“He’s going to kill us…” Timik muttered as the four of them followed the Thantophor through a dimly glowing portal.
The portal led them to a charred, formerly grassy terrain with the remains of a cottage house nearby. A dusty road and a concrete path around the house were the only things that had stopped the house’s remains from burning up along with the grassy fields and the handful of trees. The only area untouched by fire or destruction was a patio around an empty swimming pool built into the ground, which had a small table and five chairs nearby, two of which had recently been occupied.
“If he was going to do that, wouldn’t he have done so already?” Phovos muttered back.
The Thantophor led them to the patio and sat them all down. There were two empty glasses on the table, which the Thantophor swept to one side and replaced with five fresh, clean glasses. He then pulled the chairs out and hinted for everyone to sit down.
“Considering what we just sat through…” Kohra shuddered, “I have no idea any more…”
The four mortals sat down. The Thantophor went and found a jug and filled it with ice and water, then sat down with them.
“I’m not going to kill any of you.”
Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Don’t thank me.” The Thantophor raised his hand. “Just be quiet and listen, alright?”
The four mortals nodded.
“Good. Alright, we need to discuss a few things. I need to make sure none of you have any deitic energy left inside you. But chances are, what Kinisis did to you is going to have side effects. Longer life expectancies are an almost guaranteed side effect. Your natural abilities have probably been strengthened. You might even find that you have some super powers now…”
Leaning forward, the Thantophor poured everyone a drink.
“There are other side effects now. I’m not really sure how to explain this, but you four are now… victims of fate. Strange things are more likely to happen to you because you’ve been exposed to the stranger parts of the universe that most normal mortals don’t see. Your lives have been permanently upended and they will remain upended until you die.”
“So you’re saying our lives will be more chaotic now?” Kayen asked.
“My life was already kinda chaotic already though…” Phovos sighed. “Are you suggesting that we’ll be, I don’t know, assassination targets all the time or something?”
The Thantophor nodded. “Yes, among other things. You will find yourselves being in the centre of otherwise unexplained circumstances and scenarios. A plague will break out, and you’ll be immune. An earthquake will strike, you’ll be the only survivor. A city burns, you will be the only ones able to go in and save people. You are, in a way, gods now. In flesh, but not in name.”
“A bit like the Dessaron?” Kayen asked.
“Exactly like the Dessaron. But more so.”
Kayen glanced at the others. The mention of the Dessaron made Kohra pull an awkward expression. Timik looked confused, but Phovos simply shrugged.
“So where do you come into all of this?” Phovos asked.
“You will outlive and out-survive everything you care about…” the Thantophor warned. “In the end, you will only have each other. Worlds, counties, cities, homes, friends and families all burn, but you remain untouched. That is a fate some wish to avoid.
“You too can avoid all this, by letting me cleanse you. I can strip away the remaining traces of godhood that are embedded in your bodies. It will shorten your lifespans by about five to ten years, but you will be able to have perfectly normal lives. At the same time, it will detangle your fates, allowing you to live separate lives.”
The mortals all looked at each other, their minds awash with conflicting emotions.
“Do we…” Timik stuttered. “Do we have to decide now?”
“The longer you leave it, the harder it is to remove any deitic traces.”
Kohra scooted closer to Timik. “You’re considering not doing it, living with our twisted fates?”
“Yeah. It ain’t like I have much to live for. Ain’t got much to go back to. My beliefs have been shattered, my ties to my friends and family severed, I ain’t really got anything left.”
Kayen nodded in agreement. “I have my friends, but I dunno what I’m going to do with my life now.”
“I haven’t got a life…” Kohra sighed. “Maybe things are square between me, my father and all that, but I can’t risk going back home and being labelled as a traitor to the Kronospast empire. I’m starting fresh, so I might as well have a fresh, adventurous life rather than a boring, normal one.”
Phovos breathed deep, snorting through her nostrils and staring at her feet.
“You’re not sure, are you?” Timik asked.
“I’m not. But… I guess I was starting to get bored running a city. I’ve lived a long life, might as well continue doing so.”
The Thantophor clapped his hands. In their brief discussion, the four of them had forgotten he was there.
“So you don’t want me to de-god you?”
“I think we’re all in agreement, yes…” Phovos smiled, just a little.
“Great!” Arkadin beamed as he threw an open packet of crisps and a blade on the table. “Means I don’t have to find wherever the fuck I put that antideitic silver blade! That’s awesome. I didn’t fancy having to rummage through all that rubble. I found that one there, but that’s not my specific Theokton Blade…”
Kohra eyed the knife. “That looks… familiar.”
“Well I think it belongs to you lot anyway…” Arkadin tutted. “Anyway, I have rebuilding to do, and you guys really, really need to go home.”
“How do we do that?” Phovos asked.
“You go through that portal.” The Thantophor pointed at a cloud of smoke and dust that spun around a hole in space. “That’s the last step. Go through there and you’re home.”
“What about you though?” Kayen asked.
“I’ll be alright. Just need to work on some things,” Arkadin admitted. “You’ll all pop by sometime though, right?”
The four beings nodded.
“And you’ll think up a cool name for yourselves too, right?”
“Yeah, we’ll do that!” Phovos smiled. The four of them finished their drinks, then got up and headed towards the portal. “Thank you, Arkadin.”
The Thantophor waved cheerily as he watched the group fade away. “No, thank you!”