Well, so I uploaded something new. And it isn't Reclaiming the throne. Why? It's not because I hate the story or have no idea where to go with it, it's just that I somehow feel like I would disappoint the readers. The way I would continue the story would likely not be the way people will want it to go. I am also incredibly lazy, so if I ended up writing all the stuff from inside my head down and people would dislike it, it would feel like I had just made a huge fool out of myself. I am really lame, I know.
That said, I actually already have a half finished chapter written down for it, so I think chances are high that I will eventually get around to finish it. Especially since I still sometimes get reviews asking me to continue. It really makes me feel guilty to keep you guys hanging, so yeah. I guess there is still hope.
"So what is this story?" you will probably ask yourself. Well, it is a oneshot featuring an idea I recently had. I really wanted to write a GC fanfic, but clearly didn't feel confident enough to work on RtT. Having hardly written something in quite a long time, I wondered if I could even still do it. Well, I suppose you will be the judge of that. If it sucks, I will know that I should probably call it quits already. If not, it might actually boost my confidence enough for me to get productive again. Sorry if it is too long to read. If it bothers too many readers, I might consider splitting it up into multiple chapters.
The total word count is around 28.000 words. Filled up 50 and a half MS Word pages. I suggest you bring some time, because you will be sitting on that bottom of yours for a bit if you decide to read this.
Pairings will be ShuInori with a bit of rather one sided ManaShu.
Whenever you helplessly cast your eyes to the sky,
Don't wish to be gods. Don't beg, or cry.
For with gods, you see, there are very few,
Who don't wish for themselves to be actually you.
I offer my greetings and my deepest gratitude to you, stranger, who has decided to read the words I have written down for you. For it is of utmost importance to me that humanity learns of the story of my family, which means more to me than anything else that ever has, or ever will have existed.
The reason why exactly it is so important to me may be something you would not yet understand. If I have to be honest with you, I may not even be completely sure myself. Perhaps it is a precaution to ensure someone out there would remember our story. To ensure our pain and sacrifices will never be forgotten. Especially the hardships my parents had had to endure.
But fret not, kind soul, for this story isn't entirely made up of tragedy. Read carefully and you might even see happiness amongst all the sadness. A light within darkness.
But to understand the story of my family, we will have to start from the beginning. With my father, to be precisely.
This is the story of how Ouma Shu became god and what it ultimately led to.
Although I am aware of the fact that my father's story began much earlier, I have also realized that these parts of his past may have been his most private and maybe even valued ones. Thus I have decided to skip this part so that perhaps one day he could tell you about it himself, if he so wishes. Instead, I will start at the point of the story in which he began his ascension as god.
It was a very long time ago, in a time long before I was even born. In December 2039 AD when Ouma Shu was nothing but a mere human being, trying his best to save humanity from a fate he would later bring upon it with his very own hands.
Back then, humanity faced a situation it could not understand, for human beings lack the wisdom and foresight of gods. And naturally so, since it is not their place to worry about everything beyond their existence. That is but the job of gods such as myself.
And so, it was no surprise that my father, in his human innocence and ignorance, never knew what the entity they chose to call "the apocalypse virus" actually meant for him and the rest of humanity.
What he and the rest believed would bring their extinction, or at least a death toll beyond expectations, would actually be their transcendence into a life form much superior to what their existence had been then.
That said, there used to be a group of people who had called themselves "Da'ath". They had managed to partly understand the meaning of the apocalypse virus and had meant to embrace it. Although what they had known of the virus was but a mere fraction of what it would ultimately mean for them, their beliefs, though nothing but wild guesses, turned out to be true in the end.
I know what you will most likely be asking yourself right now, stranger. How could they have known of what lied ahead despite being only humans? This is something even I as a goddess have difficulties finding a clear answer to. Maybe it was destiny. Maybe it was instinct. Or maybe it was the doing of a god before my parents and me? Whatever the reason may have been, Da'ath had chosen the path of transcendence while my father had chosen the path of preservation, thus making them arch enemies.
And so, on the night of December 16 2039, when my father stormed their stronghold to stop what he believed were their "evil" plans, and of course, also with the intention of saving my mother whom they had forcefully taken from him, it was inevitable for him to run into a certain member of Da'ath. A blond young man named Yuu who also bore the title of "envoy of Da'ath".
On that fated night, that man asked my father the question that would change his life forever.
"In order for mankind to progress into the next stage, will you vow to obliterate all of mankind and live with Mana for all eternity?" he asked my father, offering him to take a red apple, symbolic for the origin of all sin, from his right hand.
My father, however, refused. Having set his goal on preservation of humanity as well as the rescue of Inori Yuzuriha, this offer naturally sparked no interest as it went against everything he was fighting for.
But Yuu, somehow very aware of Ouma Shu's potential, kept persistent.
"You seem to discard humanity's prosperity so easily because you selfishly believe you could still save that what is so dear to you and go on the way things used to be. I regret to inform you, though, that all the effort you so desperately put into your struggle has now ended up being in vain." He told my father without ever losing the confident smirk on his lips.
"What the hell are you even talking about?"
"Inori Yuzuriha's soul is being erased from existence this very moment by none other than Gai Tsutsugami. I am afraid going back to how things used to be will be impossible." The blond man explained with a shrug as if he wouldn't care either way.
My father's eyes shot open instantly from shock of what he had just heard, but he quickly changed his expression again into one of utter anger.
"Lies! Why the hell should I believe even a single word you said?" he yelled at him. Yuu himself didn't seem to pay that any heed. Never losing his calm composure, he merely answered:
"Well, if my words aren't good enough for you to trust, I suppose you could simply go and look for yourself. If you hurry, you might even be able to say your farewells."
"Move aside, then. I have no time to waste with you."
"As you wish. Please don't be too disappointed, though. It's not like I haven't warned you beforehand."
And with that, Yuu simply vanished into a whirlwind of particles, granting his enemy free passage through the stronghold. However, when my father eventually reached the top of the enemy base, where his beloved queen was supposed to wait for him, he had no other choice but to realize that every word the envoy had said to him had been true.
Powerless he had to watch Mana Ouma wake up from her deep slumber. Her soul, once dormant inside Inori Yuzuriha's body, had now awakened at the cost of the vocalist's very own one. And with that the woman my father loved was simply gone. Needless to say, it was something he could never have accepted. After all, not even a god would have been able to cope with such a sudden and severe loss.
"This can't be…" he mumbled helplessly as he fell to his knees. "Was I to late…? Have I failed…?"
"I am sorry, Shu, but this is how it has to be…" Gai, once my father's best friend, said with a faint undertone that could have been interpreted as remorse, but Shu would have none of that.
"How could you…? Unforgiveable!" He mumbled as he got up to his feet again, the shears of life, the strongest offensive void that had currently been in his possession, materializing in his right hand. With a loud roar, he chose to charge at Gai directly.
It was a foolish thing to do and I am not even sure if he himself had been aware of that. He stood no chance at winning with the current weaponry he had. Especially since the enemy now held mother's void. The singer's sword. Yet there he was, mindlessly charging in at an enemy he couldn't possibly have beaten. But that recklessness is but another point I have learned to love about humans. I sometimes envy my father for having once had the chance of being that way. Being born a goddess myself, I couldn't even imagine myself doing anything even remotely as pointless.
Before Gai and Shu could clash, though, they were both interrupted by Mana, who had stood between them.
"Have you two lost your mind? What are you guys fighting for?" She asked, completely oblivious of the fact she had been the reason. Both men, however, stopped their movements instantly, though for very different reasons. Where Gai could have never even dreamt about hurting the woman he had fallen for, father just couldn't bring himself to harm someone who looked and sounded like the woman he loved. Even if said woman was long gone and the body In front of him merely a shell used by Mana.
"Today is a good day which we should celebrate!" Mana then continued to say to them. "I've finally driven out that annoying woman who constantly tried to get in our way, Shu. Now we finally can be together. I am so happy." She proceeded to embrace Shu lovingly all while Gai watched with a slightly pained expression and Shu just kept staring blankly at her.
But realization of the meaning in the words she had just said soon found the better of him, and angered by them as he was, he forcefully shoved her away in disgust.
Or rather, he was about to, but then, all of a sudden, Yuu reemerged out of nowhere and said:
"As you see now, Ouma Shu. The path you have chosen will yield you nothing. The woman you loved ceased to exist and so all you will achieve by continuing to fight is a sad and lonely future, but if you chose to be Adam instead…" the young, levitating man suggested without being able to hide his anticipation.
"It would still yield me nothing!" Shu yelled in protest.
"Maybe not what you had originally wanted, but by becoming Adam, you can at least still be with Eve, who happens to have the body of the woman you loved."
"That is not at all what I wanted…" My father then stated defeatedly with a lowered gaze.
"Certainly, but will it surely be the closest you will ever get to what you actually wanted. You will have to ask yourself: Is it better to fight and risk death only to have nothing afterwards? Or would it be better to just give in already and at least get to see the face and hear the voice of the woman you fought for every day? At least you wouldn't lose everything afterwards, right?"
His logic was flawed. Every man in his clear mind would have been able to realize that, but my father, still in denial over the loss of Inori, could do nothing but give in to temptation. He couldn't bear to even think about having to face every day from now on without the love of his life. And so he chose to embrace the illusion rather than the harsh reality. His momentary weakness got the better of him as he stretched his hand out towards the red apple that had reappeared in the hand of Da'ath's envoy.
Gai didn't even have time to stop his ex-friend. Having been sure Shu would have never given in to such a foul offer, he soon had to realize that he had quite obviously mistaken. All he could do in time was to let his eyes widen in shock as he held out his hand in a pointless attempt at stopping him from committing the sin he had wanted to put upon himself.
"Who are you to stop me, Gai?" Were my father's cold words. His expression had darkened as he took the apple in his right void arm, and held Mana closely in his left, probably imagining it was still Inori.
"No, Shu, you don't understand…!" Gai tried to reason with his old friend, but it had already been too late.
"Oh, I understand perfectly, Gai. In order to be with the woman you loved, you killed the one I cared for. I will never forgive you for that. If I can't be happy, I will also deny you happiness. This is the path you have set me on. You have no one but yourself to blame for that."
Gai was a proud man who knew when he had lost. Maybe that's why he understood there was nothing left for him to do but to accept defeat. With a disappointed sigh he looked down on Shu in regret. "This wasn't the path I had in mind for you...I am sorry, Shu."
"Your apologies mean nothing to me. Die!" My father said harshly as he glared at Gai in hatred with eyes that flared bright red for a moment. He had barely finished speaking when the white haired man in front of him suddenly started to crystallize. All Gai could do was close his eyes and accept his fate before he shattered into millions of pieces.
Mana herself rejoiced over the fact that Shu had finally accepted her for the first time in her life. After all these years of trying, finally she would be with him. "Shu…" she sighed happily as she held him closer to her, still half afraid he would change his mind halfway through. The happiness she felt at that moment was so strong that she never even noticed how Gai, the lone other man besides Shu she had even remotely ever cared about, had just ceased to exist.
Next to them Yuu was still levitating in the air, now grinning from ear to ear.
"Marvelous, Ouma Shu. Simply marvelous. At last, the apocalypse is upon us. All hail the king." He cheered happily as he clapped applause for my father.
That only made him shift attention to the envoy. With another death glare, Shu's eyes flared red again while he said: "Be gone from my sight!"
Now, even the envoy started to crystallize. But not before giving Shu a respectful bow before taking his leave.
"As you wish. You have my deepest gratitude, Ouma Shu. Farewell."
My father, soon to be god at this point, didn't even wait for the envoy to fully disappear before he raised his right hand which still held the apple.
"Annihilate. Everything." Severe words of utter destruction echoed in the now empty hall, yet despite their horrible meaning, he had said them completely stoic. His eyes shone red again, this time permanently, and the apple in his hand, following his command, dissolved into countless beautiful silver threads which each held the apocalypse virus. With no hesitation, he sent them out to the world, where they were sure to kill every life form on earth.
"I can feel the hearts of everyone slowly dying one after another." Were his thoughts as he finally realized what he was doing. "Even the people I cared about will face their end…this is the price for my selfishness…"
These had been the last moments my father had spent as a human. In just a couple of hours life was swept away from the surface of earth and replaced by nothing but a beautiful, yet barren wasteland of glowing crystals. It took my parents a while to realize that this had become their new home. The realm of the gods they had just become.
At first, they were horrified. I suppose that was a reasonable reaction for someone who just realized they were the only beings left on the world they lived in. Eventually, however, they found out, that they weren't exactly alone. They just existed in another world from everyone else.
With time, they learned what the apocalypse really had been and what it had done to the world. It turned out the apocalypse didn't kill anyone, but rather put them all into a world inside the crystals. Whenever my parents would touch a crystal, they could see people living in a world that looked very much like the one they had originally come from, only that they did so without experiencing pain or sickness. Hunger had become obsolete for them, as had thirst. Everything they needed to live was provided to them by the crystals they lived in, without them ever even realizing that they lived inside crystals to begin with.
And the world inside them…it was huge. A crystal as tall as a person held room for enough space as a country like the USA once had. With the whole world being covered in crystals and them all being connected to each other, you could only imagine how gigantic the new world had become for people. One could only call it paradise.
Sadly, that only applied to humans, though. My parents, who had just recently become gods, had to make do with living in a dull and endless wasteland. It may have been pretty, with an endless field of beautiful, glowing crystals surrounding them day and night, but ultimately that was all it was to them. Nothing but an empty world.
And of course, like the residents of the new world, they, too, had stopped craving food or water. Additionally, they also didn't need sleep anymore, and had stopped aging.
This inevitably led to a situation in which they found themselves to be bored at first, since there was nothing to do but to watch other people's lives in the crystals, which had been entertaining at first, but was bound to get boring after a while eventually. However, despite the lack of pain, sickness, hunger and thirst in the new world, death still existed. And both Shu and Mana soon realized their role in it once the first person eventually died in an unfortunate accident.
Whenever a human died in the crystal world, their soul would appear inside father's void arm, where it would await it's rebirth as a new person. Once its time for rebirth had come, it would leave father's arm and venture into the crystal world again. Mother, on the other hand, was the source of life that kept people alive in the crystals in the first place. Her touch could repair broken crystals, create new ones or destroy previous ones, which of course, would affect the lives of people living inside them. In a sense, you could say mother had become the guardian of nature, while father became the guardian of people.
But although they understood this quickly, it didn't mean things were easy for them. As born humans, they had a rather hard time adjusting to their new lifestyle that was pretty much forced upon them without warning.
Aside from that, father soon realized his mistake by becoming god with mother. They had become the only two people who could interact with each other and having someone around who looked and sounded like Inori had only sounded like heaven at the beginning, but turned out to be hell once he actually had to get through that every day for all eternity. What he had thought would bring him (sort of) happiness turned out to bring him nothing but misery, for seeing her only caused him to miss her more and more as his heart continued to ache in incurable pain.
