Disclaimer: Aa! Megami-sama! (Oh! My goddess!) and all regular characters from this series are © copyright 1988-2012 Kosuke Fujishima and his publisher and distributors worldwide.
So here we go, Chapter 9. Sorry for the wait. Really have got little time to dedicate writing and KF is quite complex for the plot and all that stuff. Hope to post much sooner next chapter. Please let me know what you think.
OC, functional to the story, are mine and, actually also © 1220 A.D. by Snorri Sturluson. No copyright infringement intended!
"Where is Belldandy?"
Just outside the Elysium Gate, Peorth slowly licks her lips, knowing all along this moment would come. Thrud crosses glances with Peorth, and the Valkyrie silently steps away, to stand guard at a respectful distance.
Peorth studies the young God standing facing her, taller than she ever recalled Keiichi being, his chiseled and flawless body hardly concealed by the form fitting and almost ethereal navy blue Divine Uniform, proud but not imposing, waiting expectantly for an answer. Mixed and very human emotions flash behind those deep, stormy and imploring eyes. Trepidation, concern and hope. And, there's more than just hope… maybe trust?
The Rose Goddess cannot stop the stream of thoughts that her realization causes.
Faith in Belldandy, faith that everything will be all right, that everything will be fixed. That somehow, they will be together again, that everything will fix itself… how can he believe so much? Amazing… Even as a God, ruled by the Ultimate Force, and hence awake to Awareness, he can Believe, and truly have Faith.
Her voice kind and measured, Peorth slowly replies, "Keiichi, please understand that I am not at liberty to fully answer your question. As a First Class Goddess, I cannot lie, however, I am still bound by Yggdrasil and the Ultimate Force in what I can tell you."
Unfazed and showing unsuspected strength, Keiichi immediately replies, his voice only slightly wavering, "It's fine. What can you tell me?"
Blunt and straight to the point, Peorth inwardly comments to herself.
"After your soul left your material body, Belldandy attempted to involve her sisters Skuld and Urd in a forbidden incantation. The Almighty… was upset by this behavior, and… chastised her. That is all I can tell you. You will also be unable to learn more than this, as any request or query you may place to Yggdrasil, any related database or directly to involved parties, will be blocked."
"Does… does this mean I cannot see her?"
Peorth nods, adding, "I'm sorry."
"Will I be able to see her in the future?"
"That is also a question I cannot answer. I'm truly sorry."
The young God bows his head, and replies, his voice a whisper.
"I… see. Can… can you at least tell me if she's all right?"
Peorth sadly shakes her head, her lips in a tight line.
"But… but it can't be worse than what happened with the Lord of Terror! That time, almost all of reality… why…"
Receiving only silence as a reply, Keiichi looks away. His eyes focus at a distant spot over the horizon thousands miles away, taking a deep breath. Feeling despair on a level that cannot be explained, not even on a Divine level, cold numbness seizes his soul.
After a moment of silence, and feeling his distress and despair, Peorth cups the young God's face with her hands, drawing it to her own, almost touching each other's noses.
"Keiichi, Mon cher, look at me, please. Don't stop hoping… have faith! I'm sorry I can't be of more comfort than this. Things… will change, with time."
All he can do is weakly nod to her.
Silence falls around him, as a whirlwind of what-if and whatnots oppresses his mind. ArcLight uneasily stirs within his spirit, unable to break free, fighting to emerge in time. Somehow, his negative thoughts start building up, escalating in a feedback closed loop just like a Larsen effect, suddenly exploding in white heat in his Divine mind.
Peorth grows extremely concerned, and panic overwhelms her as soon as she understands what's stirring in the depths of those eyes… she has just the time to teleport behind him, before he crumples in her arms, a marionette with its strings cut.
The shock of being reconnected with Yggdrasil almost goes unnoticed by the young God as Keiichi wakes completely aware. There's no solution of continuity between complete oblivion and full consciousness.
