Our joy was short-lived.
Before I could shout a warning as the monstrous presence impossibly regenerated back into reality, the naked Fallen jumped on top of Elly. She almost took a bite out of the succubus, but Elly turned intangible just in time, rolled away, and got up.
Without getting up herself, the Fallen woman laughed…and continued to laugh as everyone probably flinched the same thought: just what the fuck was going on? She was clearly dead.
“You can’t kill me, you can’t kill me, hahahaha ha,” she chanted, child-like.
Amelia and I made eye contact. Her grim expression, maybe pleading in those emerald eyes, didn’t help me focus. Turning on state three, I blurred toward the Fallen and swung. She…fucking caught it with a single hand and it wouldn’t cut. “No-no-no-no-no, dear.” The Fallen woman grinned. “You won’t be that again, cutie-pie.”
I tried to pull back the blade, but the damn thing wouldn’t budge. You’ve got to be shitting me. This couldn’t be happening. Wait… I aimed a hand at the sky, but noticed that Amelia beat me to it. She altered the weather, causing it to rain then turn to sunshine. The Fallen instantly knew what that meant, leapt into the air, and ascended. Her last words were, “We will have you, mister weapon sir.”
Mother Nature did appear, her eyes falling to her daughter upon manifestation. I could only assume she detected that fleeing Fallen. I mean the black feathers on the ground made it obvious too, but that’s beside the point. My friends were frozen, knowing it was best to not get the primal’s attention on them. This is someone you did not want to piss off. In fact, the super goddess’s eyes turned to me, surprise in them.
“Son-in-law, you’re…. you’re alive,” she said, her voice just above a whisper. “I want the full story right now.”
I tried not to trip on my own foot at the “son-in-law” declaration as I walked over to Mother Nature. Amelia hugged her mother. She kissed her daughter on the forehead.
“Before we get to that, can you bring that Fallen back and you know, smite her?” I said.
“She’s not in this realm,” Mother Nature said, “so I can’t grasp her.” She placed a warm hand on my face. “You’ve changed. Still changing. A cross between your mother and Father…Maybe something greater, something in which this universe has never seen.” The super goddess eyed me then turned back to her daughter. “I’m surprise I’m not a grandmother yet.”
Amelia turned away, blushing. Mother Nature simply laughed. That laugh caused all injuries in the city to heal, a few roses in the area to bloom, moods to lift. I dared not to think what would happen if she was pissed. “So, Epex, son-in-law.”
“Mother,” Amelia said, her embarrassment making even my friends stifle their laughs.
Mother Nature smiled. “I want the full story.”
I told her the Cliffs Notes version. She may be Mother Nature, but no one told me what the fuck to do. Okay, so the real reason is because we were short on time. Okay, okay, I told the damn story too many times already.
Mother Nature was silent after I finished, looking thoughtful. Then she grew serious. “My husband and your father had teamed up in an investigation to weed out the corruption.”
My eyes widened. “They did?”
“They did?” Amelia said.
Mother Nature nodded. “Unfortunately, I believe someone of the corrupted has either caught onto the investigation, retracting into hiding, or we’re being overly paranoid.”
I felt my face frown.
“There is corruption. Someone in the House, just not sure. It’s not like I’ve met any of them.”
“I believe you, but without evidence, we cannot simply go pointing fingers at anyone in the House. You know the power structure—”
For the first time, I allowed the glow of my anger to show at Mother Nature.
“Mother Nature…no…Lilian Venus, with all due respect, the flaw of that power structure makes even human society more preferable. No one, not even Conus, wants to stand up to the House. Even if the bastards are threatening to taint Paradise Realm. Have tainted it. I heard a voice, from an unknown realm that carried heavenly-presence. It confirmed my own suspicions. Someone’s about to do something that will change life as we know it, for the worse. Mother Nature, we’ve got to try harder. Pool the clans together. Have them check everyone.”
Her eyes actually dropped.
“The clans are bickering,” she said softy. My eyes widened.
“I’ve heard there hasn’t been conflict among them in over ten thousand years,” I said. “What could possibly set them off.”
“Many deaths in the elite, rumors of Valkyrie snooping, and worst of all, some of the clan leaders have it in their heads that another clan should replace the Helios as ruling clan.”
“It’s exactly as you said,” Amelia said softly. “Bickering. Like humans.”
Mother Nature’s expression became solemn.
