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Theros Beyond Death: Chapter 3

24. 2. 2020

The God of the Sun is not accustomed to fail. By reminiscing the past of Theros and himself, he tries to find the key to doing something not attempted before, and in it, to shaping his own future per his desires.

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CHAPTER III: Heliod

 

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, present

Heliod, the god of the sun, was sulking. He did not like it a bit. He looked around. Nykthos, the Shrine to the Nyx, spread its two arcade wings to both sides. A place unique to whole Theros, where the veil between Nyx and Theros was thinnest. For the brave or foolish it was the easiest gate to Nyx. For devoted believers, a place where they might far most easily (and without dramatic and/or fatal consequences) glimpse the objects of their faith, the gods of Theros, with their own eyes.

But not for Heliod.

For him, it was the place where he waited for the traitorous stranger. The woman who stole Purphoros’s sword from this world, only to reappear far later. He took the sword from her, reshaped it into the Godsend, and make her his champion, to join forces with his foremost prophet Daxos.  But then the satyr come, a despicable, lowlife creature that dared to became a god. Unheard of! Had he have actual blood, it would proverbially boil when he thought about it. The satyr tricked the stranger and made her kill Daxos. She managed to make a journey into Nyx and pass Erebos’s ordeal, she even killed the impudent satyr with Nylea’s help. Both Nylea and Thassa implored for him not to take revenge on her. But Heliod does not forgive.  She was too powerful, too alike that satyr, and it was her hand that sent Daxos to Erebos.  She wanted to give her life in Exchange for Daxos’s, and Heliod gladly helped her.  Just here, at the Nyx side of Nykthos, he impaled her on her own weapon.  He let her leonin companion to take her back to Theros, for Erebos – cursed be his black heart forever – to take her.  But the perfidious lord of the Underworld does not fulfill his promise in the way Elspeth imagined. Daxos left the Underworld, but as a soulless Returned, his golden mask mockingly adorned with Heliod’s symbol of the pegasus.

And now, his ashen soulless body was lying on the altar of Nykthos. Finding one particular person on Theros was difficult, but if you had the might and abilities of the Sun God, it quite helped. Especially if the particular one was your foremost prophet in life. That was just the first, easier part.

Lying there, mocking his power. He wondered – had his killing Elspeth here something to do with it? He frowned and prepared for another attempt. Nothing and nobody will dare to resist the will of the God of the Sun, the highest and mightiest of the gods of Theros!

 

***

 

Nyx, untold past

 

"Give us warmth!

Bless our prosperous hunt with your rays!

Come again tomorrow, O Sun!"

 

The prayer was maybe not the most eloquent one, but it was full of honest belief and desire. And the very first moment of belief, of his inception, Heliod remembered to this day. It was something unimaginably amazing, and Heliod (despite he got the name far later, at that moment just the primordial embodiment of the sun) enjoyed it. He was like a rushing river of light that permeated the whole Nyx in one moment.

It took some time for him to become aware of the others‘ presence. The searing presence of the god of the forge, piercing gaze of the goddess of the hunt, and bone-chilling coldness and rigor of the god of the dead.  Their first meeting ended up in a fight, interrupted by Kruphix. Half angry, half amused he said something about „counterparts“, who knows what he meant by that, and determined that he and Erebos would govern separate dominions. That time, Heliod half-aloud said why should everybody obey Kruphix, of all gods – but it took just one gaze of the God of Horizons to silence him. Even everytime later, when meeting Kruphix, Heliod felt like naked.  The God of Horizons never adopted a fully „human“ appearance and resembled just a humanoid figure made from the primordial starry matter of Nyx. He was just different than all others, and liking it or not, he instilled chilling respect even in the proud sun god. Heliod has a vague feeling that Kruphix sees right through him, to the core of his being.

 

The gods did not understand the fundaments of their existence, but they learned the rules and relationship between belief and their own power very fast. After the titan fiasco that destroyed almost the whole Theros and the gods with it, Kruphix learned a very grave lesson and told the others about it. Erebos defied him, knowing that any living creature, no matter what, would finally end up with him. Kruphix was uncompromising, though, and punished Erebos with a temporary „silence“, weaving his essence firmly into Nyx and forbidding him from interacting with material world. Such a punishment affected greatly the possibilities of keeping the faith of followers, and became an everpresent threat to any other god.

 

***

 

Theros, recent past

To infuse a living mortal with Nyx essence, to imbue him or her with stars, as it was called, was quite simple for a god. To revive a mortal who resided in the Underworld in that way was also not difficult. Problems arose when the mortal was dead, but at the same time escaped as a Returned. In that case, his soul split when escaping the Underworld. A sliver of it remained in the Returned’s body, but a major part, with memories, emotions, ideas, flew away. Sometimes it remained in the Underworld, sometimes it wandered around Theros in the form of an eidolon, starry imagination given form, and sometimes it irreversibly dissolved into the fabric of Nyx.

