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The Tribes and Their Goddess

Long ago Aqueous was nothing but a land of meaningless slaughter. The tribes which belonged to Aqueous were constantly at war with one another. They fought over everything from superstition to suspicion. Each conflict gaining a tribe a few yards of land from one tribe as they lost a few yards to another tribe. Then the other tribe would have a taken a few yards of territory from them, and they had to take it back. Endlessly the battles went on, and eventually the waters of Aqueous turned crimson as the pointless bloodshed washed over the land.   Everyday brought nothing, but death. The tribes each had everything they needed, they gained nothing they didn't already posses, except for corpses. On and on it went with tribes getting swallowed up, going hungry, being taken as slaves, and being completely slaughtered. In the end all but seven tribes had disappeared one way or another. These seven remaining tribes, the ones that had overtaken, starved, enslaved, and killed all the others tribes each help prowess in a certain skill. There was the tribe of the strong, the tribe of the fast, the tribe of the brave, the tribe of the wise, the tribe of the stealthy, the tribe of the smart, and the tribe of the lucky.   One day when the sky was scarlet and the seven tribes trudged and wadded through blood to the very center of Aqueous. Each tribe ready to kill the other for possession of the mound of mud that sat at the center of Aqueous. However when the tribes arrived at the center they were surrounded by a thick fog. Through the veil of the fog they tribes saw a beautiful woman standing upon the center island of Aqueous. The woman sullenly gazed into the abyss, not even recognizing the presence of the tribes. The woman knelt down on the muddy shore of the island reaching out toward the crimson water. She let the scarlet waves wash over her hand letting it be tainted and stained by the blood of the tribes. However the water around her submerged hand suddenly was illuminated by a heavenly light, and began to froth and foam. The woman removed her hand from the water which was now pure and clear.   With a mere touch from the woman's holy hand the water had been purified. The tribes had never seen anything like it and began whispering amongst themselves.   "Is she a goddess?" someone asked.   The tribesmen looked to one another, "Surely she had to be." they said.   A few of the tribesmen stepped forward and knelt before her, the others quickly followed their lead, announcing to the goddess that they were honored to welcome her to their mortal land. The goddess however remained on the small center island of Aqueous, wearily looking around at the tribes surrounding her. Her fearful eyes flicked from warrior to warrior looking for a way to escape them.   "We are too unworthy of her presence." Said some of the tribesmen. "We must prove our worth to her."   The tribes then scrambled and sent for gifts to give to the goddess, sacred treasures from their tribe, sure to win them the favor of the goddess.   Each of the seven sent their best to deliver their sacred treasure. The first tribe presented the goddess with their sacred treasure, the fist of strength. A crystal blessed with the strength of their ancestors. The second tribe offered up their sacred treasure the breath of speed. A crystal orb possessing the swiftness of the spirits. The third tribe brought forth their sacred treasure, the heart of courage. A gemstone which held the courage of the fallen. The fourth tribe presented their sacred treasure, the eye of wisdom. A gem imbued with the wisdom of their forefathers. The fifth tribe produced their sacred treasure, the ear of silence. A stone bearing the stealth of those passed. The sixth supplied their sacred treasure, the mind of knowledge. A crystal containing the intelligence of those long gone. The seventh delivered their sacred treasure, the soul of luck. A gem infused with the fortune of their ancestors. However even being presented with their sacred treasure the goddess was still unwilling to go near as their gifts were insignificant compared to the weight of their unworthiness. However the tribes incapable of seeing their own filthiness blamed themselves.   "Look! The goddess is disgusted with the gifts of you other tribes." Someone shouted.   The tribes began arguing over whose gift was truly worthy for the goddess. Of course the only worthy gift was that of their own tribe. Soon the arguing became violent, as the warriors picked up their weapons and began to clash.   Their desire for battle washed away any thought of the goddess as the warriors of the tribes tore into one another. The used the goddess as an excuse to justify the other's slaughter truly battling over pride. Blinded hostility and pride the tribes didn't even notice the tides of the battle sweeping away the goddess into its torrent. Admits the turmoil the goddess was grievously wounded, and the wound opened up a hole for the spirits of violence, rage, pride, and hostility that poured out of the tribes to enter into the goddess. As the goddess was possessed by the evil spirits, her ocean blue eyes began to burn with fury, her holy hands grew into vicious claws, and her slender legs shaped into a powerful tail. The goddess now a horrifying monster let out a bloodcurdling screech and leaped at the nearest warrior digging into his flesh killing him in an instant. Then the monster leaped at the next warrior and then the next leaving a trail of corpses as it cut its way through the sea of battle. It was as quick as a fish, and as strong as a crocodile, striking down warrior after warrior. None of the tribes could even compare to the power of the goddess.   Facing their end the tribes called out to one another, "We cannot combat this threat as individual tribes, if we are to have any hope of being victorious then we seven tribes must fight together."   The tribes banded together and faced the possessed goddess. The battle raged on for hours, but with their combined skills the tribes managed to capture the creature, entangling it in nets and rope. The beast screamed and hissed, but the tribes tied it down tight, and no matter how much it writhed and struggled it couldn't escape.   The tribes then gathered together and after determining that their spirits of hatred had possessed the goddess though about how to expel the spirits from her. To do this the tribes would need a way to not only get rid of the spirits, but also keep them from reentering the goddess. The tribes thought long and hard and finally came up with a way to accomplish their goal. The first to weaken the spirts of hatred's grip upon the goddess they would need to strengthen the spirit of the goddess. Given her previous act of purifying the blood tainted water the goddess must have had a strong connection to water, so the tribes decided that if they were to submerge the goddess in water then it would no doubt strengthen her spirt. However if the water was to strengthen the goddess's spirit enough it couldn't be tainted with mud or blood, and would have to be purified. They would also need to select a location which resonates with goddess as to preform the ritual as to enhance the likelihood of success. The only location they could think of was the center of Aqueous, where she first appeared. As the center of the land perhaps the location was focal point of the power of the goddess, and as such would do well to further strengthen her spirit. Now just strengthening the spirit of the goddess wouldn't be enough to cast out the spirits from her, the tribes would need to further weaken their hold upon the goddess. The tribes thought that perhaps they could some how chase the spirits out of the goddess. It was common knowledge that all evil spirits hid from the light creating shadows. However if the spirits were using the goddess of the vessels then they would be protected from the purifying light, so they while the light may further pressure the spirits to leave more would need to be done if they were to fully expel them. The solution was utilizing one of Aqueous' most fearsome predators. The web of Trancid Spider was so mesmerizing it has been known to suck the spirits out of anyone who came near, leaving an emotionless husk to wander toward its demise. Now while powerful a Trancid Spider's web isn't enough to draw out strong willed spirits on its own. However if the tribes combined their efforts strengthening the spirit of the goddess, pushed way the hatred with the light, and drew the spirits out with the web of a Trancid Spider there would be now way for the spirits to maintain their grip upon the goddess.   After drawing out the spirits from the goddess the tribes would need a way to shield the goddess from corruption to ensure the spirits don't just reenter her. To shield her the tribes would need materials that could ward off impurity and corruption. Now the glistening white scales of a Pearl Fish were known to cast off all impurities shining through even the murkiest of waters. However the scales only helped cast off impurities it gave no protection against things of pure evil. Therefore the scales would only keep the spirit of the goddess untainted, but would do nothing to keep the spirits of pure evil from possessing the goddess's body. Platinum however was a rare metal known to be incorruptible, warding off all sources of tarnish and evil, and could protect the goddess against the spirits of pure evil. Now contrary to the scales of a Pearl Fish platinum while protecting against the spirits of pure evil had no resistance against spirits which were impure and had the slightest bits of good within them. Therefore if used together the Pearl Fish scales and platinum would completely protect the goddess from the evil spirits.   Now after the spirits of hatred were drawn out of the goddess, and were kept from reentering her the tribes needed a way to get rid of the spirits for good. No protection could last forever, and it is said that once a spirit of hatred had entered into someone it is much easier for it to return again even after being expelled. Whether this applied to someone as holy and pure as a goddess no one knew, but the tribes decided that they could cut no corners when it came to the well being of their goddess. Now very few things could kill a spirit most of which were other spirits. However there was one substance which was deadly enough to kill spirits. The venom of a Serpentqueen sea serpent was so deadly because it actually kills the spirits within a man leaving an empty shell which then slowly dies out after a while. If the venom was poured into the water once the spirits were drawn out it would kill them certainly kill them. However if the goddess took in any of the venom it would most likely kill her as well, so the tribes needed a way to keep the venom from the goddess. Nothing fit the description better than the Seal Shell known for creating an airtight seal over its Seal Shell Crab to protect it from predators. If placed over the goddess's mouth the Seal Shell could easily keep her from ingesting the venom. Of course that also left the tribe with another problem, once a Seal Shell was separated from its Seal Shell Crab it would latch on to the next surface it touched and would be practically impossible to remove. The only way to get it off would be to use a paralyzing substance which coated the skin of Drahcodiles. However once that was acquired then they could easily remove the Seal Shell from the goddess.   Now with everything planned out on how the tribes would draw out, and kill the spirits of hatred possessing the goddess the tribes had only one more issue with their plan. They would have to find a way to prepare the goddess for the ritual. The spirits of hatred possessing the goddess wouldn't just remain idle as the tribes prepared to expel them, and if the goddess got loose she could potentially kill them all. In order to prepare her for the ritual the tribes would have to make sure she is cleaned of all filth and impurity, dressed in the platinum and Pearl Fish scales, restrained, and in a position where the tribes could submerge her in the water without physically touching her. Those would all be challenging things to do with the goddess trying to kill them. The solution to this was to put the goddess to sleep with some for of narcotic. Now while several narcotics existed which could keep someone asleep for several hours. However there was only one substance that could possibly be string enough to keep someone with the powers of a goddess asleep, and that was the narcotic venom of the Narkipa. The venom of the Narkipa was meant to knock out even the largest of crocodiles, and was so strong that if a human even breathed in the fumes of the substance they would fall unconscious for a few minutes, and if ingested it would put a human asleep for several days. It would no doubt be powerful enough to keep the goddess asleep for at least a few hours.   The tribes having figured out how they were going to expel the spirits of hatred from the goddess only had to gather the necessary components, and preform the ritual. That however was easier said than done, as most of the key components were not easy things to obtain.   