“No matter,” sneered Rebellious. “I can defeat you here, and I can defeat you among the stars!”
A gust of wind swept the land as if the goddess had sighed, then she said, “Very well, child. We shall fight. It is sad that you do not value your life.”
For a moment everything went black. Rebellious could not breathe, and he heard a ringing in his ears. Then he found himself in a large hall of white stone and gold. At the end of the hall stood a young woman wearing golden armor and a cape as white as snow. Her hair was golden, and her eyes were blue. Her lips were crimson and her cheeks a delicate shade of pink. Her face was perfect except for the expression of deep sorrow and weariness with which she looked upon her foe. She carried no shield, but her blade was long and slender and looked very strong. It was as white as the stones of the hall and the cape she wore.
“You never seemed to care much for beauty,” said the goddess. “But I had hoped to show you something before we are locked in mortal combat.” She strode to a window without taking her eyes off of him and beckoned for him to follow. He reluctantly followed, and slowly took his eyes from the goddess’s face. He suppressed his amazement as he looked out the window and saw what looked like a blue and green marble glowing far off in the darkness. “That is what we will be fighting for, Rebellious. That is our green earth that you live upon and I sustain. It saddens me that you would seek to disrupt the rightful balance of things with this pointless fighting. I do not wish to kill you, Rebellious, but it seems to me that that is quickly becoming my only option. I had brought you here in the hope that I might reason with you. Is that possible, my son?”
“I will not listen to your banter any longer, goddess,” said Rebellious as he drew his sword. “I will show the world that it is I they should fear and I they should respect.”
As he attacked, she effortlessly blocked him despite his immense strength and said, “You cannot rule through fear alone. You must reward your subjects. You must help them through times of need. You must care for them and keep their best interests in mind when making decisions. You must strive to prevent violence, not promote it. Violence only leads to sadness and suffering, neither of which are ever good. You must try to forgive and love your enemies. If you can forgive them, they are not truly enemies. Fortune’s Hand knew this.”
“My father left Fortune’s Hand because they were blind!” shouted Rebellious as he fended off a seemingly impossible series of blows. “If they had just taken the rest of the continent, the kingdom would have been that much safer, but all they wanted to do was sit on their thrones as possible enemies could have been plotting against them.”
“It is true,” said the goddess as she began to push him back towards the far end of the hall. “Fortune’s Hand did have enemies. What you fail to see, Rebellious, is that their enemies would never be strong enough to overwhelm them and their allies. For one thing, I would never have allowed it. Fortune’s Hand were such great keepers of the peace that all they would need to do is ask and I would aid them. their allies trusted them and would surely come to their aid as well. They were good and powerful in all the right ways. Your father was blind. All he wanted was power, and now I see, so do you.”
They were at a standstill toward the back end of the hall. For once in his life, Rebellious was more than evenly matched. He was breathing heavily and his armor was beginning to weigh him down. The goddess on the other had did not seem to even break a sweat. Finally, they were able to cut into each other, and the blood flowed from both of them where they were wounded. Rebellious managed to slip his blade between two plates of armor near her shoulder where it cut into her flesh and lodged itself for the few seconds that he could not afford. He had not wounded her sword arm, and she swung her weapon toward his head and narrowly missed as he pulled his sword free of her arm and jumped out of the way. She managed to bring her blade down on his back where it broke his armor and cut through his flesh, nearly breaking ribs, and it would have pinned him if he had rolled a fraction of a second later. Then he kicked her in the knees and she flung herself on top of him.
She grabbed his helmet and yanked his head up then banged it against the stone floor as hard as she could. He tried to free himself, but the pain in his head was too great and the goddess was too strong. Then she drove his head against the floor again and everything went black. He was barely conscious, but a thought finally came to his head. He lay there for a moment as she sat on his chest as if he had given in or lost consciousness. Then when his sight finally returned, he turned his head as hard and fast as he could and bit her wrist. She yelped and impulsively pulled her other hand away from his head then attempted to push him away. In that moment she had ceased pressing on his chest quite as hard and he managed to throw her off with his knees. They both got up almost instantly and he staggered as stars came to his eyes.
He was just about to parry a blow from her sword and ready himself for a counter attack, but suddenly she stepped back and said, “Enough!”
He was taken aback by the sudden harshness in her voice, but then he said, “Ha! You submit, goddess?”
“I do not!” She replied. “I won this duel. What you did was nothing more than foul trickery! You ignored the rules of engagement, child. I had you pinned. The match was over. I merely thought you were unconscious. I had thought to kill you, but it is not in my nature to so pointlessly and carelessly destroy one of my children. It would be better justice to kill you, but I think it would be favorable for myself and for my people to just grant you what you want. What is it that you want, my child?” The question was subdued and sweet as he had heard her speak before.
“You know what I desire,” he said flatly.
“I do. You desire to be a god. It is a great responsibility. It is far different than being a city lord or the king of a nation. As a god you can destroy or create just as easily as you would walk across this hall.” After a short silence she said, “Very well, I will make you a god, but you must have rules. Do not argue with me, because I could just as easily kill you. I gave you your chance in a fair duel, but I could take your life as easily as I gave it. Your rules are thus: As punishment for the lives you have taken, you will no longer be able to take another life. In addition, I will give you charge of The Land of the Dead, and you must care for all those who have died by your hand or otherwise. Thirdly, for your treachery, you will be forever banished from these halls. This is regrettable, as I would have enjoyed some company, but it is only right. Finally, you may be a god, but you will still answer to me. I am still your queen and now the queen of the gods. People may worship you as long as they do not turn away from me. If they do you will be punished and they will not.”
“Now for the powers I will grant you: you will be able to fly, breathe under water and you will be impervious to fire. I will also give you the ability to see in the dark. I grant you these abilities in the hope that you would use them to help people. Likewise, I will grant you the power of foresight and the ability to read thoughts so that you may see and understand my plan as well as the intentions of humans. In the future I may grant you other powers if I deem them necessary or helpful or perhaps as a reward, and I may strip you of your powers if I see that you are misusing them. And one last thing; you will address me either as ‘your highness’ or ‘my lady.’ It is only right that you would pay me the proper respect. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes….. my lady.”