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After "Illusions"

Full Text Edit

Part 1 Edit

It was dark in the make shift camp the rebels had made. The only thing that illuminated the ground and and buildings around them were the various torches and fire. But this light left the distant area surrounded them even darker. Moisture could be felt in the air, and everything was quite. Another quite, unmoving evening at the Grounded Dungeon. Greg was making his way through the dungeon grounds, the silence practically making his, along with everyone else’s, ears ring. But that silence was suddenly, and explosively interrupted.

“Greg!” The roarcame, ripped from the lungs of a massive, hill sized form, bellowing from the darkness. “GREEEG!”

Greg cringed at the sound of his name being called loudly from the dark. “Me thinks the wind calls my name.” He said after he had recovered.

“WHERE ARE YOU GREG!?” Hel roared again. Her from was obstructed in the darkness, and easily a mile away, but Greg could still hear her clearly, they all could. The beasts shoulder’s heaved, the panting sounding like the whoosh of a Red Deaths wings. “Come here Greg!” she said gravely.  

Greg approached the deity with an air of calm when in reality he was mentally pissing his pants. “Yes Hel? What can little ol’ me do for you today?

A thick rain started to pour around the area, thunder rumbling across the hills. Water slowly seeped up from under Greg’s feet, turning the land around him into swamp. The dimly glowing eyes of Hel bore down on him. The fury, the anger the…hurt, was so thick and so choking that it seemed to suck the air right out of very rebel’s lungs. Greg felt his legs faltering slightly, as if Hel’s gaze was physically pushing him down. She starred at him in silence, and the neck of the beast craned back and then pushed forward, an unearthly bellow ripping from it, the force of it blowing Greg’s now soaked hair back.

This moment, this atmosphere, this…this was not Hel simply snapping back at some rude comments or shows of defiance.

This was the fury of a god.

“The treachery of your actions with my father as reached my ears… I curse my father and I curse you! I protected you, and saved your lives, though we lost friends to the witch least I tried! I gave back Vox and Stonegit, when I didn’t have to do it! I went to your birthplace, and secured every friend you ever had. Me! I saved you all! I even stored your families! And in light of these good deeds you turn around and betray me! I came spoke to you like no other in my family, just to tell you what the future held and the way to save you! And chances upon chances, the gifts I gave in vane!  I let you stand and slander me. I took your ignorance and your insolence! Your lack of grace amused me. But the one thing I will never stand is letting one of you turn against me!”

Greg shuddered at the God’s anger was turned on him. “I’m sorry,” He said. “I-I was afraid. I didn’t want to see anymore of m-my friends die.” His lip trembled as he spoke thinking of what the rebellion had lost. “I saw what happened at Perch Hall and-and I-I thought I’d lost everyone, and it tore me to shreds. With us so close to Ragnarok, I-I was afraid I’d lose more than I’d already had. So when Loki came, offered to keep everyone safe from Ragnarok. H-how could I refuse?”

“By thinking!” Hel said, her voice booming. “Loki, the god of lies and mischief! Lies Greg! He doesn’t care about you or your friends! He doesn’t care about humans at all. He planned to pocket you away so that I would come up short in battle, so that I would DIE Greg! And then HE would be the one to rule you!” 

"Please believe me when I say this was not me trying to overthrow you, at least not intentionally. These were the actions of a man who was too afraid to think, too worried about his family to be concerned with the consequences, to think of who he had made the deal with. I just can’t lose them." Greg said quietly. "Not again."

Hel’s foot raised up, slamming on the softened ground, a ripple running through the earth. It was raining so hard now no voice could be heard, no voice, aside from Hel’s. Her shoulder’s curled, and then, to the horror of Greg, and then entire camp, the form, which already stood higher than the old fortress tower twice fold, rose on it’s too back feet. Now Greg understood why Ragnorok would destroy earth, because anything this size that decided to fight with another would surly rip apart the continents. Hel turned so her side was facing the rebel camp, averting her eyes, and refusing to look at them. “Children of the dungeon hold, why have you done this to me? I should have never come to explain to you Ragnorok personally. For all it brought to me was getting far too close, and the pain it caused… I see now why other gods never even tired…” She ducked her head. “You my followers have turned my so heart cold… And now Greg Ericson…you must go….”

His heart lurched but he understood. “Very well.” He muttered quietly.

There was a crack, and almost a screeching sound as the ground in front of Greg was sucked in on itself, a great black void appearing in front of him. With a rush it began filling with water, the liquid swirling down at the base. It was another portal to hel. “Go…” Hel said somberly.   

Greg nodded wordlessly and began walking towards the portal. He paused for a second and looked up at Hel. “I’m sorry.” He said to the Goddess. “Tell them I’m sorry as well, and tell them I love them.” With that he stepped into the portal to Hel. 

