Once again, Saga thanking you kindly for reading. ^_^
Ah, finally the final part composing this long chapter.
Chapter 15: Cocytos Part 11 of 11
Ailyth began running back towards Saga, calling forth the aid of her magical powers. Two huge pointy icicles began to take form in her hands, and her eyes turned a deep blue.
Meanwhile, Saga ran in to the storm of enemies, sword sweeping in front of him. The sword hit many scavengers and cut the life out of them, others tried to get out of harms way by fading into shadow, but they paid dearly as well when that awful sword tore them regardless of their bodily state. His first move finished, the prince of Tartakus switched the blade to his left hand and brought it about with a mighty swing in front of him, sending many other scavengers away and clearing the space momentarily around him.
The creatures regrouped again and came in against the foe in a swarm attack, their deadly talons seeking to kill, but the demon god spun in a complete 360 and so did the sword in front of him, the beautiful dark blade cutting scavengers as if they were made out of butter. Howls and wails of pain echoed all over the area as dozens of scavengers hit the floor pretty much dead, their cut bodies quickly fading to nothing but grayish mist, those that died in their shadowy state never returned to mist, the shadows swallowed them.
Oh how the remaining creatures of Cocytos tucked tail and ran away from that courageous winged swordsman when they witnessed many of their comrades dying and turning to nothing but mist in a matter of seconds. But then, from the back ranks came two more rhino-sized beasts and more flying guards, these willing to engage such a foe, their orders had been to hunt down any intruders, and unlike the cowardly scavengers, these creatures actually were not afraid and would never retreat.
Saga stood his ground, sword swinging invitingly about the air, the god teasing the creatures to come forth and confront him. Saga would have gladly taken them all on in the name of his fallen demon army and because he knew his weapon could hurt these ugly creatures.
The scavengers, the weakest creatures in Cocytos, faded into shadow far away from the foe, very afraid of him, of that nasty sword he wielded. But the rhino-sized creatures came rushing forth, as did the flying overseer guards, these wanted a piece of the foe.
And soon Saga found himself in a storm of foes, attacks coming from nearly every angle. Saga fought as well as he knew, He spun and moved out of harm's way and attacked when he saw an opening. He got punched hard, kicked, whipped, and sliced wickedly, but the magical barrier deflected most of the measly attacks that reached him. One of the rhino-like creatures actually managed to clip him hard in the leg, making the god fall to the ground. But Saga rose immediately, and angrier! He knew he could not allow the enemy to surround him. His adrenaline and fighting prowess drove him to kill the two rhino-like beasts with a series of wicked chops and stabs, and the god even wickedly punched away a flying foe with a mighty reverse backhanded blow as this one had stealthily been approaching from the back, his wings had given him out and Saga had been able to turn his head over his shoulder, see him, and swing. That foe fell down, its head entirely twisted awkwardly facing backwards.
Saga didn't think much of his quick kills, he thought he was in for a battle as six more flying units and a score of not-so-coward scavengers began to come forward and from the sides in a surrounding maneuver, but then, the god wasn't alone against the tide, for Ailyth had his back now, and she proved that by firing off magical pointy projectiles which Saga had not seen being cast before. Those projectiles were shaped in the form of large icicles, they quickly brought several winged foes down, for like Saga's sword, the magical projectiles hurt the enemy in either flesh or shadow state.
"Ailyth!" Saga cried in shock when she reached his side with a warm smile showing. "What are you doing here? Get the heck out of here and into that portal, damn it!"
"With respect, I will not obey such an order, my...beloved prince!" Ailyth clarified with as much a solid voice as she could muster. "I've made up my mind that I will fight with you until you get in to that portal yourself!"
"You are mad!" Saga shouted. "Go on, get out of here!"
"We came here together and together is how we are exiting this place, or I will die here at your side! I promised my Queen that I would watch over you, and that is what I am doing now. You've done your part by having saved us from those flying foes and all these other monsters, it is now my turn to aid you, and besides...I care about you, my prince, I always have."
Saga regarded her curiously, and Ailyth noticed he seemed shocked. She knew this was a great time to confess her feelings to him, and she decided to do so, regardless of the consequences that could come if Saga did not accept that.
"I can't hold these feelings in secret much longer," she began, her heart thumping her chest in excitement. "You....must know that...I love you! I have always loved you, Saga! I could never leave you fighting off these creatures on your own, not when I love you and want you to be safe and at my side! So no, I won't leave you alone, regardless of what you say or do to me for disobeying! if you stay, then so will I. If you leave, then so will I."
In those moments alone, Saga's respect grew for the ex-human, and for one brief second Saga thought his heart had suddenly begin to feel a warm feeling for Ailyth, who had just openly declared her love for him. He had already known of her love for him, but he had never heard it from her, and so that rocked Saga a little bit.
But Saga recalled his old thoughts, those dark thoughts he'd had about killing Ailyth here in this place and be done with her forever. Those warm feelings he had begin to feel faded soon due to those thoughts, and Saga grinned wickedly. Now was his chance, he told himself as she stood bravely at his side, her hands preparing more of her ice-based magic. There were no onlookers now, all the other demons were about to reach the portal, if Ailyth fell no one would be witness to it, except maybe a few Cocytean creatures, but what did they matter?
Ailyth had been smiling at him, but when she noticed the grin, her smile began to disappear. To her surprise, Saga's grin also disappeared as soon as her smile had vanished and he began to lift up his sword, much to Ailyth's surprise...
But the demon god never continued with his planned killing blow, as soon as he had risen the sword Saga had felt sick to his stomach, for here he was with Ailyth at his side, this beautiful young girl who was fighting dearly at his side, keeping him company. Ailyth, the one being he had wanted to kill here. The demon god lowered the sword and also his head, he couldn't do it, and he felt a little miserable then, not because he could not find the courage to dispose of Ailyth, but because of the wicked thoughts he'd had about killing her in this god-forsaken place.
Do it, Saga, what the heck are you waiting for? His own inner voice spoke loudly in his thoughts, and Saga tightened his grip on the sword as he struggled to perish those wicked thoughts in his head. Kill the damned girl and be done with it, you'll never have to put up with her again...ever.
"Prince Saga?" Ailyth calmly asked as she noticed how he seemed to be thoughtful.
From way back came more mighty roars, and that made Saga snap back to reality. He and Ailyth were able to see the largest assembly of four-armed monsters coming their way, scavengers led by a remaining flying unit, who was lashing out his whip at the creatures, forcing them to come towards the enemy and fight.
"If what you say is true, then let us clear these monsters and be on our way," Saga responded, but only because the monsters were about to reach them. Soon he found himself immersed in battle fighting side by side with Ailyth, the demon god protecting her from harm's way by killing anything that came near her and him. Yes, during the moments of the following battle, Saga sorted his feelings and came to realize that he could never hurt Ailyth. He had hated her much through out his life mostly because of her past life as a human maiden and because she had always been at his mother's side acting as second in command in the realm of Tartakus. How stupid had Saga been with himself, a total fool, he now understood that. Ailyth loved him! Always had! She was proving that to him with her very presence there.
Ailyth, too, saw the battle the way Saga did, she was protecting him, the one person she loved, from any oncoming foes. Although Saga needed little protection, Ailyth still would kill anyone who tried to lay a hand on him, anyone who tried to harm him!
The two got slashed and punched badly, the horde was composed of many, but their foes took the worst of the beating, the scavengers and the flying foe fell quickly to Saga's blade and Ailyth's powerful magic. But it appeared then that more foes were on their way, for way back within the region more roars were heard. Though Saga appeared as if he could take on all of Cocytos, Ailyth knew they had to leave now.
"We must...leave now!" Ailyth advised, her voice trembling weakly, a sign Saga caught. "We won't be able to last much longer, our steel skin barriers...are g-gone, my prince!"
