Her blonde hair did not obscure her dark brown eyes as they seemed to take in everything around her in a glance. She looked like a sweet little five year old girl, her curly hair and heart shaped face would have made women across the globe do that annoying, “awwwww, she’s so cute” nonsense in tones pitched high enough to give any nearby canine an aneurysm. The shadows cast from the still bright evening sun did not come close to her at all, just stopping within twenty feet from her feet. Her hands were cupped together, as if she were holding a bug, but streaks of light were leaking through her fingers.

“A sorcerer has never called upon me before,” her soft voice carried power that almost made me take a step back, “Please tell me why you have my champions.” This was creepy. She literally sounds like a five year old girl, complete with enough sadness and innocence to bend even the strongest wills. That’s why stubborn ass built the giant stone plate on the front yard, to bolster my mortal mind with enchantments more powerful than I.

“Oh no, we can have a real conversation when you stop the act,” I said more confidently than I truly felt, “I mean no harm to you or yours, but I do have a sapling of Yggdrasil behind me. Banishing anyone from my house or the surrounding land is easy with that kind of power.” I was totally bluffing. Completely out of my league, but desperately banking on the fact that my enchantments plus the presence of the World Tree would pull through. Gungnir pulsed soft red and yellow light, seemingly as if in agreement.

“What is it that you want?” she asked, sounding as if I had somehow personally wronged her or popped her balloon at her birthday party.

“I want you to tell your champions to leave me alone,” I said, “They have some crazy idea in their heads that magic is wrong, bad, or evil. I don’t make zombies, I make earth and water.”

“Your spear says otherwise,” she replied, her fingers shifting, letting out more light, “I see fire and lightning and death.”

“I’ve had to fight to live!” I exclaimed, “I woke up to cats eating my face off! Have you ever had a cat eat your face? Pretty sure that’s a no.”

“You’re very bold for a mortal,” she said quietly, imperiously, shifting her hands some more. Turning her hands, some of the light escaping through the cracks in her fingers turned more solid and blasted me to the porch.

The only thing that kept me alive was the platinum shield that I had grabbed and kept in front of my chest the whole time. That light was pure, raw, condensed magic that cut through my magical shields and wards like a pressure washer through soft cheese, but rebounded off the platinum, transferring the kinetic force to me. My shields softened the kinetic blow enough for me to survive, but several bones were broken. I felt like an old man, picking myself up after that. A pain block and the pocket generator slowly put my body back to rights. I cracked my neck, gripping Gungnir so tight that my knuckles turned white.

“I was going to invite you in as a guest,” I said, leaning on Gungnir, “but that’s off the table. Now, it’s an armed negotiation.”

The shock on her face mirrored my own inner surprise. Did not think I would live through that. I cracked my neck, feeling a bit more like myself. [Think, think!]. How the fuck did I get here? Oh, by being stupid. My usual problem rears its ugly head and now I am face to face with the consequences.

“How did you survive that?!” she gasped, “Only enchanted orichalcum dipped in dragon’s blood can withstand starlight!”

Guess platinum is not a common metal anywhere else in the universe. Tuck that nugget away for later.

“I don’t even know what that is,” I said, “What I do know, is that I have your three paladins and am now far less likely to be kind. How about I use the World Tree to send them to the far reaches of the Multiverse so that no one will ever find them? That way I’m not responsible how they meet their end, and you never know what happens to them? Sound like a plan?”

“Wait!” she yelled, stepping forward till she reached the edge of my wards. Her face was pale and arms trembling. Maybe that blast of magic took it out of her. The messenger god did say that the mana on Earth isn’t dense enough yet for this kind of thing yet. It’s probably hard for her to be here for long. I guess the main reason it’s possible is due to the generators putting out mana to the surrounding area as well or the ley lines near the house.

But back to the frantic goddess. I knew it. Her frantic expression right now, cupping the light in her hands tightly, showed true emotion now. Children get attached to new things, and this deity-child was attached to her champions. Her laser assault on me gave it away, a knee jerk reaction to me provoking her. “I let you get one shot in,” I said, my healing almost complete, “But no more. I don’t mean any harm, I promise. You can even have them back, just tell them to leave me alone, or clarify that only certain magic is bad. I don’t care.”

“Let them go and I will,” she pleaded, her visage seeming just a little less solid now, her fingers cupping that ridiculous light also starting to waver. I opened the front door of the house, not taking my eyes off her.

“Hey come outside now, your goddess is here to see you.” I said, “And, she’s about to clarify, I’m not the bad guy, like I promised, right?”

Astria nodded in agreement, “Yes, now come to me my faithful warriors, come quickly.” The two girls sprinted to her with John closely following. “It’s all better now,” she said from the middle of a group hug. Then she opened her hand and dropped the ball of light. They all vanished as the ball of light hit the ground, then exploded.


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