Twilight was walking through a town in Italy, heading towards the local mage's house. She'd spent her time in this world learning about their magic, hoping that she'd be able to use it to get home since she hadn't been able to decipher the spell she'd seen while the blow to the head from behind had dazed her. She only stayed in one place long enough to learn as much as she could from the local mages. Once she'd accomplished that, she moved on. There were two reasons she was able to absorb the information that quickly. She was naturally talented, and she studied very hard.
She could conjure up the necessities of life fairly easily, and sleeping on the ground wasn't that bad once you got used to it. She could also conjure jewels, but that was reserved for paying the mages for teaching her.
She was almost there when a massive thunderbolt that lit up the whole area, appearing in the same instant as a ball of dark flame, and an enormous hourglass. Had she been able to see it, she would have realized the hourglass was actually there about a tenth of a second before the thunderbolt or fireball.
She'd heard of Heretic Gods, but this was the first she'd seen of them beyond illustrations in books. Heretic Gods were those Gods who had descended to the realm of mortals. Those without magic could only comprehend them as disasters.
Normally Gods were in their legends, and the space these Gods inhabited was known as the Domain of Immortality. The Gods in the DoI were known as Pious Gods, more because it was the opposite of Heretic than anything else.
She hurried over, the resident mage wasn't equipped to deal with a Heretic God from what the mage that had directed her here had told her, never mind three of the beings able to squash mortal mages like ants.
She didn't think that she was equipped to deal with them either, but since Heretic Gods didn't generally care about mortals, there was a very real chance that the town would be destroyed, and everyone here would die, either from the power that would be used, or from the schemes of one or more of the Gods that had arrived. She had to at least try to keep that from happening.
The possibilities of what Gods had appeared weren't too numerous. The thunderbolt either signified lightning or the weather. The dark flame was likely the work of a God tied to the afterlife, though it being a God of fire wasn't impossible. The hourglass was obviously time, but the question was [i]which[/i] God of time. Italy was the home of the Greek Gods, the Roman Gods were a bit more spread out, but the Greek Gods were likely the ones here.
She hid behind the corner as three figures stepped out of the areas that their respective powers has struck. The one from the hourglass had a beard that was long and gray, a blue toga, and a scythe, but his presence was unmistakably a God's.
The one that had appeared from the thunderbolt had a shorter gray beard, a wreath of leaves on his head, a white toga, and lightning crackled from one hand. Zeus, an illustration of him in one of her books almost matched his current appearance.
The last had a black beard about halfway between Zeus and the other God in terms of length. He wore a tunic, but was bare-chested, and had a spear in one hand. His identity was likely Hades, as the God was known for preferring the spear as a weapon. It also made sense for Hades to accompany his younger brother over another God of the afterlife.
Now that she thought about it, the figure that had appeared from the hourglass was likely Cronos. The father of Hades and Zeus, along with the other four original Greek Gods.
It was probable that Zeus and Hades still held a grudge from Cronos eating Zeus' siblings and trying to eat him. Even a God didn't just get over that sort of thing. Besides, the Greek/Roman Gods were among the most human-like in terms of their behavior and personalities according to their legends.
"We finally managed to corner you... Father." Zeus said, the way he said the last word, it was almost a curse.
"Yes, it seems so, are you really [b]still[/b] upset about my eating your siblings? I only did that because of the prophecy, can you honestly say you wouldn't do the same?" Cronos asked, a strange mixture of a smile and a false hurt expression on his face.
"One, You. Ate. Us. Two, you could have just not done [b]that[/b] with your wife. Three, I have enough self-control to do what I just suggested." Zeus said, very close to attacking his father. He was nervous and under the impression that he was outmatched, it seemed.
"Barely." Hades muttered, also nervous, it was likely Cronos had gotten some form of power boost if he outmatched two Gods. Cronos' presence did seem noticeably heavier than either of his sons', now that she looked closer.
"Enough of this nonsense, let us settle this until the next time you descend from your legend once more." Hades said, readying his spear.
Cronos, readied his own scythe. "Very well, it's been some time since I had a decent fight, this weapon is far superior to the sickle I used against your grandfather." Cronos said confidently.
Twilight ran out to them. "Wait! If you fight here, the town will be destroyed and all the people here will die!" she yelled.
"I care little for the mortals, and my sons are well-versed with the idea of acceptable losses, you are wasting your time mortal maiden." Cronos said, waving a hand and causing Twilight to freeze in place as she was frozen in time. Her body couldn't move, but her mind was untouched, leaving her to try to fight the Authority of the God while the three Gods began to fight.
Cronos presence was slightly weaker, due to using a fraction of his power to completely freeze a mortal. This led to the Gods not destroying too much of the area, but that was as much luck as anything else. Twilight was putting her all into resisting, and finally became able to move, albeit slowly. This was as much due to willpower as figuring out the Authority's inner workings since she was personally being subjected to it. There was also a slight lessening of the power a fraction of a second before she grasped a chink in the Authority's metaphorical armor and exploited it to free herself.