It was easy for Heliod to find Daxos’s body, but he had to find his soul as well…

 

***

Theros, untold past

Millenia passed, and civilization happily developed on Theros. The Sun was still held in high esteem, but as more and more gods arose, Heliod started to worry. Worry about his own might and its extent. In a way, the Meletian philosophers started it all, when they tried to grasp the nature of fire. At first, there were just harmless discussions (or quarrels) about the nature of elements, but later some philosophers started to push the opinion that everything that gives out light and warmth had to share the fundamental nature, like fire in hearth, erupting volcano, lightning in a storm…and the sun.

 

As this opinion spread, the Nyx itself adapted itself according to it, and that, as you might guess, created tension and many problems between Purphoros and Heliod. Before, each of them has his separate share of belief to draw power from, but now, for these two, both beliefs started to merge. Purphoros, driven by his nature, decided to solve it in quite straightforward way. Their fight prevented further merging of both beliefs, but since that, the God of the Forge and God of the Sun clashed repeatedly and quite regularly. But their battles were evenly matched, and the whole fight ended with a couple of lightnings, distant earthquakes and disturbed skies. But when Heliod once proclaimed himself the ruler of all the gods, the hot-blooded forge god lost his nerves. He decided for a radical move -in his forge in the bowels of Mount Velus he created the Sword of Chaos. The nature of the sword allowed it to actually harm the very fabric of the Nyx, and – by extension – hurt the gods. This time, their clash made a substantial mess, for the swipes of Purphoros’s sword made many cuts in Nyx, including disturbing the celestial abode of Polukranos, World-Eater, a mythical hydra, that fell down from Nyx and descended to Theros. Heliod called for Kruphix, who came, grasped Purphoros with his four arms and dragged him away. Heliod and Nylea managed to slow Polukranos’s descent and imprison it below the Nessian wood, so that the hydra, violently ripped out from its Nyx home, did not lay waste on the world. But in the mess, the Sword of Chaos fell through cracks in Nyx to Theros and vanished.

The God of Horizons was really, really angry about the consequences of the fight. He declared that if ever shall the mortals be endangered by gods‘ actions, he will impose the Silence again, and this time, all the gods will be weaved back into Nyx and prevented from affecting mortals. He punished Purphoros and ordered Heliod to bring back the Sword of Chaos. But he failed to find it. It was just like it vanished from the face of Theros.

No matter the result, Heliod never forgot the moment when , thanks to the philosophers, the essence of both gods started to merge. It was unsettling and unpleasant, but strangely intoxicating as well. For a brief moment, Heliod felt like he was Purphoros at the same time, felt his might, but also felt that his brother feels the same and tries to hold both his and Heliod’s might separate. Heliod himself, thanks to being the god of the sun, occupied the highest place in mortals‘ imagination and beliefs. He was not the ruler of all gods (despite he proclaimed himself as such) and not even the mightiest one (that was, since forever, Kruphix), but people considered him, so to say, the first among the gods. And at that time, the idea hit him for the first time.

Not to be the first. To be the only.

 

***


Theros, recent past

Heliod never paid much attention to Kruphix’s lessons about the nature of the Nyx, the Underworld, and mortals. He did not care about them. Daxos was the first one, who Heliod has something that can be called „feelings“ for.  When he run Elspeth through with the Godsend, his hand was driven mainly by pride and anger, impudence that there is a mortal who knows more than him. Who can do something that he cannot. A revenge for killing (though under dark sorcery) his foremost prophet. But deep down, very deep, something else.

But it took Daxos’s death for Heliod to realize that. This was the first time he felt something that he can call a loss.  And it took more than a year for him to find Daxos’s fleeting eidolon, glittering in shadows of the Nessian, where (without Heliod knowing it) Daxos met Elspeth for the first time long ago.  Maybe it was thanks to his mother’s sacrifice, maybe to the love for that wretched woman, maybe his lifelong affinity to the gods and the Nyx. One way or the other, it has not dissipated and Heliod had little effort to lure it towards him, and, to his amazement, even less to make it follow him.

Now the most difficult part came. With great self-loathing he shrouded his godly existence under a veil of illusions, and set out for Meletis. Here, the largest temple to him on Theros existed, and here Daxos spent most of his life. The god of the Sun hated to resort to things fitting more to the upstart once-Returned Phenax with all his blazing might. But what he intended to do required secrecy, this was clear to even the proudest of the gods. The reward would be worth it.

For several nights, Heliod returned to the temple and with all his might tried to join both Daxos’s halves into one. It kept failing, and just the scorched marks on the stone columns, confounding acolytes going for morning prayers, were silent witnesses of Heliod’s frustration. But no matter how hard the Sun God tried, Daxos’s flittering eidolon and ashen body with the mask of a Returned remained separate.

