyes opened groggily, vision blurry she sat in the same chair as before, the King planted in his own across from her. Orlai could feel warm blood on her skin, the white dress she wore stained red,

“Speak.” The King growled dangerously, “What do you remember, Astra?”

“Nothing.” Orlai blinked in surprise as her voice spoke without consent,

“Good,” He nodded, smiling, “The charm is in effect.” Orlai’s mouth snapped shut before she could respond and hissed through clenched teeth, fighting to break free, “Who altered your memories and personality?” Orlai fought to stay silent, jaw cracking, “Speak.” He ordered,

“I don’t know.” Orlai fought even more vigorously fueling the effort with her rage,

“Good girl.” He chuckled with infuriating pleasure, “Have you remembered who you are, the duty that calls you? Have you unlocked the Gift of the Flame?” Orlai shot a glare at him, a slight curiosity flaring,

“No.” She growled and the King’s shoulders drooped, head shaking sadly,

“Then you do not know?” He sighed with an indifferent shrug and stood, “Then there is no point. I shall return later.”

“Wait!” Orlai barked angrily, “What are you talking about?! What’s ‘the Gift of the Flame?’” Pausing he turned to grin knowingly at her,

“You wish to know?” Orlai bit her lip, forcing herself to nod stiffly, not the time to let pride and anger rule. Firmly fixing the thought of revenge in mind Orlai secured a tight leash around her emotions, “My, my, the lioness has learned manners.” He muttered in amazement, watching as she composed herself, “We should have let you escape sooner.” Orlai’s eyes narrowed,

“Escape?”

“Indeed,” He chuckled, sitting back down in his chair with a satisfied sigh, “As my daughter you were quite the feisty one. Of course you still are.” Laughing boisterously at his own joke the King wiped a tear from his eye, Orlai swallowing several insults, “But yes you escaped.”

“How?”

“How?” He mimicked her voice, bellowing even more laughter Orlai felt nails of rage prodding as her hands itched to rip the bastard apart, “I’d like to ask you the same question!” Leaning forward he licked his lips, “How did you escape, I wonder?” Orlai shrank back in the chair, dark flecks floating in those eyes of white, lips twisted in a cruel grin as he studied her hungrily, “What could you have possibly done to escape our strongest hold, the Chosen’s Prison?”

“What did you say?!” Orlai blurted, jumping in the chair, “What do you mean ’The Chosen’s Prison?!” The King studied her, smiling slyly,

“Why, what do you think my dear? It is where we keep him when his services are not needed.”

“Services,” Orlai asked hesitantly, eyes narrowing, “What services?”

“I’d say it would be quite boring to be Gods if there were none one to call us such, now wouldn’t it?” A shadow crossing his face, the King smiled ruthlessly, “I’m sure you know the duty of the Chosen Undead, link the fire and light the flame anew to renew the Flame of the world? Consider him a glorified custodian of our little Game. Each time the flame dies out, mankind with it, the Game starts over. The board is wiped, players returned to their starting positions, and we begin play until the process repeats. It’s quite the endeavor actually, many of the lesser Gods and deities viewing it as entertainment. Some Games have been quite violent and left quite the infamous history, but all have been thoroughly enjoyed by both players and spectators. There are rules of course, no Gods may venture to the mortal plane or allow mortals into ours, and no God may kill another God, as well as other rules. These make the Game fair, a sport of sorts if you will.” Orlai stared at him, mind blank.

