There lies a world, rife with magic, where the gods mingled with the mortals and legends are born with every set of the moon. Fantastic heroes and harrowing journeys line the dusty bookshelves, along with anthologies that spoke of the gods—perhaps written by them themselves. History riddled with fiction, fact hidden in mystery: so begins the world of Terca Lumireis. Yet not all stories speak of horror and danger, of rising champions and marauding monsters. Amid the shelves, squeezed between the common tales, there are stories of simpler things. Hope and devotion, love and laughter, with the pitfalls of despair and jealousy; these too exist, and here, one shall be told.

Here is the tale of a god driven by love and devotion, and the mortal that shook his heart.

Of all the lands within Terca Lumireis, none were touched by the gods so much as the metropolis of Zaude. Built on the very center of the world and surrounded by the Inner Sea, Zaude was a land of mystery and magic, populated by powerful souls and loved dearly by the gods. Gifted with fire and blessed with game, the people wanted for nothing and lived in peace, worshipping their gods and carrying on with the most fruitful of lives. The rest of the world mattered little to Zaude, and within this city and its surrounding oceans does this story ring.

Within the pantheon of gods that shaped Terca Lumireis, the one of courage and hope is most loved by the mortals of Zaude. Should terror rise to threaten he appears to defend, overturning the hells themselves to safeguard his beloved city. Fair of skin, gold of hair and sky of eyes, the god of valor is known and adored by mortal and divine alike. The cosmos that birthed Flynn dearly loved him, by evidence of his appearance alone. Further blessed with a good heart, it is he who regulates the law of the world, listening to the cosmos, and ensuring all beings follow this law.

But Flynn was not immune to the fancies of the heart, for even gods share such a thing with the mortals. As he so often watches upon the city of Zaude, so often does he see the mortals dwelling there. Beautiful people, within and without, walk their life's path and often wish to catch the fancy of a god and be made immortal. Love for the god Flynn leads these people to live righteous and just lives, in hopes he would descend and take them as his lover and bring them to godhood. Yet none of them of shallow heart wins, for Flynn's eyes oft fell to a man of low status. He who holds little compared to others carries his head high, his shoulders squared, and his heart most honest: the man whom the god loved most was known simply as Yuri.

Yuri had no mind for the gods. He lived his life how he wished, righteous in his own way, but honest to his own self. Immortality was something he thought little off, basing his dreams and goals on more approachable things. This honest life and real heart is what drew the god Flynn to ascend from the heavens and walk amongst his mortals.

Where many would have fainted at such divinity, when Yuri's eyes lay upon the god they remained absolute and calm. Where many would fall to their knees and prostrate themselves, Yuri remained upon his feet and met Flynn with the honesty he was known for.

"Love from afar is easily called false," Yuri of Zaude had said, "And I refuse the shackles of godhood to suit your whim."

"I come with no chains to bind you, love." Flynn had replied. "What do you require as proof, if not empty hands and genuine feeling?"

"You gods assume yourselves the divine right to whatever you wish, as the nobles of humanity do. I work as required to survive, and live a better life than a king even as I walk in rags. Are you truly so honest? Prove that."

Devoted, Flynn had taken Yuri's words to heart. And so to show his honest feelings, Flynn cast off his divinity and refused riches and charity of the people. A poor man like Yuri, he toiled within the streets of Zaude, working as Yuri did, and found a satisfaction in this that did not exist in godhood.

Although Yuri at first continued to refuse him, even he could not coldly refute such attempts at courtship. But he did not reward them with love—instead, he gave Flynn his friendship. Such a thing, so honest and simple, was a first to the god. He embraced it as readily as he would have Yuri himself, and days continued to pass. Like a mortal Flynn tackled the trials of winning the heart he loved, keeping honest to himself and to Yuri, ensuring that not once was he mistaken to being selfish or petty like the darker side of nobility.

He labored so, and two long years go by. Finally, on the eastern shores of Zaude just as the blue moon reached its apex, Flynn was rewarded with a kiss and the honest heart of Yuri.

There was no celebration. Their affair was a secret, private and only theirs. Vows were whispered in the night air, and when they were joined in honest matrimony Flynn swore complete and utter devotion. Yuri had just smiled, a treasure that the god never wished to lose.

Yet even Yuri knew Flynn could not remain mortal for long. Now that he had seen the honesty, knew it was genuine and free of binding, he consented to joining Flynn in heaven. For the first time in his long immortal life, Flynn knew true joy and happiness.

If only it were to last. Amidst the gods of heaven was a goddess whom loved Flynn more dearly than anything. Known for her devotion and her ugly jealousy, the goddess Sodia heard that her beloved had not only found love elsewhere, but in a meager mortal of low standing. Enraged she thundered through the heavens while Flynn regained his divinity and prepared to give the same to Yuri. In a fit of passionate rage she descended to Zaude, finding Yuri on the beach waiting to be taken to heaven. Recognizing the danger, Yuri dared to brandish sword and magic against her, but what was a mortal to a goddess?

Flynn hurried back to the mortal world when he heard his beloved's voice calling for him, but as he rushed to protect him, Sodia's power struck. Hit by the rage-filled magic, Yuri was thrown from the shores and into the ocean, cursed to forget his honest feelings and die of loneliness and despair at the bottom of the sea as a wretched monster. Flynn watched in horror as Yuri's body splashed into the ocean, and his anguish ripped from his throat and cut into every heart. Yet instead of attempting to strike Sodia down in fury, Flynn dove into the sea to retrieve his lover.

But the curse had taken root, and no matter where Flynn looked, how far he dove, he could not find Yuri. Twisted beyond recognition and with the mind of a monster, what was once Yuri swam away from the beautiful god, presumed to perish.

The one most deeply affected by Flynn's anguish was another goddess, one of love and pity. She wept for him, for his love, and although she could not completely undo Sodia's curse, the goddess Estellise quietly stepped down from the heavens and into the cold sea. Finding the cursed mortal, she wept again, remembering how lovely he was. Estellise took the monster into her arms and let her tears mix with the ocean water, washing over the grotesque body. Once more Yuri transformed, regaining his human appearance to his upper body. Yet his lower remained that of a fishtail, and he remembered not the love he had. Confused and agitated, the half-human creature withdrew from Estellise's embrace and vanished further into the sea, but Estellise was certain he would live. With this news she departed the mortal world back to the heavens, where she saw Flynn trying to beseech the seer of the gods to find his lover.

Although his heart leapt at the news Yuri yet lived, Flynn was still without him. For days he begged the all seeing eye of the goddess Judith, throwing himself unashamed at her feet. Judith, who wished to remain out of the spat Sodia had turned, was eventually moved by Flynn's devotion and began to not only try to help locate the poor soul, but also a way to undo the curse.