Hel watched him as he vanished into the pool. She turned to the rest of the rebellion. “Ever since the beginning, all of you…You ask me for things I did not offer and scoff when I do not provide them. You humans are not stupid…” her eyes closed, and for a second, overwhelming sadness could be felt. “You’re lazy…too lazy to read between the lines. So lazy, you tried to understand something as complex as I with the simplistic reasoning of a child. I am the god of hel. My duty is to guide you, and make you ready for the time of war. Not to spoon feed and cater to you. What’s worse, is that you all think that I…would throw my own children into some horrible place when they die, despite faithful service to me…and all because my name happens to be HEL!”

"GREG NO!" Grey said running towards the portal reaching out her hand to grab him and pull him back. Unfortunately, she was just a second too late and ended up falling on the muddy ground face first. She looked up, and the portal was gone…Greg, her baby brother…was gone…again.

She looked up at Hel as she gave her monologue to the other rebels and glared at her. She chuckled in a way that surely disturbed some of the rebels who knew her personally.

"Really?" she said standing up and facing Hel in the darkness. "Your duty is to guide us?" She laughed. "You know, that’s really funny. See? I don’t see how leaving us to die when that witch attacked as making us ready for war. I don’t see how taking my friend away just because he was trying to do something to protect us readies us for war…granted it was completely idiotic and immature, but at least he actually did something, which is the complete opposite of what you’ve done."

“I made it clear that I could only protect you if it was another godly force trying to kill or harm you,” Hel said, her voice growing somber. “I broke every rule in the book killing that witch when I did.” she shot Grey a look that would have melted steel. “And it was Loki, that pimp that Greg was so interested in helping, who kidnapped me and kept me from you. You think I would just stand idly by and let a slaughter happen?! I ran to you as fast as godly possible!” she stamped her foot again, the rumble sending Grey falling backwards. “AND WHAT MAKES ANY OF YOU THINK YOU DESERVE TO HIDE IN A HOLE WHILE EVERYONE DIES IN BATTLE!?” 

She stared at the scene unfolding before her. She had an idea of what Hel was capable of, but this was the first time she saw it with her own eyes. Akkey was scared… no, she was terrified.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Maya and Hunter holding each other, watching the deity with fearful eyes. This is the god that they’ve sworn themselves to. And she was furious.

It had shocked her to find out that it was Greg who had been the mole for Loki. She didn’t want to believe it… she couldn’t even imagine what Warren would be feeling right now. Akkey herself thought she would be angry… that she’d be glad. He deserves it, or something of the sort. Instead… she felt incredibly sad. She could understand that Greg wanted to protect them. Hel, she had personally lied and cheated her way to protect her friends…

She watched the portal close, dark and bubbling, and she hid her own hands behind her, twitching at the magic that occurred. “What makes any of you think you deserve to hide in a hole while everyone dies in battle?!” She wanted to argue again, to whine, to protest. They deserve to live. But her thoughts flew back to her encounter with Orskaf. They were all in the same boat. They were all just trying to survive, and all odds were pitted against the humans. So she said nothing.

Hel panted heavily, and the moment of silence seemed to pacify her. A sad, low grumble vibrated in her throat. The same way a sorrowful dragon would express their distress. He head lowered, the rain starting to lighten up. “Greg…is fine…” she said quietly. “I do not intend for this to be permanent….I may even send him back to you…should you do better.” her said snapped up, anger flooding her veins again as she bellowed one last time. “You’re a bunch of thick headed twats!” 

With that, she leaped into the air, diving nose first into the ground, water shooting out of the ground as she did so. The wave of water carried Grey back into the dungeon, washing the place over and soaking everyone to the bone. No one was hurt, surprisingly, and the wave continued to travel across the land for another half mile before finally settling out.   

Grey coughed up the last bit of water from Hel’s little water ride. As she calmed from her coughing fit, she just glared at the spot Hel disappeared into the ground. A wind blew causing her soaked body to shiver, but she didn’t care. She was somewhat relieved that Greg’s punishment wasn’t permanent, but still… should you do better… What more did she want from them? They built her a murial, used what little food they had to sacrifice to her, and were fighting for her in Ragnorak! What else could she possibly want?! 

“Words cannot describe how I don’t like her right now,” she said aloud to no one particular as she stood up. 

Tornpike glanced over at Grey, and then lowered his head slightly. “Our food supply is full…” he said quietly.

Grey looked over at Tornpike having heard him. She sighed. “I know, Tornpike,” she said. “I’m sorry. It’s just…Greg’s my best friend. If anything happens to him, I…don’t know what I would do…

Part 2 Edit

Greg was plunged under water, and when his eyes opened he found himself in a large…ocean? Maybe a lake? Above him there was some murky light, but it was almost as if an invisible field was keeping him from swimming up. Bellow him was pitch…black…abyss. He could breath….and the only movement he could see was some shapeless, massive form floating in the darkness. There was no doubt in his mind that it was Hel herself swimming bellow.