The first component, purified water could be obtained by simply filtering and boiling water multiple times. It was time consuming, but was easy to do.   The second component the tribes would need was the scales of a Pearl Fish. Now Pearl Fish were fairly rare and very difficult to catch. In order to catch one would need to know where to look and how to outsmart it. The only ones capable of catching it would be the intellectuals in the tribe of the smart. The tribe took on the task vowing to return with the largest Pearl Fish they could find.   The third component the ritual required was the incorruptible metal, platinum. Platinum was a rare and valuable material that was scarce in the lands of Aqueous, finding an antiquate amount would be like finding a grain of salt amongst sand. However the fortunate of the tribe of the lucky stepped forward and declared that they'd return with more than enough of the material.   The fourth component required for the ritual was the web of a Trancid Spider. Only those with a strong mind could resist the web's mesmerizing effect. Clearly the best suited for the job was the sensible of the tribe of the wise. The tribe accepted promising to bring back the needed web.   The fifth thing the tribes would need was the venom of a Serpentqueen sea serpent. The Serpentqueen was one of the quickest things in the waters of Aqueous, and the swift of the tribe of the fast were quick to accept the mission pledging to return with vials full of the venom.   The sixth material the tribes would need for the ritual was a single Seal Shell from a Seal Shell Crab. Seal Shell Crabs were fairly common, but getting one was quite hard. If one was noticed approaching the crab the Seal Shell would lock onto the surface the crab was standing on and removing it would be impossible. The only ones with a chance to retrieve a shell was the sneaky of the tribe of the stealthy. The tribe was up to the challenge and swore to bring back with Seal Shells to spare.   The seventh component needed for the ritual was the hide of the ferocious Drahcodile. The slightest touch from the Drahcodile would completely paralyze a person making them the Drahcodiles snack. The courageous of the tribe of the brave came forward to accept the daunting task vowing to return with the skin of the largest Drahcodile they could find.   The eighth and final component the tribes needed was the narcotic venom of a Narkipa. Narkipa were gigantic beasts larger than hippos capable of chomping a boat in half with a single bite. The brawny of the tribe of the strong took on the task swearing to return with the entire tooth of a Narkipa.   The leaders of each tribe set out with teams to accomplish their goals leaving the rest of their tribes to prepare for the ritual. The tribes started by digging out a large circular pit in the center of Aqueous which they could fill with water to submerge the goddess in. The hole was ten feet wide and fifteen feet deep. They would line the hole with smooth slates of stone, and coat the insides with a special plaster to keep the water in and mud and filth out. The walls of the hole would be covered with crystals, gems, and ores, and the floor with glass and transparent crystals to help better spread out the light. The tribes would also set up a series of reflective crystals to direct light into the pool of water. They would also construct a device capable of both hoisting the goddess up over the pit and lowering her down into the water. However as the tribesmen worked to prepare these things the spirits of hatred possessing the goddess came up with a clever plan to trick the tribes. The spirits reverted the goddess from her monstrous form she had taken when possessed back into her original form of the beautiful woman. The spirits played innocent claiming that the power of the goddess was too great to be possessed by spirits for long, and that she had expelled the spirits on her own. The goddess said that she would be very grateful if they would kindly release her now that she was no longer possessed. At first the tribesmen asked the goddess how they could be sure she truly was free of possession. The goddess smirked and told them that only members of a tribe that was truly worthy could tell that she wasn't possessed. The tribes, all desperate to be better than the rest began to claim that they could easily see that the goddess was no longer possessed. However seeing through the spirits' ploy the wisest member of the tribe of the wise gathered up the best member of each tribe, and convinced them that the spirits had them fooled. Then before anyone could free the goddess the seven of them stepped forward and said "We are the greatest of each tribe, and as such are more worthy than any of you, and we see no indication that the goddess is no longer possessed. However if any of you believe to be more worthy than us and see proof that the goddess is free of the spirits, then step forward and challenge us. If you best us then you are clearly worthy enough to see whether or not the goddess is possessed and may free her."   There was a long moment of silence, and no one came forth to challenge any of them. The seven then told them that if they no one could tell that the goddess was free, then she must still be possessed and they needed to continue preparing the ritual. The tribesmen soon dispersed to continue preparations. The seven still remained standing guard around the goddess daring anyone to challenge them to free the goddess. A few tribesmen challenged them, but none succeeded.   After a while preparations were nearly complete, and the leaders of the tribes returned each with their key component of the ritual. They heard what had transpired while they had been away and commended the seven for putting aside their differences and pride, and standing up for what was right. The leaders of the tribes then granted the seven the honor of becoming the goddess's personal guards.   Once the plaster coating the pool had been completely finished the tribes entered into the final phases of preparation. The first thing the tribes did was use the Narkipa venom to put the goddess to sleep. It was far more effective than they had predicted and she was rendered unconscious after just breathing in the vapors of the substance. Just to be safe the tribes dribbled a few droplets into her mouth.   After the goddess was soundly asleep the tribes had some of their woman tend to cleaning the goddess of all filth and corruption. Her clothes stained with mud and blood were carefully removed and she was thoroughly washed. After being cleared of all physical impurity the goddess was dressed in a skirt made of the scales of the Pearl Fish, and a breast covering made of platinum. That whole process took several hours due to the fact that the women had to take the utmost care in ensuring that their unworthy mortal hands didn't touch the goddess.   While cleaning the goddess the woman discovered a beautiful blue-green crystal strung around the goddess's neck. The women presented it to the leaders of the tribes who determined it to be some kind of conduit for the goddess's power. The leaders told the tribesmen that when shining light onto the goddess they should focus it through the crystal to make the light more effective in driving out the spirits of hatred.   Once the cleansing process had finished and they had given the goddess another precautionary dose of narcotics. The tribes carefully moved the goddess resting her atop a series of several thick wooden beams they had crafted and put together in the shape of an arrow. The goddess's head was rested on the tip of the arrow, while her arms were laid across the side bits. After the tribes successfully moved the goddess without physically touching her the tribes began working carefully to securely bind her. They started with tying together her legs, so that she was tightly clutched by rope from her ankles to her waist. This ensured that if she were to transform into the horrifying fish monster again her tail wouldn't be able to wriggle free. After her lower body was bound together the tribes securely fastened it onto the main post of the frame ensuring that nothing from her ankles to her waist would be able to separate from the beam. The tribes then moved on to affix her arms to the two side beams of the arrow. A crisscrossing of rope that ran from elbows to wrists secured her hands a foot out from her waist on either side. Finally the tribes went on to wind rope under the goddess's arms and over her shoulders anchoring them to the side beams securely holding her up on the frame. Although it was long and painstaking process to bind the goddess without touching her the tribes managed to finish just as the narcotic was wearing off and the goddess was beginning to stir.   Just before the goddess fully awakened the tribes pressed a Seal Shell to her lips creating an airtight seal over her mouth. AS the Seal Shell latched on the goddess jolted awake with a start. She tried to say something, but of course with the Seal Shell over her lips her words came out only as a series of muffled hums. She made a grunt of effort as she strained against her bonds. The tribesmen took a step back from her waiting for the beams to splinter or the ropes to snap. However after a second the goddess went slack breathing heavily to catch her breath.   The tribes then had the challenge of hooking up the frame, and its attached goddess to the crane mechanism. This part was intended to be one of the easier parts. However due to the fact that the tribesmen couldn't risk the goddess making contact with them or the muddy ground the process of lifting the frame a foot of the ground to hook it up to the crane became significantly more difficult. It would have gone rather smoothly if the goddess had remained still, but of course the spirits wouldn't just give into being expelled. Anytime the tribesmen grabbed the beams of wood in order to lift the attached goddess up so they could attach it to the crane the goddess would struggle. Now while she was bound so securely that she couldn't move most of her body at all she could however move her head, hands and feet. The movement of these parts often threatened to touch the tribesmen trying to lift up the wooden frame forcing them to release it, as a single touch meant they would have to go back to re-cleanse her forcing them to do it all over again. It also didn't help that in order to prevent the frame from spinning around the crane had to be attached to the frame in three separate places. However eventually the goddess got tired out, and the tribesmen were able to hook the wooden beams and the attached goddess up to the crane.   The goddess let out a muffled yelp of surprise as she was brought out over the pit. She looked around taking in her surroundings making a muffled whine as she looked down at the fifteen foot hole she hung above.   With all the preparations regarding the goddess complete the tribes had to hurry and fill the pool with purified water before sunset otherwise they'd have to wait another day to preform the ritual allowing a lot more time for something to go wrong. With only a foot of water filling the pool the tribes began their race against the sun with all the tribes working together to fill the pool.   As the tribes worked to fill the pool the possessed goddess worked to free herself. Her struggles did cause her to sway back and forth slightly, but nothing more. Eventually the spirits had exhausted the goddess, and she went slack, hanging her head, looking down at the tribesmen working to fill the pool until she eventually nodded off.   The goddess's head shot up and she let out a muffled yelp of surprise, as she felt water splash up against her toes. It was just before sunset and the pool had been completely filled with purified water. The tribesmen started to take their positions for the ritual. The spirits possessing the goddess must not have caught on to what was happening, because the goddess looked rather confused. That was until one of the tribesmen took his place at the winch that would lower her into the water. As soon as he put his hand on the winch panic flooded into the eyes of the goddess, and she began to desperately struggle to get free letting out muffled cries of dismay.   The sun began to set and the ritual began to commence. The tribes dropped to their knees as the goddess was slowly lowered into the water. As she was lowered the possessed goddess struggled even harder her panic stricken eyes wide with terror. As she was lowered deeper into the water her cries of dismay turned into muffled pleas of desperation, and tears began to stream down her face. Some of the tribesmen couldn't bear to watch and adverted their gaze, some covered their ears, and some did both. However none of them intervened; they knew that the it was only the spirits of hatred trying to deceive them, and that for the overall well being of the goddess they had to carry out the ritual.   