Chapter 40 - Brothers
June 10, 1645
Ilyia (The Land of the Gods)
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
I was rendered speechless when the other Gods and Goddesses of Ilyia appeared right in front of me. One by one, they appeared from a mist or from a shimmering mirage.
Their skin was pale and their eyes were wide with surprise. Some squinted and raised their hands to shield their eyes from the light radiating from Adrienne and me. I controlled my excitement and my emotions to dim the light.
And then one by one, they knelt before me. They also crossed their arms over their chests and bowed their heads. A gesture of submission to the King.
“Rise.” I ordered.
They all rose to their feet and when heads lifted once more, they all had tears in their eyes.
“All hail the True King of Ilyia!”
“Hail, hail!” they all chanted.
Adrienne squeezed my hand and I noticed that she had tears in her eyes. She smiled at me amidst her tears.
I scanned the gods and goddesses who pledged their allegiance to me. When I sent out the call, I didn’t really believe that this much would answer. I thought that Argyll has already killed the others or that they chose to turn alliances.
It was truly a great surprise that they were all present before me.
“The King and Queen have returned!” Kellen, the god of Fire exclaimed.
“Is this real, then?” Nissa, the goddess of the Earth asked.
“This is real... No one can send out the call but the King...” It was Adrienne who replied for me.
“It’s great to have you back to, Princess...” Dain, the God of the seas replied with a grin on his face.
I was surprised when Adrienne let go of my hand and she ran towards Dain with a loud squeal. I tamped down the jealousy when she ran into his arms and hugged him tightly while her laughter filled the air.
I closed my eyes and willed the fire inside me to die down but it only flared brighter along with the warmth and radiance that radiated from me.
“Careful, princess. I don’t think the King likes it.” He taunted. Adrienne seemed to remember herself and she quickly let go of Dain and returned to my side. I know they were friends in our last life but still, I can’t help but become jealous.
"Vel eras mira drea.” Adrienne whispered to me. I smiled at how she seemed to know me inside out. She just told me that she loved me more and it was all the assurance I need. I squeezed her hand and smiled at her. Then, I just couldn’t help it. I bent my head and captured her lips in a heated kiss.
“Awww. How touching! Don’t I get a kiss too?” A familiar voice drawled.
I looked around and saw a familiar figure step out from the shadow of the trees. Tall and muscular like me, we had the same build. Same black hair. Same rugged features. He had silver eyes while I had golden ones.
A wide grin split my face. “Sylvan.” I greeted.
“Hello, Aiken...” He said and walked towards me. I grabbed his arm and he clapped my back as he hugged me tightly.
“Great to see you!” I exclaimed. It’s been thousands of years since I last saw him...
“And it’s great to see you too... You look different, brother.” He said as he appraised me from head-to-foot.
I grinned at his appraisal. “Well, I’m different. I was reborn into this, remember? You, on the other hand, you look happy...” I replied.
“I am...” he said with a grin.
Sylvan and I belonged to the first batch of Gods that appeared in Ilyia. We are the First beings that Cosmos created on the First cycle since the Nine Realms was created. Each day, a new God appeared.
But one day, Sylvan and I appeared at the same time. He was chaos and I was war. I guess that part made absolute sense and explained how we appeared together.
We’ve always considered ourselves brothers. And since the dawn of time, we had this inseparable bond. I used to have a very dark past and Sylvan was there with me. We conquered cities, hunted down the most beautiful women, killed for the thrill of it and all sorts of mischief.
Until things changed and Sylvan got exiled...
“I can see that look in your eyes, brother.” Sylvan murmured.
“What?” I asked.
“You’re thinking about our past again. I know we had a really dark past... But let go of that now. It’s been thousands of years since already. And besides, we’re both happy now...” He said and inclined his head towards Adrienne who was now mingling with the other gods and goddesses.
I smiled as warmth and pride filled my chest at the sight of Adrienne.
“Did I hear it right? Did you say you’re also happy?” I asked.
“Yes... You’re queen promised to lift my exile. And when I do I’ll bring her here with me. Her name’s Aerine.” Sylvan’s voice was filled with pride when he said this to me. It instantly piqued my curiosity.
“Then I shall be looking forward to that, brother.” I said with a wink.
“So... A King, huh?” he said as he took in my royal robes and his old sword, Destroyer, strapped at my side.
