Forgotten - Chapter 199
I wish everyone a happy new year now as this will likely be the last chapter of 2021. Let’s hope 2022 is a bit better.
Aperio took a step backwards, a touch of her magic bringing Caethya with her, as the vague image in front of her rapidly gained solidity. The form that the Soul had drawn with the System-provided mana was still shifting through a myriad of different forms, but this time it seemed more deliberate; like it had at least some control over it.
“How peculiar,” the All-Mother mumbled, tilting her head slightly. She squinted a little as she saw multiple System notifications open for the amalgamation of deities, letting her aura manifest itself a little more to make sure the being would not try to hide them from her.
“It still looks like it’s stuck with all those bodies,” Caethya said before turning to look at Aperio. “Did something go wrong?”
“No.” The All-Mother shook her head. “This being seems to truly be a representation of all the deities the people of this planet have thought up over the years. It has a few titles that say as much, but they also say that the prevalence of any one deity is based on the amount of mana they gained during the time they were worshipped.” She tilted her head again, this time to the other side, and squinted. “I am surprised the System managed to fix this without my help. It seems rather complex.”
“Well, the System is you, in a way,” Caethya replied, offering a small shrug that caused Aperio to slightly lift the wing wrapped around her love. “So all in all, not that surprising I would say.”
“Perhaps it is not,” Aperio agreed, turning her head slightly further to look at Ethan and Eleanor. They seemed to still be at a loss for what to do as they simply looked between Aperio, Caethya, and what might be their God as it slowly coalesced into a more proper form. “Should we do something with them?”
Caethya followed her gaze, taking in the two mortals for a moment before shaking her head. “I doubt that a simple talk would achieve much at this point, and I am certain that the other options would not be to your liking. Plus”— she nodded towards the amalgamation —”this one seems as though it will be ready soon.”
“I am not sure if ready is the right word,” Aperio said. “It has become painfully obvious that not many things are truly ready to meet me. Even if I am only an usually strong Elf.”
Caethya giggled slightly at her last words, shaking her head slightly. “I’m pretty sure it will know what you did. And maybe even what you are.”
Further musings of the two Elves were cut short as the amalgamation’s form sharpened into something much more solid and much more Human. It was no longer shifting between forms, having settled on a man wearing a white robe that covered about half his chest, sandals, and a crown of leaves made from gold.
Aperio looked down at the God and, as the arc of electricity jumping between his fingers and the leaves of his crown was answered by the low rumble of thunder rolling through the Dominion, she could not help but raise a brow. “If you are trying to intimidate me, it is not working,” the All-Mother remarked, putting just a little more force behind her voice and crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Your little light show is amusing at best.”
The God only stared at her, quite obviously not understanding a word she had said. “Really?” Aperio asked before switching to English. “I do hope you understand this language, otherwise I will be forced to grab Adam’s [Translation] skill.”
She did not like the idea of forcefully adding that skill to the God in front of her, but it seemed to have understood what she had said the second time around as it gave a slow — if confused — nod.
“I understand you,” the God said, its voice a low rumble that was underlined by what Aperio could only describe as more thunder rolling through its Dominion. “But I do not know who you are despite feeling… familiar.”
Aperio frowned at the words, the thought of turning their conversation private briefly crossing her mind. A touch of her magic did just that, silencing the mortals to their conversation. She was fine with them knowing that she was able to do a lot with the System, but not that she had made it, which was something this deity — or collection of deities — was about to learn.
“Perhaps because I made all of this,” the All-Mother replied, gesturing at their surroundings and spreading her wings slightly. “And the System you know.”
“System?” the God inquired as its robe shifted to cover its entire body, changing from white to grey. The laurels that adorned its head slowly faded away, freeing the way for its hair to grow longer as it turned black.”The Voice of the World?”
“Sure, if that is what you want to call it,” Aperio replied, her arms crossing once more in front of her. “I was also the one that stopped you from randomly shifting forms by giving you enough mana to actually exist.” She took a step towards the God, looking down at it. “I do hope that you have left the mortals in peace.”
