Fate doesn't work that way

It started with three drunk gods, and one drowning mortal. It snowballed into a quest for destiny with bound gods, sky prisons, mazes of death, and far too many disasters.


14. Champions and Choices

The god leaned forwards, studying her with cold eyes. What had her demon said his name was? Tith? That was it. Turns out the demon had a name too. Kanat. That sounded plenty demon-like. Made sense.

She could feel her pulse racing. Up until today, she had only believed in a single god. And now there were multiple ones? That couldn’t be right. It defied all her beliefs. And yet, here he was. She wondered if he was really a god, or just a normal person faking power. It was hard to tell. Clearly her demon knew him. So was he a demon too? Or maybe a mortal that had tried to bind him? Either way, it didn’t make sense.

“You’re an interesting girl,” Tith remarked, leaning forwards.

“Clearly,” she replied. “Where exactly are you taking my demon?”

“Your demon?” He laughed. “He’s been called many names, but I’m sure demon is a first for him. Fitting, I suppose. No need to worry yourself. He will be well looked after while we negotiate.”

“Negotiate?” Her pulse skyrocketed. What would he want? If he really was a god, what could a mortal like her negotiate with?

“You are prisoners here for now. However, I tend to allow those I imprison to challenge for their freedom.”


“You seem to be a girl of even temperament, unlike your slave. That’s good. I can negotiate with someone who keeps a calm head. I am the god of war, and therefore respect strength. You will complete challenges, and you and your slave will go free.”

There was a catch. She was sure of it. It just depended on what it was.

“And if I refuse? Or fail?” This sounded like a legend. There’d be some punishment if she failed, she was sure of it.”

“You will die,” he replied calmly. “And your slave will suffer torment until the end of his existence.”

Her mouth felt dry. “Those are high stakes.”

“This is the world of gods, not the world of mortals. Your lives are cheap, and worth very little. Therefore, you must burn brightly or not at all. Make your choice, and quickly. I have a meal to get back to.”

She sighed. “I have no choice, then.”

“You have one,” he corrected. “The options simply seem distasteful to you. So? Death, or challenges.”


He smiled. “Good. You will be given a room until your challenges begin. I advise you get some rest. Adar!”

“Yes master?” One of the odd stone-like men approached.

“Guide this girl to the heroes’ room.”

“Yes master. Come, girl.”

She stood, and departed, feeling the gods eyes on her back on the way out.


The room was relatively nice, as prisons go. She was surprised it wasn’t a dungeon. It was relatively simple, with a single bed, and a window. She tapped the window experimentally, and listened to the sound it made. Glass. No bars. Could she break it to escape? That was something to consider.

The rock man- she’d decided to start calling him Stony- had left, locking the door behind him. She might be able to pick it, but the rules in this place were different.

She paused, forcing herself to breathe quietly and listen for any footsteps. Nothing. She was alone.

She turned back to the window, cocking her head. Before she could make a move towards it, a voice from behind startled her.

“I wouldn’t try to break it if I were you. You’d sooner shatter your wrist. It’s godsteel, not ordinary glass.”

She whipped around. The room had been empty before, but now a blond girl was standing there looking at her, arms crossed.

“Who are you?!” she demanded. “How did you get in here?”

“Same way you did.” She gestured towards the door. “Sorry if I frightened you. I probably should have made my entrance more subtle, but what’s the fun in that?”

“You haven’t answered my first question,” she said warily.

“Oh yes. Jinea. Goddess of tricks and thievery at your service.” She bowed dramatically. “I’m here to help you.”

“And why should I believe that…?”

“Because Kanat’s a friend of mine, and he knows me,” she sighed. “Unfortunately he’s not here to endorse me, and you’re kind of trapped, so you’ll just have to trust me. Sound good? Yes? Wonderful. Now sit down, and listen up.”

She sat on the bed, disoriented. Jinea stayed standing, studying her. Her expression wasn’t condescending like Tith’s was. In fact, she almost seemed to be admiring her.

“So what’s your name anyways, girl?”

“Call me Lir,” she muttered. She didn’t like her full name. It sounded too official.

“Lir. Nickname?” Jinea rolled her eyes. “Eh. Why does it matter. I won’t go prying. That’s not my business.”

Lin was starting to like this girl. She was straightforward and friendly, not arrogant. Was she really a goddess?