“Yes... We’re both King now, brother. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?”
“Indeed.” Sylvan replied.
I felt a hand on my arm and I turned around. Adrienne was smiling at me and Sylvan...
“Seth... It’s time... We have to start planning and discussing with the others.” She whispered. I nodded to her.
“Seth?” Sylvan asked.
“That’s the name I’ve been given in this life.” I answered in a flat tone. Sylvan nodded and then he chuckled.
I shot him a glare that said we’ll talk about it some other time.
I noticed that the meadow was instantly transformed. The Goddess of the Earth began woving her magic while Sylvan and I talked. By now, the trees and flowers were almost fully restored. Dain, the God of the Seas, also used his magic to coax the river back into flowing through the meadow.
Adrienne sighed happily as she saw the transformation of her mother’s beloved meadow. We stepped towards the other Gods and Goddesses and they instantly turned towards me.
“Again... I am glad to see all of you... But this meeting is not only for reunion’s sake. I have called each of you and you have chosen to answer. As you all know, we are on the brink of war with Argyll.”
Solemn faces nodded at my statement.
“Right now, Argyll is in the Mortal Realm. He is threatening us and saying that he will kill hundreds of Mortals every hour if we do not heed his demands and open all the Portals.”
This time, my words were met with shocked and outraged gasps.
“He cannot do that! We cannot allow him to!” Kellen, the God of fire exclaimed.
“If the portals are not opened, many mortals will die! If it’s opened, other creatures from the Nine Realms will also die!” Dain answered.
“Yes. We are aware of this. Now, we are here to discuss what the most prudent course of action would be.” I replied.
“We go fight him and we kill him.” Kellen demanded.
“Yes... But he has control of the Golden Army. And right now he has all of the army in the Mortal Realm.”
“Why? What does he want?” Nissa asked.
“He wants control over the portals and the Fountain. Dian Nim Exos.” Adrienne replied. I looked at her and she met my gaze. Not many of the Gods and Goddesses knew about the Fountain that supplied power when they went to the other Realms.
But right now, they had to know.
I nodded to Adrienne and she took the next few minutes to explain about the Fountain and how it worked. She also explained how Argyll learnt of a spell which allowed him to swap his essence with a mortal and possess that body.
When she was done, I raised my hand.
“Now that you know about the Fountain and that my queen is the Guardian, any one of you who wishes to take the power for himself will have to go through me. And I assure you that the death you will experience will be similar to the kind of death I have planned for Argyll.” I threatened. The Gods and Goddesses shook their heads and vowed that they did not plan to get the power of the Fountains.
“But if we fight in the Mortal Realm, there’s only few of us and they have the entire Golden Army!”
“Don’t also forget that when Azrael died, all the powers that Azrael siphoned from the other Gods were stolen by Argyll! He is much more powerful than all of us right now. Don’t also forget, Aiken that he has the remaining power of the sun he stole from you before you died.” Dian reminded me.
I fought the urge to groan. Instead, I sighed. “This looks bleak for all of us. But we must not give up. We must have hope. We cannot just let Argyll go on his quest to be the King of all the Nine Realms. We have to stop him.”
“I agree. Please don’t give up. Trust in yourselves. It’s been thousands of years yet we are all still fighting. We’re still here. And we’re given another chance to set everything right. We can do this. Cosmos appointed us as the guardians of the Nine Realms. Now is our chance to prove that we truly are her chosen guardians. That we are Gods.” Adrienne spoke in such a calm yet authoritative tone.
Once again, pride filled my heart when I saw that the Gods hung their heads in shame. When they lifted their heads once more, their eyes were now filled with determination instead of defeat.
With a few words, Adrienne managed to sway the Gods to her favour. Truly, she was a queen.
A queen unlike any other...
Sylvan clapped his hands. “Spoken like a true queen.” He said. “Your courage and your will to fight is more than the courage of all these idiots combined.”
Kellen snarled. “And why are you even here? Weren’t you exiled?”
“I’m here because I answer the call of the King. I’m here to fight and not question everything like you fools do.” Sylvan scoffed. “And you dare call yourselves Gods.”
The corner of my lips started to turn up in a smile. But I stopped myself. Sylvan truly had a way with words. But I don’t need any discord among the other Gods now. I need every one of them and we all need to work towards a common goal: defeat Argyll.