Short of interrogating Sodia, Judith used all of her power to do these tasks, for she too loved Flynn but not enough to attempt to cage him. Three days and two nights pass, but even such a short time felt like centuries to the distraught god. Finally, Judith approached Flynn.

"He swims eastward, toward Laulyse Island. He continues in confusion, lost and alone, but determined to survive. He continues deeper into the depths, for the curse calls him to swim to the bottom further away from you in heaven. You must coax him from below back to the shores of Zaude, where you made your vows, between the rise and set of the blue moon. You cannot force him; he must make the journey and decision for himself. If you fail, he will once more be banished to beneath the waves, forgetting your face and your love."

With barely a word of gratitude Flynn sets to depart the heavens. He swore upon his godhood and his right to divinity to never return until Yuri ascends with him, rightfully at his side.

Your beauty, within and without… I remember it well, how it touched my heart.
Years to the gods are mere seconds, but those days, I remember.
They were amongst the happiest of my existence.
My lovely, I'll not lose you for eternity.

I leave the heavens behind for they were no heaven to me, not without you. I would endure the hells and beyond if it meant I could spend days at your side once more… but no heaven, no hell, nor no ocean shall keep me away from you. If it means forsaking divinity I would do so gladly. Divinity has scorned me if it allows those like Sodia to revel in it, when honest love suffers.

I search for you, diving beneath the rolling waves and seeking your radiance. How far have you gone? Do you await me? Will a piece of you, safe from malicious magic, still remember what we promised?

If I am a god, to whom can I pray to realize my wishes?

These ocean waters are freezing, the further I go. Monsters and animals scatter before me, and I know whom I seek would not run. No… you, Yuri, you feared nothing. Whether or not you remember me, regardless of the form you have, I believe in the unshakable honesty and courage I saw in you. I continue to search, seeking deeper, far beyond what mortals knew. It's dark here… dark and cold, and you deserve so much better.

I don't know how long I quest, for days matter little to me. I would spend eternity in these cold waters to find you. Do you remember? Will you, once I free you? For all of my power, I am left with questions that shake the soul in me.

But something smiles upon me, for eventually I find you. Resting half-hidden between rock and reef I find you, curled up and looking lost; to avoid frightening you I take a form similar to your own, trading my legs for the tail of an ocean dweller. I approach, and your eyes snap open and fix upon me. There is no subtle affection, no barely veiled love. You do not recognize me, and as you stare defiantly at me I find myself becoming lost in your eyes once more. There is no fear in you. She may have erased me from your mind, but you are still you, Yuri.

Who are you? I hear your voice within my mind, feel touched by your magic. There is confusion there. Did you think you were alone, my sweet?

I am Flynn. I will forever be honest with you. That was how I gained your respect and love before, and I will do it again. I am one of the gods.

Have you come to kill me, Flynn of the gods?

I am rendered speechless for a moment, shocked by such an outrageous statement. Why would I do that?

You stare at me evenly, pushing yourself up and curling your tail behind you. I don't know. I came here to die, I think.

My heart aches and I can't help coming closer to you, even as you tense. My hand reaches out, slow and peaceful, and you allow me to touch your shoulder. I almost want to weep, for even under the punishing waves your skin feels the same.

You'll not die. I promise you, and your head tilts. I will care for you.

I don't need to be cared for.

The desire to cry is replaced by the urge to laugh. You are you, my sweet. I know then, regardless of what may come, I will restore you to your rightful form. You don't. I answer. Then, I will keep you company, if you'll allow me.

Aren't you a god? You'll do as you want. You reply, plucking my hand off your shoulder. But I guess, if you'll be useful, you can.

I respect your silent desire for space, backing away a bit from you even as it made me ache. I will be useful to you…

Flynn, right? I'm sure you know, but I'm Yuri. I hope you realize I'm not going to treat you like your other 'gods' will.

I'd have it no other way, Yuri.

Indeed I would not. Though you seem to not know why you seek the depths, you nonetheless have adjusted to this life already. Perhaps Estellise has gifted you with knowledge of survival when she redeemed you, and with your usual nonchalance you set about surviving. Once more I am surprised by my own ignorance, watching you effortlessly find sources of food and temporary shelters. Even your swimming is graceful and natural, as if you were this sort of being all your life.

Perhaps you believe you were. Perhaps in so many ways this is simply a reenactment of our story, where I have come to earn your trust and lead you from what you believe is your natural state. I know not for sure, but even as I once more learn from you I find myself falling deeper in love with you. You were the only half-human creature in the world and you seem untouched by this knowledge. Your unbreakable resolve continues to shine even now. If you are you and I am I, then Sodia has done little to prevent the inevitable. I continue to love you, and I hope I begin to win you over.

Without the oppression on nobility and other mortals, without class and economic class barriers and hierarchies of power, it seems proving my pure intent is more difficult to you. You remain aloof, untrusting of me, and though I cannot blame you it breaks my heart. I do not have the luxury of seemingly endless time to win your love. A meager two years is all I have to not just prove myself to you and earn your love, but to convince you back to the place of your curse.

Daylight is spent in the open ocean, where we hunt game and fashion items from coral and shells. Although I know such mundane tools are below me, that any beast we face I can destroy with a simple spell, I know better than to use what is an unfair advantage. I do not want you to love my power, after all.

I worry as time continues to slip by and you seem resilient to my feelings. Never have I had to worry of time, yet I count the days and the nights. We do not move from Laulyse Island, and although a journey to Zaude would not take that long, I cannot force you. I do not believe in such treatment, and I hope beyond hopes you will realize this. When I can, I tell you of the curse, the previous life you had… yet you laugh at such a tale. You don't believe you ever lived outside the ocean. Did the curse rewrite all that you are? Is this an effect of Estellise's intervention? I do not know… but if I am patient, honest and true, it won't matter what the answers are.

As a year passes I almost forget I was a god, having fallen into the habit of living like this beneath the waves. Routines such as searching shipwrecks and unburying shelled creatures for food to collecting materials for our beds have become the norm. As time flows like the tide I become accustom to forgoing the easy path of using my power, and instead much like I did in Zaude I follow you on your more difficult one. I put my trust into your judgment.

One day as we look for shells to break and sharpen, I reach a hand out to you to take a clam. What lands in my hand is not the large shell, but something small, round and smooth. In my palm rests a little black pearl.

I look to you, and when you smile, I see the hint of that emotion in you toward me. I can't help but stare, and you just swim away back toward our shared cave. It was such a moment that reaffirmed my hopes, although when I finally rejoin you, you act as if such an exchange did not happen. That night I use a bit of magic on some sea glass, forming a little jar around the pearl so I might wear it. Perhaps that is too sentimental for me, but such a trifling thing has already become a priceless relic to me.

