B3 — 40. Storm Bringer

PoV:

1. Elinor Irkalla (Ereshkigal, The Sumerian Goddess Of The Dead!)

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Holding her hands behind her back as Sari’aél carried her over the plains that would turn into a graveyard the following day, Elinor’s vision wandered across the lush grassland between forest and jungle before having the Seraph turn her around.

What work this has been, she sighed, peering beyond the slick morning mist hovering over the trees to study the armies in the fields, awaiting their Great Chiefs’ return.

“What do you plan to do now, Empress?”  The Seraph conversationally started in the ensuing silence.  “Inspect the place I buried the human corpses?”

No, I trust that you have flawlessly performed the task I sent you to accomplish.  Hmm…  Since the moment I awakened, I have been in a rush to set all the dominos in place; now that I only need to watch them fall, there is something that requires my thoughts.

“Oh?”  The Seraph’s recovering wings shifted with her in the air as she turned her luminous golden irises to smile at her.  “No rest for the wicked?”

Haha.  No rest, indeed, but where would you have learned such an idiom?

She giggled, head tilting to the side in a thoughtful way.  “You have such a perplexing culture; I do not consider you to be ‘wicked,’ as I would describe the word, yet the man’s use seemed to fit this context.  I heard it from one of the humans from your previous world’s northern lands.”

I’ll leave you to puzzle that out.

“How tease-worthy, Empress!  Hmm-hmm.  I see you have not changed as much as I believed.”

Elinor’s vision narrowed, drifting away from the distant army to the plain below; the Wandering River’s wide berth divided the meadow from the rocky cliffs that lead into her valley.  Smaller ravines provided further water to keep the grass vibrant, and it was large enough to allow the 10,000 Ri’bot force to meet her in open combat.

In some ways, I haven’t changed greatly, and in others, I remain the same; Elinor and Irkalla have similarities that make melding our two personalities easier than the differences.

Pausing a moment as she caught sight of the large stone mound beside The Maw, Elinor’s jaw tightened; if she had time to kill, there were several things she needed to investigate and consider.

Sari’aél noticed her focus, making her smile fade.  “Do you wish for us to proceed to the decayed underground metropolis?”

Many things would need to wait until the heavens were opened and she could speak to Ishtar, but this was not one of those.

No rest for the wicked.

Understanding the affirmative, the Seraph’s golden aura increased to protect them from the wind resistance; flying toward the blackened scar, Elinor kept her senses sharp.  A number of dots didn’t add up—she believed something wanted them to—but she couldn’t let the itch at the back of her mind rest.

“Should we prepare for a fight?”

Elinor shot a slight smirk at the happy angel; it was nice having her carefree, mostly recovered presence again.  For you, I forbid it.

“Hmm-hmm.  Concerned for my well-being?  My current shackles are nearly removed…”  Her cheeks tinted a tad as she placed a hand against her breast.  “This ability to… feel inadequate is quite thrilling, Empress.”

Haha!  The masochistic, utterly prideful Daughter of the Sun that cannot see others as her equal; you truly are a marvel, Sari’aél.

She blinked, a thoughtful gleam entering her eyes.  “My brothers and sisters can be quite superior to youths, such as I…  I still have not understood this masochistic word, as well.  It has a certain… flavor to it that stimulates my tongue.”

My point, Elinor mused.  In any case, Divinity Release halves your overall strength, including your recovery; until you kill Orinvia, I forbid you to fight.  She is not to be underestimated, my flagellation-loving Seraph.

As they grew closer, their attention shifted to the lake and rivers that fed into the Maw.

“Hmm…  And if you are attacked, Empress; am I to do nothing?”

Elinor gave her a side-long smirk.  Are you catching Edmon and Tiffany’s paranoia that I am still some defenseless little girl?

“Hehe.  By no means, Empress; I simply ask for clarification.”

Lips falling with their descent into the valley, Elinor glared at the growing fissure; it would still be at least several minutes before they reached it, but her inquiry wasn’t without merit, considering who destroyed the underground metropolis.

If it comes to that, then follow my instructions without hesitation.

“Understood!”  she chirped. 

Time passed in silence as Elinor’s thoughts retreated to examine the inconsistencies plaguing her ever-spinning mind; Ishum, and presumably Erra, were not of her Existence, and overlapping the crumbs of information she’d obtained from the herald, Apollo, and Becdeth, it pained a chilling reality.

Throughout her 10,000 lives, she’d gained visions and understanding from the High Heavens that told her who she truly was, and no one in her Existence had been able to break into the 13th dimension but her—she had been the sole entity to have seen the Bead of Existence—yet now she’d learned there was something even beyond that; Apollo and Gloria proved as much.

Many Supreme Deities, possibly even more powerful than she, had been drawn into this maelstrom of Existences, and Becdeth informed her of where they were—The Outlands—but as to where in the outer reaches of this cataclysm, she knew not.

