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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, '10, 6:49 pm
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Chapter 5


It was in the late afternoon when Piotr, Mieu, and Jack materialized in Piotr’s bedchamber. Their reappearance made enough noise that Sari and Laya were soon running into the room to see what the ruckus. They were overjoyed to see their husbands and Mieu, the former of who were carrying a several colored boxes in their arms. Sari and Laya passionately embraced and kissed the two, as the trips between worlds left the two Alisan women scared to no end.

“What are these?” asked Laya, taking the boxes out of Jack’s hands. “Are they for me?”

“Heck yeah!” Jack exclaimed. “Presents from your dear Jack from his hometown.”

Laya’s eyes widened with anticipation as she opened them. Piotr also handed Sari her gifts, who gave him a long kiss on the mouth in exchange. Piotr and Jack both smirked at each other. The two women voraciously tore the boxes open, which contained numerous articles of clothing, including an evening dress for each one. They also received some bottles of perfume, which both of them adored.

“Somebody’s gonna get a big kiss tonight,” Laya said in excitement.

Sari nodded. “Well, let’s get down to business,” she said, a little more seriously. “First of all—“ she paused and looked over at Mieu. “Mieu, is that blood on your mouth?”

Mieu giggled and ran her finger across her face and licked it. “Nope. Just sauce. These two treated me to some traditional Earth foods while we were there.”

Sari shook her head and continued, “So, did you find what you were looking for.” There was a look of both fear and hope in her eyes.

Piotr nodded. “Yeah. We now know where Corg is, or should I say probably is.”

Jack added, “It’s hecka a world based on an ancient civilization that existed on Earth. It’s kind of a mythological world, if you want to call it that.”

“Full of danger?” Sari asked, letting out a deep sigh.

Jack and Piotr said, “Uh-huh” simultaneously.

Sari sighed again and sat at the edge of the bed. “Dang it. I always hoped that once I settled down, I wouldn’t have to go on any more quests. I just wanted to live out the rest of my days in peace with my beloved.” She looked up at Piotr and then struck the mattress with her fist.

“Would you go on one more quest if it were to rescue me?” Piotr asked, calmly.

“You know I would.”

“That’s how I feel about Corg. That’s how we all feel about Corg. And I know that he would do the same for you, Christy or no Christy, Melissa or no Melissa.”

“Speaking of whom,” interjected Laya. “Should we tell her what happened: That we may be able to bring her husband back?”

“No!” said Mieu, quite unexpectedly. The others spun around to look at visibly upset cyborg. “She doesn’t deserve it. After all we did for her, she abandoned us. She abandoned Corg. She even had the guts to blame him for what happened. No, we are not going to tell her a darn thing!”

The others’ jaws nearly dropped in astonishment. They soaked in her words for a few moments, and finally agreed that she had a point. If Corg wanted to reconcile with her afterward, should the mission be a success, it was his business. But they would carry out their mission unbeknownst to her.

It was as they were reaching that agreement that Piotr noticed an extra table in the room. “What’s that?” he inquired of his wife.

“Have a look.” The five walked over to the table and stared at for a few minutes. On top of the table, arranged neatly according to its owner, were the arms and weapons of all five of them. There were Sari’s twin royal daggers, with their polished blades and elaborately-sculpted hafts. They lay next to her royal bandana and royal chest plate, an immaculately white * that was made of one of the most durable, yet light alloys on the Alis III. Next to her things were Laya’s battle equipment, her Nei Bow, her royal fibilira—a thick, burgundy tunic of magically-tempered cloth with laconian shoulder guards—and her royal crown. Next to that was Mieu’s gear, which included her Nei and Planar claws, her red leotard, her force vest and boots, and the royal ribbon that Sean had bought her before going to Lashute to face the Dark Force. Jack and Piotr’s gear were also on the table. Laya had placed his ninja robes and light mesh armor, in addition to a pair of specially-made boots that were light, but had a laconian toe at the end. Piotr’s camo-armor and twin batons completed the set.

Jack and Piotr examined each of the items very carefully, picking up each weapon and piece of armor and scrutinizing it carefully. They ran their fingers over the blades, felt the texture of cloth armor components, and held up their own protective gear against the light.

“Here’s hoping that this is the last epic quest we’ll have to bust out, “ Piotr said.

Sari grabbed his arm and gently rubbed his back. “Amen to that. Here’s hoping that when we return, it’ll be six of us and not just five.”


***

It was decided among the four that the day after the next would be the day they would part. The evening—according to Alisian time, not the Hollow Valley time--was spent each one in his quarters. Piotr and Sari enjoyed a light dinner together, followed by some light training, and ended with some intimate time between the two. Piotr suggested it on the grounds that’d give each a portion of the other’s strength for whatever dangers they might face. Sari accepted on the grounds that any dangerous mission should be preceded by an expression of each other’s love, so as to leave no unfinished business should anything happen to one another.

