You cannot avoid responsibilities forever…
I opened eyes and glanced around, but saw no one, other than my sleeping goddess. The sound of an early morning rain pounded the house. Early six on a Saturday, thunder clashed, and I couldn’t fall back asleep.
Something felt wrong. I sat up and looked at the black feather on the dresser. My suspicions were still hot on that thing, though I had no proof. I had had it examined by Amony, Amelia, and Sin but they all came to the same conclusion. It’s just a feather, with no signs of ever having power flow through it. That didn’t convince me much.
When it came to the Fallen, anything is possible. The rumors, the tales, and counts of them can’t be a tale right? Not to mention the greatest asshole himself, the first, popping up in places, unseen by mankind. I gave up on sleep in hopes that a shower would solve everything. I winced at the awful taste of the new toothpaste Amanda bought—why the peroxide?
After I finished showering and brushing up, I changed into a comfortable t-shirt and sweat pants before heading into the kitchen. Everything was spotless due to the team effort of chores. “Cleanliness is godliness” was their motto.
While the women made sure I felt like I belonged here, I knew it was time to get my own place. They didn’t understand that my absence here could contribute to their safety. Three weeks had passed since Karma pushed her dramatic agenda, which included clearing my name through heroism, demonstrating to the higher-ups that I’m some kind of defender of mankind, then marrying me for political power. She wanted to be the queen of the universe. Her methods were crazy, and she didn’t care who got injured to achieve her goals. Yet, she simply received a slap on the wrist. My point was that she wasn’t a true threat. The hunters were still out there tackling bounties. Some should be swarming this city, right? Did Yulese not say anything? Did he care? Is he still a hunter? The thought of the chaos that surrounded Paradise Realm bombarded my head as I poured myself a bowl of cereal.
“You’re up early,” Keisha said, as she joined me in the kitchen. The others would soon be up to take part in their usual training with Amelia. I sat at the table.
“Couldn’t sleep,” I said softly. The feeling of wrongness still ate at me.
“Anything you want to talk about? You look down.”
“Could be the weather,” I said. Keisha sighed. “And by the way, have fun with that.”
“Running in the rain doesn’t bother us. And don’t be a stranger. We’re all in this together.” Keisha gave me a quick shoulder pat before stalking off to go check on the others. The tiny amount of faith she left on my shoulder did not go unnoticed. Invisible, but a warm, welcoming presence. At that moment, I glimpsed into her past.
And immediately regretted it.
The physically injured girl, once abused by a now-dead uncle, knelt by the bedside of her last remaining family member. Her ill grandmother. Every single person in her family had died of an unknown illness—even her health-nut older sister. Her grandmother was next, and days later, she passed. Hopeless, tired, and suicidal, Keisha was ready to die, but death never came for her. She needed something to cope with the pain and turned to alcohol. Her source for it was a friend after she consumed her uncle’s last stash.
On a low-traffic night, while walking home, someone followed her. The attack was swift, aggressive, and cruel. After the bastard finished, he stole the cash from the poor girl’s wallet, before running off into the night.
The next morning, she tried to kill herself multiple times, from overdoses of pain medicine, to slashing at the wrist, and excessive alcohol. No luck. She didn’t even grow ill. The police couldn’t find the attacker, which only instilled more fear into her. Keisha hid her pain behind a mask at school and her part-time job. She grew terrified of walking home alone, and used every opportunity to ride with coworkers.
One night, her manager asked her to close the store and left due to an emergency. Kiesha did as told. On her way home, she held a bottle of pepper spray at the ready, constantly observing her surroundings, ready for anyone that would dare approach.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the same attacker from appearing again, right in front of her, grin on his…featureless face. The man’s face was shadowed, except for the smile of white teeth. Keisha screamed, unloading the pepper spray but it had no effect. She tried to run but couldn’t move, paralyzed by a force she didn’t understand. Intense fear.
To my horror, he ripped her shirt off as she struggled but just before all hope seemed was lost, strength returned to Keisha and bam! She delivered a powerful knee to the man’s balls before sprinting off. Unfortunately, she didn’t get far. She didn’t make it to a populated street.
The attacker ran her down, tackled and pinned the girl to the ground. Keisha struggled with all of her might, but the man held firm, rage in his eyes. She knew that this was it, that death had saved this ending just for her. The attacker didn’t get the chance to violate the girl this time. With a single hand, Amelia held him up, an icy look in her eyes. She stood in full glory, wings out, glowing with heavenly-light.
