Tationy had died. As her very existence among the living faded away, she saw life, what was and what could have been. How she wanted that life. Even though she could feel the turbulent emotions of unhappiness inside her, she desperately wanted to be at Zen’s side in the modern world. She wanted to have Hiko kiss her like that again. Tationy wanted to watch her son grow up. Share those intimate moments with Kuro. She wanted to stand at Sesiago’s side, even if it was brief. She wanted to fall in love with Iashi. They were just moments in time as she passed away from the world of the living. Had she known when she woke up that day that Hero was going to attack and that she was going to be killed protecting him, Mikio, and Iashi, she might not have even bothered to get out of bed.
There was no floating involved or bright lights. When her very essence stilled from the experience of death, she was on the ground. She could hear water and birds, feel the breeze upon her cheeks. Lifting her head, she realized it was nothing at all like she imagined heaven would look. She stood on wobbly legs, brushing herself off. She was surprised to see herself in her school uniform. “We have been waiting for you.” A stern voice spoke.
Startled she turned her attention toward it. There stood several men she recognized by appearance. “Sesiago.” His head tilted, his eyes closed, and the putout look on his face was rather obvious. The laughter of one of the men standing with him, caused Tationy to frown and realize quickly she had made a major mistake. “You are Kazuma, sorry I expected….”
“We felt you would be more comfortable if we were less formal.” The speaker looked like Chee, so she assumed that he must be the one called Hisoka.
“Is this heaven?”
“This is Sumanai, the garden of the Gods.” Kazuma responded.
The Garden of the Gods, she hardly recognized it from her time there as Sesiago’s wife. “So I am dead then.” Her words were more a statement of relief. To her it was a sign that it was all over and everything would go back to normal now. Their silence brought her no comfort. “Mikio is still alive, right?” She asked as she noted that the God Rin did not appear to be there.
“Mikio’s fate is sealed.”
Tationy frowned understanding that Mikio would be joining them soon enough. She turned away from the gods as the emotions welled inside her. Was it the fate of everyone she cared about to die or be miserable?
There was no time for all of the questions she had to be answered. She was not shown around. She was not asked to come in, though eventually she did venture forth. Here, she was the goddess Tearra, her decisions were her own. She was an equal to them, even if they did not particularly acknowledge or accept it. “You have such an interesting expression upon your face. I cannot tell if you are elated or solemn. Perhaps a bit of both?” Ryozo inquired.
“Why is it like this?”
He brought his finger to his lip and considered her question thoughtfully before responding, “Are you referring to your appearance and general disposition?” Her silence must have given him the answer he was seeking so he responded, “Tearra picked you because you were weak, but she was foolish and had not realized that you were more powerful than all three of them combined. You devoured their souls, little by little until there was nothing left of Osa, the Prince of Aslann, and Tearra. You are as you are because you were victorious.”
“Is that a compliment from the God of War?”
“Perhaps. While others find the circumstances disturbing, I am delightfully amused by the prospect. I did warn Tearra regarding the consequences of her plan upon her deathbed. She refused to listen.”
“So what happens now? What do I do? I mean how exactly does this work?”
“When Rin rises to the heavens we will come together and decide the fate of the world as a whole.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, we plan on fixing the unbalanced caused by what Tearra and the Prince of Aslann did. It may not be to your liking though.”
She asked again what he meant this time hollering as he turned and walked away. “Ryozo…” She called his name, as she attempted to follow him.
She had lost him. The large garden manor was too much to navigate without an extensive knowledge of it. Despite what she knew, she felt it was like she was not meant to find him so she wandered around. She opened several doors and peeked inside, unsuccessful at finding anyone, until she opened one door to a small sitting room and there stood Kazuma. Inside the room there were statues of Tearra and she felt like she was intruding upon his reverie so she quickly attempted to back out.
“That is not necessary.” He responded. He kept his attention away from her and had even turned his back to the statues.
She considered why he may have done this, but did not question it. “I am sorry to intrude.”
His arms crossed over his chest and Tationy considered he might not speak to her. “Your clothing reveals too much….”
