B4 — 54. Sacrifice

PoV:

1. Izanami (Our Fallen Creation Deity!)

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Izanami stood before the odd entity a tad perplexed, channeling forces she hadn’t used since time antiquity, yet in the fires raging around her, it took on an entirely different tune; she’d spent much of the time gauging precisely what stood across from her, which brought her wandering thoughts to the artifact it used in its resurrection.

The Soul Stone had been of curious design, its workings somewhat unfamiliar to her extensive knowledge of the Infernal Realm, yet the cuneal writing this ritual employed had a distinctive nightmarish resonance to it; the efficiency and method used made her want to vomit.

There was no doubt; Revilla came from the pits of Hades in an alternate multiverse, and judging by her mocking taunts, the foreign entity was here to feed off Twilight.  The itching laughter that rang from the sleeping Reaper quivered at the very prospect within Scarlet’s Core, at least from what she could tell when possessing Yseress.

Still, Izanami couldn’t believe an entity like Twilight, who was so far beyond her ability to grasp—much less the desire to gaze upon—would allow Revilla to do as she pleased.  No, Rachel, the other deities in the fathomless heavens; all of them were playing to her plucking song, and it was foolish to believe otherwise.

The smirking outerversal Hades Lord had planned to consume the Seeds that had implanted themselves in humanity and would then use that collective power to sink her teeth into The Reaper, yet the unthinkable enigma had her own agenda.

Unequivocally, Twilight’s side was the only possible option forward; she’d laid out the pieces for those with ears to hear and directed things down a path that would counter all opposition.  Izanami’s involvement at all was proof of this, considering she no longer had access to the Bead Of The Universe or the universal sight she enjoyed in her infancy.

Frigid hatred crept through Izanami’s cold, corrupted veins at what she was currently engaged in; seizing Yseress’ Core via Rachel’s link, she squeezed every drop of holy energy she could wrench out of the helpless girl.

Even if she was corrupted, Yseress was a Nephilim, holding innate powers integral to her survival, and the girl had carefully cultivated the little divine dominion she could piece together for centuries.

Stealing all of that painful, laborious effort was not something she enjoyed—of course, joy was something she’d long lost, in any case—yet, this was the only choice given to her outside of ripping the poor angelic half from her Core and absorbing it.

Meeting Revilla’s snarling physical presence in her true body above the bridge to the mortal plane, Izanami instantly reinforced the bindings she’d created by possessing Yseress; it had nearly killed the hapless Nephilim, yet without the initial bonds placed on Revilla, Izanami couldn’t reinforce them.

Unlike Yseress, she didn’t have a single line connecting her back to her divinity; every door was sealed to her by Izanagi—her husband and brother—even now, they were eternally linked, despite his efforts to lock her away, and for ages, she’d only felt numb anguish.

All she could do was funnel what hallowed energy her ruined celestial body had left into the initial sublime weaves she’d crafted with Yseress’ hands; as a former Creation Deity, her knowledge of the Divine was only equal to a few and beyond most in this 7th-dimensional sphere.

 Then again, Izanami’s fingers hadn’t touched such holy forces for so many ages, she’d nearly failed, stinging fingers twitching and flesh blistering against the pure energies they’d just handled.

She abhorred Twilight and Revilla for compelling this fate upon her, yet again, perhaps there was some space in her dead heart for pity—a connection of sorts—regarding The Reaper’s obscure story.

There was no other way, and, at the same time, never did she think anyone could rival the way she felt toward her husband and brother; yet again, she’d been proven wrong.

The outer-universal being drew out an agitated hiss, and Izanami’s corrupted celestial spirit itched under the immense weight of Revilla’s chaotic flood of nightmarish strength—to compare the entirety of Hades to a Creation Deity would be laughable, unthinkable to her before meeting this… thing—at most the 6th dimension.

How many times am I going to be proven wrong in my assumptions?

Somehow Revilla transcended the entire Seventh Circle—soon all of Hades would know about her presence—and only by the grace of combating her with the creatures’ natural enemy, divinity, was she delayed in her complete resurrection.

Izanami had managed to bind her Core before the entity’s defenses fully formed, and it was only by that backdoor that she was able to separate Revilla’s Intelligence from accessing the vast majority of her immense power.

Every second bought her time she needed, yet as she feared, her merciless presence would soon fill all there was; nothing would be left if Revilla managed to break out of the cracking shell that contained her reviving essence.

As could be expected from an entity of the 8th dimension…  She must be, and to have confirmation of what possibly lies beyond is…

Izanami constrained a shiver as the titanic internal beats of the entity’s confined Core slammed against death’s hold; higher existences than the aspect of death currently gripping her bound Core, and this colossal 8th-dimensional body of death was reaching into their universe, desperately trying to keep Revilla in its jaws.

