tagSci-Fi & FantasyMedusa: Fate's Game Ch. 14

Medusa: Fate's Game Ch. 14

byNovusAnimus©

~~Darian~~

"... Bellerophontes."

The world stopped. The air petrified, the breeze ceased, and the crickets and birds faded away. The world died around him until it was as if sitting atop a stage, lifeless. Cold crept along his skin until he thought his tears might have frozen on his cheeks. They weren't, but every sense in his body told him they should have been

The mask was alive. Or at least something was talking through it.

"Bell...phontes..." The voice sounded buried, like something speaking through rock and dirt, and it was a raspy voice too. Someone who hadn't had a drink in a long, long time.

"Who are you?" He forced down his tears and sobs, and got to his feet. No sword or shield to defend himself, no helmet either. Just him, his armor, and a mask.

"My sisters... sent you on mission... knew what would happen."

His sisters? Darian took a step back and stared down at the slab of onyx.

"... the Fates?"

"Yes. They... Athena... knew would kill Medusa... once Athena learned... your plan."

Darian sighed and wiped away his tears. Wetness and salt. He'd never known them before, not from his eyes.

He walked over to the mask, and stared down at it. "I asked you who you are."

"Yes..."

"So tell me."

"... no."

Of all the insufferable shit. He picked up the mask, and stared into it eyes, into the white glow of its mouth. A white glow he was all too familiar with.

"If your sisters are the Fates, I... I don't know who you would be, or how you can talk without a conduit." The mask wasn't strapped to a skull, no one had died to fuel it. How was it talking?

"Deep within... blackness... I speak." It laughed, a hushed sound, barely more than a whisper. "Sisters... would prefer... lock me away."

He blinked at the mask, and held it out at eye level.

"... why do you speak to me?"

"Because... it was to be... the Amazon. But the Fates... I was wrong. It... is you."

Darian snarled and squeezed the mask. Whatever the material was, no strength he had was going to bend or hurt it, but as he choked down the wrenching muscles in his gut, he squeezed it anyway.

"What is me?"

"... vessel."

Darian dropped the mask with a jerk, and stepped back. "I know what your kind do when a human wears them! I've talked to the Fates, I've seen the corpses they leave behind, the skulls."

The mask sank into the ground like a large slab of stone as it landed.

"You... not die... Bellerophontes. Fate's Child... survive."

He snarled, and started to pace in front of the mask, hands in fists at his side. "I have no reason to trust you."

"No reason... to not... Help me... defeat sisters."

Defeat sisters. Defeat the Fates? Kill, not kill? The mask grated on him with every vague word.

"They fear me... Bellerophontes. Sisters... gods... bow to me... I will... ruin them."

"So you're an all powerful entity? Big talk. I have no reason to trust you, no reason to wear you, no reason to listen to any of this shit."

"I... take you... to Medusa. Be... with Medusa."

He stopped, and stared. "... at what cost?"

"... your body... will belong... to me."

Silence. Darian stared down at the mask, its soft glowing eyes, and his whole body winced. He looked up at the stars, breathed deep, and reached down to pick up the mask again.

"You want my life."

"Your soul... be with... Medusa."

Darian sighed, and fell to his knees. A joke. A big, fat joke. The thing in the mask, a Moirai, wanted his body. Wanted an avatar. He supposed that was the difference between a god and the Moirai, gods could come down to the Earth and look like a regular human whenever they wanted, hide their golden masks. Like when Poseidon had raped Medusa.

He grit his teeth, and squeezed the mask again. Medusa. He wanted her. Gods he wanted her. The ache in his gut started to grow, wrench at his insides, and twist him until it felt like he would split in half for the pain.

The mask chuckled, bits of white mist spilling over its lips as it laughed at him.

"Can you... live... without her?"

He looked away, down at the dirt around him. His arms shook with the strength he was putting into squeezing the mask, both hands gripping its edges, trying to break the damn thing in half. But it sat in his fingers, defiant, chuckling at his misery. The mask's words cut through him, seared him worse than the mark on his forehead, and flooded him with images of Medusa, of her smile, of her hugging coils, of her nuzzling snake hair, of her kiss. Of her corpse.

He couldn't live without her.

