“Daddy,” says a child’s voice. “Daddy, get up.” The voice is cheerful and full of laughter.
Kratos opens his eyes. There is no sky. He sees a stone ceiling above him.
“Get up, Daddy.”
Kratos hears the voice again and sits up. To his surprise, he is in a home. He scans the room he is in. Instantly, he recognizes it as his room in his home in Sparta. How is this possible? Zeus had destroyed Sparta not long after he ran the Blade of Olympus through Kratos’ chest. Kratos scans the room again. His spear and shield hung on the wall and his armor was spread out on the table, arranged for him to quickly apply it to his body. He remembers how his wife Lasandra would polish his armor and then lay it out neatly for him. “Lasandra,” he said her name quietly to himself.
“Daddy, you’re up.”
Kratos turned to the child chewing at his ear. His eyes widen as he looked the little dark haired girl up and down wearing the garb of his beloved city. “C…Calliope?” Kratos is in shock. The last he saw of his daughter was in the Elysian Fields when he traveled to the Underworld. To see her now suggests that he lost his battle with the false god and his is now in Hades. He failed in his quest to kill Zeus. No, he has escaped from Hades before. He will do it again.
“Daddy, come on. Mommy’s waiting,” said Calliope with a cheerful grin.
“Lasandra? She’s here?” Kratos said. Before he could ask her about wife, Calliope runs off, giggling happily. Kratos practically jumps out of bed after her. “Calliope, wait!” he calls to her. Calliope opens and closes the door to his room. He stops just he reaches out for the handle. If he is in Hades, this might be the God of the Underworld’s punishment, to torment him with his wife and child, making him relive the life he destroyed when he pledged his life the Ares. Kratos wanted to act on the side of caution but if he is to forgive himself for what he had done, he must find Calliope. He opens the door and steps through. Immediately, a wall of flames washes over him. He throws his arms up to shield himself. He knew it. Hades is tormenting him. Kratos wades his way through the flames. Just then he hears a scream.
“Calliope?” he said with concern. He hears the scream again. It is unmistakable. The scream is his daughter’s. “Calliope!” Kratos calls. He waves his arms as if to move the flames aside. He scans the area. There is nothing but fire on all sides. Then Kratos hears a second scream. It belonged to a woman. He recognizes the scream instantly. “Lasandra!” He runs in the direction he heard the screams of his wife and child, calling out their names. Kratos does not know why he is rushing to save them. This is a trick concocted by Hades. Isn’t it? He can’t explain it. His family is dead yet he cannot help himself. What if Hades is punishing them to torment him? The thought is too much for him to bear. Kratos increases his pace, running full stride through the flames, bellowing his wife and child’s names. A familiar building comes into view that Kratos recognizes immediately. It is the Temple of Athena. Flames engulfed the structure. Inside he hears Lasandra and Calliope scream again. Kratos rushes to the door and smashes through. He runs up to the Alter and stops. The horrific memories of that day assault his mind. The bodies of his family lay upon the ground in a pool of their blood. Over them stood a figure wielding wickedly curved blades and a red tattoo wrapped around his body. The Young Kratos turned to Old Kratos who looks back at his younger self and snarls.
“You will die,” Kratos growled as he draws the Blades of Exile. He prepares to face his younger self when he suddenly turns dark and begins growing in size. Kratos watches in awe. One of the Blades of Exile vanishes. The other blade morphs into a flaming broad sword. A fiery mane of hair sprouts from his other self’s bald head and a matching beard frames his face. Kratos gnashed his teeth as he looked upon the godly form of Ares.
Ares peered down at him and laughs harshly. “I have freed you from your restraints,” he said with a booming voice, indicating his dead wife and child. “Now you will become the warrior you are supposed to be.”
Anger swelled inside Kratos as he looks upon his slain family. Ares had tricked him into murdering them. The God of War knew they would be there and he sent him to destroy the temple erected in Athena’s name. Kratos throws a furious glare at Ares. “I am not your tool, Ares! You took them from me! I will destroy you again!” he bellowed, shaking a wicked blade in anger.
Ares suddenly changes. Striking white hair and a beard of storm clouds replaces the beard and mane of flames. Zeus towered above Kratos in all his glory and in his hand he wields the Blade of Olympus. “You have defied me for the last time, Kratos,” the Skyfather’s voice boomed like thunder. The roiling storm in his beard reflected his agitation. Zeus raises the Blade of Olympus high. It glowed with ethereal energy. Kratos watches in shock as the massive blade is brought down upon him. He throws his blades to defend and shuts his eyes tight, expecting the inevitable.
Kratos opens his eyes a moment later. He looks around. There is nothing but darkness, save for the light shining upon him from an unknown source above. He is suspended in the air by an invisible force. Soon he hears the sound of shifting rock. Kratos looks ahead in the direction of the grinding. The humungous earthen face of the Titan Gaia emerges from the darkness. Kratos is not pleased to see her. His last meeting with the Earth Mother Titan was when she denied him his vengeance against Zeus and she sent him tumbling high from up Mount Olympus into Hades far below.
“You were a pawn in all this, Kratos and nothing more. This is our war,” Gaia said, rock and earth moving on her face as she spoke.
“You denied me my revenge, Gaia! You will pay for betraying me!” Kratos yelled.
“That’s the spirit, my boy.”
