The Reviver’s Passage: The God’s Fury and My Calm Redemption

The Reviver's Passage
The Reviver’s Passage: Chapter XI
By: Prappies

 

“Would you be a little more gentle?” Asked Hestia as she was dragged out. They had long left the castle, which was now only a speck in the distance. The god’s grip did not loosen.

“What’s done is done. You disobeyed my direct order, and now you have to pay the price. You have made a fool of me,” the god said with a hostile tone. 

“Well clearly it doesn’t mean a lot,” said Hestia, losing her own patience.

The god stopped, and turned to look at her. 

“What is it you mean by that girl?” he asked with eerie calmness.

“Well it seems you are always losing against your brothers. Another loss can’t do much damage,” she seethed back at him. She was about to continue, but stopped when she turned and saw the god’s face. 

“I am here, to redeem myself. To prove to my brothers and my father that I am worthy to stand amongst them again. What do you mean… ANOTHER LOSS DOESN’T DO MUCH DAMAGE??!!”

The god dropped her. She fell to the ground. She howled as she landed on her injury. The god winced slightly, having forgotten about her injury in his rage. 

Hestia tried to push herself onto all fours, but winced in agony. The god grabbed her by the scruff of her shirt again, and once more began to drag her behind him. He grabbed something from his pockets and threw it to the ground, a distance from the two. It landed on the ground dully. It was the cloth ball from before.

 The god waved his hand and the cloth ball burst in a powder of color, and their campsite appeared out of thin air. 

The god placed Hestia on the ground in front of her tent. He roughly leaned her against the tent poles. His hands began to glow a light blue, as he hovered them over her injuries. Her cuts, scrapes, and slits all began to close. New skin grow at an incredibly fast pace, until all that was left was a dull throbbing instead of a stinging torture. 

She breathed in, thankful for the end of the pain. The god grunted in annoyance as he took a seat next to her.

She froze, closing her eyes,  awaiting the yelling. But it never came. 

When she reopened her eyes, she noticed the god staring into space. He looked livid, but he seemed to be trying to control his anger. After a few minutes, he wiped his face with his hand. And groaned as he fell onto his back. 

“What went wrong?” He asked, turning to look at her. 

“What?”

The god sighed, and covered his face with his hands again. He then took his hands off and closed his arms over his chest. 

“What went wrong? Why did you not let me in?” He asked again. 

Hestia sat there, mouth open. “You’re not going to yell at me?”

“Well, yelling won’t get us anywhere. I yelled at you during the fight and it very clearly didn’t work. So, we have to do this the old fashioned way. Through talk. Ok, so what went wrong?”

Hestia’s mouth was still open. But then she closed it, and thought of her answer. 

“I got scared. I got real scared, I thought we would die then and there. I guess that caused me to freeze up like that.”

“I guessed that much. How can we work over it?” He asked. 

For that, Hestia did not know. Fear was something to be trained with time, not destroyed within a minute. The god must’ve seen her apprehension, because he took a deep breath, and spoke to her in a calm voice. 

“Let’s just throw ideas out there. Then we can figure out a way to overcome this obstacle. How can we fight against your fear of…whatever this is.” he made a wide motion with his arms. 

“Of being decapitated? Skewered like a kebab? Having a leg cut off?” said Hestia with joking sternness. 

“There we go!” exclaimed the god. “Ideas! We are getting places now, I don’t quite like your tone child but that’s ok. Is there any other concern you have with our mission?”

“Death,” Hestia said plainly. 

The god smiled arrogantly, “That was always a given.”

Hestia looked slightly angry. “Is there anything else I should say to convince you why I am scared? I’m sure the reasons I have already given are reason enough.”

“No, I think that is enough. I think we have to find a way to combat these fears. And there is no better way to do it than more fighting practice. Come now, let’s go find some further souls to combat. The god got up and began walking away from the campsite. Hestia quickly got up and followed after him. 

The god walked at a much faster pace than her, Hestia had to jog to keep up with him. Unsure of whether his new energy was fueled by his anger or his newfound determination,  Hestia kept a little distance. 

She did not notice him stop. She bumped into the larger man’s back, who turned around with a frown and looked at her like a disappointed father whose child had just made a foolish mistake, although devoid of any fondness. The two held a short staring contest for a few seconds, before the god cleared his throat and motioned toward something to the distance.

Hestia looked around him, and set her gaze on what his finger had landed on. A soul.  