Jack and Laya had a similar experience that evening. After a brief meal, Jack practiced some of his signature kicking techniques, while Laya meditated to hone her technique-casting abilities, should she need them in battle. Their day ended very much like that of Sari and Piotr, though with them it was a decidedly spontaneous decision on the part of both, rather than one preceded by a dialogue about the subject.

Mieu spent the evening alone. She sharpened her claws and practiced some of her fighting moves, and then spent the rest of the evening reflecting on the game Jack and Piotr had played and replaying the many pleasant memories she had of Corg. Before going to sleep, Mieu sat up in her bed and said, to nobody in particular, “Corg, we’re coming for you. Just hold in there.”

The next day had the two royal couples wrapping up a few loose ends at the castle, and then spending the rest of the day taking care of their appearance. Sari, who had been told the entire story and background of the world they were going to by Piotr, thought it a good idea for them to look their absolute best, just in case they had to have an audience with any of the gods. The others agreed, and Piotr and Jack took long showers and got haircuts while Sari, Laya, and Mieu spent the day with the royal hairdressers and beauticians, who performed all manner of pore-cleaning, eyebrow trimming, and other such activities on the three women.

They rested well that evening and in due time, the time arrived for them to go. The three, dressed and armed accordingly, met in the great hall of the castle. After bidding farewell to the numerous guards and servants, Sari excused everybody so that the five were alone.

“Ready?” she asked.

Everybody nodded.

“Okay, let’s do this,” she said, resolutely.

Sari walked up to her husband and placed her arms firmly around his waist. He embraced her firmly as well. Laya and Jack followed in suit. Only Mieu was without a partner. On the count of three, Piotr, Jack, and Mieu closed their eyes and began to focus their minds on the land of the Altered Beast. They concentrated all of their mental energy on imagining themselves and their companions in that new land. Soon, their minds became light. They felt a slight tug on their bodies, as if something was trying to pull them upward. Their minds became light, as if all of the hard concentration now was an effortless task. The felt themselves float—no, fly through the deepest, darkest reaches of space. It seemed to go on forever and yet, like a dream, it seemed to end so quickly. They saw the stars around them, which seemed to fly in their direction at dazzling speeds. At length, they saw what appeared to be the planet Earth and, as if they were watching a film in fast-forward, they found themselves hurtling speedily toward Europe…toward Greece…toward their destiny.


***


As if they had awakened from a long dream, the five opened their eyes and stretched their arms. They looked around. No longer were they in the castle. They were on the steps of a large temple. In front of them lay a vast field of grass with numerous white stone structures frequently popping up in random places. It was a true cemetery of marble structures that they had come to. They looked up the stairs and gazed upon the magnificence of the temple above them.

The temple was also made of marble, but of a type that was infinitely whiter than the numerous stone structures beneath them in the field. It was a rectangular structure, with two or three rows of columns running the entire perimeter of the building. Piotr, whose father knew more than his fair share of architecture, pointed out that the columns were of a Doric style, which he also pointed out that it had no relevance to the mission itself.

The five began to ascend the steps, of which there were more than seventy. As they came closer to the top, they were greeted in a sense by two twin statues that lay several yards apart on the landing of the steps. The two statues depicted the same subject: a female warrior in a robe and soldier’s helmet holding a spear. The woman wore a * with the face of another woman, with serpents for hair, in the middle. Near her feet was a coiled serpent. The five stopped to admire the quality of the sculpture.

“Medusa,” said Sari quietly, pointing to the *.

“How did you know that?” asked Piotr, curiously.

“She shows up in Alisian mythology. There’s a story of a woman named Alis who once confronted the evil monster Medusa. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I remember the description of a woman with snakes for hair who could turn people into the stone with but her gaze.”

Laya nodded. “It is true. It is part of a greater legend from Palma, centuries before it was destroyed. I think I heard Corg ask about it once. And in your mythology, does Medusa have the same powers?”

Piotr nodded. “Corg knew more about this stuff than I did, but yeah. She could turn people into the stone and, when Perseus, I believe, decapitated her, a winged horse, Pegasus, came out of the neck wound.”

“Quite right, my friend,” said a strong, feminine voice from afar.

Startled, the five jumped back to see a woman standing in front of them. The woman was wearing the sort of the long white robes that Piotr had always associated with Ancient Greece. She also wore a gold * and her head was crowned with a golden helmet. Her eyes were a bluish-gray color and her hair was long, wavy, and jet black. Her skin was a light olive color and her appearance, while not outright beautiful, commanded immediate attention and admiration.