The next morning you see the necklace around my neck, and although you laugh at me, there is no true malice. Before we depart for the day, you offer me your hand.

I think we need a better place to live. You say to me. What do you think?

I can feel a strange sense of disbelief in me, but I realize this is a chance. Yes. I reply, putting my hand and heart in yours. Perhaps somewhere to the west.

You tilt your head at me, then your eyes narrow. That Zaude place. That's what you're saying.

I was found out so quickly. I avert my eyes, something like shame bubbling up in me. Yes.

If we were on land I'm sure I would have heard you scoff. Instead, I can practically feel your gaze on me. How I wish, out of everything I've told you, that would be something you would believe. Your grip on my hand is loose, and I am half afraid you would let go of it and what may be slowly growing in your heart. Yet you do not, just turning away and leading me out of the cave. In all of my godly power, I cannot possibly know what's going through your head now. I wish I could. I wish I had more direction.

When we're out in open ocean you let my hand go, and not a word is said. For once I am truly at a loss of what to do, what to say. Did I push too much? Did I overstep my bounds? I thought, perhaps, we would simply fall in love again as we did before… perhaps I am naïve, even for a god.

Yet we pass the usual hunting spots, the scavenging areas; you keep swimming, and I just keep following. Suddenly you dart away from me in a flurry of silvery bubbles, and I gape at the rapidly vanishing tailfin. Quickly I race after you, calling for you, but you don't slow. You don't answer. But I can't just let you go, so I chase.

You weave through the water as if this has been your sole existence, darting through loops of coral and under bridges of rock. Every turn and twist you execute beautifully, the scales of your tail glinting with the sunlight. I hadn't realized we left the usual dim depths until I see the vibrant wildlife, but even then I continue to race after you. Finally you stop and whirl around, facing me.

You're laughing, you're smiling, and when I catch up to you I let my confusion show on my face plainly. You hold your hands out to me, and carefully I take them in my own.

You'd follow me everywhere. You say, pulling me closer. I nearly collide with you, and I require a few moments to actually find the words to reply.

I once promised I would. I answer, daring to float closer to you, letting one of your hands go and raising mine to your cheek. I promised eternity to you… to be with you.

You allow me to touch your cheek, but you remain nonchalant. My touch doesn't seem to do anything to you, and I wonder if my approach all this time has been lacking. Eternity's a long time. Who says we won't get sick of each other?

There was an answer to that I know you would dislike. I knew you were laying a subtle trap, because I remember you asking the same thing before. It only reaffirms that I am on the correct path… you asked me this before you finally…

It is a long time… and promising it may seem egotistical to you. But with you, time is precious, Yuri. Even as gods, I will take it day by day. For this, it is not something to look forward all the way to eternity for… this is something to enjoy and cherish every day. I take my hand from your cheek, respecting your silent desire to remain untouched.

Yet I feel your tail wrap around mine, and soon your arms are around me. I can feel my mouth open, maybe to say something, but my mind is blank as you hold me close. I can feel us tip back and sink into the depths of the ocean, yet it didn't matter. We descend to colder waters, but in your arms I feel warm. There is a peace here that nothing of godhood could offer me.

You talk big. Your voice interrupts my thoughts. But you've just been one big honest idiot to me all this time.

I hold on tighter to you, unwillingly to let go now that I was here. I never wish to deceive you.

Your laughter fills my mind, and we continue to sink back into the colder waters we were calling home. Further away from the surface where your salvation laid. I guess if you really wanted to, it's not like I really could say no. You're a god.

I would never force you, Yuri.

But it was a goddess who forced me into this, right? Like you said? Your words silence any further ones from me, and you stare at me coldly even as you hold me tenderly. Why would I want to return to Zaude?

I know that's not the real question. Ashamed I press my face to your neck, and a part of me wishes it could weep. I know your hesitation. If I could not protect you then…

I'm sorry. I barely manage to get across to you. We stop descending, your back gently landing on a flat rock. There we lay, tangled arms and tails. I have no right to ask you to go back. But… I want to make it up to you somehow. If I could do that…

You say nothing, but you do not let go. I am unsure if there is solace in that, but the other side of me is happy to be comforted in this way.

We end up going back to the same cave. The trip is made in silence, but I do not fear, because you hold my hand the entire way. There's a hope there, almost thread-bare but I hang on to it anyway. It was much like this the first time… I can only hope my answers convey my deepest feelings properly. But I hold that hope that I have, because regardless of what Sodia had done, there are some things even the gods cannot change.

Once more days pass and my worry increases. Yet at the same time you caress it away with lingering touches and subtle smiles. Although we grow dangerously close to that time, I am simply drawn into you again. In so many ways, the more attention you give to me, the more I forget this is the second time.

The natural full moon comes to pass, and it is a night my heart bursts once more. Out of nowhere, with no provocation you spin me around to face you and before I realize your intention, your lips are on mine, telling me everything I wanted to know for the past two years. My mind spins, but even then I gather you in my arms and kiss you with every drop of my love pouring into it. As always you're fierce, untamed and wild in your response, and for a glorious moment I revel in this sweet victory of knowing no matter what, we were truly destined to be together. This is the proof.

Forever's a long time. You say to me as we swim for Zaude. I try to go as far as I could, but whereas I have unlimited stamina as a god, you do not. It will take us time to get there… time I fear I am running out of.

A day at a time. I remind you, stopping at a reef to let you rest.

You sink gracelessly against a rock, lying there looking tired. I want to pull you along, to just use my magic, but I remember Judith's words. You must make this journey the hard way. My heart aches at seeing you so tired, and I lay next to you, my arms seeking to enfold you.

You just lay there in my arms, not returning the embrace nor rejecting it, your eyes closed. Soon I recognize the signs of sleep, and though I wish to keep moving, I just hold you closer and let you sleep the day away. You need your strength, I know. If only I could give you all of mine…

Once you awaken and eaten we are on the move again, hand in hand. From the depths of the ocean near Laulyse Island it will take us a long time. I cannot even guess the amount of days… I am still so ignorant to the passage of time. I do not know if we will arrive too early or too late… but I do know the latter is not an option. I push for us to keep going, but soon once more you begin to sink from exhaustion, and another set of daylight slips away from us as we sleep amongst the sea grass, tangled in each other.

I have so much to make up to you, my lovely…

We finally make it close to the surface, where the sunlight makes you squint and slow. But I continue to swim for it, embracing it almost. The light was a beautiful sign, that we were closer to our destination and the end of this curse, but suddenly you jerk your hand from mine and begin to swim back for the dark, cold depths.

