High Atop the Mountain
“Grandmother, the scarred one lies upon the Benben.”
“Send your son and your guardians to take him.”
“Should we kill him?”
“Killing him will serve to no end; you will take him below and judge him.”
“Your rightful place shall be upon the throne and our reign will be eternal.”
“Go now and do great things in the name of your father.”
A dove passes through the sky, alone but soon to be followed by others. This marked the beginning of the peace to come for some but for others this was just the beginning. Not long ago the skies were filled with hate. “In the End there will be only Chaos” rang through the air and it was true. The gods are gone or are at least quiet. The dove passes by a balcony opening into a throne room. Its yellow eyes peered down at a body. Draped in the pure white apparel of a god but lying motionless. The dove glides through the air and uses the wind to guide it down to the ledge. The orange feet touch down upon the marble and take a grip on the smooth stone. The dove’s head looks the body over, smooth, scarred, white. The dove tilts its head as it spies movement. The body begins to move but the bird does not move. The bird is too interested in what may be and not what is as the moment. Step by step the bird moves closer to the body. The movement came from the body and under the robe the body was coming to life. The dove was close enough to the face of the body to be able to smell the breath. The mouth was open and the dove could smell death, not from the breath but death hung in the air.
Faster than the dove could move a hand darted out from under the robe and grabbed its head. A quick sound and the dove’s neck was snapped, the symbol of peace now lay limp with a small trickle of blood seeping out of its mouth. The white body of the dove flew through the air as the hand tossed it over the ledge. The wind ruffled the feathers of the wings as the lifeless body gracefully floated through the air. The height of Olympus gave the bird a long fall but it did not fall long. A high screech of a falcon echoed through the air. The falcon captured the dove in its talons and stopped almost midair. Again the falcon screeched and flew up past the balcony. The body was no longer on the floor. He had risen and was now looking over the ledge as the falcon passed by. The man was not looking at the falcon. He did not see the blood drip onto his hand. He did not feel the gentle breeze. Frozen the man stood at the ledge.
This man’s skin was bleached white. He was tall, taller than a normal man. On his arms a spiral of scars could be seen and the scars seemed to go straight to the bone. The man wore no sandals and his feet also were worn and scarred. The man’s face was worse than the rest for it seemed as though this man had been through war, a war all against him. A long scar dragged across his left eye and a red stripe of a tattoo was dragged across the right. The lines under his eyes proved this man did not sleep long if he ever slept. Only one thing was lacking from this man’s face and that was the lines of laughter for it was obvious this man did not if ever smile. But today was different. Today he smiled. Today he glared at the sight below and it brought a sense of relief to his face. His shoulders began to drop as the tension lessened. This was the end for him. He had finished it and it was over.
Kratos was the name of this man. Kratos, the God of War stood as the master of Olympus even though he did not know it. Kratos, the killer of gods now stood alone and the chaos he wrought on this land was receding. The sight before him was rebuilding. “How long have I been gone?” he questioned as he focused on the small people below fixing what he had broken. The mountain never took the toll it had in history before he had brought the titans to it. Kratos squinted to see the bottom of the mountain. So far down that everything looked so small.
“Ships? They are not Greek. What is the meaning of this?”
The falcon fell. The falcon fell fast and Kratos knew it did not fall naturally. It was dead. He looked up and what he saw took the smile from his face. “Zeus!” Kratos held out his hands and for once took notice that the blades were still detached from his forearms. “I killed you, why do you not stay dead?”
“Son, I tried to warn you. Olympus needs a master. I tried to warn you from taking me from the throne but you would not listen. Always like a child you are.” His voice boomed through the air. The once master of Olympus floated as a cloud in front of Kratos. He was just as Kratos left him but now his image was blurred almost as though he was the cloud and the cloud was him. His beard was ablaze with lighting and his eyes glowed the yellow Kratos remembered as he cut him down. Kratos wondered if he was truly there or if this was just another game the god played. “I am truly here son but not for long. The people will rebuild and they already worship you.”
“I killed you and I died. I was released. I do not want this! Take this from me, take it back now!” Kratos took a step back and kicked a pillar free from the balcony letting it fall down to the base.
“It matters not what you want. Ouranos the Sky was succeeded by Cronus when the scythe castrated him. I took the throne from Cronus by releasing my brothers and sisters from inside him with the blade from the Cyclops. You took this from me and no matter what life you think was taken from you; you were reborn to take the throne.” Finally the pillar hit the bottom but it did not hit the ground. The sound which echoed from the floor was the sound of bodies being smashed by the marble slab. Kratos took another look and noticed the boats were unloading thousands onto the beach and were beginning to take the climb up towards the throne room. “You had better do something about them. They are Egyptian and their gods are older than the Olympians you struck down. With only you at the helm they will take it from the Greeks and our reign will end. Their gods have wanted this for years because this mount is the beginning of all life. This place was where Ouranos stood and breathed life into the earth and you are just weak enough to lose it.”