The result of that was that Shu avoided Mana whenever he could, which in return, caused her great sadness.
To be honest, it pains me to think that my own parents used to be this way, but it is not like I couldn't understand it. Immortal a god may be, but even they possess hearts. And like those of humans, they can hurt. Maybe even more so than those of humans do, for a god's aching heart could do so forever if it so pleased.
Father himself referred to this time as the age of solitude, for during that period, he and mother had rarely seen each other.
They spent their time separated from each other, observing humans in the crystal world. I am not quite sure who mother watched, but for father, watching the lives of his friends who were now happily living in the new world, was pretty much the only thing he could enjoy as a god. Probably because it had been the only thing at that time he could have done to keep his mind off Mana, who pained him by looking like Inori.
However, this could only last him through the first few centuries, as he was forced to see everyone he once knew slowly die off and be reborn as someone new. He caught himself many times wishing he could extend their lifetime or even revive them once they had died, but was only met with the harsh realization that even a god could not grant eternal life or restore it. And so the point in time eventually came on which the blood of his friends ran too thin in their successors for him to still see some parts of them in their great-great-great-great-great-grandsons and –granddaughters. In the end he lost interest in watching over them.
To make matters worse for him, mother eventually grew tired of father's cold-shoulder-act, so she decided to stay by his side no matter what. She didn't care anymore if he liked it or not.
Of course he didn't. But despite his attempts at getting away, it soon became obvious that there was nowhere for him to go. He was stuck with her for good. That didn't change the fact, though, that he would still ignore her so much as to not even look into her general direction.
For the first couple hundred years, she was content enough with that, for it had still been better than the time they would never see each other at all. But sooner than later, the eternal silence which surrounded them became unbearable to her, so she tried to win father's attention by being nice and speaking about things he would have liked to talk about.
Yet, despite her attempts, Shu only felt pain for her sounding like Inori and found himself wishing that she would just disappear already. Mother's attempts at getting closer to father only caused him to hate her more.
After half a millennium of being treated like air, mother finally started to get angry. She understood that father's hatred towards her lied in the fact that he was still in love with the person she had once shared her body with. So to get him back for all the years of silence she got from him, she started to think back about the things Inori used to do and began to imitate her. She sung, although horribly in comparison to Inori, called his name the way she always had and sometimes acted like she really had come back, followed by whispering mean things into his ear like "just kidding…she won't ever come back", "you know it is your fault she died, don't you?" and "this is what you asked for, Shu. And you deserve it for choosing her over me. I am all you will ever have, so you better be grateful for that."
It tore and pulled away on father's poor heart, filled him with guilt, regret and rage, until he finally snapped. Plunging his fist into her chest, he extracted her void, the singer's sword, and stabbed her heart with it.
"Enough! I can't take this anymore! You look and sound like her, yet your heart is the exact opposite. I should have done this long ago! At least this way I will finally get some peace and quiet." He said, his voice containing the hatred he had built up over the last centuries.
But mother only gave him a mocking smile as she slowly faded from existence.
"You think solitude will keep you sane? Why did you think I came back to you in the first place? We are all we have in this world, and soon you will realize the mistake in what you have just done."
"Ridiculous. Your absence will be nothing but bliss compared to the torment you have sent me though during the last couple centuries."
"We'll see." Mother said with a knowing smile as she closed her eyes and embraced death. And with that, she simply disappeared from sight as if she had never been there in the first place.
The first century passed without father noticing anything but relief over the sudden calm around him. He did his job dutifully and rejoiced over the absence of Mana.
The centuries after that turned out to be quite harsher on him, since no one was there to watch over the crystals anymore. Some would break apart over time, due to the lack of attention from the queen. Thus people in the crystal world became troubled by parts of their world becoming barren or too harsh for them to live in anymore. With Mana gone, the crystals also gradually lost more and more of their power, thus not sustaining the people with enough energy for them to really be content.
This resulted in them to sometimes become and stay hungry, no matter how much they ate, or sleeping more than a day in succession. Of course, that became a very hard time for them, since they and their ancestors had lived millennia without ever having to even eat except for the times they felt like it because they liked the taste. And as they had no chance to know their peril was caused by the absence of mother nature herself, they could do nothing but pray for this confusing state to finally end.
Father, who heard their prayers, tried to compensate for that by powering the crystals with some of his own godly energy, which worked, but caused him to be severely uncomfortable for many additional hundred years to come.
After almost a millennium of mother's absence, several hundred years of them being filled with feelings of headaches, back pains or severe tiredness due to the fact that he somehow had to sustain the crystals with his energy, he finally started to get really irritated. Watching the humans live their lives in happiness while he hadn't been happy for even a single day in all his time as a god caused him to envy them so bad.
Why was it that they had it better than him, who was supposed to stand above them? He was the king who looked after them, yet what did he ever get out of it? Why was he trying so hard for them in the first place? Who were they to him? They were nothing. That's what he started to think.
His envy for them turned to anger, the anger into hatred, and when father couldn't stand it anymore, he went to the nearest crystal, plunged his right hand into it, and extracted a void directly from the soul of a human being living inside it. Having settled for a scythe-like void, he then commenced to smash every crystal in his reach, leaving nothing behind but debris of what used to be such beautiful and life sustaining crystal structures.
Thus the age of madness commenced.
For many, many years, father did nothing but relieve his rage by destroying the world. He selfishly destroyed the lives of countless humans who resided in the crystals he smashed without a single care in the world. After all, he knew how replaceable and fragile human life really was. Humans themselves didn't know what awaited them after death, but he sure did. So what if he killed a couple million humans in his anger? Their souls would just come back to him, so that they could await their rebirth. Their lives were all so pointless, so insignificant…why should he care? And above all that, he was a god, so couldn't he very well do whatever the hell he wanted?
This mentality of his took a while, but eventually it backfired on him. For once he had destroyed too much and killed too many, he realized that the souls in his void arm would take longer and longer before they would leave again to be reborn. Calming down for the first time in what felt like a very long time, he put down his weapon and decided to take a look at the crystal world he had tormented during the last half millennium. The results immediately shocked him.
Even though the new crystal world had been gigantic, he had managed to destroy a large part of it, which rendered these parts of the world inhabitable for the people. And because so many people died in the unnatural catastrophes that were caused by his rampage, there were fewer of them around to repopulate the world, thus causing the souls to remain in his arm longer in wait for their rebirth.
This usually wouldn't have been that much of a problem, seeing as people's souls used to be calm and peaceful if their life had been a fulfilled and happy one. But the ones father had taken were all unhappy and afraid. They all died too early, too painfully and with lots of regrets, thus they kept crying and wailing inside father's void.
Before, he had been in a blind rage. The sound of his boiling blood violently rushing through his veins had been loud enough to block out all the sound. But now that he had calmed down and had yet again been enabled to listen, he couldn't help but instantly regret what he had done.
But what could he possibly have done at that point to correct his mistake? No matter how much effort he put into creating new crystals, it took him too much energy to make even half a decent one, let alone one of the kind mother used to make. It was no use. He had spent millennia perfecting his soul caring duty, but had never even tried creating a life crystal. It would take him at least the same amount of time to become half as good in it as mother used to be. And he couldn't waste too much power on it, because he still had to manage the souls. It truly was hopeless.
The age of regret began, in which father could do nothing but walk aimlessly through the crystal desert that was his realm, with nothing to accompany him but the cries and wails of the souls still resting in his void arm. With time they became less, but it still took them forever, and even when they had finally gone, father still felt as if he could still hear them. At this point, he regretted many things.
Not having been able to save Inori from dying, having given in to temptation and become a god, which so far had only caused him misfortune and pain, not being able to say good-bye to his friends and his mother as they had lived their lives and died without him, having gone on a rampage and even killing Mana.
Though he still hated her, he had to admit that he missed her. He felt lonely and tired and sometimes caught himself speaking to crystal formations. Even going so far as to give them names as he passed them by. Watching the humans had hardly been entertaining when they had all been happy, let alone now when they were busy rebuilding and repopulating the world he had almost completely destroyed.
Then, finally, after a whole and a half millennium of absence, mother eventually returned to the realm of gods. Father's reaction was a mixture between utter disbelief and relief. It turned out that he had believed she had been gone for good, to which she only laughed at him and stated that gods were immortal for a reason.
"Why do you think it required both, Adam and Eve, to become gods?" She asked him. A yawn escaped her lips as she stretched her body as if she had just woken up from a long good night's sleep.
"To make my life a pain by giving me a crazy sister, who would haunt me and eventually destroy my life?" was father's sarcastic and bitter response. One which mother didn't appreciate, so she smacked him on the head.
"Wrong. It is because even fate itself would have never been cruel enough as to pass the burden of being a god to a single person. The loneliness simply is unbearable. Thus, being gods became a two-man job. And besides, I didn't destroy your life. I gave it purpose." She corrected him sternly.
"I would have rather died, honestly…" father mumbled as he crossed his arms in front of his chest and looked away. Mother could only narrow her eyes on him for such an attitude.
"You are always only thinking about yourself. That's why you ended up being so miserable…"
"Oh, because your actions certainly have always been in anyone's but your own interest."
"Is this about that woman again?" She said with disgust in her voice, what only caused him to become even angrier.
"You bet it is, Mana. It was bad enough for you to drag me into this hell with you, but you even had to kill Inori while you were at it. And after shamelessly stealing her body you still have the nerve to not even call her by her name."
"It's been over four thousand years already. One might think you would finally let it go." She merely sighed in annoyance.
"Same goes for your unbearable jealousy."
"If it's so unbearable, why don't you just kill me again? Didn't it work so well the first time you tried that?" Mother said confidently as she was certain of the fact that father would not be foolish enough to do it again. When she saw him back away slowly in hesitation, she couldn't help but smirk at him in victory.
But father, having endured enough hardships already, wouldn't allow himself to stand down so easily. Mustering his courage, he stepped forward again and forcefully grabbed mother by her arm, catching her by surprise.
"Fair enough. I admit that I can't go on without you…" he told her with somewhat sad eyes, causing mother to look back at him triumphantly. But only for a moment, before he put more strength into his grip, pulled her closer and gave her a look colder than everything she had ever seen before.
"But don't get the wrong idea that I could EVER love you in any way possible. And make sure to remember that no matter how much pain it will cause me, if I ever catch you impersonating Inori again, I will kill you again and again and again. Until you finally LEARN that there are lines not even gods can cross. Are we clear here?"
I think this could have been the first time in my mother's life, that she had ever been afraid of father. She had used to be the more dominant one ever since they both had been born, but now, even if it had taken over four millennia, she finally had to realize that they now stood on equal grounds.
Frustrated to learn that she had lost some of her power over her beloved brother, she yanked her arm out of his grip all while making a move as if she were to force something invisible out from below. A sharp crystal shot out the ground father was standing on almost immediately afterwards, barely giving him time to jump away to avoid getting impaled by it. Angrily they locked gazes.
"Crystal clear." Mother finally gave her answer. They then both turned around and went their ways, hoping to find a way to cool their heads again.
My parents never dubbed this age in any way, but if I would have to, I would call it the age of dispute.
Mother restored the crystals previously destroyed by father and they both continued their sacred duty as gods, but things were far from peaceful.
Though they would stay together to avoid the pain of solitude, there would not come a single year without them fighting with each other. They wouldn't even need a good enough reason for it. If they disliked the way the other talked, they fought, if they disliked the way the other looked at them, they fought…even if they thought the other came too close, they fought.
And the fights themselves were brutal. Knowing that they were gods and thus pretty much indestructible, their creativity in finding ways to inflict the most amount of pain to the other one was beyond imagination. With every soul in existence and thus a whole arsenal of voids in his palm, father was at least as terrifying as mother was with all the crystals around them that stood at her command.
However, hateful and bloodthirsty as they were, there was a line they never crossed. No matter if mother had father at the mercy of her hand or vice versa, they would never kill each other. For they both knew better than no one, that doing such would be a punishment to no one but themselves.
One might argue that the age of dispute had been the cruelest age by far for both of them up to this point, but on the other hand, you could also say that it had been the one in which both my parents had made the most progress yet. After all, they had come from staying away from each other, to ignoring each other and at last ended up at fighting with each other.
Some might say it was a minimal progress, while others would say it wasn't progress at all. But at the very least, they had finally started talking to each other, even if most of the words they used were ones filled with hatred and anger. In my eyes, their fights were the first step to finally understanding one another.
As if to prove my point, the centuries passed and my parents visibly grew tired of fighting. The bloodthirstiness grew weaker and the battles somewhat more civilized. At first the gruesomeness stopped, then the amount of strength they both put into their blows grew smaller. At last, they stopped fighting with violence in general and only resolved to the use of verbal abuse. Until even that became too bothersome and they gave it a rest.
They eventually realized that fighting each other was nothing but a waste of their power. After all, what point was there to fight? They would never kill each other, and their wounds would heal in almost no time. The hatred would not disappear from it, nor would it solve any of their problems.
"What's the matter, Shu? You haven't attacked me at all lately…" My mother tiredly said one day, leaning against a tall crystal in order to rest.
"Same could be said about you…" My father would then reply exhaustedly as he lied on the ground and gazed into the endless blue sky.
"I am not the one who hates you, though."
"I grew tired of hating you."
"Then how about you try love for once?" She jokingly suggested.
"I do love…still. Not you, though."
Mother painfully averted her gaze as she smiled weakly in disappointment.
"Figured as much."
"Why didn't you just make Gai your Adam? He loved you."
"Triton?" She blinked in surprise, apparently not having expected to hear about their old friend after all this time. She closed her eyes and smiled as pictures of her past entered her mind, alongside the face of a certain now long deceased man. "He was such a sweet boy. Cute, but also smart. Also very dependable. I really liked him, but…it wouldn't have worked out…"
"Just think about it. Even if I had loved Triton, would it have mattered in any way?"
Father needed a while to understand what she meant, but eventually narrowed his eyes once he did.
Even if mother had loved another man, it would have been ridiculous to assume Lost Christmas would have never happened. If it had been Gai who Mana would have had to appeal to in that certain church when they had only been kids, he would have most likely reacted the same way Shu had. And even all those years later on the fateful day on which Mana and her chosen one would have ascended into godly beings, it would have meant nothing if Gai had been the one she would have chosen. He would have still done the same, Inori would have still died and Shu, either to seek revenge or to protect humanity, would have killed Gai and thus prevented mother from becoming happy. Needless to say that father himself wouldn't have become happy either.
He sighed in frustration. "This sucks…"
"It really does." Mother agreed. This could have even been the first time they had ever been of a like mind.
"I wonder if we will have to go on like this for all eternity. I couldn't imagine a fate any worse than that."
Mother narrowed her eyes as an unpleasant thought came in mind. "Well, I could try to act like Inori if only it would mean I could finally receive your love." Father only shook his head.
