“I’m sad… have you already forgotten about me?”
I unsheathe my katana as I charge at Thera while keeping track of how far I am from Momioka.
― At what point did the universe thinks it’s fine for a child to be in battle?
I look back at Polya and Momioka for a split second before charging at Thera. When we clash, I purposely swing my swords at her candles as I try to figure out a way to incapacitate her instead.
“I don’t want to fight you.”
“Maybe you don’t, but a promise is a promise.”
Thera launches her candles at me; I try to deflect them while using their momentum to push myself away.
― Eight metres… okay…
I continue sweeping my swords at Thera as she deflects them with her candle and recalls those she sent out.
― This fight isn’t going anywhere… I need to... No, wait, if one of them is here, wouldn't- Polya!
When I begin to turn my hand around, Thera launches flames with her candles, I have no choice but to focus on the battle in front of me.
“Hey! Don’t ignore me! I thought we were having fun together…”
“You think battling to our death is fun?”
“What? We are?”
Thera suddenly let out a bright smile after looking at something behind me.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t like to fight too. I just... want someone to play and have fun with...”
“Then why did you attack us?”
“I don’t really understand too… There is this weird feeling that makes me want to fight you… but also, Mommy promises that she’ll play with me if I do fight you!”
“Someone promised to play with you after you fought me. What kind of mother is she?”
“Oh! Oh! Oh! You’ve met her! Mommy Mynnerva! Well, she isn’t really my mommy, but she is like that sometimes.”
― Mynnerva… Is…
“… I’m sorry… My sister said she has fallen…”
Thera sticks out her tongue and taps her fist on her head.
“Huh…? She’s alive?”
“It was so bright when your bbbig sword hit my candles, your sword was soooo powerful that even my candles couldn’t block it! So, I pull Mommy out. Mommy Sil and Toppy were sooo proud of me!”
“Mommy Sil and Toppy? And… and Mynnerva’s alive?”
“Yeah! They’re all behind you right now! Oh… Oopsey. Mommy’s gonna be mad at me.”
I turn around and see a man carrying Polya on his shoulders. He is wearing a dark purple swallowtail suit that reaches his feet. Under it, is a Lapis-blue vest and a black buttoned-up shirt, fitting it with black trousers. He also dons a white bowtie, purple-shaded monocle, and a black top hat on top of his purple hair. Next to him is Mynnerva with her hand leaning on a woman in a tight white to black dress with open slits at the sides that reach her hips and tattered ends. On her head is a crowned gothic black veil that hides her silverish-blue hair and a mask that seems to have small filters on it.
“Ah. Evening, your highness. It seems that you’ve discovered us.”
“Polya? POLYA! MYNNERVA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?”
“She isn’t in any danger; I’ve only taken her ability to stay awake.”
I shift my gaze at the man next to Mynnerva; he runs his left hand along the brim of his top hat. Once it reaches the side, he grabs onto it and bows slightly, lifting his hat up.
“I’m sure introductions aren’t needed, your majesty. Now would you excuse me.”
The man who I presume as the “Puppet Master” walks into a shadow-portal behind him.
― No, no, no. I can’t lose her. I can’t-
I run after the Puppet Master as fast as I could.
“Sorry about this, big sis.”
A wall of candles suddenly appears, summoning fire blasts at me, cutting my path towards the portal.
I turn around, ready to fight.
“Racket, time to go!”
“Again, not your mother!”
She steps backwards and falls into a shadow-portal behind her.
“Bye, big sis. Sorry about just now.”
When Thera disappears into the portal, the wall of candles disappears as they emerge. I quickly turn around only to find Momioka flying at me. I catch her with my arms, but I’m also propelled backwards.
“Momioka, are you alright?”
I look down at her as she frantically moves her hands around her mouth and throat.
I slowly stand up while carrying Momioka in my arms, staring at Mynnerva, who’s limping into the portal behind her.
“We’ll take good care of your sister, so don’t worry.”
With a vile grin on her face, Mynnerva blows me a kiss as she disappears into the portal with the woman who I presume as “Silren”.
“Hold on tight.”
