Chapter 43 - The Battle of the Gods (Part 1)
June 11, 1645
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
Light filtered through the room as the sun rose. I opened my eyes and smiled when I saw Adrienne who was fast asleep beside me. Her limbs were draped around me and mine was entwined with hers.
I sighed and committed to memory every inch of her lovely features. In sleep, worry lines did not mar her perfect features. Right now, she looked very relaxed as if she did not have a care in the world...
Slowly, her eyes opened and a pair of brown eyes flecked with gold stared at me. “What has got you frowning like that, my King?” she asked in a soft voice and then lifted her hand to cup my cheek.
“It’s time.” I replied.
And just like that, the peacefulness in her entire body vanished. I was sad to see it go for if I could just have the option to choose and forego all the consequences, I’d choose to be with Adrienne forever.
But I don’t have a choice. For I am a King! I am the King of the Gods! One little mistake can cause the Nine Realms of the Cosmos to crumble down. And this is why we have to defeat Argyll. We have to stop his desire for more power and eliminate his threat to the Nine Realms.
With a heavy heart, I disentangled myself from Adrienne and slowly stood up. She did the same and I saw sadness creep across her beautiful face.
“Adrienne... We will finish this... And afterwards, it will be you and I again. Wherever you go, whatever you want to do...” I promised.
I saw apprehension cross her features before she shut it down.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Nothing... Everything’s fine as long as I am with you.” She replied.
I stood up and slowly donned my clothes. Adrienne did the same. I looked at her and she nodded to me. Then, I took her hand and used my power to bring us back to the meadow.
When we emerged in the meadow, the other Gods who answered the call to battle were already there. And right now, they weren’t dressed in their finest robes and dresses. Right now, they were dressed for battle and they all had determined expressions on their faces.
They all looked at me when I stepped forth.
“Today, we fight to restore the light of the Cosmos. Today, we fight to defeat Argyll and send his corruption and darkness out of the Nine Realms of the Cosmos! Today we fight for our freedom!” I shouted and finished it by lifting my sword high in the air.
My statement was rewarded with a loud battle cry from the Gods. I saw that some of them also had their weapons high in the air.
I nodded to Selene and said. “We’re ready.”
I heard her sharp intake of breath and then she summoned Ruadan beside her. “Open the gateway.” She commanded him. “Yes, mistress.” Ruadan replied and then he disappeared into a silver mist.
“Let’s do this.” Adrienne whispered to me and then she held out her hand. I took it and once again, she transformed herself into the ball of fire. My stomach plummeted and I heard her laughter.
“Relax, li’eras. I will try for a smooth landing.” She sent the message to my mind.
We soared towards the heavens and I saw the other gods and goddesses transform themselves into their purest forms: streaks of light. Long ago, before we adapted these forms that made us human, we existed as beings of light from the Cosmos. It was said that we were created by the Cosmos by her drawing from her own light and giving it consciousness. All of the Gods came from Cosmos’ light. Our purest forms were made of light and we only used our human forms when the need arose.
And now, the other Gods and Goddesses reverted back to their forms of light so they could cross the gateway and emerge into the mortal realm. Adrienne’s light was the brightest of all and all the gods followed her light as she zoomed across the heavens.
I felt the moment we passed through the gateway and I saw the mortal realm once more. It is the only realm in the Nine Realms of the Cosmos whose inhabitants have no magic. And this is why they were always vulnerable.
Adrienne kept flying and after a few moments, I was able to see the outline of Ivaris. It was the place that served as my home for all of the twenty-eight years of my mortal existence. It has many fond memories yet there were also very painful ones.
And now, it was about to become the battleground between Argyll and me.
We were now nearing the Walled City of Arcadia when I saw a glint of gold in the distance. I felt Adrienne’s shock and it mirrored mine when we saw what awaited us in the Fields of Aiakos which were right outside the Walled City of Arcadia.
Adrienne flew lower and that was when we saw the Golden Army stretched out across the fields. For miles, nothing can be seen but the gold color of their armor and their rigid lines as they formed ranks. Their gold covered the green grass of the fields and their armor was the only thing which can be seen for quite some distance.
Adrienne tried to fly over them and towards the Walled City of Arcadia but suddenly, we came across a barrier. Adrienne’s fire blazed brighter as she tried harder to pass the barrier. But it was very strong. On the other side of the barrier, I saw the Golden Army spread out. If we ever passed the barrier, they are the ones who are going to stop us.
