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Theros Beyond Death: Chapter 6

14. 3. 2020

The Sun God sets out to become the sole god of Theros. The once-Sun's Champion sets out to break free from the Underworld. What happens when they inadvertently come to face each other? The penultimate episode of our Theros Beyond Death fanfiction!

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CHAPTER VI: Daxos

 

„Pull! Again!“

 

The ropes strained and creaked, and Ephara’s giant statue slowly toppled and fell down, shattering to pieces. The broken-off head rolled over twice and her vacant eyes remained staring to the people around, in silent accusation. The priests and acolytes, frightened, were hiding under the altar.

 

“Since this moment, this temple belongs to Heliod,” announced the commander of the soldiers.

 

“The God of the Sun, and the Sole One in the Nyx.”

 

***

 

Ephara was horrified. For her entire existence, she had never witnessed such blasphemy.  When Daxos arrived to Meletis and started proclaiming the belief in Heliod the Sole One God of Theros, it sounded like a nonsense. But when the Meletian soldiers took their weapons, ropes and tools and started destroying the statues of gods in other temples, the effects on the mortals’ belief became apparent. The simplest solution was to get rid of Daxos, but the goddess soon realized that Daxos is no mere mortal anymore. As unbelievable as it appeared, he had - at least partially  - the essence of a god, like her. Heliod will pay for this.

 

Ephara spread her consciousness to look over the vast expanses of Nyx, she felt the presence of Kruphix and instantaneously transported to him. She was not the first one. Almost all the gods have their temples in Meletis.

 

“You do not see what is happening, brother?” Ephara has never seen Thassa so angry. Her ever-cold blue eyes now seethed with anger, and the tip of her new spear (forged by Purphoros some time ago as a replacement for her stolen bident), pointed directly at Kruphix.

 

"I can see very well, sister. And therefore I can see further."

 

"And you just stand here, doing nothing? You have to feel how the belief in us is waning!"

 

"This all has happened before, and probably will happen again. As long as we believe in ourselves, and in one another, we do not die.."

 

"Indeed, we do not die," nodded  Karametra lightly, "but if this continues, we will be imprisoned in Nyx, alive only in memories and myths. But Heliod will became the sole and almighty god. “

 

"It might be woven into the Tapestry of Fate that he attempts that. In any case, I won’t allow anyone of you to interfere."

 

"Have you gone mad, brother?!" Thassa shouted. "How we can NOT interfere at this moment! Heliod might attempt, but we can thwart him. Together. "

 

"I said no. Nobody of you interferes. This is my ultimate and final will!"

 

Erebos, who was utterly silent up to now, narrowed his eyes and looked pensively at Kruphix.

 

"As you wish, brother. I will not interfere."

 

Thassa and Ephara turned towards him, half-horrified. “You are going just leave it be?”

 

"Of course not. I am just saying I will not interfere personally."

 

***

 

Daxos kneeled by the Nykthos altar, above what the essence of Heliod hovered. The Sun God looked greater and more radiant.

 

“Rise, my son,” the voice of the Sun God reverberated through the temple. “I see that you succeded in Meletis. The other gods will attempt to create their own sons and daughters to thwart our actions. Beware of them.“

 

"I’ll do my best to, father."

 

"I feel that the belief in me in Meletis rises,” continued the Sun God. “The time has come to spread my might to Akros.”

 

"Shall I head to Akros now, then?"

 

"No. I have another task for you now. You will head into the Underworld and look around. I need to know what my brother Erebos has in mind."

 

"As you command, father.”

 

***

 

As a god-blessed being, a mere though sufficed to Daxos to transport between Nyx, physical Theros and Underworld. Just a moment of concentration, and he stood at the edge of the Mire of Punishment. His ears filled with wails of tormented souls that attempted to escape from the Underworld, and subsequently were imprisoned here in endless torment.

 

Daxos closed his eyes and let his thoughts soar through the Underworld realms, and soon found out very unsettling things. The borders of individual realms twisted and undulated, and parts of their essences permeated their surroundings, like milk or blood trickles into clear water. Among all of these, black threads moved, seemingly randomly, sometimes they gleamed and seemingly hardened into sharp, glittering shards. Daxos noticed one of the threads changing its course, heading towards him and touching him.

 

Aghast, he opened his eyes. A dark twisting whirlpool appeared next to him and a black image of an atrocious creature defying any description appeared. Suddenly a gleaming blade appeared and impaled the creature. It shook, flickered, and transformed into … Daxos. Immediately the whole thing disappeared into the dark whirling smoke that flew away, but before it happened, for a brief moment, an anguished female face appeared.

 

Daxos’s heart doubled its beat and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. He recognized that woman…

 

***

 

Daxos kneeled by the Nykthos altar once again.

 

"What you have found in the Underworld, my son?" Heliod’s voice again resonated through the temple.

 

"The borders of the Underworld realms are thinning and merging."

 

"I felt that myself. But not only the borders inside Underworld, but also between Underworld and the mortal world. That is certainly work of my devious brother. What else?"