“You were the weak one Zeus. They can have this, I never wanted it.” Kratos again stood at the ledge and looked as the tiny figures manipulated the mountain. Some of the men rode seferts and others just climbed the steep walls of the mountains. The men were being moved by a large man with the head of a jackal. His whip was relentless as some of the men fell to their death.
“You fool. They will not just let you walk away and when they kill you, you will go to their underworld. You think you are tormented here. Kill them all Kratos. Take my advice, kill them and father a son. He will kill you one day and release you from this. Now it is my time to take my place in the heavens as Jupiter the Giant.” As Zeus said this he began to dissipate into a dark grey fog. The last of Zeus to be seen was his face as it became part of the cloud. Zeus was gone but the cloud he left carried the smell of rain. Kratos could feel the moisture as it began drizzle.
“Damn you Zeus! Why must this fall on me?” He looked down at the cold marble floor and lying there was the Blades of Exile. The grin only moments ago seemed to be gone for an eternity. Kratos resigned to his fate straightened his arms in a downward motion. He looked up toward the place he last saw Zeus and cried out as the chains rose to his arms. Smoke floated above his head as the chains were once again seared to his flesh. The smell of burning flesh crept into his nostrils and the heat of the chains stung but he was whole again. With a quick motion the blades jumped from the floor into his hands. Like old friends they fit perfectly into his rough callused hands.
Kratos could hear the men begin to pour into the throne room. Before he needed to look he could feel them upon the floor. Their steps were heavy and they smelled of the desert. He did not need to turn to kill the first of them, he only dropped one of his blades and grabbed the chain and with a quick motion darted it backwards until it hit flesh. The blade dug deep and with a jerking motion dragged the Egyptian man back towards Kratos. Kratos turned as the man flew and took his other blade and drove it into the man’s skull. Blood spattered against his chest and the warm liquid was a sort of welcome home to Kratos. Instantly the man fell but this was just the first of them.
Hundreds were now entering the room while a dozen already lie on the floor dead. The men entering the room did not head for Kratos, instead they encircled him. From the corner of the room where the men were entering the Jackal headed man appeared and pushed his men aside. The drizzle of rain seemed to quicken as this god entered the room but the air became still. With a single movement the men began to lessen the distance between them and Kratos.
The room was filling to the point the room could not take any more. “Get out all of you, leave me to my fate!” As he spoke these last words Kratos thrust the blades out and stuck two of the men and pulled them together. Just before the men became one he ripped the blades from them and charged the room. Rage entered his body and no longer could he feel the men as he dragged their limbs around the room. He did not feel the chunks of body as they hit the floor for in this state he was only feeling the battle not the aftermath. White hot rage flowed through his arms into his blade and they began to glow red because of it. Ignited by this rage the blades seem to catch fire and they no longer were tearing through the bodies of the men they are now slicing and cauterizing. The fountains of blood no longer poured out of the bodies as they were torn apart. Now the smell of burnt flesh lingered in the air but this was not enough. The Egyptians continued to replace their numbers and Kratos was beginning to be forced back towards the balcony.
“Hades,” he spoke beneath his breath and something within him flowed into the blades he bore. The red glow began to fade and was replaced with a black fog which seemed to emanate from the blades. The blades themselves also took new form as the darkness reached them. As though the blades were now made of liquid they reformed into the Hooks of Hades but this was not the only change taking place. The once brown eyes of the God of War became a deep purple and also seemed to leak the black fog down his cheeks. The Hooks of Hades wreaked of rotting flesh and the men around him took a small step backwards as the smell overtook them.
Kratos now stood completely against the pillars of the balcony with his back to the open air of Olympus. He looked at the oncoming army, surveying them, choosing his placement. The Egyptians had slowed the attack to allow for the dead to be pulled away from the fight. The men stood looking upon Kratos with fear and anger in their eyes. One man stepped out of the rest but it seemed as though this was an accident. As he fell from the crowd he was alone with his weapon in hand, he faced the God of War. Kratos looked at the man and then to his blade which now more resembled meat hooks. Kratos took one of the hooks in the palm of his hand and held it vertical. He seemed to be toying with the scared Egyptian, but in the blink eye Kratos hurled the hook into the man. The man looked more surprised than in pain for the hook seemed to pass partially through and Kratos held onto the chain. Kratos looked to the ground and with a single jerking motion pulled the hook back to his palm. The hook did not return to his hand alone for it seemed to drag the soul of the man out towards Kratos. Kratos looked at the form and turn it towards the rest of the Egyptians. The shell which once held the soul had dropped to its knees and was motionless and lifeless on the cold marble. Kratos placed his hand on the shoulder of the soul and his left foot against the pillar behind him. The standing soul of the Egyptian was cold and carried the feeling of a corpse whose life had long been gone. The hooks were cradled in his hands as he pushed off and flew toward the crowd. As he did this the soul also lunged to attack those who were once his brothers in arms. Kratos now was high enough to look down on the mass of men and fling the hooks toward them. Each man the hook passed through lost their soul and became part of the army Kratos was creating.