"Don't even go there, Mana. You know it won't work and will only get me angry."
"Hmpf, you think you are the only one hurting? Try imagining how I must be feeling. Even in this body, I still can't compare to her in your eyes. You may be still alive, but you are at least as unreachable for me as Inori is for you." She said in utter defeat and sadness.
"I suppose that is true…still, I can't do anything about it. I can't force myself to love you. It doesn't work that way."
"I know that, stupid. So maybe it is finally time to give up on it…"
"What do you mean?"
Mother sighed and carefully pulled something small out of a nearby crystal. She then stood up, walked over to father, and placed the object into his hands. When he looked at it, he realized that it was a small crystal wildflower. In all his time in this crystal wasteland, he had never seen anything even remotely as beautiful as this. And that wasn't even all there was to it.
Not long before Mana had given it to him, he had realized that inside the crystal rested a single soul. And not just some soul. It was the soul. The single soul he had looked for all this time, yet could have never found.
As a goddess, I probably ought to enlighten you that every soul in existence carries the memories of every single life it had ever held, so, even though souls would return to father upon death and then be reborn into a new life, the soul itself would never lose the memories of its previous lives. Though the human possessing the soul would never be able to access these memories themselves.
Father, being the god who wielded souls, took them in and watched over them as they awaited rebirth, naturally had already held every soul in existence at least once. And every time the souls had come to him, he had checked their memories for those of a certain pink haired vocalist. Simply to ensure it was okay, and that it would always be reborn into a good life.
But even so, in all these years he had been a god, he had never managed to find it. He had checked every soul once, twice, thrice…and yet, he never had found hers. Eventually, he had come to the conclusion that it just wasn't among the ones he took care of, and since he looked after EVERY soul in existence, it could only mean that Inori's soul had been completely destroyed. That was what he had believed for a very long time, and it was also the main reason he could have never forgiven Mana. For it was one thing to take a human's life, but to destroy its very soul? It was simply unforgiveable.
Yet, there it was, right in his hands. Inori's soul, resting inside a crystal wildflower. Unable to even speak, he just took turns looking at the flower and Mana in utter disbelief.
"This is…how did you…I can't even..." he babbled unbelievingly.
"I found it shortly after we became gods, when we used to be by ourselves." Mother admitted weakly, apparently tired of keeping this secret. "I wanted to destroy it then, but I couldn't. Turns out the destruction of souls isn't easy, so I chose to hide it instead. I knew that if you would have ever found out, that I could never possibly think of receiving your love. Now that I know that I probably won't do so anyway, I thought I might as well give it to you. Though there is nothing you can really do with it."
Father frowned as he held the flower closely to him. Mother had had a point. Having found her soul may have proven that it still existed, but there wasn't really anything he could do with it. With no body to return it to anymore, he couldn't simply revive her. Not to the god's realm, nor to the crystal world. At the very best, he could only take Inori's soul and put it into the cycle of rebirth, but that would also mean that Inori herself would have been forever lost. Her soul would live on, but he still would never see her again.
Mother raised a brow as she noticed his hesitation.
"What's the matter? I thought you wouldn't waste even a single second to take out the soul and grant it a new life."
But father only looked down on the flower in shame.
"I…I know it's what I should do, but…I just found her right now…to give her away again…I…I can't…"
"Selfish, aren't you? Even if it's the soul of the woman you loved."
Father didn't reply to that, knowing very well that it was true. That's when mother said the most unbelievable thing.
"You know, there is another way." Shu just looked at her in confusion. "Remember how things used to be? Me and her in one body. It's the only way she could live with you. By becoming a goddess herself."
"But that would mean…"
"Naturally, as we will share the same body, one of us will always be dormant when the other one is awake. Just how it used to be. We may both not like it at first, but still, it is the only middle way between her sadness, and my sadness. I certainly will not cease my existence for her and you obviously won't end her as well, so we three will have to live with that solution. It is better than nothing, right?"
He only looked at her as if he couldn't believe she was still the same person he had learnt to hate for so long.
"You would go so far just to get a portion of happiness?"
"Well, of course I would have a few conditions…" She eventually admitted, which caused father's eyes to narrow themselves out of suspicion.
"What do you want?"
"Me and her will switch control periodically and while I know better than to ask of you to treat me the same way you would when she is around, I will at least ask for a small portion of your love. Even if it only ends up being a quarter of what you feel for her."
"Didn't we just talk about the fact that I can't force myself to love you?"
"Well, you will just have to try harder, then. But don't worry. I will make sure it will work out somehow. This way, we can all have a chance at attaining happiness. Do we have a deal, Shu?"
She held out her right hand with a serious look in her eyes to make sure he would get that she wasn't joking around here. If he was going to accept her offer, he would better make sure to keep his end of the deal.
Father was hesitant at first. He couldn't help but think this had to be some kind of trick, but ultimately, he had to admit that even if there really was a catch to it, he still would not really have a choice here. The options were to continue to live like before, with no hope of ever becoming happy at all, or taking the risk and having a future together with Inori. For the second time in his life, he gave in to his selfishness, hoping that this time, the consequences wouldn't be as severe as they had with the first time.
A bright smile appeared on mother's face as soon as father's hand touched hers. She wasted not a single second to take the crystal flower containing Inori's soul back from Shu and holding it closely to her chest. A glowing hole appeared right afterwards in which the object quickly vanished into. Mana flinched a bit as if in slight pain, yet still proceeded without the slightest sign of hesitation.
"Alright. In you go." She said as the glowing hole slowly faded from existence. Despite her attempts at trying to hide it, father still clearly saw that mother was forcing herself through the procedure. Drops of sweat appeared on her forehead and her breathing had become slightly heavy.
"Are you okay?" He wondered.
"Aww, concerned about me already? I would have never thought to see progress so soon." She teased him, to which he only responded with a frown. "Don't worry…I will be fine…we will be fine, I guess. What's the worst thing that could happen to a goddess?"
Father wanted to reply to that, yet had to admit that she was right. Even if the procedure were to kill her, she would still return eventually, but even so…he would have rather avoided that. When the strength in mother's legs left her, father instinctively caught her before she could have hit the ground.
"Urgh, that girl. She hasn't been back in this body for even a minute and tries to push me out already. Well, aren't we off to a good start?" Mana jokingly asked Shu.
"To be fair, it had been her body from the start." He pointed out truthfully.
"I suppose there is no avoiding it. Seeing as she is so desperate to wake up, I will just have to take the first time-out. Be grateful, Shu. And make sure to fill her in on the situation."
"Yeah…" He reluctantly agreed. But he had already accepted Mana's terms, so there was no use thinking it over anymore. Instead, he looked forward to meet Inori again for the first time in forever. He wondered how she would react to all this.
Mother's consciousness eventually faded away and after a short while of unconsciousness, she opened her eyes again. Though this time, she was slightly different. Mana had gone to sleep and Inori had taken over. For some reason, father had felt very nervous all of a sudden.
"I-Inori! …it's you, isn't it?"
"Shu…?" Was the first word she said whilst rubbing her eyes as if she had slept for a long period of time. At this point, father couldn't hold back anymore. He hurriedly embraced her as strong as he could without hurting her. He was happy when he felt her do the same almost immediately.
"I am glad you are okay, Shu." She softly said with a faint smile. Father couldn't help but laugh a little.
"That I am okay? I thought I was never going to see you again."
She lowered her gaze in shame. "I am sorry for running away. I wanted to protect you. I knew GHQ was after me only, so…"
"That was stupid and reckless of you…" He angrily scolded her, but then his voice softened again as he caressed her head gently. "And yet, who am I to be mad at you when I would have done the same thing? We both are quite hopeless, aren't we?"
She gave him a soft nod while quietly enjoying Shu's actions of kindness and affection towards her.
"Did you defeat Gai?"
His expression became somewhat sad. "Yeah…"
"I see…" She, too, seemed a bit down about that fact. But having already expected such an outcome, she took the news rather calmly. "This place…where are we?"
"Let's take a walk, Inori. I have some…things…to explain to you." Father helped her up and slowly, they started to walk away together.
He then told Inori everything. What had happened up until now, how much time had actually passed, that they had become gods in the meantime and of course how it was that they got to be together again.
Father had worries mother wouldn't be able to accept all these drastic changes quickly, but was surprised to find out that she came to terms with the situation rather easily. It had saddened her to learn that Ayase, Tsugumi and everyone else she had once known had passed away already, but when he had told her that they all had led a happy life before they had died, she somehow couldn't bring herself to be too sad about it. After all, if they had been happy, then she should have felt the same way for them.
The part about her having become a goddess hadn't bothered her in the least. It turned out that she really didn't care what were to become of her as long as she could have stayed with Shu. The only thing that really seemed to bother her was everything regarding my other mother, Mana.
It wasn't just that she had hated her, she had completely been terrified by her. And father had known that. Even after all those years, he would never forget all the tears Inori had shed in fear from his sister. He couldn't even imagine how she must have felt back then. To slowly have lost control over her own body like that. It turned out that her biggest fear, though, had always been that she would end up hurting Shu. Or worse.
He quickly managed to reassure her, however. Things had changed. There was nothing in the world that could harm them anymore, as there was nothing that could kill a god for good, and even if there was, Mana knew better than to do it. Inori, though skeptical at first, still trusted Shu more than anything in existence and so she chose to believe him.
With that, the total population of the god realm had increased to 2.5, which father already had thought he would never see happening. Though it was very regrettable for him that they couldn't give separate bodies to Mana and Inori, they all chose to cope with it the best way they could.
They had agreed that every century, mother would switch souls, with the other one going back to sleep. To the ears of mortals, that would surely have appeared to be a very long time, but to gods, who had nothing but eternity awaiting them, a century was nothing but a small fragment of their existence. If compared to people's perception of time, a century to a god was nothing more than what a month was to a human.
And while father clearly preferred his centuries with Inori by far compared to his centuries with Mana, he still tried his best to at least never make Mana feel unwanted. Not only was it part of the deal they had originally made, but also would he kind of feel bad for her, since she really had gone out of her way to allow Inori in.
The goddesses themselves also got along better than he would have thought at first. Especially Mana turned out to be far less jealous than he would have ever given her credit for. Maybe she really had been content with receiving but a fraction of his love towards Inori as opposed to nothing at all. Whatever her reasons really turned out to be, she behaved herself and didn't bully Inori, so he was more than happy with that.
Inori for her part understood Shu far too well as to even believe for a second that he could ever prefer Mana over her. And knowing that, she felt there was no reason to be dissatisfied by their situation. She could spend time together with Shu and receive lots of his love while giving him all of hers. To her, that was more than she could have ever asked for. Of course she would have preferred to spend ALL of her time with Shu, instead of only half of it, but considering the circumstances, it was a price she would gladly pay.
And so at last, the age of happiness had come upon them. The happiness they all had had to wait several millennia for, had eventually reached them. It may have not been the ultimate happiness with the best outcome each of them would have preferred, but at least it was genuine happiness for everyone.
It didn't take their love too long to finally take shape through the birth of children. Only one millennium after mother Inori's reunion with father, my older brother was born. With hair even in a darker brown than his father's was, yet his mother's beautiful eyes, he came into their world to fill their lives with even more happiness.
Since he was their first, there was a certain question that was bound to be on their mind. It was undeniable that Ouma Shu had been the father, but who would they call their son's mother? Although it was next to impossible to guess the time of conception due to the fact that a goddess' pregnancy held on for several centuries, it was statistically more than likely, that their son had been conceived on the countless times father had spent with Inori, opposed to the very few times Mana had insisted he would do the same with her.
However, even if that was the case, both goddesses shared the same body, so in the end wouldn't they both be considered the mother?
It would have been more than unfair to call the soul that would currently be awake during birth the mother, since it could end up being completely random, so they eventually decided the fairest way to handle this situation was to simply accept that every child that would come forth from their time together, would equally count as Mana's as much as Inori's.
Not only was it fair, it also ensured that every child would receive love from both their mothers, which would already mean double the love a normal kid could ever receive.
Since Mana had had the pleasure of being awake during the birth of their firstborn son, she declared it was her right to choose his name. Father reluctantly agreed under the condition that she would have to let their next children be named by him and Inori.
"The next children?" Mana had asked him with a knowing smirk. Their little son rested safely in her arms, having just stopped crying. "Ouma Shu, you naughty, little boy, how many children do you intend this delicate body to carry out for you?"
Father, looking slightly embarrassed, answered her: "Weren't you going to name him?" He chose to change the subject.
"Oh, yeah! Of course." Mana grinned happily as she looked down on her son. "As the goddess I am, I herby decree:" She started all while trying to sound very official. Father only sighed at her antics.
"Please just cut the crap…ouff!" His sentence was cut short by mother's elbow which miraculously found its way deep into father's stomach.
"…this little one's name Triton shall be." She continued while gently tickling her son's stomach.
"Do you name everything you give life to 'Triton'? You know that there are also other sea gods to choose from, right? Try Poseidon, or Proteus."
"Idiot Shu, I am not naming him after sea deities, I am naming him after Triton."
"But Triton is the name of- agh!" A smack against the back of his head suddenly interrupted him.
"Are you purposely trying to be so stupid or have you really become a god of idiots? I am naming him after our childhood friend, Triton."
Rubbing the spot mother had hit just now, he asked: "Then why not name him Gai? You are aware of the fact that that's what his real name was?"
Mana then decided to pinch father's cheek, followed by pulling mercilessly while looking down to Triton, who was still resting on her other arm.
"Hey, do you hear that, Triton? Your father appears to have quite the nerve talking back to your mother that way, don't you think? Perhaps your mother should recall the actual times your father had showed special affection towards your mother, opposed to the times he had done so with your other mother. Your mother may then perhaps realize that she isn't quite treated as well as she would have liked. What do you think, Triton? Should your mother keep a closer watch on your father?" Her gaze slowly shifted towards Shu as he started sweating uncomfortably.
"Ah, now that I think about it, Triton isn't so bad a name. Yeah, Triton it is." Was what he said once she had finally released his cheek. He sighed in defeat as she cheeringly held up her son in the air with both her hands, feeling even happier when he cutely laughed in return.
"Oh, one thing I forgot to mention, dear." She seemed to have remembered something.
"Hm, what is it?" father wondered while massaging his still aching cheek. His eyes opened wide in shock when he felt her grabbing him by his collar and pulling him close to her. The fake smile on her face clearly unnerved him, since the clearly visible pulsing vain on her forehead showed how angry she really was.
"I didn't really mind this time, but if Inori is having a lion's share of the pleasure from your endless affection towards us, please make sure that she is also the one who actually goes through the severe pain of child birth, won't you?"
Now sweating even more out of fear, he made sure to give mother a forced smile as he said: "I will try to see to that."
"Thank you very much."
