Tim had parted with the Crystal Faerie after the child it had taken was back with his parents. Now, it was off to help the hunters.
From Sakuramori station, it was a two-stop train ride where Tim switched rails in the Cedar station. The second route was from Cedar towards the Ace of Spades. But after passing the Hunting Village, reaching the outskirts of the infamous Lycan Woods. Tim needed to literally jump off a moving train. Tim had a brief but intense quarrel with the conductor, he insisted to be let off the train to the forest. But they did not want to needlessly endanger the other passengers for ‘a suicidal mage’, as they put it.
“Fair enough.” Tim decided and waited between the railroad cars for the perfect opportunity.
Tim’s guardian wolf, whose name he had learned was Asena, jumped easily enough. But Tim had to rely on casting Pancake
, flattening himself paper-thin before reaching the ground. He was briefly caught by the wind before unflattening himself to land safely on his feet. Tim coolly dusted himself off and adjusted his tie, as if that wasn’t one of the dumbest ways he could have gone with getting off a moving train. Tim’s armor-and-outfit, Servant, was as elegant as ever.
By the time Tim had arrived dawn had already broken. But it didn’t lessen the oppressive atmosphere the place had been exuding, it was almost suffocating.
Asena growled. Tim took a measured step back and pulled out his trusty sword, letting it rest with one hand over his shoulder. But it turned out his companion was growling over one of the trees. Tim walked over what sort of thing the mutt had found. And it was a single thick arrow lodged over the tree as if it was launched from a bow. Whoever let the thing loose must’ve had an arm made of steel, making the arrow dig deep over a quarter of its length. But when Tim saw what had been attached alongside the arrow, his heart sank.
It was a broken iLac and a golden charm bracelet.
Tim couldn’t even make the device turn on. Instead, Tim made Asena sniff the two items. When the wolf sniffed the iLac, she furrowed her brow and growled. Asena hurriedly sniffed the second item and craned her head around looking for the scent’s source. The pair walked slowly, noticing the unsubtle ruins slowly creeping up from far away. Around them, Tim noticed the slowly emerging number of tombstones. They were made of stone and ornately designed with crosses, stars and other unfamiliar symbols likely denoting the poor souls’ faiths. Tim’s already paper-thin trust in Gods was waning every day.
But Tim wasn’t here to think about the Gods, he was here to help.
“You are a long way from home, Hemera’s Champion.” An ominous voice suddenly erupted from Tim’s mind.
The young man reeled back; the voice was thundering! It slightly disoriented Tim. From the way Asena looked at him in confusion, it seemed like it was a direct telepathic message similar to how the Fae communicated. Tim muttered a ‘Where are you hiding…?’ to no one in particular. But the thundering voice erupted again.
“You have come to take back this tribe’s newest addition?” The voice’s echo in Tim’s head made him loose balance, but Asena managed to catch Tim. The Wolf huffed at Tim.
“I…don’t know who’s in my head, Wolf.” The young man frowned. “But I know I felt this sort of thing before…”
Asena looked around without moving her body, Tim was gripping her astral fur as he kept himself steady. “It’s alright, we’ll push on. And, if it comes down to it, you’ll call the guild like you were supposed to in Quanny village.”
The Wolf huffed, but slowly guided Tim as he kept his balance.
“…foolishness, I know. Shut up.” Tim muttered between headaches.
The voice’s laughter echoed, but it stopped coming from Tim’s mind and hauntingly reverberated across the abandoned graveyard they found themselves in. The young man, in his daze, didn’t even realize he was already surrounded by wolves larger than Asena, wolf-ish humanoids and a single large white creature taller than a two floored house. Tim was hard pressed to call it a wolf.
“Baldr said you were promising. But his words have yet to be proven.” The titanic wolf’s voice echoed the same way it had in Tim’s mind.
“You know that bastard?”
“That I do. And I have lured this woman and her daughter to seek an audience with you.” The wolf was standing still, but the fog slowly setting in even with the early sun basking to the graveyard was making everything murky. But Tim could smell everything well enough. The scent of dirty iron and the sight of seeing the wolf-humanoids moving as if eating something.
“Where are they?”
“The hunters? The woman? Her daughter?” The voice’s echo was trying to hardest to piss the young man off, and it was working. Tim was frowning the entire time.