Her focus drifted to her humming angel, playfully spinning in circles to spread her wings and sample the light pain she so enjoyed; Apollo had given his daughter to fight in this conflict—someone tried to force his entry into this grand conflict—and it worked, yet, she imagined, not in the manner this hidden figure wanted.

Sari’aél’s fruit had been placed within her and a forced union with The Covenant; it was absorbed by her Seed, thereby changing its Core Essence—in a way, he had adopted her into his family—she was now connected to the Children of the Sun, and through them, their Blood Sun.

Demon’s chuckling laughter tickled her ears as Elinor recalled their conversation, and the more she pondered the pieces collecting around her, the more convinced she was this was a setup; the entity didn’t want just any Seed.

There were two types of these Seeds, a more powerful, and a weaker version—perhaps further classifications or branches within them—yet she hadn’t been able to confirm it until examining the spirits of the dead humans in the Roxim camp.

Studying the perfectly smooth obsidian walls of the scar—slick with the dispersing waterfalls running into it—Elinor’s jaw tightened; she’d initially thought Erra rejected Demon’s offer, but after testing the waters by claiming as much to the Shadowverse entity, she wasn’t so sure anymore.

Erra didn’t run because of me; there’s no reason he should have if he didn’t know if I was his wife.  Ishtar?  Possible, but no…  He is a coward that tries to escape direct fights; he’s always relied on the slow decay of time rather than raw power.

Scanning for spiritual or supernatural phenomena below, the only thing that resonated back was the corrupting mist, eating away at the ruined civilization.

Ishum was the one that waited for her, Erra already moving to the east; there was nothing left for him since he’d destroyed the creatures that lived here, feeding off them to level his Seed.  So, why remain?  Ishum wasn’t sure if she was his master’s wife or not and waited for her to show up to confirm it.

The moment he determined she was not, he ran as fast as he could to the east, but there were many holes that still needed to be filled.

Passing through the mist, she released a wry puff of air at her Seraph’s swift warning; Elinor leveled a smile at the frowning, six-winged angel as they entered the swirling mist.

Yes, I do seem popular lately; a sharp contrast to how I was previously treated.

Her focus fell to the ruined city below upon breaking through the veil; a dark sensation struck her gut, but she kept her peace.  “I am not the Covenant’s toy or entertainment to always drop in unannounced.”

“I am your toy instead!”  the angel giggled, making Elinor’s stomach shake with silent laughter.

Hmm-hmm.  Toy, indeed.  You certainly are a strange divine creature, Sari’aél; I imagine your brothers and sisters didn’t know what to do with you.

“I certainly was an oddity!”

Elinor sighed as she let the woman’s statement linger, flaming emerald irises moved to the liquid-gathering machines below them; between the once-great contraptions stood a colossal Demon, wearing a smug, welcoming grin.

He purposefully hid his presence from us to show his power; everything these creatures do is for a purpose—proud, but aware of it; unlike their Devil counterparts—but this one is like Becdeth… abnormal.

“Ooh!  Exciting!”

Long tail waving behind him like a coiling serpent ready to strike, Sylez’s low laughter made the vast underground quake; nearly 100 meters tall—his actual size—it didn’t take long for them to come to the part-demonic fiend’s eye level.

“Supreme Goddess…”

He flickered in and out of reality as if a phantom before appearing in front of them—now two and a half meters tall to accommodate them, having already shown off—he spread his arms out wide, displaying his spiked, suppressive shackles.

“I see you have completed your little errands; it has been most entertaining to follow.”

“Mmm…”  Elinor kept her posture lax; it was cute he thought such a thing was impressive to her.  “The Covenant has no shortage of time on its hands, it would seem, Sylez.”

The creature’s burning pits scanned the ruined metropolis, left hand rubbing his spiked chin as the infernal eyes on his belt peered into her Core.  “Hehe.  I wouldn’t say all of The Covenant are so free, but I certainly find this just as important as you, my Revered Goddess of Irkalla.”

“Mmh?”  Elinor smirked, vision fixating on the eye-like ornament he wore before shifting to the shackles keeping him out of the Circles of Hell.  “You play a dangerous game…  I am not the type of Goddess to judge one of the Infernal, but The Covenant is filled with far more intriguing creatures than I initially saw.  What do you want, Sylez?”

He presented himself with a showy bow.  “Haha.  I am simply here for your safety, Goddess.”

Her Seraph clapped her hands together in delight.  “Is that so?”

Elinor lifted a smirking eyebrow.  “Don’t be so hasty, Sari’aél; he’s here to be entertained, which means something is coming he finds more interesting than anything else on this planet.  Speak your warning, because we both know you are not going to lift a finger for me.”

Sylez flickered to appear in the same place he’d stood when greeting them.