Following another millennium after my brother's birth, it finally was my turn to see the light of day. And this time, as if by my other mother's wish, Inori had been the one to bring me into their world.
"Look at her, she looks just like you." Father said as he held me in his arms, gently rocking me back and forth so I would have a pleasant sleep. The very first century after birth was the only time we would ever sleep before stopping to do so forever.
"She really does." Mother Inori agreed whilst kissing my forehead. "Though I wish she would have also looked a bit like her father." She added with a smile.
"Well, I suppose we have Triton for that, right?" Father grinned as he ruffled my brother's hair who stood right next to them.
"I wanna hold my sister as well!" he said enthusiastically as he held his hands up in the air to reach me. Even though only a millennium had passed between his and my birth, he already looked like a human would at the age of 5. Though that was still a very slow growth compared to the time it took humans to grow older, to gods, his growth appeared like it occurred at the blink of an eye. I remember my parents having often said that they wished we would take our time more, so they could enjoy watching us grow up. For us to become older so fast in a mere millennium must have felt to them as if a child would age 5 years in a single one. Sometimes I felt sorry for them because of that.
Father knelt down so Triton could take me from him. His eyes grew wide from astonishment as he held me.
"Wooow, so what's her name gonna be?" was what he wanted to know from our parents.
They exchanged questioning looks with each other for a moment until father's expression became somewhat nostalgic.
"Would you mind if we named her after Hare? I am sure she will grow up into just the same loving and caring girl like Hare had once been."
Hearing the name of a long lost friend, Inori, too, looked down at me with a mixture of both, happiness and sadness. "A wonderful suggestion. I would like her to become like Hare."
"Don't worry, Mom, she will be fine. I will look after her." Triton said as he gave her his biggest grin, to which she couldn't help but pat his head lovingly. Father, too, put a hand on his shoulder as he gave him a proud nod.
"Be sure to be a good big brother to her."
And with that, I had become part of our great family. The third and last arrival up to date would only appear two additional millennia after that day in the form of another beautiful girl, whose appearance surprised my parents a little. For unlike me and my brother who had come before her, she didn't look anything like father or mother. Especially her azure blue hair stuck both of them as rather odd. Father could remember no one in his family who ever had had the pleasure of boasting about having a hair color even close to the color his youngest daughter could call her own. Naturally, same would go for Mana. Inori herself had never had the pleasure of ever finding out who her real family had been or if she even had had one in the first place.
That was, at least, before she had become a goddess.
And though she may have never really asked for the seemingly endless power and wisdom a goddess called her own, at the very moment she had seen the blue color of her youngest daughter's hair, she had been more than thankful for it, because the knowledge about its origin immediately flew into her mind simply because she wished for it.
"It's…from my mother." Mother eventually realized with a somewhat sad smile.
"Your mother?" Father was genuinely surprised to hear her talking about one of her parents, since she had never done so before.
"Apparently so. I never even knew I had one until now, but I just saw our daughter's hair and immediately knew…this hair's like my mother's was."
Seeing the sadness in mother's eyes, father caringly put his hand on her shoulder. "What was her name?"
"Carol. She was a GHQ test subject, like my father. Like me." She explained and chose to hold her newborn child even closer to her. "Say, Shu, can we call her after my mother? It would make me happy to do so."
Father only gave her the kindest of smiles in return. "Of course. This sweet, little girl's name shall be Carol."
Mother affectionately hugged father in return. "Thank you."
"Um, excuse us?" came the voice of a girl not far away from them. Naturally, that had been me. My older brother stood close behind me. "Would it be fine for us to see our sister now?"
Our parents didn't say a word, just offered us a smile and waved us over. Relieved and curious we slowly walked over to the newest member of our family. At that point, I already had the appearance of a miniature version of my mother at the age of 10, while my older brother came closer and closer to look like father at the age of 15. At that moment, our family became complete, for our parents have even yet to give life to another child.
As of now, I cannot tell if they have plans to ever do so, but there is nothing to suggest they never would. I myself would always await the arrival of a new brother or sister with open arms, but should they decide to never do so, wouldn't be saddened in any way. For the birth of gods was a hard task, not even closely comparable with the act of creating life as a human. Not only would it require a lot of the combined love of both mother and father, but also the strong wish to form a new god. And with already three children of whom they loved with all what their hearts could offer, it became doubt worthy if they could ever ask for one more.
The age of happiness held on for a long time after that and I am grateful that it got to be the first age I have had the pleasure of experiencing as a goddess. Every day of every year we would spend together felt like utter bliss to me and I had hoped things would never change.
However, it was but a foolish wish of a young goddess, who would still have to learn that even if gods existed for all eternity, it didn't mean that they would be immune to changes.
But it is still too early for me to tell you about the age that came after the age of happiness, so let us remain there for a little longer.
I suppose you would ask yourself how it must have been like to have two mothers residing inside one body. Strangely enough, it never bothered us in any way. It may have been undeniable that it may have had inconveniences at times, but both our mothers loved us equally and we loved to be around both of them.
Like me, my siblings and my father, both my mothers, too, wore crowns of crystals on their heads, and depending on whom of them was currently awake at the time, mother's crown would either turn a crimson color if it was Inori, or a purple shade if it was Mana, so we never had any difficulties to tell them apart.
However, even as young gods, we soon noticed that something wasn't quite right. It wasn't merely that our mothers would switch ever century, we also noticed that father's behavior towards her did as well.
I remember that one day when my sister Carol and I sat with our mother as she was brushing our hair with a crystal hairbrush she had formed. She happily hummed away a song neither of us had heard before while doing so. I may have appeared to be too old for such a treatment since I had already been almost an adult then, but I never paid such trivial things any mind. If it meant I could spend time with either of my parents, it never mattered to me what we were doing.
Eventually Carol, now appearing like a 6 year old after a bit more than a millennium after her birth, couldn't help but ask mother: "Mommy, where did Daddy go?"
"I wonder, dear. Perhaps he went off with Triton to show him a void. Why, though? Do you miss him already? Shall Mommy find him for you?" She kindly offered.
"No, it's alright. I was just wondering where he always goes to when you are around. When Mommy Inori is around, he tends to be with her more often." She sighed innocently. The Me back then couldn't help but glare at her for foolishly bringing up a topic that would cause our mother sadness or anger.
"Carol, please mind what you are saying around mother." I scolded her.
Mana's expression had become slightly sour for a moment, but then it formed into a sad smile as she continued to tend to our hair.
"It's alright, Hare. She has a point, and I suppose you are curious as well. So tell me, little ones, do you two know what guilt is?"
We both nodded. "It's a human thing, right?"
"That's right. When humans do evil things, their hearts often become heavy with guilt, which causes them to feel remorse or even pain."
We both eyed each other in worry. "That sounds really bad." Carol thought.
"It is, but don't worry. Guilt is only something humans can feel. Gods, who stand above everything else, cannot become guilty because there is no one who could judge them but themselves. As long as a god does what he believes is just, he will never be able to feel guilt."
"I see, that makes sense, mother. But what does that have to do with you and Dad?" I asked her.
"Because your father and I are both exceptions of this rule. Having been born as humans, we kept our guilt even after we became gods. And my guilt is the reason your father can't love me as much as he does your other mother."
"That sounds so sad, mother…" I had to admit.
"My, my, it does, right? But don't worry. I am happy, because I have come a long way from back when I have become a goddess. Your father used to hate me before, now he loves me. Even if it's just a little. And besides, I have you two and your big brother, too, so I have no reason to feel sad in any way. Mommy loves you sooo much." She suddenly grabbed both of us for a hug from behind and started to cuddle with us happily.
"We love you too, Mom. Both of you." We replied and returned the hug.
"I like Inori's humming more, though. Yours is kind of off sometimes." Carol felt the need to add. Mother suddenly froze as if she had been turned into crystal. I only sighed at my sister, wondering when this child would ever learn to read the mood.
"I-is that so…" she weakly responded.
"Yep, but that's alright, Mom. You can dance better than her, so that makes you even."
"That's right! Wanna dance with Mommy? I can teach you if you want." Mother's enthusiasm suddenly returned once she had heard that. Carol merely cheered at that.
Having confirmed that Mana was still content despite the circumstances had eventually pushed away our worries about father loving her less. It was still a bit saddening to see that he couldn't show equality in that matter, but it was good to know that he didn't resent her. And that we could make up for the affection father neglected to show her by giving her our own. We never blamed our father, especially since Mana herself had often told us that it wasn't truly his fault.
Our parents weren't the only ones with problems, though. Like them, we too, had been gods. And of course that meant that we also had a job in this world once we became old enough, which meant at least two or three millennia.
For that reason, it wasn't very surprising for us to have all inherited our parents' powers. Triton acquired the power of kings, while my sister and I had been blessed by the power of queens. That's why we would often help out whenever we could.
However, since both mother and father had since long already been accustomed to their duty of gods, it turned out that more often than not, our help wasn't truly needed. After all, why would two gods, who had successfully done their job even long before we had come into their world, ever need assistance?
It was because of that fact, that for a short while, we had felt like failures as gods.
Triton would occasionally wield voids like father and use them for his or anyone else's needs, like creating new clothes for us when we grew too old for our previous ones. However, it was needless to say that such an event rarely ever occurred and was fixed too easily and too soon for it to really make him feel useful. All he could ever do was provide us with entertainment or new clothes.
Sometimes he felt so bored that he would keep asking us if we needed him to do anything for us, even if it was just to change a minor detail with his void that would change reality. Out of kindness, we would often let him do something, but whenever we couldn't really think of anything, he would start to feel disappointed. His void turned out to be a very powerful one, but in a deserted world like ours, all he could ever do with it was either changing our appearances or the form and color of crystals. Naturally, the second option was rather boring and felt more than just insignificant. Especially when Carol and I could do so even without him.
There had also been further limitations such as to never change anything about our parents' belongings, because they still wore the same clothes as they had on the day they had become gods. As it somehow held a sentimental value to them, they prevented Triton from ever changing them.
Of course, we as his sisters weren't really better off than him in any way. Just like he lacked a real purpose with father already around, we, too, were kind of useless when our mother could very well do her job without us.
It was because of that that we eventually decided to confront our parents about it.
"Mother, father. Can we have a word with you?" My brother asked for all three of us as we approached the couple, who had been busy watching the sunset together. Mother's crown had been crimson red, so it had been Inori at the time.
They both turned their attention towards us and gave us a kind smile. "Of course. What is it? Would you like to join us? We won't mind." Father offered us a seat next to them, but brother politely refused.
"Thank you, but that's not why we came to talk to you. I am afraid my sisters and I have realized we have a problem to which we can't find a solution to without hearing your advice." It would surely have looked awkward to a human if one would have ever seen the scene unfold in front of their eyes. Triton had long since stopped to grow older at the same age as our parents. Yet, despite their appearance, my parents were still older and much more powerful as well as wiser than him.
"What is it?" Mother asked us as she tilted her head in wonder.
This time it was I who spoke up. "This might sound like a weird question, but…why do we exist?"
Our parents blinked at us in surprise and looked at each other before suddenly turning a faint shade of red for some reason.
"Is this one of these 'birds and bees'-talks, Shu?" Mother whispered to father.
"I suppose they are old enough to know already, but do we have to be the ones to tell them?" Shu whispered back.
"But who else would do it if not us?"
"I don't know? I thought they would be able to learn that fact through godly knowledge or something…like how you suddenly learned of your mother."
"Well, obviously they don't have that kind of power, yet. So hurry up and answer them."
"Huuuh? Why me?"
"You are a good teacher. You taught me all about it, too."
Father suddenly turned even redder. "Shush, you! They will hear you!"
Meanwhile, my siblings and I had started to wonder if our parents might have forgotten about us, so I tried to remind them by catching their attention again: "Um, mother? Father?"
They both flinched as if they had somehow been startled by it. Mother, however, seemed to recover faster from the shock and used the opportunity to push father forward. When he turned around to her in disbelief, all he saw was her encouraging smile and a thumbs-up as if she were trying to say: "You can do it, Shu!"
"I've been abandoned!" he cried mentally, followed by facing his children, now all on his own.
"Well…" he started with an awkward laugh. "You see, when a god and a goddess really love each other…"
That was the time in which it was our turn to become flustered. With my face suddenly colored in the same shade of pink as my hair was, I started to wave both my hands in front of me in an attempt to stop him.
"Wait, wait, wait, Dad! You've got it all wrong! That was not at all what we wanted to know!"
Our parents blinked at us again. "It wasn't?"
"No…" Triton answered this time with a heavy and embarrassed sigh. "We learned about that centuries ago."
Both mother and father sighed in relief. That was, until father realized something else that disturbed him.
"Wait…if you already knew…who told you guys?"
I narrowed my eyes and looked away in shame as I answered him. "Mother did…she was also far too detailed about it…"
Upon hearing that, Shu turned towards Inori in disbelief only to see her rapidly shaking her head and heavily protesting with her hands. Realizing what this meant, he could only form a bitter, knowing smile on his lips.
"So it was Mana, then. Honestly, that woman…"
"But if it is not the means of your birth that concern you, what else could you possible mean by your question?" Mother decided to get back to the problem at hand.
"Perhaps my dear sister has chosen the wrong way to word her question." Brother then chose to say after clearing his throat. "What we actually meant to know is the purpose of our existence. You both are clearly able to fulfill your sacred duty without us, so what is it that we have to do in this world? How do we honor the life you have blessed us with by giving it a reason?"
Our parents shared yet another look with each other, but eventually turned back to us with their usual kind smiles.
"The simple answer to the question of what the meaning of one's existence is, is simply to exist. A life does not necessarily need a purpose to be important. The importance in life is simply to be alive." Mother gently told us.
It was a clever way to tell us that our parents would love us all no matter if we found a purpose in life or not, though although as wise and reassuring as her words may have been, we couldn't help but find her answer somewhat lacking still. That was why father chose to add:
"However, if you want to find true purpose in your existence, then looking at us for help will not help you find it. The question of one's own point in life is one that troubles every being of intelligence, no matter if human or god, and can always only be answered by oneself. As much as we would like to see you through it, this is something you will have to find out on your own. All we can offer you is guidance on your way."
"Guidance? Such as?" The youngest one among us asked him. Mother answered by starting to let little crystals whirl around her right hand as if she were merely playing with them.
"The powers you have received from us were gifts from us to you, so that you would always have a part of us resting inside you." She let the small crystals fly over to little Carol, who let them dance around herself for a bit, before passing them up to me who did the same. After playing around with them for a short while, I finally sent them away into the distance. In the meanwhile, mother continued to explain.
" Don't start to believe that just because you have them, that you are merely meant to become your father's and my successors. Rather than that, you should try to give shape to your very own power and wield it with pride alongside the one you were born with."