The goddess made one last desperate cry for help before her head was submerged under the water. She still struggled a bit as she was lowered halfway to the bottom of the pool, but the only trace of her struggles was a slight sway of the crane's ropes. She quickly soon stropped struggling and remained limp until her decent was stopped once she was half way to the bottom of the pool. The goddess then looked up as two poles were lowered into the water. The goddess's eyes fixated on the shimmering threads of the Trancid Spider web which was strung between the two poles. The goddess shook her head a little bit trying to tear her mind away from the mesmerizing web. However the power of the web was too powerful to resist even for the tribesmen watching from the side of the pool many of witch had to be pulled away from the edge to be kept from walking in to get to the web.   Once the web was lowered in front of the goddess's face the tribesmen reflected the golden light of the setting sun through the blue-green crystal of the goddess and into the pool. The light was scattered across the pool by the many crystals ad gemstone which coated the sides of the pool. The whole pool was illuminated in a bright clear light with fragments of color glistening beneath the surface of the pool.   The tribesmen waited a few moments before the Serpentqueen venom was poured into the pool. The deadly venom spread out in a cloud of liquid rust casting a red glow through the water. While the venom certainly killed off the spirits of hatred being drawn out form the goddess the Seal Shell prevented the goddess from taking in any of it.   Soon the goddess's head began to droop as she stared at the entrancing web, and eventually she gave out and her head hung limply against her chest. A few moments later the sun fully disappeared behind the horizon and the goddess was quickly hoisted back up to the surface.   The goddess was brought up enough so that her head was about shoulder height above the water. She was breathing, but the process must have taken a lot out of her because she was more soundly asleep than she was when she was given the Narkipa narcotic. The tribes then extended a bridge out over the pool, and some of the tribes' healers went out and gave the goddess a precautionary injection of the Serpentqueen antivenom. A few women joined the healers, and started to delicately clean the goddess's head and face making sure no trace of the venom was left on her. They used the utmost care and delicacy while cleaning her not only to avoid touching the goddess, but also because they didn't want to disturb her as she rested. After they had finished cleaning her head and face the goddess was brought up a little bit more and the woman went on to clean her upper torso. Then after that was clean she was brought up a little more and they cleaned her lower torso, and so on and so forth until the goddess had been cleaned from head to toe.   Once cleaned the goddess was left suspended just over the water of the pool as the tribes feared that trying to move her would disturb her rest. A few hours later the goddess stirred and weakly lifted her head. Her eyes fell upon the blue-green crystal which she had worn around her neck, and she weakly strained against her bonds before falling limp with a sullen "Hmph...". A moment later she looked up as the cord holding the crystal was dropped over her head by one of the seven tribesmen appointed as her guards. She made a muffled sound of content before putting her head back down and returning to sleep.   A few hours before dawn the goddess stirred once again, while still looking weak she appeared to have recovered at least some of her strength. She shook her head waking herself up and wearily looked around. After a little while she let out a series of muffled hums and struggled against her bonds. Believing that she wanted down the tribes had someone head over to the crane to bring her over to dry ground. However as soon as the man took hold of the crane the goddess made a muffled cry of dismay. The man looked questioningly at the goddess, and asked her if she wanted down. The goddess vigorously shook her head making muffled sounds of denial. The tribesmen shrugged and left the goddess where she was. A few hours passed by and the goddess became more restless, again they asked her if she wanted down, and again she franticly shook her head. The sun soon started to rise and the goddess began to struggle against her bonds however as the sun rose she seemed to realize for the first time exactly how many people there were watching her. The goddess let out a meek muffled noise, blushed, gave one last fruitless tug at her bonds, before ducking her head and remaining still. Seeing her discomfort the tribesmen asked the goddess yet again if she wanted down, and again the goddess declined. However this time the smartest of the tribesmen realized something and shouted out that all of them were fools. All the tribesmen looked at him and asked him what he was talking about. The smartest didn't bother to answer them, and quickly ran over to the crane and called over to the goddess offering his sincerest apologies and then asked if she would like to be let down over solid ground. To this the goddess nodded making a series of muffled affirmations. The tribesmen quickly brought her to the ground and began to lower her. However right before they cut her out of her bound a tribesman spoke up asking how they knew she was no longer possessed. The goddess tilter her head back making an exasperated groan. Meanwhile the tribesmen looked last one another.   "Surly the ritual didn't fail." One said   "But what if it did?" said another "She could kill us all."   "Well how do we know for sure?"   The tribesmen continued to argue for a bit before one of them suggested that they see what the goddess had to say about it. The tribesmen agreed and used the Drahcodile skin to remove the Seal Shell from the goddess's lips. The tribesmen then asked her if there was a way they could tell if she was possessed or not. She told them that she really didn't know all she could do was tell them that she wasn't possessed, and of course that could just be a lie. There was a moment of silence, and then the goddess spoke up "Well what would you have me do to prove that I'm not possessed?"   The tribesmen remained silent looking around at one another. The goddess sighed and said "You have no idea do you."   The tribesmen shook their heads and offered their apologies to her. The goddess gave another tug on her bonds. "Well you need to come up with something you can't just keep me like this forever.... At least I hope you won't."   The tribes discussed their options their options and after about an hour of debate they had decided how to deal with the goddess. The leaders of the tribes approached the goddess and told her their decision. They explained to her that while she would be removed from the wooden frame she would remain bound for a single day. Once a day had passed, and she had shown no signs of being possessed she would be brought to a location a fair distance form any of the tribes' villages where should would be released. After her release it would be up to the individual tribes on how they would react to her presence. The goddess wasn't too happy about the extra day being bound, but told them that she didn't really have a say in the matter anyway.   Soon after that several tribesmen went to unattached the goddess from the wooden frame as agreed. They started by disconnecting her legs and waist from the beams. The goddess joyously arched her back as much as she could, and made a few kicks into the air. She was disappointed that her legs remained bound together, but said she would take what she could get. Unbinding her arms was a bit more complicated, as the tribesmen had agreed that while they would take her down from the wooden frame they would keep her bound. They couldn't just disconnect her arms from the beams, as the possibly possessed goddess could then get free. Their plan was to attach a leash so to say to one of her wrists so they could unbind it and securely pull it over to the other to bind them together. However the goddess wasn't having it and struggled whenever the tribesmen tried to attach anything on to her. The tribes tried to get her to cooperate telling her that her resistance wasn't helping her look unpossessed, but she told them that it didn't matter if she possessed or not she wasn't a fan of being kept captive, and if she saw a chance to escape she was taking it. In the end they got the goddess to inhale some of the vapors of the Narkipa narcotic putting her to sleep for a little while.   When the goddess awoke she found herself resting on a wooden platform her hands bound tightly against her chest. She briefly tested her bonds before letting out a sigh and lying back . The fastest of the tribesmen sat nearby told the goddess that she was sorry, but at least it was only for a day.   The goddess made a huff of exasperation, "I've been tied to that wood frame for like two days, so that makes this the third day."   "You were only on the frame for a day, and you were definitely possessed for half that time."   "Yeah, but I was still tied up for a day before I was put onto the frame, and while I may have been possessed that doesn't mean I've forgotten it."   "Well goddess you have a pillow now so your situation has improved."   "Hurray for me." Said the goddess sarcastically.   The conversation soon died out between them and the day went on.   Overall the goddess showed no aggression, or signs of possession, but did however spend quite a bit of time trying to wriggle free of her bonds. She clearly wanted to get out, but that doesn't make her possessed. It only means that she doesn't like being tied up for days on end. She passed the time by quietly humming or singing unfamiliar songs, or by trying to escape. In fact if the tribes hadn't witnessed her transformation, and use of her powers no one would believe that she was a goddess. She just looked like any young women would.   As time passed and sunset approached the tribes set off back to their villages. Knowing that they would all argue over which village the goddess would go to the tribes left the goddess near the center of Aqueous under the watch of the seven greatest warriors of the tribes.   As night came around the goddess talked a lot about the stars; pointing out constellations, and their uses of navigation. The smartest of the tribes pointed out the constellations of the tribes. Eventually the smartest said "You know goddess when I think of the term goddess I think of a powerful being that is beyond our world, but you are clearly of this world are you not?"   The goddess answered "I wouldn't consider myself under that definition of goddess. I am definitely more powerful than any human, but I was born into this world and am not some omnipresent being. I have seen other worlds and have met beings that are like that, and I am certainly not one of them, at least not yet."   The bravest then spoke up "So goddess if you are of this world where are you from?"   "I come from lands just north west of theses ones which you call Aqueous." answered the goddess.   "What's it like there?" asked the fastest.   "Nothing too interesting a lot of open fields with the occasional village and town. Farther east is a great forest which I've always wanted to explore. apparently its a beautiful place."   The wisest looked at the goddess questioningly "Why haven't you gone to explore it if that is what you wanted to do?"   The goddess went silent, and a troubled look flicked across her face for a moment before she responded saying "I guess you could say that me and the goddess of the area don't exactly get along."   There was a long pause in the conversation after that until the luckiest broke the silence. "So goddess how many goddesses are there?"   "I don't know more than twenty I haven't met them all. Also my name is Cordelia use it." answered the goddess. She then yawned, laid back , and rested her eyes for a minute. The seven decided that it was probably best of they left the goddess to her rest, and spread out a little ways from her elevated platform.   As the night went on the goddess seemed to become more and more restless, turning over to one side, and then the other. Some of the seven began to notice that her knees were gradually being pulled closer to her chest as the night went on. At some point the fastest decided to take a closer look and saw that the goddess was actually quivering slightly. After a second she realized that she must have been cold. The fastest initially thought to give the goddess some of her clothing to use as a blanket, but while she was sure Cordelia would gladly take it her tribe mates would view it as unacceptable if she even considered covering the goddess with her dirty cloths. She looked around, the nights were warm in Aqueous, so they didn't really have anything to properly keep the goddess warm. They ground was too wet to light a fire, and they of course couldn't light one on the wooden platform. The fastest quietly headed over to the other for any suggestions.   " How is he cold? The night seems pretty warm to me." whispered the strongest.
