Meeting The Great God of death
Meeting The Great God of death, dreams and sleep: Tilleadh
What was in front of them was something like they had never seen before. He could see a black flame. It was the only thing he could t encapsulated the entirety of his vision. The flame burned so black that it seemed unreal, almost dream like. Giving off purple at the tips, and the wisps of smoke as white cotton, the flame began to shrink a bit. Flames began to branch off from the main flame, creating two horizontal columns of fire. Red circles appear at the near top of the flame, opening like eyes. A bright red, they stared at the group as the flame continued to shrink to about eight feet high. Its arms bent to its sides, hanging with sharp fingers attached.
He stared at the monster in silence. Hearing no voices, he could only assume that the rest of the group was as shocked as he was. Koby did not know what to do or what this thing was. Was it a guardian of the great god of death? Would they have to overcome it to meet the great god? How could they fight fire with swords, especially a fire so hot it burned black? And those red eyes, they unnerved him to no end. They just stared unblinkingly at him, like they knew what his intentions were and what was in his soul. If he had to guess, the creature was thinking about all the ways it could kill him.
Should Koby take out his sword, or would that only anger this creature? His hand moved to the hilt of sword and paused in the space above it. If he took out my sword, he would be committing to fighting it. It could just be a guide to the great god of death. He did not wish to kill him and his friends because he was too hasty. What a pest that would make him if he did, Koby thought. He’d never hear the end of it in Hell, all of them blaming him for pissing off the great god of death and him being the reason they ended up in such a shitty place. Koby grimaced at his “title”, the pesky knight, and thought he’d rather stop fulfilling the honorific like had had done too many times. He tensed up, and moved his hand away from his sword, thinking he’d take the chance of a late reaction to a fight rather than make an ass out of himself to his companions. Besides, he didn’t know if they could fight the creature, what good was swinging a sword at fire.
The black flame moved forward, leaving a tail of blackish purple fire extinguishing as it went. Coming closer and closer, Koby could sense the rest of the group growing more frightened as he had been. It stopped some several yards away. The shadow of a flame burned in silence, continuing to stare at the group. The situation stayed like that for a while, a menacing flame looking at the group, the group staring back. Finally, a voice broke the silence.
“He-hello. I am the sword princess, we have come to meet the great god of death. Ar-are you his guardian?”. The beautiful blonde sword princess spoke, fear lingering in her voice. Rare for her, Koby thought. She was usually headstrong and not afraid of anything, but even that must have had its limits.
The creature took a moment to respond. A voice could finally be heard, and Koby could only describe it with one word. Transcendent. It spoke in a low tone of voice, soft yet every word as audible as if someone screaming. But as usual per the great gods, multiple other voices spoke at the same time. It was as if a range of voices spoke in unison, and he could hear all of the different ones at the same time. They ranged from shrill and squeaky voices, to deep and booming growls. But one thing was clear, they were all background voices. A chorus to compliment the main singer. But what did the voice say? What could be the terrifying words that came from the mouth of the unknown presence before them. The phrase it uttered was simple.
“I am him.” The dark flame spoke. Everyone understood what he meant. The entire group became as weights. Each one was still and lifeless, and seemed to be as if a gentle wind could blow them down easily.
Koby specifically was in shock. This was the great god of death? He was surprised by his appearance. He had expected to see a gigantic version of the Shinigami, an ugly grey humanoid creature, with boney bat-like wings that spread many times its arm span. But a flaming shadow? How was this connected to death, he wondered. Even though the great god was not ugly like those in his dominion, there was something deeply unsettling about his appearance. Most of the great gods they had encountered had been in the form of animals, earthly beings they could understand. But this great god was truly otherworldly.
“I am Tilleadh. The great god of death, dreams, and sleep. Welcome.” The great god proceeded to move closer towards the sword princess, who stood a head of the pack. The sword princess tensed her stance, on edge to see what the great god was about to do. She was like a mother wolf, protecting her cubs from harm, Koby thought. Is he one of those cubs, Koby thought, would she protect him? He feared the answer. Koby consistently doubted himself in the group, as if he was not truly one of them.
His fears were not unfounded. The pesky knight had gotten the group into a number of bad situations, and much of the group thought less of him. However, his fears were not the truth. He just did not know it.
The mother wolf had a bead of sweat drip down her pale skin. The sword princess’s eyes met the great god’s as he came closer to her. She wondered why he was approaching. As he came, a sense of urgency and dread started to overtake the sword princess. She was afraid. Afraid of death, afraid of losing everything she had.
