GGCE 8 – Return of a Fallen Goddess

“No, I didn’t create this world. Rather, the world was created for me by my father. Eos wasn’t actually a world then. It was my tomb, a place where I could die as I lived. “

Desmond looked at her in disbelief. Her name wasn’t Glacier, however, he couldn’t refute that she wasn’t the Hearth Mother, Mother of fires, etc. -but as if sensing what exactly he was thinking, she dropped the massive truth bomb on his head.

“You can say Glacier was a nickname. The others similar to me also had nicknames. They were people too, don’t forget that.” She looked at them critically. She could feel their eyes judging her in a new light; A tinge of fear being to pool in the two’s wide eyes. She didn’t like it, so she said one more piece. “I don’t know anything about these ‘records’, but I assume they were exaggerated. Take them with a grain of salt.”

With that she left them, wishing she hadn’t said any of that. Maybe being looked at as that poor girl who woke up in the pond was strange, but they didn’t fear her. Maybe guarded, rightfully, but never any fear…

. . . . . .

High above the summit, the sun rose higher as storm clouds brewed just under the summit. A never-ending sea of clouds that rumbled occasionally with thunder. The mountaintop itself seemed like an island in the sea of clouds as they slowly rolled on. The garden itself was peaceful but to Avery… It began to look like a prison. A place trapped between the heaven and earth. Trapped in her thoughts, she waited on the group who chatted amongst themselves in the house

Randol thanked Avery for her hospitality, but they had to return back to their country. Avery offered to tag along, but he said he would have to discuss it amongst the others. Which he was doing right now. A brown worn leather backpack sat filled with a few changes of clothes, a few rations, and the garden’s Control Orb. Avery wore the beautiful white cloak from earlier, but now she wore a black t-shirt, black cargo pants, and black combat boots, a set of clothes popular in the cash-shop from the early days of the game.

She also wore her full set of the HolyPaw’s Guild armor, which consisted of a Mithril breastplate, full arm armor, as well as thigh and calf plates. The armor’s finish was white with a slight gloss to it from the mana embedded in it. Golden runes lined the edges of the armor, small and written masterfully. A single golden cat-paw was etched on the center of the breastplate, the Sigil of her guild. To finish it off, a thick leather belt sat on her hips, with Excalibur attached in its sheath on the right. Its grip was wrapped in a deep black leather. The pommel was shaped like a diamond’s silhouette with a single cut out of a paw on it.

The blade was made from Mithril as well and had magical runes etched into the full length of the fuller to keep its edge for eternity.

Avery’s attention slipped from her thoughts as she heard the front door open. Turning to look over, she saw Desmond step out. When his gaze met hers, he averted them and let his brother take the lead who came to stand on the steps she was sitting on. “Well, everyone decided we’d like it if you could tag along.” He said without looking her, his eyes scanning the serenity of the garden – feeling it was too peaceful. “So long as you don’t commit any wrongdoings. ” Desmond added on without meeting her gaze.

Feeling something was a bit off about his demeanor, she stood up and dusted off her rear. The front of the cloak opened up to reveal the angelic armor. Everyone sucked in their breaths at the same time, recognizing the Mithril – Pure Mithril.

“So what made you say this?” She said, her face showing her annoyance. It may have sounded like an innocent question, but it was something one would never ask. Unless they expected she would do things like that. “N-Nothing.” He violently shook his head, denying the silent implication. Her lips pursed to hold back whatever she wanted to say. After a very long moment, she sighed. “So long as no one tries to harm me, I won’t bother them.” She shrugged and looked at Randol.

“Sorry… It’s just… Stories about the Primordials aren’t often the best… I mean, stories about you are often good, but you never know. Just something we felt had to be said.” He shrugged back with a smile, looking like the handsome knight he was after a good night’s rest and clean clothes. He left his armor in the house as it was beyond repair. While Avery could have repaired it, she wasn’t one-hundred-percent sure if she could; seeing as she had to relearn how to use magic.

Desmond could teach her, as he was a student mage. Yet it was obvious he was wary of her. Navara…

Navara should probably reconsider her prospects as a mage…

Looking at Navara, she wore an earth-brown cloak similar to Avery’s, but it held no magical etchings nor a sigil. It was enchanted like hers but with less power. It could repel rain, keep her warm and was stab proof. She had given it to her among some of her more “girly” clothes – mainly a light pink sundress-, but she wore it elegantly.

Or she could have if she wasn’t such a tomboy. It suited her slim body, but her mannerisms made one only see her in armor and with a war ax. Putting that image out of her mind, she smiled at Navara. She held the fox-kin in good regards. She wanted to be friends with Desmond, but he had kept his distance since learning of her identity. There was nothing she could do about that though.

“Well, let’s go.” Ter’Yut said impatiently as huffed next to them.

. . . . . .

A sea of clouds skimmed at the feet of the wooden archway. Avery crouched on the edge, playing with the clouds happily as she swirled it around with both her hands. Navara with her as they both giddily laughed at touching the clouds. The boys looked out over the sea of white in awe. “This is my first time seeing the clouds from above.” Desmond squeezed out. There were flying mounts such as Wyverns that the military used, but none would ever fly higher than the clouds. Some primal instinct would prevent them from doing so. Griffins would, but only powerful warriors could tame such. His Father Emperor – with all his power – could ride along with a passing S-Ranked Adventurer years ago. And that was after they had bribed him with much gold.