 

"The God of the Dead chose Tymaret, the Murder King as his champion. He set out from Odunos and leads the army of dead to Meletis to fight for his lord. "

 

"Exactly what I have expected from my brother. But do not worry, soon my might will be so great that the borders will be impervious again."

 

Daxos looked up. “And there’s a particular someone who wants to leave the Underworld. Elspeth."

 

The power of Heliod’s voice almost flattened him to the ground.

 

"IMPOSSIBLE!"

 

Daxos hesitated for a moment, but then gathered courage and continued. “I haven’t seen her with my own eyes, but romors are spreading through the Underworld that she is resolved to get back into the mortal world and take vengeance on you personally. And it is rumored that she wields the Khrusor.”

 

Daxos paused for a moment. “The true Khrusor, that acknowledged her as its master in the moment you slain her.”

 

This time, the Sun God fell silent for a long time. Finally, he spoke.

 

"We have to change our plans. The mortals won’t pass into the Underworld. It would be better to wait for her. I will know in time where the borders between the lands of living and dead are going to be thinnest. There, you gather our faithful and fight her. Defeat her. Then we will ensure that she never crosses our plans again.”

 

***

 

Daxos waited, standing in the forefront of the Sun God’s army, in the middle of the Four Winds Plateau. The rupture in the fabric of the world that appeared here few days ago was growing wider and higher. Now, roars and sounds of battle were coming from it. The rupture was wide enough for Daxos to look through and see what is happening. When the soldiers glimpsed Polukranos, they took a step back inadvertently. Daxos, his sword bare, stood his ground and memories of Elspeth were flooding his mind. Their first meeting as children, their second as adults, fighting Polukranos…He thought whether Elspeth feels the same. Memories and feelings became whirlwind. When he realized what his task is, Daxos hesitated for the first time since his resurrection. If Elspeth decides to fight Heliod, is he going to stop her?

 

Soon the battle was over. Polukranos fell to the ground for the second time, and the group of heroes set out for the rupture across the darkened plateau. Daxos gestured for the other soldiers to ready their weapons and assume formation.

 

And then it happened. Through the rupture, she emerged through the rupture. Looking exactly like he remembered her. Raven hair, the armor part steel, part golden, with a cruel narrow hole above her left breast. Face resolved, and in her…the spear. The spear that glittered golden and white in the sunlight. It does not look like the Godsend at all, one created from a sword. It really resembled the Khrusor, by its shape and ornate look – just not so shiny.

 

Elspeth traced with an experienced soldier’s eye the gathered soldiers, and then her eyes rested on Daxos. Her black eyes widened in silent shock and the hand holding the spear fell a bit. Absentmindedly, she took two steps to make more room for her followers.

 

Daxos, too, was almost unable to move, so he silently watched as a surprisingly light-footed sphinx with a scholar’s aura went through, and after her, a burly man clad in gold,scarlet and white of Akros, wielding a massive two-headed gilded axe. An astonished Daxos recognized him as Anax, the late king of Akros. He needn’t notice the stars glittering in shadows or Anax’s body – he felt immediately that he is, like himself, a demigod now.

 

Daxos lowered his sword and extended his hand towards Elspeth. He wanted to say something, but the words froze in his throat. Elspeth was in the same state, obviously, so the first one to speak was Anax, in his rumbling voice.

 

“So Heliod sent you. For what purpose? To stop us?”

 

At that moment, Daxos seemingly broke from his trance. He looked Anax in the eyes.

 

“No.” Then she looked at Elspeth. “I must stop her. You cannot leave the Underworld in any case. This is the will of Heliod. The Sole God of Theros."

 

“The Sole God? I want to see when you tell this to Purphoros in the face,” snorted Anax derisively, but then grew more serious.

 

“Young man, we met in the life before this one. You fought valiantly to save my realm, and it was you who was with my beloved Cymede, when…when…” the demigod’s voice trembled almost imperceptibly and the sentence was left unfinished.  “You were a prophet of the gods, and you knew well what they can do and why. Understand. What Heliod is trying to do threatens to wreck Theros and Nyx alike. You must feel that yourself. One god cannot usurp all the belief of the mortals."

 

Despite knowing deep down that the once king of Akros speaks the truth, the traces of Heliod’s essence in Daxos himself seethed with anger at Anax’s insolence, and Daxos’s face hardened.

 

“He has already decided. There is no trace of the other gods in Meletis. Akros and Setessa wil follow. And in the end, only one god will remain."

 

“Daxos! Stop!” cried Elspeth. It was the last straw for her to break her stupor. When she saw Daxos, exactly as she remembered him, her heart almost exploded with joy, but when she realized what he says, it was like the worst nightmares returned.”

 

She thumped the spear handle on the ground and shook her head incredulously.

 

“You cannot believe this yourself, now can you? How would then Heliod differ from the villainous Xenagos? He would be even worse! Xenagos only wanted to become a god, Heliod wants to destroy all other gods. "

 

“Yes,” Kyra lazily swept her wings once and drew the attention of everybody. “It might end up like that. But it would mean the end of Theros. And the sole god would remain the lord of a broken world, a wasteland."

 

Daxos frowned. He did not like the laconic tone of the sphinx the tiniest bit.