“Left them in peace?” it asked as it tapped a finger against its chin. It thought for a moment longer before it looked up at the All-Mother. “I only did what they asked of me. What they thought of me.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Caethya mumbled. “A little sad, maybe.”
“It is, but that is also not quite what I had wished to know.” Aperio took another step towards the God, looming above it as she placed her hands on her hips. “I know what the divine do if they are left unchecked, and I do hope that your many forms did not partake in those practises.”
“I would tell you if I could,” the God replied, its voice rising in pitch as it changed shape yet again, this time to a dark-skinned woman in a simple dress and a rather complex-looking headdress. “I only remember brief moments of clarity. Ones where the collective prayers of the people rose up to wish for something; often directed at two or more Gods, desires contradicting one another but yet still all represented by me.”
It tapped its chin again and mirrored the head tilt the All-Mother had done. “Do you know who I am?”
As soon as it had asked the question, it shifted once more, saying something in a language she did not know before altering its form once again, repeating the process.
“Did I do something wrong?” Aperio asked, shifting her gaze to Caethya and pointedly ignoring the two mortals who had by now tried — and failed — to come closer. “I had thought letting it fix itself would be the best course of action.”
She could likely stop the deity from shifting rapidly, but whether she should was another matter. Perhaps this was part of its being. Though I highly doubt that.
“In a way?” Caethya half stated, half asked. “The System made it and it’s obvious that it can’t deal with all the personalities that have been created over the centuries, or however long this world had actual life on it.”
The All-Mother’s frown deepened slightly before she let out an ethereal sigh and the Earth-born deity stopped shifting. It had settled on a rather inconspicuous-looking Human, one a mortal’s eyes would likely simply gloss over. It looked at Aperio, meeting her unblinking eyes for a moment before it directed its own gaze at the floor.
“Are you going to kill me?” it asked as it continued to stare at the blank nothing below its feet. “Can I even die?”
“Most everything can,” Aperio replied before glancing down at herself. She shook her head and focused back on the deity. “You are among those that have an end. It is simply not one claimed by time alone.”
“Are you without end?”
The All-Mother raised a brow at the question. “Seemingly,” she eventually said, her wings twitching slightly. “I was here when nothing was. Before the reality you find yourself in had come to be.” That she had made it, Aperio kept to herself. For now. It might figure that out on its own anyway.
The deity turned towards Caethya, a sparkle Aperio could only describe as curiosity in its eyes. “Is she?”
“If I have a say in it, yes,” Aperio replied, moving herself just a little closer to her love.
“We shall see,” Caethya said as she took the All-Mother’s hand into her own. “True eternity is a hard concept to grasp as I am now.”
“Are you not like her?” it asked. “Or like me?”
“Like you?” Caethya looked at the God, narrowing her eyes slightly. “Perhaps, but I am definitely not like her. Aperio is quite unique.”
“In what I can do, not what I have been through.”
Caethya glared at the All-Mother for a moment, but did not comment further on what she had said. “Do you know what you are?” she asked the deity.
“A God,” it replied with little confidence in its voice. “All the Gods.”
At its words, Aperio offered up a little more mana, enough to stop it from needing to shift again. She let out a sigh and shook her head.
“This has been a most unhelpful endeavour,” she mumbled in the language of the Elves. For a moment she considered simply going into her Void, leaving behind Earth and its problems to be ignored forevermore, but that thought was quickly dismissed. Running away from problems was not something the All-Mother should do. Not anymore, at least.
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“A God that doesn’t remember anything seems to be slightly problematic,” Caethya agreed. “But I don’t think we can just leave it like this.”
“And what am I supposed to do?” Aperio asked. “The only thing I can think of is to give all the deities inside of it a body of their own. But I do not like that plan. The other Gods I personally helped to ascend eventually turned into literal tyrants.”
