You know, I really hate the saying, “All good things must come to an end.” Why can’t they stick around? What, are they late for something?
I gazed at Amelia, unsure of where to begin. She was about five feet, eight inches tall in comparison to my six feet two. Full lips, bright, sparkling green eyes, great rack—she’s a man’s dream girl. But not mine. I’d known her since the beginning.
Everyone in Paradise Realm had a pre-determined love chosen for them at birth. Amelia—or should I say Princess Amelia of the Venus Clan was selected to be mine, to rule at my side.
We were introduced at like age two, our fates decided for us by whatever invisible dickhead that called himself destiny. Even when I was sent to the human world, she still secretly visited, nearly every day after school. She wasn’t a horrible childhood friend but clingy, annoying, whiny, and too damn lovey-dovey. A few rare times she was my partner in crime—I could be a convincing little brat.
The Hell prison was actually a break from that. Well, that’s not saying much. Kid Amelia was the only goddamn friend I had. If we were in different circumstances, we’d be catching up right now. Time is nothing to heavenly-beings—eight years being only an afterthought, showing itself through the physical changes of our bodies. Too bad we were on different sides of the fence and I wasn’t quite ready to throw in my hand just yet.
Amelia stopped four feet from me with what appeared to be hope in her eyes.
“Wow, you sure have grown, Amelia,” I said giving her the glance over, followed by a whistle. She briefly blushed. “I wish I could say it’s nice to see you again, but this bad feeling I got isn’t going away.”
“What? No hug, no kisses, no ‘I’ve missed you, my love?’ Anything to make me believe that you’re innocent, Epex,” she said.
I chuckled. “Well…I did miss you, a little. But as for Paradise Realm, or that I’m innocent, I’d be lying. Actually, I’m both innocent and not. Higher-ups don’t tend to believe in self-defense these days.”
Amelia shook her head. “You’re wanted, dead or alive by Paradise Realm for breaking out of prison, attempting to murder Conus with a forbidden use of power, and declaring yourself a god-slayer. Epex, this is no joke. You’re a tier one target for treason and every hunter will be after you.”
“Nothing I didn’t expect,” I said, my mood dropping.
“But you can end this. Conus told them that if you willingly surrendered and publicly apologized, meaning every bit of it, he’d negate the charges and you’d only have to serve five years in Hell.”
“Please, Epex, think about it. You’re getting off a lot easi—”
“Amelia, I know you’re a hunter,” I interrupted. “And in fact, you’re one of the more dangerous ones, tracking any ascending and descending flights, or odd use of power. You were the first one here and the fastest among them. And you’re hoping to end this without having to engage into combat but if so, you’re perfectly capable of kicking my ass, being trained and what not. But I won’t go back. Hell sucks.”
“Epex, I want us to be together again—I’ve really missed you,” Amelia said. “Please be reasonable.”
I frowned. “You know, during the eight years spent rotting in Hell, I’ve changed.” Before she could speak, I continued. “And I don’t mean a little change, we’re talking about big, major, psychological, so on. I’ve opened my eyes to what the world’s really like around me. And Amelia, I’m not going down without a fight.”
“Epex, I really don’t want to fight you, I love—”
“I don’t believe in the predetermined love thing,” I said nonchalantly, knowing the words would sting.
Her eyes widened. “You don’t mean that.” The pressure of intense power briefly flickered around my childhood friend.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do,” I said. Now, you’re probably wondering: why am I poking the bear? Well, it’s fun. Paradise Realm is under the impression that I’m afraid of them, but after living in Hell for eight years, I was steeled. May as well make it as painfully annoying as possible to get me. Before Amelia say anything else, I made a run for it, yelling, “You may be hot but don’t act sexy.”
You know, there’s nothing like getting the last sting of insults while running from someone who could easily kill you. Amelia was a spark of the past but I had to leave it that way. Most goddesses or female angels end up ridiculously goody two-shoed. None of them daring, like women of earth. It’s Paradise Realm, what can you expect?
I raced through the town and right into the bar. “Seven more beers please.”
Someone handed a wad of cash to the bartender. I looked to my right, eyes widening. Amelia sat down. Holy shit, that impossible speed...
“Going to kill me in front of all of these people?” I said in a low voice.
She turned to the old bartender. “I’ll have a small wine please. But don’t give this guy anymore beer. I’ve got words to speak to him.”
“Ah, girlfriend is tarnishing your drinking, huh?” The bartender laughed.
“She’s not my anything—”
“Fiancée,” Amelia said, her voice nonchalant.
“Oh boy,” the bartender said, placing a small glass in front of Amelia and filling it up with grape wine.
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” Amelia said. She downed her wine in one gulp and pulled me outside into a nearby ally.
“Well, you ready to fight to the death and do this or what?” I said, attempting to keep some humor flowing into the atmosphere. I figured it’d hurt less.
“Epex, just because you say you don’t believe in the predetermined love of destiny doesn’t make it go away.”
“You’re still on about this—never mind, it kind of does.”
“No, it doesn’t. You’re my love, no matter what. You’re bound to me. And it’s up to me to purify you—”
“Okay, I’m done with this shit,” I said, charging power in my back. It had been a while since I ascended legitimately. Last time, it was from Paradise Realm to the human realm to live among them. Conus’s stupid test. He mainly backed it, making sure I landed in the correct realm. I planned to mimic the ascending but only to get to another human city. Who knew if this would work or not?