Pegasus would beat him senseless for being so pathetic, and so would Otrera, but they didn't matter. The cliché of it all. Your woman dies, so you die too so you can be with her. Damn the consequences, damn the rest, damn the others who might need you, damn the world. Damn everything.

He gulped, closed his eyes, and put on the mask.

The hooks of its contours stabbed into the flesh of his head, shooting pain through his body and sending him onto his side.

"I am Moros," it said, and buried him in darkness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just as he fell under heavy curtains of black, he awoke to it. He looked to his left, his right, up and down, but found nothing. Weight pulled him down, kept his feet grounded against something, but when he reached down to touch it, there was nothing. His fingers found that nothing was actually something, whatever his feet were standing on, but it had no texture, no temperature, and he could not see it in the dark.

"Poor, blind Bellerophontes. It has been so long since I've had visitors, in my corner of the realm."

The snap of fingers, and then an explosion of light. Darian raised his hand to cover his eyes as the blackness washed away and was replaced with a swirling green, then blue, then a maelstrom of crimson and purple. As his eyes adjusted, he stared at the colors, until they settled into rivers that flowed through the air, beneath him, around him, against an endless backdrop of black and stars.

Well, at least he could see now. He looked down, and frowned; all he was wearing was his tunic. Whoever this Fate was, he couldn't see anyone nearby in the weird room of colors.

Room was the wrong word. As he looked around, he gasped and stepped back from one of the nearby streams. There were faces in it, bodies, like ghosts on the surface of the colored rivers. Some of the streams went up over his head, some below, and they looked as weightless as fog. All of them carried faces, wisps of mist with eyes closed and bodies relaxed as they flowed in the streams.

"Where am I?"

"In the realm of destiny, where souls pass before they are reborn. Here, my family and I live."

Darian looked around again, and started to walk. Walking did nothing, the stars remained unchanged, the streams did not move relative to him, and his feet stepped onto nothing to pull against nothing. Disorienting. He stared down at where his feet were standing on something, but the rest of the place didn't seem to care about it. He may as well have been floating in oblivion.

"Realm... of destiny? ... of fate?"

"Indeed."

Darian jumped back as a swirling black opened in front of him. Unlike the rivers of color, the charcoal mist seemed grounded, attached to the invisible surface as he was, and he stared at it as swaying waves of black and mist inched from its mass.

More of Moros stepped out from his hole, and as he did, Darian continued to take steps back. Tall, almost as tall as Chimera, but where Chimera was all flesh and muscle, Moros was black robes that hung from him like wet cloth. The entity had no arms, and more of the odd fog could be seen around his chest where his rob opened. He wore a hood, and where a face would be, there was the mask.

Moros. Moirai of doom, brother of the sisters. Darian forced himself to look at the entity, but there was no mistaking the cold chill that worked through him as he did. He'd given his body to the death of everything.

Fucking. Idiot. Darian.

"It is not a place meant for humans. Destiny runs through these rivers, Bellerophontes." Moros, colossal in size compared to him, walked out toward the streams, and gestured to them as he started to wander. "Your kind are colorful, are they not?"

"Colorful?" Darian jogged after the giant, black-robbed, strolling entity of doom itself, and fell into step beside him. "These rivers, this is... I don't understand."

"And so you shall never. Your mind can only understand the simplest of this realm's aspects, such as the color of your souls. Its resonance."

Souls. Darian looked out over the streams, and squinted to see more detail, but there was none to be had. Everything was hazy, and the bodies in the stream moved through each other like liquid.

"I... shouldn't be here," Darian said.

"Indeed you shouldn't. Your image now, your clothes, I have created these so you would feel more comfortable for the process."

"Process?"

Moros stopped walking away, and turned to face him. "I was sure it would be Otrera, the first Fate's Child to ever feel her soul." He laughed, raspy voice bellowing in the oblivion that surrounded them. "I misread the rivers. My sisters would be laughing at me." And he would too, apparently, as he chuckled once more.

"Feel my soul?" He was getting sick of asking questions, but the bastard refused to answer him. And, much as he hated it, he had to know what was going to happen to him.

Large protrusions raised from the center of Moros's robes, sort of like arms, raising different sections of the heavy blackness that hung from him. Two, three, four limbs poked out with black-mist tips, and reached out further to touch the nearby streams. How they touched them Darian couldn't figure out, when he couldn't get close to them, but Moros touched the rivers and made them bend toward him.