The soul looked lost, its head kept turning around at vicious speed that Hestia was sure that the head would be spun right off its body. Its silky, thin, boney hands bent in an odd way, its back was hunched. 

“There, there is our first practice dummy.” the god said. “What I want you to do…” the god moved toward Hestia, really close to her. He moved his face towards her, to the point where their noses were almost touching. His eyes were cold and unforgiving, the (mostly) nicer god from before was gone. When he spoke, his breath tickled her face. “I want you to just not damn flinch away from my control. You think you can do that much?”

Hestia, despite being offended by his threat, nodded to his request, her eyes as cold as his. He pulled back, and placed a hand on her shoulder. Hestia blinked, and he was gone. 

Well then, prove me right. he said. 

Hestia relaxed her muscles, steadied her heart beat, and just loosened herself up in general. Her foot took a step forward, the god testing the waters slowly. He flexed her fingers, and cracked her neck. When he was done with his warm up, he moved her fingers to the sword at her hips. 

“Are we starting already?” Asked Hestia.

Yes,” He said from inside her. “Don’t panic. I’m going to purposely attack the soul in the last possible second. I will not let the soul harm you, so I need you to just not react at all. I’ve got the control, and I can manage perfectly well on my own.” 

“Ok,” Hestia ceded. 

Hestia’s right foot was planted on the floor in front of her, her body leaning forward as her weight shifted onto it. The tip of the sword bent down, skimming the ground. The god made her take a small breath. 

And then made her push off her back leg. She ran towards the soul, one foot after the other. The soul turned around, having heard her presence. 

It screeched, and extended its claws and it threw its arms backward. Hestia’s feet closed the distance between them quite rapidly, and as she neared forward, the soul pushed its arms toward her. Momentum speeding it up and increasing its punch power. 

As the fist neared her, panic began to flood her. The god had not yet made any move to get her out of the fist’s way. 

Just wait,” He said. “I need to get you used to coming in close to the attack, without attacking.” The fist was a few meters away from her. 

“Well can you hurry it up?” Asked Hestia.

Just give it a second or too…”

Hestia counted the seconds: 1…2…3…4 and still, she was running towards the soul, not evading its attack. Her feet had not moved a centimeter, her body was as still as a tree with its roots embedded deeply into the ground. A position that no one battle should be in. 

She sucked her breath in, her hold on her sword was still, as the god had made no move to swing, but her will was fading. 

Time felt as if it were slowing, her thoughts were fluttering fast and quick in her mind despite the tense situation she had found herself in. She thought back to the day she had met the odd god. Deep in the forest’s foliage, a man wandering around was a rare sight to see. For one to even be as deep as she was in the dorset was rare enough, even for a group of ragtag bandits that had tried to rob her that day. 

She remembered feeling her blade slice against their torsos, chests, necks, and flesh. The sword had dug deep into them, slicing through them as if they were made of butter.

She was a blacksmith afterall, a dull blade would be a self-inflicted insult upon her pride as an artist. 

She had fought and killed them with a grace she could hardly manage here. Her arms had flown like a ribbon in the wind, smooth but satisfactory. 

Here, she could hardly get a hit on these souls. Despite having wielded a sword for a near decade under Wally’s tutelage. She failed to do the one thing her dear friend had spent so much time teaching her about. 

But with her success outside of this mission, and her failure within this mission, she learned something. The difference between grace and failure was her control of her actions, and her trust. When someone has done something for as long as she has, they begin to trust their actions. 

Hestia trusted every step she took before swinging, every thrust of her arms when the target was near. Her mind moved her body and helped her accomplish all she has in swordplay, and her heart has allowed it because she trusted her own movements not to fail her. 

She trusted herself, but she did not trust this god. This god who she knew held secrets from her, and brushed her off as something lower than herself. She had no trust in the odd man she had met in the woods that day. 

And because of that, her will shattered. And turned against the god’s control. 

YOU LITTLE-” yelled the god. 

Her feet began to pivot leftwards, just as the claw came centimeters to her face. As she pivoted on her left leg, the sliced where her head had been just half a second ago. She could feel the god speaking unspeakable words from within her: vile insults, filthy names, and the list went on. 

She chose to ignore him entirely and focus solely on his control over her. They grappled for the usage of her arms and legs, as well as the twist of her waist and turn of her head. But Hestia knew her body far more than he did, despite him having powers she could only dream of. 