Saga knew she was right, for he had felt the sting of claws nicking him at the back and his arms, his mask was dented and scratched so badly that he would be needing a new one, and he was bleeding badly from a nasty cut on his left arm, though no wound he had received was grave.
And so Saga, the young fearless god who would have stood his ground there, had to give in to Ailyth's wishes, she was right, he knew and smiled despite himself. He nodded as he turned to her, and noticing that she was bleeding as badly as he was, he said. "Then let us go, there is no point in remaining here now."
She would have nodded at him and with a kind smile upon her face, but suddenly, Ailyth just staggered on to him, her right hand completely soaked in blood and covering her left side of the ribs. Saga grabbed her with one hand to keep her from falling and noticed that she was bleeding profoundly from a wound he could clearly see. The armor plating which had protected Ailyth's torso had been cut off badly from the exposure of too many attacks, and so her body had been exposed to the monsters' wicked talon attacks. He saw blood escaping freely from the wound as the seconds went by. He immediately sheathed his sword and picked her up bride style.
"You..are hurt!" he said, his voice a bit shaky, maybe it was because Saga had feared for Ailyth's well being when he had taken notice of the dire wound. It was bad, he knew, maybe life threatening, and that somehow scared him.
Ailyth couldn't care much now, she simply smiled at him and said that it was nothing but a scratch, but she came to understand that she was having trouble breathing and knew her wound was grave when inside her mouth she tasted her own blood. She spit some blood out and actually smiled afterwards, though her smile was weak. All that mattered to Ailyth during those moments was that she was being held by Saga, the one being she loved with all her heart. Yes, she knew she had taken a wicked stab just under the heart, but she was happy, she had fought bravely alongside Saga and had kept him safe, he was alive. She had never moaned, or protested, or cursed the vile creature who had wounded her gravely. If she was to die then and there, she would happily go knowing she died in the arms of the one person she had always loved.
"So t-this...is where my...time ends, eh?" she sobbed, too faintly and struggling to pronounce the words, and her eyes were filled with tears now. "What unpleasant t-turn of events...to know that this wicked place...where all evil ones end...is where I shall remain for all eternity. Cocy...tos... I...wanted to die in...Tar..."
But Saga was not having it. He would not lose Ailyth! Not now that she had openly declared her feelings to him. Not now that he would be rising to power in the near future and showing to her just what he could do as a leader, as an achiever in the lower world. She could not die! Not now that he had begun to sort his feelings for her and had come to feel something special for her as well.
A shiver unlike any Saga had felt before coursed through his back.
"Ailyth!" Saga's voice sounded too desperate, too shaky. "Ho...ld on, I am not giving you up to this wicked place! I won't let you die, and you surely don't want to...upset me by dying...so hold on!"
He flew through that Cocytean tunnel as fast as his magical wings could take him towards the portal, which began to faint in its light source, a sign to Saga that the portal was about to close.
He panicked when he saw the light of the round portal beginning to fade and the electric currents dying, but Saga made it there in time, he even had time to land on the ground before reaching the portal.
"Ailyth!" he called as he rushed towards it. "We made it! Look! The portal! We're making our way out of here together, just as you said, just hold on, alright!"
Ailyth's bluish eyes were half closed now, with tears of pain streaming from the corners. The young maiden felt her entire body weak and could not even manage to nod or smile at Saga, which she had wanted to do at that time as Saga tried to comfort her. Her own pressure on the wound became weak, blood continued to ooze out freely, much to Saga's dismay, desperation, and fear.
And Ailyth herself was fearful again, taken back through her memories to that awful day millennia ago when she had been on the verge of dying. In her mind she recalled the day clearly, she saw herself running through a thick forest escaping her pursuers on a rainy day. An eighteen year old Ailyth, who had belonged to a poor family during her Midgard life, had stolen medicine in an attempt to save her dying mother, medicine that she could not have obtained through normal and just means. The city guards had chased her through that forest, more than eager to kill her, for thievery was punished with death, and how did the guards enjoy killing thieves and other troublemakers! And so it was that she had been wounded by several of the many crossbow bolts that had been fired at her, Ailyth had taken several wicked hits on her back and even one on her right thigh and still she had ran on. She had made it to a rampaging river bleeding badly from her wounds, and when she had seen the guards approaching, she'd had no other choice but to jump in to the river trying to save her life. The river had swallowed her and had taken her for a rough ride down south. Ailyth had desperately fought the river waters trying to reach the other side, and she had barely managed it through out the pain she had felt in her back and thigh. She had struggled to the riverbank, dragging her body out of the water. She had been weak and the wounds from the bolts had hurt her much, but she had remained strong and still carried in one of her hands the medicine that her mother needed. But Ailyth could not get up no matter how hard she had tried. She had known the wounds would claim her life, and she hadn't cared about that, rather had been pained to know that her mother would die as well, that she, Ailyth, had given it her best shot at trying to save her and had failed in her first ever thievery attempt. During her final moments as she laid there dying from the loss of blood, Ailyth had suddenly witnessed the arrival of a very beautiful woman dressed in black, who Ailyth, in her agonizing moments, perceived as being death itself coming to get her. But Hel had not been Death. She and a multitude of followers had come to the lands of Midgard seeking a place below the rugged lands where they could reside and call home. Hel had known that she and her followers would be needing fresh water to continue on their way, and so it was that she had approached the river with a large canteen in hand. She had found the young woman laying there, her face and whole body going pale and bleeding to death, and she'd had pity on the dying young woman.
"So young and beautiful," Hel had whispered to her back then as she had bent low to examine her. Hel had caressed the young woman's hair and had gone on to say. "Humans are already cursed with a short-spanned life, you will live on."
Hel had then gone on to heal her wounds, and when Ailyth had felt strength and life itself returning to her, she had pledged herself to serve Hel forever and ever. Hel had allowed her to visit her mother before departing to what would be Ailyth's new home, but as Ailyth had feared, she had found her already dead. It had pained her so much to see her mother dead, that beautiful and kind being who had given life to her. She had asked Hel whether there was anything she could do at all to bring her back to life, and Hel, who had really wanted to, explained that such matters were far out of her reach to resolve, that only the All-Father had the power to give life. And so Ailyth, deeply saddened at the loss of her mother, had proceeded to bury her later that day under the shadows of a tall, oak tree and promised that as long as she lived her memory would always live as well.
Queen Hel had saved her once, but Ailyth found it hard to believe that she could save her twice. As she remained in Saga's arms, she wondered whether she could be saved again.
Without stopping in his hurried walk, Saga did not even turn back to have a look at that dark place that was Cocytos. He headed immediately in to the portal, glad to be leaving that dark world behind, vowing never to return there again, unless he would be doing it to avenge Ailyth's death if she died.
500 views already? Dang, I really didn't expect so many so soon. I appreciate so much that you take the time to read this story, peeps. Thanks, Crim.
Saga's return to the real world was similar to his arrival to Cocytos, his head spun and his senses seemed lost. The urge to throw up was not present, however, and he was thankful of that. He did feel out of place and everything seemed blurry, his senses were lost somewhere, but regardless, he knew perfectly well in the back of his mind that he was carrying a gravely wounded Ailyth in his arms, and so he remained strong and kept his balance when his feet felt the hardened floor underneath him.
There to assist him was Queen Hel, who had been near the portal expecting her son and Ailyth's arrival eagerly and full of worry as well, for the portal had been about to close.
"Saga!" she shouted, but the joyous emotion she felt for seeing him returning died immediately when she noticed that her son carried a bloody Ailyth in his arms.
"Oh no!" Hel cried as soon as she saw them, and she became more worried than she had already been. She rushed to them as did several demon Vallans, who thought their help could be useful.
