IS, V4, Chapter 9: Judgement

It was a peaceful moonlit winter night in the capital of Hithu Kingdom, Saer. The metropolis was over thirty square miles, and had a population of nearly two-million ‘pure-blooded’ Wood-Elves.

There was a strict curfew, so the city streets were completely empty. No one dared disobey their Goddess’ commandments. If someone was foolish enough to sin, she would always know… Whether or not she would actually do anything about it was a completely different matter.

Most of the architecture was elaborate and Gothic. Lots of tall towers and arches, colossal stained-glass windows, and there were a total of six cathedrals: Each of them were as beautiful as the royal palace. Every one of those magnificent buildings were guarded directly by an Angel of Hithu. They were the literal children of the Goddess, not created from the bodies of devout Pure-Elves, but sprouted from her ‘divine’ seeds.

The walls of the city were gargantuan blue vines and roots, while massive treants were stationed every kilometer around the circumference of the barrier. In the ten-thousand years since Saer was first constructed, there had never been a siege by the two enemy nations, nor was there a warbeast raid. On the surface, it was a wonderful utopia, untouched by the hundreds of crusades between the three prevalent religions in Salvation.

Of course, since all of the Pure-Elves in the ‘peaceful’ metropolis were royalty, nobility, rich merchants, or high-ranking military officials… they obviously couldn’t take care of themselves. Servants were required to make their lives easier; their titles were always maids, butlers, attendants, retainers, stewards, or housekeepers, but that was just to socially elevate them from the status held by lesser beings: Slaves.

Their masters could rape, beat, torture, murder, or do whatever they wanted to them, so how was it any different? Not only that, but peasants who became servants were essentially just trying to escape from being drafted into the military. Foolishly believing that their lives would be better in a beautiful city, than a battlefield. They were treated with extreme contempt by the retired holy-warriors, who became the private security of the various wealthy manors.

In many ways, their lives were far worse than livestock, because they knew exactly how terrible their situation really was. At least if they had never known the love or warmth of a family, never experienced kindness and joy, they wouldn’t understand how awful the despair of their reality was.

Three-hundred thousand rich assholes, and the rest were just their servants and bodyguards. There was actually a type of middle-class, which consisted of people with important skills, such as: Chefs, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, bakers, mages, merchants, enchanters, alchemists and pretty much any vocation that couldn’t be performed or learned by generic peasants with no training.

The laws of Hithu forbade extra-marital relations. The punishment for commoners was death, but the nobles who went farther by ‘mating’ with warbeasts or demi-elves, didn’t receive any retribution. She might not have been a real deity, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t powerful. Within her city, there was nothing that escaped her sight, yet she didn’t seem to care.

Hypocrisy, or perhaps it was merely indifference. Just because she ‘could’ observe everything, constantly, didn’t mean that she would. On many occasions, when faith in the Goddess was dwindling for whatever reason or resistance movements sprung-up, that was when she actually showed interest in ‘mortal’ affairs.

Even if seventy percent of the Wood-Elves who lived in Hithu Kingdom were religious fanatics, that still left at least six or seven million of them who weren’t. In that holy city alone, there were over five-hundred thousand ‘heretics’ who saw the ugly reality of their disgusting country. Not that they had the power to fight against their tragic fates.

On that beautiful night, in a magnificent garden at the center of the metropolis… Two women were chatting quietly underneath the colossal, bright-blue willow-tree.

One of them was a six-foot tall elf, with long, wavy azure hair, brown skin, sharp facial features, a lithe figure without much muscle. She was wearing a frilly cobalt-colored dress, covered with beautiful mana-gems.

The other was a two-meter tall dryad, with blue-bark and leafy-vines for hair. She didn’t have any clothing on her body, but she did carry a large golden staff with a crystal-clear jewel on the top.

They were both standing amid a myriad of luminescent plants and small animals, there were even fireflies and pixies buzzing around. The extremely tall Wood-Elf girl was smirking, as she asked “Mama, is there really a world below Salvation? If there is, then why don’t we just live down there instead of constantly fighting with Lum?”

