The word of the Death God’s perished state sent the Life Court into a frenzy of conviviality. Party after party was being thrown. Dances, and music, and cask upon cask of wine, and merriment that rivalled no other. Aiden knew they weren’t the only kingdom celebrating the death of Patriarch Khalus, and he was very happy since this was the only thing that probably kept the God of the Heavens from stopping the parties. After all, they were extremely rude to the dead, but what did those from the Life Court care? Death was unreachable now that the Patriarch Khalus was dead, and that was a thing to celebrate.
It was the eve of one of these parties that Aiden met Saraleine, the prettiest nymph in all the Country. Her dancing was entrancing, her eyes hypnotic. Everything about her-her long red hair, her doe brown eyes, and the sprinkling of freckles across her elfin face- was enough for Aiden to want her.
It took no time for him to convince her into his bed. However, as they rolled about on his satin sheets, she pulled off his lips and stared into his eyes, her face sad.
“I can’t do this,”she whispered in her velvet voice,”I’m promised to another.”
“Engaged?”he asked, irritated that she had stopped them more than he was annoyed that she decided to mention this now.
“Yes,”Saraline spoke,”A political marriage.”
“You don’t love him,”Aiden said simply,”Break the engagement after this.”
He began to kiss her again, but she pushed off, tears brimming on her pretty face. “ I can’t! I won’t have a one night stand with my God!”
“It won’t be a one night stand,”he sat up, looking her straight in the eye. “And besides, I’m not a God yet. I love you. I’ll marry you to prove it.”
Her eyes brightened, but there was no erasing the tear tracks that stained her face. She believed him; ate up every word he said to her. Love was a word not simply tossed around in the Realm of the Gods, and Saraliene had no hope she’d ever hear it, much less have it directed to her.
Aiden saw this, and yet he didn’t understand his feelings-was this lust he felt, or real and true love? To the inexperienced God, the entrancement he’d felt was. He was love-struck, maybe, but only for the nymphs undeniable good looks.
“Marry me?”she said, surprised. He only looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to answer his proposal. “Why yes!”she exclaimed,”Yes, yes! A thousand times over! Yes!”
And so it was set; a girl promised a ring, a crown, and a way out of her overbearing village. And a boy promised a lifetime of his heart beating as hard as it was then.
The Country of Judgement was much less happy about the death of Patriarch Khalus. There was a long period of mourning in which all people of the Judgement kingdom wore the color black in order to pay a respect to a God whose power was heavily relied on.
Colton and Sera were called into the Throne Room where their father waited to address them. Sera had clung onto Colton’s arm, as they normally did to access their psychic bond.
Colton, I don’t have a good feeling about this,Sera said to him mentally.
He did not reply. He sighed, and shoved her off his arm.
When they approached their father, the God of Judgement, they saw the terse set of his jaw, and the way his hands folded over his fine garments in a way that turned them white. Colton saw then that his twin was right; their father had bad news to tell them.
“Son,”he spoke loud,”Daughter. I have come to decide who will ascend my position and who will ascend your mothers’ position.”
Their mother, who they hadn’t had contact with them their whole life, was the Goddess of the Moon. It wasn’t her fault that she was unable to come into the Gods’ realm since she was a Goddess with no real power, but both twins hated her immensely and neither wanted her position as the Moon God. It was much more desirable to become a God of Judgement.
“Because of the mute state of your brother,”their father boomed,” I will let you, Sera, take my position. My son, this leaves you with your mothers’ position.”
Colton didn’t say anything, as per usual.
“Both of you will be attending St. Aldercus Academy starting next week. There is no specialized God work, so you two won’t be separated. Thats all I have to say,”their father said,”You may go.”
They began to walk away, Colton beginning to boil in a pit of his own rage. His sister had taken his position...they all knew that he was the stronger of the pair, so why had she…?
“Colton, wait,”the Judgement God paused in his words,”Sera you can go ahead. I need to talk to your brother quickly.”
“Yes, father,”Sera nodded, delight writ across her face. She ran out the door, leaving only her brother and father in the same room to make a bet.
The God shifted in his throne, setting his elbow down on the arm of the chair so that he could rest his cheek in his palm. He sat studying his son for a moment before he began to speak again. “I know you don’t want the Moon God position.”
Colton just blinked. Internally, he nodded.
“Who would, what with having to live with your whore of a mother on that deserted rock. I don’t blame you for looking so angry. So I’ll make a bet with you. If you can somehow get a wife with a high status in our world, you can have my position,”the God told his son,”She has to be able to translate your thoughts, so you two will have to make a bond. That, or she has to make you talk somehow because a mute God is not excusable.”
The God laughed, shifting again in his throne. “You have to show her to me so that I may approve before your graduation.”
Colton pondered all his father bargained. It was exceptionally reasonable, though slightly insensitive.
“Don’t let your sister know,”the Patriarch finished,”She would surely hate me, and I don’t want another woman lost. She reminds me...nevermind. Do you think you can do this?”
Colton nodded, but said nothing.
After he was dismissed, he walked down to his room with a smile on his face. Finally, he could overpower his sister in the way that counted.
The Elemental Court was ruled by precisely four Gods, all Matriarchs during this Era.
Xia watched her mother prepare for the Council of the Gods. Grooming herself in a way Xia had never seen before. With a dress of fine spiders silk drapery that wrapped around the Goddess like the way the sky wraps around the sun. Her face was firmly caked, powdered, and masked. The mask was a red and orange venetian one that was customary for the Fire Goddess to wear. All Gods and Goddesses wore masks for the Council, and her mother was no exception.
Her mother, Matriarch Keahi, was a woman of elegance and splendor, and she looked no less like such in her outfit. When she finished putting the final touches on herself, she turned to Xia and smiled, her berry-stained lips becoming thin and pointed at the ends. “You’re going to be attending these Council’s one day too, beside your husband.”
Xia did not reply. She felt the bitterness behind her mother's words, where Xia saw the way she felt about the exchanging of positions. If Matriarch Keahi could have her way, she’d be Goddess of Fire forever.
But not only was she not able to hold onto the position, but her daughter, Xia, couldn’t take it either. It was the pattern set by the council so that there would not be much chaos within the Elemental Court. There would only be Patriarchs next Era, and the women in the Country would once again be the inferior gender.
Xia did understand how her mother felt about the stupid situation, and she knew how she would never be the Goddess of Fire, but she said it anyway,”Can I still go to St. Aldercus’s?”
Matriarch Keahi smiled, this time sincere.“Yes, daughter. Yes you can.”