Adrienne flew lower and landed on the ground. She extinguished her fire and we both stood there as we examined our surroundings. I saw her touch the barrier and I knew that she was determining the magic used there and trying to find a way to remove it.
While she did that, I saw the other Gods and Goddesses arrive. Their light faded and it was replaced once more with their human forms. Everyone was on alert, especially Sylvan. We’ve fought together thousands of times before and right now, he looked warily at the Golden Army that was assembled before us.
There were too many of them and there were only a few of us even though we were gods and goddesses. I estimated the fight and the odds were really against us.
“Hello, Aiken.” A mischievous voice called out. I whirled around instantly and came face to face with Argyll who stood behind the barrier.
“Argyll.” I greeted with a small incline of my head.
“You really should bow, you know. I am the King of Ilyia and you should show your respect!” he commanded.
I raised my chin higher and then spat on the ground. “That’s what I think of you being King.” I retorted and I saw his face darken with fury.
“Very well, then. No matter. All of you shall be annihilated in a matter of a few minutes.” Argyll replied with a cruel glint in his eye.
“You say that when you are right behind a barrier that prevents us from passing through. And from that point, you hurl your taunts towards us. A bit cowardly of you, don’t you think?” I taunted as I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Ahh... This barrier here? This is so we could talk for a few moments. The fight starts when I tear this down... Anyway... I came here with an offer. All this couldn’t end with bloodshed, you know. Even though most of it shall be yours.”
“I care nothing for this offer you speak about!”
“Can’t you at least hear me out? I offer you the chance to exit this battlefield unharmed. Lay down your arms and all of you shall be exiled to Xathos instead. I really have no use for that realm. Well, what say you?” Argyll offered.
“Shove your offer down your throat, Argyll. Ilyia belongs to us, not to you. Aiken is King of the Gods and not you. And Xathos is mine.” Sylvan said and then he too, spat on the ground.
Argyll raised an eyebrow. “And what is the exiled God doing here?”
“I have come here to defeat you.” Sylvan answered and Argyll sneered.
“We’ll see.” He replied with a smirk.
Then he looked beyond me and addressed the other Gods and Goddesses who were standing behind me, ready for a fight.
“I give you the choice, my fellow Ilyians. Come with me and I’ll let you live. Fight against me and you shall all perish under the Silver Dagger.” He threatened.
“We will not join you. We will not let the light of the Cosmos within us be tainted and corrupted with darkness just like yours!” this time it was Kellen, the God of Fire who spoke.
“Very well then. Go and regret your words later... When the blade of the Silver Dagger rests upon your necks or your chests, you will remember that I offered you a chance to live.” Argyll said and then he turned towards Adrienne.
“And now, for my last offer. Your last chance at salvation! Selene! Open the portals now and turn over the command of the fountains to me and I shall let you go free!”
“I will die before I do that, Argyll! And when I die, I will make sure you are trapped yet again in a realm and left powerless!” my fierce queen replied. Her eyes blazed with the fire and anger in her veins as she gazed at Argyll.
“But... I can’t do that, Selene... I can’t kill you. All of them could die except you.” Argyll said softly.
“What?!” Adrienne hissed.
“You see... Azrael... He asked for you. He wants you to be his just like he did thousands of years ago. You are the only thing he’s asked of me. And I cannot deny him that for he is my dearest friend.”
“Azrael is dead!” I shouted.
“No. He’s here. Reborn just like you and Selene.” Argyll replied with a smirk once more.
I clenched my fists at my side and stifled the urge to channel the sun’s power and blast away at the barrier in front of us so that I could get to Argyll. The upcoming battle made the blood in my veins sing with anticipation. But now, threatening to take away my queen from me so that she could be given to Azrael made the ache for battle within me throb to an unbearable degree.
No one will ever take away my queen from me!
“Temper, Aiken... You know that extreme emotions make a soldier distracted... It was you who taught us that.” Argyll taunted. Then he turned his back and walked towards the middle of the ranks of the Golden Army.
“Prepare for battle!” Argyll shouted. The ground shook as the Golden Army all took a step forward. Then the air was filled with the sound of steel scraping against steel as weapons were drawn and raised high.
“Kill them! Kill them all!” Argyll bellowed the order and then raised his hand. The invisible barrier before us shimmered and then we were able to see the thick barrier of power. At Argyll’s command, it slowly started melting down from the top.
I backed away towards the other Gods and Goddesses and Selene did the same.