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“Such harsh presumptions!  Allow me to prove you wrong… just this once,” he snickered, head lifting to peer at something unseen.  “After all, I get the utmost joy out of ruining the machinations of others.  Hahaha!”

“Oh?”  Elinor’s lips peeled back in a half-smile as the 100-meter tall Demon, arms spread with his low laughter creating tremors that vibrated the air and destroyed many of the remaining structures.

Infernal energy seeping into the earth, a rift opened for gnarled, black roots to reach into the air, producing a stone-like bulb.  “I look forward to your performance, Irkalla, but I am a greedy Demon… hehehe.”

Elinor’s vision shot to a pulse of ominous waves to reveal the skull-like face of Sar’ollaz, agitation flicking with the blood swirling through his snow-white mane.  “You intend to block all eyes…  Have you lost your mind, Sylez; the Hell Lords will know where we are if you are not careful.”

“Don’t be a sore loser, Sar’ollaz; you just want to know what I’m hiding!”

Sylez’s fingernails bent, ripping into the fabric of space-time as the Hellfire crawling up the vines funneled into the splitting bulb to illuminate a slit eye that flared with internal demonic power.

“Fool!  Is this worth the risk?”

“Devils,” Sylez chortled, “never willing to shoot in the dark—the Eye of Astarte lives again—none but the chosen may look upon her!”

A toothy grin split Elinor’s lips at the name.  “You follow an Infernal aspect of Astarte; I have so many questions, haha!  Does she—”

Her smile fell as the flaming iris opened, sending a shockwave that forced Demon, Sylez, Sar’ollaz, and anyone else that might be listening away; all of the loose sand and Erra’s corrupting fog spun into a wide cyclone that revealed what little remained underneath, yet it wasn’t these that caught her attention.

Forced to the ground with Sari’aél; much of her divine powers suppressed by the Infernal Eye, Elinor used her chains to ease their fall until they landed on the stone underbelly of the cliff a dozen meters above the lower city, revealed by the unnatural wind whipping everything to the outer edges.

“Empress, I’ll…”

Mind piecing together why Sylez would go this far, Elinor’s stomach tightened into knots; since regaining her memories, she hadn’t faced anything like what she now sensed, and they were both locked inside this pit.

No!  This is why Erra fled; Sylez did this to help me, so…  This is for a reason, but this is… not the powers of the Deities and Gods I know; whatever God this is, they are ‘very’ different from Deities like…

Lightning erupted out of the dust storm, sending meteoric, molten rock out of the fissure as a figure rocketed out of a branching cave system; he’d suppressed his spirit and power until the moment he was ready to engage.

Lava bubbled out of the fissures as the electricity ripped through building and ground, a  thunderous voice sending a shockwave to them that made her wince with the sonic boom.  “Where didst thou take my brothers, Swine!”

The foundation they stood on crumbled with the reverberation; chains shooting out to stabilize them in the avalanche of broken rock, it was all Elinor could do to keep them from being crushed.

She broke her momentum by diving into a summersault at the bottom, landing several meters from the furious god, as he’d likely planned, keeping her Seraph suspended nearby.

“S-Sorry, Empress…  I’ve never felt so—”

Give me Milthren, and don’t even think about engaging him, Sari’aél!

Luminous eyes sparking energy around his glorious, horned helmet with his gaze centered on her, and a runic-laced hammer spinning by a leather cord in his right, gauntleted hand, the God of Thunder created black, electrified tornados that spun erratically across the vast field; the tall, muscular Nordic God made his way toward her in a cold fury.

Elinor released the angel when she manifested the Divine Ax to hand over.  The Empress of the Dead knew who this was, but at the same time, his spirit was not like that of a Supreme God—he was something else—and without a doubt, if she didn’t take this seriously, they would die.

Flaming red hair billowing back with his ripped, crimson cloak in the torrent, and bare chest showing glowing tattoos, symbols of his past legendary victories—the same color as his light-blue eyes—and a giant metal belt shimmering with power.

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Thor?”

“Conspiring with Múspellsheimr against us, Ereshkigal?  If thou wouldst not speak for High Mesopotamia’s oathbreakers, I would turn thy existence to dust; prepare thyself to meet the God of Thunder, for I will not relent my wrath at thy transgressions against the Primordial Code of Conduct!”

Not having the time to even formulate a response after the shocking entrance, Elinor didn’t have time to speculate; he launched forward like a lightning bolt hurled by Zeus.

Fingers closing around Milthren, the world faded away as she was pulled into the 8th-dimensional weapon’s Core.

“Hello, Supreme Goddess.”

Elinor let a long, drawn-out breath pass through her lips to ease her thumping heart; she turned to see Milthren, taking on the form of Sari’aél.  Six universes birthed and died in an endless cycle around the 8th-dimensional bead at her Core; the source of her constantly growing power as she consumed the force the Children of the Sun fed her.