Tationy blinked then laughed, “I imagine times have changed drastically since you were mortal.” He offered no response and she frowned thinking that perhaps she offended him by laughing, “I am sorry, I have never been very good at talking to attractive men.” His body tensed, even Tationy noticed. Kazuma was not the type to react to anything or if he did it always seemed like he was annoyed, this time though the reaction was obvious. “Are you mad at me Kazuma?”
“Not at you.”
“I don’t particularly understand her reasoning.”
“Is that because I am ugly?”
“Thanks don’t hold anything back, Kazuma.” She responded.
“You were the one that used the world ugly.”
“Well you did not have to agree so readily.” She snapped. Tationy thought he was insensitive so she turned her back to him.
“You are plain. Tearra was flawless. I created her exactly as she was meant to be.”
“Perhaps you never considered that maybe that was not how she saw herself.”
Kazuma disregard her words and changed the topic, “Do you regret not choosing Sesiago?”
His question surprised her so she stumbled over her words. “He probably would have been a different man had I not chosen Iashi.”
“Sesiago embodied everything that it meant to be Kari. I do not understand….”
“When I needed him the most he cast me aside,” She said and Kazuma’s eyes darkened. “Iashi….Shiano loved me and that is all I ever wanted. Sesiago was unable to put aside that part of him that was Kari to accept me as I am with all of my flaws.”
“I see. If you will excuse me.” He voiced leaving Tationy standing alone.
She sighed inwardly. It was twice now that she had chased one of the gods away.
She had found a nice quiet place to think about anything and everything. She found her mind often drifted to Kuro and her son. She wondered if Kuro survived the battle. If he didn’t who would care for their son? There were so many questions that were lingering and despite, the unwanted emotion she did her best to not react to it all. “You must really love him.” A voice muddled her thoughts as her attention was drawn toward Hisoka.
She wondered briefly how long he had been standing there. “He accepted me for me. He was not afraid to be himself.”
“That is important to you?”
“Of course it is.”
“What of Kazuma?”
“What about him?”
Hisoka chuckled slightly amused at her words, “I see.”
“What is so funny?”
“I understand now.”
“Why Tearra chose you. I doubted she had any idea that you would devour her soul in the end….” He halted his words, “No matter you will understand yourself eventually. I should probably inform you that, Rin has arrived,” He said as he began walking toward the manor and Tationy moved to catch up.
When they entered, Tationy looked around, but caught no sight of Rin. “Where is he?” She asked Hisoka, who simply shrugged his shoulders and moved off. She finally found him speaking with Kazuma in a small lounge, “Mikio.”
He had turned around to face her casually running his hand through his hair. His eyes looked far more like a snake then they ever had before. He was not the same man she knew, he was completely the god Rin. She did not even need him to acknowledge it. “I am sorry, Rin.” She only managed to say that much before turning away and rushing to leave the room.
She had been simply lying on the floor in one of the rooms, trying to take it all in. She never felt so lonely before and then she remembered that, for the most part that was how Tearra felt. He had found her. Of all the gods, she wished it was anyone, but him. He knelt down near her though did not approach a conversation. “When you told me his fate was sealed, I hoped he would be himself. I guess it was too much to ask for.”
“We are ourselves, it is you who…” Kazuma cut his words off.
“If you have something to say Kazuma, don’t hold back now.”
“As you wish.” He responded, “I find it troublesome that you are here and Tearra is not. The questions that we gods have, you cannot answer. Your Saitama blood caused this usual phenomenon that I do not believe Tearra was prepared for. Ryozo seems rather impressed by it. However I am not. She should have been able to overpower you. The general consensus is, she was not able to because you are meant to be here. With that said, I am not happy.”
“I am sorry I devoured your queen. I doubt it will mean anything, I would rather she be here as well. I have this knot in me and I don’t know how to make it go away.” She paused a moment, “Ryozo said we are going to fix the unbalance, what did he mean?”
“We are going to rewrite the world.”
“With all of us together we are now at our full power. We can command the heavens again. From the point of our reincarnations, to your death, we are going to fix what has been done. The fate of every soul that has been encountered by you, Osa, Tearra, and The Prince have Aslann will be judged. Some people will be revived others will be erased from existence. We will shape a new world and start over from the beginning.”
“I do not know if I can do that.” She responded nervously.
“You have no choice.”
His words made her feel even worse. Tationy awkwardly adjusted her body into a seated position. “I won’t be allowed to return to my time will I?”