“For Ilyia!” I shouted and then drew my sword, Destroyer from the scabbard at my side. And when I raised it high in the air, I transformed from King to Warrior. My golden robe faded away and was replaced with my armor.
I now wore black leather breeches. My chest was bare except for the straps that criss-crossed into an X at my back and held my other sword Conqueror. In front of me, another strap crossed my chest diagonally and that was where my daggers were placed.
I quickly drew my other sword and stepped forward. Sylvan moved right beside me. “Just like old times, brother?” he asked.
“Yes. Just like old times.” I replied with a smile.
The barrier in front of us continued melting and it was just twice as tall as me now. I braced myself for the attack and so did the other Gods behind me. Then, there was no more time for thinking. There was only time for fighting.
The barrier dissolved completely and then Argyll yelled, “Attack!” The ground shook once more as the entire Golden Army marched towards us.
Sylvan and I met the first wave with our steel. I held out both my swords in front of me and then turned around and slashed my sword low. The soldiers in front of me melted from my blades and then the wind blew their golden dust away.
A few minutes more and they will start to reform. The goal was not to defeat them but to forge a path towards Argyll. If I defeat Argyll, the command of the Golden Army will be mine again and with a word, this would all be over.
A huge wave of soldiers came towards me. This time I raised my right hand high and it started to glow with warmth and a bright light. After a few seconds, it started to pulse with a high amount of heat and magic. I poured more energy into it and then threw it across the field and into the soldiers barrelling towards me. There was a loud explosion which then turned an entire cavalry of soldiers into dust.
“Nice.” Sylvan muttered beside me. He smiled and then lifted his own hand and waved it towards the soldiers standing before us. Instantly, they acted as if they were confused. They barrelled into each other and ran in the wrong direction. Some also dropped their weapons while some began fighting their own allies.
“Never underestimate the power of chaos.” Sylvan called out while he continued waving his hand. Tendrils of darkness escaped from his fingertips and wrapped around the soldiers of the Golden Army. When the black tendrils dissipated, only dust remained from where they stood.
I looked around me and the entire field was now a jumble of chaos as the other gods and goddesses started to fight too. Kaori and Raijin were floating in the air as they threw the fiercest winds and bolts of lightning to whoever came close. Adrienne was busy throwing fireballs and incinerating everyone within her line of vision.
A sense of pride enveloped me as I watched her fight. Her entire body moved with fluid grace even in the midst of the circumstances we were in. Beside her was Kellen, the God of Fire who only fuelled Adrienne’s power. Because of the two of them, a large area of the battlefield was now turned to ash.
On the other side of the field, Nissa, the Goddess of the Earth and Feria, the Goddess of Nature teamed up. Nissa had both palms touching the ground. Suddenly, it shook and a big crevice opened and swallowed the Golden Army. She clapped her hands and the ground resealed, burying the soldiers inside it. Feria, on the other hand, waved her hand and vines sprouted from the ground and trapped the soldiers in place. Arabella, the Goddess of Snow finished the soldiers trapped by Feria by hurling sharp icicles towards them. On the other side of the river, I saw Dane, the God of the Seas as he was controlling the waters. He created an avatar of himself in the water which mimicked his movements. He used the avatar to sweep and pummel some of the soldiers in front of him.
When I saw that everyone was safe, I turned around and went back to my own battle. I crouched low again and then kicked down hard and jumped high into the air. When I was airborne, I unsheated my daggers and threw them at the nearest targets.
"Ki’rham." I whispered and the daggers went back to their holsters once more. This time, I drew my swords again and crossed them in front of me. With a snarl, I charged forward into the soldiers that hindered me from following Argyll. Truly, it pained me to fight the soldiers I once commanded and trained with. But it had to be done for the sake of peace. There is no other option for us but to win this war.
For if we lost... It’s going to be the end of freedom for all of the Nine Realms of the Cosmos.
I dodged a blade that came very close to my cheek by leaning backwards. I used the momentum to tumble backwards and land on a crouch. I deflected a kick aimed at my middle by using my arm and then when the way was clear, I stood upright once more with my swords at the ready. A sphere came dangerously close to hitting me square in the chest but I saw that it turned to ash before it even touched me.
Adrienne winked at me and then I saw her encase me in a ring of fire. The fire expanded outwards and it burned everyone who came in close contact. This allowed me gain some space and regain my footing.