A warm smile appeared on the dryad’s smooth and flexible face, the bark seemed more like skin than wood. She quietly replied “Hestia, long ago, before I was born… In my original form, I heard many stories about our ancestors. They used to live on an island. It was a place that was surrounded by endless water in every direction. There was always plenty of fish and fruits to eat, the mana was plentiful, and it was a truly peaceful paradise for our kind. Then ‘They’ started appearing. Honestly, I never really believed the stories until a few months ago, when those two monsters fell from the Heavens…”

Hearing that last sentence, a hint of fear flashed across the elf’s bright-blue eyes. Hithu continued “We used to call them ‘Spirits’, but they’re more like fallen gods. Beings with enough power to threaten entire nations, and each of their duels were as cataclysmic as the battle seven-thousand years ago, when Lum and I allied together against Agar. Even though we won, Southern Salvation is a desolate wasteland now. If I were to deal with those little demons directly, the aftermath would mean the downfall of the entire kingdom.”

Hestia frowned, then asked “Mama, are you saying that The Underworld is filled with these Spirits? If that’s the case, then why haven’t any of them appeared before now?”

The dryad sighed as she stared up at the luminous Full Moon, before responding “There was one, once, long ago… His name was Lord Asmodeus. I never wanted to tell you this, maybe I just wanted to pretend as if it never happened. That demi-elf, the one who calls himself Michael, The Spirit of Eternal Suffering… Hah~ he really fits that title. His physical and magical powers are mediocre, but his true strength is the ability to reach into your mind and make you experience horrors so terrible that even I was greatly weakened for a time.

“He made me remember my first life, as a little girl, living in a quiet, peaceful farming village with my mother, sisters, brother and father. We were poor, but we always had enough to eat… We were complacent, naive and foolish. There was only one large elven nation called ‘New Lorthon’ back then and we didn’t even have a military force to defend ourselves, because there were no outside enemies to fight.

“That was when the warbeasts suddenly started appearing. No one knew where they came from, and at first we thought that they were merely diseased animals, but they were more than that. They possessed a certain level of intelligence, almost on par with elves. The plagues swept across our town, just like all the others. The lucky few remained ‘pure’, but the majority were mutated and degenerated into frail goblins or hulking ogres.”

Hestia had a shocked expression as she gasped and asked “Those… creatures, were actually the result of a curse? You taught us that they were monsters, who attempted to disguise themselves as elves…”

Hithu frowned, then explained “We tried to cure them, but couldn’t, so we continued to treat them as our kin. Unfortunately, they hadn’t just changed in body. Their souls had been corrupted. It was forbidden to consume animals, yet those who were afflicted had uncontrollable cravings for flesh, blood and meat. My own brother killed and devoured my father. The rest of us could do nothing to stop the hulking monstrosity… So we fled. Perhaps it would have been better to die then, but we were unlucky enough to encounter a roving tribe of warbeasts.

“It was a race which no longer exists in this land, they were similar in appearance to the pigs that Lum farmers keep as livestock. Such hideous animals… My sisters, mother and I were captured and treated like their playthings for hours, before our fragile bodies were broken. I was merely a child, yet they still snorted and cackled while they ravaged me… That was my worst memory and Michael forced me to experience it all over again.”

Hestia actually started crying, listening to her mother’s horror-story. She had lived for over four-hundred years, but was still fairly ignorant to the evils that dwelled within her own city and kingdom. The elven-woman’s face was furious, as she yelled “You should have told us sooner! No wonder you’ve been afraid to confront that demon! Don’t worry Mama, even if we aren’t as powerful as you are, the seven of us can definitely deal with those two monsters!”

Hithu immediately scolded “No, you foolish child! I didn’t tell you this story so that you would want to seek vengeance for me! I meant it as a lesson… And a warning, but I still haven’t finished yet.”

The girl stopped crying and seemed to calm down, before muttering “Fine…” while sitting down onto a beautiful golden chair, which had bright-red cushions.

“What happened after that? You still haven’t told me about the Spirit.”

After sitting down on a similarly luxurious piece of furniture, the blue-dryad said “I didn’t want to die… Even after suffering from such unbearable shame, I desperately clung onto life, praying to the Spirits for salvation. Then a beam of blinding, white-light, shone down upon me, burning all of those disgusting pigs to ashes, along with everything else. Only my broken, tainted body remained, then ‘He’ appeared. If I am a goddess, then ‘He’ is an ancient and almighty titan, with the power to create gods.