The fog paved way in the graveyard’s center and revealed a chained Lycan, a wolf-humanoid, letting its mouth dripping over a body of a woman in a hunter’s garb. The huntress was holding a bow tightly over her hand as her body laid lifeless under the Lycan. But Tim noticed the Lycan not doing anything other than licking its chops while muttering ‘…please…deliver me…from this temptation…’ sincerely.
Tim pointed his sword over the Lycan’s chin and slowly lifted its head with the flat side of the blade. The Lycan looked at him, crying. “Kill me…please… before I eat her.”
It took all of Tim’s will not to give her what she wanted. “Where’s your daughter?”
“I…she said they took her to their village.”
They split up; some took the kid to sanctuary while the rest looked for her. Tim had seen only a single Lycan in his life. It was inside Dr. Schwartz’s laboratory and the good doctor already killed it by the time Tim had visited. The young man knew next to nothing about their transformation: was it permanent? Can he help her?
“Finish her off or let her transform.” The gigantic wolf’s voice again echoed.
Tim’s head felt light. “Wolf?”
He noticed Asena losing her usual confidence. Were these Lycans that strong? Have they bitten more than they could chew again? Tim cursed under his breath as he decided. “I’m going to fix her.”
“What a naïve conclusion. Was this the false bravado which caught Baldr’s eye? It is disappointing.”
“How should I know? You gave me two choices. I pick whichever path you don’t want me going.” Tim spat. “You must be some wolf deity, right? Go dig a bone.”
Three spears of light suddenly pierced Tim from all sides! The young man knelt on one side, shouting curses at the gigantic wolf. Asena stepped between Tim and the large wolf.
“You side with him? I commend your loyalty.” The wolf materialized two more spears of light and launched it towards them. Tim, however, was faster. The young man managed to dash between Wolf and the spears and erected a crystalized wall of light. The spears dug half of its length through the wall, stopping and inch off Tim’s face. But Tim’s lacerations from the first three spears were significant. The young man screamed in pain as the deity materialized five more and stabbed him.
“You need only to show me your resolve of sacrifice.”
“I…already killed that old man…”
“And I want to see you reaffirm your resolve. If you do so, you will have my blessing. I will even allow your guardian wolf access to my domain.” The other Lycans howled. “I will turn her into an astral Lycan of some fashion. To help you with your endeavors.”
“What say you?” It finally asked, stepping closer. It was already a meter away from Tim’s limp body.
Tim opened his mouth and spat blood over the Wolf God. "I refuse."
Tim gave the deity a bloody toothy smile as he saw his spittle run down the Wolf God's face. “That bastard Baldr screwed me over once, that won't happen again
. but thanks for the offer.”
The wolf deity huffed once; its breath paved the fog away. It took a step back and let Tim bleed himself out. “After you die, I will add your wolf to my pack. She will come to serve a better master.”
As Asena growled at the suggestion, Tim dropped his sword and lost consciousness.
It was a one-sided slaughter. Tim couldn’t even fight back! What sort of life is this? Every single time Tim would find any progress of being able to see through a change, something would come and set him back twice what he had gained. He knew the world was cruel, but even Gods? Icebergian Gods are like that, the Allfather and his Kin are savages.
His exchanges with them proved it to be the case.Let ourselves loose, Tim. It happened once, and we fulfilled our goal protecting that village.
Quanny…It will be the same. That woman, her child and the remaining hunters. They were victims of circumstance to lure us out. We can grant them an exit to our lives, a peaceful way to keep them off our matters. We should be the only ones to suffer such a curse.
That is right.Let loose. Let them see true power. Gods, what use are they anyway?
What good are deities? They throw tantrums at every turn and the ones caught in their whims suffer. This wolf bastard, Baldr, Nyx, Erebus…No.
The only good they have given Tim was this so-called bastardized divine light magic.Stop.
Light…? No, it wasn’t just
light magic, was it?NO!
Tim opened his eyes and saw the spears of light slowly being absorbed by his body. These spears of light were made of raw divine magic. Absorbing such a magically rich thing had done something to Tim none of them had foreseen. The deep wounds they inflicted were practically gone, leaving purple glowing scars as Tim’s body slowly enveloped itself with a purple aura. Tim’s armor, Servant, followed suit and the young man was now coated with his magic’s dim purplish light. Two white orbs replaced where his eyes should be.
“What manner of power is this?” The Wolf God’s voice echoed.
“God Slaying Magic, I remember it being called that.” His voice now reverberated much like the wolf deity. “This was the sort of thing it was made for, wasn’t it? But I never felt this powerful using this magic. What were those spears made of?”