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Every tiny time beat sent a picture of dread into Izanami’s breast.  It wasn’t just her fighting this creature, and that knowledge terrified her…  All of them would die… be absorbed into this Hadesborn aberration.  The reality of it was without question if things were to continue as they are, and even the alternative made her question if Revilla’s end would be better.

All my life, I have never met something of greater power than me outside of my own son…  Never have I felt fear until I was chained to Hades…  Yet now, I understand fear as mortals do…

Her grotesque, emotionless, unchangeable face couldn’t express the odium she’d felt for an eternity as she reached up to touch the serpent collar around her throat, determined to do something she utterly despised—the only chance she had, given the limited time Yseress’ many sacrifices had bought her—and the anxiety of knowing where this would lead almost made her give in to whatever Revilla would bring.

Lowering the gates sealing off her hard-fought kingdom in Hades—at the closest point to the Infernal Realm’s exit that she could possibly draw near—Izanami allowed his snake to slither out of its now unsuppressed cage.  She wanted to bite her own rotten tongue out as the bitter name she swore would never touch it again left her throat, followed by another she knew would answer.

“Lucifer… Amaymon… ”

Repulsion itched across her decayed skin as the Fallen Archangel ripped through Hades’ Circles in delight at her open invitation, arrogantly crossing over from the Ninth Circle to observe the situation in his typical self-righteous manner.

Amaymon—a glutton for conquest—couldn’t help but hear the chimes of war from the armies she’d gathered since her fall, and the warmonger laughed that she was actually looking for an alliance, considering she’d rejected all parties in Hades to keep to herself and invited all those wishing to join her to stay by her side.

Izanami tried to ignore their brazen introduction, so self-absorbed and arrogant they somehow managed to miss Revilla’s barely contained presence.

She wanted her tone to be dry, yet her illusions failed her under the titanic force she was contending against.  “I can only keep her weakened for so long…  You must stab her before I lose what strength I have left.  Can you handle that?”

Lucifer and Amaymon finally felt the threat pass through them as Revilla gave a snide snicker, words so baleful they could even brand a Hades Lord’s corrupted soul.  “Ah-heh… friends?  Cute.”

The entity adjusted the left strap of her dress with her right hand while rising into the air to give Izanami a half-smile, throne breaking through dimensions to offer her a seat; it was another entity in itself that she had to contend with once its master was handled.

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“What is this…  Izanami?”

“Mmh?”  Looking slightly entertained after taking her place on the metal throne, she directed a mocking grin in Lucifer’s direction, Izanami’s last remaining vestiges of divinity supplying the bonds with fuel as she searched every corner of her Core to give everything she had.  “If it isn’t daddy’s little shining boy!  No, you couldn’t let someone be brighter than you…  How pathetic have you become in this universes’ iteration.”

Amaymon roared with laughter, spinning around his spear as his Nightmare neighed, spreading its corruption wide.  “I rather like her!”

No longer entertained, Lucifer’s baleful leer quieted Izanami’s forces, causing silence to fall over Hades as light radiated around him and a flaming sword seared through the Circles to his hand.  “You will explain this when we are done, Izanami…”

“Ooh, how frightening, hehe,” Revilla mocked, studying her left fingernails.  “Well, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy…  Maybe I would be if you had actually accomplished anything in a ‘single’ universe I’ve consumed…  Just a scared little boy with an over-inflated ego and daddy issues.”

Izanami couldn’t even feel the desire to snicker at the insult; she had to wonder if this was a ploy to try and get them to turn on each other by her agreeing.  “Are you scared, Lucifer?  Maybe I should have called Satan.”

A stillness came as Lucifer’s shimmering six black wings stilled, focus on Revilla, and his response came from the risen holy blade in his hand, untaintable by his Perdition, to leave a spatial cut of golden rays that split the fabric of Hades—the reason she’d called him.

Amaymon thrusting his spear in the infernal heavens, causing fissures to split all across her realm for the Hades Lord’s legions—hundreds—pouring through like supernovae, and her own forces flooded forward to assault the invader.

Izanami held her hands in front of her, coldly observing the scene below as she floated above the woman, and Revilla’s focus was solely on her—the one who had the cords around her essence—seeking to find the spark that would return her to power that she was keeping just out of reach.

“Haaa…  How annoying…”

Shifting to the side of her throne, Revilla rested her head against the back of her right hand and lifted her other; neigh instantaneously, even to Izanami, a torrent of ungodly fiends of colossal proportion and power erupted from her limb, rising to meet the onslaught.