As Kratos touched the floor he had already amassed a dozen souls to his aid and these turned to attack just as the first. Kratos took the hooks again and began to rip the souls from the rest of the men. The jackal headed man stepped toward Kratos and his army of the dead. He held out his ankh as the hook was about to take hold of his flesh. The hook could not be pulled back but seemed stuck in the head of the ankh. The man pulled the ankh down and the black fog of the hooks seemed to come with it. The cold of the death within the hooks turned back to the heat of the Blades of Exile. The blades lost their hook form and the black fog no longer poured from his eyes. Kratos was stunned at this action and within that second the Jackal thrust his fist at the chest of the God of War and pushed him against the inner wall of the room. The souls who fought for Kratos now have all but dissipated and were no longer a threat to the Egyptians. The air seemed to lose the smell of the rotting flesh and only the scent of the newly dead hung in the air.
The rain began to flow through the sky and wash the blood from the balcony. Many of the Egyptians were unable to run during the fights because they slid upon the smooth marble floors. A few even misjudged their attacks and were hurled from the balcony to the land below. Their screams could be heard as they were hurled into the death that awaited them.
“Your tricks will not keep me from removing you and your army!” The men pushed themselves closer to Kratos lessening the gap between them and his legendary blades. “Hephaestus,” again thus utterance was just under his breath and only those closest to Kratos could hear the words escape his lips. Before a change occurred within the Blades and within Kratos the feeling of a blacksmiths hammer echoed in the room and the scent of a kiln wafted through the air. The other reaction of this word was a flash of green light which seemed to flow out of the veins in Kratos’ arms. The light took a hold of the blade and once again reformed them. This time the blades cracked and split until they had become several small blades which were attached to several smaller blades. Lightning ripped through the skies and matched the color of the newly formed blades. Kratos held onto the chains and as the Blades of Exile became the Nemesis Whip which dangled and they seemed to spark as though the lightening from the storm was now coursing through them.
The men who stood before Kratos seemed to gasp at the sight these new blades created and at once took a step back. The jackal headed man snarled and saliva flew through the air. He shoved the crowd forward and again Kratos took to the offensive. The blades spun and began to rip the Egyptians into small pieces of seared flesh. Faster the wind seemed to blow but not from the storm for whip caused the wind and its color was blood from Egyptian’s hearts. Dozens instantly fell at the power of the new weapon. He spun the blades wildly and the more he did the more the lightning spewed from them. Fear became the only feeling the men had and at once they turned and ran. Kratos was able to kill hundreds in a manner of seconds. Men were pushing themselves off the balcony to escape the power of the brandished weapon.
The Jackal headed man held out his staff and with the hooked end grappled the blades of exile. With a jerking motion the lightning ceased from the blades and they hung from the staff. He pulled them again and their almost ghostly presence was ripped from the blades and they took their familiar form again. The man threw down the staff and lunged at Kratos. Seeing this, the men gain new courage and took fight against him again. Kratos grabbed at the man but chains were being pulled upon by the men and he could not keep his grip.
From over the balcony crawled two seferts being ridden by men. The hawk like heads took Kratos’ arms within their beaks jumped and dragged him to his knees. The Egyptians stood over him ready to kill but the Jackal headed man waved his hand to stop the onslaught. Men grabbed the head of the God of War and pulled the mouth open, but as soon as it opened he clamped it shut severing fingers from those who attempted this. Kratos spit out the fingers and tried to stand with blood dripping from his mouth. The seferts held strong and would not let him stand. The chains they held their wet beaks onto would not break but they would not allow Kratos to rise again.
“I will not become a slave to you. In the end you will feel my blades from within.” The Jackal took the ankh and smashed it into Kratos’ forehead partially knocking him out. In this groggy state he could not withstand the men who again were opening his mouth. From the end of the ankh Anubis poured a liquid into Kratos’ mouth. This drink tasted like a flower’s nectar which had gone to spoil. The feeling of complete immobilization overcame him. He could still see, hear and feel but his abilities were gone.
