The Sword

Idon hadn't heard what Zyla just said. He was too busy looking around the rest of the cave, searching for a seventh form.   "Has anyone seen Atia?" he asked finally, looking mostly to Adea. She just shook her head and turned to Zyla.   "They were here a moment ago," Ykona offered. "I can look for them."   Before she could move, the six heard a loud roar from below. Idon closed his eyes and his gaze found Atia in the Eight Trees Clearing with a mortal.   "Your child has your impulsiveness," Idon rumbled, turning to Volnir. "I believe they are summoning us to the clearing to speak with a mortal."   Zyla sighed. "They always were the reckless one. Are we going?"   Idon thought for a moment. "We will hear what the mortal has to say. We will not abandon the Heartlands." He opened his wings and, followed by the others, descended to the mortal realm.   The mortal, a young tiefling, fell to his knees as the gods approached. Idon appraised him and waited for him to speak, but he did not. Finally, Atia turned to face their brethren and spoke for him.   "Idon," they began, bowing their head respectfully. "Narion. Father, mother, sister. Ykona. This young one has traveled far to plead for our help. His village, and all of the Heartlands, is in danger. The Sileneans will stop at nothing to destroy the Children of Prophecy. We must not let them. We must protect our people. For thousands of years, they have been steadfast in their faith. It is time to reward their loyalty. I choose to fight for humanity. Will you fight with me?" They looked around at the other gods.   Adea stepped forward. "Where you go, I go. The mortals have never broken faith with us. I will not break faith with them."   Ykona stepped forward as well. "I was once mortal," she said. "And though I am no longer, they are still my kin. I will protect them."   Atia dipped their head to Ykona, then looked to the four older gods. There was silence for a moment before Volnir stepped forward.   "My gift to those who traveled here was shelter," he said. "How could I refuse to protect them?"   But the other three made no moves. After several long moments, Idon spoke.   "We do not yet know everything. But we cannot forget: the Sileneans have gods of their own. Can we really take so great a risk?"   Silence fell again. The seven looked to each other, and Idon could see the agreement in Zyla's and Narion's eyes. Then, at last, the mortal spoke.   "I do not know the risk you speak of," he said timidly. "But we cannot stand against the Silenean Empire without you. The people here are dying, and will continue to die if you don't help us. I may not know the risk if you do, but there is no risk. There is only the certainty that many--perhaps all--of us will die. Please... Help us."   Idon stared the young mortal down, seeing the hope in his eyes. Before he could speak again, Zyla stepped forward.   "There is far more at stake here than the deaths of mortals. Gods have not fought on this soil ever before. We cannot risk such a thing."   Narion nodded in agreement, but Idon couldn't look away from the mortal.   "Zyla is right that the risks are great," he said carefully. "But so too is the mortal right that they may be wiped out. Perhaps this is a risk we must take, for why should any mortal pray to us if we only respond when there is no danger?"   Zyla looked unconvinced, but bowed her head. Narion did not move.   Idon looked to the other gods, then back to the mortal. "We fight for humanity."

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