Yuri! I call, turning and racing after you. You were already tired, and I am able to catch you, my arms around your waist and trying to keep you from going further. Yuri, it's all right! The sun… the sun is beautiful, you'll get used to it, you'll remember…!

You struggle against me, thrashing in my arms, your tail slapping mine and the sharp spines of your fins stabbing into me. Scales are ripped off me, glittering as they sink toward the darkness below, but I do not bleed. If we draw blood, we would draw monsters.

Let go of me, Flynn! You bellow, your voice shrieking in my mind. Yet I hang on until you further tire yourself. Eventually you go limp, and gradually I let us sink just a bit further to rest on a surface.

Yuri, I press my face to the back of your neck as I cling to you. Why…

It's not the sun. You say tiredly, just suspending there in my arms. The closer we get… the more I want to go back. To go back to the bottom of the ocean.

It must be the curse, forever compelling you to the darkness, to rot down there and die. Anger flashes through me and I reject such a fate for you, nosing through your hair to kiss your skin. Now that we are bathed in sunlight, I realize just how pale you are now. It was about time you were brought back to the light, my sweet.

Please, I quietly beg you. Hang on to the trust we have, the feelings we share. I know… to an extent I know why you are driven to go back. But that will disappear once the curse ends, I promise you.

Another of your promises?


You say nothing more, and to make this easier on you, I resolve to travel by night for now. I lay us down to sleep, not once letting you go, and eventually you twist in my arms to return the embrace. Your devotion to me, rekindled, warms me more than the sunlight ever will. I will make it up to you, Yuri. It is another promise, but one I will keep.

We travel by moonlight, and it seems to put you a bit more at ease, although you swim slower now. I cannot push you, cannot force you, so I weather the anxiety as we slowly make our way. I gently coax you closer to the surface, watching your hesitation, the compulsion in your eyes to go back. But eventually I win you over, and when your head breaks the surface of the water to behold the filling moon and diamond-studded velvet sky, you gape.

There's amazement there. Amazement and some strange fear, but you do not dive away. Your eyes are fixed on that nearly full moon, and I look to the horizon. I can see the gem of Zaude in the distance… and we have but one night left.

We must hurry, my love. I say to you, gently pushing you toward Zaude. You resist at first, but soon we go back under the waves and begin swimming once more.

When the sun rises you begin to grow restless, sometimes pulling on my hand to stop or go deeper into the water, but I beg and plead with you. We waste precious minutes on these small stops, but at the same time, each one reminds me of your trust and devotion in me. You continue to swim toward salvation, despite the light's irritation, and it is because of me. Rests are short as the distance grows smaller, and the daylight is fading fast.

The moon is high in the sky when our heads break the surface once more. Zaude is so close. My heart races, but you continue to hesitate, swimming unbearably slow. Yet when I look to you, I can see it is not your will that you are like this. There is a struggle in you, and I lightly touch your cheek as we float at the surface.

"I love you," I say aloud, now that I've the air to do so. You gape at me, having never heard my voice like this. "I love you, Yuri, and you will be free soon. I swear it! Just a little more."

You open your mouth as if you wish to speak as well, but seawater simply spills out of you. Your hand goes to your throat, and I almost fear you may suffocate. But there is no struggle to breathe, your nose flaring as you take in the dryer air. You cough out the water, but your voice does not come to my ears, not yet.

This isn't my fear. You finally simply transmit to me. But I'm…

"I understand." I say aloud. "I know. But we are close."

Hearing my voice like this seems to help put you at ease, for you look to Zaude, the blue moon hanging low behind it. Was it setting already? Was it simply just the angle and distance? I am not sure, but you dive back beneath the waves and pull me back under, swimming towards it.

We race through the waters, and I know you are exhausted, but you continue to push yourself. In you there is hope and devotion, and my heart swells as I recognize that usual fiery determination. We slice through the ocean, giving no thought to anything but going back to your old home so that I might take you to the rightful one.

We break to the surface again, and hand in hand I pull us to that fateful shore, that very spot even. The moon was dangerously low, but I know we'll make it. The water grows shallow, the sand fine, and once I can my tail vanishes back to my legs, and I wade in the water. Yet you struggle, slipping on the fine sand and hardly able to fight the tide attempting to pull you back into the embrace of the ocean. I plant my feet into the sand, holding onto you, trying to pull you as your tail slaps the sand and water. Minutes slip by us as you feebly crawl and I try to pull. I even try to lift you out of the water, but your voice cries out in pain in my head when I do, leading you to shoving me away.

All I can do is hold you and gently tug, keeping the tide from reclaiming you as you struggle and crawl. Soon there isn't enough water and your tail is nothing but flopping, slapping dead weight. Just a little more. A little further. By now, surely, surely!

I am still knee-deep in ocean water as you continue to weakly crawl, and I feel so powerless. I encourage you the best I can, trying to help you that did not result in your pain. The moon continues to sink.

You collapse and I fall, the strong tide pulling us back toward it a few feet. Dismayed your voice finally echoes in the air in a pained wail, and I am stunned by it. I never wish to hear such a sound come from you again. It pierces my heart and I swear it bleeds.

You pant heavily, slowly looking to the sky. The moon was no longer hanging up above us, but fading fast. I try to pull you along again, but you are too exhausted, stuck in the sand and nearly limp. The sky is slowly coloring with light, and I can feel tears begin to trek down my face.

"Flynn." Your voice croaks, and even as I look to you, I keep trying. "Thanks, anyway."

"No, no. Let's go, Yuri, we can still—"

"I do love you. You said it earlier. I wanted to wait until we made it."


You smile to me, and as the last sliver of the blue moon disappears into the darkness, the tide releases a large wave that washes over us. The feel of you vanishes from my hands, and when I shake the water from my eyes, you are gone.

My heart aches… it lays shattered within my chest, bleeding and weeping. To know I failed you again, to know I truly am powerless… despair is a bitter elixir gods rarely taste. Yet even as my soul screams, even as pain consumes me, I know I will not surrender. I will not give up on you. I return to the waves, to the embrace of the dark ocean and seek you again.