Even Ter’Yut started in awe at the blanket of clouds that crowded below him, feeling like a descending god for a few moments. “Alright, That’s enough…” Randol called out to everyone, his expression dark. Beyond the cloud floor was the mountain path that had claimed the rest of their exploration team. Now they were going to walk it again. They had seen the golden light disintegrate the horde of undead that chased them, but the momentary distraction had passed and he felt fear creeping in.

The others began to feel it too, other than Navara who was too busy fraternizing with Avery over the clouds. Even Desmond, who often only cared for scholarly things, felt a little fear.

The girls each stood up “Kay~!” Avery cooed in high spirits. It had been the first time in a long time that she felt this good. Aside from the fact, everything had become reality, she didn’t feel that prickling sensation she often felt because her body was deteriorating. Even with the Full-Dive machine, it couldn’t stop everything – legally. While she was granted some exemptions, lawmakers didn’t grant her the mercy of full sensation transition. This had left her in limbo in the first years as her body tried to adjust to the misfires and such.

Now she felt everything. The breeze on her skin, the weight of on her feet, and the sun’s ray kissing her nose with heat. She was the first to step through the clouds. They were like mist as they were pushed away before swirling around her fading silhouette. One by one they followed her through until they passed through too the grey lands below.

. . . .

The group had made it down the mountain path without any hitches.

Before they were in the Ancient City center. The entire area had looked ominous like a forgotten battlefield before, but now, it looked more lived in. No skeletons littered the streets anymore, making the area feel more open – more homely. Only the statue on the stone platform that towered over the clearing was no free of foliage, revealing a posing Avery in the armor she wore now. “Ew, who the hell made a statue of me?” She snorted as she walked around it a few times. “It’s… Tacky.”

The others looked at her, unsure if they should tell her that this “tacky” statue had wiped out their exploration group or just agree. It didn’t appear she knew anything about it, which would free her of the blame. “Er… Yeah.” Navara, who had seemingly gotten closer to Avery within the morning voiced an agreement that broke the stalemate in their heads. One by one, they laughed at her begrudgingly.

Randol walked over to where the pages had died first, but not even the mangled remains of the golem remained. Only a puddle of rainwater. All around them were pools and puddles of water. He hadn’t paid attention earlier, but it finally clicked that the grey clouds were storm clouds. He had been focused on finding the remains of his friends and the students who came, yet hadn’t found even a shred of remains. He felt conflicted on this part – happy since he wouldn’t have to see their poor remains.

“You don’t know anything about this statue?” Desmond asked confused. “Nope. This place is completely different from the last time I was here. ” She said as she looked around her. “I made this place as a village. More of something just to fill the space and give it more life.” She pointed to a spot around thirty feet away “I remember I had placed a butcher’s shop here.” She then moved around “Here was a smithy.” On she went; “Here was the village head’s house.”

Her tone became more monotone and emotionless before eventually she just stopped. “Let’s go.” Desmond had been fascinated by what she had said. She had left when it was a village, now it was a full blown metropolis! He wanted to hear more, uninterested in the tragedy that had taken place the other day. Only, his hopes were crushed in the sudden change in Avery’s demeanor that seemed so friendly he couldn’t help but talk with her. Now she seemed to have closed off and headed out the main road “At least this hasn’t changed…” she muttered barely loud enough for him to catch.

The group left the ruins and stopped at the distant tree line where they had originally popped out of the forest at. Avery didn’t seem to tire, but the others were mortal and need to rest their feet for a little bit; Especially Desmond. “So… You don’t want to check what your village turned into?” The boy in question asked. “No…It’s not mine anymore.” She said as she looked over its distant shape. “Why not?” He asked.

“I made it, but only to kill time. I didn’t seriously put thought into it. I only made it to be pretty, kind of like a doormat.” She then turned to plains, who grass grew to their knees and danced in the soft grey evening breeze. “Last time I was awake… I held a festival. All this land was filled from the river to the forest with tents and people.” Her pink lips parted with a smile. “So many players came…” Desmond looked at her strangely.” What are… Players?”

Avery only shook her head dismissively at the question, avoiding the question all the together.” How much longer till we leave, Randol?” Randol sat underneath one of the great pines as he rested his eyes. “Desmond, you ready?” Randol called out. “Y-Yeah…” Desmond replied timidly, realizing what they were waiting on. “We can leave now.” They didn’t set up anything, leaving to just get up and go as armor rattled and Navara groaned at having to walk more, wishing she had brought horses.

The walk through the forest was even more uneventful, with Desmond asking Avery a few questions here and there about how things were in the past. Eventually, they reached the vicinity of the expedition camp.

“Just over this hill is the expedition camp,” Randol said. Navara and Desmond stood on either side of Avery now as Ter’Yut took up the rear. “How come this ‘Expedition force’ didn’t come with you to the ruins?” Avery asked curiously. She hadn’t sweated nor needed rest the entire time, so she spent most of her time with her thoughts as Navara and Desmond both panted beside her. Their clothes were caked in sweat.

“Desmond didn’t want them to come. Rightfully so, inside the force are people who are loyal to my father. The whole point of this expedition was to find your to-… home… ” Randol looked back nervously to see Avery’s reaction. She only looked at him with disinterested eyes, like the question was just something she felt obligated to ask. “Anyways, Desmond was going to use it as a way to gain favor with our father.” Randol expected her next question to ask about their father, but she only greeted his assumption with silence as she passed him to take a look over the hill.

The sight that greeted them was pure chaos. In the distance, rolling plains could be found. Strewn across them was a large in-encampment dotted with destroyed tents and open fires as monsters rampaged through them. Soldiers the size of ants raced around them to avoid being killed as they tried to counterattack.

“What the-!” Everyone except Avery yelled out.

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