 

“Heliod, as the Sole God of Theros, would shine like a sun above the whole world. Why should that mean the end of the world?”

 

Kyra smiled sadly. “The gods might be almighty, but at the same time so…human. Maybe it is because they were born from our belief, and therefore they have something from us mortals in them. For example, the tendencies to build their plans on wrong premises."

 

"Gods do not make mistakes!" cried Daxos out.

 

"Really? Tell me, then. What happens to the other gods, when Heliod becomes the only ruler?"

 

"When the belief in them vanishes, they will be forgotten."

 

"Indeed,” agreed Kyra. “And along with them…” she left the question hanging, like if she was teaching philosophy to students in and amphitheater.

 

Daxos stopped. “And along with them?” he repeated, unsure what she hints on.

 

“And along with them everything theirs,” Kyra stood up, folded her wings and started pacing to and fro, like a scholar lecturing. She continued. “Heliod would become the sole god, all belief would pass to him – making him more powerful – but not their abilities and attributes. They would vanish along with them. For example, their enchantments on the cities. Or their Nyxborn creatures that are helping them. As well as everything they created with their own hands. Like - and now I am really presenting a purely hypothetical example - Purphoros’s chains, that are going through the whole Underworld.”

 

She stopped just a couple of steps from Daxos, tilted her head in an almost human gesture, her curly black mane waving, and her blue pupilless eyes gazed directly into his.

 

“And you certainly know, my dear Daxos, what those chains hold.”

 

Silence.

 

Daxos’s eyes widened. “But…I…that cannot be…”

 

“Well, actually,” admitted Kyra and sat nonchalantly down on her hind legs, “this was just a thought experiment. Anyway, I think we shouldn’t tempt fate…”

 

The rest of her words was lost in a thundering roar that shook the sky.

 

***

 

"DAXOS! YOU WERE TO STOP HER! HOW YOU DARE TO DEFY MY WILL!"

 

A giant figure materialized above the Four Winds Plateau, with blinding flash that made everyone avert their gaze. Raven hair wreathed by gold crown, eyes blazing with the might of the sun, Heliod, the God of the Sun, empowered by the might of Meletis more than ever before.

 

He leaned forward and his fiery eyes found Elspeth. He lifted Khrusor and aimed its tip directly on her.

 

But Elspeth was far beyond fearing this particular god. In an instant, she had forgotten Daxos. She tightened her grip on her spear, so far resting lightly on the ground, and met his fiery gaze with her own, not flinching a fraction of an inch. She raised her free hand and pointed directly on Heliod, accusingly.

 

“I believed in you, Heliod! I believed that the mighty god can forever banish the darkness from my past with his light!” As she spoke, a golden glow emanated around her. Murmurs spread around from those who saw it. Was it because the peculiar nature of this place between worlds? Elspeth continued.

 

“I entered your service. You made me  your Champion and I have got rid Theros and its gods of the danger embodied by Xenagos! And how did you reward me?”

 

The glow was getting stronger with every word. She took a breath.

 

“With death! You killed your own Champion and sent me to the Underworld. All because of your fear for your own might. All because of the unbearable thought that a mortal can do something than a god cannot. You are just a coward, Heliod!!!”

 

She literally screamed the last words to his face, eyes ablaze with fury and defiance.

 

“How dare you to speak to a god in this way!” roared Heliod and the ground shook. But if anyone besides Elspeth dared to lift their eyes, they would notice the Sun God’s glow dwindling compared to when he appeared.

 

"And how dare you to deny my will and defy me for the second time? I will punish your insolence!"

 

Heliod raised his spear, and it flared like a sun.

 

“Nobody will defy Heliod, the Sole God of Theros! I will punish everybody’s impudence and bring a dawn no night can follow!!!"

 

Heliod threw his spear directly at Elspeth. Elspeth grasped firmly her spear, not the god-gifted Godsend, but an unwanted gift from her nightmares. With the perfect grace of a warrior, she switched the grip behind her back, pivoted and thrusted it upwards in a defensive stance with a primal cry.

 

The golden glow whirled, following the trajectory of the tip of the spear, and for one fleeting moment, it looked not like a tiny mortal facing a giant god, but two evenly matched rivals.

 

The spearheads met each other. A sharp ringing sound torn the sky with a blinding flash.

 

Only Daxos and Anax managed to see through the bright light, and both fell mute with astonishment.

 

As the people around regained their sight, what they saw emerging from the light was Elspeth, her spear raised and intact, burning bright.

 

Heliod, still towering menacingly above Elspeth, had at his face a look of profound confusion, slowly giving way to utter horror.

 

The tip of Khrusor laid at Elspeth’s feet, broken and fading.

 

Elspeth raised her spear higher and its radiance, rivalling Khrusor itself just mere moments ago, bathed the scene with warm golden light. Her voice was clear and loud.

 

“Here, Heliod, is the only and true Spear of the Sun. The spear that ceased to be yours when you betrayed your Champion. No more are you worthy of it, and no more are you worthy of your power."

 

 

to CHAPTER V: Elspeth

 to CHAPTER VII: Pantheon

 

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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