Just at that moment, the dages and Magatha opened their eyes and came out of the trance in which they had fallen to in order to open the portal, their portal-feeding powers having ended minutes ago. The portal faded into nothingness with a swooshing sound and the room's lighting became normal again.
Magatha, released from her duty, quickly headed to her mother, and she gasped in horror when she noticed the blood spilling forth freely from Ailyth's wound, the wound was visible since the armor had been practically torn away.
Queen Hel, her hands and beautiful black dress already soaked with blood, did well to keep her calmness despite the dire situation at hand. She quickly ordered for the room to clear out and for a nearby room to be prepared for healing purposes. A demon Vallan was told to take Ailyth to that room with the utmost care, and Hel herself rushed after that demon, for she would be doing the healing herself.
Saga soon regained his senses and noticed that his two demon friends held him steady. He pat them on the shoulder as thanks and quickly asked where Ailyth was. When Magatha, who suddenly approached him from the side, let him know, he rushed out of the throne room with his sister and the two demons in fast tow behind him.
And they came to the room where Ailyth had been placed on a stretcher. There, kneeling before Ailyth was Queen Hel working her healing magic, with several female demon wiead dages kneeling near the stretcher and assisting her.
"Put pressure on that," Hel ordered to one of the dages, who nodded and applied pressure on the wound. Then Hel went on to concentrate and murmur her most powerful healing spell, but was suddenly interrupted by Saga.
"Mother!" he had suddenly knelt right beside her, and he looked down upon Ailyth, whose eyes were closed and her face was pale as a sheet. She was still alive, he noted, for she was also convulsing violently. Somehow, seeing her in that terrible state shocked him beyond comprehension.
"Please...you must..." he began, but he did not finish his sentence. He didn't have to, just by hearing his words, his worried tone, Hel knew her son had somehow cared for Ailyth after all and now wanted her to be saved. He had brought her back, gravely wounded perhaps, but had not left her to die in that wicked dark plane. As she saw how worried his son seemed to be, Hel doubted Saga had had anything to do with the wound.
"Not now, my son!" she told him, touching his shoulder soothingly and calming him and giving him comfort with her beautiful eyes. "Please, just leave. Let me work with her, I will do my best to save her, but I can't do that if you are here distracting me." She turned to regard Magatha and told her to take Saga away for a walk. Magatha nodded and reached down with her arms for her brother, touching his shoulders.
Saga straightened up and went out of the room, not knowing what would come to happen.
"Brother, what happened?" Magatha asked him as soon as they were walking in the outer hall. Sammy and Repiv had also followed them, the demons did not feel secure at all if they were no where near Saga.
"It's all my fault," Saga cursed aloud, not really thinking on what he was saying as he walked beside his sister with the two demons trailing behind them. Saga wasn't crying but his voice was very shaky. "I...I uh...I stayed behind when we could all have just run and made it to the portal easily! I was the cause of her wound, I probably forced her to fight at my side, and all because I wanted those foul creatures to pay for the deaths of our fallen demons and for them to understand that I...that I was above them in skill and might! If Ailyth dies, sister," and he stopped and grabbed Magatha from the shoulders as he said this. "it's all because of my stupidity." He let go of his sister and spun around, willing to go back to the room where his mom was working her magic. Sammy and Repiv moved out of his way, but Magatha was fast to secure his arm. "No, wait....Saga! You can't go in there!"
Saga stopped his attempt to go any further, and he buried his eyes on Magatha.
Seeing his eyes, Magatha knew then that he'd been a little reckless in Cocytos, perhaps. She really did not know what had happened within that place, but it would all sort out soon, she knew. In the meantime, she was very surprised that apparently Saga had had a change of heart. He seemed so worried for Ailyth now, the being he couldn't recently abide. Had Saga finally buried the hatchet and come to like Ailyth while in Cocytos? Why was he so worried about her? Was it because he now cared for her? Not knowing whether that was the case, she just hugged her brother and assured him with false promises that Ailyth would be alright.
Leading him away, she spoke again. "Mother knows potent healing magic, she'll be fine, you just have to be strong and wait it out with me, alright? She's going to be fine, brother, Ailyth is."
Saga could only hope she was right. He nodded at Magatha and let himself be led away.
All Saga could do that day was wait for news on Ailyth's status. He had made his way to his chamber after letting Magatha know where they could find him. Magatha had let him go knowing he sought solitude, mostly to be alone and deal with his thoughts, however, wanting to impersonate her wise mother, she ordered a few demons to remain ever watchful of him outside of the room, for she feared he might actually do something stupid, like rush back to the room where Ailyth was being attended and mess everything up. Sammy and Repiv volunteered right away to take care of this task, and Magatha agreed.
There in his room Saga spent the hours staring out through a window at the outside, his sight lost on soldiers who kept guard within one of Hel's beautiful gardens, and his thoughts a true mess. Gone were his magical wings, Saga had dismissed them when he had entered his chamber, and he had gone on to throw everything he could get his hands on in frustration, anguish, and anger. If Ailyth died, he knew he was the cause of her death, and he would never forgive himself if that came to happen, that is mainly why he made a mess of his room.
As he'd been thrashing the room, Sammy and Repiv, who had been keeping guard outside the door, just winced and even flinched when they heard the loud noises and their prince's hurtful curses. Sammy had wanted to rush in there and pacify him, to tell him that lady Ailyth would be fine, but Repiv had taken a hold of her arm and had simply shook his head at her twice. "Leave him be, Sam," he had said. "You don't want to go in there."
"But he..." Sammy had protested, her hand tightly clutching the knob.
"Let him be, he needs to vent his feelings that way," Repiv mentioned. Sammy, again took heart and listened to her friend's council, so she had decided to stay out of it, but as Saga continued to thrash and break everything within the room, Sammy felt a deep concern for him, she knew he was hurting and angry with himself.
Five hours later, when the night time hours on the world above came, a series of soft knocks came at his door, and Saga quickly turned his attention from the window to it.
"Who is it?" he asked, truly startled, for he had been deeply lost in his own thoughts.
"Son, it's me," he heard his mother's soft voice. Saga shivered, but he quickly headed to open the door, nearly tripping along the way with all the mess he'd made. Queen Hel came through showing a serene semblance, Magatha was at her side and looking very calm. As soon as they saw that the room looked as if a twister had gone through it, they both were surprised, nonetheless, neither said anything about it, for they both understood how Saga must have felt.
"What happened?" Saga grabbed his mother by the shoulders almost as soon as she had come in. For a few seconds Hel just stared at her son. Did he really wish to know about Ailyth's status?
"Ailyth's wound was grave, Saga," she said in all seriousness, and behind his mask, Saga blanched. "She was fortunate to make it, you brought her back just in time...she's fine...she'll be fine, and she sends her most sincere thanks to you."
Saga closed his eyes and felt so relieved and also felt as if a huge rock had been taken off of him. He let go of his mother and walked away. "I'm glad she'll be fine," he confessed, his voice becoming steady, the world around him also seemed to be returning to its normalness, gone entirely was the weight provided earlier by worry and anguish. "I know how much Ailyth means to you, mother. She's been your second for who knows how long." He turned around and added as he faced both his mother and Magatha. "But that is not to say I wasn't worried about her, you know I was, and I guess right now is a good time as any to let you two know why I was. You must be wondering that, eh?"
Queen Hel merely nodded, keeping herself serene, but Magatha smiled grandly at Saga, the daughter of Queen Hel actually thought she knew the reason behind Saga's care for Ailyth. "You've changed your mind about her, haven't you, brother?" she asked, too excitedly. At her words, Queen Hel's serene stare upon Saga became a serious stare.
Saga nodded, then, unable to deny it. He sighed loudly and bit his lower lip.