Amelia pulled me close to her. A nice scent of Paradise Realm perfume tickled my nose as I began to feel enticed. Maybe …just maybe I’d let her take me. Her freshly showered scent practically hugged my face. It made me aware that she hadn’t broken a sweat in chasing me down.
“Please come with me,” she whispered. “I will do anything to be with you. I can plead for Conus to take you back.”
I snapped out of the seduction effect she attempted. Even a half-breed like me could break the spell of a young, inexperienced goddess with ease.
“You’re really after that power, aren’t you?” I said, knowing that was utter bullshit. Amelia represented purity. Still, there’s nothing like buying a little time. “To be queen of Paradise Realm. To be queen of the universe?”
She gave me a confused look. I continued to charge my power. “Epex, I’ve waited eight annoying years for you, wondering what you’d be like all grown up. It made me excited. But it hurt a lot to hear that with each year that your father visited, you chose to rebel. Your original sentence was two years, one year for each time you let your power go out of control. Why do you put yourself through this?”
“I don’t know. Why do people breathe?”
“Give me an honest answer.”
I continued to spout more bullshit. “Amelia, someone spoiled by the fluffiness of Paradise Realm would never understand. I still ask myself things like, why did I get chosen? Conus has six other full-god sons, all of them who are older than me, would lay down their lives for Paradise Realm and its rules, and certainly would love the power. I decided to take a normal life by force. First, defy Conus as much as possible, let him know he has no control over me. And guess what? The opportunity came and I took it. I will not let you take it all away.”
Just then, two bright angelic wings sprouted on Amelia’s back. Powerful pressure began to fill the air. Think of it like gravity on steroids, and that’s how I felt. I could barely move from this range of her overwhelming power. Young age meant nothing—she was still a goddess, trained to be a hunter. But…were hunters always this strong? Holy shit.
“I’m only taking you back because I love you,” she said, grabbing me ahold of me. “I will beg Conus to pardon your sentence. We can apologize together to Paradise Realm. I’ll ask them to let you do reaper or messenger duty in place of the sentence. You had it hard for eight years, still growing up to be so handsome. I’ve already imprinted on you, long ago, but you haven’t had any time —”
“Goddammit let go of me, Amelia, I’m not going back!” I snarled, struggling. Imprinting on me was one thing and it was common among gods and goddesses to do so, but not demigods. Well, to be fair, I was like one of two demigods, half-human, half-god. Never met my mother. The other was half-angel, half-god. The mother angel was judged and forced to fall. I shrugged away the thought. “Amelia, I swear.”
We began to rise. In seconds, we’d be in Paradise Realm. After what I’ve done, I wasn’t sure if even Princess Amelia Venus, the symbol of purity of her clan, could lessen my sentence. Everyone knew of our relationship. They’d be in the right to be suspicious this whole ordeal.
I strained with all of my will, moving my charged power from my back to my hands. I aimed my palms at her and hoped that what I planned to do next would work. I had never tried the technique but it was a favorite of Conus and my brothers, especially when they trained.
I concentrated the gathered power in my hands, forming it into an ability known as force. That force bashed Amelia away from me, only three feet but enough for me to run.
She gave the chase this time, bearing down on me quickly, a hurt look in her eyes. That’s just how Paradise Realm acted. Self-centered. The opinions of others, especially lower demigods, meant little to them. Even as the heir of the throne, until actually crowned prince, they’d look down on me as much as possible. My human blood didn’t make anything better.
I moved leftover power from my hands to my back and started ascending. It would be a hasty one but thanks to Amelia’s natural goddess imprinting, she’s a hunter with no intention of killing me. Yet.
Wings didn’t spring from my back as the colors of the lands began to change. Half-breeds don’t have a fancy show, we just transport. I shivered. I thought I wasn’t going to make it, as Amelia’s hand nearly grabbed my arm. But I launched high into the air in a mess of white, blue, and then purple light, ascending out of there. The last thing I saw was her sadness. Or maybe determination. Shit.
I almost wavered—she was once my closest friend—but it’s a dangerous game with nobility. This wasn’t the time to take a risk that could land me a spot back in Hell. Yeah, fuck that.
When the light cleared, I was standing behind a…hotel. A hotel of yet another town, probably not too far from where I had left Amelia.
I quickly dashed yards away from the spot and entered a chapel. It’d be too dangerous to stick around, especially since the huntress would simply follow. Tracking took a little time to initiate, so I’d have to figure out how to make an escape without using much power before it was too late. Afterwards, I’d begin some god-slayer training or something. There is no doubt that they were coming for me. Since I’d resisted the only one that truly wanted me back, I’m free game.
However, I’m not going to take this shit. I won’t wait for them to stomp me. There were plenty of on-the-ready killers, all working for six elite, super-hunter leaders. Fortunately for me, all six of them were quite arrogant. Someone like me with little training in power wouldn’t be enough to even make them blink in my direction. Though I wasn’t sure of their names. Hell, Amelia could be one, though I doubted it. Obviously, the top gods wouldn’t waste their time with me. Which is why they sent the heavenly hunters. Don’t confuse them with the army, though. The hunters are an entirely separate entity, bred to capture or kill the wanted.
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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