He finds himself lying, completely naked, in a huge Victorian bed covered with ethereal satin sheets, a canopy above him supported at each corner by a carved wooden column covered by thorny vines, beautifully coiled to blossom into blood red roses. The bed stands in a dusky room so large, only one of the walls, the nearest one to the side of the bed at his right, is visible. Immense windows on that wall let in faint and warm stenciled light, imprinted with the gentle shade of swaying giant Oak tree limbs, casting an almost oneiric ambience to his softly darkened surroundings. The crisp air is sweetly scented of fruits and heady musk. He has mere instants to take in all this, and raise slightly his head to look better, as his eyes then focus immediately on a very close, and very incensed, face.
Moaning, he allows himself to fall back against the pillow.
"Keiichi! I will NOT TOLERATE you do something like that ever again! Est-ce que tu me comprends, hmm ?"
Flushing, the young God replies contritely, "I'm sorry Peorth, I… felt overwhelmed, all this… it's too much to take in. And Belldandy…"
"You should not had allowed yourself to be prey to all those negative thoughts without the safeguards of an Yggdrasil Permalink. Because of your divine nature, it could - it can be dangerous, if for any reason, you're offline. Where was your confidence, Keiichi? Your optimism?"
Keiichi sheepishly smiles for the first time since his rebirth. "Sorry. You're right. Being a God, having knowledge about the meaning of life, the Grand Scheme, and… things, and my memories of Nekomi and all that, well… I could not control it, it just increased all together, and then… it all went bang."
"Bang, he? So how you're feeling now?"
"Ah, I'm OK. I mean, it won't happen again. 'Sides, I can't let such a trivial thing as ascending to Godhood make me doubt my feelings and trust for Belldandy! She will pull through, I know it. Here, in the very core of my heart."
Peorth heartily laughs, almost in Keiichi's face.
'Such a trivial thing as ascending to Godhood, he says! Oh, Belldandy… if only you could see him now…
"Good! So, get up and let's take you back to the Admin Complex. We need to re-register your Divine signature."
"Ah… but, I… under the sheets, and... well, ehm, where are we?"
"Oh, I know you're naked. Who do you think put you in that bed? And, since this is Chez moi… that is my bed."
Never, in either life, Keiichi felt so embarrassed. To Peorth's amusement, the young god flushes so hot he actually worries he'll burn the satin sheets, as he sinks deeper in the bed, unable to utter another word.
Once again, Keiichi walks along the Third Bridge, this time towards the main Yggdrasil Complex, and with Peorth at his side. Gods and Goddesses of lesser class pay respect to the well known First Class Deity, and Keiichi remembers how deferent he was to the very same Goddess only a few hours (…minutes? Days? Months?) ago.
Half way across the Bridge, Keiichi slows down and stops, turning to Peorth.
"That was Urd, wasn't it?"
Feigning ignorance, Peorth replies, "Excuse moi?"
"Earlier today. Yesterday. No… whatever! I mean when I crossed this bridge before meeting you at the Elysium Gate. I… saw a Goddess with silvery white hair, that was incredibly powerful. More than anything I've ever believed existed - short of The Almighty, that is. Even now, she felt so different, I can't compare her to the Urd I remember. Her sigils were also different. But… She was Urd, right?"
Sighing somewhat in defeat, knowing she will not be able to avoid Keiichi's insistence and questions, Peorth replies,
"Yes, you are right, that was Urd."
"I knew it! But, if she's around, maybe this means that Skuld and Bell-"
"Sorry to pop your bubble, Kei, but, no. Urd was involved in that forbidden incantation, but not in the way you think."
"But… And what about-"
"As for the power signature... Most First Class Deities can radiate that kind of power, myself included. It's considered rude and quite frowned upon, however; I think she was doing it just to keep everybody at a distance."
"She… wait, first class?"
"Yes, first class. Should have been obvious from her sigils. I'm not allowed to explain why, though."
"Yeah, anyway, thinking about it, I'm sure she did recognize me, but then she ignored me, walking right off, and just disappearing."
"You were Ondhollr at the time. I do not think that now you'll be able to ever see her anymore."
"I am still Ondhollr!"