"Yeah but we are wearing clothes all she is wearing is a short fish scale skirt and a metal breast covering." whispered back the fastest.
"So what are we going to do about it?" asked the luckiest.
"I don't know? That's what I came to ask you guys." the fastest replied.
"We could go and get a blanket from a village." suggested the strongest. "At night we'd become somethings snack before we made it to any of the villages." said the smartest.
"I'd go." offered the bravest.
"Having you go off to die won't solve the problem." said the wisest.
"Well you have any better ideas?" replied the bravest.   There was then a quiet "Ahem?", and they all turned to see the stealthiest holding a stick. Hanging from the end of the stick was a blue-green cloak which belonged to the goddess.
"That works." whispered the fastest.   Grabbing another stick the fastest helped carry the cloak over to the goddess. They delicately placed the cloak over the goddess being careful not to touch it, or wake up the goddess. However the goddess must have already been awake, because once the cloak was put on top of her she looked up. She thanked the two girls, and then but her head back down onto her pillow.     In the morning the tribes returned from their villages bringing with them some more of the women and children to see the goddess. Cordelia was still fast asleep when they arrived which was probably a good thing as she probably wouldn't have appreciated the extra attention. Luckily after the first wave of families came with the rest of the tribes in the morning things seemed to die down a bit.   The goddess awoke at about quarter day maybe a little earlier. The first thing she did was confirm that she would be released today. The tribesmen told her that she would indeed be released that day at about three quarters day. She sighed, but nodded telling them that as long as they kept their word then she'd be fine.   The day went on relatively uneventfully Cordelia kept trying to escape her bonds, although at this point she might have just been doing it because she was bored. As predicted she wasn't too thrilled to be the focus of even more attention, becoming noticeably less talkative, and hummed much more than she sang. As the day progressed the goddess became more restless and it was more painfully obvious that she really just wanted out of her bonds. She continuously strained against them trying to get free, and ended up just exhausting herself. At one point the wisest suggested that if she wasn't so focused on getting out and was more patient it would perhaps make waiting to get out seem a little faster. The goddess did not appreciate his advice sharply telling him that if the tribes hadn't been so violent, and prideful in the first place she wouldn't even be in her current position. The wisest remained composed and asked her why she was desperate to get out. The goddess told him that it infuriated her to be treated like some trinket or object being kept clean and pretty just for people to look at. The wisest nodded but said nothing in response.   A while later Cordelia was resting her eyes after another unfruitful attempt to wriggle free of her bonds. While not asleep she was definitely in the process of drifting off when a curious young child spotted the blue-green crystal she wore around her neck. The boy slipped away from his mother and started toward the goddess. The boy's mother saw what he was doing opened her mouth to call her child back, but closed it not wanting to disturb the goddess's rest. She instead went to grab her child, but was blocked by one of the seven guards. The mother pointed and the bravest realizing what was happening raced forward to stop the child, but was too late. The child had just closed his hand around the crystal as he was snatched off his feet by the bravest. As the child was pulled back he took the crystal with him snapping the cord which held it around her neck. The goddess's eyes shot open and instinctually she discharged a field of energy around her. Luckily the child was pushed clear of the range of the field by the bravest. The bravest however didn't completely make it out and his leg was badly injured.   Immediately after the blast the tribesmen had their weapons trained on the goddess who's eyes were trained on the crystal still in the boys hand. Cordelia was breathing heavily, and looked kind of faint. No one moved for a second until the fastest took the crystal from the child. Cordelia watched her intently her eyes conveying a silent threat daring her not to return it to her. The fastest held they crystal by its snapped cord and slowly approached approached the goddess being careful not to make any sudden movements. Once the fastest was standing over her the goddess rolled onto her back, and rotated her hand as much as she could. The fastest dropped the crystal into Cordelia's hand and she quickly pressed it against her chest taking a deep breath.   Cordelia then rolled back onto her front side to take a look around and take in what had actually happened. Her eyes fell upon where the bravest laid on the ground healers trying to tend to his leg. Cordelia called over to them "The attack shouldn't have caused any major damage. It should be like a minor burn, or a bruise it isn't serious, but it'll hurt. Cold water tends to help with the pain, but other than that you just need to give it time to heal."
The mother of the child begged for forgiveness for both her and her child. Cordelia looked at her and her child and said "Ignorance breaths innocence. I can't condemn a child, they had no intentions of causing any trouble, they just didn't know any better."
The mother thanked her and apologized again before leaving.   As they left the leaders of the tribes arrived demanding to know what had happened. Several different accounts of the story was told to them.
"Is the child alright?" they asked.
"A little frightened, but otherwise fine." answered a tribesman.
"What about the bravest; how bad are his wounds?" asked the leaders. The tribesman shrugged casting a sidelong glance at the goddess. "The goddess said that it wasn't serious, and it appears to be true at least as far as we can tell."
An older tribesman stepped forward saying "Severity aside she still did attack one of our warriors."
The leaders looked at him and asked what he was getting at.
"I'm just saying that the fact that she could still be possessed is still very much a possibility, and needs to be considered." answered the man.
"Oh come on!" said Cordelia upon hearing him. "My attack was only a reaction to being stolen from."
"That maybe true, but you said yourself that you couldn't condemn a child because they just didn't know any better, yet you still attacked him." Said the man.
Cordelia opened her mouth to reply, but the wisest spoke up first saying, "I don't believe that she took the time to see who it was. She just felt her crystal being yanked from her neck, so naturally she reacted."
"A good point." said the man "However after she got her precious crystal back she acted as though nothing happened. She has shown no signs remorse for her actions and in fact actually has barely even acknowledge that the incident even took place. The only thing I saw her do was tell us that the warrior's wound wasn't serious, and even then she didn't even apologize for giving him the wound or that she even had given it to him referring to it as just 'the attack' in opposed to her attack. I mean I don't know about you, but I'd consider that to be pretty heartless." Murmurs of agreement spread throughout the tribesmen. The leaders stepped forward calming the tribe telling them that they'd discuss the matter privately, and that they needed to be given some space.   Once the crowds had left the leaders asked the goddess what she thought of the man's remarks. She answered saying "I believe that my actions were justified, and weren't the result of any kind of possession."
"Still he does bring up some valid points. Said the leaders. "Did you not think it a little cold not to apologize or at the very least take some responsibility for your actions?"
"At the time I certainly didn't, but I think that was because I was just a little bit panicked."
"Oh? Why were you panicked after all by the time you told the healers that the wound shouldn't be serious you were well past the initial shock and had gotten your crystal back?"
"Okay panicked was the wrong word to use it was really more of an alarmed feeling. I was on edge is a good way to put it. I was recovering, so I was kind of on edge."
"Recovering? Recovering from what? You weren't harmed by anyone."
"Yes I kind of was. I-"
"What do you mean my kind of hurt? You were either hurt or not hurt there is no between."
Cordelia gave the leaders an irritated look, "Well I would've explained that if you hadn't interrupted. Okay so you see that ability I used to attack isn't technically supposed to be used in the way I used it. The energy is actually supposed to be concentrated into a single damaging beam projected out of my hands. However due to my current predicament I couldn't exactly do that as my hands are kind of pinned to my chest, so instead of doing it like I was supposed to I instead emitted energy form my entire body. Doing so required me to use significantly more power, concentrating on dispersing the energy in so many different places is quiet straining on my abilities, and then I had to use several times the amount of energy I would use on the normal attack just so I could get it to cause the minor damage it inflicted."
"So your abilities drain you of energy, how does that effect you physically?"
"Power amount is effects the physical body so minutely it is almost in indistinguishable, at least until you are really low on power. What messed me up was the strain that it took to project the energy in multiple directions. Think of it as trying to throw something. If you had to throw something really far you wouldn't just use your arm to throw it, you'd use your entire body to shift as much force into the throw as possible. However lets say you needed to through two things at the same time in opposite directions, you'd have to use a lot more effort using only your arms to throw them, and you probably wouldn't make it far."