“With but a single word, my wounds vanished and even the mental scars seemed to fade to a certain extent. I gratefully thanked him for healing me, but never expected that he would bestow upon me this divine vessel, along with this holy scepter… Lord Asmodeus never asked anything of me. I still don’t understand why he decided to help me and I definitely didn’t have the courage to question his intentions. The reason I told you all of this, is so that you realize… No matter how powerful you become, there will always be beings beyond your comprehension.”

Hestia bit her lip lightly, then nodded her head seriously, but before she could speak, a loud snickering leaked into their minds. Then a silverish-blue, meter-tall metallic golem appeared before them. Aside from the small mounds where breasts would be on a humanoid, there were no other discernible feminine features. The mannequin didn’t even have a face, only two brightly-glowing, eye-shaped golden-crystals.

The foolish elven girl yelled “Who are you?! How did you get here?!” Her voice was shaking and her entire body was trembling.

“Shut the fuck up, annoying brat.” The mysterious intruder’s high-pitched and melodious voice seemed to pierce into their very souls.

Neither of the two women dared to speak. They couldn’t sense the being’s aura and it was as if it wasn’t even physically there… Also, fireflies and moths occasionally fluttered through the apparition, so it wasn’t that hard for them to realize that it wasn’t corporeal.

Then the shiny blue golem snickered again, saying “You left out the best part of the story Hithu, or maybe you’ve forgotten after ten-thousand years. Well, that’s fine, I’ll help you remember a bit. After receiving your ‘divine’ powers, heh-heh, the first thing that you did was exterminate all the little piggies in Salvation… At least all of the humanoid ones. To be completely honest though, I really didn’t mind that too much. Even though you killed thousands of innocent children, women and men that had never harmed you nor anyone else in their entire lives, I can still overlook that much.

“It’s not like I haven’t done a bit of genocide in my younger years, but there are always rules. Don’t rape or enslave anyone! Is it really so difficult to understand? Did you enjoy being treated like garbage? It should be a basic instinct. There are some things that should never be done… And because of your corruption, you’ve damned not only yourself, but your kids and everyone else in your shitty country. The sins of the mother, pass onto her daughters.”

After that last sentence, Hithu finally begged “Please, I understand, I’ve erred, so punish me… Just don’t harm my children!” She knelt down in-front of the tiny golem and bowed her head with her palms against the dirt, the golden staff was laying by her left side.

The mannequin snickered, as Hestia yelled “Mama, what are you doing!? Even if this metal devil is powerful, you’re a Goddess! How can you-” but before she could finish speaking, she was enveloped in a bright-blue beam of light and vanished.

A smirk appeared on the dryad’s face, as it continued to face the ground. However, it immediately disappeared with the mysterious Spirit’s next words: “Did you really think that sending her to Lorthon Forest would make her safe? Hehehe~… Well, among your children, she’s the only one that I would consider truly ‘innocent’, so perhaps she’ll be able to find happiness there. I will tell you something rather ironic though, that gate you just teleported her to, is in a city called White Mithril. That ‘demon’ who you’re deathly afraid of… Let’s just say that it’s part of ‘His’ territory.”

Hithu grabbed her staff and glared at the golem, before asking “Who are you?” Her question was answered with a sigh, then a feeling of ominous dread spread throughout the quiet metropolis. The mana-level sharply rose in the skies above the southernmost cathedral and a blindingly bright beam of light shone down from The Moon.

The silverish-blue mannequin giggled, and quietly told her “It isn’t my job to punish you, little girl. I’m not even physically here right now. I was listening to your sob-story and couldn’t help myself. You can hear them, right? All those screaming and crying voices… So many people suffering in your shitty utopia and you couldn’t be bothered to answer their prayers? Don’t worry about that kid. You got lucky sending her within Michael’s territory. Unlike this hellhole, his country is actually turning out pretty nicely. Ah, speak of The Devil… Ugh, you didn’t get it. Anyway, they’re here, so I have to go now. Have fun dying!”

Suddenly, a deafening roar shattered the ominous silence. It was so loud that windows shattered, and the buildings rumbled as if there was a small earthquake. The beam of light vanished along with the mysterious golem, but the two new arrivals made Hithu’s sap metaphorically boil.