So everything, all the pain, suffering, death, horrors, monsters, demons, Lord Souls, Bonfires, the Fire, Lordran, the people, the history, the lands, the cities, the towns, the dragons, the Lordvessel, the Chosen Undead, everything was just a playground for the Gods, sport? The man in black had, for centuries upon infinite centuries, drove himself through so much blood and agony time and time again believing he carried the great duty of protecting the world, allowing life to go on, when in reality it was as simple as letting the Gods stay Gods and keeping them entertained. Orlai too stupefied to give a clever retort,

“Why…?” She asked in a shocked whisper,

“That is unimportant, my daughter, what is important is that you realize your full power of the Flame, which is how we found you in that awful land in the first place. When all of us suddenly felt such a great power below in the mortal plane we thought-.” He stopped, expression flashing from jovial conversation to dark foreboding for the smallest instant, “I assume you have not heard the prophecy of the Children?” He mused, returning to the smiling King. Orlai shook her head slowly, mind barely keeping pace with the conversation as she tried to comprehend that these Gods, whom had the power to raise such great cities and wield fantastic powers, were content with just playing War for eternity, humanity their pieces.

The thought blew her mind.

How could these Gods be so nonchalant about toying with mankind so carelessly? What heartless deities were they that they could treat the rise and fall of man, millions dying in each process, as a board game or sport? Every man, woman, and child they manipulated had dreams, emotions, a life, each their own singular individual yet these Gods considered them nothing more than a Great Game? And the man in black, what made him worthy of such damnation as revitalizing the massive playground of the Gods simply for their prolonged amusement? Surely nothing could merit such a sentence and no sane man or God would volunteer for such a fate,

“Why him?” Orlai asked,

“Hm?” The King hummed raising an eyebrow, head cocked to one side curiously,

“Why choose him to be the Chosen Undead, why force only him to endlessly light the flame?” The King, to her boundless shock and rage, shrugged,

“I cannot recall if I am to be frank with you my sweet. He is just so effective why replace him?” Speechless, Orlai’s jaw flapped in disbelief,

“But-.”

“Goodness,” Sighed the King, “Enough with the Chosen he is a worthless existence meant only to serve a purpose, one that is now no longer needed thanks to you.” Orlai froze,

“Thanks… to me?”

“Why yes, my beautiful daughter,” He replied, head bobbing happily, “Now that you have returned and shown your ascendance to godhood we can finally dispose of him.”

“I… you….” The words echoed in her mind hollowly, the voice of her conscience hissing accusations, “You killed him… because of me?” She whispered, icy horror slowly consuming her,

“Correct.” He answered bluntly, head dipping in a curt nod. Orlai sat in her chair feeling as if a sledge hammer had hit her in the gut. It was all her fault, the knowledge that she had put him through centuries of abuse only to be discarded like a broken tool once she reached godhood wounded her more gravely than all of the injuries she’d been dealt over her adventure with him combined. A mountain of regret and guilt crushing her, darkness took hold of Orlai’s heart, an empty hollow. Orlai faded into the void, the full realization of her sins an all-consuming judgment brought by her own self-loathing, “Of course, he isn’t dead.” It all vanished, Orlai leaping out of the chair in shock,

“WHAT?!” She screeched, the King frowning at her he raised an eyebrow in irritation,

“Whatever could it be this time?”

“HE’S NOT DEAD?!” Orlai blasted, hands on her head, “THE CHOSEN ISN’T DEAD?!” The King scoffed in disgust, eyes closed as he shook his head sadly,

“Unfortunately no that cockroach is immortal and if I killed him he’d only return to the Bonfires, he’s been sealed away in a place far from the two worlds of God and man.” Stifling a sigh of relief Orlai wiped all emotion from her face, mind sharp as a knife. The man in black was alive and, clutching to that single fact, Orlai swore she would find the man in black, rescue him from whatever seal he had been trapped in, and from there on improvise. At this very moment she needed to gather whatever information she could about both him and her, and whatever else she could learn about these Gods. Sitting back down in the chair, free of her bonds for some reason, Orlai painted an expression of hate upon her face,

“Is he in the Chosen’s Prison?” She growled. The King, eyes slowly opening, looked upon Orlai with smoldering anger,

“Why,” He began, voice dark with suspicion, “Would my beautiful daughter want to know that?” Orlai scrambled through her mind, searching for a retort,