There, in his messy room, Saga confessed to them everything, told them how he'd had plans to kill Ailyth in Cocytos but had not done so since his feelings for her had finally changed during their stay in that dark world. He explained to them how it was that Ailyth had kept him safe, how she had saved his life when she had gone after him and had offered to help him with the cat vision spell. He explained to them how she had openly confessed her love for him as they had been battling the dark creatures.
"I finally came to see it," Saga said, almost as excited as Magatha had sounded earlier. "I finally came to realize that it was me who was wrong. I saw with my own eyes just how much Ailyth really cares for me and how much she loves me. And yes," Saga lowered his head a bit, feeling a little embarrassed with himself. "I have come to love her as well, I won't deny that. If not that, if it is indeed too soon to be calling it love, then I surely have begun to feel something special for her."
Hel simply smiled widely at him and embraced him tightly, so did Magatha, who was feeling very glad to have heard his brother say that.
"Oh, brother," she cried happily. "I am so glad for you."
"I knew you would change your ways, my son," Hel followed after Magatha's words. "I knew you would come to love Ailyth, all you needed was time. I am very proud of you."
Saga just nodded, believing that to be true.
"Do you wish to go see her?" Hel asked him then, her voice soft. "She may be asleep and resting, but you can still go see her so long as you don't touch her."
Turning to regard his mother, Saga said, "What kind of question is that? Yes I want to see her, I've been so worried about her, I really thought she would not make it!"
"You brought her just in time," Hel told him. "She'll be alright, she's tough as steel, but she'll need lots of resting time."
"Time will heal her, brother," Magatha assisted, making Saga nod.
A few minutes later, Saga was making his way to the room where Ailyth had been taken to repose. He wasn't running, but his steps were hurried, and as he went, he felt grateful that Ailyth had indeed made it, felt so happy that his mother had saved her.
I corrected the mistake, Pseud, thanks for notifying me of it. And thanks again for reading you all.
Saga had spent many hours of the following days visiting Ailyth as she recuperated from her wounds. The first time he had been allowed to see her, Saga and Ailyth had shared their first kiss, one which had surprised Saga, who had never before known the ecstasy of shared feelings through emotions or actions such as that. Ailyth had demanded the kiss from him, and Saga, who had been feeling guilty of the whole ordeal, had obliged, but not only that, he confessed what he felt for her now.
When Saga had not been able to be at her side, he went to the gardens his mother owned, all because Ailyth had requested it. He had never been there before, not even as a young demon, such things had never been in his interest. While Ailyth had been always interested in these kind of things, particularly because she had become very fond of Queen Hel and the things she did or liked, Saga had been the total opposite, he had been simply interested in learning how to fight and become a better warrior for the future.
The gardens contained many beautiful flowers and even trees from the world above, which made the gardens appear beautiful before Saga. Hel, being a lover of the world of Midgard, had had her dealers bring her all sorts of stuff from the world of the humans and elves through out the years. Planting seeds were only some of the things Queen Hel's dealers brought to her, they even brought her exquisite foods and beverages, among many other rare and beautiful things.
And so there in those beautiful gardens Saga had spent his time in solitude, his thoughts mostly were about Ailyth and everything that had happened, but the demon god also had many thoughts about the Orihalcon stones and what would be made out of them. He was waiting patiently for news on that as well, knowing his mother was probably hard at work creating the promised sword and the armor. Ever since their arrival back from Cocytos, Saga had not even bothered to ask her about it, about whether she was busy with that or not, his whole interest had been set in Ailyth's well being, he knew the time to receive his sword and armor would come, in the meantime he would wait patiently.
After the seventeenth day since their arrival from Cocytos, Saga received an unexpected visit from his own mother in one of the largest gardens, which Saga had come to enjoy aplenty. It felt fresh there, flowers and plants of assorted looks and colors always appeared to be blooming under the magical lighting system which had been set there by Hel herself to alight the gardens and provide the plants the light and energy necessary to spring to life. Several large water fountains could be found in the garden, and there were even several types of insects flying about, like butterflies and nearly-invisible insects which glowed in a greenish hue in the darkness under the foliage of plants, shrubs and trees. These small glowing insects were called Luciernagas, according to Ailyth, who had told him about those critters when Saga had described them to her on one of his visits.
When Hel arrived the garden, Saga had found himself admiring one of the luciernagas, which had apparently taken a liking to him by landing on his gloved hand.
"I wouldn't come here to bother you, my son," Hel said as she made her way over to him, her footsteps echoing softly on the dark, stony ground. "But there is a reason for my coming."
Saga immediately turned around, not surprised or startled, he had known of his mother's presence thanks to the perfume-like aromas that Hel splashed herself with in the mornings, aromas which could be smelt quite easily from twenty feet or so away.
"What is the reason?" Saga politely asked, his tone recognizable by his mother. Just then, the luciernaga flew off his hand and Saga turned his full attention to his mother, not that he had been holding any of it back.
"It is done," Hel informed him. "I've taken care of shaping the Orihalcon stones these past days. The promised sword and armor await you."
Indeed, Queen Hel had taken care of shaping the Orihalcon stones. What with Ailyth gone from her side, she had needed something to keep her distracted and busy these past days. Keeping a lookout on Magatha as she studied more advanced magical arts in the library was not enough to keep Queen Hel fully distracted. And so with the help of her dages, Queen Hel had managed to craft the sword and the armor she had promised her son. That morning she was very glad to be letting him know of her finished task. Hel, herself, was pleased at her own work that she couldn't wait for her son to go and claim the items.
Saga nodded lightly at her but made no other movement to show excitement. He still wore his old mask, one which was all scratched up and dented. The wounds on his arms had all but healed as well, but the scarring would remain for a while. Hel caught sight of the ruined mask and took her hands behind her back shaking her head as she said.
"I also managed to shape a new mask for you out of the remaining Orihalcon. If you wish to replace the current one, let me know and I will take care of it. As you know, magic is needed to keep it in place, and only I know that kind of magic as I was the one who set it there in the first place."
"Why can't I just take this junk off of me and be done with masks?" Saga asked her, not rough-like in tone, just calm as Hel herself always was.
"Saga," Hel sighed and touched him on the shoulder with her right hand, and she lightly smiled at him. "There will be a time when you won't be needing that mask, but not now, you must keep wearing it for the time being."
"Why?" Saga pressed on, crossing his arms before his mother. "Why can't I just be rid of it now? What are you hiding from me?"
Hel shook her head innocently as her son's stare intensified, and she removed her hand off his shoulder. "Nothing, there is nothing to hide." Hel said in all calmness. "The mask is for your protection, nothing more, I wouldn't want your beautiful face to be ruined with a scar, look at your arms."
Saga did. "I'm proud of these scars," he told. "I received them battling hordes of monsters."
"Maybe so," Hel acknowledged with a nod. "Tell me, has wearing that mask been too uncomfortable lately that you must take it off?"
Saga did not respond, he turned away and buried his sight in the nearby garden section, reminded again that the world above was teeming with such trees and brush. Ailyth had spoken about that to him during one of his visits. He bent down a little and smelled the flowers, making his mother smile in appreciation behind him. Saga had really changed much since his return, she noticed. She liked that, she really liked that.
"Now I understand why you like some of the stuff from the human realm," Saga spoke as he turned around to face his mother again. "These flowers smell good, like you...and Ailyth, and sure...why not? Magatha."
Hel chuckled and smiled grandly and said, "Nature itself is a beauty, I've always been fond of beautiful things."
"I see. Well if you must know," Saga finally decided to answer her question. "No, it's been no trouble wearing the mask, I've enjoyed it, to be honest with you. In a way which I cannot begin to explain, wearing it has sort of made me look mysterious and fearful...from what I have gathered from rumors here."
