Shadow of the Gods

“Dormin, Dormin, Dormin.”

A familiar voice, one Dormin hadn’t heard in hundreds of years spoke his name in an excited, yet demeaning fashion. He turned his head to see Cliara standing below him.

Cliara’s long hair fell down her body, fitting over her curves as a dark frame. She wore a white dress that dragged on the ground, a slit began at her hip on the right side, opening up to reveal a porcelain leg. Her black eyes were a raging fire of darkness staring at him. The smile on her face curved wider as she obtained Dormin’s attention. She lifted a welcoming hand, her voice almost breathless, “My dear friend, it’s been so long. You’re home now. Get out of that ridiculous form. We need to chat.”

Although her demand seemed more like a suggestion, Dormin knew better than to be deceived by her outward kindness. Cliara was one of the most vicious gods in the heavens. Dormin shed his large, beastly shadow form, for a smaller, human-sized one. He stood before Cliara, who raised an eyebrow, “How long has it been? Five-hundred years? Time does fly by doesn’t it?”

Dormin was unsure of what to say or how to react. All he knew was she was cracking a crude joke. For him, the last 500 years had been slow, hellish, and painfully boring. It was the fact human years were drug out slowly compared to god years. In the heavens, those years had gone in the snap of a finger. Instead of saying anything to risk offense, Dormin merely blinked in response.

“Take a seat Dormin, we have much to talk about.”

“I’d rather stand.”

“I said,” Cliara widened her eyes, “take a seat.”

Dormin sat back to feel a chair greet him. The blinding white expanse they were standing in before changed shape into an expanding landscape. The forbidden land. His land.

Cliara sat across from him, her right leg crossed over her left showing the curve of her thigh to her hip. She gently rested her hands on her throne. It was made of stone, with carvings of humans begging for mercy on the bottom. As the throne grew taller, a winged beast, Cliara’s true form, was carved on the top, it’s wings curling to shape the chair, “The council is mad at you,” she slyly spoke.

“Are they now? I would never have guessed.”

“Funny,” Cliara waved her hand, “I’ll discuss your punishment in a bit, but first I want to commend you on your performance—”

“Wait, discuss my punishment?” Dormin growled, “Five-hundred mortal years split into 16 pieces wasn’t punishment enough?”

“No, it wasn’t,” Cliara’s shadowy eyes grew more fiery, “You’ve only just begun your punishment.”

There was a strain that crossed between the two gods. Cliara broke it off by smiling with her sharp teeth, “Anyway, we’re not talking about that right now. I wanted to commend you first. That performance you put on was quite the display. Persuading that adorable boy, Wander, to free you. Better yet, you kept your promise. You brought that girl back to life for him. Even though he never saw it with his own eyes. Quite a heart-tugging story. You managed to free yourself and make it entertaining. A beautiful performance.”

Dormin sat back in his seat, he placed his fingers together as Cliara continued, “Yet, in the end, the humans still got the better of you. They sent you back here.”

“You brought me back here. They cried out to the gods, and you listened to them.”

“It was a choice of the council to bring you back once you were raised again in the mortal world. It just happened to work out that the pathetic humans begged for us to take you away. We did it with pride and pleasure in our hearts.”

“Just like you helped them to trap me in the first place,” Dormin’s shadowy body began to stream pillars of smokey darkness into the air.

“Wasn’t that embarrassing? You deserved it though,” Cliara straightened out a crease in her silk gown, “You killed three of our family members because of your own greed. You wanted more power, more land. Instead of just accepting what you had, you killed our own!”

Cliara’s voice echoed through the valley, shaking the ground around them. She closed her eyes, took in a deep breath and went back to her pleasant looking self before she went on, “You know, Dormin, when humans die, they go to their afterlife we created for them. Now, when a god dies, there isn’t an afterlife because we are the afterlife.

Dormin didn’t have a response to that. All he did was huff, remaining silent.

Cliara rolled her eyes, “Why couldn’t you just be like all the other gods? You could be like the Master of the Valley. Just eat the children when you’re hungry. Make something elaborate and fun. Dormin… we’re supposed to strike fear into the humans, not fire a rebellion within them. You make them submit, not fight. The more power they witness from you, the more they will gain the courage to fight.”