At first he was silent, until his hand reached out and gently touched her face. “What time would you like to return to?”
She felt a shock through her body as an imagine flashed through her mind. She felt the emotions the waves of pleasure through her as Sesiago pinned her to the bed. There was something wrong with the imagine. It was something that had to do with Hiko. She was betraying him. There was something else, something she could not see. Some danger that was looming. (Author Note: This is an image from The Exiled Prince Reloaded)
Even though that image felt wrong the next one did not feel right either. It was the same, the same Hiko from the flashes she had of her time with Zen in the modern world. Why did they feel right and wrong at the same time? He loved her, she could feel it all over him, but there was apprehension. It was not on his part though, it was with her. There was a distance that she built between them.
She bit her lip as an image of her and Sesiago in close proximity appeared in her head. It never happened, but it felt so real standing in the Kari village with him during a time when she was pretending to be someone else. She was leaning in to whisper a secret to him, and Tationy could not help, but wonder what it was.
She had lived too many lives. In his own way this was what Kazuma was trying to tell her. The Matsuo assassin who had violently bumped into her while she was pregnant even appeared in the images. Why him? Why that time? Why that connection? She did not understand what she was seeing in some of the images. To her they seemed unreal, but she imagined if she had lived the lifetimes of Tearra, the Prince of Aslann, and Osa she had seen more than her share of the world.
She struggled emotionally about which time to choose. If she picked one, could she even return? Her mind flashed sharply to a time when she was in The Land of Souls with Sesiago. It never happened. He never kissed her like that. She understood that this image was a moment in time, had she accepted him instead of Iashi.
She gasped suddenly as she stood as the Prince of Aslann and at her side Hero of the Takahashi. She did not understand, she had all of the memories of the Prince, what was this? Did it happen, was it real, what could it mean?
“Stop I don’t want to see anymore.”
“Not even him?” He asked as an image of Tationy standing with Kuro appeared.
She felt the tears welling in her eyes. “Why are you doing this?
“The choice you make here and now determines whether or not you see these people again.” He responded simply.
He pulled her close to him as she came face-to-face with a memory that belonged to Tearra with Hero. “Stop showing me this.” She yelled.
“Did you know that the man that killed you was once married to Tearra?”
“I…I didn’t know that.”
“During those days she had been reincarnated as a young Yamada woman. Their marriage was arranged and the two of them were wed when she was just a girl of seventeen.”
He paused a moment before continuing, “One-night after a nightmare she reached out grabbing up his sword and swung violently. She was hardly in her right mind at the time, but the sword had grazed his eye, slicing through it. Despite the horrendous pain he was in, he still reached out to her. The body she had chosen for her reincarnation was weak. She suffered greatly and in the end would sub-comb to the mental deterioration. You have not been able to access Tearra’s memories, even though you have devoured her soul. Do you know why that is?”
“No. Why can’t I?”
“I believe that it is because she did not wish for you to have them. The others disagree. They feel that you are the one. Which makes me wonder, if that is the case, what is it you do not wish to remember?”
“How the hell should I know.” She snapped at him even though she was certain his intent was not to incite her to anger.
He reached out his hand, lifting her chin so that he might look at her face. She pouted and tried to turn away from him, but he was unwilling to allow her to do so. “What is it you want?”
“I want everything to go back to the way it was, before the traveling to Aslann, before everything fell apart.”
“You understand that if we do that, then you, will never meet him.”
By him, she assumed he was referring to Kuro. It was his way of telling her that she was never meant to be with him in that time. That their fates were already predestined for another path.
“And the others?”
“Many of them that you encountered and grew to care for you would never cross paths with. Your fates only became linked once you traveled to Aslann.”
She sighed noticeably. “Please leave me alone Kazuma…”
“Consider what it is you truly want. When next we speak we will decide the fates of all of the mortals poisoned by their encounter with you.” His words stung her. She could not help, but wonder if that was how he saw her.
Time seemed absent in the garden. Tationy was not certain how much time passed or even if any had. She felt as though the gods had been purposely avoiding her. She had not seen a single sign of any of them since she last spoke with Kazuma. She had plenty of time to think about what she wanted, though truthfully, she was not certain if she had made the right decision. Kazuma had asked her about what she wanted and all she could think about at first was that she might be able to leave and go back to her time. She still wondered if that was possible, did the gods have that kind of power? If they did, what sort of consequences would there be.