"Bear in mind, though, …" Father chose to add while looking down on his void arm in what looked like a mixture of nostalgia and a bit of bitterness. "…that finding your very own power may only be a stepping stone to understand the meaning of your own life. It may help you find it, but the power itself will likely not be the answer you are looking for."
Uncertainty started to spread among us three siblings. Our parents' words felt important and somewhat helpful, but we still felt like there were still so many things we needed to know. Yet, we also understood that we had to find the answers to our remaining questions ourselves.
"Thank you for your help, Mom, Dad." Triton finally said while respectfully bowing to them, only to get surprised by father walking up to him, putting his arm around his shoulders and pulling him close to him in a fatherly way.
"Why the hell are you so formal for? We will always be your parents, you know?" He told us with a grin. Before I could even start about thinking of laughing at my brother's somewhat embarrassed face, mother came up to me as well and pulled me into a warm hug.
"No matter how old you get, we will always be there for you if you need us." She softly added as she gently caressed my hair.
"Hey, no fair. Me too, me too!" Carol, still only looking like a mere 12 old, tried to catch my parents' attention. They both only smiled as they gave her a loving hug as well. My brother and I just watched them happily.
"Hey, by the way, what does happen when a god and a goddess really love each other very much?" Carol finally said. All of a sudden, everyone froze with an unreadable facial expression.
Father's mouth fell open in shock as he somewhat mechanically moved his head to face my brother and me with a look on his eyes that could only be read as: "She doesn't know…?"
I could only offer him a crooked smile while I remembered the time mother Mana had enlightened us about the full truth of every life's origin. Sadly for Shu and Inori, that time hadn't involved Carol for some reason.
Taking the ignorance of our sweet yet somewhat dense little sister as a cue, my brother and I decided it was time to leave them alone. So with an awkward laugh and while scratching the back of our heads, we simply declared: "Thanks again for the help. We will take our leave now."
And thus, we left them with the strange aura of awkwardness that hung around them.
The following centuries, my dear siblings and I would follow the advice given to us by our parents to find our own powers. We realized very soon, that powers, which would only affect the god's realm, would end up being as useless to us as Triton's void ended up to be. It had been a void with the potential to do everything, yet could do nothing in a world in which there was nothing but crystals and gods.
Thus we followed our parent's example to base our powers around human life. But in order to do so, we first had to understand what human life truly was. And so we spent a long time watching the life of people unfold in the crystal world. We watched their happiness, their sadness, their light and their darkness and eventually came to the conclusion that humanity was amazing.
Even though their lives may have been so very short compared to the ones of gods, they still managed to achieve so much in it. Despite being imperfect beings which often failed and doubted themselves, they would still always get up on their feet again and try to keep on going.
However, we also realized that people would also often get affected by negative emotions too easily which would result in them often wasting far too much of their valuable time on trying to overcome them. It saddened us to such an extent, that we wished to help them spend their time more efficiently, so that they would be able to achieve more of their precious dreams before death would befall them and they would end up dying without reaching their goals.
Eventually from that wish came the power to affect human negativity. Whenever we touched crystals, people living inside them would lose some of their negativity. Which kind of negative emotion we would end up affecting depended on our own personalities.
My older brother, having always hated how easily humans could get troubled because of their uncertainty, would end up spreading motivation and inspiration amongst the hearts of the people in the crystals he touched. They would then usually become strong enough to overcome their fears and doubts and become surer of themselves.
My sister on the other hand had never been able to stand the hatred and malice that could easily end up eating away at people's hearts for years. To counter that, she spread love and forgiveness with every crystal she touched.
As for myself, I had chosen sadness as the thing I couldn't bear humans to feel, so my touch would end up bringing happiness to people's hearts.
It had taken us over a millennium to shape and master our powers, but in the end, we felt it had been worth every single century. Because from that moment onward, we had found a thing we could do in this world of ours that our parent's couldn't. We had earned ourselves a purpose. And not too soon, for it happened once every single one of us had reached full adulthood.
Though I had been proud to have inherited a lot from my dear mother's appearance, it had proven to be rather confusing to have someone so similar looking as me walk around the realm. Even more so since I had been almost the striking image of my mother, unlike Triton, who at least may have had darker hair than father. So, even though I really had been tempted to wear my hair like my beloved mother did, I had ultimately decided to cut it short, so there would be more details to tell us apart other than the color of our crowns and our clothes.
It was because of that, that I had sometimes envied Carol, who as the only one not bearing any real resemblance to mother, could let her beautiful blue hair grow as much as she would have liked.
But just because our physical growth had come to an end, like mother and father, our godly powers never ceased to become stronger. At first it had only been minor improvements such as the ability to see which crystals in our realm held the most negativity for us to cleanse inside them. Then it was an extension of our power's temporary effect on humans, eventually however, Carol learned a trick that would change our lives forever.
It had been an undeniable fact that during our time in which we three had studied the human world, our fondness of people had strongly risen, but that had even more so been the case for my little sister than it had been for my brother and me.
Her love and interest for human beings was, in fact, so strong, that she had formed the wish to be closer to them, to even live amongst them. And after centuries of thinking about little else, deepening that wish and improving her powers, she eventually attained the unthinkable ability to enter the human world.
To say brother and I, as well as our parents, had been astonished by this would have been the very least. Not even mother and father, who had existed longer than we had, would have thought of this as being even possible.
And yet, it was. My beloved little sister had created a miracle all by herself.
The power itself worked in a rather simple way. What my sister would do was choose a point in the human world she would have liked to enter, touching the crystal, and then spending almost all of her power trying to force her own soul into it by leaving her physical body behind.
The result was that her soul would end up entering the human world and was able to live amongst them while her real body would sleep and await its souls return in the god's realm. She could return whenever she so pleased.
It was needless to say, that we all had been eager to learn this trick as well, but even though it sounded so very simple, even as powerful gods, it wasn't a technique that could have been easily copied.
Thus Carol spent a tremendous amount of time to teach us, even mother and father, how to do it. Having felt nothing but pride to have attained so much power despite being the youngest goddess of us all, she truly enjoyed all the praise our parents would give her.
The following millennium had thus been dedicated to learn about Carol's method as well as the limits of it. It turned out that gods who entered the human world could still not be harmed and also could live there as long as they pleased. However, by doing so, they would naturally cease to perform their sacred duty in the realm of the gods. Thus, there had always had to be at least one god in the realm of gods at all time in order to keep the world going.
And since mother and father themselves knew nothing better than the fact that being forced to be all alone in the god's realm would be nothing short of torture, they had established two rules for us:
Two gods must always remain in the god's realm.
Never get too attached to humans to avoid sadness.
With that, the times began in which every one of us would start experiencing the pleasure of exploring a world we all had only been able to look at from afar up until now.
Mother and father , out of kindness, had let us go first. Then, after many centuries of exploration and gathering a lot of precious memories, we returned and let them have a look for themselves. After that we continued to visit the human world periodically. And while mother and father usually did so together, my siblings and I tended to do so by ourselves. It was simply easier and more efficient to experience the human world on our own and tell each other about it afterwards than to walk around together and have everyone see and do the same things.
But although the ability to venture into the crystal realm had seemed like an utter blessing for its endless amount of things we could do there which we couldn't do at home, it would eventually turn out to also become a forbidden garden of sin.
It didn't matter that it had been several millennia since the first time we had gone into the human world, nor that our parents had been kind enough to only give us two rules. Eventually, one was bound to be broken by one of us. Unfortunately for my brother, it ended up to be him.
Despite mother and father's warnings, he had still given in to his curiosity, came too close to a human woman and had fallen in love with her. That alone wouldn't have been a problem, for our parents had never forbidden us to love humans, but brother's love had gone too far. Where he had been supposed to never go beyond a point in which he wouldn't be able to let her go, he carelessly allowed himself to fall for her completely.
Naturally, this would only end up in one way for him.
Even despite the fact that humans had managed to improve their life span to around 300 years over the last several millennia through science and evolution, it would still last nothing but a very short amount of time compared to a god's. And thus, the inevitable day came on which death separated the two.
It was needless to say, that he could have never accepted that at this point.
"Father!" he roared as he eyed Shu threateningly. He had returned to the god's realm as soon as his love had passed away, knowing all-too-well that the older god in front of him was now holding her soul in his very void arm.
Said god could only sigh sadly, as he turned around to his pained son with a knowing look.
"Don't you dare returning that soul instead of reviving her." He growled.
"I suppose you mean this one…" father said with slightly narrowed eyes as he summoned a glowing orb into his hand. It simply stayed there, levitating slightly over the palm of his hand. "A beautiful one. She has led a content life with no regrets. You have given her plenty of happiness, but now it is time to let her go."
"Never! I refuse to hand her over to death! Not when I am god! I stand above everything else! Death shall not have her!"
Father's look was full of pity as he eyed his son. "You know that revival is impossible. I have told you that a very long time ago. There is a limit to even a god's power. And granting second chances for humans is beyond ours."
"I don't believe you! There is always a way!"
"Even if there was, I won't deny her soul the happiness of a new life while you search for it. Especially if it is more than likely that you will not find a way where I could not. You will have to believe me when I am telling you that I have tried once. Every possible way. And yet, I couldn't surpass death."
"I will find it! Just give me her soul! I will show you!" He begged him.
Father looked down on the soul resting in his hand, then focused his attention back on my brother. "If I were to give this soul to you now, it would not be able to return into the cycle of rebirth. And the longer it would stay in our realm, the weaker it would become. One day, it would simply vanish, together with the memories of every single life this soul had held previously, including the one of the woman you loved. It will be lost forever. Do you understand?"
Triton's eyes widened in fear as he pictured that scenario in his mind. Uncertainty suddenly took a grip on his heart as he asked himself if he really could achieve what no god had achieved before him. But then he remembered the people living in the crystal world. How uncertainty would often lead to their fall. He then decided that he wouldn't let uncertainty stop him. With a determined look, he eventually answered my father: "I do."
The disappointment in father's face was clearly visible as he closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. The soul in his hand slowly flew over into the hands of his son, who carefully took it into his care.
"It pains me how much it feels like looking into a mirror when I look at you. My own foolishness runs deep within you. The wound you have inflicted on your own heart will eventually grow into one even your mother and I won't be able to ever heal…"
"Then I will heal it myself…" Answered my brother, followed by turning around and leaving father to himself.
As father watched him leave, he couldn't help but wonder: "Have I made a mistake…?"
Centuries would pass in which my family would rarely ever see my brother anymore. And if we ever happened to do so, we wouldn't be able to talk to him anyway. Too absorbed had he become with his obsession of reviving the person he so deeply loved for him to ever think about anything else. The only thing that was ever on his mind was the soul he carried around with him all the time. He was hoping to create a miracle like his sister had when she had found a way to enter the crystal realm. After all, when his youngest sister was able to perform such incredible deeds, why shouldn't he be able to do so as well?
However, the time passed and the miracle he had hoped he would attain never came. In his hands, though, his lover's soul, like father had predicted, would gradually grow weaker with every passing year.
Once at the size of a soccer ball, it slowly shrunk into the size of a baseball and eventually, would look like nothing more than a small candle flame, threatening to go out at any moment by the blow of wind alone. And so the inevitable happened.
"Father…!" Triton came running to his father with the dying soul in his hands one day. His eyes were full of tears as he spoke out of breath from running. "You were right all along. I can't do it! Please! Save this soul!"
But Shu, who took the soul back from his son, could do little more but shake his head once he held it in his hands.
"I am sorry, Triton, but it is already too late. The soul is too weak to survive another cycle of rebirth. It will fade soon."
"No…this can't be…" he whispered unbelievingly. "What about mother? Couldn't she enclose it in crystals so it would survive in there?" Hope returned into the eyes of my brother as he saw our father deep in thought. His right hand rested on his chin as he weighed the possibility of success in his mind.
"Your mother's soul was once able to survive a very long time that way. Perhaps it could be possible."
As if on cue, mother, wearing a purple crown, approached the two, curious what all the sudden fuss could have been about.
"What's the matter, dear? Did something happen?" She asked with concern in her voice.
"We were wondering if you could save this soul by shrouding it into crystal, Mana. It may be the only way to save it." Father explained the situation to her.
It was only then that she noticed the dying soul her brother was holding. It had become so faint, that one could barely see it anymore. She frowned.
"There is not enough left to shroud in a crystal. Even the faintest touch could already destroy it." She explained truthfully.
"So it's the end for her?" Triton could only look at them in disbelief. "Nothing can be done anymore?"
"That's what I warned you of, son." Father comfortingly put his left hand on my brother's shoulder while he carefully returned the soul in his right one back to him. "I wish you had listened. Trust me, I know the pain you are feeling right now…I would never wish it upon anyone."
My brother merely responded by hitting father's hand away in anger.
"Oh, do you, really? You at least were able to save mother. Now you have two goddesses to love, while I lose the first soul I ever tried to bond with. Carol got her damn miracle when she had wished to live with the humans. Where was mine when I had wished for this mere soul's revival?" He suddenly yelled at him before eventually letting his gaze shift towards the ground in sadness and disappointment. "This isn't fair at all…"
My parents could do nothing but watch him walk away in defeat. They shared a sad and understanding look with each other once he had left.
"Do you think he will ever get over it?" Mother asked worriedly.
"Depends on how much he had loved her, but my guess is that he won't. I know I would still hurt if you had never shown me Inori's soul that day. Those wounds…they never heal." He shook his head in pity.
"Maybe I shouldn't have given him that soul. After all, I had known myself that there was no way he would have been able to do it. But I guess something inside me felt I had no right to deny his wish when I myself wouldn't have been strong enough to let Inori go had I been in his situation back then. Somehow this feels like seeing what would have happened if our fates had been reversed.
Mother couldn't help but sigh at that. "If he really comes so much after his father, he is bound to only drive himself into more misery from now on."
"I am afraid you are right. Let's just hope he got more of your wisdom than he got of my foolishness. If that's not the case, then I at least hope he inherited as big a heart as Inori has so that his won't falter because of this."
Only time would tell if my parents' predictions would come true or not, but as much as I had hoped for them to have been wrong, unfortunately, they had been right.
After having watched his precious soul mate perish into oblivion forever, he just would never return to his old self. Where he had once used to be a nice, reliable and strong older brother, he had turned into nothing but a shadow of his former self. Sometimes my parents, Carol and I would try to get closer to him again, so we could comfort him and show him that the world still had a lot of light to offer for him where he could only see darkness.
He, however, would have none of that. Pushing us away repeatedly, he chose the path of solitude to deal with his aching heart. And we, respecting his wish, complied, hoping that with time his wounds would heal. But…they never did.
Unlike us, he had long since lost the desire to perform his sacred duty to bless humans by eradicating some of their negativity, thinking that his blessings, though nice for the humans, had been insignificant from the start. For they only lasted a limited amount of time and were often unable to make them overcome their misery completely. Aside from that, compared to our parents' job, which was strictly needed for the realm of the humans, it was quite clear that ours was nothing but optional and wouldn't even end the world if all three of us had stopped performing them altogether.