I find you, farther away. You again have forgotten me; have gone deeper into the ocean and awaited death. I offer my hand to you, and the cycle of stitching my heart and your love together begins again. The days are spent earning your trust, your love, and once I have them I try to bring us back to Zaude. The same hesitation from before, the same compulsion slows you. The same curse, again and again, it separates us. I fail you, again and again…

Each time you vanish from my arms, each time the blue moon sets and I am left alone, my heart bursts and bitter tears race down my cheeks. But I refuse to give up. You are my heart, my soul. I will seek you for eternity. I will endure this for eternity…

One day at a time…

The ocean has become the new heavens to me, it seems. Time and time again I return to her embrace to find you, so I might guide you away. Time and time again I lose you. Day after day. In such a cruel way I learn to truly recognize and respect the flow of time. Eventually, even gods must bow to it…

We are far from Zaude. Deeper in the abyss, where sunlight cannot touch. The glow of magic-imbued plants and creatures is the only source we have, and you have changed form again. Every time I fail you, the curse wins a bit more. Your skin is so pale, your eyes nearly a solid black now. Your hair no longer feels like gorgeous silk but akin to the ocean's weeds. Scales have crawled further up your back, accompanied with the spines and fins of deep dwellers. Between your lips, fangs protrude.

Yet even then, you are beautiful. Your attitude remains the same, as does your adventurous spirit. Whatever shell this curse throws you into you… you are still you, Yuri. Each realization keeps me sane, hopeful, each of these times.

Zaude. You say to me coldly. You keep mentioning it. If you like it so damn much, then go to it. You're a damn god after all.

I reach for you, but you lean away from me. I want to take you there. I say. It was your home.

This is home.

No, Yuri…

Telling this story again and again wears on my heart. Reintroducing myself, retelling our history, retelling why you are down here and the only creature of your kind… Over and over. Day by day. But I cannot stand to fail anymore, and I cannot idle this time. We are so far away; we must begin the journey soon.

Yet you resolutely refuse to leave the depths. Even as I steadily move us from cave to cave in that direction, you do not want to go to the surface. I keep track of each day, counting each one to the next blue moon, and I begin to truly worry this will be another failure.

But even as that hangs in my mind, I still treasure this time with you. You mock my courtship sometimes, but never once do you send me away. I wonder, are you lonely? Is my presence the only thing keeping you from seeking death, like the curse bids you to do? Day by day, night by night, we draw a bit closer. This is an old journey to me, a well beaten path and a song decades old… but I am more than happy to repeat it.

Once I have you in my arms again, when I recognize that love and devotion in your tone and actions though you say not a word, I begin my crusade once more. You are less angry and more hesitant, and although I understand you cannot help it, I know I am growing impatient and the worry frays at my mind. Could gods go insane? I fear I may find out…

Please. I beg you, holding your hands in mind. Trust me.

It's not a matter of trust, You snap at me, it's a matter of me just not wanting to go!

I bow my head, feeling my heart clench. You truly enjoy these dark, cold waters…?

You're with me. So what does it matter where we are?

The answer shocks me, and I look up at you. There is a fierce honesty in those black eyes… the same honesty I adored years ago. That I adore now. Is that what it came down to? You are content to be anywhere, as anything, if we are together?

If I do not take you to Zaude… would the curse leave you be? Could we spend our eternity here?

Do you… I hesitate, not wanting to ask, to offend.

Yes. You answer, as if you know what I am thinking. Perhaps you do. So does it matter, if it's Zaude or the heavens or here?

Would it be so simple? Did I make you so happy, so content, that you would be fine here with just me? Eternity is a long time to spend in darkness and chill, just the two of us… but is that not what I promised?

One day at a time…

All right. I return, slipping my hands from yours to hold you close. Your body is cold, just like these waters, but having you near warms my heart and soul. I'm sorry.

Pft. Don't be so humble, Flynn. You're a god. Although why you let me tie you down I don't get.

Godhood does not make me immune to the emotions of a heart, Yuri. I scold.

You grin, a chuckle trickling into my mind. Is that so? And here I thought I was just that dashing…

You are. I smirk to you, and easily we fall into this banter, back and forth.

If we can have this every day, then perhaps there is no reason to go back to Zaude. Each day I curl up with you in our makeshift home, holding you close. Each night we spend together, falling into our routine of survival and living just for us. There's a carefree edge to all of this, and I find myself more and more all right with this surrender. I feel ready to cast off my divinity once more for your sake.

One evening you pin me to our rock bed, laying on me and playing with the little jarred pearl pendant I still wore. You say nothing, so I remain silent, just watching you be content with being close to me, fiddling with the thing.

So where did this come from anyway? You ask finally, catching the tiny jar between thumb and forefinger.

The first time. I reply. This isn't the only time you know.

So you've said. You shake the jar a little, the pearl rolling within. Seems silly for a god though.

God or not, I'd treasure whatever you give me, Yuri.

You laugh, and then lightly kiss me. I'm not sure where the amusement came from, but I end up smiling anyway. When you finally decide to leave for the night, I decide to take over the food hunting just so I could start digging for a pearl, something to give to you so you had something from me. If we were to live down here for our eternity, then by all means…

I do end up finding one, and almost gleefully I fashion a similar necklace for you. When all of the work is done I present it to you, and you laugh. I wonder if I've done wrong when you reach out, untying mine from around my neck.

And then you hold it out to me. From me, to you. You say simply.

A part of me roars with laughter, but on the outside I merely smile. I take the black pearl from you as I gently set the blue pearl in your palm. From me, to you. I repeat.

We put our necklaces on, and soon I'm in your arms, your lips against mine. Perhaps it's not the eternity I envisioned, but with our vows renewed like this, I am more than happy with it. So long as I am with you, I can weather it.

I almost forget the time as I settle into this idea with you. The darkness and cold would always irritate me, but with you I can endure. I promised you this much at least. Day by day we spend together, surviving and living together. It's a mundane, meager existence… but I'm happy. When you smile to me, I know you are too.

The blue moon comes. The blue moon sets.

I wake up, and you have vanished once more, leaving behind only the jarred pearl pendant.

It seems my only option is to break this curse. Although perhaps I could challenge Sodia and destroy her, winning you back with blood staining my hands would be an empty victory.

You would not love a killer. The cosmos will judge her… and I shall gain you back by my sheer devotion, hope and love.

Every blue moon, every two and a half years I keep trying. Chance after chance, I return to the waters. Attempt after attempt I continue to encounter you, relieve our first memories, finding ways to gain your trust as quickly as possible. I must get you back to Zaude.

I fail. So many times.

You always vanish after smiling. After admitting you love me. Your hand disappears from mine. Your body fades from my arms. Before my eyes you are gone over and over. Each time, I follow you back into the ocean. I refuse to give up. Not on you, not on us.

Maybe I am foolish. Blind and pathetic. But I cannot give up on you. I cannot leave this fate to you. Even if I cannot have you after all of this… please. I just want to make up to you what has happened. It is because of me you suffer this. If I can at least right this wrong, it is all worth it. Every aching moment…

A hundred years pass. I have endured each day of them, dwelling in the ocean with you, trying to bring you back to the light and surface. For a hundred years I fail you.