Without hesitation, I dart towards the closing portal.
― We’ll make it, we have to…
I enter the gateway at the last second, not knowing where or what the other side beholds.
* * *
It is just darkness for a while until shades of blue and purple flash at our eyes.
“Well, well, well. Look who’ve decided to join us. Welcome back to Paranormia.”
― Welcome back?
I land onto yet another plain of uneven, rocky surface once exiting out of the portal. I quickly surveyed the area and saw only mountains, fissures, and cliffs that stretch miles and miles over the rough terrain with random chunks of metal littered everywhere. A gust of wild wind bluster at me as I shift my gaze past Mynnerva and catch sight of a tall gothic castle in the far background floating in the centre of a crater-like hole that had been filled with the same shadowy water from Mynnerva’s Domain.
I gently put down Momioka behind me.
I turn to Mynnerva, who’s now standing on her own.
“I’m taking my sister back, Mynnerva. And I’m not leaving without her.”
“We would like to see you try.”
I reach for my katana and realise neither the blade nor the saya is on me.
― No… Where is it… Where is… I must have dropped it when I caught Momioka…
“Hah, what will you do now? Without the katana, you really are nothing.”
With the plan to just take Polya away and jump back into the portal with Momioka in my mind, I throw a volley of light-swords at Mynnerva and bolt towards my sister, who’s floating in front of Thera. When I’m almost able to grab hold onto my sister, a fist suddenly slams on my face as I pummel harshly onto the floor.
“Don’t make me take off my mask, kid.”
I feel my hurting jaw as I look up at Silren. Without her veil, her black metal mask stands out in front of her pale skin, silverish-blue hair and grey eyes. There are black tubes and blue wirings on the mask’s back edge, which seems to be connected to a power source on her back. In the front, there is an extended T-shaped piece on top of her nose and mouth with two small filters like circles on the cheek area over some wires and blue lights which runs around the mask. There’s a pattern on it as well, it seems to resemble scars coming from both edges of her mouth with a few white cross stitching on top of them.
“If you hurt my Mynnerva again, I’ll make sure you’ll suffer your worst nightmare.”
“Already living it.”
“I don’t think you quite understand, do you want me to-”
“Calm down, Sil. We still yet to have our fun.”
Mynnerva materialises behind me, yanks me up by my hair and drags me to the edge of the cliff that’s in the direction of the castle. I try to escape her grip, but Thera binds me down with her powers.
Momioka tries to run at me, but she is soon wrapped up by Thera’s power.
“Look at all this! This land was once the beautiful Royalands. Now it’s all destroyed land, all thanks to your mother when she came with that traitor and those hellspawn to rescue you.”
“You were so small then. You fit right into the tiny box we put you in.”
“But never mind that. Look what your mother has done to this land.”
Mynnerva shoves me forward right onto the edge. I look down and see the war-torn wasteland that my mother had once wreaked havoc on. The most notable feature is the caldera-like landform and the deep trench in the centre which leads to the castle. At the end of the trench, many shallower tranches split out from the original one forming like an arrow pointing towards the castle. There are many battle scars left around the main trench, with some crushed and folded land or cone-shaped abrasions where it’s deeper in the centre.
“When your mother decided to disintegrate Styx with the beam of hers, she instead hit our dark ‘Sun’, shattering it. If it’s not for Vytra, Sil and Gunnar, the falling sun would have destroyed everything.”
“Why… Why are you telling me this?”
“Just something you should know before you die. She’s not as perfect as you think.”
Mynnerva picks me up with her telekinesis and brings me closer to her. When I’m in reach, she grabs me by the neck and pulls me closer to her.
“She was fine with killing off an entire race.”
“With you here... It’s... it’s all the more reason to.”
Mynnerva lifts me up higher and throws me back to where I originally started.
“Sil, Odyeus, stay here. Everyone else, escort Racket and our Trophy back to Styx.”
“I don’t really…”
“Just do as I say, Thera.”
Once the binds of Thera finally break when she walks off into the distance, I dart blindly towards Mynnerva, ready to put a sword into her back while also prepared for when Silren strikes.