A new voice spoke up. It is withered and tired. Off to his right, Kratos sees a lithe old man step from around him wearing a tattered toga. His hair and beard hug from his head like a dirty mop.
“Prometheus,” Kratos said, immediately recognizing the man.
“That fighting spirit of yours is as strong as ever,” said Prometheus. He raises a thin arm and touches the air just in front of Kratos’ forehead. The invisible force holding Kratos aloft releases and he lands gently on the unseen ground. Prometheus looks at Kratos with hollow grey eyes and says, “There is still much you have to do. This is not your time.”
The images of Zeus and Ares appear on either side of Kratos. They towered over him, looking down at him at if he were an ant. Kratos glares back. His lips curled into a contemptuous sneer. Thea anger in him grew even more. It is making him shake.
“You never had a place among us,” Zeus said in his thunderous voice.
“Your life belongs to me,” taunted Ares with a gravelly voice.
“Your purpose was to serve the Titans,” said Gaia.
Kratos looked at each of his betrayers. His blood boiled like never before. Even though he had destroyed Ares, the God of War haunts him still. Zeus and Gaia are next on his path of vengeance. They have both sent him to Hades and they both shall pay. Prometheus looks at the anger rising in Kratos. He pushes the Spartan on.
“Zeus must pay for his treachery. He must pay for the torment he has inflicted on us both. Don’t forget, Ares is his son. Your family’s death is as much Zeus’ fault as it is Ares’,” said the withered son of Iapetus.
The manifestations of Zeus, Ares and Gaia continue to verbally assault Kratos. The Spartan warrior tries to drive them out of his head; however, he cannot help but listen. Their words were fueling the rage burning within his breast. He can feel a familiar power growing inside him.
Prometheus seems to sense this power as well as he spurs Kratos on. “It is still inside you, Kratos. Find that power I gifted to you and draw it out. Use it to overcome your opponent.” He pauses. The power in Kratos begins to manifest. He becomes surrounded in a bright red aura. Prometheus continues, “Zeus cannot be allowed to live. He must pay for the torment he inflicted on us both. He has betrayed me. He has betrayed you. Do not let your quest end in vain, Kratos! Seek your vengeance upon those who have wronged you and fight on, Spartan!!”
Prometheus’ words break through the bombardment of insults and reach Kratos. The growing anger burned in him brighter than the fires of Hades. They may be manifestations of his mind but the vomit of insults and ridicule from Ares, Zeus and Gaia cut Kratos deep to his core. They have used him, deceived him and betrayed him. They have taken his family, his home, his life. The memories his wife and child flood his mind along with a new memory. Kratos unwittingly recalls his brother Daimos, who was taken by Ares and Athena when he was a child, who he later rescued from the God of Death Thanatos only to be killed soon afterward. The Gods of Olympus have toyed with his life long enough. Their reign will end. He cannot lose to this false god. The belligerent words from Zeus, Ares and Gaia stir the ire in Kratos. He feels the anger roiling in his chest until he is unable to contain it any more. A powerful roar rips from his lungs. It drowns out the vomit of obscenities from the images of his betrayers, causing them to vanish. Prometheus looks on with a smile on his emaciated face as he and Kratos both become consumed in a white light.
Asura is some distance away from where he left the ash colored man when he senses something ominous behind him and turns to investigate. There is a dark figure wrapped in flames wielding two wicked blades that are burning bright with godly fire. The red tattoo wrapped around his body tells Asura who the flame drenched person is. Kratos calls to him.
“False god!” he says, prompting a sneer from Asura. “Our battle is yet finished. You will pay for turning your back on that village! You will not see the end of this day!”
Asura glares back. His anger is rising fast. He has had enough of being referred to as a god. Only those who call themselves gods are the ones responsible for the death of that village and they have his daughter. He will crush the Seven Deities. He will save Mithra. This man with ash colored skin is in his way of saving her. He will crush him. The wrath deep within Asura grows ever more. A red aura surrounds him. “I’ve told you. Stop calling me a god!” he growls. Suddenly, he explodes with power. The extra limbs that were lost in his previous tussle with Kratos manifest again. “I am Asura!” he hollers to the sky, drawing up more power.
Kratos, hearing the false god proclaim his name, snorts with contempt. He didn’t care about his name. The only thing that concerns him is the destruction of Olympus and Zeus. And no one is going to stand in his way of achieving his goal. Kratos slides the Blades of Exile on his back but brings only one arm down. With his other hand, he takes hold of the object of his search. He smiles accordingly once it manifests in his hand. The Ghost of Sparta raises his arm and brings his arm down. A large broad sword of intricate design appears in his hand. The Blade of Olympus glows with ethereal energy. Within it contains the powers he once had when he sat upon the throne as God of War. He can still feel that power. Combined with the power he received from Prometheus when he freed the Titan from his torment—the Rage of the Titans—Kratos’ already ponderous strength is near that of a god. This blade was crafted by Zeus himself which the King of Olympus used to bring an end to the Great Titan War. Kratos will use it to bring an end to the Olympian Gods. Before that, he will end this false god.
“C’mon at me then…Asura,” he says.
(Click HERE to check out my first fan fiction “Dante vs. Bayonetta!!” Get your copy of Defenders Volumes 1 and 2 through the links in the J1 Studios Bookstore for your Kindle and eBook device!! Also take a moment to check my new story Arcana X!!)
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