While this may have been true, my sister and I could have never thought about such nonsense. Our place in this world, though not as important as our parents' may have been, was still an important one for the human world, as was proven by the fact that our actions had improved the fates of countless people already. Where mother and father sustained life, we would grant it happiness. And was such an act of generosity not reason enough to take pride in what one was doing? Hadn't it been the point of our existence?
But when I had confronted him with that exact reasoning, he had merely stated that he could no longer see the point in doing something so meaningless and foolish. When asked what the point of his existence would be instead, he had looked at me with hollow eyes and wondered about the same thing. Soon after that, he stopped caring about humans altogether.
Having lost interest in them, he never even visited their world anymore. Instead, he would only walk through the crystal desert of our realm and search for a new meaning to his life to replace the one he had lost. When he turned out to be unable to find one, his mood started to become even darker.
Eventually his negativity started to affect his godly power. Where it was once used to bless humans with motivation, it would now curse them with hesitation. And thus he started to spread negativity wherever he went, intentionally or not, causing my sister and me additional work to fix the damage he was inflicting.
My sister, having loved humans with all her heart, couldn't stand to see our brother do this to them for long. Aggravated, she soon confronted him about our problem.
"Stupid big brother!" She had yelled at him in frustration. "Stop cursing the humans because of your own failure! They don't need to be dragged down by your incompetence! Go back to being the god you once used to be, or leave! There is no need for an existence such as yours in this world when you are the way you are right now."
Needless to say, it had shocked my brother as much as it had me to see our little sister so furious. Having always been a sweet and adorable little sister, all we had ever seen her give us were her honest smiles and unconditional love. For her to have had such an outburst at Triton only showed how fed up she really had become with him.
But no matter how harsh her words may have sounded, being the kind hearted goddess she had always been, I cannot bring myself to believe she had truly hated Triton. Perhaps all she had wanted was for him to snap out of it and to return to be the brother we both had grown up with.
Unfortunately, though, her words had had the opposite effect on him. Unable to grasp their true meaning, he chose to take them the wrong way instead.
"My sister is right. There really is no meaning to my existence in this world." He thought. "And if that is the case, I will have to create a world in which my existence has a meaning."
He retreated back into the more isolated parts of our world to think about a way to make his new wish a reality. Unbeknown to the rest of my family, who even with the foresight of gods could never have foreseen the thing my brother would eventually choose to do.
Until he finally reappeared to us one day, climbing on the highest crystal mountain in the realm of gods until he reached the top, where he confidently used the power, that had rested inside him since his birth, to unleash his very own void.
It was a small wheel, capable to change minor details about the world, thus having been called "the wheel of fate". It was the same tool he had used in the past to create new items for us. Accessories, clothes and such. Never had it been useful for anything else. But this time, he held it high in the air with both his hands, let it levitate between them and made it spin while infusing it with his own godly aura.
Soon the sky would darken with stormy clouds while ominous winds picked up all around him, yet he didn't seem to pay them any heed. Worriedly, me and my sister would then look up to him and ask:
"Brother! What are you doing?"
"This worthless world in which not even a single soul could be saved by even the most powerful of gods. I will end it. And out of its shards I will create a new, better world. Join me, dear sisters, as we will become the gods of an even better world than the one our parents have created." He replied to us with a delusional smirk on his face.
"This is madness, brother! Have you lost your mind?" Carol cried to him, unable to believe that the god in front of her was the precious brother she had once used to know. My expression became determined, yet could not completely hide the fear that lingered inside me.
"Carol." I said as I raised my hand, prepared to fight with the power inherited by our mother. "We have to stop him. Be ready."
My younger sister looked hesitant, but still gave me a nod as she prepared herself as well.
But just as we were about to start a fight, we felt a warm hand on both our shoulders. And like out of nowhere, our parents protectively placed their selves in front of us.
"Hare, Carol. Stay behind us." Father instructed without turning around to us. In his right hand he held mother's void in all its glory, shining slightly while emitting countless beautiful silver threads which whirled in the air around it.
Relief clearly sparkled in both my sister's and my own eyes once we saw them, yet we were also worried what they might have planned to do to our brother.
"What…what are you going to do?"
Mother, wearing a purple crown, had annoyance written all over her face. Her left hand was angrily placed on her hip while her right one pointed up to our brother. "This foolish, little brat of ours…we will have to give his ass a bit of a spanking."
"Don't stand in my way, mother, father! This is the path I have chosen for myself. For us!" Triton finally said to them as they were about to engage him.
"You don't get to decide our fates, silly. Especially not if it is one headed to annihilation." Mother replied. It may have sounded funny coming out of her mouth, having once been the one to bring the end upon her very own world while practically forcing her brother to join her, yet she had been completely serious of the things she had just said.
"I know you are hurt and disappointed, son. But what you are trying to do is nothing short of unreasonable." Father continued. "You must realize yourself that your void is only meant to change little details about reality, not change reality as a whole! It will break before you will achieve anything and as a result will leave the world in chaos."
"Nonsense. You are just scared because even your godly knowledge cannot foresee what lies ahead in the new world I will create. Just as how clueless you had once been when you had first destroyed your old world to create the one we live in today. But every end means a new beginning. And like the phoenix rises from its own ashes, a new world will begin after this one perishes. To create that world is my purpose. I finally realized it."
"Then I suppose our purpose is to stop you." Mother, too irritated by her own son's delusions, suddenly decided to attack by creating multiple pointy-end crystals, followed by launching them at Triton with the power of her thoughts alone.
The spear-like projectiles, however, started to flicker halfway on their course and disappeared before they could reach their target, as if they had never been there in the first place.
"Tch, he is using his void to nullify my crystals." Mana realized. Father then decided to charge forward with the singer's sword.
"Then it's my turn." He decided. His son tried to change reality to cause crystals to shoot up from below him, but he merely jumped in the air. More crystal debris appeared and started to fly through the air, trying to hit him, yet all he had to do was use them as stepping stones to continuously jump his way to his target. Fast as he was, he had reached my brother in only a few seconds and lunged at him.
Triton could have done nothing but use his void for a shield, and so he did. Angry eyes locked themselves upon each other as their voids clashed.
"As I thought." Father said with a smirk. "You can't just let your mother's void disappear, since it would have required erasing her soul as well. You void isn't powerful enough for that. Not that you would have anyway. You still care for us, or else you would have tried to kill us before attempting to destroy the world."
Triton merely returned the smirk. "So what of it? You are the same. You wouldn't destroy your own son's void and unless you do, you won't stop me."
"Ah, but unfortunately for you, I don't have to." With that, father's void arm started to glow. Brother's eyes widened as he realized his void was slowly dissolving and vanishing into father's right arm. As soon as it had disappeared inside it, the world around them had started to return to normal. Carol and I sighed in relief once we saw that.
"Wha…you damn cheat…!" Brother grumbled. Jumping back, he held up both his arms to both his sides, summoning more voids from the human souls resting inside the crystals surrounding them. Dozens of spears, swords, axes and other sharp tools appeared all around him as he held them up in the air with his will. Once he had gathered enough, he pointed his right index finger threateningly into father's direction.
"Return my void to me, or else…"
Father merely closed his eyes in disappointment and shook his head.
"Threatening me with voids is like trying to drown a fish."
"Shut up! With this many, even if you attempted to absorb them all, some will still hit you!"
"Haven't you forgotten something?"
Triton blinked at him in confusion. "What?"
When he saw crystals wrap themselves around his ankles, he realized his mistake, but by then it had already been too late. The crystal vines quickly grew up his legs and torso and eventually reached his neck and wrists, thus completely binding him.
"My, my, look at what a naughty boy I just caught in my net." Mother said mockingly as she walked up next to father, who in the meantime had sent back all the voids my brother had summoned with a mere wave of his hand.
"Mother! Damnit, let me go!" Triton cursed and struggled to break free, yet had soon to realize it was but a futile attempt.
"What do we do with him, Mana? He may really have gone too far just now, trying to destroy everything." Father sighed, visibly troubled.
"What do you mean 'what do we do'? We knock some sense into him and let him go, what else is there to do?" She looked at him questioningly.
"Will it be enough, I wonder…?"
"I said: Let. Me. GOOOO!" Brother suddenly roared at them. His aura of negativity suddenly gushed past them as if they had just been hit by the blast of an explosion. Even the crystals restraining him started to turn black from his touch alone.
Mother immediately winced in pain once she felt her son's darkness run through her crystals. Even father seemed to be in agony by something resting in his void arm he was clutching onto with his other hand.
"His void…the darkness…it's so much…" He grunted while trying to get a hold of himself.
"This horrible corruption…look, it's spreading through the crystals…"
My sister and I watched in shock as we realized mother was right. The darkness he emitted oozed into the ground from where it slowly started to spread onto other nearby crystals. There was no doubt this would end up horribly for the people living inside them.
"We have to do something…" father told mother, now bearing with the pain in his arm.
With wide eyes she replied: "You can't mean…"
He didn't answer, just looked down in sadness as he clenched his fists. Realizing he was serious, Mana matched his expression.
"But…he's our son…" she said, completely saddened.
"I know..." He looked into his son's hateful eyes and placed a hand on his shoulder as he offered him a sympathetic look. "I am sorry, Triton."
Carol and I watched in horror as we saw father reluctantly stretch his hand out towards the crystal crown resting on my brother's head. A deep sigh escaped his lips as he took a hold of it. Glancing over his shoulder back at Mana, he saw her actually trembling, looking as if she was about to cry. He was quick to avert his eyes, fearing he might start as well if he were to look at her any longer. Of course, Triton noticed his parents' strange behavior and grew nervous.
"Hey, why is mother so upset? What the hell are you doing, father?" He demanded to know.
"This burden…I am taking it from you." With that, he finally took the crown off his son's head. The younger god immediately felt his power weakening. Tiredness befell him.
"Uuurgh…what…have you…father…" He mumbled weakly with half closed eyes. Mother affectionately put her hand on his cheek and said with a forced, sad smile:
"Shhh, don't be afraid, Triton. Mother will always be there to watch over you while you sleep. I will protect you, so just rest."
A gentle lullaby escaped her lips as she soothingly moved her hands in slow, fluent movements. The crystals at her command wouldn't make their mistress wait for long. Following the movements of her hands, they started to shroud themselves around the now barely conscious Triton, as if they were freezing him in solid ice.
"Mo…ther…" He muttered tiredly before finally nodding off. The tears Mana had held back until now had now broken free from their prison. Silently they fell while she finished embracing her own son in what would be his "bed" for a very long time.
"Foolish son…" she whispered once she was done. "Making your mother cry for you."
"At least he won't hurt anymore now that he sleeps…I can feel his heart calming down." Father comfortingly said, followed by looking at brother's crystal crown that still lied in his hands. It had once been a bright orange color, but now it had become an ugly pitch black. "Though the darkness inside it…it will take an eternity to disappear again…"
My sister and I had not completely understood what really had happened that day. Only when we had slowly found our way next to them had they told us the grim fact of what would now become of our brother.
They explained to us that they had taken away brother's godly power in order to let him sleep. And to guarantee his sleep was a peaceful one, he had been sealed inside mother's warm, life-giving crystals. In there, completely frozen in time, he would dream of happy times and forget his pain one day. Or so they hoped. Though their own decision clearly pained them, they had made themselves quite clear that no one but them were allowed to ever lift this "curse". And so we had no choice but to bid our brother good-bye, for although he may only have slept, it had become quite clear that we would not be able to interact with him for a very long time. Even to this very day, I have yet to see him reawaken and I start to wonder if he ever will.
At this point it had already been undeniable that the age of happiness had come to an end. And what came next would be the age I would call the age of loss, for lack of a better word.
It was funny to call it a loss when all that really separated my family from my brother was a simple wave of any goddesses' hand to free him. And yet we never would in order to avoid ripping up his now healing wounds in his heart. It was a hard time for all of us…to not give in to temptation and our own selfishness and instead think of brother's well-being, but we endured it. Though I remember Carol getting dangerously close to becoming weak once.
One day, not too long after my brother's sealing, she had stood in front of his resting place, or prison if you so pleased. Looking around her secretly, she checked if the coast had been clear. Once she verified that no one was there, she prepared herself to perform the unsealing, but eventually ended up getting caught by father who had managed to remain undetected by her.
"Carol." He simply called her name, causing her to tense up.
"Yes, father?" She turned around, trying to feign innocence. Father, however, saw right through her.
"Haven't we told you that you mustn't disturb your brother's sleep? Do you wish to cause him more pain?" He scolded her, which caused her to look down on her feet in shame and sadness.
He sighed as he walked up to her. "We all miss him, Carol. But we will have to bear with it. Not so long ago, I also saw your sister standing on the very same spot you are standing on right now. I could clearly see in her eyes how she wanted to free him, but yet she didn't. You must take an example in her. Be strong. I know you can do it." He said while patting her head slightly. It may have looked funny since she had already reached adulthood long ago, yet she never seemed to mind Dad's antics. In truth, she was a bit of a spoiled daughter who enjoyed getting treated this way. Not that I could say I was any different.
"But I am not strong…" My sister disagreed. "I was weak. When Triton was lost in his sadness, I said all those mean things to him. I should have been more understanding. If I hadn't been so stupid, maybe he would have never become like this in the first place…"
"It's not your fault. Your brother had already been hurt way before that." Father consoled her. "In fact, maybe it was I who was truly at fault here. I had given him that soul even though I knew it would end up in disaster. But I just couldn't help but silently believe in him. That he would create his own miracle, just as you have. I should have known, though, that miracles will never be born out of desperation. I was a fool." She saw the sadness in his eyes and couldn't resist the urge to hug him in a comforting way.
"You shouldn't be too hard on yourself, father. Not even you as a god can always be perfect. We all understand that."
Father then gave her a weak smile as he returned the hug. "You really have a big heart, Carol. I am happy to be able to call you my daughter."
"You are saying that, but yet you would never leave me alone with brother." She then said with a pout. "You don't trust me at all."
"W-well, you see…" Slightly nervous, he tried to find an excuse, but ended up not coming up with one. My sister only sighed in return, followed by offering him a kind smile.
"Well, it's okay. I am actually quite relieved to know that you will always be there to save me from making a terrible mistake." With that, she eventually backed off and decided to take her leave. "Since you won't leave before I do, I guess I might as well go first."
Father suddenly had a knowing smirk on his face. "Off to the human world yet again, aren't you? Do you want Daddy to come with you and treat you to your favorite ice cream?"
"Moouu, stop treating me like a little kid already." Her face had turned slightly red out of embarrassment. Father's grin only grew wider.
"Silly daughter. You will always be my little girl." He simply stated.
"I understand that already, just don't ever say that again in public when we meet each other in the human world. Last time you did, everyone just stared at us as if we had been crazy!"