She came on top, victorious. 

With the god continuing his verbal assault on her, she took her sword in both hands and twisted it so that the sharp edge of the blade was parallel with the ground. She widened her stance quickly, before the soul could have a chance to gather himself for a second attack. She swung the sword to the side just a bit more before doing a 180 degree change in direction. 

She swung the sword in the direction she had pulled it back from. She sucked in her breath, just before the blade made contact with the soul’s neck. 

And as the soul’s head slid off, she exhaled. 

The soul’d body dropped to the ground, the head remained screaming at her. It slammed into the ground with a thud that made Hestia wince. She looked over and noticed she had accidentally caved part of the soul’s head in. She was unsure of how to feel about that. 

“Well, it seems you can do something slightly useful,” said the god. Hestia turned around, sword up and in a defensive position. The god frowned, tilting his head slightly backward as the tip of her sword scratched at his adams apple. She had not even noticed him exit her body. 

He stood there, arms crossed across his chest. His eyes tilted down without moving his head, staring straight into her eyes. 

He slapped her sword away from him and walked backwards away from Hestia’s reach. 

“Don’t be silly, we both know you wouldn’t be able to make even a scratch on me. I’m a god. No mere mortal would be able to even touch me in a harmful way.”

Hestia put her sword down. She slid it into her sheath which was perched on her left hip.
“You were so much nicer to me back in the mortal realm,” she said. She wiped her sweaty hands against her thighs. 

“You had less reason to disappoint me back in the mortal realm,” he deadpanned. Hestia gave him a sidelong glance, noting that his expression had yet to change. She genuinely could not tell if he was joking around with her, or was genuinely annoyed with her. Perhaps a mix of both. 

In retaliation to his remark, Hestia took her still sweaty hands and wiped the palms against the cloth just below his left shoulder. She pressed one hand to his arm and dragged down, then the other hand, and repeated, until she felt that her hand was dry enough to her liking. 

She looked back up at the god’s face, aiming to annoy him further. But instead she was met with a look of pure confusement and befuddlement at her actions. 

The god’s brows scrunched, and he looked to his toes and back at Hestia. “Where did you learn swordplay?” He asked.

Hestia crossed her own arms. “And why is that of importance to you?”

“I want you to forget everything they taught you. I don’t know what they taught you, but their advice would have worked well in the mortal world against robbers and highwaymen…” the god jabbed a thumb in the direction of the soul she had just decapitated, which was drifted, very quickly away from them. 

“And for some smaller souls like that fellow there. But it won’t help you against my brothers.” he continued. “Back in the real world, or against these souls, the goal is to end the battle quickly. To kill, because after you kill your opponent they will rise again. But as I had said before, you cannot kill a god. There is no use of trying to end the battle quickly, because you can’t.”

The god uncrossed his arms. He turned to look away from her, his gaze setting on seemingly nothing. Hestia looked to where his eyes had moved and saw only red sky and the curvature of mountains in the far, far distance. Whether it was the sky he was looking at, the mountains, or something else, Hestia did not know. His stance softened, as he slowly unbuckled his knees which had stood completely straight. His fingers touched behind his back, his fingers intertwining but not gripping each other. His body lost the stiffness it had held before, and he continued his talk.  

“This battle, this battle is a battle to impress. Impress my brothers with your determination to bring your friend back from the dead. They love a fierce, determined, mortal ready to sacrifice it all for someone else. This is not a fight to the death, this is entertainment. Give them a show they cannot forget, prove yourself from the crowd of all those others who yearn for the dead to rise from their grave as well. ”

“So I am just a show for their liking?” Hestia asked, her mouth curled into a grimace. On the other hand, the god’s own lips curled into a small smile. 

“Everything here is a game when it involves mortals.”

Perhaps she shouldn’t be so offended. The god in front of regarded her in a way one would a small child. And he was the one who scouted out her help, not the other way around (even if she was in desperate need of his assistance). Animus’s opinion of her himself didn’t seem too splendid, but then again her battle against him had been atrocious. 

“Whatever pride you may have,” the god said, “I need you to throw it aside. Pride will not get you anywhere.”

Hestia agreed “I suppose it would not. I can let go of whatever pride I have for Wally. He is all that matters, not some random immortal’s desire for entertainment. But I guess it does hurt to be looked upon as lesser than them. Even if they are right.”

And with this, the god gave her a sad smile, a warmer expression overthrowing his arrogant, and furious one. 