This was a rare occurrence for the sword princess. Usually a hot head ready to rush into battle, instead here she stood, afraid of the seemingly menacing god in front of her. To a viewer, she no different than scared girl in a dark alleyway, waiting for the knife.
The god stopped a yard in front of her. At near eight feet high, it was giant to her shortish stature, multiple heads taller than her. Its red eyes stared into her being, unflickering. She gulped. Her head raced with multiple scenes of dismemberment, burning to death, and of unparalleled anguish. She put her head down in fear not desiring to look up at what the evil god would do to her. If he was the god of death, than he must be an evil god she thought. A god who only took those she loved from her. He was responsible for so much sorrow in the world. There was only one thing it could want from her.
She was wrong of course. Her impulsiveness often led her into anxious thinking where’d she spiral into worst case scenario thoughts. She was a neurotic mother wolf. But aren’t all mothers like that?
The great god outstretched his shadowy hand. It seemed to the sword princess that the arm was growing longer and longer, almost as if to reach her. As the hand came up, the sword princess grimaced and closed her eyes. She bent her head down, chin trembling as she expected the hand to grip her.
The hand never came to her face.
She opened her eyes, staring down at the floor. Where is the hand, she thought. She lifted her head, and a cupped hand lay in her sight. Sharp black fingers beckoned towards her.
The sword princess had a blank expression on her face as she stared into the eyes of the great god of death. What does he want me to do? Does he want me to give him something? She thought over and over. Every circumstance ran threw her mind of what would happen. If she gave him the wrong thing would he kill her? Send her to hell? After all she had risked, after how far she had come, it all lay in a single hand gesture.
The group stood there with baited breaths. The fate of their dead comrade, and their quest to find the spell to end human suffering, could lay in this one moment. How would the sword princess react, everyone wondered. Koby had goosebumps on skin. Bell, who rarely had a bad expression, grimaced. Everyone else in the group was anxious for the conclusion.
The great god’s arm moved. It bent inward towards the sword princess. She just stood there, starting to shake. For the sword princess was scared, and she knew not what to do. Is he going to kill her. Is this it? Thoughts of impending death raced through our sword princess’s mind. What happened next surprised everyone.
Tilleadh, the Great God of death, dreams and sleep, grasped the hand of the sword princess. He brought her palm level with his. There they stood, clutching hands, arms outreached. It was as if a mother grasping the hand of her child.
The sword princess stood there in shock and awe. She was surprised by the gesture made from the great god, to say the least. The anxiety in her body began to melt away like ice in a summers day. She felt warmth. The sword princess looked at the black flame hand clutching hers, and thoughts began to race through her head. Why isn’t it burning her hand? Why did it feel warm and comforting? Fire is supposed to be hot and painful, and this hand was anything but.
Clutching her hand, the great god turned his body around. He began to lead the sword princess away, with his hand still grasped around her. What is he doing? Where is he leading her? She would have to keep on her feet. This god of death was an evil thing, to her at least. As the sword princess was led down the hallway, the rest of the group relaxed. Bell was back to his smiling self, content with the display he just saw. Koby was still anxious and on a heightened awareness. Our pesky knight was skeptical of the god of death. An image of Tilleadh leading her to hell popped into his brain. In his circumstance and knowing what he knew, it was not unreasonable for our dear Koby to think such thoughts. Who knew about this god of death and what his intentions were? Death was an evil thing that took the light of life away from humanity.
The group quickened there pace down the grand hallway, following the lead of the sword princess and the great god of death. Tilleadh moved slowly, as if nothing in the world worried him. Which made sense, considering he was a great god. The sword princess took short strides, nervous about catching her foot on the tail of the black flames. The sword princess thought, what is this monster doing? Why is he leading me? Where is he leading me? These questions and more filled her mind.
Questions raced until she felt in a state of confused anger. Anger at this beast for taking so much from her. Anger at this monster for all the horrible things he had supposedly done. Anger that the cause of human suffering was him. Her hand tightened around the hand of the great god. She squeezed it as hard as she could, putting all her strength into it. Tilleadh stopped and looked at her. The sword princess stared at the great god with harsh eyes. Her thoughts were of one thing, death. The death of her comrade the most of all. Why was he taken from them? Why did he have to die? She felt a sadness overcome her soul, and drop her down like a weight.
Tears began to swell in her eyes. Her knees started to tremble and gave way. There was the mighty sword princess, on her knees, crying her eyes out.