"Would it interest you to know, Bellerophontes, that it was I who guided Andromeda's actions?"

Darian took a step back, and glared. "What?"

The cloaked figure stepped around, and pulled in one of the streams. This one was mostly blue, with streaks of red cutting through its center that the faces within swam around.

"I whispered things to her dreams, Bellerophontes. I told of her what I'd seen, of her fate to be sacrificed to the sea creature Cetus. Of her love Perseus. Of her destiny to be his wife." The cloaked entity reached for another stream, this one darker, larger, with dots of green running through its navy expanse, and he drew it up toward them from beneath. "She thought it only a dream, until she stumbled upon the means to pursue answers. Dark magics, drops of the aether, ancient books that drifted into her hands."

Moros was proving to be a verbose entity. From how he sounded talking through the mask back in the real world, Darian expected him to talk slowly. But Moros seemed intent on talking him to death.

"With but the tiniest thread, a tiny tug at fate, Andromeda threw herself into necromancy, and other magics old and forbidden. She learned to summon an extinct race, and soon after, to infuse life into the bones of the dead. Dabbling, experimenting, obsessed, she descended into the pit of vile magics, until she learned... well, you know what sorcery she learned."

"Why tell me this? Why... any of it?" Darian said.

Moros chuckled, and reached out with shadow limbs to grab a stream darker still, of almost pure black, with traces of white on its edges. He pulled it close, and close, until was only a few feet from them, and Darian could reach it if he wanted to.

But he didn't want to. He froze as the stream, from so close, displayed more than faces, but also places.

"It would appear I do not have the exact elegance of my sisters. For sure I thought it was to be the Amazon queen and I, here and now, but instead it is you. And you, Bellerophontes, are not Otrera. This conversation will be different than I imagined." More laughter. Moros reached out and, like tearing open a deer's belly, split the river of black down its length.

Color poured from the stream, out and over the oblivion around them, washed away the other rivers until they were dots in the distance. Where the river had been black, streams of each color crashed into the nothingness Darian stood on, fell back on, and filled the area around them. Soon, for a good forty feet in all directions, the area was a scene out of the real world.

Grass. The sun high. Gentle breeze. Two teenagers playing with wooden swords.

Moros walked over to Darian, and stood beside him as he turned to face the two fighting children. "I am sure you recognize these two."

"... me and my brother, a long time ago." The Fate was going to show him this? Now?

"You did not know it then, but I believe you have begun to suspect the commonality between Fate's Children now, now that you have met Perseus." The mask looked down to him, face blank, eyes and mouth glowing white. But Darian looked back to the two boys and said nothing. "Then I will show you. Here, at its greatest moment in your life, when your power first emerged."

"Come on Bellerophon! You have to be willing to get in with your shoulder and close the distance. You don't have a spear, you can't just stay at a safe distance and hide behind your shield."

The older boy demonstrated, stepped in with his shoulder first between the younger boy's swing, and swung out. The wood hit the young boy in the ribs, and he fell back holding his chest.

Darian got up, and stood on the grass of his memory, eyes wide as he looked around, and then at the two boys. He too clutched his chest, and looked down at his hand, then to the two teenagers as they resumed practicing.

"How? Why?"

"Shh," Moros said, and he motioned with his mask toward the two.

The young Bellerophon tried again. And again. And again. But his brother wasn't letting him test the technique he'd just taught him. Lukas was laughing, and Bellerophon was too — at first.

"Lukas, I can't try it if you don't let me!"

"Well if I just let you, you wouldn't learn how to set up! Come on, faster!"

And again, the two boys dueled. And again, Lukas refused to let Darian — Bellerophon — practice the technique. When it was too much, Bellerophon screamed, and the young man struck out with the sword and hit Lukas in the temple.

He knew what happened next. It was burned into his mind, every hit, every punch, everything except the face of his brother. He'd forgotten that, as he always did with the people he killed. But this memory playing out before him showed him his brother once more, the face of him clear as day.

And every detail was perfect as Bellerophon jumped his older brother, and started beating his face in.