“That’s why you helped them trap me? Split my soul into 16 pieces? Create a sword that was the key to it all? You made me look like a fool!”

Cliara laughed, “You’re embarrassed. As you should be.”

A gentle breeze rolled through the grass, it greeted the gods, pushing a strand of Cliara’s hair across her small nose. She moved it out of her face with slender fingers. Dormin could tell by the smirk on her face, Cliara was enjoying herself, “Now, let’s talk about your punishment.”

Dormin and Cliara had a brief stare down before Cliara spoke, “You know, that boy, Wander. The one you were utilizing for your freedom? He didn’t die. In fact, he was reborn with a little bit of you in him.” Cliara raised her hands to her head to imitate horns, “I think that will work well for part of your punishment.”

Dormin wanted to lash out. Instead, he kept his composure, speaking through gritted teeth, “Part? How many parts of punishment are there going to be? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Yes, let me cut to the chase. Your punishment is as follows…,” Cliara bared her fangs again in a grin, “You lose your high god status. Which means you must lose the power that comes with that. Wander becoming reborn with a little of you left behind gave me a brilliant idea. His predecessors will all carry the mark of Dormin. The horns will be a symbol of who they came from. There will also be a little bit of your power within them. We’ll be draining it from you into each little boy born within Wander’s bloodline.”

Cliara paused, “You know, when mortals get the power of the gods among them, they get greedy. Someone will try to take advantage of that later. It will be very exciting to see what happens.

“Now, because you are losing your status, you will lose your land as well. I will be taking that from you,” the goddess opened her arms wide, motioning for Dormin to look around at the vast expanse they were in, “This land is so beautiful. I got lucky enough to obtain it. I cannot wait to make this land prosper again. I am going to use those little devil children. I want to make an incredible story here. Maybe it will take long enough you’ll be able to see it when you get out of Purgatory.”

Dormin stood quickly, “Purgatory? You’re sending me to Purgatory? Being in the mortal world for 500 years is the equivalent of thousands of years in Purgatory!”

“Yes, the final part of your punishment is 3,000 years in Purgatory. It won’t be as thrilling as your time spent in the mortal world, but it must suffice as payment.”

“Why? Haven’t I already been punished enough? I admit, I was greedy. I made a mistake, but I spent enough time trapped down there. It’s enough to take my title, but continue to imprison me after the punishment I’ve already received?”

“You killed three of our own,” Claria wasn’t amused with his outburst. She gently reached out and allowed a blue-tailed lizard to crawl up her arm and onto her shoulder before she spoke as though she was deep in thought, “If I’ve learn anything from mortals, it’s that everyone believes they deserve more than they should get. Gods are not the same. You believe you deserve full forgiveness to your egregious crimes after a measly 500 years? It’s laughable. One-thousand years for each sibling you slaughtered. It’s not a question.”

Cliara rose from her throne, she set the lizard on the grass, “You’re lucky you know,” she said as she watched the lizard skitter away, “I wanted 1,000 years in the Torture Vane, but the others on the council thought it was too much. You should be thanking us for our generosity.”

With that, the scenery around them dissolved. They stood once again in the white expanse.

“I have had a grand time catching up with you,” Cliara turned her back to Dorming as two guards appeared beside him, “but I have more business I must tend to. Always someone in trouble around here. Have fun in Purgatory. Maybe I’ll visit you sometime.”

The guards were tall, giant spears as their weapons. Each guard was covered in stone armor with intricate patterns that represented what they could do and what gods they worked for. There was a blue flow of magic that was woven into the patterns on the rough surface of their moss covered stone shells. Slowly, they reached out to grab hold of Dormin. He stopped them, “No need to force me. I can walk there on my own my friends.”

The guards turned their heads toward Cliara, who nodded approval.

Dormin and the guards disappeared into the white expanse. After they were gone, Claira smiled to herself. She had been amused. That’s really all she cared about. The entertainment. Without it, her job would be dull. She breathed in the emptiness, letting it out as she, herself, left the whiteness of judgement, leaving a small, black mist of shadow in her wake.

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