The Jackal headed man picked up his staff with the whip upon them and drove it into the cold wet marble. Instantly the rain dissipated and the sun broke through. Kratos could feel the heat of the star upon his back. The staff had another effect and this was the complete burning of all the dead upon the battleground. The Jackal looked back to Kratos and seemed to smile through the animal head. He waved his staff and the burning bodies which had turned to ash were cast into the wind. Some of the tiny flecks of the men were caught in Kratos’ nose. He could smell their death now and it would not be removed as long as he stay in this state.
The men took him on their shoulders and carried his body down the depths of Olympus. The Jackal watched as his men struggled to remove the blades from his arms but they would not release. “Stop your mortal attempts. He is still a god and you cannot take this from him. Place him on my boat. I sail for the west, the rest of you stay and await the arrival of Olympus’ new masters.”
“As you command Lord Anubis,” one of the commanders of the Egyptian army stated as he turned to direct his men.
“Clean this beach of the dead, I will not have mistress Isis step foot upon this place while it is in this state.” Anubis followed the commander as the seferts carried Kratos and placed him on the funeral barge. He took the chains binding Kratos to the boat and alone sailed into the depths of the water.
Kratos could see the water part around the boat. He could feel the moisture as it surrounded him and fell upon his flesh. He could smell the salt in the water but still he could not move. He could do nothing to impede this from happening. The blades that had carried him through so much lay useless on his chest. This tunnel to the Egyptian underworld seemed to go on further than he remembered the realm of Hades to be. Finally the inability to move overtook Kratos and what was left of his mortality made him go to sleep.
“It is done, he is below.”
“Damn, him to the great swallower at all costs.”
“He has no chance to escape what matters where he lies now.”
“Do not underestimate this one. He killed the gods who ruled on high for many years.”
“He killed them at their lowest and you know it but I will ensure his damnation.”
“Everything must be done as is for our people or forever we will be haunted by this Ghost of Sparta.”
Darkness. Not just darkness but the absence of light. Rain could be heard in the distance, it was not water but something else. Screaming…but not from men. Kratos was not able to open his eyes they just stopped being shut but it did not matter because he could not see. Had the liquid he consumed taken his sight too or did their underworld not give the dead the ability to see? Kratos did not know the answer to this question. He still felt the ship beneath him as it seemed to travel on the water. Slowly rocking side to side as it was carried by an unknown current. Was this another passage like the Styx where the dead flowed through it waters or was this merely the way to the beyond?
“Anubis,” Kratos tried to mutter but his ability to move was still taken away so the word only echoed in his head. Olympus was gone, lost to a lesser god, but how. Kratos could feel the anger coursing through him. It was not that he lost but rather that his torment had become eternal angered him. From the very beginning all he wanted was release. From second he cut into the flesh of his wife and child he fought to be released of his nightmares. Finally by killing his father the end had come but here he was, master of a place he no longer controlled. Kratos would not resign to this fate. Kratos was the God of War and all else aside, this goaded him on.
“Anubis,” again he tried to bring the words to his lips but they fell short and nothing could be heard. Then it happened, an eye. The glimmer of an eye looked down upon him. He has not lost the ability to see but rather no light existed in this place. The eye was one he was only familiar with in the last moment of his fight. The eye was that of Anubis and it glared down at him. As if by speaking the name of the god or at least thinking it cause Anubis to turn, to take notice. “Release, me,” thought Kratos. The very thought pounded through his head. It echoed in the depths but it got out. The eye widened and then the corners of the eye seemed to turn upwards. Kratos knew this creature; this god of the Egyptians was smiling. Again the anger pulsated through him and then the eye was gone. The light was gone, the ability to see was gone, and the darkness began to eat at Kratos. The darkness here seemed to have a drawing power and it was taking what strength he had left.
“Sleep,” this was not a thought from Kratos’ head but it was ringing through his ears. This one word was not spoken in his language yet he understood. He could not hold back from it either, the draining feeling had taken its toll and again the God of War lay asleep in the funeral barge.
Light. In this place there is light. Fire is lighting the area but Kratos cannot see the flame because he cannot open his eyes. He can see the flicker of the flame through his eyelids. Shaken awake by the laying of hands, Kratos eyes once again fell open. Still he cannot move and he is being dragged by his chains held by Anubis and carried by other men. Kratos’ head falls to the side and he can see who is carrying him. They are not mortal at all. By their decay and their stench Kratos can only assume these are the dead and Anubis has brought him fully to the underworld. The men are slower than their god and Kratos’ arms are paying this price.
A screech in the distance, the sound of a bird, but this bird was unfamiliar to Kratos’ ears but it was the only sound not coming from the rustling of feet from the men carrying him. Something flew past the men as they walked. Kratos could not see this bird but he wondered how else this place differed from the underworld he knew. The men below him seemed to lose their footing as the bird past but onward they carried him.