“I appreciate the short reprieve, Milthren…  This is enough; will you take my power?”

A charming smile brightened the entity’s face—there was nothing left to be said—Milthren could not harm her 12th-dimensional soul, and so if she was abused, she would self-detonate.

Environment returning, time hastening, Elinor set her brow; she didn’t know if she could win against this god, possibly a branch called Primordial, in mortal form—he was likely above the 12th dimension before—but she didn’t need to.

Chains darting out of fissures in space to separate Sari’aél and her, she flung the Seraph out of the fight and used the binding to maneuver in just the angle needed to defend against the assault.

Milthren taking on the form of a spear, she held it up in defense, using The First Gate Of Irkalla as a cushion; it was torn away in an instant as he grazed her, the shockwave propelling her back at incredible speed, but she refused to close her eyes.

He instantly changed directions with a clap of thunder, and Elinor locked her jaw to not bite her tongue off with the pulse that followed; meeting her in milliseconds of their fight, she fed Milthren to guard against his swing, but unfortunately, he was no inexperienced fighter.

Thor’s grip loosened to hurl the hammer at her before giving chase with an electrified jump; the dozens of chains she placed between them were shattered by the raw energy alone—a chunk of her remaining Death Energy and spiritual fortitude was eaten away by the Divine Ax—and she managed to angle it to slide off the tiny curve of the hammer’s side.

Momentum only increased with each attack, she tried to use her chains to swing in another direction, yet Thor could change his direction on point, kicking the air to make another clap of thunder to continue his hunt.

I just need to make it to the ground!

Meeting her in the air, his large hand darted to grab her weapon, fighting past the wave of Death Energy she released—her feet touched stone—having a foundation again, she spun down, braid whipping with her spear, and having faith in Violet’s clothing to protect her feet from the friction.

In mild surprise, Milthren met empty air as he used another shockwave to jump above her, his fist falling to connect with her face; two chains split space, shot at an angle between them for the ends to connect and pull taut, forcing his fist to slide by her eyes and putting distance between them—she didn’t escape the aftershock.

He’d predicted her trajectory, and Mjölnir—thrown previously—was flying around the room to connect with her head; world spinning slightly with the passing pulse, she released her body for the runic weapon to eradicate Violet’s clothes.

Figuring the shock of her disappearing would give her a chance to speak, she swiftly reformed to hop several times, reducing her momentum; still, the skin on her feet ripped in the process.  “I will not be made Erra’s champion—a fool—will you, Thor?!”

Her jaw locked as lightning danced around her, Thor already before her in an explosion of force; calling Mithren to her hand in a swirl of Death Energy, fifty chains exited fissures on either side to connect to the Divine Ax as his fist struck the shaft.

Most snapped instantly, but to her surprise, he’d lessened the blow at the last moment.

“Speak, woman…  And put on some clothes.”  His right hand lifting, Mjölnir whistled out of the air to land firmly in his grip as he turned and walked a few feet away, his back to her.  “Are all of you exhibitionists?”

“Empress…”  Sari’aél called out, having struggled to her feet, wings dragging in the dampening sight of the colossal eye overhead, watching them.  Thor had tried to destroy it in their brawl, yet Mjölnir couldn’t get close before being thrown back; the weapon had had the audacity to use it as a means to get to her again.

Vision drifting to where her clothes now lay, now burning to a crisp, she puffed out a short sigh of relief when the little snake she’d found on the battlefield with the Ri’bot slithered out.  “I would love to, Thor, but… as you can see…”

His head turned, a grimace showing as he saw the ruined garment.  “Dammit.”

“Hmm?  Have trouble with naked women, Thor?  How… unlike the Thor of my Existence,” Elinor teased, attempting to ease the tense atmosphere as her snake weaved over to bite the man.  “Ah-ah-ah…  That’s it—come here…  There we go; such a good girl!”

“My patience runnist low, Ereshkigal the Fake.”

“Fake…  Haaa.”  Flipping Milthren around to her back in a sign of withdrawal, Elinor leveled with him.  “I am not from the same Existence, nor aligned with Erra; now, can you inform me about which brothers he has taken, and how such a thing was possible with you there?  Erra is a coward, and I cannot imagine he could have fought you.”

“Hmmgm…”  Nose twitching from the angle Elinor could see, Thor bend down and smashed his fist into the earth, fracturing the stone to send bolts and molten rock in all directions that she side-stepped.  “Dammit!  Where didst Erra flee?”

Elinor crossed her arms under her exposed bust.  “Calm down a little, and maybe I can tell you; if I had nothing to do with your brothers’ disappearance, are we enemies?”

“Nay…”

“Good.  Now, would you have the decency to inform me of the situation?  We very well might be on the same side.”


Maps:

Post Conquest

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