“I do not like to kill, but for you, I will make an exception.” Amelia literally ripped the soul out of the attacker. “Judgement. For scum of the earth, to Hell with you.” A hole emerged from the ground with thousands of grotesque hands squirming in it. The hands went nuts when she held the attacker over the hole. The man now in spirit form screamed and begged.
“I glanced into your past, to utter disgust. You hurt and killed many of the innocent, each whom begged the same way. It makes me wish I could be everywhere at once and stop every monster like you. I also looked into what the law of this land would’ve done after the trail of innocent bodies led to you. It’s the death penalty.” Amelia shook her head in disgust. “Your future would’ve led to a number of killings that promised to come for you with a full force of karma. No hope.”
Amelia tossed him inside the hole. The hands yipped in horrific excitement as they pulled the killer down to Hell. His body vanished seconds later into nothingness.
She turned to an awed Keisha.
“I’m sorry for not appearing sooner, girl of pain.” Amelia walked over and helped her stand. “Come with me, and give me that pain. It’s time to heal.”
The vision ended, and I just sat there, quietly eating my cereal. One thing about having deity blood is dealing with the psychic side of things. But unlike full breeds, I can’t control when I get the visions. While days and even lifetimes can pass in a matter of seconds in the sight, they are the most troublesome thing for me.
After finishing up my breakfast and washing the bowl, I stepped outside into the rain. It poured like a furious waterfall, soaking me to the bone in an instant. I looked at the sky, eager to try a few things. First off, weather control. No one truly had the right to mess with the weather except Mother Nature. If I did something drastic, she’d pay a visit. Can’t have that. I pointed at finger at the sky and silently commanded the rain to stop, releasing power as I did. Nothing happened. Well, never said this was going to be easy. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure of this—someone hugged me from behind.
“Trust me, you don’t want to do that,” Amelia said. “The slightest glitch in her weather system will draw Mother here in an instant. She can be quite terrifying when angry.”
I turned to her. “Come on, she can’t be that bad.”
Amelia rolled her eyes. “My out-of-control divine state cannot match even a little of her terror—especially when she’s silent. Just look how she punishes humans.”
I sighed. “You know, I’ve never actually met your mother. Not that I’m complaining or anything, it’s fun—”
“Consider yourself lucky,” Amelia said. “She can be the sweetest thing in your existence, but set her off and you’re doomed. And that woman’s lectures never end.”
I laughed. “I’m sure it can’t be worse than Noah’s lectures.” I paused, a frown settling in. Amelia’s smile faded too. “Any idea what happened to him?”
“Still no trace of him unfortunately,” Amelia said softly. She gave me a poke in the cheek. “I knew you cared.”
“His lectures felt like they went on for eons, but I’d never wish anything ill on the geezer,” I said.
“Epex, there were rumor of him switching sides,” Amelia said. The rain slowed to a drizzle.
“Just Rumors. Noah wouldn’t harm a fly,” I said.
“I wonder,” Amelia said.
The door opened. We looked to see Amanda, Keisha, and Jade walking out in training clothes, game faces on. For those expressions, Amelia was about to train the hell out of them. I winced inside. My goddess showed no mercy when it came to working out.
“Hate to interrupt your lovey-dovey moment,” Jade said, “but I’d like to get this torture over and done with.”
“You’re just jealous,” Keisha said, as they joined us.
“Am not,” Jade said,
Amanda sighed. “You two could just go get boyfriends.”
“Not from this place,” they said unison.
“Impossibly high standards?” I said to Amanda.
“Maybe,” she replied, with chuckle.
Just then, the air in front of us began to distort like the heatwaves of a summer day. We watched in awe as a floating man, the size of a water bottle, appeared before us, dressed in flowing white robes. Amelia and I looked at each other in shock—a creature long thought to be either extinct or in hiding, banished to myths, was actually here in the flesh.
It had the form of a man in his twenties, long white hair, golden eyes, and heavenly-light surrounding it. These beings were called Whispers in Paradise Realm. Humans called them sprites. They were vicious back in their time, and supposedly the reason why fairies retreated to the dream world.
“Epex Helios,” the sprite said, in a voice that was as loud as a normal-size man. “You have been summoned by the Misthanger Queen. And for your sake, you better get moving.”
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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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