“The corruption has planted a damaging seed in our homeland, ruining many centuries and generations of peace.” Mother Nature’s wings burst out from her back, the glow of them intensifying. “The damage may be irreversible…but we will try our damned hardest to weed out the traitors.”
Devante suddenly mustered up the courage to speak.
“Do you think they’re responsible for the Fallen from before…what’s his name…Vor?”
Mother Nature gave him a thoughtful expression.
“Hmm. I couldn’t find anything in my previous investigation. Then again, it was cut short due to the House’s pointless meeting, declaring that the elite would end you. Apparently, that mission was complete. Or so we thought. Your father spent nearly an endless amount of time in the grand achieves, attempting to find some legal way for your release. If the House wanted him distracted, they shouldn’t have bothered utilizing the elite.”
“The geezer did? No way,” I said. “The only thing that man cares—”
“He did,” Mother Nature said. “He’s been struggling with the system for years now. Honestly, I feel sorry for him. As the humans say, cut him some slack.”
“Mom, please don’t ever speak like that again,” Amelia said, facepalming.
Awkward silence, then we all burst into laughter at Mother Nature’s expense. The super goddess smiled, then grabbed both me and her daughter in a hug. Her perfume was identical to Amelia’s. Mother, daughter agreed with something I suppose. I’d never tell Amelia that though. There are lines that not even jokes should cross.
“Any idea where Karma is?” I asked, getting the intense gazes of both Venus women. “We could use a powerhouse to help us.”
Mother Nature sighed.
“That crazy girl wanted to marry you into universal royalty, with silly plans and dangerous power games. I almost thought she was involved in the clan bickering. Why would you want her near you?”
“Because she’s still a Venus,” I said. “One part of her plan was to make it look like I did something heroic and stopped the ‘all-powerful’ Karma from harming the humans. Then after pulling strings and getting a slap on the wrist, she’d urge them to…. I don’t enjoy this plan either, but she’s powerful. Mother Nature, I want you to continue acting natural, no pun intended.” She glared at me. I grinned. “It’s best that the House don’t look at one of the heads of the Venus clan. We’ll sneak into the realm, go to their headquarters, and search for clues, maybe secret doors that would get us the evidence needed.”
“Epex, that’s a terrible plan,” Sin said. “But it may be all we’ve got. What should we do? That is if we’re allowed into the realm.”
Mother Nature snorted.
“A little disguise of your essence, make you seem like unimportant angels and you’ll be fine. Well, except for that one.” She pointed at Layla. There was a silent message there.
I broke the tension with a chuckle.
“Ironically, she’ll be our most important weapon, so please use your primal powers to disguise her really well.”
Mother Nature gave me a long look before nodding.
“Fine. But if you don’t find anything or if you simply need to leave, come directly to me. I’ll see all of you safely out.”
“Is it really okay for us to go?” Elly said, her uncomfortableness nearly palpable in the air.
“You’re doing this in service of the universe,” Mother Nature said. “I will personally see to your positive eternity, should something happen to you.”
Elly let out a breath of relief. “I’m in.”
“One more thing, before we go to Karma’s realm,” I said, looking the super goddess in the eye. “Could you like delete Sunset.”
Everyone looked at me. “It’s a fair question. We were about to fight Sunset. Why do that when Mother Nature could simply delete them with one wag of a finger.”
Mother Nature tipped back her head and laughed, then pulled me in for a hug. I hated myself for intaking a head full of breasts. She was suffocating me.
“Amelia, your eternity is shining brighter than the sun. Take me to this Sunset. I will wipe out the army but you will take care of their leader. I want you to prove yourself in battle.” She looked at Amelia. “It’s how your father won me over. The way he used his sword—”
“Mother!” Amelia’s blush spiraled everyone into laughter.
And so, we made another set of preparations. Amony pissed off her entire team, calling them off the main mission, sending them to patrol many parts of the city. Some of them were placed into groups, assigned to various parts of the city to prevent escaping. All in all, everything looked brighter. Well, except for the part about me facing off with the Drifter while he has a tear. I pestered Amelia’s mom again about it.
“Are you sure you don’t want to just nuke him,” I said. “I don’t know what the oracles are capable of—it’d be suicide to give the devil a chance to use it.”
Amelia’s mom winked.
“Prove yourself, son of Helios. You beat six powerful royal demons by yourself without even using full strength. Let this be the fight to insert that missing confidence. Besides, you won’t let me wed you two right now. The least you could do is show me a fight. A good one.”
“Fine,” I said. “When do you think we should raid the House’s headquarters?”
