Chapter 2 - A wise mother (Giavanna)
As mother nature, my chores are basic. I hold the balance of life. Now, I understand that to most, this seems like a complicated matter, but to me, it’s as normal as breathing. I keep the animals company, help the plants grow, and maintain the safety of the trees. A key mistake made by most is the assumption that my responsibilities do not extend to people. This is wrong. People are my main responsibility. They are reckless brutes who, in such, are in constant need of a babysitter. Without the occasional natural disaster to raze the odd city and rally the nations, this world would have been killed by overpopulation, industrialization, nukes, or all three by now. In other words, without me, Reap would have his dream come true ... a paradise of death.
The sun was barely above the horizon. The light of it was a warm orange glow. I could see literal rays of it filtering through the thick trunks of the trees. Jack pines, Birches, Maple, Oak, all turned to beautiful blackness against the back-light of the sun. Deeper in the woods the trees grow dense. Packed together so tightly no matter what the time of day, it’s always as dark as that moment right before the stars come out, when not even the pale glow of the moon can penetrate the eerie shadows.
But here, here it’s like a haven. Not so deep within the forest that all light is swallowed, but still deep enough for all the sounds of the world to drop away to nothing. Even the chirping of the birds turns to silence in this part of the woods. It’s as if there were a barrier here, keeping out all distractions from the glow of the light. And to me, it’s like being stuck between two worlds, one of noise and chaos, one of darkness and abyss, and never having to choose a side. It’s wonderful. It’s my favorite place in the whole wide world. My little haven.
But of course, nothing is perfect. Which is ironic, considering that imperfections are specifically what makes most things feel perfect. And just like any imperfect forest, this one had an uprooted tree.
This was another reason I loved this forest. It didn’t just provide me with a place to go and forget, it also gave me a place to go and work. Somewhere I could hone my skills, and focus my mind, forgetting about everything except the task at hand.
I bent down over the roots of the tree and closed my eyes. Reaching out, I felt the smooth surface of the roots, and just above, the coarse edges of the bark. I focused. Focused on nothing but that smooth feel. No more twigs snapping, or breeze in my ear, or wind ruffling leaves. Nothing. I let everything fall away; everything but the pulse of this tree’s life, its heart and energy pouring through me.
I could feel the weak pulse as if it were my own. Could hear its faint beat as it slowly died. I absorbed that rhythm. Focusing solely on matching it to my own, on speeding it up to the pulse of life itself. And then, in a burst, I pushed that pulse back into the tree, smashing the roots back into the ground, snapping my eyes open...
... just in time to see a boy sprint by.
No, not a boy, a Reaper. Son of THE Reaper. Where could he be off to?
Slowly I raised myself from my crouched position and followed with my eyes the path the boy had taken.
He sure makes an awful ruckus when he runs. I wonder if Reap taught him to use The Silence yet? From the sound of it, probably not.
In no rush, I made my way deeper into the woods, following the scent of death that wafted off this boy incessantly. Making sure to keep back far enough so that he doesn’t spot me (hearing me not being a worry because, unlike him, I know how to use The Silence) I followed him deeper and deeper until finally, he stopped.
At first he sort of just stood there, shaking, almost as if he were laughing ... or crying. When the shaking calmed he looked up at his surroundings, shoulders sagging as he probably realized he was lost. I was about to reveal myself to supply him with directions, when suddenly, he snapped to attention. He began turning in circles looking flustered and confused.
This boy is completely bonkers! Has Reap taught him nothing!? That Reaper needs a good talking to!
I turned and went back from the way I came. I was going to teach that Reaper how to raise a child.
I found Reap skulking about at one of the higher exits of the catacombs, overlooking some town whose name I forget. I spotted him long before he spotted me. He was sitting at the edge of the hillside, his face in as much of a frown as a skull can make, and his so called eyes seemed to follow the paths of the elderly that wandered below.
