The Queen's War
Swaths of Underworld foes darkened the sky, cutting across the once peaceful expanse. They swept past the clouds, swinging through sharp angles as their seemingly never-ending torrent turned and headed directly down towards civilization below, fanning out wide as it reached it. Waves of twisted creatures bent singly upon destruction poured over the high walls of the city.
A lone figure trailing glittering gold light flashed through the sky.
The angel lifted its weapon as a Monoeye made directly for him, with a deft but vicious strike sweeping it out of the air. Another made for him, spinning as the surface of its lone, bulbous eye glowing ominously. The angel shifted the grip of his hand upon the hilt of the First Blade, its length swelling with pink light as he held it in the fashion of a firearm.
His aim proved true though he lanced through the air at great speed, darting about as the Underworld tried to claim his life. Light pulsed along the length of the weapon and a bulb of energy formed quickly at its tip, a moment later expelled and sent blazing forward.
The angel blasted through the torn, scorched remains of the creature, his path of flight carrying him towards a small collection of rocks that stood tall and proud against the side of the mountain. The Underworld swept by, too numerous for him to even consider going up against. They ignored his presence, but there was a much greater threat than they present.
He could feel its malevolent aura, and it sent a chill knifing through him as his path of flight brought him through a tight circle above the peak of one of the outlying rocks before landing atop it. His wings, golden and grand, were afforded a brief respite.
"Lady Palutena, there are too many!" he despaired even as he tracked the path of a Keron and took careful aim.
"Fear not, Pit. The battle of the skies is not ours; we must turn our attentions to that city. They are being overrun".
Pit nodded at the Goddess' yet unspoken command, the barrel of the First Blade smoking as he lowered it. In the corner of his sharp and observant eyes, Pit saw a spark of lightning slice through the sky. He breathed deeply and unfurled his golden wings.
"Guide me, Lady Palutena", he said, picking up his feet and running towards the edge of the rock's peak.
"Right", the Goddess said. "We take our fight to the ground, Pit!"
Pit leapt into the air and his wings burst into life, each of their beats leaving a trail of golden dust in their wake.
"The Power of Flight will not last for much longer", the Goddess warned him. "I must get you to the city swiftly".
Pit nodded his understanding as he shot forwards at a considerable pace, the Goddess directing his movement into a shallow arc that would angle him directly towards the heart of the city upon his descent. He held the First Blade away at his side as the Forces of Nature swept past him, smashing into the torrent of the Underworld. A streak of lightning flashed by, and Pit raised his lips very briefly into a smile as he felt the touch of fingertips briefly graze the skin of his arm.
She moved too quickly – far too quickly – for the human eye to comprehend, but Pit knew her well enough and saw better than his close kin of Man. She returned his smile and gave a playful gesture before sharply altering her trajectory and slicing into the unrelenting stream of Underworld creatures.
Pit broke through the clouds as he reached the peak of his arc, lifting his weapon to the ready as a number of Gyrazers sought to follow and fell him from the sky.
Suddenly, he felt the coldest and sharpest of chills run along the path of his spine, gripping his body in a violent tremble. The Underworld creatures broke away – strangely, re-directing their angle of flight and sinking back below the clouds. He felt the Goddess pull him up short as the sky was warped around them.
Darkness, stemming it seemed from below the clouds, swept upwards through them and claimed all it settled upon in a swift moment. Shades of bruise-purple were laced across the darkening sky, poison upon the air as the clouds were drawn forwards, beginning to twist around themselves.. Dark tendrils rose up into the air, swaying like serpents as further black strands lay upon and twisted around them. The tendrils thickened quickly and soon took on the more recognizable form of arms, hands forming at their ends and fingers upon theirs. They snatched blindly through the air, reaching for him, but his Goddess held him back at a safe distance.
Thick clouds were pushed aside as a body, pale and naked, lifted itself through them. Its large form uncoiled as thick strands of shadow encircled it, flitting along the surface of its skin. The sensuous groan of a woman hummed through the air as the pale body arched its painted back. Stark, black lines twisted and curled upon themselves, seeming to be blessed with a mocking imitation of life as they shifted along the planes of the feminine form.
Shadows coalesced at its neck, solidifying into a head heavy with long locks of dark hair lifted high and stirred by an ethereal win. Among those locks, snakes swayed and curled their slender, dark green forms, forked tongues tasting the air.
The woman lifted her face and spread her arms as darkness wrapped around her body, clothing her. She turned as her nakedness was hidden, and Pit saw the lone orange snake that swayed above her brow gazing unblinkingly at him.
"Pit", she said as she faced him. The clouds fled in her wake as she parted full, pale lips and breathed his name. Her voice possessed its own melody, low and sensual, creeping uncomfortably along the angel's skin.