“In two days,” Mother Nature replied. “I’ll arrange something to get them all out.”
I nodded. Before I could walk off to check on Amony, Mother Nature stopped me. “Will you step up and take the throne? Connected to the universe, you are—do not think this has gone unnoticed. I didn’t mention it while the others were around, but when that sole elite leader came back, defied them, and resigned, the House went into disarray. Some members suggested sending Knights after you.”
At that moment I felt one with fucking Antarctica. Every blood vessel felt like ice as I let Mother Nature’s words sink in. The Knights face unimaginable threats to protect all of the realms under Conus’s control. What the army can’t defeat, they take on, mostly the Fallen. If it weren’t for them, the universe would be overrun with Fallen, invaders from beings that live apart of banned groups called Pantheons. Yes, THOSE Pantheons. Pick up any ancient tome of mythology and it won’t take a rocket scientist to see the blatant abuse of power. Sorry to disappoint. There won’t be any Ragnarok starting in this world. The last thing I wanted was little ole me getting the attention of raw super…no, mega… no ultra-soldiers of death on me. “Don’t worry, son-in-law, I blocked that notion. So did your father and my husband, your second eldest brother who spoke from your eldest and—even your stepmother.”
“She did?” I said loud enough to get curious eyes around to look at me. I lowered my voice. “I thought that woman hated me.”
Mother Nature shot me a blank look.
“Have you ever talked with her, even once?” I didn’t reply. “She’s hurt, Epex. And she knows you think ill of her, but Queen Helios loves you as if you were one of her own blood sons. You were unapproachable, always ducking and dodging her. Hiding from her. Afraid of her. That woman made Conus promise to not let you get excluded by your brothers. Also. She knew the entire situation—”
“I always pictured her as a scheming evil goddess, waiting at any opportunity to cut me out of the picture,” I said. “In my eyes, she looked pretty freaking happy to see me on trial.”
“If you had the ability to read her heart as I do, that woman was in despair when she saw you on trial. Use your head, Epex. What could she possibly gain by having you out of the picture? She’s queen of the universe.”
“Her sons taking the throne instead?” I said. I looked around to make sure no one was listening. Now just wasn’t the time to talk about this. We needed to flush out Sunset once and for all. My family problems were irrelevant. Talking like this…while gaining some information for Paradise that I never know, only wavered my focus.
“Other than that knuckleheaded Tackiron, no one wanted the throne,” Mother Nature said. “They don’t have the connection to the universe you and your father share. So what will you do, son-in-law?” I didn’t answer. Mother Nature gave me a look of sympathy. “Let me give you a word of advice. Follow what’s in your heart, your instincts, your passion, your determination. And draw strength from that forever-growing bond between you and Amelia.” She left me to check up on her daughter.
I was out of touch with my family, my clan, Paradise Realm, and I just didn’t give a fuck. Sure, I’m not as bitter as before, but I wouldn’t be jumping into any of their arms anytime soon.
Amony finally came out of her office with Sin. They were in the office for a few minutes, with other employees walking in and out, wrapping things up.
I just wanted to get this show started. Being around the overwhelming powerful super goddess was mentally tiring. And her pride at calling me her son-in-law was palpable and embarrassing. My coworkers were snickering. I did take note that Mickey didn’t look too pleased.
Elly once talked with her before—apparently, she asked the succubus about me—yet the stubborn mortal still had thoughts, hopes. She probably felt hyper-intimidated by both Amelia and her mother. Poor girl had no idea she stood among powerful goddesses.
“Can we go now?” I said to the ancient witch.
“Yes,” Amony said. “I had to triple check to make sure that Sunset didn’t move. We don’t want to waste the time of my lady.”
I shot her a blank look.
“Don’t bother Amelia’s mom please.”
She replaced the starry-eyed look with her game face.
She shouted, “alright security forces, off your asses. Let’s get moving.” Amony turned to me and whispered. “If you can, try to get me Mother Nature’s autograph please.”
Support "Hell to Pay (Blood for Soul #1) "
- The Enlightener
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.
Don't be shy. Give him a wave. A read. And maybe whisper, "waffles," because the man loves his waffles. It's a miracle his keyboard doesn't have maple syrup all over it.
Best of all, Alvin Atwater can be found all over the net. Read some seriously funny things from Webnovel, Wattpad, Penana, Scriggler, StoryStar.
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.
https://www.patreon.com/syr456/ (Advanced Chapters)
Discord channel: https://discord.gg/t2qVaAR