This is the outline of my book turned into a short story.
Many divine realms circle a world. In the case of Ai, they are countless. It’s more like a web of strands instead of a single geographical location. The Eye of Worlds is far reaching. And so, it is with a little seeking that we find our hero, Nago, and his faithful companion Garm today.
Nago and Garm left the talking cat-raccoon at the village, and went to see the elder. He listened intently to Nago’s problems and said, “Perhaps you should see the goddess about it. She might be able to help,”
“There’s a goddess?” Nago said. Garm tried to conceal his emotions, but he just stared at Nago, and hoped he wouldn’t notice. His tail hung between his legs, and he just kind of laid down.
The treant stroked his mossy beard and said, “Yes, young sproutling. She’s half a day’s journey west of here,”
So they stayed in the village that night in the house of a couple of fair sylphs, and the next day they headed that way.
That night Fena’s sleep was troubled. Her consort had left her at dusk, and she had fitful dreams. She couldn’t remember any of it, but when she awoke, she saw a young human coming to her temple. She dressed and came to meet them.
“Are you the goddess?” Nago asked.
Fena was speechless. She looked like the foundation of her world sprouted legs and talked to her. Of course, that’s exactly what happened.
“I am the goddess Fena. What can I do for you young man?” she asked.
“I want to remember.. everything,” he said.
She had a panicked look on her face for a moment. Garm looked at her intensely, pleading.
“I see. Well, that’s some pretty serious magic. It’ll take me a few days to get the ritual together. In the meantime, why don’t you undertake a quest for me?”
“A quest? Sure thing, Fena. I mean, your almightiness,” he said.
Of course, Fena was trying to buy time. There must be a way to make him change his mind. Maybe if she could figure something out in the next few days.
“Take my servant, the Archangel, and journey down the World Tree to my Consort’s Temple. Give him this,” she gestured, and a golden banana appeared in her hand.
Well, it’s better than an apple, right?
“I’ll have to talk to Jema about this,” she whispered under her breath.
That night, she did.
“You’re telling me the human you used as the dirt to plant the World Tree came to your temple and talked to you?” Jema asked. He didn’t suspect Fena of deceit, but he still didn’t believe it.
“That’s not nice, Jema. Somehow.. he’s been reborn.” she said.
“What does he remember?” he asked coldly.
“Nothing that I can tell. He just remembers Garm, nothing more than that. It’s like.. his cup’s been washed clean,” she said.
“I can imprison him in the screams of a thousand souls,” Jema said thoughtfully.
“No, you won’t,” She said.
“We could put him back to sleep for another thousand years,” he said.
“No, I think we should see this through. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before the Council of the Divines makes a play for our worshippers. We’re tied to the world, and our power is solid, but we can’t have selfish gods, no offense, mucking up our Eden,” she continued.
If Jema was offended, he said nothing.
“What quest did you send him on?” he asked.
“I sent him on a quest to deliver a golden trifle to your temple in the dark world, lover,” she said.
They had a few hours before the dawn and dusk to get a little better acquainted.
Meanwhile, Nago met with Fena’s servant.
“You’re the human Nago? Goddess, I wish I didn’t have to babysit you,” he said.
“Excuse me?” Nago said.
“Nothing, human. Let’s just go so I can come back and direct my choir. They should be okay for a few days,”
They set off for the world tree, and stopped by the village again. The next day, they reached the chamber Nago woke in. The archangel and garm waited. They didn’t know how they were going to get to an underworld, and neither did Nago. When Nago entered the chamber, it was different. Instead of being blank and mossy, there were murals all over the wall.
“I don’t remember it being this decorated before,” he said.
The archangel paused. He looked like he was trying to remember something. Garm whined.
He was standing by the dais that used to hold the bed of moss. However, the bed was gone, and now a staircase was leading down somewhere.
“Weird and weirder,” Nago said. They started to descend.
As they got deeper, they started to see blue flames in holes in the wall. When they got closer, they say human faces.
“Wisps?” Nago said.
“Yes, but I’ve never seen them look so depressed,” the archangel said.
“You’d be depressed too if you were stuck in a wall your whole life,” Garm said.
“Hey, Mr. Archangel, do you have a name?” Nago said. He was starting to get a little tired and dizzy from all the stairs. The Archangel wasn’t actually flying with his wings. He was floating, the cheater.
“It’s Uriel,” the archangel said. “If you can pronounce it with your fat tongue,” he said with a chuckle.
Garm growled. Uriel rolled his eyes. They continued to descend.
At the end of the stairs, they came to an open chasm. The trees had red leaves, and the moon, much brighter than it should’ve been, hung a sickly yellow above them.
“I can sense the taint of foul creatures, human. We should hurry,” Uriel said.
“Well, if the goddess’s temple is a day from the tree, the god’s temple should be, too, right?”
No one said anything for a long moment. Then they saw it. It was like the treant earlier, although a little leaner. It had a pumpking for a head, and a cape of autumn leaves.
“Who in the black god’s name are you?” he asked.
“I’m Nago, this is Garm, and this is Uriel,” he said.
“That’s a weird looking demon,” the pumpkin headed man said.
“I’m an.. ang-”Uriel started, but Garm bit him lightly. They exchanged a look, and seemed to come to an understanding.
“I am a strange demon,” Uriel said. He looked thoroughly pissed.
The pumpkin man laughed and said,” No kidding, and I know jokes,”
He started walking along with them. “Where are you headed?” he asked. His eyes flickered back and forth between them.
“To the dark god’s temple,” they said.
“Oh, well, you’re actually going the wrong way,” he said, “I’ll take you there,”
The three huddled.