"I dreamt of you", she told him.
"Medusa", Pit said fiercely, eyes narrowed in righteous anger as he brandished the First Blade. "I hope you've enjoyed your moment of freedom".
"You speak boldly", Medusa said, the snakes atop her head hissing furiously at the angel. "Your bravado amuses me; however, it matters little".
"I do not speak mere words, Medusa", Pit told her. "In the name of the Goddess of Light, I will bring about your end once more!"
Medusa's eyes flashed with hatred and her lips curled into a snarl. Her voice ripped through the sky when she spoke.
"My thoughts were only for you, Pit, as I dwelt in the incarceration of death. I yearned to close my fingers about your throat, to tear your heart still beating from your chest. I will slay you, and then I will come for your wretched Goddess".
"Careful, Pit", Palutena's measured voice warned him as the angel bristled at Medusa's words and lifted his weapon.
"Her poisonous tongue will not utter another word", Pit promised his Goddess, but she held him back.
"This is not Medusa in truth", Palutena explained to him. "It is merely an avatar, a projection of herself that – "
"You are wrong, Palutena", Medusa hissed, lifting her hands through the sky and pointing hooked fingers in Pit's direction. "The wrath of the Elders means little to me now. I have come too far".
Pit felt the surprise of his Goddess pulse through his body like a shock of electricity, and then her worried voice filled his hearing as she pulled him into motion.
"I need to get you out of here, now".
Medusa's hiss melted together with that of her snakes' as her curled fingers suddenly shot forwards, lengthening far beyond their natural means and becoming thick, twisting tendrils of darkness that carved through the sky towards Pit. Palutena manoeuvred him through their onslaught as he raised the First Blade and sent pulses of energy lancing up towards Medusa's face. They fizzled out harmlessly long before they reached their intended target.
Medusa's eyes flashed white as her greyish pupils contracted and narrowed. Pit turned through the air as white light punched through the sky, slicing through the clouds and severing them in two. Palutena pulled him aside as an elongated shadow lanced towards him. He flipped through the air, alighting upon the dark tendril as it flew past and beyond him, charging towards the face of the cursed Goddess with blade in hand.
"Pit, the Power of Flight is almost at an end!" Palutena warned him. Pit nodded wordlessly, with slight reluctance turning and leaping away from Medusa. Lightning arced through the sky before him, intercepting the attack of another malevolent shadow. Pit's wings folded along his back and trailed sparkling lines of gold as he dived towards the ground.
"I have waited for too long", Medusa's voice boomed through the sky, seething with rage. "You will not flee from me!"
Pit turned his head sharply as he heard a familiar voice yelp painfully, worry spreading quickly across his features. The spark of lightning that had criss-crossed the sky, tearing through waves of Underworld creatures suddenly softened into the shape of a young woman flailing through the air in an uncontrolled, wild descent.
"Pit", Palutena cried, "look out!"
Medusa loomed above him, her eyes. The snakes' fangs glittered in the darkened sky, dripping poison.
Pit panicked as a flurry of shadows lanced towards him, and Palutena barely navigated him through them. He quickly lost sight of Phosphora, the commander of the Forces of Nature and his closest friend. He could only see the cursed Goddess as she pressed her attack and pushed Palutena's ability to manoeuvre him through the skies to its limit. He lifted the First Blade in vain, watching his shots consumed hungrily by the dark tendrils chasing him.
Suddenly, they were all around him, a cage from which he saw no escape. His Goddess cried out, and his own heart froze cold as he heard real fear in her voice. It was a sound he had never heard from her before.
She was a Goddess, a rock upon which her followers could stand firm when their own lives were rocked by the crashing waves of turmoil and trails. Her fear shot through him, and turned his veins to ice. He looked up, the First Blade hanging uselessly at his side.
The shadow knifed through his shoulder.
Pit heard three shouts: the distant yet familiar voice of Phosphora, slicing across the sky as she did when on the attack; the cry of his Goddess ever so clear and potent within his mind, and then his own, drawn from his lips by cruel pain.
Medusa remained silent. Her mercilessness spoke volumes in her stead.
The shadows wrapped themselves around his throat and torso, and his struggles were quelled as tendrils of ethereal, weightless darkness punched through his other shoulder and then his legs. Pit's strangled cry rent the air. Dimly, very dimly, he was aware of Palutena speaking.
She was coming for him, he could feel it. And then, he could see it.
High above, the dark skies were split by a jagged line of golden-white illumination, a rift that slowly began to widen as the will of the Goddess pulled apart the barrier that separated worlds.
Medusa's dark tendrils began to draw him upwards like the spindly legs of a spider about its trapped, trembling prey. They brought him before her face, where she gazed at him with narrowed, white-hot eyes and pale lips curled into a hateful snarl. The snakes atop her head swept low as she glared at him, swaying before the broken angel as though surveying his worth as their prey. They scattered when she opened her lips and spoke.
