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Home > God Rising: Battle of Atela

8 Part II

 "What have you done Artemis? Why did you have to do that? Why? ARTEMIS WHY?!" The girl rose from her heavy slumber after a long night of twists, turns, desperate desires to wake up, and screams for help. If not for the breaking blast of thunder that rolled over in the blackened sky of the night, she wouldn't have woken up.

Her cheeks were wet and her body was bathed in her sweat. She was trembling. The remnants of her nightmare still clung tight to her mind making her shudder and her heart pound against her chest. A flash of lightning illuminated the room revealing everything in it for a split second before it went pitch black again.

"PAPA!!! PAPA!!!" She buried her face into her pillow letting out a terrified cry, hoping her dad would come running to her like he used to but no one came. She looked up again and her eyes still met the wrapping darkness of the room.

Soon enough, she heard the pattering of the crystal clear raindrops at the window box. After another shock of white light in the black ink sky, a ghostly face appeared briefly at the same window before fading away in a blink of an eye.

She shook her head. It had to be her imagination. Ghosts weren't real. There was no connection between the dead and the living. She repeated her thoughts to herself as she tried to calm down. She slithered on the ground blindly looking for her father's cupboard in search of a matchstick, and a lamp normally at the corner of the room.

She fortunately found a little box In the cabinet her hands searched in place of her eyes. There was only a stick in there so she had to be cautious of the flame that could burn out if she wasn't careful. She proceeded to search for the lamp that wasn't anywhere near to her. The lamp wasn't in the usual place it was kept. She wanted to light the stick because of how tense she was growing but she forced herself to hold on. She'd find something even if it's not the lamp.

She was yet to check the wardrobe beside the bathroom door. Something important and useful might be in there.

Again, she searched moving her hands around until she met a pair of handles and yanked the door open. Something felt strange, something disturbing hit her nostrils as she stood in front of the dresser. It was an unpleasant smell of rotted meat. She had to make a stride back for a second because her insides could no longer take the scent.

She pinched her nose as her hands moved about looking for a candle and she managed to find what felt like it. She lit the small candle in her arms and her eyes reacted to the sudden light from the little flame. Her squinted eyes were broadened as her jaw dropped in shock.

She screamed at the sight of the corpse sitting In the almost empty wardrobe. Its skin had been hollowed by burrowing insects, it's sockets were bereft of eyes, and its mouth hung open. The wardrobe had a pool mark of the now-dried blood mess and it stained the few clothes inside.

Artemis realized something. The necklace hanging around its boney neck was similar to the one she gave her beloved father.

She didn't want to believe it. She thought she was still dreaming. She dropped the candle on the floor as she slapped herself "Artemis wake up! Artemis Wake up!!! Artemis..." looked like Noah wasn't the only one that would end up in a casket. His little girl was encased in one filled with sorrow.

She felt empty. Like the candle's little flame, something in her heart had worn out leaving her with cinders of complete nothingness. The weight of guilt was crushing her and it was all similar to the physical agony she felt when fighting the Orc. Her emotional torment was a drowning ocean that pulled her mind down deep to a place of the unknown.

Her salty tears flowed as she made her way out into the poorly lit town. It was still raining but her mind was too numb to think and care about how wet she'd get from the deluge.

"What's going on?" Something was weird about the town and furthermore the climate. It should've been summer.

The chaotic raindrops continued to hammer down on her pale skin as she trudged through the flooded dirt paths leading to the chief's home.

Only her pink eyes could give a clue about her overwhelming sadness. Her tears had mingled with the rain that created a stream-like pattern on her wet face. Her deep brown hair along with her plain yellow dress was soaked in the water falling from the dark sky.

She rubbed her arms as the cold wind cut through her like a sharp knife making her teeth chatter. She just had to hold on a little longer. She could already spot the chief's house from the bright lamp posts set around it.

She knocked on the door and patiently waited for a reply. The soaked girl who looked nothing less than a sponge was allowed in.

It looked like they'd been waiting for her to come. All the elders had their eyes set on the girl who returned a blank gaze. She began to tear up and it annoyed the new chief, the eldest son of the ruling family.

"So, little Rivera has finally woken up? The healer was quite accurate about the date." The thirty-year-old successor took a sip from the teacup on the table in front of him. His coal-black eyes of malignance and contempt bolted on the young lady whose eyes were looking down at her filthy feet.

The plumped face man with a grizzled beard approached her with his hands slowly clenching by his sides.

"Little Rivera don't you have questions?"

"Papa..."  that was her reply.

The tall and solid built man with ginger hair sitting on his pale face pat Artemis's head "You see child, you've been sleeping for almost a year. Summer is gone, the tournament has been concluded and the whole town is languishing over what you've done. That's the rundown of the ridiculous scenario."

