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Book 8, Chapter 46 - The Way It Was

 Selene, Dawn and the others had forgotten everything, even his face.

Everything he'd done in the wastes and Elysian lands, every battle he'd participated in, every action he'd ever taken - gone. Or at least the memories were so indistinct that they might as well be. People had a vague impression of the events that led them here and that the hero played an integral role, but who he was or what he did was a mystery.

And now he was nowhere to be found. Was he even real or just a trick of collective memory? He was an enigma, a secret that would never be solved.

"Let me bring you to someone," Dawn said to Selene.

"Who?"

"You'll understand when we get there."

The two made their way to Greenland's town hall. Selene saw a number of familiar faces when they arrived, but one unremarkable face was what caught her eye. He sat on a chair within the hall, picking at his foot with one hand and a cane in the other. His scalp was sprinkled with a light dusting of hair and his clothes were rather sloppy. Across from him sat a pretty young girl and despite the clear differences in their person they were sharing a pleasant chat.

"Drunk? What are you doing here!" Selene had to remember to breathe. "You died!"

Another face struck her, the Temple's one-time High Priest Aquaria, seemingly recovered from her coma.

Upon seeing the two women, the old drunk stood and gave them both a wave. "To be honest I don't know what's going on, either. It was like I was just asleep for a long time. When I woke up I didn't remember a thing."

Incredible! It was all so strange! She looked at the reborn drunk and felt like it was all so absurd. How was any of this real? Was everything she remembered wrong? Was she going crazy? Selene felt like she was having trouble separating reality from a dream.

People came and went, oblivious to Selene's crisis. One of them, another woman, tickled something in her mind and she called out. "You... what's your name?"

"Me? I'm Artemis."

"Where did you come from? What did you used to do?"

"I've always been here, since Greenland's founding. I used to be a soldier."

She was a young woman in her twenties with short, disheveled hair. She was on the thinner side, but the pair of enormous war hammers strapped to her waist proved she was a lot stronger than she looked. She was a little defensive about the sudden interrogation and looked at Selene with guarded confusion.

Artemis? She'd heard that name before... but she couldn't remember!

She and Dawn both were troubled by all of this. It was like someone had reached in and carved out huge pieces of their lives. The more they tried to chase answers the further away they were. It was unsettling and surreal.

Azura's sweet voice called out to them. "A lot has changed. You should go see... or maybe you should take a look at the Elysian lands. Everything's different, but... we're used to it. It's hard to explain."

Dawn and Selene left the hall, back out into Greenland's bustling streets. As they walked, they came upon a copse of huge trees which served as a habitat for a family of dragons. A young woman in an emerald green dress walked among them playing a flute. Autumn was also back, the same as the others. She remembered a lot of what happened but nothing about that man.

Maybe what people were saying was true. Maybe this was the godslayer's curse. He defeated the God King and saved their world, but the cost was to be forgotten forever.

Who was this hero? Where did he go?

No one had an answer. Autumn felt that she and the godslayer had been close at one point, but she couldn't offer any more enlightenment. How could she have forgotten him, she thought? Maybe there was a way to find him, a trail to follow. There had to be some way to find out who he was.

Dawn and Selene left Greenland, out into the wastes, but when they saw what it had become it stopped them in their tracks.

Was this the same wasteland they remembered? Leagues of sand in every direction, burned and dead from an unforgiving sun. It was still empty, but instead of sand now there were fields of grass as far as the eye could see. Far in the distance they could just make out small encampments.

After defeating the gods their world had begun to recover.

Radiation wasn't a concern anymore. Food and water was plentiful. People were living easy, comfortable lives - the world they'd all envisioned after the defeat of Sumeru.

The women traveled north toward Skycloud and on the way encountered any number of miraculous things. It was like Azura said, the world had completely changed. Like some superhuman force had remade it all like they'd always dreamed.

Did this power have something to do with Sumeru? Was it connected to that important but forgotten hero?

The day before they reached Skycloud they reached a place called Sandbar Outpost. It was big now, with a population in the tens of thousands. Elysians and wastelanders living happily side by side.

The battle with Sumeru was over. The mighty God King had been defeated! The pantheon that had enslaved them all was conquered by the godslayer. The theocratic rule they demanded had vanished and with it the barrier between these peoples. Without it the world was a freer and more open place.

Selene and Dawn walked into a popular looking building called Adder's Pub. Its owner was a tall man with buzz-cut hair, plain but provoking. His eyes swung to the door as it opened and narrowed when he saw who it was. "Selene? You're back? Sit, have a drink."

When she took a closer look she was again struck by an odd sensation. "You're back, too... the battle with the gods is over, why are you still here?"

"Why would I?" An easy smile played on Adder's face. He lazily wiped down a glass as he spoke. "I like being a bar owner."

"There are a lot of people here for it being so early." The door opened again and a woman strode through. She was beautiful, with long raven-black hair down to her waist. A sword was strapped to her back. When Selene and Dawn looked her way their reaction was the same. "It's you!"

She was Adder's closest follower, Revenant. Only now she was his wife and fellow store-owner.

Adder took his wife's hands and smiled at Selene. "It's a nice life, right? We're planning on opening another one. You should come help run it."

Dawn was irritated by the whole thing. After so much searching, not only had they learned nothing about the man they chased, they felt further than ever. She sat down at the bar with a huff. "Pour me one, barkeep. Strongest you got."

Selene had slipped into a quiet depression. Ever since she woke up she felt like she was missing an important part of herself and there was no way to get it back.

Adder put two clean glasses on the counter and poured out some liquor. "Don't feel bad. If you ask me, everything has a purpose. We're all confused, but I believe one day someone will come up with an answer."

Dawn knocked back her drink in one gulp. Selene left hers untouched. "You think he'll be back?"

"You mean him? My memory is fuzzy, but I figure that's probably his doing. I suppose he has his reasons," Adder mused. He then was struck by a thought. "Oh, by the way. You should get up to Skycloud when you have a chance. Your dad's waiting for you."

Selene blinked at him. "Dad? But he's..."

"Not just your dad but the old Grand General, too. Not to mention the less-than-pleasant High Priest and other elders. They're all back." Adder shook his head. "People say that when the godslayer defeated the pantheon he took back all the souls they stole."

In the middle of his thought Adder looked up and froze. He'd been speaking to two cups, their owners absent. He called out through the closing door. "Hey! You haven't paid for your drinks!"

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