Chapter 7: Day one, mother knows best
Kaul smiles at Wasp, standing from his throne. "No, oddly enough I'm actually pretty excited for this. Maybe it's just because I've always fancied horror or maybe I'm just a bit of a masochist." He chuckles and smiles at Wasp, confusing the dragon.
Wasp snorts and shakes his head. He starts descending the stairs to hell, leading Kaul to the testing room. Some dragons curiously follow after the two, wanting to see the show live. He pushes Kaul into a very large blank stone room. "You have until the countdown to prepare yourself. Have fun facing your fears, farm boy." He practically spits the words farm boy at Kaul.
Kaul hears the door shut and lock behind him before he even gets a chance to look back at Wasp. He realizes that even if the door was unlocked he wouldn't have been able to get out, the door has no handle on his side and there's no way to pull it open. He looks around the room, noticing there's names carved into the walls near the ceiling. There's surprisingly little for how many people have taken this test, but Wasp's name is clearly carved among them, seemingly being the newest one up there. He jumps slightly as a voice fills the air, starting to count down from ten. When the count reaches 5 Kaul's mind starts to get foggy and he decides to close his eyes for a moment.
He feels a breath down his neck and something grabbing his wrist, startling him and causing him to yelp. The air feels hot, almost unbearably so, and thick, sticking to him and starting to burn him. The scent of charred flesh and burnt hair fills his nose with every breath he takes, along with something that feels like it's coating his nostrils and lungs, irritating them, making him cough and wheeze. A certain taste also fills the air, a familiar taste to him, the taste of cooked human meat. Despite how much he wants to be disgusted with himself, the taste is making his mouth water and causing him to crave the comfort of a familiar meal.
Kaul whimpers slightly as a laugh that sounds familiar but too heavily distorted to place fills his ears. "What's wrong baby boy, is someone hungry? Let ma fix you a meal. Why don't you go ask a traveler to dinner?" He recognizes the voice, but it's wrong. It sounds sweet like his mother, but it lacks the sincerity of her voice. It's slightly too low yet slightly too high at the same time. He thinks about opening his eyes and facing the thing holding him, but he's terrified of what he'll see.
Logically he knows it's just the test, that what's holding him isn't really there, but it smells, feels, and sounds all too real.
Kaul takes a deep breath and opens his eyes, looking back at the burnt woman tightly gripping his wrist. She looks just like his mother, except her skin is burnt with ash flaking off of her and filling the air, her eyes seem like bottomless pits of rage, her teeth are sharp and needle-like, sticking out of her mouth and piercing into her charred mouth. It's enough to make the god feel nauseated.
He attempts to pull his wrist out of his mother's grip, and despite his strength, he fails, causing her to pierce her long yellow claws into his arms. He hisses in pain. "Mama, I'm not hungry, you're hurting me. And I'm not going to eat any human, I'm not a cannibal…"
His mother laughs at the notion of Kaul not being a cannibal. Human meat is what she raised him on at the gods request after all. "Oh don't lie to me, human flesh is your favorite food! You're also not a human, you never have been a human, so it's not cannibalism! Now, if you took a chunk out of another god, that would be cannibalism."
Kaul looks down at the ground, knowing she's right but hating the fact she is. "...No, I know I'm not human, but you raised me as one. Unlike other gods, I don't see humans as lesser than me, I don't see anyone as lesser than me, I see everyone as equal to me. You and pa taught me that… and I'm not going to throw away what y'all taught me…"
His mother laughs once more at him. "Aw, is my little baby boy still a baby? Constantly following his parents advice? We taught you to be kind too, what happened to that lesson?!"
Some tears silently fall down Kaul's face and he looks to the floor before closing his eyes once more. "I… I am kind. You're the one being cruel, trying to get me to eat something you know makes me sick to eat… you aren't my ma, she died before I even found out I was a god, you're a hallucination and reflection of one of my fears. In an hour, you'll be gone." After a few moments of him silently ignoring his mother, the air slowly begins to clear and the pain in his arm fades.
A loud buzzer suddenly sounds and the sound of a door unlocking and opening prompts Kaul to open his eyes.
"Hour's up farm boy, you passed the first day. Now shoo, unless you want to go again." Wasp stands in the doorway as he talks. Kaul can't quite place what he's feeling, he seems almost disappointed but also… proud? He doesn't think even Wasp knows what he's feeling, but he knows he wants out of this room, so he simply smiles at Wasp and silently walks away.