Twilight was aware that Gods didn't die like mortals, and that Zeus and Hades would have no reason to stay if Cronos was defeated. Therefore, she needed to remove Cronos, and she needed to use lethal force to do so. Any normal person would have found the notion ludicrous, but Twilight wasn't normal by any stretch of the imagination. She was a purple pony that had been sent into a parallel world and turned into a human in the process, before that she'd saved Equestria from a corrupted goddess and the spirit of discord, before that she was the student of the solar goddess in charge of moving the sun.
[center]*** Cronos' Perspective ***[/center]
Cronos was slightly surprised by the mortal mage appearing to ask them not to fight so near a concentration of mortals. Usually they just tried to evacuate the mortals from the area and either called in a Campione, or prayed they'd moved the mortals far enough away. Usually both. He didn't let it show on his face, however, and froze the mortal's body in time to keep her from trying to interfere.
For a mortal, she had an impressive amount of power, about 5% of a full God's, a ludicrous amount by mortal standards, and just enough that she might be able to inflict an injury on a full God if their attention was otherwise occupied, like by fighting his fellow Gods for instance. The problem was that keeping her locked up like this when she was actively resisting was taking a noticeable fraction of his power, and that was affecting his performance against his sons.
When he was deadlocked with Zeus and Hades, he was forced to withdraw a tiny bit of the power he was using from holding the mortal to break out of it. This was enough to let the maiden partially break herself out of the hold of his Authority, and she began to move over towards him.
[center]*** Twilight's Perspective ***[/center]
Twilight was getting closer to the three Gods, and had a plan.
"Divine Zeus and Hades, if you two can keep him locked like a moment ago, I could deal the finishing blow. You only want him defeated, you don't care how, right?" she asked.
Zeus and Hades thought it over for a few seconds, before Zeus said, "I have no objections, but you will suffer if you attempt to betray us and take all of us down at once."
"I concur with my younger brother, in both regards." Hades said, following Zeus a moment later.
"Accepting aid from mortals? Where is your pride?" Cronos asked, honestly surprised, and a bit annoyed.
"We dislike you more than we care about our pride." Hades answered bluntly.
"I'll be putting my all into one shot, your father is a God after all." Twilight warned her temporary allies. They nodded, it would have been insulting to them if she'd held anything back against a God, especially their father, since she was after all a mortal.
Zeus and Hades came at Cronos from either side, keeping him occupied. Twilight teleported behind Cronos, and fired a massive beam of pure magic at him. She blew a hole in him, and he began to disintegrate into sand that closely resembled the sand that had been in his hourglass.
"Hm, congratulations my sons, you've just helped create a Campione." the left side of his body had almost been completely erased. His remaining eye moved to her. "As for you girl, an impressive attack, but you only won thanks to their efforts, remember that." there was another strange expression on his face, a mixture of an amused smile, an angry frown, and a hint of approval. Less than a quarter of his body remained. His single eye moved back over to his sons. "I'll see you in a century or so." he said, just before his body disappeared completely.
Twilight collapsed seconds later, having completely drained her magic with that attack, this was dangerous because magic was closely tied to the soul, and to exhaust yourself so thoroughly could cause damage or even kill you. She lost consciousness and found herself in a strange white void with a girl who appeared to be twelve or so, who had an odd white dress and lavender hair.
"Ah, hello there. It seems that you managed to defeat Cronos. All the conditions have been met." the girl had the most motherly voice Twilight had ever heard, and it occurred to Twilight that this girl was probably a God.
The girl clasped her hands in front of her. "The black art that Epimetheus and I left behind... The sacred birth of an illegitamate child, shrouded in darkness, born of a fool and a witch. A secret rite of usurpation, only possible through the sacrifice of a God." The girl was now sitting over Twilight, getting a good look at her face. "A gift from the heavens."
"What?" Twilight asked, somewhat bewildered by what was happening, then she remembered Cronos mentioning that Zeus and Hades had helped make her a Campione... Oh. [i]Oh.[/i] This... could be interesting.
Campione were those mortals who had managed to slay a God and become a different entity, one possessing enhanced resilience, magic reserves, an immensely slowed, if not outright halted, aging process, and at least one of the Authorities of the God they'd felled. They were able to gain more Authorities by slaying other Gods, and that was essentially the only responsibility the Campione had. Defeating any Heretic Gods who caused trouble in the mortal realm.
In return, they were given almost total freedom. This was a mixture of the fact that Campione were the only real defence against Heretic Gods, and the fact that they were on a level where only said Gods and other Campione could defy them.
"Simple. You managed to exhaust yourself completely in the act of killing Cronos, both physically and spiritually, and succeeded in finishing him." the girl said, somehow sounding both childish and motherly at the same time.
"Who are you?" Twilight asked, curious.
"I'm the all-giving woman, Pandora. You will be reborn as a Campione, a godslayer. A king among kings." the girl said.
