Book 4: Intermission – The Dawn of the Gods (2/2)
Those that received Altesia, the Goddess of Courage’s, divine protection fought desperately against the forces of the underworld. Having forbidden herself from appearing in the flesh, Altesia shared her power with them through divine protections.
A blessing that showed itself most strongly in the heroes. They would appear among the humans on occasion, showing greater adaptability for the divine protection of the gods, allowing them to accept greater power. Though unseen, Altesia would walk with them, and with her divine authority, strike fear into the demons of the underworld.
Should their life of valor come to an end, she would take care of them as well.
It was a long battle full of sacrifices, and in the course of the long war, the old gods came to grow weak. At Hera’s counsel, an alliance was made with them. That was true for their creations as well. Already, no other force besides the humans could conquer the continent, so rather than be overwhelmed by the forces of the underworld, they chose to fight alongside them instead.
The forces of the underworld fought while bound by the principle of the surface.
Over the course of several generations, the structure of the two forces broke down, and a struggle for survival emerged. The demons spread their roots on the land and began to multiply, while the humans sought to exterminate them.
In the course of the long battle, Altesia’s power began to stand out from the crowd. Because she had given her divine protections not only to the humans, but also to the elves and demihumans that fought alongside them.
Ativ did not like that.
“It’s too dangerous to share your power with those other than the humans!”
But Altesia insisted, saying that it was necessary.
“If I don’t share my power with them, the humans will be in danger!”
Altesia believed their argument to be but a mere quibble, but that was not actually the case. Unfortunately, for Ativ, Altesia was already stronger than him, so he could only think of a plot to remove her from the board.
There was only one path to the underworld, and that was through the depths of the Fortress of the Abyss. So great was the ether overflowing from the underworld that the trees in the forest would bend and sway, and the animals that dwelt nearby have evolved in strange ways.
It was to such a place that they would dispatch a small but elite team to close the path to the underworld.
On the side of the humans came two heroes. The Saint of Flames, Eliza Sol Rain, and the Martial God, Sylvia Ross. From the elves came the Golden Eagle, Falco Gordola, and from the humans came The Prince with the Red Sword, Greco Bel Alsanzark, who would be acting as their commander.
There was fierce resistance as expected, but Greco’s leadership allowed them to overcome all the trials. With Ativ’s blessing, he would later be hailed as Alsanzark’s best general.
Altesia watched the battles as she walked alongside the heroes.
Before long, the humans overcame the fierce resistance of the monsters and were able to deliver the heroes into the fortress. Falco and Greco took the responsibility of clearing the way, so the two hero’s strength could be preserved.
When they finally reached the gate to the underworld, what greeted them was a huge gate that towered even Altesia. Past the colossal, double-door gate could be seen a darkness so dark not even a god could see through it.
──The Gate of the Underworld could only be opened if someone inside and someone outside worked together.
At Ativ’s counsel, the two heroes would have to cross the gate and enter the underworld in order to close it. The two heroes parted with Falco and Greco there and entered the underworld. Altesia, who always accompanied the heroes, entered as well.
The passage was strangely quiet.
All the denizens of the underworld must have gone to the surface, as there were no enemies in the dark passage.
Before long, the two heroes and the goddess arrived.
It was the corpse of Deetna, that which could transform the world.
It was half buried into the bedrock, and there was something that must’ve once been wings growing upon its back. The wings were half-decayed, however, and have already mostly turned into bones. A stature so great one would mistake it for a giant’s. Yet despite being nothing but bones, it stood there with a commanding presence and sense of oppression as though it were still alive.
It felt as though the pair of skeletal eye sockets was staring at them.
──Be careful. We don’t know what might happen.
Altesia pondered on Ativ’s words. His gloomy demeanor and Zenobia’s expression as if she was trying to stifle something bothered her to no end.
The two voice belonging to the two heroes roused her from her thoughts. A den of snakes were crawling out of Deetna’s corpse, possessing power nearly just as great as those primordial ones she defeated before.
It was then that Altesia finally realized something.
If the gate could only be opened with someone from outside and someone from inside working together, then someone inside must have opened the gate. If so, there must have been something sealed inside that wanted to get out.
At the very least, someone from the old gods must have been able to establish communication with the underworld and was able to come to an agreement.
The Saint of Flames rained fire on the snakes, while the Martial God cut the giant snakes with her sword. But the snakes protecting Deetna’s corpse were residents of the underworld, and even when scorched, they would just shed their skin, and when cut, grow new flesh.
Altesia cheered for the two heroes, but their strenuous efforts were indeed enough to make one cry. They sacrificed even their own lifespan, and before long, they finally managed to suppress the snakes, but just when they were about to drive them beyond the darkness, a change occurred.