I'll not fail you anymore.

You stare at the jar in your hands, eyebrows raised at the blue pearl within. Slowly your eyes rise to meet mine, and I take up the two ends of the necklace, making the move to tie it around your neck. You don't stop me, simply staring until my hands rest on your shoulders, the pendant hanging from your throat.

I want to take you as my lover, I explain, however many countless times it has been. As my one and only, and ascend to the heavens.

You smirk crookedly, as if it were a joke. Over and over I endure your mocking, your first impression of my declaration. What does a freak like me have that a god would fancy?

Many things. I say honestly, my hands sliding down your arms to grasp yours. Odd, you let me touch you so freely. More than just your physical beauty, of course.

You laugh. This is beautiful to you? You ask, motioning to your near translucent skin, the hematite pits of your eyes, the sharp spines that adorn your amethyst tail. Your hair floats around you, fine threads of seaweed, but still so silky, so lovely.

But even through all of these forms, these transformations you are forced to endure, I remember the true beauty of you. Yes. I reply, raising a hand to caress your cheek, my thumb tracing the thin line of fine, crystal scales. You are the most beautiful person I've ever seen, Yuri. And I mean that in so many ways. Your spirit, your honest heart, your determination…

I lean toward you, and you stay still, though your eyes do widen a bit. I've loved you for so long, Yuri. I say to you. I have such a history to tell you… but I don't want to focus on the past anymore. At this moment… this moment, these days to come, those are what matter.

I've known no other creature like me. Answer me this, Flynn of the gods… why am I alone?

You're not. I am here. If you'll let me… I'll bring you home. The history we've shared does matter, but not in this now. It is history… what matters more is the future now. We'll take it, day by day, but no more can I idle. I will not fail you again.

This isn't home? You ask, allowing me to press our foreheads together.

No, my lovely. I answer. Once you walked on the surface, on land. You stood resolutely on your feet before even the gods. That is where you belong. Because of my love, a goddess has unleashed her wrath upon you. Even if you reject my love, please, let me take you home. Let me release you from this existence and allow you to resume the life you had, even if it is not with me.

You stare at me, mistrust and disbelief in your eyes, but a sort of understanding. Do you recall any of our times before? Do you remember the days we've spent, close like this? The times when our hearts were closer…?

Why should I trust you? You're a god.

I touch my lips to yours, and you don't lean back. Instead, you sink your fangs into my bottom lip. I let myself bleed, for I owe you everything. A little blood pays for nothing, but maybe it will show my intention.

You stare at the inky cloud between our faces, and then spit a stream of water at it to disperse it. Gods bleed? You ask.

We can. I answer, raising a finger to heal the puncture wounds. We can bleed… we can hurt, make mistakes… we are, in the grand scheme of things, just like mortals. The biggest difference is we can hurt more people in our rage and jealousy.

What good are gods, then?

That is a question I can't answer. We were made for something, but… maybe that something has yet to pass. I lower my hand. Please, Yuri. You realize you're alone… that there is nothing else like you. It means this isn't a natural form. I will guide you home… but you must want to go home.

Your eyes narrow. How do I know that's even home?

It's been a hundred years. I think, in so many ways, I was allowed a small outburst. What do you have to lose, Yuri?

You actual smirk at me. My life. But I suppose I got that for free.

That wasn't an answer I enjoyed having thrown at me, but I suppose I can't exactly argue with you. It never did do me any good. You must come upon the beach of Zaude, in the center of the world, between the rise and setting of the blue moon. Then, the curse on you will end, and you will be home.

Sounds like octopus shit, but like you said, what do I have to lose? You raise a hand to touch the little jar around your neck, and for a moment, your eyes take a softer look. You're really leaving it up to me? You're not going to force me?

God or not, I do not have that right. I can only try to convince you.

And if I still said no?

I would hope you wouldn't. I will stay with you.

You laugh at me, as you often do. But after your laughter fades from my mind I'm left with your stunning smile, and I cannot resist it. I don't try to kiss you, but I do try to embrace you. You allow me this little comfort, and I don't know who to send my thanks. No one else but you, it seems.

We were far, far to the south of Zaude, beyond the landmass of Hypionia, and deep in the abyssal maw of the sea. I know for a fact we will have to travel by night once far enough up, for in your current form, the sunlight would hurt your precious eyes. But all that matters now is getting there. Finding you took so long already…

You don't leave with me that night, but neither do you kick me out of your cave. You welcome me well enough, it seems, and while you do not allow me to share your resting place I am more than fine with that. I do not sleep that day, laying there awake and plotting our course. Even if we were to arrive early, at least then I know, for sure, you will be free.

The next night you are willing to depart. You freely give me your hand, and I begin the journey with you yet again. It felt as if I had traveled from every depth and every direction back to Zaude over these years. I pray to whatever power was higher than even me that this would be the last time. Although this one was made before you fully trust me, I have faith in us. In you. I always have.

As we travel I do take time to allow you to get to know me yet again. The days we spend back to back in safe burrows to sleep, the nights we talk. I keep honest, answering each of your questions, holding nothing back. You remain skeptical, but you always follow me, and I remain thankful every night I awake up to see you there.

It takes us months just to travel half way, and I still need to bring you closer to the surface. Yet that is one point you remain hesitant about, preferring to travel along the deep ravines and darkness. I don't push for now, but eventually, my sweet, you will have to swim up.

So it's been a long time, You summarize as you lazily swim alongside me. We still had time, so I do not fret too much at this pace. I guess this 'curse' has given me immortality?

I would assume, I answer. Unless it just resets you every time.

That's a creepy thought. But you laugh despite the words, twisting to swim backwards, facing up. Think the other gods miss you?

I don't know. Frankly I don't really care.

Harsh! They might love you more than I ever could.

I smile wryly at you. Ah, but I'll never love them as I would you.

You smirk at me. I think that's a bit pathetic.

Say what you will. I may be a god, but there are things even I can't control.

You shrug, turning yourself to swim properly again. Sounds like godhood is a load of crap.

I laugh, keeping up with your slight increase in speed. I suppose in so many ways… yes. Yes, it is.

And you wanna make me a god too? Man, sounds like a lot of trouble.

If you prefer, I can become a mortal for you.

You look over your shoulder at me. I prefer you do what makes you happy, Flynn.

I slow a bit, staring at you, even as you look forward once more and continue on. If being with you is what makes me happy, then I truly am stuck. Yet even in this state, you still think of others beyond yourself…

Still as ever, you are you.