Saga had spoken truthfully, wearing the mask had never been a problem for him, had never bothered him in the least, however, he went on to add why it was that he wanted it off.
"It's not been a problem wearing it," he explained. "It's just that I wish to see who I really am, what I look like. I mean look at yourself, or take for example my sister. She has a beautiful face, one she most definitely is proud of having and showing off to our demon servants here. Ailyth too, is possessor of such beauty, and you have the most beautiful face I have laid eyes upon, mother."
Queen Hel smiled at the compliment and let him continue.
"I am sure you like what you've been given. But what about me? What about Saga? Why must I hide my own identity? All I see of myself when I look into a mirror is a fleshy chin and mouth. I feel as if you've been protecting me from something, or keeping a secret from me for this long. Is that the case? Is that why you set upon me this mask? Is it because...I am a human? Am I part of that pathetic weak race that I have so long hated?"
Hel cleared her throat and seemed troubled, more than she had been these last days. The troubles with the mask were returning, her son was seeking answers.
"Calm down, Saga," she said, sweetly.
"Oh, I am calmed," he assured her. "But I think it is time I come to know who I really am. Lately I've made many drastic changes in my life. Heck, I've given Ailyth my heart...I must know what I am, and you will tell me now."
"The time for you to know everything about yourself and be rid of the mask will come," Hel strongly finalized, and she sighed deeply. "But as I've said, not now, son. You'll be thanking me kindly when the time comes, for now you must wait."
"Who was my father!" Saga demanded, ignoring his mother's words, and he even grabbed her by the shoulders, although his hold on her was tender. "Or...is he still alive? I suspect you lied to me back then when you gave me power and made me leader of the legions. You told me he had been a warrior. What kind of warrior exactly? From what race?"
She looked directly at Saga. "I said I will replace this old mask with the new one I made. Stop pressing me with all these questions, my son, I already told you the time will come for you to know everything in regards to yourself...and yes, your father."
"Everything?" Saga nearly shouted. "If so, when?!"
"Patience is a virtue. You and I, my son, have the gift of long life, you have all the time in the world, so rest assured, all will be cleared in due time. Come to my room when you are ready to get your hands on your promised weapon and armor. There we will change the mask as well." And she kissed him on the forehead and then left his side, but not before calling out to him as she kept on walking, "Soon, Saga. Soon that mask will be history, and the answers you seek will be given to you. Until then, just live on."
"Just live on," Saga murmured, and he felt a little angry since his mother had once again beaten him, she once again had left him wondering who he was. He remained thoughtful about her words as he kept his stare fixed on her as she went back towards the entrance that led into the palace. What did his mother mean by those words? Did she mean for him to live his days patiently while that time came? Or did she mean that he must survive, that he must remain alive and well?
He turned back around and headed back to admire the garden, a beautiful red rose catching his eye. Just by looking at it, Saga's anger began to subside. Ailyth would love that rose if he cut it and took it to her, he knew. His mind was filled with thoughts about his beautiful Ailyth that he soon forgot about his mother's words. He cut the rose using one of his daggers and lifted it up to inspect it.
"Such a beautiful thing you are," he admitted to the rose as he spun it before his eyes using his index finger and his thumb. "Too bad later in time you'll wither and return to nothingness."
I always did wonder about the reason behind Saga's mask. I, like Saga, will have to wait a while longer to find out.
Yep, you, Crimean Soldier, and anyone else reading the tale do, I am afraid. Anyway, all in due time, for now here's the next update.
Saga had spent two more hours with Ailyth that day before he departed to see his mother. In a new and large room where Ailyth was resting, Saga had given her the rose and told her about the news he had received this day. Ailyth, practically recovered from her dire wound, seemed in good spirits and had even regained her beautiful semblance and color as the days had gone by. But when Saga had mentioned that his mother had completed crafting the sword and armor, she saddened a bit. She even let go of Saga's hands, and Saga was surprised that she did.
"Is something wrong, Ailyth?"
She didn't respond for a while, but then she nodded and let him know what was troubling her. "That sword...I feel troubled only because I know what will come to happen next."
"And that is?" Saga curiously stared at her from behind his dented mask.
"You are going to leave the realm in an attempt to conquer other realms and rise to power. Hasn't that been one of your most desired dreams?"
Saga said nothing, but he lowered his head a bit knowing Ailyth was right, and she seemed to be so worried about him.
"It has been, yes," Saga replied, dryly, and he was the one who sought out her hands, grabbing them both and keeping them clutched with his own hands. "But that doesn't change anything, it doesn't change the fact that I've come to love you back. It won't separate you from me, if that's what you are thinking."
"What do you mean?" Ailyth frowned.
"I will be going away on a conquest," Saga calmly explained. "That is unavoidable, even you knew the day for me to do that would come. I've come to love you and I only hope for a better tomorrow for you and me, and those many that surround us. I had lots of time to think about many things these past days I've spent admiring my mother's beautiful gardens. Listen...Our realm has always been in peril, there are many enemies still about, and that worries me. I will conquer Netherrealm and make of this place a place of harmony and peace, as my mother's dreams were...or are..."
"She still holds on to those dreams to this day," Ailyth confessed, and she clutched Saga's hands tighter. "To that vision of uniting Netherrealm under one banner, one ruler, as it should have been the time when they all came down here seeking to live in peace."
"That has become my own vision as well. I will attempt to make that vision come true," Saga confided. "I know many will die along the way...but it's for a better cause."
"Then, if you are going, take me with you," Ailyth almost leaped out from her resting position, though Saga was quick to react and placed her back gently to her resting place.
"The wound could open up very easily, Ailyth, please remain still."
"I'm fine, baby."
"Baby?" Saga was taken aback, and behind his mask he rose his eyebrows in surprise.
Ailyth chuckled lightly when she noticed his reaction, she even covered her lips with one of her hands, the right one. "Oh, never mind me, it's just a loving term my old kin used back then...in Midgard. Maidens my age used it with their boyfriends to express their love, their sentiments and such. I never had the chance to have a boyfriend, I heard some girls calling them that, though, it was funny how they showed affection to each other through such words."
"What the heck is a boyfriend?" Again Saga didn't know, but he had a feeling Ailyth would tell him.
"You've much to learn from my Midgard days," Ailyth teased him with a smile, and she even extended her arm out and touched the part of his mask where his right cheek was. "If you are wanting to know more of that, just let me know, in the meantime don't worry too much about how I speak to you. You are my boyfriend now...soon to claim me as your bride, or as we say it here, your waikth."
"Eternal companion," Saga defined.
"Exactly, my love." Ailyth smiled.
"Oh, I think I understand now...Kind of like when two demons feel interest for each other...they form a couple and later become waikths."
"Yes, exactly. Now where were we? Oh yes...You have to take me with you! I won't let you go out there alone. I've always been tasked to watch over you, and I still will, more so now than ever now that we are finally together."
"I will think hard about that these upcoming days," he promised her as he stood up from the side of the bed. "I also don't wish to expose you to danger, you know how terrible and powerful other realms out there are, and you and I just came back from a nearly death experience. Your wound is fresh, I want you to be safe here with my mother and Magatha for the time being, leave the rest to me."
Ailyth said nothing more to that, she clearly read in Saga's words how much he cared about her now. She was very grateful about that, her all-time dream had come true, and in what way! She had nearly died in his arms, but she had survived, she believed she would have Saga near her for many years hence.
With those thoughts in mind, she brought Saga's hands close to her lips and kissed them. Saga, to let her know he had similar feelings for her, also kissed hers and then kissed her lips. Moments later, he was on his way to his mother's room.