[center]*** Several weeks later ***[/center]
Twilight had decided to go to Japan in an effort to avoid having to fight any more of the Greek Gods. Cronos had been enough. She had gained an interesting and useful Authority from him though.
Temporal Manipulation. She could slow down, accelerate, or stop time around her, including herself, but only the physical aspect. However, there was a 5 minute limit to outright stopping time, and a 100 foot maximum radius that she could extend it to. Slowing time down was different, the maximum amount of time was determined by how much she slowed down or accelerated time. If she slowed time to half it's normal flow, then the maximum was 10 minutes, the same if she doubled the speed at which time flowed.
Once that time limit was exhausted, she had to wait a full three minutes to use the Authority again. If she used it then let it rest, the Authority would recharge at the same rate, five seconds of use for every three seconds of idleness. She'd determined all this through use and experimentation.
The battle against Hecate had been much easier thanks to it and her now a hundred times greater reserves. Defeating Hecate had given her two more Authorities, two passive ones. The first was called Wizard's Regeneration, it doubled the already impressive speed at which she recovered her magic, but not her physical energy. The second was called Wizard's Resistance, it increased her already stupid resistance to magic granted to her by becoming a Campione. By her best estimate, any magical attack not powerful enough to destroy a small building wouldn't even seriously wound her.
She'd only fought Hecate because the Goddess had been interested in seeing a mage turned Campione use magic and attacked her first. To Twilight's surprise, Hecate's reserves and her own were about equal. Either this meant that Hecate had less of a reserve than one would expect of a Goddess of magic, or Twilight had a stupid amount of magic even by Campione standards, considering her talents in the area and the spells Hecate had been using, she'd place money on the latter.
Twilight had decided to go to Japan before any more Gods showed up because it was relatively isolated, had an interesting culture, and to be honest, English, Italian, and Japanese were the only languages she knew, which left her with few options. She'd elected to go by plane as she at least was on less-than-hostile terms with Zeus. She didn't know any of the Gods of the ocean, and Heretic Gods didn't exactly like Campione.
Many of them either had grudges against particular Campione that colored their opinions of the whole group, or considered mortals who had defied Gods to be a personal affront.
[center]*** Meeting Room of the Historical Compilation Committee ***[/center]
The heads of the Historical Compilation Committee had gathered to discuss the presence of newest of the Campione in their nation.
"I suppose we should begin by detailing her Authorities. She became a Campione by striking the finishing blow to Cronos, who was fighting Hades and Zeus. From him she gained the ability to affect the flow of time, but it seems to have, ironically, a time limit that keeps her from using it continuously. She regains use of it 3 minutes afterward, however.
Her other two Authorities are more passive, they were received for defeating Hecate, and increase the natural abilities imparted by becoming a Campione. Her ability to recover her mana and her resistance to magic are both enhanced to a level extraordinary even among Campione." an agent said, handing the file around to the various representatives.
"She is also both skilled and immensely talented with mortal magic. She seems able to learn any spell cast in front of her with ease." he continued. That had been the deciding factor in her battle with Hecate. Any spell used against her by Hecate that was not actually part of an Authority was added to her opponent's arsenal. The files also noted that she had a few seemingly unique spells up her sleeve. She'd demonstrated teleportation before becoming a Campione, so that was clearly a personal skill.
The reason this meeting had been so urgent was that there was already a Campione in Japan, and if their sources were to be believed, The eighth and newest Campione was going to arrive at the airport of the same city as the seventh. Campione didn't mix well. They either destroyed their surroundings, generally a whole city, or simply caused a miniature apocalypse in the confrontation.
The problem actually couldn't be dealt with very effectively, since this was Campione they were dealing with. Mortals on a level with Heretic Gods. Ordinary mages might as well be insects. However, one of the mages had a suggestion.
"King Kusanagi has shown a talent for attracting young women, and the newest King is a teenage girl. Perhaps the problem will solve itself. They're hardly likely to kill each other if the female King wants to date him. King Kusanagi isn't exactly bloodthirsty either." one of the representatives said.
Now there was an interesting thought. There had yet to be an instance of a King marrying and having children with another King. Between the sheer rarity of Campione and their tendency to try to kill each other if they met, it simply hadn't happened. What would such children be like?
"I suppose we'll have to hope so. Still, let's not go out of our way to introduce them. We'll have to accommodate their wishes of course, but avoid having them make contact if possible." one of the family heads said.
"What if one asks to meet the other?" a mage asked.
"Then we obey, but send a report first. That should give us enough time to prepare at least some measures.
As a side note, we know a bit about her personality, but we need more information in order to accurately predict her probable actions." the family head answered.
The mages talked a bit longer, discussing various strategies, but in the end, made no real progress due to the simple fact that the Kings were as far above ordinary mortals as Gods. Trying to control their actions beyond gentle guidance never ended well. Pompeii was an example of what happened if you tried it.