Hithu immediately screamed “No! Sia, don’t!” as she saw a relatively small dryadic form, using vines to propel herself towards the golden demon with blazing purple wings, that was falling from the heavens. It was one of her six little angels, the youngest and weakest one, who was wielding a gleaming claymore that was twice as tall as her body.

Her daughter ignored her telepathic warning, and continued to stab the two-meter long azure greatsword into the back of the obsidian-armored giant. The attack was blocked by a thick, meaty, pitch-black alligator tail, which was protected by a thin, chain-mail type of material. The tip of her ‘divine’ weapon was chipped off and before she had a chance to even slightly interrupt the monster’s descent, she was completely enveloped in a jet of superheated air.

The ‘Goddess’ desperately fired colossal roots out of the ground, yanking her daughter out of the way, as a massive vortex of blindingly-bright, white-plasma, erupted from the ebony demon’s back. If she had been even one second slower, the ‘Sixth Angel’, Sia, would have been completely incinerated. Right after that, there was a huge impact, and the southernmost cathedral was completely demolished.

Within the city, Hithu’s level of power was quite considerable, but she wasn’t omnipotent. Her understanding of magic was actually fairly rudimentary and what little she did comprehend, was based on her experiments in regards to transforming elves into dryads or treants. However, every fifteen-hundred years she was able to produce a single offspring of her own.

Each of her children were incomparably precious to her, and losing a daughter, would have been unbearable for the false-goddess. In fact, she could easily sacrifice her own life and all twenty-million of her followers, if it meant that she could protect just one of her brats.

Fortunately for her, by utilizing the power from her staff, she could drain mana from the world-tree beneath her feet. She sent out a stern message to each of her ‘Angels’, that all of them were to meet with her immediately.

Unlike Sia, the other five were much older and wiser, so they followed their mother’s commands. Once the six of them were gathered before her, each kneeling respectfully, Hithu smiled warmly at her children. Some were wearing golden or silver armor, others a beautiful white gown or a mage’s robe, and each were equipped with the finest weapons of their profession… At least within her kingdom.

She couldn’t physically cry, but since they were each telepathically connected with each-other, the emotions could still be felt. The Goddess solemnly told them “We all knew that this day would arrive eventually… I don’t know whether I will be able to slay these monsters, but if I fail, then I need you to promise me that you won’t be foolish enough to seek revenge. I had to send Hestia first, so we don’t have time for long goodbyes. Protect each-other, and… Please, find happiness. I love you all.”

The instant she stopped speaking, a beam of blue-light enveloped the six dryads, and they were teleported a thousand miles away, to White Mithril’s gigantic triangular pyramid. An expression of cold determination flashed across Hithu’s face, as she whispered “I’m sorry…” Not to her children, but to the people of Saer.

Then the mana-density in the atmosphere started rising at a catastrophic rate. Colossal fissures spread out, with that gigantic weeping-willow tree as the center and every building in the city began crumbling to the ground or falling into the abysmal crevices. The great wall of vines and roots that was supposed to be protecting the metropolis, along with all of the dryads and treants, were quickly being dragged across the collapsing ground at a terrifying speed.

Within seconds, hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting citizens were crushed to death by debris, the rest were killed outright by the overwhelming aura. It was almost like a tornado of luminescent blue tendrils were swirling around, with Hithu in the eye of the plant-storm.

The damage wasn’t limited to just those thirty square-miles. That gaping hole in the ground was rapidly expanding and the raging wind-currents, transformed nearly all of Hithu’s territory into a level-four mana-zone. Ironically, all of Yuri’s creations had a relatively high resistance, but the ‘pure’ elves either died or began mutating rapidly… Transforming into demons.

Of course, all of that took time and even at seventy miles-per-hour, as long as she was able to deal with those two quickly, it was still possible for her to prevent the worst case scenario. Within five minutes, the tornado of vines and roots finally stopped, leaving a kilometer tall treant in its wake.

The bright-blue colossus was shaped like the dryadic goddess, and her true body was being protected deep within the monstrosity. It didn’t have legs, because everything below the waist was unnecessary. The whole shape was a little pointless as well, but she had created it as a last resort in order to deal with an overwhelming army of gigantic enemies.

All of those treants and dryadic soldiers weren’t simply absorbed into the titanic blue-woman’s torso, but were actually connected to her bark. Using water-manipulation or simply climbing, Saer’s entire military force was encroaching on the two relatively small ‘demons’.

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