"My papa?" Her monotonous reply was all she was going to say until she got the answer to her pressing question.

"They killed him along with my father. So you're not the only orphan...Many of us here are. Don't feel special Artemis and don't think you'd be pitied the same way you were on the battlefield. Honestly, I wish you'd died that day. We wouldn't have suffered like this. Taxes have increased! We scarcely get paid! Our crops are dying! Everyone is falling sick, Artemis. You've cursed our territory" The chief couldn't conceal his anger. He'd promised to not hurt her but to him, she deserved to have her hands cut off or something should be done that would leave enough scars to remind her of the bad luck she brought.

His hand cracked across her face and a welt was left behind. She grasped her stinging cheek as her tears kept on pouring. Beneath her eyes was a fresh cut she got from the ring on his finger and the blood from the injury advanced down to her jaw.

He lashed out a belt and swung his hand back when he was cautioned right on time "Young Sir... We decided to banish her. She's still a child."

"This moron ventured into a battlefield, why didn't she think she was a child then" Nadir's father who'd attempted to stop him could not answer. He was just as angry as the chief, but he used the excuse to subdue his rage.

"If I'm to use this belt on her and do exactly what I have in mind I'll kill her. Is there any point in letting her go living?"

"Young sir, The demise of her dad is sufficient...Just expel her" Artemis looked up to see Nadir who she'd failed to notice earlier. He sat at a corner trying his best to avoid contact with the teary eyes of the child.

"God raindrop will punish her for what she'd done."

The chief hissed as he withdrew his hand "somebody get her out of my sight and don't forget to burn down her house."

Artemis's chaotic insides tightened. 'Burn down her house? Her father was inside!'

She pulled on the robe of the chief, almost falling to her knees to seek for some kind of empathy but all she got was a push that made her wet body crash into the hard wooden floor.

"Toss her out of the village gates. She'd find her way from there" The meeting was adjourned and Artemis was dragged out by Nadir who'd stopped halfway across the town, where there'd be little people in sight.

"Artemis..." he let go of her and she weakly tried to balance herself on the soaked ground. The rain had stopped so those who'd sought shelter somewhere that wasn't their home could finally leave.

"Did you mean what you said? Will God raindrop really punish me for what I'd done. I didn't do it for myself, I did it for humanity but..."

He pats her head "Don't trouble yourself too much..."

"But you're suffering as well!" She looked at him with her puffed red eyes from all the crying. She'd hoped he'd hate her like everyone else. She didn't deserve his kindness after everything she'd done. There was no point in it.

"Why are you still being nice to me? I let all of you down didn't I?" Nadir didn't say anything. He just proceeded to the gate, where the little girl will be sent off.

"My father's necklace!!!" She escaped from Nadir's grip then dashed to the direction of her house when she'd remembered the ornament around the neck of the cadaver.

"Artemis!!!" Nadir called out but the little girl ignored.

Her feet pounded against the mud whenever it kissed the ground. Her deep brown hair whipped back and forth with her sudden spurt of speed and it was all to get to the house on time. Her tears left her blinded but she didn't stop running despite the throbbing pain in her head, the rasp in her throat, and the hard pounding against her chest.

The world rushed in a blur as she ran desperately to reach her home but she tripped over a log standing in the way. With the impact from the fall, she could tell blood was seeping from the broken skin on her knees. She didn't even need to look at the torn and dirty skin to know her own body.

She'd fallen so many times that she'd already gotten used to it. The only thing new was that her father could no longer be around to treat her injuries and scold her whenever she came home from roughhousing with her friends.

"I won't be around forever Artemis. At least you should be happy that you'll surely get to see me again."

She didn't get to see him alive after that day and it was all her fault. "Damn the beastmen! Damn me!! Damn everyone!!!" She slammed the ground with her fist as she rose unsteadily to her feet.

She limped until she got to the flaming cottage. The wet timber tried its best to resist but the rapid blaze was strong enough to overpower it, scorch the trees and grass around, showing no mercy to whatever was in the way.

The smell of burning cedar was in the air and the gathering crowd stepped out of the comfort of their homes to take a look at the inferno.

Not only was the house burning, but memories and souvenirs the little girl acquired while growing up were licked completely by the flames. The smoke was blown in the wind's direction and dirty ashes rained down against skins and objects.

Artemis ran inside the maze of fire to look for the necklace. The tears formed in her ducts instantly as she coughed in the heat filled room. She noticed the burning corpse in the wardrobe that was left open and she made her way through the orange flames to meet it.

Her hands traced to the necklace and she took it off with a smile on her face. She had no reason to escape the burning cottage. She surrendered herself to the flames so she could be with her father, wherever he is in the stars.