The smartest then stepped forward saying "She did seem a little faint afterwards"
The leaders nodded and asked, "So Cordelia if you were not restrained would you have fully used the ability properly?"
"Yes I would've done it properly, and then wouldn't have had any negative side effects." answered the goddess.
"If the ability was used properly how much damage would it have done compared to what the injury it inflicted when done improperly."
"The beam would probably would have cut straight through his leg."
The leaders then asked the goddess if she had anything else that was important for them to know. The goddess shook her head, and they left to privately discuss it amongst themselves.   Once the leaders had left the goddess rolled onto her front side resting her chin on the wooden floor of her platform.
"That didn't go so well." she said dejectedly.
"Oh relax whats the worst that can happen is just another day." said the fastest.
"you are not helping" Cordelia said giving her an unamused look.
"It is also bad luck to use terms like 'the worst that could happen'." added in the luckiest. Cordelia gave him a glare, "You aren't helping either."   After a little while the leaders came back to announce their decision to the goddess. The leaders told her that they had discussed it, and due to the now growing concerns of the tribesmen they were extending the period designed to test whether or not she was possessed or not by a week.
"What!" Cried out the goddess. "You can't do that. When you had doubts before you agreed on a single day."
"Our suspicions have risen since then." was the leaders only cold response.
The fastest then spoke up "I think a week is over doing it a little?"
Some of the other seven including the bravest nodded in agreement. However the leaders dismissed their opinions saying that their decision was final and turned away from. Cordelia watched them as they left hurt, and anger gleaming in her eyes.   Nobody said anything for a long while after that the next time some one spoke was after the tribes had left to their villages and it was nearing sunset. The wisest asked Cordelia if she was okay. Cordelia sharply replied "No I am infuriated, upset, angry, and am trying to talk myself out of killing all of you."
"Yeah that's understandable, a week is way too long. I mean I'm the guy who got injured, and I was thinking they'd just add on another day." Said the bravest taking a seat on the wood platform.
"How's your leg? I would apologize for it now, but since I'm upset with your tribes I'm stubbornly set on not apologizing."
The bravest chuckled slightly, "Its fine just as you said it's not much worse than a bruise."
The smartest realized something and spoke up sayig "Hey Cordelia am I correct in assuming that that glowing is your crystal?"
Cordelia smirked and rolled over onto her back, the blue-green crystal in her hand now glowing brightly. "Yes it is."
The smartest got up wearily clutching his spear, "And what exactly does it do?"
"Oh it can do a couple of things." Cordelia answered smugly.
"Like what?" asked the fastest also readying her weapon.
The goddess just gave a slight smile, but didn't answer. The seven looked at each other, and the fastest asked "So I think it looked pretty around your neck, and you should give it to us so we can put it back around your neck."
Cordelia giggled "Thanks, but I think I'm good."
The seven looked from one another the bravest then sat back down saying "I say let her keep it she was supposed to be let go today anyway, and it's not like we can be blamed if us seven humans couldn't stop a powerful goddess.... Wait actually Cordelia what is the status of the whole talking yourself out of killing everyone thing?"
"I've decided that I just hate your tribes, but won't kill them all because I'm nice." answered Cordelia
The bravest nodded placing down his weapon "Yeah so I'm allowing this."
The strongest gave him a look, "And what if she is possessed?"
The fastest stepped forward toward the goddess who rotated one of her hands toward her palm illuminating with an blue-green like. "Don't try it." hissed Cordelia. "Where is the Narkipa narcotic?" asked the wisest. "I've got" said the luckiest gesturing to a vial at his waist. "But, I kind of think that maybe we should just leave her be. I mean she is a goddess, and we are keeping her tied up due to paranoia about her being possessed. I guess if we are right then I suppose it is good, but I've seen know real signs of her being possessed at all, which means we are just keeping a sacred being tied up for no reason."
The stealthiest then walked toward the luckiest holding out her hand "I understand what you are saying, and I honestly don't believe she is possessed either. However I do believe that she is angry enough to kill us all, and while she may be rightfully upset I don't want everyone to die."
The luckiest sighed, "Sorry Cordelia." he said handing the vial of the narcotics to the stealthiest. However as the stealthiest turned to approach the goddess the crystal stopped glowing and she put her hand down. She giggled slightly saying "Well it doesn't matter anymore, I'm done using it.".
"What did you do?" asked the strongest warily holding his club as he approached the goddess ready to strike. Cordelia shrugged, "I don't know what you guys were expecting, but all I did was pretty much use it as a beacon.". She then just looked up to the sky and said "Oh and you guys may want to put down your weapons just a suggestion which may or may not increase you chances of survival."
"So how does a beacon make is so we'll want to put down our weapons." Asked the luckiest.   Then a new voice spoke up, "Oh maybe it produces a light that instantly kills everyone holding a weapon. No? Perhaps it is magic and the light from it will make the weapons turn on their wielders. Too far out there? Ohhh I got it!. It creates a light which can be seen miles away by certain "gods" and "goddesses" and it may decrease your chance of survival if you attack them."
All of the seven spun around to see a man come walking out of the night. He looked to be in his thirties, had slick raven black hair which went down to his shoulders. He had cheerful look in his silver grey eyes, and a bright smile on his face. He wore a grey cloak, and no visible weapons. A wooden box hung at his side and part of what looked to be some kind of mask was visible on the inside of his cloak. He walked up to them with a sort of carefree sway more of looking around at the surroundings as he went. He ambled right on up to the seven which except for the bravest all had their weapons trained threateningly on him. He stopped in front of the fastest, and wisest who stood between him and Cordelia.   Cordelia looked up at the man, "Well you certainly got here fast I was expecting to be waiting for a little bit."
The man made a wave and then looked at the two in front of him, "Excuse me, but could you please step aside?" he said in a kind tone.
The fastest stood her ground readying her scimitar, "I am sorry, but I cannot."
The man just smiled and then suddenly he was gone.
"That's alright, thanks anyway." He said his voice now coming from behind them. The wisest and the fastest spun around. The wisest called out trying to grab the fastest, "No wait!"
But he was too slow the fastest was already swinging at the back of the man's head. However the moment her blade made contact with the man he disappeared again reappearing just out of range of her swipe.
"Oh come on, I know you are the fastest, but don't get too far ahead of yourself." said the man looking over his shoulder. He stopped beside Cordelia leaning over her face cocking his head. "You know I've been looking to have a word with you for a little while now, but I guess it is safe to assume you were tied up in something."
"Very funny, but I am also too tied up for jokes right now." Cordelia said unamused. The man chuckled and pulled a bunch of Cordelia's blue hair into her face. "Sorry I just could knot help myself."
Cordelia just stared emotionlessly at the man. The strongest to a swing at the man who just disappeared, reapeairing on the other side of the goddess.
"Aw you're so adorable when you are all up tight" He said with another chuckle.
"Anyway" said the man taking on a more serious tone "I do need to have a word with you, so if you seven would just give us a moment." He then sort of cocked his head toward the seven. As soon as he did so a flash of images flashed before their eyes, and everything went black.   The seven opened their eyes a little while later and found themselves leaning back, their heads resting against the wooden platform.
"Can someone explain to me what just happened?" asked the luckiest getting to his feet.
"Well Cordelia must have used her crystal to somehow call for help?" said the smartest shaking his head.
"Yeah something like that" said a familiar voice. The seven turned to see Cordelia sitting in a nearby tree sharpening a blade of blue-green crystal. She was still wearing her stuff from the ritual, but now had her teal cloak clasped around her neck. She had some crystal plates on her shins and forearms held on by what looked to be rope from her restraints.
"Oh how do you like being not tied up for a change? Said the bravest trying to light a torch."Did it feel nice to stretch your legs?"
"You know I am having quite an enjoyable experience being off that wood platform." Said Cordelia kicking her legs back and forth in the air beneath her. "And it felt wonderful to stretch my legs, and my arms, and my shoulders, and my knees, and my sides. a lot of those are just part of my legs and arms, but it still felt fantastic thanks for asking. Also do any of you know where I can get a needle and thread? I'd like to change clothes, but all of my are torn and have holes."
"That's good to hear. What happened to that other guy you guys finish tying up loose ends" Said the luckiest managing to light a torch on his first try. Cordelia looked at him unamused. Suddenly the man from before was appeared beside him.
"You are great, and I'm giving you immunity against all gods and goddesses." said the man chuckling. Cordelia stared at him blankly. His laughter trailed off and he sighed "Ok I'm leaving, but I will hunt you down if you kill him".
He then gave a nod to Cordelia and with that he disappeared again.   "Who is that guy?" asked the fastest approaching Cordelia's tree.
"His name is Kysol and of all the ones you call gods and goddesses I believe he is the only one who lives up to that title. He is also one of the few that I consider friends." Said Cordelia pointing her blade down at the fastest. "Also if you think about trying to be loyal to your leaders and recapture me please note that I am armed, have full use of my power, and will kill you."
"Sorry I thought your friend had calmed you down, and was just coming up to sit next to you." Said the fastest beginning to climb the tree.
"Calmed me down? He isn't the type of guy that tries to convince people of anything. He has his goals and he archives them and you either get out of his way or he makes his way through you." Said Cordelia.
"Okay, but you are free now, and was freed only a handful of hours after what was originally agreed, so why are you still upset?"asked the strongest.