The Wolf God summoned ten more spears of light and launched it at Tim. But not even a meter from reaching the young man the spears changed colors from its pure white to a corrosive purple. The spears then crystalized the same color as Tim’s crystal wall of light. The spears then turned and stabbed the Wolf Deity!
“Slaying your kind. Is it really possible?” Tim muttered to himself as his floating summoned glass spears ran itself around the Wolf God. The deity howled and the Lycan were quick to defend it. Stalking around Tim as they waited to strike as one.
“Wouldn’t that be something? Seeing an immortal, infallible and perfect being reduced to such a mortal state: being dead.” Tim pulled the summoned spears back and made them dance around his body, the blade’s tip pointing away from him. “I want to see such an act at work.”
“This is what Baldr meant, the potential. And such a corrupted magic, as well…” The Wolf God healed itself quickly.
“You see that orb of light up above?” Tim talked to the Lycan group. They kept their eyes in Tim’s way, but the young man continued. “Everything the light touches is now my kingdom.”
Three of the Lycan group pounced together at Tim! They touched nothing. Tim was completely standing still and they could harm him no more than they could damage a ray of light. Tim flicked his hand and a bright light flashed followed by a cage of crystalized blades stabbing every Lycan except the newly transformed mother and Asena. Tim walked forward, abandoning the skewered monsters and turned the summoned spears towards Tim.
Without ceremony Tim stabbed the spears at himself and absorbed their magical energy.
“I am stuffed.” Tim let out a breath.
“I am satisfied by your showcase of power, Champion.” The Wolf God’s voiced echoed.
“I’m not.” Tim, remembering how the spell felt, summoned his own summoned spears. They were slightly thinner than the ones summoned by the Wolf God, but it was faster. Tim didn’t give the deity time to react and stabbed it again.
“I’ll send you back to Baldr in a body bag.” Tim hissed. “I’ll find a big one, don’t you worry.”
Tim summoned two bright flashes followed by a labyrinth of glass blades around each of the Wolf God’s limb. It reeled back, trying to jump away, digging the blades in their mark even deeper. The deity’s limbs failed it and was thrown across the ruins from its own weight when it tried to scurry away. Tim was slowly walking towards it.
“Baldr had not told me of this evolution in your magic.”
“Not too happy you’re on the other side of a God’s plan? Good.”
The Wolf God let the newly transformed mother loose and use the chain to grip Tim. Surprisingly enough the chain was able to grip Tim’s light-clad body.
“Wolf. Take care of her.” Tim called over to Asena as he materialized an orb of light. Asena ate the orb of light and clad herself with Tim’s magic. The astral she-wolf huffed Tim’s way in affirmative and slammed the newly transformed mother with her claw.
The God Slayer then looked at the chains wrapping around him.
“This rope was the very one that held me.” The pride in the God’s voice was evident. “Gleipnir.”
“It is made of six impossible artifacts.”
“Impossible, huh?” Tim looked at the rope closely and found it more like a silken ribbon. But somehow it was stronger than his magical chains. “They said killing Gods is an impossible feat.”
“Gods have been killed before, and will be again.” Its voice sounded solemn. “But not by a being like you!”
“Wanna bet?” The silken ribbon’s hue was now purple. Tim had corrupted the mythical string Gleipnir and took it as his own spell!
Tim unwrapped the string off his body and absorbed it. Before Tim could do anything else, however, a beam of light had descended over the Wolf God. “No!” It screamed as it was being taken up by the light. “I will not allow this shame! I have not been defeated yet-!”
But not a second later it was gone.
Tim turned and saw Asena fighting the mother. Tim summoned his newfound spell, Gleipnir, and tied the transformed mother much like earlier. But she was trying to escape, letting her loose earlier made her rogue. She didn’t look like she had any control over herself. She was barely conscious; her eyes were in a daze.
Tim wrapped the string around the mother’s neck and gripped it hard. After a few seconds she collapsed. Tim looked at Asena’s questioning gaze. “Let’s take her to the Fae.”
Tim’s wolf companion huffed and nudged her head over his shoulder. “Oh, that’s what you meant.”
“I did it, Wolf.” The young man sat down one of the ruin’s debris and caressed his companion’s head as whatever magical transformation Tim had undergone was subsiding. “I resisted. I didn’t end up like in Quanny…”