“Faster!” Anubis commanded as he jerked upon the chains. The men fall forward but catch their footing. Kratos can feel that his weight is a lot to bear for these men. Kratos began to look beyond the men and he gazed at the walls. They are littered with pictures telling stories of some sort. All of them seem to be done with perfect symmetry and all for some purpose. Then he spied a series of images which reminded him of the three judges. Did the Egyptians have the same or did these images mean something else. Then it happened Kratos’ blinked.
This was just a simple action but a movement forward. Instantly the strength he had begun to think he lost was there. He could not move and he could no actually make the eye blink again but this moment of control meant this was not the end. He had not feared the end for he had entered and exited the underworld as many times as Hermes had. Kratos never felt so out of control he had begun to wonder if the Egyptian gods were as foreboding as Zeus had made them out to be. He had begun to wonder if his reign as the god of gods was to take place in this lifeless body, but all of this changed literally in the blink of an eye.
Forward he was pulled though what seemed like an endless hallway but this was no longer a concern to the God of War. Kratos now solely focused on his eyes, to blink again. Once something so involuntary now was the focus on his whole existence. He must do it again for his vengeance depended on it. He would remain in this body until he had control again. The Egyptians must pay for their insolence but it was more than that. Deep inside Kratos he knew that his gods created the earth but they were not alone and it must me that he could not be released unless they were all dead. This was all for nothing if he could not again blink.
The screaming could be heard again and this time it was closer. The familiar sound of the talons of a bird rang through Kratos’ head and this bird seemed to be running towards him. One of the men let out a cry and Kratos felt the feeling of being dropped. The man who cried out was being dragged away. The sound of his body being pulled along the hallway pounded in the air. Kratos head was dropped close to the floor and for the first time he could smell the dust of this place. Death but a hint of sweet desert roses. The procession stopped and the men began to mumble to one another but nothing Kratos could understand. The remaining men picked him up and Anubis pulled upon the chain again thrusting the men forward. The steady, almost rhythmic motion began again.
His eye began to close and extinguish the light and it was he who had made it happen. Kratos’ ability to control was coming back, but this was the only thing he has control of. This was the only part of his whole world he could master thus far, but it was hardly the end. No matter how long it took he would again retake his body and this ability showed Kratos it was just inside his reach. He had never lost the senses he had just movement but that was going to come to an end.
Now he blinked at will. Freedom of movement with those pieces of flesh that covered his eyes was now his to control. This was a major victory but it was the end at this time. “Drop him.” Anubis had stopped and pulled the chains to himself. The body of Kratos fell to the floor but was not on the floor for long. Anubis dragged the body to bring Kratos’ gaze parallel with his own. Kratos could not lift his head but the hand of Anubis held his head up. “Now you will be judged Olympian. Your body no longer belongs to you but they can hear your thoughts. Be honest and they will be fair but deny your past and be held accountable.” The voice of this god was high pitched and screeched into his ears. Anubis held the God of War higher in the air and tossed the limp body aside. Kratos hit the floor and helplessly slid across the room on loose rocks. His blades, still attached, rang out in a perfect harmony as they bounded across the room with his body. Kratos could hear the men who brought him here leave the room and even the heavy feet of Anubis were beginning to become a distant sound.
Something was still in the room. A smell of an animal and the sound of a fluttering of wings could be heard but without the ability to move Kratos could not see this beast. He could smell both bird and man in this room but could not see either from this vantage. His head lay facing the corner of a room and his eyes now under his control could only see a smooth wall.
The fluttering echoed closer to Kratos and he knew this creature was making its move toward him. The small feet could be heard walking across the stone floor toward his body. The first feeling from the creature was a small tapping of a talon. The talon tapped against his skin as though it was beckoning the god to move but Kratos could not acknowledge this attempt.
A moment later the talon was followed by the rest of the claw. The claw grabbed his arm and pulled at it. The thing whatever it was, was being given full reign over him.
“Sleep,” again rang the word. Again the effect of uncontrolled unconsciousness was taking hold of this god. Kratos tried to stay awake to at least see the thing that was toying with him. This was a losing battle but the thing seemed eager to see Kratos. The claw finally pulled Kratos’ arm and then pulled the god onto his back. His head rolled and he had control over his eyelids so he pried them open. The claw released his arm and stepped onto his chest. This first claw was followed by a second and now the creature was fully standing on his chest. He still could not control the movement of his eyes so he could only stare at the ceiling. He began to fade again. His eyelids were so heavy that his vision blurred. Tears streamed down his cheeks by his attempts to remain coherent but this was at last a thing he could not control. The liquid dropped to the floor and hit with a thud in his ears. His eyes began to close for the last time and as they did the creature came into view.