“So... Do you have a plan, Aiken?” Kaori asked.
“Yes. Selene will open the portals for us and we go to the Mortal Realm. We do everything we can to drive Argyll away from there and back here in Ilyia. Selene will give us the power of the Fountain but she will withhold it from Argyll. That alone will drive him back to Ilyia. This way, we can save hundreds of lives from being slaughtered. During the battle, you all engage the Golden Army. They can’t truly die but you can keep them busy while I go reach Argyll.” I replied.
“What of the Golden Army? How are we supposed to fight the King’s elite soldiers?” Raijin asked.
“Leave it to me. I got this one.” Sylvan answered. I turned to look at him with a question in my eyes. He just shrugged and then winked at me.
“How are we supposed to trust him? Should we just take his word for it?” Kellen flung his arm and pointed at Sylvan.
“We’ve fought side by side for many years. He is my brother. I trust him with.” I answered.
“Have you forgotten that he destroyed an entire city? Almost scorched an entire country?” Dian decided to join the conversation against Sylvan.
“I haven’t. But it’s of the past now. And if his destructive capabilities are really that great, then I say we need it the most right now... Don’t you think?” I asked in an innocent tone. But I guess it might’ve sounded sarcastic to the others.
Dian gasped and then his mouth opened and closed repeatedly as if he could not find the proper words to say.
“Aww. Thank you brother. You’re so sweet.” Sylvan told me sarcastically. I ignored him.
“So when do we attack?” Nissa asked.
“Tomorrow. At dawn, we cross the portals. Take the time now to rest and get ready. We’ll need all our strength tomorrow.”
Everyone nodded and they all started to disperse.
A few minor gods who looked really worse for wear approached me. Along with them is the goddess, Lai.
“My king... We came here to thank you...” Arabella, the goddess of snow bowed. I saw that behind her was Lai, the goddess of health.
“We have been imprisoned in the dungeons of the Golden Palace all these years... We have no chance of escaping for there were enchantments everywhere. But your Call is larger and more powerful than any enchantment. We answered it and it brought us here. You freed us and now we have a chance of revenge against Argyll.” Arabella explained.
“It’s alright. Speak nothing of it.” I dismissed.
“We might not have powers as great as yours and the other Gods, my King... But we promise to do whatever we can for the battle.” She promised.
I smiled at her. “Thank you for your pledge. The amount of your powers do not matter. What matters is that you are willing to fight for our cause. Now go, with Lai. We need you fit for the battle tomorrow. Allow her to heal all your wounds and also those of the other prisoners.”
She bowed once more and then walked away along with the other lesser Gods who were held captive.
When everyone else moved away, including my brother Sylvan, Adrienne grabbed my hand and led me towards the nearby cluster of trees. In our previous life, many years ago, we lay under these cluster of trees as we watched the stars.
And on another night, this is where we first made love.
Hundreds of memories about this place suddenly assailed me. The same must’ve happened for Adrienne for I heard her sigh.
“What’s on your mind?” she asked me in a soft voice.
“I was just remembering the many things that happened here on this very meadow.” I replied and pulled her into my arms. I sat on the ground and leaned on one of the trees. Then, I gathered her closer and placed her head on my chest.
We didn’t speak for a few moments. I contented myself with stroking her hair while she drew lazy patterns across my chest.
“Seth... We have a really big day ahead of us tomorrow...” she whispered. I caught her hand and squeezed it. “We do...” I replied.
“If we do not make it—” I stopped whatever she was about to say by placing my finger on her lips. She lifted her gaze towards me and searched my eyes.
“No. Don’t say it, Adrienne. I thought you had faith that we will win?”
“I do... It’s just that... We’re unsure of what could happen. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you... In case we—”
“No. Don’t say it!” I growled. This time, it was my lips I placed on hers to stop her from saying goodbye. I do not want to hear it for we will never need it. We won’t be saying goodbye once more.
We are Gods... We have failed once but it will not happen this time. This time, Adrienne and I will live out our eternity. This time, we won’t be separated again.
“Adrienne... Things have changed. We know our enemy better now... Just promise me one thing.”
“Anything.” She replied.
“Don’t sacrifice yourself again. Never do that to me again. My heart is with you. If you’re gone, I’m gone too. Wherever you are, I’m there. And if Death has you in its clutches, then he has to have me to for we’re a pair. Where one goes, the other follows.” I told her solemnly.
