The morning sun rises steadily over the pleasant scene. The villagers begin to wake, clustering in groups. A few solitary humans wander over to the lake to fish, or start to look after the herd of sheep.
One human, the one named Hector, looks around in the morning light. The ring of high cliffs which shelter them is broken only by two passes – one heading roughly north, and one venturing to the south-west. To the east of the hill, the sea is calm and a fair breeze ruffles his hair.
Tarsis awoke inside his temple's bedchamber, his acute senses detecting something new. Something – he could not tell what – was amiss, some new presence was there. He hurried to his window and flew in symbol form over to his village, immediately concerned for his people's safety.
A strange sight caused him to freeze in amazement. A reasonably small turtle creature stood in the middle of his village, calmly looking around the assortment of buildings – a village centre with totem pole, two large Greek buildings, the village store, and the newly built workshop. But it was the totem that interested the creature the most, as it pointed at it, an expression of wonder on its face. The carved figure of Tarsis' long-lost ape stared up to the heavens, its arms raised to grasp the hovering symbol of his eye within a circle.
Tarsis morphed into human form and strode angrily towards the creature. What God dared to intrude upon his realm? They had only been there one night, and already he feared they might be at war once again.
The turtle noticed his tall presence approaching, and it raised a flipper to its mouth and gave a small, frightened moan. Its eyes grew wide, but its legs seemed paralysed with fear. This thing is actually scared of me, thought Tarsis. It's not angry, that's something.
Tarsis gently looked the creature in the eyes, trying to communicate with it. Its quite simple and petrified mind could only communicate a basic fear, and telepathy got Tarsis nowhere. He slowly approached it, and stroked its scaly skin reassuringly, trying to calm it down. The creature looked up, and he followed its gaze.
A bright blue symbol span around in the air and flew to the ground. Tarsis could just about make it out: it was a heart. Upon meeting the ground, it coalesced into the form of a young woman, garbed in a simple pale blue gown, and her eyes were a deep, vivid blue which radiated calm and virtue. Her hair was a light blonde which came just below her shoulders, and shimmered slightly as she moved. She was quite short for a Goddess – whilst Tarsis was easily 8 feet, she came to no more than 5 or 6. When she spoke, it was a clear and soothing voice, which seemed to rise and fall like the gentle lapping of waves.
"Stranger, it is good to see another God of some compassion in these parts. If I were not so lucky, a God whose territory little Vanda here encroached upon would have exacted revenge." Upon saying this, she turned to her creature, and Tarsis could see the strong bond between them. She stared deep into her creatures eyes, and Vanda the turtle seemed to relax and looked somewhat happier.
"She is limited in her communication, but I can read her heart and mind quite well. She says she has seen your creature before."
"Alas, I fear she is mistaken. My creature was taken prisoner some time ago, and I fear there is no way your good turtle could have met him."
She smiled. "Vanda is an exceedingly stealthy creature. She wanders far and wide and has seen many a thing. I suspect she has seen your creature in captivity, and the sight of his statue has jolted her mind into remembering him. Where is he held captive?"
"Sophis..." began Tarsis, trailing off. "Sophis was taken by the one we call the Tormentor. He was – is – the most evil of Gods. He forced me and many others into submission aeons ago, but I decided to rise up against him. I triggered a war, an all-consuming war that caused the destruction of many worlds, and the death of many tribes. The Tormentor – he forbad us to speak his name – stole and incarcerated my creature, trying to get me to give up. It only made me and others fight all the harder. He crushed my allies, one by one, until I was the only one left. The only one. Out of the many that rose up together against him, I was the only one that remained. And I fled here."
"Vanda knows of whom you speak. He is Nemesi–"
"Do not speak his name! He has placed a curse upon me and my people. If ever we should speak or hear his name, he will be instantly alerted to where we are and shall hunt us down."
"Let us continue this discussion in more comfortable conditions," said the Goddess. Tarsis sighed, and gestured towards his temple, towards which they walked swiftly.
Tarsis' temple stood upon the hill. It was extremely short, his power and foothold in this world being only minuscule. It was formed mainly of white stone, glittering slightly in the sun, for his recent good works had increased his overall slight tendency towards compassion, creating a faint glow of light.
Tarsis lounged in a large, intricately carved chair in his temple's library. The strange new Goddess was inclined upon a smooth couch, her head tilted slightly to one side in a look of intrigue.
"I don't mean to be blunt, my dear," spoke Tarsis, "but I don't believe you've told me your name."
"You're quick to realise these things," she replied, laughing. "I am Aquillia, and I reside with my people over yonder." As she spoke, she gestured over a circular platform current hovering at around waist height next to them. Upon it was displayed in detail the land in which they were – though being based on Tarsis' knowledge, it was currently very murky, only his own village being in focus. As Aquillia gestured, the area in which she pointed became clearer, revealing the pass in the mountains to the south-west. The road twisted and turned slightly, before opening out into a large Norse town, complete with a medium-sized wonder. To the south of this town lay a small circle of land that jutted out to the sea – upon this stood a large temple, glowing a soft blue as their view zoomed close on it.
However, to the west of the village lay a small, sparsely populated little Japanese village, nestling at the edge of a sprawling forest of fine oak trees. Looking closely at it, the two Gods suddenly noticed a small plume of smoke rising from one or two of the houses, and they could espy small tongues of flame licking gently at their sides.
Before Tarsis could even speak, Aquillia had already changed into symbol form and flown straight out of the open skylight that flooded the library with light. Tarsis followed suit and left quickly by the same path. Out in the open air, he saw Aquillia's heart symbol heading swiftly and surely to the west-south-west, leaving a trail of blue sparks in its wake. Some of Tarsis' villagers saw these sparkles and pointed in awe. The rest, he noticed, had formed a ring around the Goddess' creature, who was looking curiously around at the villagers and pointing to their varied activities.
Tarsis thought to himself, and suddenly saw what he should do. Now was a chance to help prove himself to this strange new Goddess who seemed to lack any aggression towards him.
Phew, sorry it's been a while, but I've had the pressure of exams recently. With this weight now lifted from my shoulders, I hope my writing output will increase. D
Ooh, now what's going on in Aquillia's village? What plan is Tarsis forming? Chapter 3's gonna throw us into the action, I fear, so let's find out then.
As always, reviews and comments are always appreciated – anything that can make the next chapter more enjoyable to read is definitely a good idea in my book.