The claws of the creature had walked their way from the center to the top of his chest and now began to lean towards his face. The vision lasted less than a second but what Kratos saw was himself. The creature was Kratos.
“Wake!” The word was louder than the siren’s call. The word brought him from a dream of the Elysian Fields and his Calliope, to the room the ceiling the emptiness. Kratos knew not how long he had slept but his eyelids were not the only part of him he could control. Now the movements of his eyes were again as voluntary as the breaths he had been taking all along. Kratos scanned the room for what had awakened him. He saw nothing. He scanned the room for the bird, for his face or whatever it was but again his eyes gave him nothing. This was torment because he had his sight back, he had this ability to look back but there was nothing to look at. This room was a blank slate.
A small rock fell behind his head. The rock did not hit the ground with a crash but rather a thud. The rock hit something soft. Kratos looked as far back as he could but without the movement his head once gave this was something he could not see. “Who is there?” Kratos asked in his mind. Still the words he wished to speak fell short of their destination. Nothing would answer his question for nothing could hear it being asked.
The footsteps of men could now be heard from the far side of the room. Kratos peered in their direction and the first of these feet to enter the room was Anubis. He looked different than before. Now he wore the royal adornment of the Egyptian Kings. In his hand he no longer carried his staff but now it was a set of scales. The ankh was now wrapped into the white kilt he wore around his waist. Behind Anubis were the dead which carried Kratos the day before. Anubis did not speak he merely motioned for them to pick Kratos up and follow their god to another place. As they began to take Kratos onto their shoulders Kratos was able to see what or who had been hit by the falling rock only moments before.
An old man sat in the center of the far wall. The old man wore clothes that would have indicated he was royal but chains on his arms indicated he was something less. The old man looked up but only for a second and only as no one else was looking. Kratos’ gaze was moved away from this old man and he could no longer see him as he was carried out of the room.
The men stopped moving forward as they neared the doorway to allow Anubis to lead them. Once he was in front of the group they move onward. Anubis walked slowly and thus too the men walked just as slow. “What was this some funeral march?” Kratos could not decipher what was happening for it all was foreign to him but suddenly he realized that his eyes and lids were not the only things he had gained control over.
During his sleep he must have been able to move his hands. He could feel new wounds in the palms of his hands. These wounds as Kratos could see just for an instant were fingernail wounds. They were self-inflicted by the dreams that carried him from sleep to wake. It was these wounds which proved to Kratos he had gained control over his hands and he would gain his body back. Kratos wondered if Anubis knew of his successes or did most just fall victim to the drink.
The sound of the bird once again was flying in the hallway. The dead men carrying Kratos shifted and tried to move faster but could not pass Anubis. The bird was already on the ground and running toward the men from behind Kratos. The clicking of his talons were almost rhythmic to his ears because it seemed this bird did not want to kill him, only the dead in this underworld.
The bird circled the dead and stood in front of the men. They stopped and stared at the bird and once again Kratos looked upon the bird. There it was his head upon the body of a falcon. The bird looked at the men and tilted its head. Then it smiled but the teeth of the God of War were not within its head. Instead this creature had jagged teeth and they could all be seen now as the jaw of the bird opened wide.
The men began to take steps backwards but it was too late. The bird leapt at the men and took the first down. The men took this moment to move past the bird as it devoured the dead man. Anubis had been looking at the event but turned his head and began to walk forward again.
Kratos knew not what to think about this scene but like all other things in this underworld it was foreign and he had other things to tend to. Kratos used all of his concentration to keep his blinking, his eye movement and now the potential of his hand movement. Kratos tried to grip the chains that dangled below him. The chains he had so many times grabbed to unleash so many killings were just dangling like his limp body. Then it happened but it happened too late. His finger moved.
The finger moved at the last second he was alone to his thoughts. The dead did not ask any questions and Anubis did not talk to him but soon the silence was to end. The men had carried his body into a large room. This room unlike the room he had slept in earlier was covered with the drawings on the walls. This room stood taller and further than Kratos had the ability to see.
There was a sound of wind in this room but he could not feel it against his skin. The air was tighter here too a feeling of pressure was upon him but he did not know what to make of it. Kratos felt the vastness of this room but at the same time he felt confined as though he was in a box.
The men stopped and turned his body over and lowered it to the ground. The men positioned themselves to place Kratos on his knees and sit upright facing forward. Two of the men held the God of War’s head up to look upon the sight before him. This greatly angered Kratos because he had not since the adorning of the blades bowed to any man or god. Here in this place he had no control and was forced to kneel before gods he half believed in.
Before him stood forty-two faceless and except for their clothing, formless beings. Twenty one of these wore a white crown upon the void where their head would be and the others wore a red crown. The specters appeared to be looking at the limp god and without a sign they moved to allow another being to walk between them.