Days and nights pass, and we gradually gain ground toward Zaude. I slowly begin to lead you higher and higher from the cold depths, but you resist on some degree. How I wish sometimes I truly could force you! To make you see, to realize! But I cannot, and I never want to force you. And so I am left with gentle coaxing.

We enter the Inner Sea eventually, and here I begin to push you a bit more aggressively to leave the dark depths. Finally you agree, and ever so slowly we begin the journey up toward the surface. I am not entirely unkind, still traveling by night. As we reach higher, life becomes more vibrant, and you are dazzled by the colors. The rainbows of reef and fish make you dizzy, and soon you are staying closer to me as we continue to rise from the dark, cold below you were so accustomed to. You are amazed and afraid, I think, but I keep you close so you would not flee. Not that I expect you to, really.

We find caves and burrows to wait out the sunlight. In these tiny places we have no choice but to sleep in close quarters, but you seem to find comfort in burying your face against my neck, hiding from the light however dim it was. I hold you close, shielding you from it, knowing once the curse was broken you will once more embrace it.

Up in higher water you seem so out of place. If I stare hard enough, I could almost see though you in the light. You appear so fragile, and I hold you close and careful. Soon, though… soon, you will be home. You will be free.

I'm so, so sorry…

The time of the blue moon is approaching rapidly, and we still had yet distance to cover. We travel by night, hand in hand, your trust in me growing more apparent as the days go by.

I want to see it. You say abruptly, and I stall, looking back at you. You point up. The sky. The heavens you mention so often.

I cannot tell you no, so with a gentle smile I slowly lead you upward. You hold tightly to my hand, resolutely following me. My head breaks through the surface first, and I spit out water as shortly after you follow. In the moonlight I look to you, watching your face transform to that of an amazed child.

Any passerby that might have seen you would have shrieked in fear. Your hair, thread and pitch black, plasters over your off-white skin, and your eyes are solid black pearls in your sparsely scaled face. The fins at your shoulders stiffen, the spines sticking up as you take in the night and its gentle light. Yet for all your perceived hideousness, I see only your handsome face from a hundred years ago. You could look like a true monster, and I would still find you gorgeous.

I pull you into my arms, and you gurgle saltwater from your mouth in surprise. Flynn?

"We're close," I say aloud, and your body tenses, the spines of your fins threatening to stab me but I don't care. "Just a bit more."

You attempt to mimic me speaking, but like all the other times, all you can do is spill out ocean water. I lightly kiss your lips, and to my surprise, you relax. When you return my affection, I slowly return us to under the water.

Just a bit more.

I don't let us sink too far down, or become too absorbed in this kiss. I pull away slowly, inhaling water and letting it fill me again. Your eyes open slowly, staring at me with a look I hadn't seen in a long time. It was as if for that one second you were free and you remembered every single detail. I cease breathing when I recognize it.

The second ends, and you lean away from me. I snap from my thoughts. Sorry.

A second later, you laugh. Now why would you be sorry?

I don't know, so I say nothing. Instead, we both move in tandem, grasping each other's hand and swimming toward Zaude once more.

By the night of the blue moon, we are racing to that shore. Once more I throw myself upon the shallow waters, my tail becoming legs, and I hold my hands out to you. You grasp them, eyes wide and mouth open in pain and fright, but I refuse to let you go back with the tide that pulled at you so mercilessly.

"I'm here," I call to you over the waves, digging my heels into the shifting sand, even as I am still chest deep in the sea. "I'm right here, it'll be all right, I swear it!"

Your painful groans and cries fill my head, and I don't know why you hurt. I never understood, but I can't let it sway us now. I keep pulling you toward the shore, and even if you're afraid, even if you're hurting, you try to swim and beach yourself further.

Suddenly the water next to us explodes and I hear you scream in my mind. The magic sizzles, and when the water stops falling, I see a large blotch of blood near your tail. A large laceration mars it, and rage spikes in me as I turn to look.

Standing on top of the water and staring at us with contempt was the bitch that did this to us. Her sword of magic returns to her hand, and one hand still holding onto you, I hold the other out, forming a shield of my own magic.

"I had hoped," Sodia says coldly, "that you would give up on this cretin."

"And I had hoped you wouldn't be so damn foolish as to appear before me," I growl.

She raises the sword again and immediately I throw the shield at her, aiming for her wrist. She brings the sword down, batting the shield down to splash into the water. As soon as it impacts I command it to split into several spears and fly up from under her. Sodia wails as a few slice through her clothing and into her skin, glittering droplets of divine blood flying into the air as she stumbles back.

While she was shocked by that, I quickly aim a wave of healing magic over you. You stare at me with a pained and strained face, and I let your hand go. "Swim," I whisper fiercely. The next wave that crashes over you erases you from sight, and I don't know how far it will take you.

My eyes return to Sodia, who was skipping along the surface of the water toward what could have been where you were going. I leap out of the water and throw myself at her, shoulder-tackling her off track. Her magic sword spears into the water, but I don't hear you cry out, so I assume she missed.

I summon my own sword and reform my shield, standing on the water as well. My armor finishes materializing as she straightens, her sword back in her hand.

"Is a pathetic mortal worth you going to war with another god, Flynn?" she snaps at me.

"He is worth everything to me. If you weren't consumed by your own pathetic jealousy you would realize mortality matters little."

She yells at me in anger, her temper exploding and throwing up the water beneath her. The display does nothing, and I simply charge for her. Magic sizzles against magic as our blades lock, and her eyes burn into mine.

"You'll forget him and heal if you would let him die," she hisses.

"I'll forget you and heal instead." I growl, breaking our lock and bringing my sword down from overhead.

She parries, and I attempt to bash my shield into her midsection. Her free hand slaps into the shield, stopping it, but my force still makes her step and lean back. I pull both weapons away and aim a kick past her hand, my foot slamming into her stomach and knocking her further back. She stumbles several steps before righting herself, eyes narrowing dangerously.

I lower my foot and fly across the water to her, sword ready to thrust forward. Her own swings diagonally from below, knocking my blade aside and up. I pull my shield up just as her gauntlet fist comes at me, and just as it impacts her sword is coming back down. I see it, but I can't move back in time, the blade running from my shoulder down to my hip, sliding along my armor and slicing some of the links.

I spin and reverse the grip of my sword, bringing it down at her. She shifts just enough to avoid heavy damage, but I feel the edge bite through her own armor and into god-flesh. Sodia gasps and punches me in the face, and I saw stars for a moment.

When sense returns to me she was a safe distance away, her hand in the air. Under her glyphs were forming and I gape at her.

"Don't you dare, Sodia!" I yell at her, but she continues to build up the magic. She points her hand at me, and I know if I take the hit, I would be severely hurt.