She smiled at me with hope in her eyes. I dropped another kiss on her hair, her nose and then finally, her lips.
“Adrienne... About tomorrow... I’d want you to stay here in Ilyia.” I said calmly.
She jerked from my arms before I could blink and then she was glaring at me with fire in her eyes.
“What did you say?” she said through clenched teeth.
“I just want you safe.” I replied. She huffed with indignation.
“You just said to me that we’re a pair. That where one goes, the other follows. And now you tell me this nonsense that I must stay behind in this fight? No way, Seth! No way!!!” she bellowed. I was sure that the entire meadow heard our fight.
“Adrienne, please. I would fight better knowing you’re safe.”
“Cut that crap! You want me to stay here while you’re out there fighting! What am I supposed to do then, huh? Pace? Wring my skirts, or something?” she screeched.
I flinched this time. “No... But—”
This time it was she who cut me off.
“I can fight, Seth! I may not be as good as you but I can fight! I am a Ilyian like you! And no ordinary blade or weapon could kill me! You need as much help as you can and you’re asking me to stay behind just so you could have peace of mind?!”
“But—” She cut me off again.
“No. I go where you go. End of discussion.” She said to me and then turned her back and walked away with her chin held high. After a few steps, she turned back and hurled a fireball towards me. I ducked but the tree behind me instantly turned to ash.
I stood up and brushed the dust from my clothes. My lips were turned up in a smile.
A thousand years and nothing has changed. Adrienne still had a temper. A huge one.
Like fire, she is quick to ignite and when she’s blazing, her flames are difficult to tamp down.
“Someone’s mad.” Sylvan drawled beside me. Once again, he stepped out from the shadows of the trees.
“You think?” I drawled sarcastically.
I sat down beside a new tree and Sylvan dropped down beside me.
“My Aerine... She’s like your Selene. She has a temper and she always manages to rile me in so many ways.” Sylvan said wistfully. He looked up at the heavens and I saw love shining in his eyes. I didn’t point it out for I really did not want to be pummelled to the ground.
“I really must meet this woman who tamed your wild heart.” I told him.
He grinned. “After the war, brother. That is a promise.”
“How’s your life in Xathos?” I asked.
“As great as it can be. Being a King sucks sometimes but she makes it all worth it.”
“Tell me about her.”
His silver eyes regarded me. “Another story for another time, Aiken.” He said and then winked.”
We were silent for a long time. Then I turned towards him and sighed.
“Sylvan... I need to ask a favour of you.”
“The King of the Gods, come to ask a favour from the King of the Rebels?” Sylvan laughed.
“This is serious.” I said and looked him straight in the eyes.
“Let’s hear it then.”
“If anything happens to me, I need you to watch over Selene. Protect her. Take her away from here and just bring her to Xathos. If I die, Argyll will find a way to get the control of the Fountains and the Portals from her.”
Sylvan continued to look at me and he did not speak for a long time. Then he sighed.
“Do you really think Argyll will win this war?”
I shook my head and then I shrugged. “I do not really know. He has some allies of his own and he has control of a vast power, the one he stole from Azrael. He also has control of the Golden Army. Apart from that, he has many tricks up his sleeve. But I know that we can do this... But, you know, in case the other thing happens, I want to be prepared.”
Sylvan sighed. “My life for hers, brother. If something happens to me, I want you to guard Aerine too.” He said.
“If King Rashad could only see us now... We’ve truly come a long way.” Sylvan sighed while shaking his head.
“Yes. We did. We’re no longer the mischief-makers. We’re now the saviours.” I said and Sylvan threw back his head and laughed.
“It’s the last night of the battle... Now go make up with your Queen. You should be spending the night in each other’s arms. Go ask for her forgiveness. Bring a flower.” Sylvan advised with a knowing grin.
“And since when have you become a master in marital affairs?” I asked.
“Since I got married, myself.” He said with a wink. Then he pushed me forward and I stumbled a bit on the dry ground.
“Fine. I’ll go.” I replied and then went towards the meadow to find Adrienne.
Sylvan is right.
This is the night before the big battle.
I should be with her and hold her in my arms. I would then commit to memory every inch of her beautiful features and how wonderful she felt in my arms with every part of us pressed together...