The man who walked towards Kratos seemed to be more than a man. He, like the others, wore clothing of the kings but upon his head sat a white crown atop a red crown. The flesh that could be seen was either scarred or stitched. He had white bandages which seemed to hold him together. Even a bandage encircled his neck and disappeared underneath his kingly robe. The bandages were riddled with stains of blood and other bodily fluids.
“Hades!” the voice from before screamed into his head and Kratos’ mind’s eye flashed an image of the god of the underworld over this being walking towards him. The image faded but it was obvious to Kratos that this was the lord of the underworld. This would be the judgment and without the use of his body he was just a motionless puppet to be trapped inside their game, but what was the meaning of all of this. Why the charade? Why the taking of the throne? What did Olympus mean to them? These were questions that Kratos had been asking from the beginning of this ordeal. The answers did not truly matter for Kratos would take back the throne only so he could end it. He was Spartan and would not allow it into Egyptian hands but in the end Kratos knew he must destroy what he sought to end his own torment.
The hand of Anubis reached out and touched the God of War’s head and instantly he had gained back the ability to move it but just the head and nothing more. Even his new found ability to twitch his finger had gone from him. The men holding his head moved back and it was just his body that they were holding up now. Kratos took his regained ability and surveyed the area. To his left stood a large man, who he understood to be another god, whose head was that of the Ibis. This man like Anubis and the bandaged one wore kingly apparel; he held a papyrus with a feather that teamed with blood for ink. The Ibis headed god looked at Kratos and his gaze did not waver during the entire ordeal that was about to commence.
“Kratos, you stand to be judged. The decision of your fate lies on the sins and triumphs of your time above.” The voice of the Hades god was flowing and calming to his ears. The bandaged one took his place on a throne which Kratos had not even noticed before. He looked at Anubis and the Ibis headed one. Anubis walked forward and stood between the judge and Kratos.
Anubis held out the scales and pulled from the air an ostrich feather. He took this feather and placed it upon the left side of the scale. The weight of the feather shifted the scale momentarily but it leveled itself out after a few seconds. The feather was larger than Kratos had ever seen and he could not believe the feather weighed nothing. What was to be placed on the other side wondered Kratos and only seconds later he would discover this answer.
Footsteps began to echo through the room. Kratos turned his head and saw five men walking toward Anubis. Each of the men wore the jackal headed mask of their god. Four of the men held jars with the heads of animals on top and the fifth stood in the middle with a golden plate. Upon the plate was a still beating heart and hook with metal string. They walked around the Ibis headed god and approached Anubis. The men in unison knelt before their god and presented the canopic jars to him. Anubis did not make a movement but the man in the center began to move. He placed the plate on the floor, took the heart in his hands and rose. He held out the heart as its steady beat moved his hands and resonated through his arms. The fingers of the man pulsated with the rhythm and he released the heart onto the right side of the scale. The scale dipped very low as the weight of the heart first took its toll. The bowl of the scale rattled with the beat of the heart. It still held low as the man turned and took his place amongst the four other men.
Kratos gazed upon this scene in bewilderment and then his eyes fixed themselves upon the scales. A change began to occur as the right side of the scale lifted and began to level. But Kratos’ focus quickly shifted as the bandaged one thrust his hand down on the armrest of the throne. He stood and walked to Anubis.
“This cannot be he must die.”
Anubis’ head turned only slightly, “Father this is the way it has always been. The weight of his sins do not hold him back.” The shock that this was Kratos’ heart upon the scale shook him through his bones. Had they truly taken his heart out and yet he still lived. Kratos dipped his head down and looked upon his chest. A long scar, not from before, was now streaking and bleeding from his chest to his stomach.
“There is another way. One which has not been done since the kingdoms were split.” He held his hand out and placed it on the shoulder of Anubis.
Anubis looked to the men who knelt before him. “Lord Osiris has spoken!” The man in the middle rose and took the heart from the scale and placed it back upon the plate. When he took his place amongst the other four men they stood and turned. The men walked past Kratos and looked upon him. They did not return their heads forward until all of the men past by the God of War. Their footsteps clopped unison and grew fainter and fainter until they were gone.
Kratos looked again toward Osiris and began to remember the stories of the past. He knew this name and now understood the scars. Kratos began to understand the scales but did not understand why his heart was level with the feather. His sins do not hold him back, was what Anubis said and Kratos could not see this to be true. Visions of all he had done passed through his head. Before his eyes he could see all the atrocities he had committed but according to this charade he was free.
Kratos had begun to drift but he was brought back to the current when the scene in front of his began to shift. The ghostly men began to take their place on both side of Osiris and the held out their left hands. With their right they removed their signet rings and placed them back into the palms of their left hands. “Begin,” the word from Osiris began a ghostly precession which Kratos could only describe as scary.