Deetna’s corpse began to vibrate, and then… It howled. Like a parent grieving for the death of her child, the supposedly dead Deetna screamed in grief and clutched at her chest in the despair of her sorrow, then she started to pull herself out of the bedrock.
Altesia and the heroes sensed danger, but they couldn’t retreat. The heroes used all sorts of magics and swords at their disposal, but they couldn’t possibly have much strength remaining immediately after that fierce battle with the snakes.
Wounded and out of strength, their very lives seemed like a flickering flame before the wind. When they prayed to the god that gave them their divine protection, what appeared before them was the goddess that protected the weak and thwarted cowardice. Like the streak of light that would break the darkness when the sun rose at dawn, like that ray of hope that would appear when one is trembling and on the verge of despair, there she appeared.
There was a divinity to her form, and she would only appear to save the heroes or to save the human gods.
In her hands was the sword forged by the God of Weapons. Without the slightest hint of mercy, that sword swung down for Deetna’s head.
The stroke drawn showed just where her dazzling courage lay, as well as the favor of the goddess that sought to protect the weak.
Deetna’s corpse shattered and a new light filled the underworld. The underworld trembled at the presence of a new god.
It was in that moment that the godless world welcomed a god at long last, and the throne of the all-powerful all-knowing god of that world was immediately given to her.
The scattered corpse of Deetna turned into a wind that headed for the entrance.
Knowledge poured into Altesia. The common sense, the knowledge, everything that enveloped the underworld was being rewritten. But this was exactly what Ativ had been waiting for. As knowledge poured into Altesia, so did understanding bloom within her, and immediately, she ran toward the entrance – for that place that Ativ sought.
But by the time she arrived, the seal had already been firmly placed. The heroes came a moment later, but they too saw it without a doubt – the sight of the person that betrayed them and locked them in the underworld.
“Ativ, you betrayed us!”
Altesia had already become the god of that world, so she could no longer leave. The seal was tight, yes, but it was also because the old gods had lent a hand. It was all too easy to imagine the sight of Ativ making a wish to Deetna when she was still alive with her seven pairs of wings.
When they saw Greco Bell Alsanzark pulling out his bloodied sword from Falco’s back, the heroes knew that they’d been betrayed.
When Deetna heard Ativ’s words, she turned into ash and sank into the depths of the underworld once again. Like an elf whose face was emerging out of a lakes, her appearance remained beautiful like when she appeared above ground, but her lower half were now bones belonging to the dead.
Greco said with a sneer. Sylvia was speechless, and Eliza swore vengeance.
“I swear, I will make you pay. There won’t be forgiveness, not for you, your country, your people, or your blood! Greco! Greco Bel Alsanzark! I curse you! I curse all of you!”
That was true for Ativ too, who knew the consequences and led Altesia here.
Already, Altesia’s anger was the world’s.
Mountains erupted in fire and the sky raged. Everything in the underworld belonged to her.
But no matter how great her wrath was, her power could not influence anything beyond the underworld. This was the principle that Ativ asked from Deetna. To suppress the power of the malevolent gods and create a world where his beloved humans could live. To that end, Ativ would even betray a god that believed in him.
As the gates of the underworld slowly closed, Altesia called out the name of her beloved. Despair replaced her anger, and she sank into the depths of the underworld.
When she became the Goddess of the Underworld, she became a malevolent god herself and antagonized the whole world.
It was the Goddess of Wisdom, Hera, who undid the seal of the underworld. As someone in the know, Hera was sympathetic to Altesia, so she went to the underworld while the world was peaceful thanks to Ativ.
Unfortunately, after becoming a part of the underworld, half of Altesia’s mind already belonged to it, and it was no longer possible to reconciliate with him. Moreover, she’d been thinking by herself this whole time, pondering what to do with the world.
She, who had fallen into the underworld but had not yet been deprived of her status as a human god, kept thinking. Ativ wanted a world that belonged only to the humans even if it meant betraying her.
Without a purpose that equaled at least that, it would not be possible to fight him. The rational part of her wanted to stop thinking like that, but the emotional part just could not let go.
Her anger was too great to forgive just like that. When Altesia learned how to reach the surface by restricting her strength to the bare minimum, Altesia appeared in the world above once more.
With four powerful servants, she started anew the War of the Gods.
Among those servants were the two heroes who’d even assimilated their souls in their pursuit of vengeance.
Unfortunately, no matter how powerful they were, it was not possible to win against the world, and they had no choice but to retreat. But in doing so, the difference in the two ideologies was made clear.
Ativ wanted a world that comprised only of humans, while Altesia was willing to accept the other races. There were those that didn’t agree with Ativ, but he made them submit with the condition that they would submit to the victor.
400 years passed. At long last, Altesia has acquired a pawn that could realize her regret on the surface.
There was just one last step left.
And yet… All she could see reflected on her closed eyes was the sight of her beloved──