"I have waited for twenty-five years, Pit", Medusa told him. "I should make you suffer in kind. But I am impatient".
"I would not succumb to you", Pit croaked, the tendrils tight about his neck and growing tighter still as he spoke in plain defiance.
"You are an insolent, pathetic creature", Medusa condemned him. Her eyes flashed with terrible rage as a single, thick shadow rose up into Pit's field of vision.
Palutena was close. He could feel her approach, and hear the shriek of the wind as she rushed to reach him.
The sky flashed with the anger of Phosphora, forked tongues of lightning worrying Medusa's cursed crown. He felt the faintest tingle of electricity and heard the fury of her attack upon the walls of his cage.
Help was close, but Pit lifted his eyes as death drew itself tall before him.
The shadow shot forward at the wordless command of its mistress – Phosphora's assault broke through the dark cage at last, and a mere moment later a streak of green light lanced between the Goddess of Darkness and her prey.
Skyworld's door began to close, the golden edges pushed together by invisible hands, and the streak of green light vanished between the closing gaps.
Medusa lifted her face and graced the diminishing rift silently, her eyes oddly calm.
Phosphora charged forwards with a cry of battle upon her lips, but something held and then pulled her back at the last moment, a benevolent power far greater than her own.
The Forces of Nature began their retreat, falling away before the mass of Underworld creatures that surged up from the skies below. Medusa turned her eyes away from the rift as it finally disappeared into non-existence. Her own form began to waver, disintegrating into wisps of shadow as she departed the arena of battle.
Palutena knelt amongst the grass and sweetly scented flowers, the head of her treasured angel resting peaceably in her lap. His eyes were frozen open in death. Beneath his body, the perfect blades of grass were stained crimson. His life, stark and vivid, was splashed across the Goddess' dress.
Palutena did not speak as she gently stroked Pit's cool cheek with the back of her fingers. She did not allow tears to splash his skin. She knelt in silence, and the garden dared not breathe or stir. If she had lifted her eyes, she would have seen the multitude of angels who had gathered in the air around the floating platform, a ring of mournful sadness about her.
Her head hung over him, casting his face into shadow. His lips were parted in shock, but she couldn't bring herself to touch them, to preserve the angel's dignity in death. She could almost hear the faint whisper of her name upon his lips, and see the sparkle that brought his eyes to life. She pushed her fingers slowly up into his thick, tousled hair, bringing her palm to rest upon his cheek. The movement upset the golden laurel crown atop his head, and it fell silently to the ground.
She almost begged, then. Almost…but she knew it was futile. The wound at his chest had torn him open, and his eyes were empty not only in death. Breathing softly, she lowered her brow to his, pressing her eyelids shut. She remained still for a long moment, eventually moving to carefully lower the lids of his eyes with her fingertips. She touched her lips softly to each of his eyes before touching them to his brow.
"I am sorry, Pit".
Darkness formed an impenetrable wall around the platform, and an all too familiar voice reached her ear. "His death is of your doing".
At the corners of her vision, Palutena glimpsed death creeping towards her. The vibrant green of the natural carpet upon which she knelt began to fade, poisoned and corrupted. Life shrivelled and withered around her.
The crunch of brittle stalks of grass graced her ears, trodden underfoot by the being that had brought about the wicked change. Rot and death slinked towards her, sly like the fox, but she would tolerate no more of it. Not after who she held in her arms and what had been done to him.
A circle of golden light pulsed within the grass around herself and Pit's still, broken form. It banished the darkness that stole the life and beauty of the garden; she raised her head and turned her face.
There Medusa stood, a cruel staff held in the grip of her left hand and planted down into the parched, cracked earth. The snakes swayed quietly atop her head, each of them gazing unblinkingly at Palutena.
"My hand did not strike him", the Goddess told the other quietly.
"You and I were sisters, born from the same spark of life", Medusa said. "We were called to govern perfect opposites. One could not exist without the other".
"You hated me", Palutena said.
Medusa's cold influence of death had encompassed the garden in its entirety now. A grim shadow fell across all in sight, and Palutena alone remained to be the single spark of light and life within it. The angels that had gathered about the platform were shut out by the vast shadow that now encompassed it, and she could neither see nor hear them.
"We were sisters, and you cut me down. You cursed me and turned me into a wretched monster, and then you cast me to Underworld to rot", Medusa spoke, her voice low and hateful, cold enough to send chilling ripples down the spine of the Goddess of Light.
"But in the end, you did not kill me. Instead, you showed mercy, and compassion. Perhaps in the end, as you cursed me to the brink of death, you recalled that I was of your blood and life".