FInally, he resigned. If it does not work on Theros, so he must attempt it in the Nyx. After all, to imbue a mortal with starry essence is not difficult. What happens if he attempts it in this case?

 

***

Theros, right after Elspeth’s death

Heliod stood among the arcades of Nykthos and watched the spot where the strange leonin with mortally wounded Elspeth vanished. This was the worst moment of his life. The problems that began with his fight with Purphoros and escalated with the impudent satyr’s Ascension to Nyx, were solved thanks to Elspeth, but at the same time he found a terrible truth in her mind. Theros is not the only world! There are dozens, hundreds, thousands, and he, mightiest of the gods and ruler of Theros has no way to get there. Unheard of! And even worse, some mortals can do that. Going to other worlds, where there are other gods. Other sun gods! Just the idea of that was unbearable for him. And at that time, he made the final decision. If he cannot be a god on other worlds, he will be a god on Theros.

The only one.

 

***

Nykthos, present

Heliod’s blood was boiling. Not even Nykthos solved anything. The Returned Daxos laid on the altar, his golden mask staring blankly at Heliod. Around them the starry essence of Nyx swirled and Daxos’s eidolon fluttered and danced around the altar. Even now, Heliod felt emotions coming form it. Joy, a desire to live, but above all, belief. The fiery, strong belief in Heliod, blazing brightly as sun, but now it ashamed him. Daxos believed in him for his whole life, and even after death his devotion did not diminish. He lived his whole life for Heliod, he made his whole life an offering for him. Maybe this could work. Maybe…

Heliod quickly weaved a web of sunlight, caught the eidolon and brought it closer to the body.

Then he reached deep inward. He remembered the moment of his essence splitting from Nyx. The moment of his and Purphoros’s beliefs started merging. He remembered Purphoros’s fire and his determination of keeping his separate nature, his searing spite when Heliod proclaimed himself the greatest of gods. He remembered killing Elspeth with her own weapon, the moment when he felt the loss of Daxos for the first time. The moments swirled in the fabric of  Nyx in front of him and took shape. Heliod gazed upon himself, an ethereal mirror image of his existence. This was not just a part of Nyx, but a true reflection of his being, a true part of him.  Sunlight streaked from his fingers, threads of it enveloping the eidolon, the body, and Heliod’s Nyx reflection, and weaving into one great sphere.

Heliod screamed. The Sun God screamed and Nykthos shook in its foundations. In one agonizing moment Heliod glimpsed and felt…

baby Daxos drawing his first breath, his surprise of seeing the world he does not understand, the tears of his mother Lidia. …

…Daxos as small boy, mute and blind, led by his mother to Athreos’s grotto …

… Daxos brought by Karametra’s giant sable to safety, whereas his mother, snared by Athreos’s hooked staff, is drawn irrevocably to the Underworld…

… Daxos meeting Elspeth on the fateful day at the Four Winds Plateau, to face Polukranos …

… Daxos wielding the might of  the Deyda River, determined to help Elspeth fighting Rhordon the Rageblood, whereas queen Cymede called for Keranos’s help …

…Daxos holding Elspeth in the royal chambers of Akros, people outside revelling and celebration the victory, but these two paying no heed…

…and the searing pain, when his neck was stabbed by an iron spit needle, wielded by Elspeth’s hand, frightened, screaming in terror, eyes covered by blackness …

In one agonizing moment, he saw and felt Daxos’s whole life. For the first time in existence the sun god felt physical pain, like the iron spit hit himself. He roared and thrown his all remaining might into last attempt of joining the essences held in the radiant sphere.

A flash of light blinded him, and then…darkness.

 

***

He did not know how long he blacked out, but it must have been just a moment. And does it really matter in Nyx? Heliod looked at the altar, where the body with the golden mask lay. But no more an ashen corpse. There was no trace of Daxos’s eidolon, and where shadow fell on Daxos’s body, the stars of Nyx glittered. The body moved. Daxos sat upright, and slowly, incredulously, removed his golden mask. He looked exactly like when alive.

His eyes, foggy at first, slowly focused. Then they went wide by immeasurable amazement, and Daxos of Meletis fell on his knees, face pressed to stone floor

„Arise, my son!“ said Heliod, entirely unknowing how close to the truth these words are.

„You have been chosen in this darkest hour to fulfill your destiny. Your path will lead to Meletis. Starting today, it will be my city. Only mine. There will be no place for other gods there. Do not doubt your might, or your mission, because your heart is burning with the light of the Sun itself, that will bring my eternal rule to the whole Theros.“

 

to CHAPTER II: Ashiok

to CHAPTER IV: Klothys

 

This fan-fictionis unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

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