“Can we really trust a denizen of this helltouched candyland?” Uriel asked. Garm sniffed at the Pumpkin man and said, “He smells tasty,”
Nago said, “I’m the leader, and I say we trust him,”
Uriel said, “You’re so naïve,”
Garm said,” We don’t know where the temple is. If he leads us to it, great, and if not, I say we eat him,”
“Garm, you can’t do that!” Nago said.
“Are you still thinking about it? Come on, if we hurry we’ll be there before the moon rises again,” the pumpkin man said.
“By the way, I’m Alex. I’m the Prince of Autumn,” the pumpkin man said.
“Prince of Utum?” Uriel said.
“Autumn, as in.. changing leaves, candy, and..” Alex started. At their confused looks he rubbed his orange forehead. “You guys aren’t from around here, are you?”
He got closer,” And you smell.. weird.. Sweet, almost sickly sweet,” He poked at Uriel, who drew his sword and pointed it at the hole of his nose.
Alex backed up. “Easy dude. I was just going to ask if you were made of candy. Geez, don’t skewer an innocent gourd,”
Nago said, “I’m going with him.”
Alex said, “That’s the spirit.. or a spirit, anyway,” he pointed at a confused wisp in the distance.
They followed him for a while until they came to another village, this one a little darker than the first. Instead of getting eaten, they were welcomed again, by a few darker looking village dwellers. They were ugly, furry, creepy, slimy, but they acted so friendly. Uriel was the only one who was less than polite.
“Such fluffy wings,” one villager said.
“What a pretty coat. Wish I had one like that,” a grey-backed wolfman said.
They were welcomed into another treant’s home, though this one looked sinister, but she was actually ambidextrous. They had another meal, and if it looked a little questionable, it was actually a little better than the one yesterday.
“Thank you very much,”
The treant looked like a twisted weeping willow, but in spite of the gnarly nose, she was pretty kind.
“You’re headed to the temple you say? But it’s not New Moon, yet. You’d better have something to offer him,” she said,
“You mean he isn’t just going to see us?” Nago asked.
The treantess eyed Alex and they exchanged a gesture.
“No, Willa, they’re not from around here.” he said.
“I see. That explains the funny smell. Must be from the other side of Black Eden,” she said, pulled a small worm from her scalp. Then she ate it. Uriel looked like he was about to throw up.
“That’s a much better shade of green on you, Uriel,” she said.
They talked for a while, and went to sleep.
Nago stood by his soldiers, but he was changed. He breathed noxious fumes, threw a lance made of lightning. A much darker version of Garm stood beside him, as well as a few other people he hadn’t seen in ages. When he awoke, he was covered in sweat.
He didn’t talk about the dream, but Garm could tell something was up. When they were talking, Garm said,”What did you remember?”
Nago gave him a strange look and said, “Remember? I just had a bad dream, that’s all,”
Garm looked at the ground. Nago knew something was bothering Garm, but he didn’t know what. Alex saw them to the temple, but he waited outside. He gave them a gilded maple leaf to offer to the black god. Uriel was sweating. Garm felt a chill, too.
“So, the human comes to me at last,” a voice said from a sulfurous purple cloud.
“Fena sent us,” Nago said, but he immediately regretted it.
“I know that, wretch,” he said. The infernal king was majestic in ebony armor and a scythe at his hand.
Nago got really brave all of a sudden. He sauntered over to Jema, and handed over the leaf and the banana.
“You really have no idea, do you?” Jema asked. The wrath was gone.
“Idea about what?” Nago asked. Then he felt sick at his stomach. He saw images, felt pain, and nearly collapsed.
“What did you do to him?” Uriel shouted, and he and Garm charged the demon god.
They were suddenly suspended in black fumes, choking on smoke.
“Nothing, yet. So my little goddess sent you here to buy herself some time, did she? Well, Nago, you’re the foundation of the world, so I can’t kill you. However, your little friends here won’t be so fortunate. The dark world can be so unforgiving you know. Trolls, wights, spectres..”
He turned the two victims as he spoke, “I’m sure a false memory for Nago will excuse whatever I do to you,”
The gilded leaf turned bright red, and fell from his grasp.
“Damn that gourd!” Jema screamed, and the two fell. What’s more, Nago stood up.
“I just relived 50 battles, you second rate demon,” Nago said. He begin to summon his other companions.
An ice serpent, the Prince of Autumn, a siren, and a wolf-lion stood beside him.
“So the world changed, and so did I. I guess it was too much to hope for that i’d emerge unscathed. I wish I had stayed asleep. How stupid I was!” he shouted.
His companions crowded around him as he curled into a ball and cried. How could he forget the eternal war, and the infernal dyson’s sphere.
“It’s okay, Nago, it is,” Garm said, licking his arm. He was surrounded by friends who had their own memories now.
“Let’s go back home,” he said.
“Where’s home for us, Nago?” They had the vestiges of the new world shattered by their memories, too.
“Either above or below.” he said after a long moment.
“Garm, I want to go back to the goddess, and then, I want to.. just walk for a while,”
So they did. Nago visited the light and dark worlds, and it wasn’t the same as being fresh and new, but it was better, especially for Garm. They stayed in the light world village.
Goddess and god reunited. Jema held back at first and said, “I didn’t think the past would ever come to mind. Surt blast me,”
Fena said, “We’ve all got a past, Jema. What’s important is the future. You’re a god of a world, and you have me. Isn’t that enough?” she asked, approaching him.
He took her and embraced her, and said, “It is,” then whispered in Abyssal, “For now,”
“Oh, you shouldn’t use that tongue to talk about me. I know you love me,”
So Jema would wait. Perhaps one day.. he would rule both worlds.