Yeah, that part was something. XD Even several peeps from ZD expressed similar thoughts when I posted it over there. ^^
Saga knew it was time to start his conquest, it was time to set out to do what he had envisioned a long time ago, only this time, his plans, his vision of things to come, were very different than what he had planned before. Ailyth loved him, and he loved her back. She had changed him the moment she had confessed her love for him. From now on he would have to consider many things about her, like taking her out with him to the many battles he knew were to come.
And so with those thoughts and many others assaulting him, the prince found himself in his mother's room. Magatha and his mother were the only ones present there. Saga noticed Magatha was wearing a new outfit. It was a three-piece outfit consisting of a black cleric hat, black and light purple blouse, and a long black and light-purple skirt with symbols on it. His mother wore the usual black and green dress, although it wasn't the very same one, she had around ten different ones.
"Nice outfit, Magatha," Saga remarked with a fond smile.
"A new shipment from Midgard," she replied as she stared at her own outfit. "Mother got me some new clothing, as she did for herself and Ailyth."
He would have asked them for details, except that something else caught his eye and kept him from doing that.
What Saga saw then was the weapon and armor, and upon seeing them, they turned out to be different than what he had imagined. Gone were the blood colored stones he had brought from Cocytos, now he was staring at a beautiful dark double-edge sword and several pieces of armor to match it. The sword radiated with a grayish aura, as did the pieces of armor that laid on a dark cloth on a round table off to the side. Laying there as well was Saga's new mask, which was still in the form of a mask and helm combo, only this one had feathered wings at the end and had several gemstones attached on the front. The mask itself resembled some form of ancient monster that Saga could not even make out, but he liked it!
"How did you craft these?" Saga asked his mother, his voice fully showing surprise. He approached the table to get a better glimpse.
"Through magical means, of course," Hel responded. "It wasn't easy, but it was done, son. I guess this old woman still has it, her magical touch, that is." And Hel chuckled when she heard her daughter's light chuckles off to the side.
Saga nodded at that, then he turned his attention back to the sword, that piece alone being the one that would have caught anyone's attention first.
"Pick it up, Saga," Queen Hel suggested with a smile, knowing he was fascinated by the sword. "The sword and items are yours!"
Saga hesitated for a bit, he even turned to regard his mother, who nodded at him with a smile. Saga then turned to regard Magatha, whose facade was one of sadness mixed with joy. Saga hesitated no more. He took a deep breath and took a hold of the sword, and once he did, he felt a tremendous wave of power coursing through his entire body. "Whoa!"
"The sword...has recognized its true and only master," Queen Hel informed from the side. "No one else but you will be able to wield this blade from now on, my son. Those who attempt to wield it...well...let us just say that the sword will suck the very life out of them."
"What...?" Saga regarded his mother, the power coursing through his body had him in a state of wonder. "This blade...I can feel its hunger, it wants to feed, it wants to--"
"Yes! It is yearning for power," Hel explained while Magatha was clouded with fear, she even took a step back and hid behind her mother's black dress and beautiful figure. "As its master is."
Saga turned to look at her, the look behind his mask must have been one of sheer confusion, Hel knew just by looking at him, and she was glad he looked confused.
"I said I would craft a sword of power for you, son. The sword is powerful at the moment, but it will only become more powerful with each soul it devours, and its master...you, will become powerful in return."
"What do you mean?" Saga still did not understand. "How will I grow powerful?"
"Don't you see it?" Hel asked. "Master and Sword are one and the same. You yearn for power, so does the sword. By laying waste to your enemies you both will become powerful, the sword will devour the very souls of those you kill and make you stronger. This is what you wanted, is it not?"
Saga pondered on that for a moment, his reddish eyes on the many rare carvings on the blade. "What manner of runes are these? I can't even begin to--"
"Does it matter?" Hel asked.
"I guess it doesn't. And what of the armor?" Saga asked his mother, wondering whether the armor had any special abilities. He carefully placed the sword back on the table next to the armor pieces.
"The armor is just for your protection," Hel explained. "It's the best armor you can wear, so wear it always, I've imbued it with great magic, but the Orihalcon alone will withstand many physical attacks upon you, however, be careful not to get hit in your exposed flesh, that I can't do anything about, but the armor, as you can see, protects the most vital parts."
Saga thanked his mother, she had delivered on her promise.
"Don't thank me," Hel replied to him. "I only did this because there was no other way to change your mind. No matter what I said to you I would not be able to keep you here, sooner or later you were going to leave to conquer and become powerful. I crafted the sword and armor for you, for your protection, because I want you to be well. I love you and therefore will look out for your well being as best I can. I know the sword and armor will help you in your tasks, and they will surely keep me at ease knowing you surely are not naked out there and that I completed my promise to you."
She walked to him and embraced him tightly as she whispered on to his ear. "It has cost us much up to this point, but you finally have what you sought. I know soon you'll be leaving. Remember that we love you and that you will always have a place here."
Magatha made her way over to them as well, and she embraced both her mother and brother.
"I do have in mind leaving soon," Saga said, relishing in that moment, in that group hug. "My plans are unclear at this moment, what with all that has happened. But I think the first thing I will do will be to grant my two friends their freedom, they've earned it, Sammy and Repiv. I have given them my word, and I will keep it."
"Yes, you speak of those two demons who went to Cocytos with you," Hel understood, breaking the hug and picking up a piece of Saga's new armor for examination, an armlet. Magatha moved to her right side and Saga remained in his place in front of the table.
"Why do you want to release them?" Hel looked at him confusingly, as if he would be making a mistake doing that.
"They surely have helped me a lot," Saga said right away. "I consider them friends, mother. You have to let them go, you have to allow me to use one of the nearest portals so I can set them free. And besides, how can they remain here? They are seen as traitors, they won't last much if I am not watching over them, you know many demons are wanting a shot at them, just waiting for an opportunity to strike them down."
For a few seconds Hel remained thoughtful, she even lifted the armlet and examined it closely, admiring her own work.
"I can't deny you anything, Saga," Hel sighed then, putting the armlet down on the table in defeat. "I'll authorize you the usage of the portals. I'll see to it later, though, I need time to work it out, it's not so simple."
"What do you mean?" Saga questioned, feeling glad that his mother had agreed at least.
"Magatha, would you be kind enough and explain, dear?" Hel asked her daughter. Magatha nodded, looked over at Saga, and cleared her throat.
"Mother will have to make a few treaties to make it happen. Treaties with the leaders of those realms that stand in your way, brother."
"That true?" Saga glanced at his mother, who nodded.
"Yes. But tell me, once you release your...friends, as you call them, what will be your next plans?"
"Once that is done..." Saga glanced up to the ceiling, uncertain of what he would do. "Well...I am sure you will hear rumors about it when the time comes, why spoil it for you all."
"You will commence your conquest down here?" Hel stated more than asked. Saga turned his stare to her.
"Tartakus has always been a peaceful realm, mother," Saga went on. "We are surrounded by traitors and other filth that have always thought to destroy us. I think my second task will be to eliminate as many enemies as possible and assure your own safety. I may just return from delivering my friends only to assemble my legions and head out to do that. I want you, Magatha, my beloved Ailyth, and all of Tartakus to be safe and threat free. Only then will I be at peace with my own self, only then will I return, when I see that no danger exists."
"It won't be easy," Hel told him, and Saga sighed in frustration. He then walked away towards the nearest window in Hel's room, for he knew she was right. He didn't even know what was out there beyond the land that he knew, beyond the lands he had conquered nearly five hundred years ago: Hinani and the Fifth Inferno. He had not gone farther than that because he had been called back due to the trouble with Loki.
"The sword and armor will help you greatly, my son, but always keep in mind that there are other forces active all around us. We are powerful, but there are other realms out there with equal or more power, you'll find powerful foes to deal with, don't you be doubting that."
"Then all the better," Saga simply said, unafraid, his voice risen. He turned back around to face his mother and his sister but did not leave his place at the window. "I wish to test my might against any and every fool down here who has opposed Tartakus, or has had plans to destroy us. All those who stand in my way will perish."