"These humans…" father suddenly narrowed his eyes as he folded his arms in front of him. "What's so wrong with saying that to my daughter?"
"It's our appearance, silly! To them we look as if we were the same age!"
He looked at her with big eyes, apparently surprised. "Huuuh, is that so? Can't they tell from our difference in power?"
"People can't see that, stupid! Weren't you supposed to be human once? Shouldn't you know that?" He merely looked at her annoyed face and decided to shrug it off.
"Ah, it's been so long. I guess I forgot."
"Urgh, nevermind. I am off. See ya." Obviously having finally had enough of father's feigned ignorance, she decided to walk off. But not without mumbling things such as "stupid father" all to herself.
Shu watched her go with a smile on his lips, having had a lot of fun teasing his daughter.
"She really grew up to like them, huh. She is always so considerate towards people." He realized as he turned back to his frozen son, suddenly losing his smile again in exchange for a frown. Looking at his peaceful sleeping face, he couldn't help but utter a small sigh.
"I am so sorry, son. I should have been a better father to you. I should have been there for you, even when you had said you wanted to be alone. I should have known your pain and realized that leaving you alone would only make things worse. I failed you. I wonder if you will be able to forgive me once you will wake again."
His son, of course, made no sign of having heard anything, let alone would reply in his frozen state. Father merely lowered his gaze as he continued.
"Your father has done a lot of bad things he will never quite forgive himself. All these sins I have committed out of selfishness. Sins I may have passed onto you when you were born. You know…it is actually me who should be trapped in there right now instead of you."
"Don't say that, Shu." My mother's voice suddenly reached father's ears. As he turned around in surprise, he saw her approaching him while wearing a crimson crown. A detail which surprised him a little, yet was something he would still welcome anytime.
"Inori? That's weird. I could have sworn it would be at least another 20 or 30 years before I would see you again."
"Mana woke me early. She said she wanted to sleep, so we switched ahead of time." She explained to him calmly.
"Is that so? I guess it was harder on her than I expected." He gave her an understanding look. "Have you heard?"
Mother nodded slightly as she looked at the sleeping Triton next to them.
"Mana had mentioned before she went to sleep. She was so very sad." She told him while holding her right hand up to her chest where her heart was. "I feel the same. Funny if you considered how we used to be two different sides of the same coin. We are like day and night, yet once she told me our son had been frozen, we just couldn't help but cry together while trying to comfort each other."
"You are mothers. It's understandable." Shu replied with a nod. "Don't be too sad about it, though. It's not like he is dead."
"What's the difference? He is going to sleep so long that even we might forget the reason he had been put to sleep by the time he wakes up."
"Well, that's true. Even if he had died, he would have come back sooner than it will take him to go through this sleeping process. It really is regrettable." He sighed. They both looked at their son for a moment in silence before mother eventually asked:
"I never got to know who it was he fell in love with. Who was she?"
Father frowned as he tried to recall said information, yet found himself to have trouble with it.
"I don't remember her all that well anymore. With her soul gone, it's almost as if she never had existed in the first place. I can't even say for sure what her name had been."
"I see…" Inori said with a saddened expression.
"There is one thing about her that I still remember, though. That is, that she was the complete opposite of you." He told her with a small smile. Mother only tilted her head in confusion as she looked up to him with big eyes.
Father laughed. "Yeah. I only remember because I recall seeing them together and thinking about just how much our son's taste in women sucked."
"Was she that bad?"
"I wouldn't say that she was bad, just that I would have probably hated her if I had met her as a human. Just like how I fell in love with you on first sight, I would have detested her immediately as well. He loved her, though. It was funny now that I think about it. I guess he doesn't completely come after his father after all."
Inori smiled once she had heard that. "I see. It's nice that he got to know what love is, even if it had only been a short while."
"Yeah. I hope he will remember the feeling even though he will forget her. It won't have been all for nothing if that happens."
Inori watched Shu with concern while he was looking at their son as if he was lost in thoughts. Eventually she asked him:
"Will you be alright, Shu?"
He just looked at her questioningly. "Hm? What do you mean?"
"Earlier you said something scary. That you think you should be frozen, too. Say, Shu. You won't do something stupid, will you?"
"Come on, Inori. I am not that foolish, won't you agree?" He tried to laugh it off, but when he saw her still looking at him with those worried eyes of hers, his laugh quickly died off. Instead he gave her a defeated sigh.
"You know, your silence really hurts. So you actually think I am that foolish."
"I haven't said that."
"Well, you haven't denied it either, though." He chuckled softly and took her right hand in his one, so that their fingers would interlace. "Don't worry, I am not leaving you or the girls behind to take a nap with our son."
"That's good." She said with a relieved smile and held Shu's hand even closer to hers. "Because I wouldn't have let you sleep anyway, no matter how many layers of crystals you would have shrouded yourself with." He just returned her smile.
"Well, aren't you quite the selfish one."
"I've learned from you."
With that they laughed and decided to give their son some peace and quiet. They offered him a small bow, wished him good night, and left.
After that, things started to become rather calm again. The years turned into centuries and the centuries into millennia. Eventually, we had come to terms with our brother's rest and found our ways back into our normal lives. Though we would still miss him sometimes, the resulting pain would never exceed the point in which we couldn't bear it anymore and after visiting him once or twice, the feeling would eventually go away again, seeing as we were sure that with every passing century, his reawakening would come nearer.
And so, as time passed, we continued to live together, visit the human world and perform our godly duty. For many millennia, things went smoothly, until eventually, my parents encountered yet their biggest problem.
Having lived for countless millennia already, they soon realized that they had achieved everything there was to achieve. They had discussed, seen and done everything there was. They had both explored every part of their realm, had perfected their power to such an extent, that doing it was but a mere trivial thing to them, deepened their love for each other until the point they couldn't find a way to express it more and even their children were already strong enough to single handedly do their jobs while they would go to the human world together. But even that realm had, despite its size, already been explored eons ago. They had eaten every dish and drunken every drink ever created by mankind. They had sailed all seas, and climbed all mountains, had seen civilizations rise and fall around them only to see new ones take their place. Their godly knowledge covered every book, song, movie or game ever created and so, eventually they found themselves at a loss of things to do. If you already had done everything, what else was there for you to experience?
One day, they just sat in their realm, watching yet another sunset together. Inori's head rested on Shu's shoulder, while his head leaned against hers. They still enjoyed their time together like the first day they had met, yet they thought the sun had lost its beauty after having seen it so incredibly often and couldn't quite enjoy its view the way they had before. They longed for something new, something exciting.
"I wonder, Inori. Have we reached the limit? Is there nothing else for us to do?"
"Hare had asked for a little brother or sister. And while I don't mind granting her wish, I just feel like it would just delay this moment for another few millennia before we run into it again."
"I agree. I would feel bad to grant new life, only to doom it to eventually end at the same point we are right now. I feel like we have to solve this first, but even with all this knowledge at our disposal, I just can't figure out what to do." He sighed sadly.
"If we were human, I suppose this would be the part in our life in which we would grow old together and die." Inori thought out aloud. Followed by giving off a faint smile. "But that is not an option for us, is it?"
He mimicked her expression. "Nope, I guess not. Humans tend to be afraid of death, but I wonder if they will ever realize it is their greatest gift. It limits their lives just enough for them to achieve everything they wanted to and then makes them die happily. What happens next is that they are reborn, so they can experience their happiness yet again. It basically is just an endless way to be happy."
"Say, Shu. If we hadn't been forced apart back then. If we had been able to remain human. What do you think our lives may have been like?" Inori wondered. Shu couldn't help but smirk as he held up her right hand and pointed at her ring finger.
"Well, first off, I would have made sure to put a beautiful ring right there. Then I would probably have rubbed it right into Souta's face." Mother couldn't help but laugh a little at his answer.
"Some friend you are."
"Well, I had watched him live his life when I had just become god. That guy had actually managed to somehow score with Arisa and marry into the Kuhouin family. Guess what he had done right then."
"He married Arisa?" She asked him in surprise.
"Yeah, I guess I haven't told you. The guy was really persistent. Eventually he succeeded. Though I still don't know who I pitied more. Him or Kuhouin. Well, I guess it had been karma at work for her. At least she never fell into his back, so I guess it was alright for them."
"Well, it's nice for her that she had been able to find someone. I wouldn't have thought she ever would."
"Heh, I wouldn't have invited her to our wedding, that's for sure."
"Neither would I." They laughed together before they returned to their previous topic.
"When I was younger, I had actually thought I would become a salary man and work hard to support my family." Father continued his 'What-if' thoughts. "I guess that wouldn't have worked with you as my wife, huh?"
"Why not?" She wondered.
"There is just no way I could have earned more money than the lead singer of EGOIST, is there?"
"Oh, right. I used to do that. Would it have bothered you?"
"Not at all. I wonder if we would have had to travel a lot, though."
"Probably, but I had never left Japan before, so I wouldn't know. Gai said I wasn't allowed to back then."
"Well, you were a terrorist after all." Shu chuckled. "Though I really would have liked to tour the world with you. We could have gone to Paris, Venice and all the other cities we never had the chance to visit in our time. I think they used to have more charm than they do now, though I wouldn't know. I had never been there when it still had been the third millennium Anno Domini. They don't even use that method of counting anymore. It's all Anno Apocalypsis now, alongside other weird ways of counting."
"Hm, do you think we should have written a holy book for the people, too? Like the one Christians used to have before their religion just kind of vanished?"
Father merely sighed. "Maybe, but what would we have written inside it anyway? Probably the same stuff that had already stood in the old one, just with more crystals and our own names. It's not like people would have cared much anyway."
"I guess you are right." It then became quiet again between them as they continued to watch the sunset. That was until father realized something.
"Hey, Inori." He asked.
He was a little hesitant, yet decided to ask her anyway, now that he had already gotten her attention. "Are you…regretting that I hadn't been able to let you go? To let you become human?"
This made her look at him in confusion. "What are you even talking about, Shu?"
"It's just that…you suddenly started thinking about how life would have been if we had been human. I thought…maybe you regretted having become a goddess because of my selfishness back then." He told her while his guilt took a hold of his heart. Had he condemned his love to an eternal life she never wanted? She answered by putting both hands on each side of his head and made him look at her, instead of the ground below him.
"I don't regret anything, Shu. All I ever wanted was to be with you, no matter if as humans or gods. I would not have wanted to become human if it hadn't been with you. I am happy because of what you did." She pulled his face near hers until their foreheads touched, looking happily into each other's eyes.
"You know, I really don't deserve you." Father said with a smile as he drew closer to kiss her. That was the moment mother's crown suddenly changed its color from crimson to purple, indicating that the active soul inside mother's body had changed yet again.
"It's good that you finally realize that yourself." Was what Mana suddenly said, shocking father with the sudden change of character. Confused how he was, he just kept staring into mother's eyes, who only batted her eyelashes flirtingly as she smirked at him.
"What's wrong, Shu? Not gonna give big sis a kiss?" Finally realizing what was going on, he just jerked away angrily.
"Goddamnit, Mana! Could you have possibly picked an even worse time? You could have at least waited until the end of the day." He glared at her.
She just held her hands together in an apologizing way and smiled. "Sorry, sorry, but I have basically spent the last 50 years waiting to finally tell you guys that I have the solution to our dilemma. I just couldn't wait anymore."
Father raised an eyebrow at her suspiciously. "You have?" He then noticed some blood dripping off of mother's nose. "Hey, what's wrong? Your nose is bleeding." He asked, slightly concerned.
"Ah, that's Inori's doing. Turns out even someone like her gets really angry when I do this to her. Well, you guys will just have to deal with it this time. I hope she stops soon, though. It really hurts." She replied with a pained expression on her face.
"Well, since you have already succeeded in ruining the mood, you might as well tell me what that big idea of yours is." He grumbled in an annoyed way.
"Yeah, about that…" When he saw her smirk at him the way she did, he just knew she was up to no good. "I want payment first, you know. It is my idea, after all."
Shu frowned. "I knew it. So, what do you want?"
"What do you think, silly? A kiss would be nice for starters." She had barely finished her sentence, when suddenly her nose started to gush out even more blood, causing her to bend over in pain. "Urgh, stop it, Inori. Calm down and go back to sleep already. It will be your turn again in a mere 100 years." Shu only narrowed his eyes on her as he silently cheered Inori on for whatever it was she was doing in there. In his eyes, Mana sure had deserved it this time.
"You know you have quite some nerve, interrupting someone else's kiss only to ask for one the very next moment." He told her with a clearly visible, pulsing vein on his forehead. His eyebrows also shook from how hard he forced his eyes shut out of anger.
"What are you even angry about? It's not like we hadn't done more before. It's just a kiss, get over it. I could have asked for more, you know." She calmly stated as she swept the blood away from her nose. "Come on, the sooner we get to it, the sooner I get to spill the beans."
Father could do nothing but sigh at this point. What other choice did he have? He went over to her, lifted her chin and looked her in the eyes, then slowly drew nearer to her lips. She then smiled and closed her eyes in high expectations. Father, however, sent her hopes crashing into a wall of disappointment when he quickly moved and kissed her on the cheek instead. Her eyes flung open in annoyance at him.
"What the hell? Lame!" She complained.
"Oh, did you mean a kiss on the lips? I had the impression you wanted one on the cheek. Sorry…" He told her with narrowed eyes and a voice clearly devoid of any sign of sincerity.
Mother sighed and shrugged. "Whatever…I guess I really deserved that one…"
"So, what's your plan?"
"Right." He enthusiasm suddenly returned to her once she was reminded of what she had originally wanted to tell him. "We are currently facing the problem that we have done everything there is to be done, right? Well, if we have already exhausted all possibilities of this world, isn't it time for a new one?"
Words couldn't describe the annoyance father must have felt at this very moment. Uttering a disappointed sigh, he only said: "I swear to god, if you are suggesting another apocalypse, I will not talk to you for the entire century you are going to be here."
Mana only narrowed her eyes on him. "So you are swearing to yourself?" This resulted in a glare from him.
"You know what I mean…!"
"Anyway, I am not suggesting an apocalypse. What I am suggesting, though, is to venture into new worlds even beyond our realm. The key to that is literally in your hand, Shu. We can use Triton's void to change reality enough to create a gateway into another universe, realm or whatever there is beyond our home. We may even run into different gods, like us." Mother excitingly explained.
That, finally, had caught even father's interest. My brother's void had still rested inside him from the time he had taken it from him. It had not been strong enough to end the world without shattering first, but to try bending reality only so far to open a gateway between worlds? It could work, is what he thought.
"Maybe Triton hadn't been so far away from a miracle after all. He had just thought too big." Father mumbled as he scratched his chin in thought.
"That's what I thought as well!" Mother agreed happily. "And if we manage to find a nice world beyond ours, we might even wake him sooner and let him try finding his purpose there."