“Perhaps, we are one of the same after all, the different sides of the same coin.”

And he looked away again, looking anywhere but her face, his arms, the ground, his shoulder, the distance. Hestia had been stunned into a silence, and after she had come out of her stupor, the moment had passed.

And she couldn’t help but to wonder what he had meant by those words. 

~-~-~-~-~-~-~

The blade swung with a ferocity she never knew she had in her, of course that was because she didn’t have it in her. The only thing she had in her was a god of numerous powers and skills, and a mortal soul. Both of whom reluctantly agreed to share the same mortal vessel with each other for the time being. 

The soul managed to duck away at the last second, its claws shot upward expecting to uppercut into her jaw, but the god forced her to throw her head backwards, her right leg pushing her into a short backpedal. He brought her arms close toward her right abdomen, her stance wide diagonal to the soul, and the tip of her blade barely scratching the side of her face. 

The god waited until the soul came close, Hestia’s heart palpitated, sweat dripped down her neck. She was pretty sure that the sweat was not from exhaustion. Her eyes went wide, and her hands turned wet from perspiration from the closeness with the soul. 

Practically face to face with the soul, the god swung her arms, lodging the sword in the soul’s neck. 

You stiffened” he stated, he yanked the sword free and jumped back and away from the soul’s angered scream and nails. The soul lunged forward, but being the god he was, he was able to easily avoid any potential injury to Hestia’s body.

“Oh gods,” sputtered out Hestia, her clothes now drenched in sweat from fighting the ugly, terrifying souls. Its claws had yet to scratch her, but the threat of them was enough to drive home a fear she was unsure she had ever before felt. “I cannot do this anymore.” She begged. 

Had her arm been her own, perhaps she could. But the god was adamant that it was to be this way, and after seeing Animus’s strength in action, she understood where he came from. But at the same time, having to watch death come so close and being absolutely powerless in stopping it was something she was unable to work out. 

If you had not panicked and stiffened your body the sword would have gone right through the dead man’s neck.” The god said. 

“I know,” said Hestia, she put a hand to her heart, still rapid against her palm.

Get up now, the soul is coming back. Let me just finish off this soul and then we can take a rest. If we fail to kill this soul now, it may just end up killing you. What a pity it would be, to be killed by a lone soul without ever beating even one of my brothers.

Hestia looked up to the sounds of the soul screeching, its long claws gripped around the wound in its neck, no blood spilled from it. Thankfully for her safety, its attention was elsewhere for the time being. On the wound on its neck.

It would be a pity if she died here, and so she took the breathes she needed to help the blood flow through her body. And rose herself off the ground. There was a task to be completed, and if she wanted to see Wally again, she better get to completing it. 

And for a moment, she closed her eyes, picturing all she wanted and reminding herself what she must do to get what she wanted. She wanted her friend back, because death had been unfair and had taken him too soon. And so she had a chance to get him back, and she had to make the most of it. 

Her opponent was still reeling over the slice in its neck, the soul had yet to realize that Hestia and the god were off the ground and ready to finish the fight. So, in the few moments of bliss she had, she allowed herself to remember what she came her for.

She closed her eyes once again, and remembered Wally. 

~-~-~-~-~-~-~

“Your stance is appalling,” Wally said. He pushed the sword I had held up back down to the floor. To my surprise, I dropped it. It fell to the floor with a clang, vibrating before dropping completely still. “And so is your grip.” he added, looking down at the sword again.

He reached down and picked it up by its handle. He pressed the sword into my palms, wrapping his own hands around mine in the process. He stepped back once I had fully grasped the sword, and put his hands behind his back.

“You are unbalanced, your weight is shifted more on your right foot than your left, you should not have a preferred side in swordplay, if you need to move using your left foot, it will take more time for you to transfer all your weight onto the left rather than just half. And hold your sword a little tighter, me speaking up in a voice that wasn’t even a yell should not have scared you so much that you dropped the one thing that would make the difference between life and death.”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” I had said. 

“Don’t apologize,” he said with a small smile “You are still learning, it is expected that you make these mistakes. Let’s try a bit better than now shall we?”

“Of course,” I answered back. I forced myself into the position, hands tight around the handle, and my feet tight on the ground. Evenly spread as he had told me. But apparently that still wasn’t enough for the man. 

“Don’t force yourself,” he admonished. “It needs to come naturally.”