Tationy had taken to wandering around the garden. Though it seemed familiar to her, there was still a part of it that felt foreign. Perhaps it was the circumstances or the lack of Tearra’s memories that contributed to this feeling. In the end she was not certain. Walking around brought her some comfort and gave her plenty of time to think. Though she admitted to herself very reluctantly she was lonely. Perhaps that was why she could not bring herself to move when she stumbled upon Rin standing alone with a despondent expression upon his face. He looked up, his eyes focusing in on her and Tationy nervously looked away, “I apologize, I did not mean to disturb you.”
At first she got silence. The worst part of her wanted to be angry, but she imagined Rin more than any of the other gods carried the heaviest burden. “Do you think about him?”
Tationy nervously stepped forward, “Are you talking about Mikio or Kuro?” He once again refused to respond. “I think about both of them all the time. I knew so much about them and yet so little. I loved them both dearly, I was very fortunate to have met them.”
“The Prince of Aslann sinned against my kin…” Rin responded, his tone was cold, his voice had a hiss to it which made it come off as menacing. “That sin is yours as well. It seems to me you have sinned greatly against the blood of the gods. Your clan has shown an utter disrespect. Consider this my notice to you that I intend to support the decimation of the Tylo clan.” He moved to walk away.
“Wait, you are holding me accountable for what my clan did? I was not even there for the majority of their sins. Isn’t this as much your sin as it is mine?”
He stopped walking suddenly turning toward her, “Enlighten me, how exactly is this my sin?”
She nervously considered her words before finally speaking, “Soti was your son. That means the Prince of Aslann who sinned against your clan the most, is born of your blood. If I have to take responsibility for the Tylo, you have to take responsibility for the part of him that is Ishi.”
“He was raised Tylo…”
“I don’t care what he was raised. He has the blood of the fallen god Rin. If he is my sin, then he is yours as well because he was created from …” She paused. Soti was the son of Rin and Tearra, the grandfather of the Prince of Aslann. In the grand scheme of things there was no way around it. She bit her lip, swallowing the lump that formed in her throat as she awkwardly spit out her words, “We created Soti together that makes the Prince of Aslann is our sin.” Rin got an odd expression upon his face and Tationy quickly realized that there was someone standing behind her.
Nervously she held her breath, “Rin please leave us.” The voice of Kazuma spoke. Tationy hesitantly turned around, bowing her head. She was disappointed in herself for losing her temper, but more importantly that Kazuma had witnessed it. It was not like he had not seen her angry before, but in this moment she was feeling more self-conscious. “The sky is dark.” He finally responded when Rin was out of earshot. His voice was softer then she had ever imagined. “The wind has picked up. A storm is brewing. Storms are unusual here. You need to learn to control your temper. I told you that now that we are all in one place our powers are at their strongest. Your fury has commanded the sky to darken, the wind to billow.”
“I don’t like to be lectured.” She responded.
Sighing deeply, “You are troublesome.”
Tationy glared at him then quickly looked away. “Whatever, you gods have been ignoring me up until this point…”
His features showed surprise for a single moment, then quickly faded, “Is that what you think?”
“It is true. I have not seen any of you for a while.”
“I assure you that is not the case. We were simply giving you space to work out your feelings and gather your thoughts.” Kazuma paused as he took a step toward her, “I heard your words to Rin.”
As the rain began to gently fall, Tationy considered that Kazuma and Sesiago were so similar. They were both always speaking in such a formal matter-of-fact tone. Tationy found that it slightly annoyed her that he could keep such an emotionally distant disposition considering he was in love with Tearra. There was a part of her that would have preferred him to get angry, show some sign of being human, but then she had to quickly remind herself that he wasn’t human at all anymore and neither was she. She turned her back to him and began walking away. There was not a single thing he could say that would make her feel better and she had little she wanted to say to him at this point. She did not get very far, feeling his grip on her arm as he forced her to turn and face him, rather quickly halting any departure.