Medusa lifted her staff and pointed its head directly at Pit's broken form. The blue serpent coiled around the crown of her staff lifted its head and hissed.
"Mercy and compassion is why your beloved angel is dead, Palutena. You should have slain me".
The Goddess lowered Pit's head gently to the preserved ground before rising to her feet and facing her twin. Long green hair billowed at her back, stirred by an ethereal wind. Her eyes were hard like the emerald of their colour.
"That is a mistake I will not repeat", she promised.
As she spoke, light began to gather at her arms, golden dust falling thick from on high as the Goddesses locked eyes and pressed their lips thin. Palutena's golden staff of office solidified in the grip of her palm, at its head an orb of sapphire crystal that caught the light emanating from her being. Her left arm slid through the leather straps of a large circular shield, its face the colour of the staff's gem and ringed with a border of gold.
Words were unnecessary; Palutena brought the shield before her as she angled the head of the staff down, pointing it at Medusa. She charged forward.
The snakes shrieked as Medusa sent black fire blazing forth from hooked fingers. Palutena brought the shield up and the flames washed harmlessly over its surface. Medusa hissed as she met Palutena's initial strike, intercepting a sure thrust with the body of her own staff and sending a shiver through the air as metal screeched upon metal.
Palutena brought the shield up to cover her centre before shoving hard into Medusa. The cursed Goddess' form shattered just before impact, disintegrating rapidly until it was nothing more than a thick, poisonous cloud. It retreated swiftly as Palutena recovered her balance and struck out once more, the glowing sapphire of her staff slicing through the air.
The Goddess chased down her twin as Medusa's form solidified. The latter's hand clawed viciously through the air, whipping flames towards Palutena as she approached. At the same time, she lifted her staff, the snake at its end uncoiling as it skin was tinged with darkness. Palutena blocked the surge of black fire once more, but she winced painfully and stumbled as Medusa pointed her staff in the Goddess' direction and the snaked opened its jaws wide and screeched.
The dead garden rang with the unnatural cacophony.
Medusa lunged, and Palutena barely turned her offensive charge into a defensive stance, raising the shield to deflect Medusa's blow. Unperturbed, the Goddess clawed upwards, her hand wreathed in dark flames. She struck Palutena squarely across the face. The Goddess cried out as she was knocked aside, barely keeping her feet as dark lines were torn into her cheek.
Medusa's eyes flashed in victory as she swung her staff fiercely at Palutena's exposed side, smashing into the Goddess' body with more than enough force to lift her clean off her feet. Palutena struck the ground hard, her shoulder impacting sharply with its surface and springing her staff from her grip. A pained cry was drawn from her lips.
A shadow loomed over her as she tried to rise. She lifted the shield – Medusa's hand tore straight through it, reaching for and then wrapping fingers around Palutena's neck. She lifted her fellow, choking Goddess up onto her knees, lowering her face to dwell mere moments from Palutena's. Palutena grabbed and pulled weakly at Medusa's wrist as her long fingers tightened.
Medusa glared down at her silently, her eyes cold and hard.
"I did not hate you", she spoke eventually, the movement of her pale lips minimal.
"I hated your love for humanity. I hated your way with words and the sound of your voice. I hated your insistence to see good in all things", Medusa told her, gazing hard and deep into the Goddess' eyes. "I hated many things about you, but I did not hate you.
"You were my sister. It was impossible for me to hate you, you who are a part of me woven so inextricably deep within my being. I would have destroyed all existence and harmed not a hair upon your head. But you betrayed me. You cursed me and left me for dead!"
Palutena's eyes bulged and she choked as Medusa snarled, her stark white eyes widening and blazing with ferocity as she squeezed the Goddess' throat with murderous intent.
"I should kill you!" she screamed into Palutena's face. "I should destroy you and scatter your ashes to the winds!"
However, her grip slowly began to loosen.
"But I will not", she told her. "I have waited for too long, sister. I was so close to losing my sanity to the very same darkness that I had been set over to govern, but I prevailed".
Medusa's hand was enveloped in dark flames as she allowed her staff to fall to the ground. Her voice was cold as she spoke, pure hatred and malice dripping from each word.
"I will make you suffer, Palutena", she promised, lifting the Goddess into the air until her feet dangled above the dead ground. "I will watch you writhe and listen to you scream in agony. I will break you!"
Her eyes flashed as her clawed hand sliced through the air.
A/N: Reworked, rewritten, and hopefully it will prove to be a stronger, better story this time around. I'm grateful for the comments that were given concerning the previous version, as it allowed me to realise that the story was turning into something wild and fragmented. I endeavoured to structure things more clearly this time around.
Well, enough of that. Let me know what you think if you have the time. Toodles ^^