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.

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9. Plans and power

There were footsteps, and he looked up.

Ah, here she comes. She was alone, which wasn’t a good sign. As always, his pulse picked up at the sight of her. Just because she thought too highly of herself didn’t change the fact that she was gorgeous. That’s how he’d fallen for her in the first place. The braids were new, but leave it to her to adapt her hairstyle to the day and age. Other than that, she looked the same as she had when he’d first visited her in the form of a hawk. Why was it always a hawk? He’d saved this girl as a hawk too… maybe it was the majesty of the winged form. Why couldn’t he have lived as one of those, not this pathetic mortal body?!

She stopped outside the cell door. “Comfortable?”

“This is no way to treat a lost love,” he replied sarcastically. “If you’re trying to seduce me, a dungeon isn’t the best way to do it.”

“I already did that,” she smiled. “Yes, it was long ago, but I have already won. Come now. Why can’t you just admit that I’m right?”

“Right about what?”

“That no other mortal deserves you. That I am a goddess in all but name. When you return to your divine form, I will go with you. We’ll be gods together. Don’t you see how perfect it is?” She paused, then continued. “Kanat, why do you fear me?”

He lifted his head, forcing himself to look her in the eyes. They weren’t… right. Her outer eye was normal, but her pupils… they didn’t look right. Like chips of stone. “Tani… what happened to you?! You’ve changed. Only an idiot wouldn’t notice. You said you were immortal… what did you do to yourself? What did it cost you?”

“It cost me nothing,” she purred. “Don’t you see, love? I am infinity. That meant disposing of my mortal weaknesses.”

“But how?” He insisted. “No mortal has ever become immortal without godly interference. How could you do it on your own?” She paused, and he kept going. “You love me, don’t you? Then tell me. I have to know it’s not some kind of trick.”

“Oh Kanat…” she shook her head. “You’re a god. The mystical is commonplace to you. And yet it surprises you that a mortal can attain divinity?”

“Not that a mortal can attain divinity- that a mortal can do it on their own, with no assistance from another god. Unless you have a sponsor that you’re not telling me about.”

She laughed. “You always were so dismissive of mortals, weren’t you? You must hate being one now. No, of course I didn’t have help, love. I did this on my own. Is that so odd to you?”

“Yes. It is. Tani, are you going to explain how you did it or not?”

“So impatient! Calm, love. We have so long to explain things. Why rush it now?”

“Because I’m not eternal right now,” he snapped. It didn’t matter if he had loved her once, she was playing with him, and he didn’t appreciate it. “And to be mortal is to be impatient.”

“Fair enough. Very well. As you know, the gods are eternal because of belief. The enemies of the gods are eternal because of belief. Everything in this world depends on the beliefs of the mortals. I just used those beliefs to my own advantage.”

“Meaning?”

“I became a myth,” she whispered. I made myself a story. I am a belief now. And so I live. I live. And it’s all thanks to you.”

“Thanks to… me.” The primordials are going to kill me for this… Just another problem to add to his growing list.

“A powerless mortal is no legend,” she shrugged. “When you gave me that flute, you gave me the power to transcend my pathetic mortal state. The power to become so much more than I am. I owe you my immortality, Kanat. I’ll never forget that. But don’t you see? The moment you game me my flute, you linked your life to mine. Our destinies are tied together now. That’s why the primordials don’t let you gods interfere with our lives. Too many heroes rose. Dangerous heroes. Come now, you know the law wasn’t always enforced so strongly. When you were with me, gods meddled in the lives of mortals all the time! They promoted three mortals to goddesses.”

“That was a long time ago.”

“In godly terms, the newest wasn’t that long ago. They achieved godhood. If anyone deserves the recognition, it’s me. Without any divine help, I made myself immortal. I will be a fine goddess, don’t you think?”

“They’ll never accept it.”

Her expression hardened. “They won’t have a choice.”

Kanat shuddered. That tone frightened him. That was when something in her changed, and she became… different. He wasn’t sure what exactly it was- he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. But it was there, for sure. He knew it. He could feel it.

“They’ll destroy you,” he warned her.

She grabbed the bars on his cell door, and he found himself flinching back. “They can’t destroy me. Others have tried. I am legend. I’m unkillable. I am a goddess!”
    He flinched, wishing he had his powers. He would strike her down. Show her how weak her mortal body truly was. But he couldn’t. He was a mortal himself. He was nothing. He had no power, no strength. And here he sat, listening to a girl who intended to make herself a goddess.

“Love,” she said softly, calming him. “Must I show you what I can do? Must I prove to you that I have the power needed to become eternal? Is it proof you wish for, Kanat?”

“You’re a mortal. You can’t rise on your own,” he gritted his teeth. “It’s impossible.”

“Fine. A demonstration then. She produced her flute, and held it to her lips, closing her eyes. “Now listen.”

He was about to make a sarcastic comment on how he didn’t really have many other options, but then the music started, and he forgot what he’d been about to say.

He’d heard her play her flute before, The last time she’d used it, she’d forced him to tell her what his punishment was. He thought he’d be ready for what would happen, but it didn’t matter how ready he was, the music swamped him completely, overwhelming his senses and destroying his entire sense of self. All he knew was music. All he felt was music. Nothing else mattered.