It was then that Queen Hel and Magatha finally saw a bit of the designs in Saga's plans. Saga would be going out to conquer possibly the whole of Netherrealm this time, not just those nearby realms causing trouble for them!
Hel could have said something to try to change his mind, but at this point in time she knew it was useless. She was pained to understand that most of those enemies were her own relatives, though they all had forsaken her long time ago, had swore to kill her and her kin when the treaties of old had been broken and everyone had gone their own way.
And so she said nothing, she only knew that what she could do was hope for the best, she could only hope that Saga fared well in his conquest and everything turned alright in the end.
"Saga," she said, her voice sincere. "The day you come back to us, I swear I will pass the throne on to you. I am tired of ruling, tired of all the wars and battles, tired of all that blood that has been spilled, tired of being down here and away from our true home: Niflheim."
"I don't want the throne," Saga walked back to her. He touched her cheek suavely. "You have been a great ruler, mother, you've nothing to be ashamed of, right, Mag?"
Magatha nodded right away, chuckling lightly at her brother's shortened term for her name.
"The throne of Tartakus will be yours even if I am successful in my conquest," Saga continued, banging his fists on the table. "I am only assuring our realm's safety, nothing more. I only want...to complete what you started long ago, mother. I want to make it happen!"
Hel regarded him closely, her face in awe. Saga saw her reaction but simply nodded at her and went on.
"I want you to see your dream come true, mother. I will give it my all to conquer Netherrealm and perhaps unite every damn soul down here under one banner, under the rule of Tartakus, as you wanted it back then."
Hel seemed taken aback at the revelation. "Saga...you..." she said, feeling confused, surprised.
"I know why you are surprised," Saga smiled sweetly at her. "You failed to keep all your followers under your rule, Ailyth told me a bit about that. I swear to you now, mother, that I will try my best at uniting the realms. When that is done, maybe...just maybe...I will ask of you to tell me more about this Niflheim place you speak of, I may take Ailyth there and call that our home as well. I would love to make her my Waikth there, in that place I hardly know about, which sounds interesting."
Hel nodded and smiled as if she was very pleased. She was, but the Queen suddenly became lost in her own thoughts from long ago, past memories she had experienced in Niflheim began to cloud her mind almost as soon as her son had mentioned the name of her ancient home. She shook her head lightly and dismissed those thoughts, though, for it was too early to dream about going back, instead, the Queen of Tartakus caressed Saga's hand and nodded again, looking up to him, hoping that he would indeed deliver what she had failed to deliver long ago.
"You go out and take care of your vision, my son," Queen Hel told him. "I can no longer keep you leashed like a dog is kept in Midgard. You, just like me, are starting on your own road now. What you make of that road is your decision alone, although I am sure you will make the right choices when the time comes. Now, let's take care of that mask of yours. I'll replace it with the new one, I hate seeing you in that dented thing."
"Then let us complete our business here," Saga agreed, also willing to get rid of the ugly mask and replace it with the more fearful-looking and newer one. He asked his mother what the design on the mask was, what creature or monster it represented.
"A Scherubb," Queen Hel answered as she approached the table. "One of the first guardian species to be created long ago by..." she shook her head. "well it doesn't matter, really, what matters is that I am sure it will inspire fear in those who lay eyes on you that know of such a creature, and yes, why not?" Hel chuckled lightly. "Even in those who do not know of such a creature."
Saga couldn't agree more. A few moments later Queen Hel bade her daughter to exit the room. She now needed to be alone with Saga in order to replace the mask.
Magatha obeyed, although she left feeling confused. Why couldn't she be allowed to stay and observe? What was so important about Saga's facial features that she had to be asked to leave?
Sorry for the late update, been busy lately, that's all. XD
"Mighty?" Saga chuckled at his sister. "Really?"
Magatha merely nodded at him as she remained seated in her chair behind the rectangular table.
They were within Magatha's own chamber, a large room which housed a queen size bed and many bookshelves within the stone walls. More than resembling her sleeping quarters, the room depicted a Dage's dream library. There was also the rectangular table where Magatha was seated at, which was set in the middle of the room. That table was covered with a white silken cloth that nearly touched the carpeted floor. On that table there were many books lying about, some opened, others neatly stacked on top of each other. There were also some empty vials and potions and even grayish stones used by magicians in the world of Midgard, all these items were Magatha's tools.
Above on the ceiling was a golden chandelier that held twelve mighty magical candles. A few picture frames adorned the few spaces left on the walls, mostly paintings from the world of Midgard. Magatha's room also had two large windows, which were currently thrown open.
Saga had arrived the room minutes ago. He had gone to show off his new mask and armor, which he had donned once his mother had been done placing the mask-helm on him. Upon arrival he had asked his sister what he thought of him, of his new look.
"I was expecting you to say something like, 'you look frightening, brother.'" he chuckled. "Do I really look mighty to you?"
Magatha closed the tome she had been studying and rose from her chair. She walked to him and remained standing before him.
"You really look mighty to me," she confessed. "You may look unnerving to others, but you are my brother, I have no reason to say you look frightening. Want to sit?"
"I uh...I think I will go and show myself to Ailyth and have a word with her before I go to sleep, sister." He made a move to leave, however, Magatha was fast to secure his arm.
"Wait, before you go, there is something I want you to know."
"Alright," Saga landed his reddish eyes on her. "I'm listening, sister."
"Do sit," she offered kindly. "It could take a while, although you will still make it in time to see your beloved Ailyth." She chuckled gaiety, letting Saga know that she actually was very happy for him.
"Sure." Saga agreed heartily, feeling content to be with his sister. It had been a very long time since he had been with her, since he had shared time with her. He walked towards the nearest chair, pulled it out and sat down. "What do you want to talk about, Mag?"
"I like the new name you have given me," Magatha said as she sat back in her chair, opposite of Saga.
"Well, you know, that's just short for Magatha," Saga laughed, and hearing his gentle laugh, Magatha was very glad that he was no longer the Saga of old. If she had loved him with his past dark fiendish personality before, she adored him now, even if he indeed looked way frightening than before.
"I still remember the time you took me to Tartiri," she recalled, and she rested her hands on top of the table. Saga did the same, except he threw his elbows out, as if suddenly very interested.
"I do too," Saga confessed, but then remained quiet to let her speak her mind out, for he knew she had something to tell him in regards to that.
"You taught me swordplay and how to fight using just about any weapon we have here," Magatha proceeded, her beautiful blue eyes on her brother. "That experience to me is the topmost of my experiences that I have enjoyed in my long life, brother, and for that I am grateful to you. I really haven't had the opportunity to display such wonderful taught skills since our last battle in your castle."
"Oh. Do you...wish to practice again then? Is that why you detained me?"
"Oh no, not at all," Magatha quickly said. "You know I'd love to practice with you on any given day, you just need to tell me. But that is not the reason I wanted you to stay."
"Then?" Saga smiled at her. "You have something else in mind, eh?"
"I do," said Magatha. "It's just that I want to repay that favor to you somehow, and I think I know how I want to do that."
"Favor? You are referring to our training long ago, what I taught you?"
"Yes. I'm going to do the very same in return. You will become my pupil, my student, just as I became one for you long ago. I want to teach you some of my magic."
"Hm," Saga seemed interested, and he crossed his arms and relaxed against the chair's back support. "This could be fun, what do you have in mind teaching me? You already taught me a few spells back then, remember? The invisibility spell and several attacking ones...which I haven't used at all."
"Perhaps I did," Magatha said. "But I am talking about new spells, brother." She leaned her head forward, her stare seeming very serious, calling Saga's attention. "More advanced ones."