The sword princess could only cry. Death had taken away her family. It had taken away her lover, their precious comrade. She could feel nothing but hate towards this the great god.
“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. You’ve taken everything from me.” She proceeded to do the unthinkable. A hand raised in a fist, she weakly beat on the great god. Light taps of her wavering wrist kept making contact with the Tilleadh.
The group stared in horror. Each knew this was a great affront to the great god.
Koby’s hand gravitated toward his sword but never touching it. He knew it could only make things worse if he took out his sword to face the great god. He’d for sure be smited if he tried to initiate conflict. Knowing the power of a great god, a human could not win. He was unsure if anything could win against a great god. Minor gods could be slain, but great gods were all mighty. Koby thought to what the priest in his group said. “The prevailing theory is that great gods are understood to be representations of their domains. Natural forces come alive. They cannot die.” If he drew his sword, he’d be killed. And he was afraid to die. He’d miss his fiance. The woman with the most beautiful eyes in the world. Purple and seductive, they mesmerized him. He was scared to leave a woman he loved so much. He was scared to never see his family again. The loss of never hearing the term, pesky knight, rang through his ears. It’s a title he’d miss if he was dead. So all he could do was watch, and hope that only the sword princess was the one smited. It was cowardly of him. He knew it. He did not wish to be judged for letting his companion die. But it impossible to save her. Even if he’d try, nothing would be accomplished. And they’d also have a harder time bringing back their dead comrade. The only option was to wait. Koby wasn’t entirely a pest, but didn’t make him the most loyal of men either.
The Great god of death raised his right hand. The sword princess thought of nothing in the moment. She could just feel anger and sadness. The great god paused for a moment, as if to think. Or maybe it was to build up strength? Who could tell?
The group watched the scene intensely, waiting for the death of their second friend.
The great god brought down his hand.
Smack! The hand slide across the face of the sword princess, who had flinched before the blow. The hand made contact with her face for about a second or two, and then left it. She lay in shock, a light red circular imprint across her left cheek. The great god stared down at the sword princess. He then spoke in his transcendent voice. “I am sorry, but you violated custom. I am a great god, and you must never do that. I understand your pain. Your loss is my loss. Your pain is mine. But you must remember I am Him, and you are you. Now rise.” He spoke like an apologetic parent scolding their child.
Koby was shocked. She did not die? But she violated a great god. One worshipped by all. How did she not even have a scratch on her?
The sword princess rose, in shock from the slap. Her teary eyes had become dry, and she was staring down at the floor. She couldn’t comprehend what had happened. Her emotions had gotten the better of her, like they usually do, but this situation had been dire. Or so she had thought. But for beating on a great god, all she was punished was with a light slap.
Tilleadh outstretched his hand again. The princess taking him by the hand seemed outlandish, but then it happened.
She gripped his hand again, not thinking about why she shouldn’t nor holding a grudge. She was just too confused, so she let the great god lead her body.
The great god lead the sword princess again, and the group followed, all shocked at the light punishment received from such a holy being. They walked for a while, and then the great god spoke.
“I know you must think of death as an evil thing, but you know not death in its purest form. When it comes upon you when your old, your bones grow tired, your muscles give out on you, and your gums cant gnaw on food any longer; it is a release. In its purest form, it comes in your sleep in old age. Death is warmth.” The sword princess was speechless.
She stopped in her tracks, and so too did the great god. Her mind raced to the words he said after the slap some time ago. How could this thing understand her pain she thought. It was a god of death, eternal and its domain was the harbinger of pain. The sword princess had misunderstood the great gods words.
“How can you understand my pain? How can you ever understand a humans emotions!?” She screamed it at the top of her lungs.
The great god sighed. His transcendent voice then spoke. “Because I am a god of life too.”
The sword princess could not comprehend what he just said. She just stared at Tilleadh, blankly.
“Each of the great god’s dominions is an essential part of human life. From water to fire, from knowledge to death. Humanity is not as is without each of them. So because of that essentiality, each great god’s domain includes life. That is why there is no great god of life itself, for each of us is alive and is part and parcel to the domain.”
The realization hit Koby like a brick. Each great god was alive, each of their domains was essential to life, so their forms must suggest something of life. The great god of death was a shadowy flame, because fire represented the spark of life. And the shadow is death hanging over that life.
The sword princess stood there in silence. Unmoving, unblinking. She looked up at the great god, who spoke one more time.
“Shall we continue on?”