“You’re a different person now,” Caethya rebutted. “And your daughter didn’t. But I also think that too much interference here isn’t the right call.” Her love hesitated for a moment, her eyes drifting towards the two mortals. “I have an idea.”
Aperio raised a brow as she followed her love’s gaze and allowed the magic that kept their conversation private to cease. “And what would that be?”
The two mortals did not speak, simply looking at the group of what they likely considered Gods with unreadable expressions. Aperio would have sympathy for them if they had not turned out to be so annoying.
“Let our new friends help a little,” Caethya replied. “Not directly of course, but if it can observe them for a time, it might figure out how to… exist. And you are here, so it won’t be able to do anything that would endanger Earth..”
The All-Mother shifted her gaze between Eleanor, Ethan, the now physically stable deity of Earth, and her love. She did not like that idea one bit. Walking around on Earth with a somewhat amnesiac God in tow seemed like a world of trouble she did not want to deal with, but picking the Soul apart to set every single personality it had into a separate body also seemed wrong.
“I am not sure that is a good idea,” she replied. “You do realise that it is still an actual God, right?”
“And you are the All-Mother. I really doubt it can do anything against you.” Caethya eyed the God. “It feels weaker than myself.”
A quick check of both her love and the God did reveal that despite the amount of mana Aperio had gifted to the Earth-born deity and its dominion, its power did not quite reach Caethya’s level. Something that did not quite make sense, and that Aperio had not even considered.
“Because it is,” Aperio replied, tilting her head. “I still dislike the idea, however.”
“Huh,” Caethya replied. “Does the System give out the title of God depending on the world you came from?”
“Apparently,” the All-Mother replied with a shrug. “I would have to dig deeper into the System itself to figure out if that is actually correct, however, and that is something we currently do not have time for.”
“Regardless,” her love continued, “we can’t leave it here either. It doesn’t seem to know anything.”
Aperio took a breath for the first time in a long while only let out a longer than usual sigh. “Fine. I will talk to Adam and see if he can take care of the deity while we have a talk with this council the mortals keep mentioning.”
Judging by how many mortals possessing mana greater than the local average had gathered in the rather small and remote city by this point, Aperio had little doubt that whatever this meeting turned out to be, it would be starting soon.
A thought brought a small note into existence in Adam’s pocket. The Human noticed it immediately and pulled it out, reading over the excessively cursive script Aperio used. It was a simple request, all things considered. All he had to do was to keep the God company while it hopefully sorted through its various personalities and remembered something about what it was. Perhaps letting the old body crumble was not the right choice…
Memories were kept in the Soul as far as Aperio knew, but that did not mean that a given body had no influence on the ability of recollection. Another thing to figure out once we are done here.
Adam let out a sigh, then directed his eyes at Earth’s sky. It might not be the correct current location of Aperio, but it got his annoyance across clearly enough. The nod he gave afterwards showed that he was still willing do to it. Not like he will be alone in the task. He just needs to keep it company.
“Do you wish to join us?” Aperio asked in English, turning back to face the God. “We have some more business to attend to on Earth, and I doubt being alone here is enjoyable.”
“I can leave?” it asked, taking a step towards the All-Mother. Once she had given it a nod, a smile spread across its face. “Please take me with you.”
“We will,” Aperio said before she turned to look at the two mortals. “It would seem that this gathering of yours is going to start soon, so it is time to return.”
“Okay?” Eleanor said, her eyes fixed on the deity that was still smiling at the All-Mother. “Would you mind explaining to me what you did? Why do I feel… reverence when I look at the person behind you? It’s not even a God I know.”
“It’s all of Earth’s Gods in one,” Caethya said. “If you follow one, that’s probably why. As for the rest, I am pretty sure Aperio can tell you that after the gathering is over.”
“There is not much to tell, but sure,” the All-Mother said as she waved her hand, creating a portal that led back to Earth. “For now, I have a gaggle of mortals to attend to.”
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