"You know what I mean."
"No! I AM Ondhollr. And Keiichi. And, I am… I…"
The young God closes his eyes and touches his forehead with his left hand, paling visibly. His Sigils quiver weakly.
"Ah, never mind. My head hurts. I'm not sure who or what I am, and these random timestreams all flowing at different speeds… Do you hear it too?"
"This… these constant chiming sounds in the background. I'm… its driving me nuts, making me feel dizzy…"
"Look, maybe it's better we visit a healer, Keiichi, something's not right. Vör will be able to see what's wrong and fix it. Your New Soul Signature Registration and Update interview at the Admin Complex can wait."
The confused young God just nods back, and they both disappear.
In the following days and weeks, at least sensed as such by Keiichi's still mostly human-filtered perception, carefully coached by Peorth, his Divine Mother Idunn, and occasionally, his Angel Arclight, Keiichi manages - surprisingly fast - to successfully synchronize with all Heaven's complex timestreams system, and cope with both his past existences, integrating his persona into Ondhollr.
Unsurprisingly, as Keiichi finds out just as fast, most of his questions go unanswered, and that, although connected to Yggdrasil, his access to the Knowledge and Databases is heavily limited.
Much more limited than any other Third class, Limited license Divinity, and more so than he can recall as Ondhollr, before his mortal memory, stored in Arclight's mind, was transferred back to him.
No questions related to his human family, relatives or friends on Earth, the Norns, or events related to them have an answer. None of the other Divine Beings he knew and befriended in his mortal years on Earth are reachable; Keiichi is especially saddened by the very curt, written reply received from Lind: 'sorry, more important matters need my attention'. Chrono never even replied.
Requesting a hearing to The Almighty proved to be a very puzzling experience. After filling thousands of immensely complex forms and documents, and over a hundred different secretaries, clerks, Office managers, supervisors, and PR executives… Keiichi gave up, without ever being even given a definite answer whether or not The Almighty would grant a hearing - ever.
Strangely enough, Keiichi could remember a very similar experience trying to get an interview with Nekomi Tech's university President. Apart from speeches and other events in which he saw the man from a distance of hundreds of feet, the President could have very well been a virtual entity…
However, Keiichi strengthens his faith, unshakably trusting that everything will eventually fix itself, throwing himself in his studies, making Ondhollr's dream to obtain a full Commercial, second category License and working in one of Heaven's Relief Offices, his own.
Keiichi finds himself at times in lengthy – and silent - conversations with his Angel Arclight, which has never emerged again from his soul since his Awakening in Elysium. You are still not strong enough, Arclight had once wordlessly explained, in reply to his silent pleas.
Arclight also steadfastly and stubbornly refused to ever disclose any information or memory pertaining to her previous Divine host, Sinthgunt.
Progressing rapidly through Earth and Human Academics, thanks to his experience as a mortal, Keiichi successfully attends his Final exams.
On the same Sacred Fields, surrounded by a gentle slope of grass, over which - what feels like Eons ago - Ondhollr obtained his first license, Keiichi stands proudly in front of a group of First Class Deities.
Receiving his Academic Mentors' congratulations and a folded parchment, a díplōma, that promptly disappears in his hand, Keiichi feels his Sigils, and his clothes, change subtly.
Unbeknownst to Keiichi, many other Deities are stealthily attending the ceremony at a distance, their hearts soaring with immense pride at the humble mortal turned God's achievements.
A Celestial Being with white as snow long hair and bronze skin, is moved to the point of spilling tears.
Proudly holding a full Second class, Commercial Limited license and now wearing a pristine Second Category uniform, Keiichi turns to embrace his Divine mother Idunn and then Peorth, a bright smile on his face, and with his hazel eyes wet from happiness.
His dream at long last is fulfilled.
Shortly, Keiichi will be assigned a job at the Earth Assistance Hotline. Incidentally, Peorth used to have an executive position at the EAH, so the young God cannot help smiling at the fact that maybe the Rose Goddess pulled some strings... and the job comes with a bonus. He will be able to return to Earth!