With another loud roar, I ran forward hacking with my sword and dodging blows that were aimed at me. A few swipes and I heard the sound of limbs hitting the ground as they were separated from bodies. Another swipe and two heads rolled down. I ducked as I saw another sphere aimed towards me. It was closely followed by another one. But this time, I did not duck. Instead, I dropped my swords and grabbed the sphere hurtling towards me.
Then, I twirled it around and held it tightly. I placed my right foot in front of my left and bent my knees. I jumped high and then twisted my body which made me spin in the air with the sphere outstretched. This caused those near me to be slashed by the sphere and more golden dust rained over my body.
With every slash of my sword, every tumble, every step... It all brought me closer to Argyll. I could almost see his cowardly hide that was surrounded by the elite members of the Golden Army. He had his eyes closed and I could hear that his lips were moving.
A few moments later, I felt myself responding to his power. The calmness and the battle lust inside me were suddenly replaced with severe anger. Anger on the battlefield is alright if it is in a moderate quantity and if the warrior can control it. But right now, the anger I felt was too much! This was the kind of anger that drove warriors to become sloppy. This was the kind that made warriors blind to everything but their goal: sometimes it’s revenge and sometimes it’s just to kill.
And right now, my goal was getting to Argyll. I spun around and swung my sword again. The anger gave me speed and brutality but it made my movements jerky and uncoordinated. It made me blind to everything else but the urge to go to Argyll and finish him. Because of that, I lost sight to all those who were around me and let down my guard. I received a slash in my chest and I felt blood drip down my abdomen.
I flinched with the pain but I was not deterred from my goal.
Suddenly, the anger was replaced with crippling fear.
One of the soldiers in front of me raised his sword and I instantly lifted mine to block it. I also took a step back and fought against the urge to run and hide. It was a strong compulsion, the fear inside me. I saw Sylvan who was standing beside me and his eyes were wide with fear. I fought against Argyll’s power but it was too strong. My mind fought but my body obeyed his compulsion.
After a few more moments, I found myself stepping away.
I did not move for a long time and instead, watched as the other Gods and Goddesses also fought against Argyll’s compulsion. I saw Adrienne slumped on the ground and she was crying. Kellen, who was beside her a while ago was now was thundering carelessly towards the soldiers, burning them with his fire. The others were now engulfed with despair and they were crying uselessly on the ground just like Adrienne.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that we were losing. And that was when my fear was replaced with despair. I fought against it but fighting Argyll’s compulsion was like wading through a very thick mud: it took all your energy and it was very difficult to move a muscle. I tried and tried but my body wouldn’t obey. It was like I was trapped inside my own body.
I was forced to watch as the despair took over me and my body crumpled to the floor, dropping both my swords on the ground. I saw Sylvan beside me and he too was commanded by Argyll’s power.
We truly were losing. The soldiers of the Golden Army that we killed before were now reforming. Their numbers were increasing again because no one from our side fought. We were ruled by Argyll’s power and the false emotions he evoked in us. No one fought anymore as everyone was overcame with despair...
“Selene! Now! We need help now!” Sylvan shouted. For a second, the compulsion cleared from my mind and replaced by confusion. What did Sylvan mean? What was he asking Adrienne to do?
Selene lifted her head and I saw tear-tracks on her cheeks. Her eyes were still filled with tears as she looked desperately around her. “I... I can’t!” she wailed.
“F-f-fight it!” Sylvan shouted to her.
His words also reached me and this time, I fought against Argyll’s compulsion once again. I felt the despair inside of me but I fought to overcome it. I fought the feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy that ruled my mind. Slowly, I fought my way inside myself again.
I thought of Adrienne and the feelings she evoked within me. I thought of how much I loved her and how my chest constricted every time I saw her smile. I tried to remember the fear that overcame me when she contracted the plague and was lying there in bed and I was helpless to do anything. Also, I remembered the passion she stirred in my body, something only she can do... I remembered all of these for they were real feelings.
Everything I felt for Adrienne was real and it wasn’t anything like Argyll’s compulsion.
And because I remembered real feelings, I broke Argyll’s hold over me. I straightened myself and fought my way towards Adrienne. May tried to stop me but I easily disposed of them. I threw my daggers, swung my blades and summoned my power. Within a few seconds, I reached Adrienne.
She was still crying but she managed to look up at me.
“Remember.” I commanded her and then lifted her from the ground and wrapped my arms around her. And then slowly, I bent my head and kissed her.