"Because I was fed up with it after one day, and you all thought that oh it would be no big deal if you added another seven to that. Oh and for what reason did you do that? Oh yeah it was because I who was pretty much defenseless at the time rightfully used an extremely weak attack after being robbed of one of my most valuable possessions!" Shouted Cordelia firing a blast of energy at a crocodile near the shore. The crocodile was split in two and the blast cleared out all the water that was nearby. The whole world seemed to go silent for a moment after that or perhaps they had all just momentarily gone deaf due to the sound of the blast. The only sound that could be heard was Cordelia's heavy breathing. After a second she brought her hands up as she took took in a deep breath and then placed them on her lap exhaling.
"Sorry about that I just needed something to hit." said Cordelia.
"Quick question, was that what you would've kit me with if you properly executed that ability you hit me with earlier?" asked the bravest.
"No that one doesn't really have a blast to it. It would've just put a 3 inch wide hole halfway through your leg." answered Cordelia firing an example into the sand.
"So, Cordelia why exactly are you still hanging around here now that you're free?" Asked the wisest. Cordelia looked up at him "I swear if you try and connect this to me possibly being possessed I'll kill you where you stand."
"Noted, now are you going to answer the question?" said the wisest calmly. Cordelia nodded "Kysol directed me to an opportunity that I am very interested in. Of course he is just using me to get something he wants, but it still benefits me, so I don't care."
your friend is secretly trying to use you to his advantage? That doesn't make him seem like a good friend." said the fastest trying to situate herself on a branch.
"Secretly!?" said Cordelia in surprise. "Who said anything about him doing it secretly he flat out told me what he was doing." The fastest looked a little confused. "So why are you doing it if you know he is using you?"
"Because I benefit off of it. Just because he is using what I do to get what he wants doesn't mean I don't get something that I want?" Said Cordelia "Like I said earlier he has his goals and I have mine. He doesn't care about me obtaining mine as long as it doesn't hinder his."
"What are his goals?" asked the wisest. Cordelia shrugged "I don't know. Like I said Kysol is the closest entity this world has that is comparable to a god. He is truly beyond my understanding. He is the most powerful being I've ever seen yet he usually avoids fights, he has the pick of the lot when it comes to allies, yet he chooses the weakest of them, he can hear one speak from the other side of the world, yet he doesn't listen, he can travel almost anywhere with nothing more than a thought, yet he usually chooses to walk, he can accomplish almost anything on his own, yet he asks for help, he is wiser than anyone I've met, yet he almost always acts like a fool. I couldn't even begin to guess what is end goals are for all I know its thousands of years in the future."
"Okay.... But what are his goals right now? You said he wanted to have you do something that would benefit both of you what does he want you to do and how will it benefit him?" asked the fastest.
"Ohh" said Cordelia nodding. "Sorry I don't exactly know that either, but thanks for bringing me to my point. You see what I'm supposed to be doing is gathering up those gifts you tried to give me when we first met. It would actually be very helpful if you could point me in the direction of your villages, as I am assuming that is where you keep them."
"Gifts? You mean the sacred treasures of our tribes?" Asked the smartest.
"If those are what you tried give me when I first was on this island then yes." Said Cordelia with a nod of her head.
"Wait you're asking us to point you in the right direction so you can steal our sacred treasures?" Asked the fastest suspiciously. Cordelia cocked her head. "Didn't you give them to me?"
"I guess we kind of did, but you didn't accept them at the time." Said the strongest.
"Well you didn't exactly tell me what they were. You just took a bunch of glow-ey rocks and put them in front of me. Then you all started killing one another and screwed everything up." Said the goddess. The wisest considered. "Well now that it is clear that you aren't possessed I am certain the tribes will be seeking your forgiveness anyways and would probably give them to you regardless."
"Possibly"said the goddess jumping down from the tree. "But whatever trust I may have had for your tribes has been mostly lost to the winds. I was minding my own business then next thing you know all these people are around me and they all start killing one another. Then because of that I end up getting seriously injured, and apparently possessed by evil spirits. Then I wake up and I'm tied up on the ground surrounded by people calling me a goddess that is apparently possessed. Then after a day of that more of you show up, and knock me out. I then wake up practically naked, tied to wooden posts, barely able to move, unable to speak, and am then hung out over the middle of a giant pit. After hanging above the pit for the rest of the night and then the entire day I am held under water and nearly drowned. I am then left hanging above the pool for the rest of the night, and then since you had cleared me of possession I was about to be let go when some fool causes controversy over that fact and I am left tied to the wooden posts for most of the day until you come back and tell me that you decided to keep me tied for another day. Then after another day you changed your minds telling me you are going to leave me tied up for a whole another week all because I instinctually tried to defend myself causing no real harm to anyone!" Cordelia finished firing another beam of energy across the water striking a boulder causing chunks of rock to fly out in every direction. "So until I don't feel tempted to kill all your tribes I think it best that I don't see any trace of your tribes leaders. If you don't tell me where the villages are I'll figure it using the direction your tribes come from when they come back here by sunset. I am assuming that those left in the villages would be mostly woman and children because most your warriors appear to be men. They'll probably be more inclined to help me out and less anger inducing than your leaders and warriors. They'll help me get what I want, I leave no one gets hurt. Unless your leaders return to the villages then there is a high chance that specifically them will be killed. So would any of you do me a favor and point me in the right direction?"
No one spoke for a second until the smartest stepped forward and knelt before Cordelia bowing his head. "As a higher being my loyalty belongs to you before it does my tribe." He rose and pointed with his spear to the stars. "The village of my tribe lies between the constellations of the great cypress and the lightning eel. However our sacred treasure, the mind of knowledge isn't kept within the village. Only the leaders and his most trusted know where it is hidden. It is possible the village elder would know its whereabouts, but I'm not sure. I know that the tribe of the stealthy, and the wise also keep their treasures hidden, but I'm not sure about the others."
The goddess gave him a nod of approval. "Thank you that'll at least save me some time. Anyone else?" Cordelia looked at each of the seven one at a time. The wisest spoke up "It is unwise to act out of anger. I believe that you may be more successful if you give yourself time to calm down and return with a clearer head to take a better approach."
"Oh don't even start with me." said Cordelia taking a step toward the wisest. "I've grown quite skilled in clinching a fist and not striking a blow. I may be angry, but I'm not acting out of anger, I am acting under guidance from my friend who is far wiser than you could ever be."
The wises remained composed taking a step toward Cordelia leaving only a half a foot between their faces. "Are you not avoiding the leaders due to the fact that you are angry with them? We seven are the only one's who have really gotten to know you in any regard the rest still see as an all powerful deity they would give you what you want without a moment's hesitation if you only went to them calmly you could prove to them that you are without question no longer possessed."
"I don't know what gives you that idea. Give me one single instance where they used sound reasoning to determine anything having to do with me, and I'll consider your suggestion." Said the goddess sternly. "Their decision to keep you bound for a single day after the ritual. While they ended up not following through that decision was reasonable." Answered the wisest.
"Oh really!?" Said Cordelia with a bit of a chuckle. "You think that was reasonable?! Then if you would please tell me a single thing that made them think I was possessed at that point. Give me one thing that gave them even the slightest idea that the ritual didn't work."   There was nothing but silence.   "Oh what was that?" Said Cordelia acting surprised. "There wasn't any reason for them to think that I was still possessed after the ritual? They decided to keep me bound another day because someone said the word 'if'. They had absolutely no evidence to prove that that could be a possibility and decided to take precautions against it. Precautions which involved upsetting a person the supposedly revered. Where's the since in that? Even them adding another week after I injured one of you had more since than that decision even if the precaution was unreasonably excessive?"
The wisest nodded conceding defeat. "That maybe true that they have't proven capable of acting reasonably to you, but I also don't see the reason in trying to obtain these sacred treasures without negotiating with them. You may have had a bad impression so far, but they are our leaders for a reason, and you should give them more of a chance. Regardless of that I can tell you that they are the only one's who can get you what you seek. Stealing the sacred treasures also will only make you seem more of a villain than you are already perceived to be."
The goddess turned away from him. "For starters I actually don't need the leaders to tell me where the sacred treasures are I have several means to locate them without them. In fact you have just given me an idea on one of them. Also I am not already perceived to be a villain in any way, you said so yourself most perceive me as an all powerful deity. But I must admit that you are right in some regards. I am angry and I am staying away from your tribes because I am angry with them, so I'll tell you what. I'll make room for your suggestion. I'll go off and search for these sacred treasures on my own, and if I calm down enough to tolerate your tribes before I have found them then I'll talk, but otherwise I'll stick to my plan. Got it?"