I went right up to him, no worry whatsoever, and planted myself next to him, waiting for him to notice my presence. As soon as I stopped, a breeze wafted my scent (that of life) in his direction. His head immediately snapped up, his features clouding over, expression turning dark (again, as much as a skull can form expressions).
“What do you want?”
He sneered the words and filled them with as much hate as he could.
As you can imagine, my being the creator of life, and his being the bringer of death, we didn’t exactly get along too well.
Immediately I went into offensive mode.
“What have you done now?!?”
He scowled and turned back to the village.
“Why should you care what I have done, if, that is, I have done anything at all?”
Being who I was, I thrived off of emotion, energy, and passion, and currently all three were flowing through me at a dangerous level. I was getting enraged, red and orange flowers growing to cover me, and match the tone of my mood.
“In case you forget, one of my many names is Mother Nature. Mother! I have instincts, and I will not sit by and forget as you go about and wreak havoc upon your child’s life!”
He hadn’t moved. Hadn’t even looked. But I could tell I hit a nerve from the rigidness of his stance and the stiffness in his voice.
" And in case you forget, one of my many names is father of death. I also have instincts and I can take care of my own child. He is my child, not yours.”
He was calm in how he spoke, never raising his voice. I couldn’t believe him. He dared say he had instincts, that he followed through with them! It was preposterous.
" Well at this point I’m beginning to believe he should be my child! You have taught him nothing! He ran by me in the woods and didn’t even know how to use The Silence. At least if I were the one raising him he wouldn’t be so clueless!"
I was breathing hard, trying my best not to let rage compel me to do something that would go against my Mother Nature-y ways. Reap slowly stood from where he sat, and finally turned to face me fully. His cloak was writhing around him, moving despite the lack of wind, as if from a separate force. Still keeping a calm voice, that somehow seemed angrier and more powerful than any amount of yelling could, he said to me
" He will never be your child, and he is not clueless. He is my son, all the way. He will learn in time, through mistakes and experience. He will understand things your words could never teach him. He may just be a boy now, but just you wait, he will make his mark on this world, and when he does, you will thank me for the things I have done, and those I have not.”
I didn’t know what to say. I was still enraged, but he had made a point. The only thing I could think to say was, ironically, a typical bad-guy line.
" This isn’t over, Reap”
And I left back into the wilderness of France, vowing to myself that I would never thank him.
" ... He may just be a boy now, but just you wait, he will make his mark on the world, and when he does, you will thank me ...”
Interesting, so there’s a boy... I wonder who’s?
I had just been following my gut instinct, letting it lead me toward mischief and conflict, until it brought me here behind a boulder from which I could hear the very end of Reap and Giavanna’s conversation without being seen.
" This isn’t over, Reap.”
Huh, well that’s ironic coming from her.
As she was leaving, I sank into the shadows as far as I could, watching her ever-changing flowers go by.
Well Reap, I don’t know about the thanking part, but I have a feeling the boy will certainly make his mark ... and that it will be thanks to me.
I pulled back out of the shadows when I could no longer see her outline, and watched as Reap went back to observing the elderly townsfolk.
It shouldn’t be too hard to get a hold of the boy, whoever he belongs to. After all, it’s not like you’re very attentive Reap, and Gaia is always far too busy to be able to babysit the poor child.
I made my way down to some of the boulders lower along the cliffs edge and out of sight of Reap. Finding the most jagged one, I placed my finger tips so they were just barely touching the stone. Slowly I watched as tendrils of red moss-like substance made its way over and through the boulder, cracking and splitting it, the tendrils holding the pieces together, until before me stood two fresh golems (or minions, as I prefer them). Once complete, I tasked the larger one on the right to observe and report on Reap, and the smaller one on the left to do the same with the boy.
" Most importantly, let me know when you find out who the boy belongs to, but DO NOT interfere with him further, he is VERY important to my plans. As for Giavanna, I have special plans for her as well.”
A once human boy, now a Deity, being raised by the Lord of Death and the Goddess of Life. He will be so perfectly messed up that he will be easy prey, powerful leverage, and an incredible means to world corruption...