Leaving behind the scorched and vitrified surface of the Moon, barely avoiding Lind and her whole Valkyrie wing, Urd rapidly approaches Niflheim's dimensional realm unhindered by any Demonic defense, plowing through as there were no Mystical shields, ramparts, fortifications or massive stone walls… penetrating deep into the heart of Hell, plunging in as an unstoppable raging fireball of wrath and power.
The Demon Goddess appears suddenly in front of the Gates in a great explosion of dark energy, a massive spiderweb of fractures radiating in the black basalt pavement until eyes can see from the shallow crater in which Urd now stands, a halo of runes rapidly orbiting her forms, and the echo of her thunderous manifestation slowly fading in the distance.
The dusky red clouds in the gloomy sky reverberate from the lightnings caused by her harsh passage through the atmosphere.
Her fists glowing with black fire, she only needs to raise her eyes towards the frightened Demons guarding the mighty Doors to make them flee in utter terror.
Mere instants later, Urd resolutely walks along the vast corridor that leads into Hell's Throne Hall, lined with pillars at each side, illuminated by wall mounted torches, her feet leaving fiery burning footsteps into the dark granite, reality warping around her body, as cracks and fissures appear on the walls and pavement under the immense pressure of her Power. No one dare stop her.
Finally, she stands in front of the obsidian doors, behind which she can feel an immensely powerful and evil presence.
Snapping her fingers, the Throne Room doors are torn away as if they were made of paper.
"Honeybun! You've come home to visit Mommy!"
A beautiful, voluptuous and incredibly sexy woman, with the same bronze skin and pure white hair, clad in a skin tight black leather dress leaving most of her skin exposed, stands from the imposing throne and opens her arms to welcome the Demon Goddess, while whoever is capable of teleporting out of the huge hall does so, and those who can't, try to flee in complete, abject terror.
Urd studies the apparently cheerful and friendly Queen of the Demons, carefully evaluating potential threats and possible strategies. Hild seems to be completely relaxed and sincere, wearing all her limiters under the guise of jewelry and precious trimming, purring and moving slowly and seductively like a cat. Reason to be doubly wary and suspicious.
"Hello, Mother. I suppose that you're feeling awfully proud of yourself, aren't you."
"I'm always proud of my magnificent daughter."
"Yeah, sure. I'm talking about your plan. A masterful and totally successful plan, I got to admit." Small wisps of black flame dance over the Demon Goddess skin. Sparks silently arches at her fingertips. Every muscle in her material body is tense, ready to explode into motion.
"Baby… I really don't know what you're talking about."
"Do not insult my intelligence, Hild! You…"
Urd momentarily squeezes her eyes, bringing her left hand up to the bridge of her nose, in a concentration gesture, before continuing in a much calmer and deliberate tone.
"When the Power awakened in me, for a moment I Saw."
The Demon Goddess briefly chuckles, her eyes blazing. "For a brief moment, I had access to my full powers as Norn of the Past, to Know All That's Been. You've manipulated Vali. Playing on the bastard's animosity, hatred and regret, presenting him the perfect occasion, leaving my Doublet file open and unencrypted. Giving him a perfect Hobson choice, and gently nudging things in the right direction… setting events in motion way before Bell even received Keiichi's phone call!"
Hild slowly licks her teeth. The intense and dazzling blood red tongue's a stark, dramatic contrast, against her incredibly white teeth, lingering in her slightly parted crimson lips, sensually caressing one of her fangs. Her eyes follow her daughter as she moves slowly in an arc, keeping a calculated distance.
"So, you knew. Knew what would happen… Knew that it would be Keiichi to make the call to Belldandy. That both he and Bell would end up living in the shrine. That I would join them!"
Shouting the last words, Urd stops circling Hild, her eyes fearlessly locked with the Great Demon Queen's.
Gently shaking her head, Hild sits again on her throne, slowly and languidly crossing her legs, the unstretchable black leather dress dangerously rising over the naked skin of her thighs.