For her this was the worst possible situation. Almost instantly her eyes drifted toward his lips and her body tensed. She cursed under her breath, wishing that he did not have Sesiago’s face. No matter how low their relationship had sunk, she still cared for him. She still had those feelings that lingered within her. Had she not been Yamada, she was certain he would never have let her go. “You are thinking about another.”
“Just let me walk away.” She whispered.
“What you said to Rin.”
“I was just speaking the truth. If it is my sin it is his as well.”
“Do you feel anything when you look at him?”
“When I look at him I see the face of Mikio staring back at me, but it is cold and heartless. I understand now why Kuro and Mikio both hated and feared him.”
“That is not what I am asking you.”
“You are asking me about Tearra’s feelings?”
“You don’t have her memories, but do you feel anything…”
Tationy cut him off from finishing his words, “When I look at all of you I see faces I recognize, but that is it. I don’t see anything other than that or feel anything when I look at him. I probably should feel something right, but thankfully there is nothing.”
He released his grip on her arm as he took a step back from her, “Thankfully you say…” There was something in his tone, “Do you wish to be mortal again and if you were, whose arm would you be on?”
She frowned, “Why are you putting me on the spot?”
His head bowed, “You are right, I am rushing things. You have plenty of time to make your decisions.”
He did not give her any opportunity to respond as he took off leaving her standing there alone.
Kazuma stepped out on the balcony his mind pre-occupied. “I have not known you to rush things.” Hisoka spoke breaking Kazuma of his wandering thoughts.
“So you witnessed?”
“Sadly I wish I had not seen such a sorry display.” Hisoka paused, “Time passes so quickly here. You could make her mortal. She will meet the one called Zen Kari not long from now. What she envisioned upon her death will come true, if you can relinquish your hold on Tearra, but I imagine the King of the Gods is unable to do such a thing. Kazuma, she is gone devoured by that little girl. I admit there are times that I see Tearra within her, but she will never be her again at least not in any capacity that matters.”
“What would you have me do Hisoka? If I make her mortal, then we as well must suffer the same fate.”
“I would not mind, perhaps it is something to thoroughly consider.” Hisoka paused, “Regarding Rin, I have spoken with him and…”
Kazuma interrupted him, “Rin has made himself clear to Tationy regarding his intentions toward the Tylo clan.”
“So he has already mentioned it.”
“If we allow the decimation of the blood of one god, we must consider it for all.”
“I am surprised to hear you say that.” Hisoka responded. Hisoka seemed to wait for some response from Kazuma, as the pause lingered. Kazuma did not utter anything so Hisoka sighed and spoke, “You have given her plenty of time to consider what must be done, have you not? How many centuries are we going to continue to wait? She may not be aware of the passage of time, but the rest of us have become restless in-regards to unresolved matters. Her response to Rin, what was it?”
“She told him that the Prince of Aslann and the sins of the Tylo clans were as much his sins as they were hers.”
Hisoka chuckled, “Oh such a response to the God of Death, she is rather brazen, but her statement indicates she is ready to make the tough decisions, wouldn’t you agree?” Once again Kazuma did not respond, “My, my, it would seem it is you who is not prepared.”
Kazuma frowned deeply as he shot Hisoka a glare, “Inform the others we are ready to discuss matters.”
It had been centuries since they all gathered together. Tationy nervously took a seat uncertain and ill-prepared for what was to come. Kazuma spoke, “There have been too many crimes against our kingdom. The world has become an ugly place. Our divine vision has been tainted. Many of our creations turned against us. Those that were loyal did things in our name, things against our blood. We ourselves were manipulated. We have fallen greatly. If that were not enough one of our own took it upon herself to carry out an agenda that changed the very course of the world we created. This agenda caused plotting, manipulating, and sacrifice. Are all of you prepared to set the world back on a proper course?”
The gods quickly agreed though Tationy was lacking enthusiasm. She and Kazuma refused to look at each other. There was a small part of her that felt great disappointment that Kazuma did not reach out to her and yet she told herself how ridiculous it was because she loved Kuro. She was unaware of how much time had passed, she had no knowledge that her son had already grown up and died. Perhaps if she had not been so selfishly stuck in her own pitiful mind she might have noticed the world continued on without her.
“Is your solution to kill them all, wipe them out and start over as though they never existed?” Rin questioned. “If we punish all of them, then there will be no one left to learn from the experience.”