But if I didn't, Zaude would be destroyed.

So instead I charge at her, my shield raised in case I don't make it. I swing my sword horizontally at her midsection, and just as it met resistance light exploded. I was thrown back several feet it felt like, landing with a graceless splash a bit closer to shore. I quickly sit up, eyes wide as Estellise stands where we were, facing where I assumed Sodia was.

"You were untouchable from what you did to Yuri," I hear Estellise say. "But this, Sodia… this is an obvious break of the law even we must follow. Mercy on your soul, although you don't deserve it."

Sodia yells something, but Estellise vanishes, and when I look I don't see Sodia either. Was she to be judged? I don't know… and I dismiss the idea as I once more wade out into the water, calling off my armor and weapon. My legs fuse into a tail, and before I dive beneath the waves I look to the sky. The blue moon was just a sliver on the horizon.


Yuri! Where are you?! I dive under the water, following the weak trail of magic you ignited in my mind's eye. A few minutes later I find you half buried not too far away. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry, I…

Why're you sorry? You laugh. You saved me.


It's about that time, isn't it? You ask, looking to the surface. … you'll find me again, right?

I pull you into my arms, holding you tightly. I'll always find you, Yuri. I'm sorry…

I should be the one sorry. You lean your head against my shoulder, your form relaxing. Thanks, Flynn… if this curse thing really is true… I guess I'll be seeing you?

I want to clutch you close, drag you to the surface and onto the shore. But that won't do anything, so I swallow back my frustrated tears. I'll come find you.

I'll try not to go so far.

You were going to say more, but just like magic, you fade from my arms. All that remains left in my hands is the little jar pendant, the blue pearl rolling sadly inside of it.

I clutch the treasure and hold it over my heart. Not only was my battle against Sodia a waste of time and even then I was derived the right to strike her down, still I failed you. I could scarcely stand it. I bow my head, trying to decide what exactly to do. A part of me was compelled to once more chase after you, to find you, to fulfill all of my broken promises. But another part of me roared in its cage within, demanding I return to heaven, to finish my battle with Sodia. What was more important to me? Getting my vengeance and ensuring she could hurt you no longer, or bringing you home?

I fix your pendant around my neck and begin to swim for the depths. Really, I guess, it was not that difficult of a choice.

I know not the ultimate fate that Sodia was dealt.

I also find myself just not caring.

I have dedicated my focus, my determination to you. Whatever else exists I no longer have the capacity to care now. What matters most is you.

What matters most is getting you home.

I embrace the darkness, the cold waters of the deep. Away from the light, away from the warmth, I descend in what many may call madness. If I had to I would forsake the world above for another lifetime. It is a trifle thing. There exists nothing more important than you. I would follow you to hell and beyond. I swore this to you once. I promised you so much. It is time I fulfilled each of those promises.

I am sorry it has taken me so long.

We collapse upon the sand, our chests heaving. You curl up against me, your slender tail wrapping around my legs like a violet, spiny, shimmering rope. The moonlight, however soft, makes you mewl in discomfort. The night air, however fresh, is already drying out your delicate scales. One of your fins is bent horribly, the sand embedded in the webbing between your fingers.

Above us, the blue moon hangs peacefully.

You look upon me with those black pits of eyes, and when I gaze at you, I can only smile. I raise a hand, brushing aside your limp, salt-crusted hair from your scaled, crystalline face.

"For eternity," I whisper, my thumb stroking your cheekbone. "I will love you for eternity. I give to you my everything."

Your lips part, ocean water bubbling past your fangs and down your chin; but despite that setback you still smile. You're a sap. You tell me, but you sound so affectionate… If you'll have my everything, I offer it. So long as I have yours… I don't mind giving you mine.

No longer can I resist. I kiss you with all the love I could ever possess, just the same way I kissed you over a hundred years ago at this spot. When you return the affection, I swear my heart bursts from the happiness within me.

We pull apart, and as my thumb continues to stroke your cheek, your scales begin to fall off in clumps. Beneath the pale skin and scales, I see the hint of well colored skin. I gape, and when I look back to your eyes, you once more have irises.

There's a sudden light to those reborn eyes, and they widen with clarity. You cough heavily, removing what was left of the seawater in your lungs. Hurriedly I continue to stroke your skin, brushing away scales and false skin like dust. Glimmering scales fall into the sand with each movement of my hand, and your face is clear of them all. So human, so beautiful, so familiar.

I gaze down, your tail split into legs. I run my hand over your thigh, pushing off scales, revealing smooth skin. You look as well, then back to me, over and over and suddenly you laugh! Your voice, it rings in the night air, and my ears thunder with the sound.

"Yuri," I breathe, and you look to me, smiling.

"It's about time," you tease. Yet despite the near cruelty of such words I cannot be angry. I can only embrace you close, and you return the hold.

"Don't say you're sorry," you add, and the words lodge in my throat. "You said it yourself, there are things even gods can't help."

You pull back from me, and even without my touch, your curse continues to fall off you, leaving you as pristine and mortal as you were when it struck you. The only thing left marring your skin when the scales fall off is the scar from the initial strike, and my fingertips brush it gently. You catch my hand, bringing it up and kissing my palm.

"You're supposed to take me home." You remind me, smiling.

I glance to Zaude, but you tsk at me. "It's been too long for me to call that home. Eternity and your everything. You owe me a lot of promises, Flynn."

Realizing your meaning, I look back to you with a wide smile. You smirk, letting my hand go and lightly touching the little jar around my neck. I touch the one around yours, and then slide my hand to your cheek. Your expression softens, and I cannot help but kiss you again.

I pull you into my arms, and happier than I had ever been in my existence, I finally take you home.

I found you, my lovely
In the depths of an ocean…
A story, together of hope and devotion…

Thus the tale of the god of courage and hope, and his trial of devotion and love; he ascended back to heaven, his lover in his arms, and divinity was granted to the mortal Yuri.

As for the goddess Sodia, she was banished to the hells, cast from heaven. In her rage, she violently shook the earth from below, and the island empire of Zaude sank beneath the waves. They say the hapless people trapped within prayed desperately to Flynn and the new god Yuri, who blessed them with life and continued existence beneath the waves. They say these merfolk still dwell in the seas, in the ruins of Zaude, and were given the task of sealing the gate of which Sodia was banished through. Her catastrophe caused horror and tears, and so by the very city and people she hated she is caged, far from sight. And the very man she loathed remained at the side of the god she so loved.

So told is the tale of a god driven by love and devotion, and the mortal that shook his heart. Both who were granted eternal happiness by their own determination and honesty, wrapped together in the white wings of heaven.