The vision spared nothing. The sound of crunching nose, breaking cheek bones and eye sockets, the screams and gargles, the shattering of the jaw and dislodging teeth. Moros brought the image closer, until the ruin of his brother's face was all they could see, lit by the glow of young Bellerophon's eyes.

"Stop," Darian said. He turned away and started to walk off, but walking got him nowhere. The ground slid underneath him with each step, until he gave up. Shoulders slumped, head down, he looked at the grass at his feet as he listened to the sounds of a fist cracking bone.

"A marvelous display of violence from one so young. And look, Bellerophontes. Your eyes glow white for the first time. The power of your blessing in your veins, bestowed upon you at birth. To give such a power so easily, I envy Clotho." Moros drifted around until he was in front of Darian, and chuckled. "Do you not wish to watch?"

Darian stared at the dirt beneath him. He didn't need to watch, didn't need to relive that. He'd relived it only a day ago, with Patrius.

"Why do you show me this?"

"Ah, because you need to understand, for the process to work, Bellerophontes. Come." And again the block robes reached out with several limbs, and the black fingers of mist grabbed at distant streams of color to pull them closer. The beautiful scenery, the disgusting display of gore, it all faded away, and was replaced with a home.

Lukas was there, younger looking. Darian's parents were there too, backed into a corner of their little home as a couple of thieves rummaged through what little they had.

"A Fate's Child is a strange thing indeed, Bellerophontes. You must have realized something about yourself, when you saved your family?"

Bellerophon, just a kid, stepped in from the front door, quiet, comfortable. With his motions as smooth as liquid, he walked up toward the closer thief, and stabbed him in the back, deep. He didn't just stab either, but twisted the blade a little, and dug in to the side to make sure the knife cut through meat. And he did it all in a single second, as casually as breathing.

The thief fell over, screaming, gushing crimson. The other turned around, and this one the little boy jumped. No hesitation, no delay, the boy sank his knife into the man's chest, and started stabbing. And stabbing, until he was soaked in blood, and the thief was dead twice over.

Darian looked over his shoulder to see his younger self drown in red. No glow to his eyes, just a calmness, comfortableness, with the butchery. His family looked on, and stared with wide eyes, shivering bodies huddled together in the corner. Lukas stepped out for him, but his father pulled him back.

His parents were afraid of him.

"I... didn't know why they were scared of the thieves. They were just thieves, stupid, easy to kill, if you're aggressive, quick."

"And there lies the problem for you, Bellerophontes." The scene froze, and Moros floated between the butchering boy and the petrified family. "And it was the binding element of all the Fate's Children, until Otrera."

The scene grew around them, expanded, until the little home was gigantic, the people within colossal, and their faces wide against his vision. Darian couldn't look away, not this time, from the sight of his younger self sitting atop the second thief. Moros oriented the mess of it all so the display of the young boy, covered in blood, was the centerpiece of the scene.

Young Bellerophontes was smiling. Just a little, just a tiny thing, and not because of the slaughter. The young boy didn't care about the slaughter, he cared about having succeeded in his task. Simple as that.

"I know I... I know, ok, you sick fuck? I know I can't feel for the people I kill. The Fates—"

"Did nothing." Laughing louder, Moros drifted around the display, and stared at the young Bellerophon. "Your power had not yet awakened here. Dormant. My sisters are a marvel indeed, and far more talented in reading the rivers than I. They knew this would become you."

"... they knew?"

"Oh yes, Bellerophontes. You, Perseus, the others that have come before you, and the others in distant lands. You are all like this." Moros grew the scene yet again, and again, until all that could be seen from any direction was the young Bellerophontes's eyes. Cold, hungry eyes, with a hint of a satisfied smirk.

"I am not that child anymore!" Darian swung out his arm. For a brief moment, he poured his rage and sadness into the simple motion, and as he did, his eyes glowed white. The stream tore apart, bled its colors into the oblivion around them, and faded away. He watched as his own face, the face of his brother, his terrified family, it all bled into the unending obsidian outside the rivers, until the rivers returned to their original shape.

He blinked, and looked down at his hand. The glow vanished just as quickly, and whatever his hand had done, he could not see.

Moros hissed, a loud, raspy, grating sound that poured over Darian and forced him to wince. The entity drifted back toward him, looking down at him from his great height with his emotionless mask, and started circling him, like a waiting predator. "Indeed, you are not that child."

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