“Can you prove it?’ she asked abruptly.

“Prove what?” Jinea raised her eyebrows.
    “That you’re a goddess. Show me something dramatic. Shift forms or something. Do magic. Whatever.”

“A straightforward girl!” Jinea was smiling now. “Okay. Sure.” Abruptly, she dissolved into a cloud of gold. Lir stared in disbelief as the cloud zipped around the room, before turning back into Jinea. “Good?”

“How much can you do?”

“Honestly? I don’t know. In divine terms, I’m young. I haven’t been a goddess for long. I’m still getting used to everything I can do.”

“What were you… before?” Lir was fascinated.
    “I was a mortal, like you,” Jinea shrugged. She smiled at the shock on Lir’s face. “What? You didn’t know a mortal could become a goddess? I wouldn’t get too ambitious or anything, it takes a lot of work, and sacrifice before you can interest them enough to promote you. Besides, being eternal has a lot of downsides. Best to stay mortal.”

Lir’s eyebrows went up. “You definitely don’t act like that other god.”

“Tith? Well, of course I don’t. He’s all god. I’m technically only partially a goddess. Besides, he’s a child of destruction. But we’re getting distracted. We’ve got to talk about you.”

“So why are you helping me?” Lir asked. This goddess girl was definitely straight to the point. She could get used to someone like that.

“Because I hate Tith,” Jinea shrugged. “And I think it would be funny to see his face when you pass all his trials.” She sighed, crossing her arms. “Here’s the thing. The usual hero types Tith drops in here have a god sponsoring them. Sometimes it’s him, usually it's another god. But you? You have no one. You’re just a regular mortal. You’re not even a demigod. You’ve got no one to defend you. That’s not fair. You’ll die instantly without a god standing for you. So you’re going to need some help if you want to survive.”

She wants to help me survive. Okay then. “Okay, goddess. Tell me what to do.”

“Just Jinea. I’m no one to worship, believe me,” she laughed. “I’d hate to interfere with anything you believe. But anyways, here’s how it’s gonna go. Tith’ll send those golems of his to wake you up after you’ve gotten maybe a couple hours of sleep. You’ll be off balance and confused, and he’ll use that to his advantage.”

Lir nodded, not sure what else this goddess knew. Anyone willing to help her would be good in this situation. “He sounds like a dirty player.”

“He’s the god of war, and a child of destruction. It’s what he does. You’ll be off balance, and the first thing he’ll do is drop you into a complex challenge, one that’ll take both brains and strength. You’ll be off balance, maybe tired, and disoriented. You’ll die instantly.”


“This is where your patron comes in handy. I can wake you up, help clear the area and make it safe. And we have a secret weapon.”

“And that is?”

“You have two goddesses watching your back.”


“Nith’ll be along eventually. She’s not as good at being subtle as I am, so she wasn’t able to sneak in.”

“I have… another secret,” Lir said softly. “Something I don’t think Tith knows. When Kanat and I separated last, Kanat turned to smoke and reappeared at my side. I think if I get far enough away from him, he’ll be freed.”

“Good, that solves our other problem.”

“Other problem?”

“How to get Kanat free when we escape. If you pass all of Tith’s tests, you can bet that there’s no way he’ll let you leave. He’ll have you stay on as one of his commanders or something. You’ll be stuck in his service for a long time. So unless you like the idea of slaving under Tith until he finds a chance to get you killed in some meaningless battle, then we’re going to need an escape plan. So your little smoke trick with Kanat will be helpful.”

Lir nodded. “So what do I do?”

“Get some sleep. The more rest you have, the better. I’ll warn you when Tith’s coming.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet. Who knows, you might start to regret our little friendship.” She smiled. “Now sleep.”

Lir lay down on the bed, arms crossed over her chest, and stared at the ceiling. She wanted to sleep, but there were too many thoughts running through her head. Gods, goddesses, golems, trials, myths and magic… none of it made sense. It was almost too much for her to handle. And soon she would wake to face more impossibilities. Assuming she survived, she’d be in a new world, with new and dangerous people. A world where anything could happen. A world where gods walked the earth, and touched the lives of ordinary people like her. A world where sleep played at the corners of her mind, but never truly came into existence. A world where everything she knew had been shattered. A world where anything and nothing was possible.

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