Her voice spoke in his head. There was no break in the music, and yet he heard the voice.

Get up.”

He was standing now. He saw himself standing, and yet he didn’t. All he could see was her. Her and that flute of hers. Was it glowing, or was that just his imagination? Or maybe she was glowing. What made her glow?

I am a legend, she’d told him. Seeing her like this, it was easy to believe.

Her voice spoke again. “Come here.

He was moving towards her. Something stopped him, and he pulled against it, straining to get closer. Straining to obey. Why was he so desperate to do what he was told? The music. He could hear the music better if he was closer. Closer. He had to get closer.

Then the music stopped. All his strength went out of him in one strong wave, and his knees buckled. He dropped to the floor, his arms yanked cruelly behind him by the chains. His wrists felt raw, and they stung, making him flinch. How hard had he pulled against the chains?

Shame burned his face. He had been played with again! When would this torment end?!
    “For someone who claims to love me, you certainly are enjoying hurting me,” he remarked.

“You wished for a demonstration of my power,” she replied. “So I showed it to you. You harmed many mortals as you loved and left them. Did it matter to you? Of course not. Mortals are the playthings of gods. And now I am a goddess, and you are my mortal. Don’t worry, it won’t last forever. But you gave me this power. I will use it.”

“Why bother toying with me? Does it bring you some sort of joy to make my existence more miserable than it already is?”

“It’s called a lesson, Kanat, love.” She was smiling again, sending chills down his spine. “We all learn them at some point in our lives.” Then she turned and swept away.

    Not long after she’d left, frantic footsteps came running in his direction. He looked up, surprised, and saw the girl running towards his cell. She dropped to one knee, reaching through the bars. She couldn’t reach him, and she let out a frustrated groan.

    “What did she do to you?” she demanded. “Are you okay? What happened?”

    For a girl who was convinced he was a demon, her concern was rather touching. Her face was even more beautiful when she was concerned. After T’haila, she felt warm. Friendly. Much safer.

    Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t forget that she’s still your master, he reminded himself.

    “I’m fine,” he shrugged. “Listen to me, you have to find a way to get her flute away from her.”

    “Her flute?” she frowned. “Why does that matter?”

    “She’s made herself immortal by making herself into a legend. She told me herself- mortals with no powers cannot become legend. So if we take away her powers, then she’ll go back to normal. To… human.”

    “And then what?”

    “She’s far past her time. Ideally, she’ll die.”

    “So if I take her flute, that kills her?”

    “No, if you take it and break it, that’ll kill her.”

    The girl’s face changed from shock to horror. “That’s murder!”

    Kanat stared at her in disbelief. “You want to be a prisoner for all eternity? We have to get away from her. Besides, she wants to become a goddess. She’s trouble. We have to get rid of her, before she hurts someone.” He tried to appeal to the girl’s obvious morals, but it didn’t work.

    “You have no idea how she became a legend!” the girl protested. “She used her powers for good. She was a hero. She wants to become a goddess to help people. To do good. To stop the gods from playing with and destroying the lives of mortals.” She frowned, like she didn’t like the idea of many gods. “Honestly, I’m not sure if I believe her about a whole pantheon of gods, but…”

    “Trust me, there are a lot of them. I’m one of them.”

    As expected, she denied it. “No you’re not. You’re a demon. Nice try though. It’s okay. I forget, demons are inherently evil. You wouldn’t understand morals anyways. But I’m not going to kill her. That’s not right. She’s done nothing to us.”

    “Prison,” Kanat replied with an eye roll. “Chains. Just got my brain hacked. I think she’s done plenty.”

    She sighed. “Look, demon. Don’t worry. I’ll get us out of this. You sit tight, okay? I’ve got a plan.”

    “Already?” He had to admit, he was genuinely surprised. How ahead of the game was this girl? For the first time, he was glad he’d at least been bound to someone resilient and intelligent. Then she could do the hard work, and he could wait out his punishment.

    “Already,” she agreed. “It has something to do with what you told me when I found you. I’m not sure how demons work, but this should do it.”

    “What’s the plan?”

    “I’m not going to tell you, because if I tell you she’s going to try and use that magic flute of hers to make you tell her what she wants. I’m not willing to risk that, so you don’t get to know.”

    That infuriated him. How dare she make him depend on her for a plan? For a course of action? He was a god. He’d seen more plans made and executed than she had in her entire lifetime. And she didn’t even ask for his advice. He appreciated her doing the dirty work, but leaving him out of it entirely was just plain ridiculous. Who was she, that she thought she could make better plans than a god? What kind of arrogance was this? Clearly the girl had a lot of pride.

    “Demon?”

    He glanced back up. “What.”

    “Don’t worry. You’ve got a part in this too. If she comes near you again, you just have to keep her distracted, okay? You should be good at that, since she’s obsessed with you. You keep her busy, and I’ll take care of the rest.” She cocked her head, a cute little smile flickering across her face. She really was very good looking… no matter how irritated he was at her.

    Alright, enough of that. No crushing on the girl who thinks you’re a demon.

    “Keep her busy if she comes,” he said dryly.

    “That’s the spirit!” she was smiling again. What was wrong with this girl? “You just stay here and be a good demon. I’ll have you out of there in no time.” She skipped off, and was gone.

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