“How did—When did you arrive here, miss?” Jack asked, still a bit jumpy.

“Just now. After all, it is my temple,” said the female warrior, with a small smile.

“Then you—you are…” Mieu began.

The woman nodded. “Yes, I am Athena. I am the goddess of war and wisdom. This is my temple.”

Immediately, the five knelt down on one knee and bowed their heads to the ground. They stayed like that for several seconds until Athena said graciously, “Oh come now and get up. No need for so many formalities.” She laughed lightly, but still maintained her dignified demeanor.

Sari and the others slowly rose to their feet.

So,” Athena said. “What brings you here?”

Sari acted as the group spokesperson. “We have come here from another world seeking a friend of ours. He was killed in cold blood months ago. Recently two of our company began receiving messages in the form of the dreams, and we tracked them down to this world. I know it sounds unbelievable—“

Athena cut her off. “It would sound unbelievable to a mere mortal being. I am not one, however. I am the Goddess of Wisdom—“She began to walk slowly toward them. “I consider all things and must judge according to all the facts.” She examined each of them from head to toe. “For example, it is obvious that you are neither Greek—“she paused as she continued pacing in front of them. “—or from this world.” Athena walked over to Mieu and eyed her closely and she circled around the cyborg, occasionally rubbing her arms and cheeks. “The people of this world do not have the technology to make a creation like this,” she said calmly. “I do not believe that even my brother Hephaestus could perform such a brilliant work as this fair creature is. Yes, I do believe you. And yes, I do believe that your friend, Corg is his name I believe, is in this world.”

Piotr’s and Jack’s faces beamed with excitement at that. They hit their fists together, giving each other “props”, as they called it.

Sari put forth an inquiry to Athena, “So have you seen Corg?”

Athena stopped pacing and looked at the warrior queen. “I regret to say that I haven’t. He is not with us on Olympus, nor does he walk the surface of this land. I’m sorry to say that he is in the Netherworld, a prisoner of that evil monster Neff, who had once kidnapped me.”

Sari and Piotr calmly placed their hands on their weapons. “How can we find this evil monster and release our friend?” asked Laya. “We have already faced many monsters in our days, including the most evil of all evils. We do not fear this Neff. We plead with this, kind goddess Athena; please tell us the way to go.”

Athena smiled at Laya. “Your courage is great and true. Nonetheless, I can only let one of you descend into path that leads to the Netherworld. But you must beware: to fail in the quest could mean the eternal loss of both your soul and Corg’s.”

There was a brief silence among the party as each of the five looked at each other. Mieu was the first to step forward. “Goddess Athena, I volunteer myself to go.”

Athena stared in surprise. “How interesting. The robot wishes to save the human.”

“I am more than a mere robot, your highness. I am a cyborg. I was once a human, but augmented with cyborg parts many centuries ago. I am immortal, and yet I have a soul and feelings like any other human. Corg has always been good to me and I would like to repay his kindness by rescuing him from evil. I will give my life, even my soul, to save him.” Mieu stepped forward and knelt down to give reverence to the goddess.

“But Mieu—“started Jack, who was silenced by Athena’s hand.

“Brave Jack, I know you wish help your friend. But there will be other things which you shall be able to do to help. Don’t worry about that. I am very impressed by your courage and determination to find your friend. Few people would leave their own city to find a dead friend, let alone travel across worlds and risk their own souls for him. I admire you all.” Athena looked down at the prostrated Mieu. “Fair cyborg Mieu, please arise. Your wish shall be granted. You will descend into the cave which shall take you to the bowels of the earth and, in good time, to the Netherworld itself.
Remember, you go at your own risk. Are you okay with such a proposition?”

“More than failure, I fear an eternity of knowing that I could’ve saved my dear friend but did nothing instead,” was Mieu’s response.

“So be it.” Athena raised her hands and said something in another language. The ground began to quake and soon earth split open in front of the staircase of the temple. “Go Mieu. Corg’s fate depends on you.”

Mieu walked over to Sari and Laya and the two men, and hugged each of them tightly. The four wished her luck, after which she descended the staircase and walked toward the pit. She stepped down into the bit and soon disappeared from sight.

“God be with you,” mumbled Piotr under his breath.

Athena, who had observed Mieu’s descent, now turned to the others. “Do not worry, everything will be okay, should her heart be true and her courage unending. Now, I must return to Olympus to consult with my father Zeus in other matters. I will return soon with further instructions for you.”

With that, Athena disappeared in a flash of golden light, leaving the two couples alone in front of the temple.

Last edited by H-Man on Tue Jul 27, '10, 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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