“How can I not force myself to do as you say?” I asked. 

Wally leaned against a tree, putting his weight on one leg, and crossed his arms before responding. “You need to relax. You need to do it softly. You are stiff, your movements will be affected by the stiffness of your body. You need to get into position, firmly so you are not moved from your position by an outside force, but limp enough so that you yourself can move around as the battle requires.”

“And how do I do that?” I asked.

“First, you relax yourself. Fluid movements from a relaxed posture. Let your limbs sag, your arms hit the side of your body, and your legs fumble slightly under its weight. When you make a movement, you stiffen the proper parts of your body while leaving the rest relaxed… Here.”

Wally grabbed the sword from me, pulled it gently from my grasp and wrapped his fingers around it. He turned the sword in his hand, reveling at its appearance. He laughed.

“What a beautiful sword you have smithed,” he complimented, running his finger down the front of the blade. The reflection of his face looked back towards him as he held it up above his head. “And better yet will the swords you create be after you master swordplay. When creating a sword you need to think purely of the swordsman wielding it, and only then will the perfect sword be made. You are an artist, but now you must become a fighter.”

Wally placed his left foot slightly in front of him, pivoted his sword to the left holding both hands, his waist turning as he did. His feet did not move. And in a swiftness and elegance I had come to know that the man possessed, he swung. 

“Were you watching?” Asked Wally. He looked to her from the corner of his eyes. “Did you see when I was stiff and when I let my body go limp?”

And to my surprise, I knew the answer to his question.

“Your whole body was limp before the strike. But first your waist had tightened as it turned, and so did your feet to help keep your balance. When you were about to swing, your waist seemed to be untightened to help the momentum of the turn as you reversed direction. Instead your arms and hands tighten to increase the blade’s power.”

Wally smiled, as he stood back up normally, holding the blade with its tip towards the ground. He handed it back to Hestia with a prideful expression on his face. 

“Good job, now let us see you put it to practice.”

Hestia gave him a quick “yes!” in affirmation, before following his directions. 

But even in the middle of her swings, she couldn’t help but to muse how nice it felt to be on the receiving end of this man’s compliments and smiles. She tried to hide her own smile as she continued. 

~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Relax the body Hestia though over and over again, There would be no changes in how she held her body. The god would be the one worrying about that. All she had to do was be a limp puppet and let the god guide her to victory against this enemy. 

The soul had finally noticed her. But at this time, she was already on the move. She ran at full speed, sword held behind her back. 

Ok, not too bad, just keep the same level of calm as we go a little closer. You’re doing great so far. Don’t mess it up now,” the god supported her. “Relax, whatever made you relax this much, do it some more please.

She thought back to her friend, wondering what his situation was like. Was he walking through an endless space with no end in sight? Or was he getting ready for reincarnation for the next life, and that she needed to hurry before he was gone for good? Was he even ok in the underworld, safe, and warm? 

Wondering how he was as of right now motivated her further. Relaxing herself was certainly far easier than whatever torture and despair the underworld must be giving him, right? 

And so, she thought back to his words that day all those years ago. When they had still been new to each other, and had yet to learn more about the other. 

“First, you relax yourself. Fluid movements from a relaxed posture”

The situation was different, but her goal was the same. 

And this time, with the green-hazel eyed man in her thoughts, her sword sliced clean through. 

The soul screams even louder if that was possible at all. It began to scamper away, before realizing it had forgotten its own head. It came back, grabbed its head, and floated away quickly.

Hestia felt her knees buckle, and fall to the ground. She buried her head in between her knees as she let out a series of raspy breaths.

That wasn’t so hard was it?” asked the god as he exited from her back. His leg came out first, using it to pull himself out, his head came out last. He straightened his back, and looked down at her. Hestia wasn’t looking at him, her head still buried. 

“Not…” she hesitated. “Too horrible.”

“And I fear Animus will be worse.” said the god, moving so that he was in front of her, he crouched down to her eye level.

Hestia scoffed as she lifted her head up, strands of hair blocking her vision as she met his eyes. 

“I think I know that by now.”

“Can you do this a few more times?” Asked Animus. 

And this time, Hestia smiled. Her determination renewed, and her goal remembered. A green-hazel eyed man was waiting for her after all, even if he did not yet know it. 

“I believe I can.”

<– The Reviver’s Passage: Chapter X                                                                                                                       The Reviver’s Passage: Chapter XII –>

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