The wisest nodded "understood." The goddess trotted down to the shore stopping to look back at the seven. "There is one last favor I must ask of you. When the tribes return in the morning since you'll probably tell them everything that happened tonight tell them that I'm upset with them and don't want to see them. I'll be the dictating when if ever I want anything to do with your tribes again." With that the goddess outstretched her hand and a stream of blue-green liquid fell into the water. It spread throughout the water causing crocodiles and snakes to turn away. Then she simply walked out into the water, the blue-green liquid making way for her. She soon disappeared into the night leaving the seven to wait till morning.   After the sun had risen the seven tribes arrived at the center island to find the seven waiting for them telling them that the goddess was gone. They told the story that she had called for the assistance of another god one apparently of great power and wisdom. They smartest told them that the god had looked at the goddess and told them that she wasn't possessed. The bravest, the luckiest, and the stealthiest all confirmed this claim and said that the other three's memory must have been effected by the god's power which put them to sleep, and eventually the wisest, the fastest, and the strongest accepted that they must have some how forgotten. They went on to tell the tribes of their talk with the goddess and her anger toward the tribes. Many of the tribesmen were angry at their leaders for angering their goddess, but all of the seven were quick to defend them saying that while some of their decisions had been foolish there was no real way they could have known that she wasn't possessed, and the only reason they could tell was that another god had told them right before freeing her.   After the seven had finished explaining that the goddess was searching for the sacred treasures it was suggested that the tribes find her to bring them to her as a sort of peace offering. The seven advised that directly going out to find goddess wasn't a good idea. She wanted nothing to do with them at the time, and disrespecting her wishes would just anger her further even if it was to give her what she wanted.   The tribes began to discuss their next course of action they could move the sacred treasures to the villages which were easier to find than their hiding places, but if the seven had told her they weren't in the village then she may not think to look there. They considered leaving them on the center island for her to retrieve, but then again who knew if she'd ever return to the center island. They could also send the seven out with them to track down the goddess as she seemed to like them. At the very least the luckiest had apparently been granted protection against the gods and goddesses, so he would be safe from her wrath.   The tribes debated back and forth for hours and by midday they hadn't decided much of anything. There was a loll in the conversation everyone trying to think of some way to appease the goddess, when the luckiest who was lying flat on the ground sat up. "Do you guys hear something?"
"What kind of something?" asked a tribesman. The luckiest cocked his head listening then her shook his "I don't hear it anymore I must have imagined it." He said lying back down. A second later he sat back up "Hey put your ear to the ground I need to know whether or not I'm crazy."
Most ignored him, but a few tribesmen did lay down and press their ear to the ground. They all sat up and told everyone to be quiet for a second. The smartest tried putting his ear to the ground and he indeed heard something. It was a low grumbling sound. He sat back up. "Is the sound a grumbling kind of sound?"
"Yeah!" said the luckiest. "What do you think is causing that?"
"I don't know maybe we loosened some of the ground when digging out the pit for the ritual." answered the smartest.
"Could that cause a sound like this?" asked the luckiest ear still to the ground. "I don't know? I've never heard something like it before, but I've never listened to the ground before." answered the smartest sitting back up. They ended up brushing off the issue, and continuing their discussion.   A little while later though the grumbling grew louder until even all those sitting up could hear it to albeit just barely. They started to wonder if the ground was going to cave in, and if they should move elsewhere. They were in the middle of considering whether they should or not when the sound started becoming even louder. Soon one could actually felt the ground shake beneath them, and see ripples appearing in nearby puddles. The leaders ordered their tribes to start heading back to the villages. However as the tribes started heading out towards their boats the rumbling increased overpowering some peoples voices. Some of the tribesmen called out "Quake?". The smartest shook his head calling back "Too much noise and not enough ground movement."   A moment later there were some screams as the ground started caving in beneath the feet of several warriors, and a massive creature erupted from the ground. The creature was like a massive leech with the fins of a sea lion, and the hide of a crocodile. Its massive circular jaws were lined with layer upon layers of teeth. Its black crocodile skin was covered in rock and mud. It lumbered forward making a throaty growl heading straight toward a group of warriors.   "Demon!" screamed some of the tribesmen leaping away from the creatures huge mouth some only diving under its massive limbs being crushed.   The demon let out a gargling growl as it charged a boat full of tribesmen. The boat was torn to splinters as the demon gnashed it in its jaws those aboard leaping out into the water. The wisest called out "We need bows and arrows keep your distance!"
The demon swung hits head to and froe as if sniffing for something. It then honed in on a group of tribesmen. The smartest called out "It is navigates using smell!"
The creature lumbered toward a group comprised of mostly woman and children however before it reached them it was headed off by a group of warrior of the tribe of the brave, the bravest at the head of the group. The warriors attacked as soon as the demon put down its front limb driving their swords and spears into its foot. The demon stopped letting out a gurgling roar as it spun trying to crush the warriors under foot. The bravest some how managed to scramble up the side of the creature stabbing his sword into the beasts back. He grinded it into the beast hide for a few seconds, managing to get through its armored hide just in time. His blade sunk deep into the demons back and it let out another throaty growl whipping its head back and forth trying to throw the bravest off. The bravest held on to the sword embedded in the creatures back and managed to stay on. Meanwhile a group of archers had gathered up and started firing arrows at the demon. However the arrows didn't penetrate the armored hide of the beast, most of bouncing harmlessly off.   The fastest sped in slashing at the demon's side before darting back as it tried to crush her. However her cuts were shallow and given the demon's size insignificant. The luckiest ran up to help, and ended up tripping over his own feet. One of the demon's feet came down a few feet in front of the luckiest as he got back up. He leaped onto it trying to dig into its skin with his blade. Unable to penetrate its armored hide in time the luckiest was flung off as the demon's leg came back up. He landed somewhere in the water nearby his head resurfaced after a second and he bean swimming back toward the shore.   The strongest now armed with an axe brought it down on the demon's tale it sunk fairly deep into its hide, and it made another throaty roar thrashing its whole body about wildly. The strongest was able to get clear just in time, and took another swing at the beast. While not totally harmless, it was certainly less effective than the first with less time to wind up the strike. The stealthiest on the other hand took a more ranged approached launching poison tipped arrows down the demon's gullet. Arrow after arrow flew down its throat, but it didn't seem to have any effect on the creature at all.   Some of the leaders had gathered up a large group of archers the smartest among them and called for the seven to retreat, as they began firing volleys of arrows at the beast. An arrow struck the bravest on the back and he slid off landing in the shallow waters around the island. The luckiest helped him up and dragged him over to the shore. Again many of the arrows weren't able to penetrate the demon's crocodile hide, but some still shallowly stuck into its skin. While still not very effective they were doing damage, and with sufficient time and ammunition the demon would fall. However time wasn't something they seemed to have. The demon locked on to the archers, and let out another throaty roar charging toward them. The demon descended upon the group its rings of teeth glistening red with blood as it lumbered toward them. In desperation the smartest tossed a spear into its mouth. It of course did nothing to stop it as the demon made its last leap closing the distance to them. The smartest stumbled back as the demon's shadow consumed the sun. Then suddenly the demon veered away its head scraping across the ground as a blue-green beam of light plowed into its side.   "Oh you are so lucky that I am nice" said Cordelia standing a few yards away her hand outstretched toward the demon. There was another roar from the demon as it turned to face the goddess. The demon charged receiving another beam of light from Cordelia, but the beast powered through the beam straight for the goddess. Cordelia started running toward the demon firing a beam of light in front of her creating a crystal pillar jumping onto it she created another, and another quickly ascending up them as the demon charged toward her. The demon charged into the crystal pillars shattering them. Cordelia leaped off clearing the beast a stream of blue-green liquid flowed from her hands as she leaped splashing onto the demon's back below her. She landed firing two more beams into the demon's tail. The demon roared and began to turn to face the goddess, who circled around to its side. Cordelia fired several more beams this time focusing on the joints connecting its limbs to its body. The beams crystalized around the joints, but they cracked and crumbled off as the demon spun to face the goddess again. Cordelia took off again to its other side, but the demon tracked her movements spinning in a circle keeping her in front of it. Cordelia fired more beams of light at the creature as she ran around it. The demon shook itself and made another throaty roar before charging straight into the goddess's path. Cordelia made several more pillars of crystals, but the demon charged into them before she was high enough to clear the beast. She leaped anyway, drawing her sword as she fell. Landing atop the demon she drove her sword into its back, but she didn't stay on for long. Leaving her sword embedded in the demon's she slid down the beast's side sending another powerful beam of energy into its side as she leapt. She sprinted away from the demon putting a fair distance between her and it. The demon let out a throaty growl as it faced the goddess.   The goddess projected another beam of energy at the demon, but this time the beam flew harmlessly over the beasts head. The demon began to charge, and Cordelia fired another energy beam, this one hitting the roof of the demon's mouth. The demon came closer to the goddess, who remained still seemingly trying to line up a shot. She fired another beam of energy this one struck the crystal blade she had left sticking out of the demon's back. The blade was illuminated as the energy beam was absorbed by it. The demon stumbled to the side crashing into a cypress tree as it roared in agony. Losing line of sight of the blade within the branches of the cypress Cordelia dashed away again putting even more distance between her and the demon. However this time when the demon came to face her it dived into the ground. It used its limbs like that of a moles shoveling away the earth propelling it forward as if swimming. The goddess fired several beams of light into the demon's back as it carved out a ditch moving toward her. She started to run around to the rear of the beast, but as she did one of the demon's front limbs burst out of the ground launching chunks of rock hurtling toward her. She quickly created a wall of crystal to shield herself behind, only a single rock made contact with her scraping the side of her lower leg. Then suddenly her barrier was shattered as the demon lunged toward her. Cordelia jumped backwards barley managing to avoid getting crushed. She fired another beam into the mouth of the demon a few feet away from her, but the beam had barley left her hand before she had to roll away to avoid a swipe from one of its front legs. After avoiding the strike Cordelia scrambled backwards to avoid a swing from its other leg. Just managing to escape the attack she yelped as its other front leg slammed into her side launching her off her feet tumbling across the ground.   