“You mentioned you serve purpose what is it and what is mine?” The King grinned brightly and laughed,

“Ah, now this is conversation I enjoy, the divine duty of the Gods!” His chest swelled proudly, Orlai heaving a mental sigh of relief, “As King and Queen of the Gods your mother and I watch over the world of man, occasionally appearing, not directly mind you we follow the rules of the Game fair and square,” He added stoutly, “We honor the agreements of the Game, anyhow we occasionally appear to assist in mortal matters or provide a slight push when needed.” He raised an open hand, slowly sweeping it through the air dramatically, “We are worshipped by countless, sacrifices and offerings made daily to us in the thousands, that is when the world isn’t a lifeless wasteland as it is now.” He laughed, waving a hand at her, “And you, my beautiful daughter, will be our successor as the Daughter of Flame. However,” He raised a finger smiling brightly, “You, my beautiful daughter, have a different future.” With that he stood, bouncing a fist on his chest and clearing his throat to recite, in a voice of grand importance and Godly declaration,

"There is a Prophecy, written upon the great gates of Astora the Bright to the land of Gods atop the stairway to heaven, words spoken by Astora himself before his honorable sacrifice to rise above all, forever burning gloriously in the sky high.

Immortal and invincible, the Child of Flame, Ruler of Gods, is born.

Great and true, banishing the Dark with a great blaze of courageous glory, the Child of Flame gives voice to hymns of victory, battling against the Dark to head the Sunlight Knights, grossly incandescent warriors of Flame. Just and bright, the Child of Flame stands above all Gods, beasts, and men, lighting the torch of truth the Child of Flame gives cause to the lost and grants divine obliteration to deplorable minions of Dark. Carried by wings of flame, planting the Bonfires of life, the Child of Flame and its Sunlight Knights, in victory, will roar,

The Dark, it is no more!

Immortal and invincible, the Child of Dark, Lord of the Abyss, is reborn.

Humble and confused, the Child of Dark cries tears of black plague, each tainting the world with obsidian poison as those beneath the banner of Flame hunt for the furtive Child of Dark. Forgotten and unseen, it crawls through the depths of the Abyss, heart silent, soul black, traveling aimlessly through time and space pursued by the hungry Flame, it waits for the light of its hunters to wane and sputter. Hidden beneath a cloak of shadow and despair the Child of Dark sits patiently for those thought to be born of Flame as the Light’s Bane,

The Dark shall rise once again.

Lives tied by unbreakable strings of fate, the Children of Fire and Dark shall only realize true power as one, the frozen clock of the time resuming its once forgotten journey to a new day."

With a flourish the King bowed, sitting back in his chair sporting a wide smile of gleaming teeth, “In essence, you are a Goddess that will one day destroy the Child of Dark and forever banish it and its darkness from the world allowing the Age of Fire to continue for eternity, permanently securing our rights as Gods.” Orlai nodded slowly, doing her best to remember the words of this ‘Prophecy,’

“But it mentions the two Children being tied together,” Orlai pressed, “What does that mean?”

“It means you will eventually clash with this Child of Dark and defeat it of course!” The King cackled, “My daughter Astra conquering our greatest enemy, the Darkness itself, to think I would finally see the day!” He stood, walking to the door, “We have called a celebration, my sweet, and you will be our guest of honor!” He stepped through the battered doors, shutting and locking them, laughter fading as he walked away.

Orlai sat in silence.

Head falling back to look up at the ceiling but not truly seeing it, Orlai ran shaking hands through her flaming hair. From a lost girl, to one in love with a corpse and fighting to survive, to a Goddess prophesied to determine the fate of the world and the last person she cared for sealed away in a prison she’d somehow escaped from Orlai sighed loudly. A strong tension constricted her chest, breathing becoming laborious Orlai stood and walked to the window. Looking out at the city, resting her arms and head on the sill, she growled,

“Shit.”

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