"Hey, now. Slow down. Let's not get hasty here." Shu decided to calm down his sister. "We don't even know if it will work yet. And even if it does, we will have to talk to our children first. We might end up leaving them alone for a while, after all."
That, eventually, made mother calm her horses. "Oh, right. We won't be able to take them with us, are we…" She sounded disappointed all of a sudden.
"Of course not. This world will collapse if no god is around to look after it. Have you only realized it now?" Father asked her in wonder. She only nodded silently in return.
"I was so eager to go on an adventure as a family…it didn't even occur to me that we would have to leave them behind. I would start to miss them very soon…"
"It's not like we would be leaving them behind for good. Just for a while, but I kind of get where you are getting from." Father had to agree with a frown. "They had been around for so long…simply thinking about being separated kind of pains me. Especially when I remember how hard it had been at first when we had sealed Triton…"
"So, how should we handle this?"
Their talk continued for a long time. Thinking things through, wondering if they truly considered everything they should have…in the end, they came to the conclusion that it might really have been the solution they had been looking for. But no matter how frustrated about their current situation they had been, they would have never left their children behind without asking them first. If my sister and I had refused their request, they would have dropped the idea without a second thought. Right there and then.
Luckily for them, though, Carol and I were nothing even close to as selfish as that. Having realized our parents' peril, we had naturally only wished for them to overcome it. If they had found a possible way, we would have been the last goddesses to stand in their way. If anything, we chose to support them in every way we thought possible.
And thus, with our blessing, mother and father began preparing us and themselves for the journey ahead and what it would mean for us. The age of preparations began, and father started by granting me possession of my sleeping brother's crown.
"While your mother and I are gone, someone will have to look after this world for us." He had said. "You and your sister are more than qualified to do the part of your mother, but with your brother asleep, I am afraid one of you will also have to take over for me as well. As the older sister, I would ease my worries by a great deal if I could ask you to temporarily shoulder another burden."
"If I were to refuse, Carol would have to take it, wouldn't she?" I asked him with concern. He replied by giving me a small nod.
"She is strong, but I wonder if such a sudden increase in responsibilities could break her. If possible, I would prefer you to accept the power of kings, Hare."
Hearing that, I immediately became determined to step in my father's shoes as the guardian of people in my sister's stead. With a respectful bow I said:
"Please grant me your power, father. I will not disappoint you."
With this, father put my brother's slightly bigger black crown over my own azure one. The moment, both crowns rested upon my head, I immediately felt an incredible surge of power rush through me, yet could also feel like a heavy weight had been put on top of my heart. The crystal crowns started to attach themselves onto each other and thus formed an even more impressive one. The blackness of brother's crown also changed into the azure color of my original one. Father then pulled me close into a big hug.
"To not hesitate a single moment to bear the burden your sister would otherwise have to. I am proud of you, Hare. You have the kindness in your heart I always wanted you to have. You don't have to worry about ever disappointing me or you mother. Nothing you could do in the world would be able to disappoint us."
His words lifted a huge amount of the heavy weight I had just put on my heart. Sighing in relief, I happily returned the hug he was offering me.
"Thank you, father."
A whole millennium was then spent by him teaching me how to use the power of kings, so that I could wield the souls of humans the way he did. Mother also made sure to refresh every important detail about the power of queens to me and Carol, just to make sure. I tried my best to do my parents proud and absorbed every detail of father's teaching like a sponge would water. When I finally had at long last mastered his power, my parents would finally think about their departure. Until the day eventually came, on which it was time to wish them a safe trip.
"Be good girls, okay? And watch over each other as well as your brother." Mother Inori told us as she gave each of us a loving hug and a kiss on the forehead."
"Don't worry, mother. We will." We reassured her as we returned her hug.
"Remember, we won't leave you for good. We will be back one day. And when we do, we better see this place still standing, you hear me?" Father said jokingly, as he ruffled our hair with a big grin.
"Stop it, Dad. You shouldn't mess up a girl's precious hair." Carol pouted at him, while I only giggled.
"Sorry about that. I just couldn't help it. I can't believe I am not gonna see you around for a while…" He told us with a somewhat saddened smile.
"Yeah, we will miss you too." My sister only nodded at my words.
"Well, before I go, I guess I ought to give you a departing gift, Hare."
I just blinked at him in surprise. "A gift?" I hadn't expected that.
Father merely replied by letting his void arm shine brightly. At first it looked like he would summon a void from inside it, but then I realized he was removing it from his body completely. It dissolved into many silver threads, which flew over to my right arm and wrapped themselves around it. Eventually they reshaped his void onto my arm, though now in a more feminine variation so it wouldn't look out of place.
"Now would you look at that. My old arm really did grow back." Father realized in a pleased way while checking out his physical right arm for the first time in forever. Having never dismissed his void arm even once in all the time he had been god, he naturally never knew for certain if his once cut-off arm had really returned to him.
"But father…this is…won't you need it where you are going?" I asked him in slight shock over his sudden action. He just gently shook his head on me, taking a glance over at mother with a smile.
"There is only one void I truly need. The first I have ever used." Mother kindly responded by interlacing her arm with his, showing us yet again how close they were to each other.
"Despite that, I can still hold multiple voids at the same times with my power as a god alone. I believe my void will be more useful in your hand, Hare. Please take care of it."
"I will!" I bowed to him in gratitude over receiving such a present from him. It wasn't as much the void, that I was grateful for, but rather the trust he had put in me as he literally had put his life into my hands.
"Yet I am afraid my words just now weren't exactly correct." Father admitted in an embarrassed way. "While it is true, that I feel confident enough with your mother's void alone, I guess I will still need your brother's one to actually start our journey. Silly as your father is, he forgot it in that void arm of his. Would you kindly give it to me?" I saw him holding out his free hand expectantly as he had kindly asked that off me. Realizing that this was just another way of him to try and receive permission from his daughters to leave, I only gave him the kindest of nods as I held up his void to summon my brother's one. Once it had appeared in my hand, I immediately handed it over to him.
My sister and I then watched as he held the small wheel in front of him and started to let it spin in mid air. My parents then proceeded to infuse their godly powers into it together, causing it to spin more rapidly. Soon afterwards, like as if lightning had struck the ground next to them, a crack in reality appeared. One could see nothing of what lied on its other side, but the light it emitted was a clear indicator that at least something was there. Our parents had only yet to find out what it really was. They turned around to us for the last time.
"Well, I guess we will be off, then." Mother said with a kind smile.
"Please take care." We both said at the same time as we sent them off. "We hope you will find whatever it is you are looking for."
"Surely we will. If we find something good, we will bring it back for you, too." Father promised us.
"We will be looking forward to it."
And soon after that, they eventually left through the mysterious gateway, which closed itself behind them as soon as they had stepped through it. Just like that, the population in the god's realm, once having been at 5.5, had now dropped down to 2 goddesses and another sleeping god. It had been a rather depressing realization at first, but my sister and I eventually got over it. The age of independence had come over us.
Millennia have long since come to pass with us being in charge of the world. Though initially having been in high spirits, Carol couldn't help but eventually miss staying with the humans. And since I as her loving sister had soon realized that she was only forcing herself to stay by my side instead of plunging herself headfirst into the crystal realm, I eventually released her of her duties, and allowed her to go.
"But…but Hare…mother and father said…" She tried to object, yet I only kindly shook my head on her as I told her:
"Our dear parents only ever said that there have to be at least two gods present in the realm of the gods at all time. Technically, though, brother is still a god, sleeping or not. So we wouldn't break any rules if you were to go and enjoy yourself alongside the humans."
"But what about you, sister? Won't you become lonely?" She voiced her concerns for me, which only made me love her more.
"Weren't you listening? Brother is still with me. I will be fine. Now go already. Be with the humans you so love."
Her eyes beamed at me as she nearly tackled me to the ground with the strongest hug she could offer me.
"You are the best sister in the world, Hare. I will be back to spend time with you. I promise!"
"Have a good time." I wished her as I waved her good-bye.
Many years had come and gone since then. Many of which I had spent watching over my little sister from the god's realm. Often she would fall in love with a man, bear his children and live with him until his time was over. But unlike our brother, Carol's love for people was so strong, that she would gladly grant them the peace of death and the chance of a new life instead of trying to force them into eternity with her. To her it was already good enough to spend what limited time there was with the men she loved.
Though saying farewell to her human husbands may have been sad, she would still have her demigod children to love, who she would sometimes bring to the god's realm with her to let them spent time with me, their aunt. There we would then continue to have fun together for at least a millennium, before they would eventually grow old and die as well. That much had been unavoidable as they only had been demigods, instead of fully fledged ones.
Carol, however, never got too saddened by this, since in her opinion, she would always have more than enough time with them to leave them and herself with no regrets. The only thing that ever pained her, was that neither Mom, nor Dad ever got to meet their grandchildren. Whenever she would say that, I would then console her by promising to never forget a single one of her children, so we could tell everything about them to our parents once they would return.
After the last of her children had died, she would then bid me farewell to go back into the human world to find love yet again. It had become a cycle ever since, and there was hardly a day I ever saw her sad anymore. It had looked like my sister had found her place in the world. And like always, it had been by spreading love to the people. I was happy for her to be able to enjoy her life like this.
As for myself, the years I wouldn't spend together with my sister and her offspring, I would usually spend in solitude. Mostly by doing the work I was supposed to do. At first, it had been difficult, especially once my sister had left, but eventually I got used to it and in the end, I stopped getting bothered by it at all. Now fulfilling my parents' duty brought nothing but pride into my heart and I decided that this would be my purpose in this world. The days continued to pass like this for many, many millennia.
The age of independence continues on to this very day, where I still sit on my crystal throne, watching over humanity and my sister alike. In my right hand the souls of people lie at my disposal and in my left the crystals stay at my command. My beautiful blue crown shines brightly on top of my head and its beauty is only surpassed by my pink hair that I have at long last let grow again as much as I had ever wanted.
My parents have yet to return. I do not know where they are or what they are doing. All I know is that they are still alive, for they are gods and thus immortal. And for that reason, I will eagerly await their return to this world.
But although I am very much looking forward to it, I am also slightly afraid. I fear that I might have become too accustomed to my new lifestyle for me to ever truly leave it behind completely. Too much do I enjoy my reign as queen over the world and too much power have I amassed inside me for me to ever return to being but a mere blessing goddess.
My hand travels up to the crown resting on my head as I wonder. Should the time for my brother come to wake again, will I be able to return his part of the crown to him? I am saddened to admit that I hesitate to answer the question of what has become more important to me. My brother, or the power I have gained from him? Would it have been a couple millennia ago, I would have known the answer for sure, but now…?
Father, has the power I had meant to protect my sister from eventually ended up corrupting me instead? Mother, when you return to see what has become of your daughter, will you still embrace me like you once used to? What path lies ahead for me now? For us? Will it be one of happiness? Or sadness? Will I end up like Triton? Or worse? This crown I wear…will it be a guilty one?
I notice my changes, but am afraid it is already too late to stop them from happening. My power may grow stronger with every passing day, yet with its growth my resistance to it appears to grow even weaker. Maybe it was because of this that I had decided to share my parents' story with you, stranger. For I fear of a time in which even I will stop viewing them the same way I once used to. I am scared of the being I might become.
I look down at the human world and can't help but envy their ignorance. Their freedom.
They don't need to worry about any of this. All they have to do is live their life in the way they think is right. Where my possibilities are limited, theirs are endless and where their minds are full of questions, their hearts usually know the answers to them.
When my parents return and the time comes for me to make a hard decision…I wonder, will my heart give me the right answer, too?
We have reached the point in the story, where the rest is still uncertain. What the future will bring for me and my family…not even I can tell for sure. And thus it is now time for me to end this tale with its conclusion still open. What do you think will fate have in store for us? Will it grant us a happy ending? Or will it curse us with a sad one?
Regardless of whichever ending shall come true, there is a fact that I want you to remember for me. It is that I, Hare Ouma, daughter of Shu, Inori and Mana Ouma, have dearly loved my entire family and was happy to have been able to spent time with them.
For this is the way I wish to be remembered forever.
Even if I myself, some day, sadly might forget...
51.569 AD, counting from the year people believed Jesus Christ to have been born.
49.533 Anno Apocalypsis, counting from the first year after the apocalypse.
45.689 years of the chaos calendar, counting from the first year of the age of madness.
37.783 years of the miracle calendar, counting from the first year a god had stepped foot on the human world
21.368 years of the divine calendar, counting from the first year of the first gods' absence
Well, would you look at that, you actually made it. You might think the ending is rather stupid, since it doesn't really show a conclusion, but to be honest, I have no idea how you can write a story about gods who live for all eternity AND provide an absolute ending. I figured this point in the story might suffice as well as any.
It's actually funny how long this story had actually become. I originally intended to let it end at the point after Shu had killed Mana. She wasn't supposed to come back and Shu would have been doomed to walk the god's realm in solitude forever, where he eventually might or might not have turned mad and eventually killed himself.
It eventually evolved into the version in which Mana would come back, but only to show him that she was all he would ever deserve. Shu then would give up and accept this punishment, living for all eternity with Mana with no chance of ever becoming happy.
But then I for some reason couldn't bring myself to do this to Shu, who, alongside Inori, happens to be my favorite character. So I eventually found a way to give him happiness. And with the possibility of happiness thrown into the mix, I could extend this fanfic by adding more topics I thought would probably end up concerning gods or eternal beings in general.
It actually used to be slightly longer, but I decided to cut stuff here and there that I thought wouldn't really contribute much to the story. There used to be an actual fight with Triton, before I decided it wasn't really interesting and would only drag the scene out unnecessarily. There was also another scene with Shu and Hare with Shu telling his daughter about the person he named her after. It was sweet, but served no purpose besides that. Since there were at least as many OCs in this story as were original GC characters, I figured I shouldn't push my luck with stuffing them too much into the face of the readers.
That being said, I am sorry if they had bothered you in any way. I am not quite good at developing new characters, so they mainly ended up like miniature versions of already existing ones. I tried to give them at least SOME personality, though, to not make them completely boring. I wonder if I succeeded.
But to be honest, I really enjoyed writing this. I liked imagining for myself what a god's problems could be like and how I could actually apply these issues into my fanfic for Shu, Mana and Inori to deal with.
My favorite scene in the whole fic is the scene in which Mana names Triton. I find it to be quite funny if I may say so myself. Even though I don't quite like Mana as a character, I had a lot of fun writing her in this fic.
Close second would probably be the scene with Shu and Inori thinking about how their lives as human beings might have turned out like. I really wanted to have that ShuInori scene there, even though I ended up letting Mana ruin it for them yet again.
I am sorry if the characters appeared OOC to you. I hope I can push some of the blame for that onto the fact that being a god changes you ever so slightly.
That's enough ranting from me today, I guess. Thank you for reading and leave me a review if you have the time, please.