"You've learned new stuff?" asked Saga, and Magatha nodded once before she said. "I've been learning more advanced magic, brother. Magic that you have not seen. My mother has been giving me old tomes that contain lost magic. If you are indeed heading out to conquer, this magic can be useful to you. Will you allow me to teach you what I have learned? Believe me, it will be worth your time, and besides, I can teach you what you must know before the deals with the neighboring realms are taken care of."
"I agree," Saga nodded, very interested. "I'll be your pupil, sister, but you only have till the deals with the realms are completed. Deal or no deal, I will be heading out of here to set my friends free. So now you know. If you want to teach me new magic, I am all yours, I could always use new spells."
"And I thank you for that," Magatha rose from her chair. "for allowing me to teach you. We can begin tomorrow, right after your first morning visit with Ailyth, is that acceptable?"
"Did you once agree to learn from me?" was Saga's hearty response to his sister.
Magatha's lovely face and kind smile shone before Saga brighter than the night stars that currently were shining above the world of Midgard.
She rounded the table and came walking towards him. Saga rose from the chair. She hugged him enthusiastically and said that she would find him tomorrow.
"Looking forward to it, Mag," he chirped, patting her back softly as she held on to her.
"Saga," she said, her voice tender.
"Now that you are here, mind if I ask you a question? Really, it's just that I am curious, that's all."
They let go of each other.
"Alright, go ahead and ask."
Magatha hesitated for a moment, unsure that she wanted to go ahead and ask him why their mother was so secretive when it came to Saga's facial features. Magatha even cowered before the stare Saga was giving her, although he was merely staring at her in a kind way. Unsure that she would go on with this, Magatha walked away until she came close to the bed's back-end support. There, she turned around and clutched her own hands in front of her but kept her head down.
"Go on," Saga bade her, noticing that she was hesitating, perhaps afraid to ask him what she had wanted to.
"Alright," she stared at him, and she took a deep breath before proceeding, merely to gather courage. "I'm just curious...Why has our mother been so secretive about your face? Why has she forced you to wear that ug...that mask for so long?"
For several seconds their eyes just remained staring at each other. But then Saga nodded suavely several times in succession.
"You know," he said, having made up his mind. "I really have no idea myself, sister. I asked her about it today in the garden. She's never told me much, her answers have always left me unsatisfied. She's just told me that the time for me to find out about all that will come. But I am getting frustrated, and very impatient to keep on waiting for answers. I just..." he lowered his sight to the floor again. "I just want to know who I am and what I look like, and also who my father was..."
"When you were away on the frontlines fighting those terrible wars, I asked my mother about similar things, brother," Magatha confessed, feeling a little sad when she noticed how her brother stared at the floor. "I had never known who my father was, so I spoke to her about it."
Saga looked upon his sister with sudden interest. "Hm, now that you mention it, I had never bothered to ask her about that either," Saga suddenly felt so stupid, and he walked towards her, for the conversation had suddenly turned very interesting for the both of them. He came to a stop right in front of her, keeping a mere two feet away.
"Back then I wasn't too nosy about stuff," he told her. "I respected her--and still do, sister--but what I mean is that I respected her a lot so as to not bother her with her personal life. I was more interested in my own self, my status within the realm, and about the gains I could make. But the truth is, now that you have brought this up, I, too, wish to know who your father is...or was. Could it be that perhaps we share or shared the same father? Or could it be that we both have or had different fathers?"
Magatha nervously bit her lip, and she nodded at that, merely to let Saga know that she agreed with him. But Magatha already knew who her father had been, that's why she had bit her lip.
"Mother's been tight with all this," Saga said, his eyes staring at the golden chandelier that hung from the ceiling, the bright magical candles had caught his eyes. "And because we really haven't pressed her, she hasn't bothered to tell us."
"You are right," Magatha said. "But I do have something else to confess to you now, brother."
"And that is?" Saga wished to know.
"W-When I asked her about who my father was, she remained silent for a few seconds, perhaps awe struck at the sudden question I threw at her. I noticed how her semblance changed from being surprised to being soft, full of tenderness and comprehension for me. Unlike she has done to you, brother, mother did give me a solid answer that left me very depressed, although very satisfied."
At that, Saga glanced back at her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "She did?"
Nodding, Magatha responded. "Yes, she told me that he had been a human."
Saga winced at the word human, but he quickly got rid of the wince and replaced it with a soft, tender smile, for it was his sister here who he was talking with. "And? What else? Or is that it?"
"No, there's more. She also told me he had been a great Mage, a practitioner of magic. That is all she told me about him," Magatha's voice suddenly was filled with sadness. "Well...not really, because she also told me that he had died months before I was even born, and that if that had not happened, that she'd had plans to take me to him so I could meet him and vice versa. But since he died in some war, her plans were frustrated, and so she kept quiet about it."
Saga massaged her shoulders tenderly, Magatha knowing he did so as support. "I'm sorry for you, I really am, Magatha," Saga said, his voice full of sympathy. "I mean...to have learned today from you about your father, and how he's...well dead. It just feels so wrong."
"Yes, I also feel awful about it still," Magatha sourly said, turning her stare aside toward the table, her heart hurt for the remembrances of the past. She fought the tears off, not wanting to cry before her brother. "I wish I could have met him. But I am content, brother, at least mother confessed the truth to me, and I am glad she did."
"And so why didn't you tell me of this before?"
Magatha felt perplexed then, and she looked upon her brother timidly. "I...well...I guess I forgot. When I started to hear rumors about the trouble going on up in Asgard, I became so afraid, so frightened that I nearly lost it. I really thought the end was coming, brother, I really thought that everything I held so dear to me would just simply be taken away, be destroyed, be lost forever. The thoughts about my father faded soon with all that was going on around me. And to make matters worse, you were not here beside me. I really missed your presence," she hugged him and buried her head on his chest, and Saga pat her back, knowing she was actually close to reliving those awful moments she had lived through while he had been away. "I knew things would have been different for me had you been around. I love you and I know how much you love me in return, had you been around I probably would have been stronger and not such a weakling."
"I was away keeping our realm secure," Saga told her, hugging her tightly. "Fighting foes to keep you, mother, and all of Tartakus secure. But I meant to say why didn't you tell me about your father upon my return?"
"Loki's arrival surely rattled me more than I already was with all the rumors I had heard over the years," she confessed. "I heard what he had done to those leaders who had defied him, I thought our realm would suffer the same fate, I had no other thoughts but those dark thoughts, brother."
"Ah, that lunatic, I probably would have killed him with a single blow and prevented Ragnarok from happening," Saga remembered his time spent before Loki. He recalled how badly he had been humiliated in front of so many eyes, including those of his sister Magatha. "Really, I am sure I could have done it, I just..."
"What matters is that Ragnarok ended well," Magatha still held him tightly, and she had no thoughts of letting go of her brother anytime soon, whom she had really needed when he had been away.
"You are right," Saga finalized, rubbing her back gently, the god feeling his sister's tight hug upon him. "What's done is done. I am sorry to have learned about your father's death today. But I am here with you now, you are not alone, Magatha."
What saddened him then were the thoughts that invaded his mind. Saga knew he would be leaving the realm again soon, and his sister would be left yet alone once again.
"Keep hugging me as you are, brother," Magatha's saddened tone sent shivers running up Saga's spine. "I know soon you'll be leaving again, this time for a very long time. You will try to conquer all of Netherrealm. Just know that I will be missing you dearly again, but this time I will be strong. Now I actually will have more to look into, what with you and Ailyth having become so close. I am so happy for you and her, I will look after her as best as I can."
"Thank you," Saga said, her words settling him down and making him smile. "I promise that I will do everything in my power to return as soon as I can."
He would remain with his sister for another hour cheering her spirit before departing to see his beloved Ailyth.