“This is real. What you feel for me is real. What I feel for you is real. Separate reality from that of Argyll’s power and you will be able to break his compulsion.” I told her and then placed a hand on her waist as I swung around and dodged a blow from one of the soldiers of the Golden Army.
Not breaking my hold on Adrienne, I lifted my right leg and then swung it in a might kick. The soldier that attempted to stab me in the back flew in the air and then landed on the ground in a loud thud. I drew one of my daggers and then tossed it at him. It met his neck and then he exploded into a shower of golden dust.
“Now!” Sylvan shouted. He was clawing at his chest, still trying to fight the compulsion.
“Sylvan! Think of Aerine! Think of the memories you have with her! Fight it, brother!” I shouted. Then I ducked and tugged on Adrienne so that she too will be able to duck beside me. A spear was thrown at us and it whizzed past my ear, narrowly missing me. I sent the soldier that threw it a large ball of flame that incinerated him on the spot.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Adrienne close her eyes as though she was concentrating very deeply. I tugged on her hand again and placed her behind me so that I could protect her while she was doing whatever it is Sylvan asked of her.
“Kill Aiken and get me Selene!” I heard Argyll shout and saw him pointing at Adrienne and me. He must’ve known that Adrienne was planning something for he looked very nervous. We were already losing but now, Argyll directed the army’s entire wrath at Adrienne and me. Even if I am a God, I could not hold out on my own against the Golden Army.
“Viola! Open the portal!” Adrienne shouted.
A little girl with silver hair who looked just like Ruadan appeared before us. She bowed deeply to Adrienne and then vanished into a silver mist. Adrienne waved her hand and the silver mist scattered and transformed into a wall on one side of the field.
Then, it condensed and looked like it was glass made of silver. I saw Argyll look at it curiously for a moment. Suddenly, I saw Sylvan jump high into the air and land before the silver glass. He took a horn from his belt and blew on it.
A loud sound echoed across the battlefield and all heads turned towards its source. “Him! Get him!” Argyll shouted frantically and pointed at Sylvan. The soldiers of the Golden Army turned their backs on us and headed for Sylvan as per Argyll’s newest orders.
Sylvan blew the horn two more times.
And then suddenly, the ground before us started to tremble. The trembling became fiercer as each second passed. Then, I heard the unmistakeable sound of running feet and hooves and I knew that it emanated from the silver glass.
And then the glass shattered.
And wolves, vampires, witches, demons and other creatures I couldn’t name burst forth from the portal that Adrienne opened. Sylvan let out a mighty roar and then I saw his entire body ripple. He crouched on all fours as I heard his bones crack and pop as the transformation took over him. He became swallowed by a dark mist and when it disappeared a big, black wolf stood in his place.
The wolf raised its head and howled and the sound was echoed by the thousands of wolves that kept on pouring forth from the portal.
And then I realized what this all was...
It was Sylvan’s army in Xathos where he was considered the High King...
This was where Adrienne went that day. And she lied to me by telling me that she had something important to do about the guardianship of the portals when the truth was that she went out to find an army that would help us.
And that lead her to my brother, Sylvan...
“This evens out the odds a bit, don’t you think? Oh, and thanks for the tip. It worked. Even if Aerine is not here, she still manages to save my life.” Sylvan spoke inside my head. I chuckled and answered him.
“Yes, brother, it evens out the odds. Thank you. And you’re welcome for the tip.”
“Thank your queen, brother. I do this for her. She promised to lift my exile. Now, enough talk and let’s finish this!”
I didn’t reply to him and instead, lifted my sword high once more and roared a loud battle cry. But before I charged towards Argyll once more, I quickly gave Adrienne another kiss on the lips to thank her for doing this for me.
Truly, she is the best Queen any King could ever ask for...
With that thought in mind, I released her and then leapt high into the air and towards Argyll. When I landed before him, both my swords were in my hand once more.
“Now we finish this.” I told him.
He laughed and then drew his own sword while the other hand clutched the Silver Dagger of the Ten Gods of Justice.
“Now. I finish you.” He spat.
“Dream on, Argyll.” I laughed. And with that, I attacked first and lunged towards him as I swung my sword in a deadly arc.
Sorry for the no updates during the weekend guys. Majorly sad. Boyfriend and I broke up and I just feel like shit. Sigh. Why is this love thing so hard? It's so much easier to just write a book than find someone to love and who'll also love you and be faithful no matter what. :(