The mass of bone, guts, and flesh collided with the holy flames called by Lucifer, eating it; fire erupted on the many corrupted creatures that took the blow, yet more pulsed into being, countering the force by numbers alone and forcing Lucifer to retreat.

To face some of Hades’ strongest legions, dragons, elk, wolves, ravens, gods, and things Izanami had never considered birthed from the woman’s appendage to ravage the hadesscape.

Amaymon laughed at the challenge, diving into the flood and destroying a dozen of the titanic entities for dozens more to take their place; the wall of horror closed around Izanami, yet as it drew near, the fiends withered and died from the last breath of divinity within her.

Black tears created a line down her cheeks to slide down her neck, breast, and thighs until they dripped from her toes to the writhing mass below, seeking to devour Hades; she lost track of time and the fight behind the writhing ribs, mouths, and tentacles attempting to find a way beyond her united field of decay and divinity.

 All the while, Revilla’s half-smile remained on her, slowly rising in her throne to meet her just outside of the dualistic aura only a fallen divine could produce.  “What do you hope to gain from all of this, Izanami?”

She didn’t respond, skin burning with the holy forces scarring her corrupted body even beyond its current state.

“Haaa…  Still, hmm…  You may be the most intriguing version of Izanami I have had the pleasure of tasting…  Mm-hehe, the pain of being born of such strength that even your brother—the one supposed to be the equal yoke that mirrored your essence—was lacking to the point ‘he’ needed time to prepare for the creation process you initiated.”

Izanami wanted to spit in her face as her lilting eyes drifted to the right, showing the multiversal double of her concerned husband that materialized out of the amalgamation of sinister fluid and bone.  “Please, Izanami…  Unite with us…  We can be whole…  Your sons and daughters miss you…”

Tone as dead as her corpse, she kept her vision on the entity before her.  “Do you believe such tricks will work on me…  Me… Revilla?”

“Hmm?  I’m only having fun,” she chuckled, looking up for a dozen more to exit and call her name in the way he used to… when they were young; it was followed by a vision of her previous beauty, displaying slight deviations to various degrees.  “Not one of these… could match you, which I find most enthralling.”

Her lips tightened as a beam of incandescent light pierced the mass for a moment before being met by a large antler, the corrupted, godly moose entering the fissure for it to reseal; clearly, it wasn’t as one-sided as Revilla wanted it to appear—Lucifer was doing his part—yet without her bindings and Amaymon’s distractions, he would have been as helpless as a newborn babe.

“Your weakness is showing, Revi—”

Izanami’s words caught in her decayed lungs as a brilliant, handsome, and grinning young god formed beside Revilla; she rose to caress his cheek, making a dormant fire rage inside Izanami’s breast and cause her fingers to tremble as she whispered, “Kagu-tsuchi…”

“Mmh…  You never got to see your beloved son grow into a man…  A shame…  A tragedy for a Mother of Creation…  And to think the reason for his death… was his father…  Your brother… husband, and for what?  To throw you away the second you… hehe, well, lost your beauty.”

For once, someone had managed to get emotion from her cursed celestial body—pain—as the long-distant memories returned, unforgettable to her ageless mind.

“Oh, and the guilt you feel for allowing yourself to be tricked by Lucifer…  After all, he could not have someone as bright and beautiful as you in Hades, so…”

Her Core trembled while remembering how innocent and naive she was, believing a fellow Creation Deity’s beloved son would aid her back to the surface, only to guide her to a tree; its fruit binding her eternally to Hades—her Hades—corrupting her celestial body, and then to have the betrayal of her husband, which she could handle, yet…

Izanagi did something she never dreamed of nor conceived as a possibility…  He destroyed.  As her fellow mirror in Creation… he’d taken that labor and cut their son to pieces.  Of course, he could not create again without her essence, which was why he salvaged what little of her was left, destroying any possibility of her resurrection and leaving her to rot because she’d allowed herself to be tricked.

She wanted to close her eyes as all of her children—slightly different versions of them—that had come from her essence emerged from the mass to confront her, Revilla watching from her throne.

“You already know, but Izanagi has already tainted the minds of your beloved offspring…  They believe you to be the witch and fiend of Hades, cursing your continued survival, and there is nothing you can do to correct it.  Hahaha!  Truly, you have been used and discarded as the wretch of a deity you now display…  Shunned in Heaven and Hades…

“Forced to carve a place for yourself, and so… you decided to remain the thorn in Lucifer’s side by forcing your Underworld into his…  Poetic, is it not, for the barren, pilgarlic scum you’ve become…  You are a pariah, unable to attain pity from all but your distant granddaughter.”