“Already against me Rin?”
“Don’t start.” Ryozo interjected, “This is the behavior that allowed Kisho to manipulate us.”
“The Nakamaru clan led by Kisho became demons. They were dabbling in the darkest arts long before the world was completely formed. We made a mistake in creating them.” Hisoka responded.
“You mean I did?” Rin questioned.
“We all have to take responsibility.” Tationy interjected.
Her words seemed to surprise the gods which caused a pause in the conversation. Ryozo finally broke the silence, “The Nakamaru clan deserves the punishment of eradication, starting with their leader Kisho. They jump bodies and continue on…” He paused when he noticed the somber expression upon Tationy’s face. “You disagree?”
“Forgive me, my feelings overtook me a moment. I care deeply for the one who calls himself Atsuki of the Nakamaru and the one called Shinao. The two of them, were misguided. Control and power, enveloped them, and they used many to acquire what they wanted. Despite my agreement of eradication of the Nakamaru, the overwhelming emotional response regarding these two keeps me from agreeing entirely.” She felt, the emotions of a mortal as a single tear ran down along her cheek.
“We should continue this another time.” Rin’s words surprised Tationy.
“We will not.” Kazuma responded. “Tationy has to battle her own demons. If she does not master herself, then we will be forced to do it for her.”
“I am alright.” Tationy spoke, obvious annoyance in her tone, “I agree that the Nakamaru should be eradicated entirely. However we have to keep in mind that everything we do now, effects not just the present, but the past and the future. If we remove one individual from history, it can have an effect on everything.”
Hisoka bowed his head, “I agree. We cannot simply topple one clan after another, we need to all be in agreement because the lasting repercussions of those decisions will alter the state of the world.”
There was a silence as the Gods considered the situation. They harbored great hatred of Kisho for his manipulation of them. It was because of him that they one by one became mortals. They did not wish to act out in hatred or anger, but with Kisho of the Nakamaru it was difficult. “Kisho and his clan deserve this punishment, they have done a great deal of damage through the centuries, manipulating clans, stealing lives, and dabbling in the darkest parts of the world we created in attempts to become as powerful as their creators. Is there anyone that disagrees?” Kazuma questioned.
There was silence from the Gods, “You can’t do that.” Tationy yelled out. “You cannot judge an entire clan because of the actions of a few of their people.”
“We understand your pain Tationy.” Hisoka spoke, “You are not the only one who has suffered, many clans have been destroyed as they battled to obtain Tearra. Many lives were lost, simply saving you. We are truly not as callous as you might think, but you must gain control of yourself. These are decisions only the gods can make. You still hold on to your humanity that which keeps you tied to the mortal world. Eventually it will fade into non-existence.”
“You think it will be so simple to get rid of that part of me?”
Rin bowed his head a small smirk passing over his lips. “In a brief moment when Tearra and Kazuma faced each other in the Land of Souls. She told him she picked you because you were weak, but you have great strength. I understand why my son fell in love with you. Hisoka is right though, if you wish for your world to continue on, you must let us do this. Failing to fix what has been done, will resolve in the world continuing on as it is. I promise you, Tationy, that when this is finished I will make certain that you are returned to your world.”
“You do not belong with Kuro. You were never meant to come here. This is because of Tearra’s selfishness and the manipulations and petty game between the Prince of Aslann and the Nakamaru that you are here. Kuro was gone long before you were even born.”
She couldn’t breathe, at least that was what it felt like to her as she stood and backed away from the Gods. The expression on her face told them that she was in pain, Hisoka stopped her from running as he spoke. “You will not remember any of this, it will be just like a dream and you will simply wake up and go about your life as though none of this ever happened. You never wished to be here and yet you are fighting so hard not to be pulled from it. Aslann has already been restored to the state it was before this war began. Now sit and gain control of yourself because nothing is gained by you interrupting us.”
She took a seat next to Kazuma, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
“Enough of this foolishness.” Kazuma spoke. “You think you can defy me again?”
“I will defy you as many times as it takes for you to listen.”
“Kazuma, perhaps a break is necessary.” Ryozo spoke up.
“No. We will start over from the beginning with the Nakamaru clan.”
To Be Continued