Greg slow curled his legs to his chest, as tears welled in his. He had just lost his family,again after only just getting them back. Now he would never be able to see them again,and that was too much for him to bear. He broke down and let the tears run down his face as he quietly sobbed. 

The tears met the water surrounding him away, adding to the vast underworld ocean around him. “Greg…” came the whisper, which echoed oddly under the water. “Greg….”

Then Greg saw a face, a terrifying, bleached white face was illuminated as the massive form rose closer to him. It had giant oval shaped eyes that were blacker than ink, a long thin mouth that made it look like the creature was smiling. It reminded Greg of the face of a giant, humanoid hump back whale. It starred up at it, it’s face an eerie sigh in the black water. The face was far, far away from him, but due to how huge it was, it seemed far to close to Greg’s comfort. “Why did you do it Greg…?” the whisper came again. “Honestly…?” 

Greg sniffed, and waited afraid to answer the Goddess. “I-I told you before.” He stuttered out. “I-I was af-f-fraid. I-I-I just wanted everyone to be safe. After Perch Hall… I couldn’t do it again. I don’t think I could survive that feeling again.” 

Hel gave a long sad sigh, and then a swarm of wispy black tendrils floated up towards him, gently wrapping around him and pulling him down towards her smoothly. They became snug around him, almost as if the god was hugging him. “But you promised Greg…You promised me you would fight. You can’t just hide with your friends and let everyone else lay themselves on the line.” she whispered gently, a tendril brushing back a bit of his hair. “You have to be brave…”

Greg was taken aback as he was pulled closer to Hel. He held his breath for a moment prepared for whatever possible injuries she saw fit to bestow upon him. Surprisingly though nothing came,instead the tendrils grew tighter around him, though not to cause pain. He was shocked for a few moment,unable to speak.”I-I know I should.” He said finally. “B-but I don’t know how. I’ve n-never been in a real fight before. I’d probably just get myself k-killed.” 

“Let me show you something Greg,” Hel said softly, bringing him down into the darkness. They came to the place Hel had shown Nala a few weeks back. The vertical floating bodies swayed slightly in the water. The chains clicked against each other, keeping each secured around the ankle. “There are my souls,” she explained. “I keep them in a painless status…they are at peace. Greg whenever one of my followers die, I bring them here. After Ragnorok, if I win, I will be taking over the afterlives, all of them. And then I will renovate it, so that the good and the brave go to the new Valhalla, whether they die by battle or not…and the wicked will be placed in a place like this. In a secure stasis where they could never harm someone again.”  

Looking at all these bodies made him slightly uncomfortable, though knowing they were at peace eased some of it. Greg paused for a moment taking all this in. They wanted Hel to win. If she didn’t then Gods know what would happen to the afterlife. The only way that she would win was with the help of her followers. “I wanna be strong and brave, I don’t wanna be afraid anymore. Can you help me?” 

Hel huffed. “Greg I am still going to punish you for the down right stupid thing you did.” she quipped, and then paused. “But yes…I will help you. I’v been helping you. I knew daddy wasn’t going to hurt you when he took you to that pit. So I had you rely on your own resources to get out. I would never have allowed Stonegit to actually kill someone…so I let him run around as a lunatic to see who would think and find out what was wrong, who would stand up to him. So on and so forth. I have been doing many many things to guide and prepare you all Greg…and now I think the easiest way to help you now is to have you take your punishment with humility and have you learn from your lesson. Believe me, most of the time, humans make themselves brave. We gods only need to tweak up a situation every once in a while.” 

Greg nodded. “Okay. I understand now, I’ll take my punishment a take this time to think about what I need to do in the future. For everyone.” He thought for a second before adding. “I’m sorry, I really really am sorry. It will never happen again I promise. And thank you, for helping me understand this all.” 

“Well not many gods do this,” Hel said. “But I get too pissy so I have to open my mouth,” she let Greg go, sinking back into the deep. “Apology accepted. Now…Your punishment. You must swim in the abyss. There is an invisible chamber and you must find it. Use your instincts and your newly acquired powers to help you search. You will not get tired, but you are also not allowed to rest. You will see disturbing sights among the chains, despite how peaceful it is. Once you find it, you must find a way to get inside. This task should take you many days. Complete it early enough and you can fight beside your friends in the battle. Fail, and you will be force to remain here while they fight the war for you. This is the price for your well intended cowardice.” Hel gave him a keen look as she faded into the dark. “Will you do well?”    

Greg smiled at Hel. “I will do my best.” He called as he sank deeper,and deeper. “See you in many days!” 

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