Izanami’s eyes tightened.

“Mmgm, yes!  I have scouted many of this universes’ most succulent secrets in preparation to consume Twilight, and… some rather powerful foreign entities had already broken into this universe, but you wouldn’t know the state of your shambled heavens, now would you?”

The outerversal Hades Lord smirked at the figure that rose out of the blood swirling around Revilla’s throne, making Izanami’s fear redouble and almost slip in her balancing act, allowing a tentacle of flesh to reach an inch from her face.

“Not an exact replica…  To be honest, it is the first I’ve seen of her in the many universes I have consumed…  Yseress…  A Nephilim that has family ties with you…  Distant, yet an intermingling between your children and the angels.  Now isn’t that an interesting combination…  Deity, Angel, and Devil…  No wonder you were able to make such bindings and manifest through her.”

“Don’t think yourself untouchable…”

“Hmm?  Gotten attached, have we…  Mmh, what would happen if I let slip such a succulent morsel of information to…  Lucifer?  He does seem like quite the petty type, and…  Haaa…  Hmm-hmm-hmm, so am I.”

Izanami’s last vestiges of remaining divinity left her, causing her discolored eyes to close in defeat; she’d expended everything she had, and without her former godly support, Izanami’s aura of decay was not enough—bone, flesh, and meat wrapped around her tormented corpse—the entity’s essence ripped out of her grip to unite with her Intelligence.

 An intense hollowed pulse seared her skin, and in mild surprise, Izanami’s vision opened to see a sublime sword of fierce incandescent flames piercing the back of Revilla’s throne, a chilling edge in her luminescent turquoise eyes as the squirming mass lit with a holocaustic sea of divine fire.

Lucifer came into focus beyond the incinerating amalgamation and fiends with a host of black-winged angels around him, showing harsh signs of battle, his voice like thunder.  “Do your job, Izanami…”

Not missing the opportunity before her, she shot forward, left hand closing around the tip of the holy artifact as Revilla’s mask dropped to show the eerie specter within; fingers trembling while holding onto the divine weapon—foreknowledge on how to handle such sublime forces keeping her fingers and corrupted spirit from being destroyed—she instantly redirected its power into the still functioning seals she’d crafted, solidifying them.

 “You have not won, Izanami, heh…  As I said…  I have something in common with Lucifer.”

Just as she let go of the blade, seal complete and sword drained of its divine essence, Revilla’s throne fissured space and carried the outerversal Hades Lord through before Izanami could react, porting the fiend back to Adele’s group to be sheltered.

Still, locked out of her powers, Revilla may be immortal, yet she could not enact her plan until breaking what Izanami put into place.

Breathing a sigh of relief, her vision closed, strength utterly spent, she fell, waiting for what inevitably came next—spikes drilled through her hands and feet, pulling her naked corpse taut—Lucifer’s voice descending upon her.

“I told you, Izanami…  Heh, you would be answering my questions when this was done.”

Vision opening to slits, she stared at the infuriated fallen Archangel, unable to express her hatred, which was actually something the smug man despised himself.

Resigned to her fate, her fatigued mind and eyes drifted across her former Realm, ravaged by Revilla, and what remained of her armies were currently being slaughtered by Lucifer’s vanguard—standing back until the last minute—as she figured they would.

Amaymon hovered in the distance; the warmonger was missing his right arm, parts of his immaculate armor devastated as his remaining forces retreated into the Sixth Circle, with Lucifer’s relatively unharmed armies filling the skies.

His deep voice displayed his disgust as he exited.  “Your conflict with Izanami should have ended by your own hands instead of relying on our shared enemy to weaken her…  You always were a coward.”

Lucifer’s glorious wings spread out as he shifted to look at the fracturing barrier underneath them, where Revilla had escaped to.  The outerwordly Hades design collapsed, causing the link between their two worlds to be broken, returning Rachel and Yseress to safety.

The fallen Archangel’s gaze fixated on the Nephilim as she retreated into Rachel’s Core.  “Hmm…  Well, don’t you have the dirtiest secrets?”

Izanami didn’t say a word, knowing she’d left her distant descendant in capable hands; the link shattered as figures bearing the seal of the Templar Knights rushed into the area to meet Revilla’s cult and Rachel, yet there was nothing she could do now.

After eons of inactivation due to her powerful defenses, Lucifer activated the Hades Collar around her throat that he’d placed on her much younger and innocent self so long ago, binding her now utterly exposed Core before dragging her back to his palace in the skies of the Ninth Circle.


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