“You don’t listen-”
Suddenly, from the corner of my eye. I spot Silren taking off her mask, revealing a twisted expression overflowing with malice.
The echoes of the words fling me away from Silren as it explodes at my face.
Consumed by the high-pitch ringing, I struggle to stand back onto my feet. Instead, it seems that Momioka had rushed towards me, trying to assist me.
“… battle… portal… alive… sister… time… fate…”
I can only make up a few words of what Momioka says as she tries to drag me somewhere.
“This is the end. Now, perish.”
With a glimpse of Silren removing her mask again, I instantly push Momioka away.
― I marched to my death… and I dragged an innocent person with me…
With a clearer look at the maskless Silren, her long scars from the corners of her mouth reaching to her ears reveal themselves, like the pattern of her mask.
After drawing a breath, her mouth opens wide with her scars following behind, leaving bits of torn flesh hanging on where her cheeks were supposed to be. Silren then lets out her omen of death as the banshee cry echoes through my skull.
Every passing second, the scream feels more focused, growing increasingly agonising. But in her cries, I can hear something… Her pain, her despair, her tormented past… Abandoned. Alone.
― An outcast…
When the scream focuses into something that feels like a continuous beam burning through me, I sense myself slowly drifting away as both my shield and body weakens.
― Not yet…
I feel my eyes flare up again, and my hair begins to glow with traces of light igniting around me similar to the time when I was against Mynnerva in the park. Seeing this, Silren ends her cry with a sharp and piercing note. Even as I’m in my stronger form, which my sister would have called it “God Mode”, I could still feel the harsh blow reverberate in me.
“Odyeus, how long are you planning to stay in Null? Stop abusing the access to Gatecrash that Matthaios so dearly gave you.”
What seems to be a small rift in space opens next to Silren as a hand reaches out from it and tears it wide open.
“Such a dramatic entrance, Odyeus.”
“Hah. Are you certain that you don’t want to join us, Mynnerva?”
“Oh, I had my fun.”
“And Silren, in case this is relevant to you. I was trying to possess the girl behind her, but no matter how hard I tried, it did not seem to work…”
“Finally getting old, Odyeus?”
“If only. The current state of the girl is rather… Interesting… Bodiless but with a mind… Just a Living Light with a fragmented soul… Do tell me, what have you done to her.”
Odyeus grabs onto my jaw with his gloved hands.
“But yourself as a specimen is also quite fascinating. The first-ever demi-god. Who has the birthright for Divine Ascension. Why not see what happens if we take that concept away?”
“Get away from me!”
With more power surging back into me again, I charge a light sword at Odyeus, but before it reaches him, the echoes of Silren’s past cry at me once again. The mourning of her past propels me backwards, just out of range of Odyeus.
Even as it seems that I’m re-entering “God Mode”, the screams are still too much for me to bear.
“Thank you, Silren. Now, where was I? Ah yes, let’s see how you fare without the sheer potential of Zorya.”
Odyeus fixes his suit and crouches next to me. With any attempts of retaliation withers from me, he signals Silren to stop as he reaches for my face and magically grabs something out of me.
“Look how beautiful this is. It is most unfortunate that I cannot use it. Fear not however, I will keep this safe for you. If you ever want this back, you will have to kill me, but that would be a problem for you now, wouldn’t it?”
Odyeus clenches his fist, and the token-shaped light disappears from his palm.
“I await our next encounter, girl. If you survive this.”
He pats me on my shoulders and walks away towards Silren. Once arriving, the keening of Silren continues. Weakened by Odyeus, I have no remaining force to fight against Silren. Slowly, my consciousness starts slipping away from my grasp.
“Allfather. Please grant me Svalinn… Lend me the strength to protect those in battle.”
Through the cries of Silren, I hear a voice in my head.
“I’ve done it… I’ve… Thank you, father… It’s my turn, Anya!”
Before I collapse, I see Momioka jump in from of me with what seems to be a shield made from the light magic I have.
“Anya, can you hear me? We need to leave! We’re jumping through the portal back to the park, I’m sorry about your sister, but we’ll have to save her another time.”
“Wait… No… Polya…”