"You carefully orchestrated all these events, to lure me on the mortal plane, defying Father's ruling, to join my sister! Where it was easy for you to approach me!"
"Of course I'd want to approach you! You're my blood! And may I remind you, who invited me on the mortal plane in the first place?"
"I'm not finished, Hild."
Pouting cutely, the beautiful Demon Queen crosses her arms underneath her considerable… assets, turning her violet eyes to the side and huffing.
"You calculated everything… I can see it clearly, now. How Hagall was really doing your bidding, manipulating us, playing a complicated game of chess… how you used my love for my sisters against me, to force me into a demonic awakening in Niflheim. And, failing that, resorting to plan B!"
Balling her fists, Urd menacingly takes a couple of steps towards the Throne. The Obsidian floor cracks under the pressure of her Power.
"Ruthlessly causing the cold blood Ultimate Sublimation of an innocent, young Goddess! Murdering Keiichi! Then, cruelly pushing Belldandy into a blind corner, stripping her of every hope,
hijacking Keiichi's soul and routing him to be irrevocably fragmented and diluted… until she lost it! Forcing my sisters, blood of my blood, against…"
"They're not my daughters-"
"THEY'RE MY FAMILY!"
Hild secretly smiles to herself, watching Urd's skin suddenly darkening, apparently absorbing all ambient light. Swirls of microscopic and astoundingly complex runes rush and flow over her skin, giving the impression of a dark liquid streaming over her body. For a moment, her sigil turned a much warmer violet.
"You deceived me. You've tricked me into my own, personal Hobson choice. Either allow Belldandy and Skuld to perform their spell, and be damned for eternity… or stop them, and be damned for eternity. All, for this!"
Urd slowly raises her right hand and places her finger over the violet five pointed star sigil on her forehead.
"I believe that you have betrayed me, not one, now, but twice. Whatever concern, warmth or even affection I may have felt for you - Daimakaicho Hild – is forever lost."
Urd takes another step towards the Throne, radiating more power than a Supernova. If it was not for Hild's power balancing the Demon Goddess' might, most of Niflheim would be reduced to dust by now.
Casually waving her left hand and apparently quite bored, Hild replies, "Your point?"
"Just tell me… was it worth it?"
She was going to reply with a sassy and demeaning comment, intended to provoke and incense Urd. She was going to tease, mock and scorn her daughter, laughing and enjoying the burning despair and anguish fueling Urd's wrath, in lustful anticipation of the delicious berserk rage that was guaranteed to follow.
That was guaranteed to turn her daughter into a full Demon.
Instead, the malicious smile blossoming on her lips wanes as soon as it forms, the pupils in her beautiful violet eyes seem to widen suddenly, and the mirth and laughter simply die in her throat, as a realization hits her.
As a Demon, she will never love me.
Totally unbidden, and for the second time since Urd's birth, something shines brightly in the tainted blackness of her being. A warmth, never before experienced in its intensity, expands and fills her soul; her darkness still blacker than absolute absence of light, but…
The great Queen rises from her throne, her bearing instantly transformed into the noble demeanor of one of the Multiverse's most powerful sentient beings, second only to the Almighty and the Ultimate Force, in all her True Glory, radiating an aura of absolute Dominance and utter Power, so much so that Urd cannot help but be overwhelmed and humbled.
For a moment, she actually thought that she could confront Hild almost as an equal.
What a fool.
Standing proud, Hild simply wills herself to be in front of her daughter, blinded and almost forced on her knees by the Daimakaicho's Power and Radiance.
"Urd, my Baby. There's one thing that you must never forget or doubt, about me. That is, I love you, more than anything; and, because of this, for you, I would do anything. Now, look at me, honey. You overlooked a very important fact, just before slugging it with your sisters. You even came dangerously near the truth… don't you want to ask me the question?"
Her features softened, and smiling gently, Hild kneels in front of Urd, tenderly lifting her jaw to make eye contact, a light giggle escaping her lips.
"Silly girl. Don't you want to know who asked me to do all this, implying that I would have back my baby girl, in return?"