Cordelia spun into the ground head first sliding a yard or so before rolling into water on the shore several more yards away. She coughed taking in ragged breaths as she gasped for air. The demon turned its attention to the tribes men now firing arrows as a group of warriors prepared to charge the beast. The goddess stumbled onto her feet blood dripping down the side of her head. Her entire left side had been scraped up dirt and blood covering her side. She took a step forward nearly losing her balance she steadied her self against a nearby boulder. She shook her head focusing on the demon as it charged toward the tribesmen. She outstretched her hand and a blue-green glow emanated form her palm. The glow grew brighter and brighter as the demon drew closer and closer to the tribesmen until Cordelia released a powerful beam of energy. The beam drilled into the demon's side with such force that it actually pushed the beast to the side tilting the beast so its right legs lifted from the ground. The beam ended and the demon was dropped back onto its four legs. However Cordelia didn't stop firing beam after beam at the demon coating its side with crystals.   After a few seconds the goddess stopped, and the demon blanked in crystal laid still. She began to lower her hand when there was a crack and a low throaty growl as the demon turned toward her the crystals crumbing away. Cordelia extended out her hands from her sides palms facing the ground. Blue-green liquid streamed down from her hands forming a steaming puddle surrounding the goddess. The demon stampeded toward Cordelia letting out a throaty roar. Cordelia stood still her eyes closed the burning liquid continuing to stream from her hands. The demon continued to close the distance to the goddess. The demon was only 30 feet from Cordelia when she suddenly opened her eyes and swung one of her arms out in front of her. Some of the burning liquid around her feet sprang up from the ground as if being pulled by a string flying straight into the demon's mouth. The demon roared in agony as steam started billowing out of its mouth, but it didn't stop its charge toward the goddess. Cordelia turned bringing her other arm in front of her drawing up the remaining liquid up into the air and down the demon's gullet. This time the demon stumbled a bit, but quickly recovered and continued its charge. The demon's throaty roar became a hoarse wheeze, and its pace to slowed a bit as steam continued to flow from its mouth. Still the beast forged ahead.   Cordelia remained where she was putting her hands out in front of her her palms facing out from her. Her palms lit up with a bright blue-green light the nearer the demon came the brighter they shown. The demon now only 12 feet from the goddess let out a hissing snarl leaping toward her easily covering the distance between them. Even as appending doom flew through the air toward her the goddess didn't move. She remained perfectly still staring into the rings of deadly teeth coming to claim her soul. Then as the demon reached the peak of its arc Cordelia unleashed the light from her hands. The beams lit up the dark tunnel of teeth forcing the demon back. It hit the ground trying to force its way through the goddess's light to reach Cordelia, but her power was too much for it and it slid across the ground being pushed back. The beast let out demonic snarl as it was forced off its front legs onto its back being pushed all the way to the shore. Cordelia then lowered her hands cutting off the beams of light. Her eyes remained on the demon as it made a horse gurgling roar, but it soon faded out into silence and the demon fell still.   The only sound that could be heard was the goddess's heavy breathing. Her eyes fixed on the body of the demon ready for it to awaken not even noticing the tribesmen surrounding her dropping to kneel to her. Then out of the silence came a single slow clap. The goddess turned around to see a figure standing 20 feet from her. He wore a grey cloak and no visible weapons. A wooden box hung at his side and his black hair parted to reveal bright silver grey eyes, and a sincere smile upon his pale face.   Kysol stopped his slow clapping, "I find it odd how even over the longest of times so little can change, while at the same time so much can change over the shortest of times. Change I suppose prefers to move quickly."
"What are you getting-" started Cordelia, but Kysol continued over her. "I mean you pretty much the Verixie endemis' pet for most of your life. Well the Verixie goddesses' pet for most of your life whatever use which ever word you prefer its all the same thing. Now it has hardly been a week since their exotic pet went missing and look at you now."
Cordelia opened her mouth to say something, but Kysol continued. "I suppose things that are different, and not understandable are scary to even gods. I mean fear was originally their drive. They didn't understand what you were, so they made sure to knock you down, inhibit you, keep you below them. However I guess they fooled themselves into thinking that you were actually below them, and were taken aback when you rose to their height. Ironic isn't it?"
"Wow nice prepared speech now if you could get to the point." said Cordelia breathlessly. Kysol began to walk slowly toward her. "The point is that you are where they tried to keep you from. You are at their level now."
"What do you mean?" Said Cordelia between heavy breaths. "I haven't gained any skills, or improved my abilities I merely killed a monster that doesn't change where I fall in comparison to them I've always been equal to them or any other endemis for that matter. They just never gave me a fair chance to prove it."
Kysol stopped a few feet from Cordelia, and shook his head letting out a quiet chuckle. "No you were never a match for them. Sure your abilities could match theirs, maybe your skills which I helped you acquire, but they have always had more power than you. You deceive yourself, you overlook things, if it wasn't for me would still be their little pet, if some of the other endemis didn't pity you you would already be dead."
"I know and I thank you, but-" Cordelia was cut off.
"But you see that as a weakness. The endemis are indeed powerful, but in the grand scheme of things they are nothing. They can be the largest stone in the wall, but in the end they are just a stone. The only thing that makes them powerful is the power they wield. I mean without their castles, their armies, their followers, and their land what are they? They are simply a large stone I mean sure maybe they are hard to lift, but it's manageable, you could also just go around if you like its probably easier." Said Kysol kicking away a stone.
"So why are you telling me this?' Asked Cordelia beginning to take a seat to catch her breath. Kysol grabbed the goddess's hand pulling her back on to her feet. "I'm telling you because I tired of you looking at this strength and writing it off as weakness. Cordelia please stop being stupid. I don't normally help people out like this, if they miss an opportunity oh well too bad for them. I am strong enough to carry on alone without caring about what happens to the world or the people in it, but I am not I am taking the time to care about what happens to you. Shut up, quit being stupid, and look around." With that Kysol disappeared. Cordelia looked at the tribesmen surrounding her, she opened her mouth to speak, but let out a surprised yelp as Kysol appeared behind her his hand on her shoulder. The god covered the goddess's mouth his other hand saying "I thought I said to shut up and stop being stupid. What you were about to say would have been violating both those commands." He then removed his hand from her mouth pushing up on her chin to close her mouth before continuing. "Cordelia I've seen the beginning of many nations. Some end before they begin, some grow and eventually wither in time, others exist to this day, others have faded from history, some threatened to conquer the world, and others simply stay out of the way. However no matter how long they existed for, were they were located, whether they were led by humans, endemis, or gods there was always a point in time where somebody was chosen to lead them. Regardless of why, whether it was through brute force, worthy acts, popularity, or dumb luck there is a point where they all unite under somebody. Before that point they were nothing but a single stone no matter how big, but once people chose to follow them they became part of a wall. Now you have choice in front of you. There are people willing to follow you to unite under you and lend you their strength you can either accept it despite and truly become an equal to the other gods and goddesses, or you can walk away remaining the weakest goddess of this world." Kysol removed his hand from Cordelia's shoulder taking a step back walking around to face her.   There was silence for a long moment before Cordelia spoke. "You should already know my answer."
Kysol shook his head. "I have not looked, but I do know you. I know you are kind of stubborn, and tend to hold grudges. You are rather realistic, easily convinced of others intentions, kinder than you like to admit, and are very trusting of those who show you no ill intent. I think I know what your answer will be not because I know the future, but because I know you."
Cordelia took a deep breath and then looked to the tribesmen. "What do you want me to do? I am unexperienced, unworthy and sometimes pretty foolish. Would you even would you follow me if I decided to lead you? If not then I will leave you alone, and you wouldn't have to deal with me again." There was silence until one of the leaders spoke. "You already have our loyalty. It is us who are unworthy to follow you. We upset you, we hurt you in our foolish attempt to help. We proved to be nothing but miserable creatures unworthy of your presence, but despite this you came to help us. We are the ones who should be asking you if you will lead us."   Cordelia looked back to Kysol who raised an eye brow. Cordelia took a deep breath "If that is what they want then who am I to let them down. If the tribes wish to follow me then I'll do my best to lead them."
Kysol smiled and held something out to Cordelia. It was a crystal it was a transparent grey, but had a slight blue tint to it. Cordelia looked at the crystal for a moment. "Is that..."
Kysol nodded "This is one of the few Cobalt indicator crystals no endemis nation can make it very far without one." Cordelia didn't move for a second until Kysol said "This one is yours. Take it. Just don't lose it I can't get you another one."
Cordelia took the crystal from him, and then tightly embraced him in a hug. "Thank you."
Kysol hugged her in return, and then after embracing each other for a second Kysol released her whispering something into her ear. Cordelia held him for a moment longer before she unwrapped her arms from around him, took a step back, and held the crystal he had given her tightly to her chest.   Kysol looked at the island around them, and then turned back to Cordelia. "Lead your people well. You aren't simply their boss your their trusted friend and protector every decision you must make for their sake not your own. You don't want to draw the attention of the other nations until you are better established. You are also not leading seven tribes you are leading one nation. Division is a dangerous thing for nations to have and if you are to be strong you must seal the cracks between yourself. Nothing divides people more than distance create a capital for your nation where all the tribes can come together. The future generation is essential adults take time to change, so you must focus your efforts on the children. Create a unified army, a military is the most dangerous thing to leave divided. Create a new uniform, and emblem, dress them in the same colors under the same flag. Make it indistinguishable which tribe they were from. Have hunting parties comprised of all the tribes, and have them hunt for their nation not their tribe. You are their center now form a council of their leaders who can help you make decisions, but you are the one who must make the final decisions. I'll stop by to see how you're doing every once and while, but util then good luck." He waved a farewell and Cordelia gave him a respectful nod and said her goodbye. The Kysol turned away from her taking a single step forward disappearing.

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