The first of them dropped their rings onto the right side of the scale. Each of them speaking a sin from Kratos life.
“Murderer,” spoke the first and this was just the beginning.
“Butcher.” Kratos heard these words and knew them to be true.
“Traitor,” this word hung in the air and Kratos felt its sting.
“Plotter,” this made Kratos think of the Titans and his rise to the top of Olympus.
“Calipso, mother I did not mean to kill you,” a flash of the fight he was forced into with his mother. Kratos held his head low knowing some of these crimes to be true. A second passed and the feelings he was beginning to have faded. “Who were these to judge him? These things were lower than him. Who in this age looked to the Egyptians for it was the Greeks who ruled the world.” Kratos’ head rose and the fire in his eyes returned. He knew their words were meaning less to his actions and those actions were to come. The end will be his to decide and this charade is just a meaningless act. The line of judged continued and Kratos tried again to move the other parts of his body.
“False god.” With the speaking of this Kratos looked at the king who spoke it. He may be part of their underworld but a god he still is.
“Greek.” The last word was followed by the falling of his ring. Then silence rang out in the room. Osiris stood and looked to the rest of them. Kratos could see the anger in his eyes. Kratos knew he was wanted dead by these but the reasons escaped him. This god of the underworld was no Hades he was less. Hades would pass judgment on a whim but this parade of words and rings was what the Egyptians did and this is what they were doing it to him.
Osiris held out his hand and pointed to the left side of the scale. The kings began to walk to Anubis and each were taking off their rings. “Who speaks for his fallen foreign? Cast your ring and name your defense.” Osiris took his place back on his throne and watched the possession.
“Charon.” The first to drop his ring named out a name all too familiar with Kratos. The Egyptian reason for his ascension was the killing of a god.
“They are driven by my killing of my ken. Before I knew I was a son of Zeus I killed my brethren and these things are forgiving me because of it,” the fire in Kratos’ eye had not dwindled but now was brighter by the arrogance of these fallen kings.
“Heracles.” Kratos winced at the announcement of this name for this was one of his brothers. Before he was condemned by fratricide and now he was praised for it.
“The fates? What was the meaning of this? They drove themselves against Kratos and their hypocrisy caused him to need to end their existence, but what concern of this was it to them?” Kratos strained his body. He felt the movement in him but he still did not possess the ability to do so. He began to sweat from the mere exhaustion of his struggle. The sting of the sweat in his eye only caused him to hate even more.
Inside of the mind of Kratos he raced to find a reason this name was mentioned. Kratos had not killed this titan. He was forced to tie him to the earth and force him to forever hold the underworld below and the over world up.
Osiris held his hand high and the kings halted. Each in his own way looked toward their god and they turned their heads away. They stood still and looked upon the scales. At this time the scales held themselves to the right. Osiris smiled at this and waved his hand to move the kings forward.
“Athena.” This was the only death that Kratos had not meant to cause. Until she came at him for the final power of the box Kratos had not forgiven himself of this slaughter. He did not see this as a reason to save his soul but rather one more reason to condemn it.
“Ares.” With this ring the scales began to bounce.
“Gaia.” Another ring and the scales we now taking their time coming back to weighing heavy to the right.
Only two kings left and now the scales barely held themselves to the right, “Hades.”
One king stood left to place his ring. He paused and seemed to study the scales. With no face to observe Kratos could not determine what this apparition was pondering. The king stepped forward and held out his ring. He spoke as he dropped his ring upon the scale. “Zeus.” The name of Kratos’ father and once a word which condemned him now was to set him free. The final ring dropped and with it the scales balanced. Kratos looked upon them and again his fate proved him to be un-punishable.
The kings were now assembled behind Osiris. Each of their rings lay on the scales and Anubis looked upon them. “Again the weight of his,” but before he could finish this statement Osiris rose and stepped forward.
“You forget there cannot be a balance with the weighing of the rings. You know I reserve the right to drop my ring to ensure the dead go where they deserve. This monster has committed more atrocities than can be allowed but at the same time his crimes are his greatest triumphs.” Osiris passed in front of Anubis and stood only feet from the still kneeling God of War. He bent down and looked upon the scarred face. “I cannot let you walk away from the Great Swallower. My ring is the final judgment.” Osiris rose and turned.
Kratos took another long gaze as this Egyptian god. The scars he had seen from afar were not as healed as he once assumed. They were deep and they still bled. The bandages and stitches were all that held this abomination together.
The Hades of this underworld walked slowing to Anubis and stood. He turned again and faces Kratos. “Bring him to his feet. He will stand before me as I cast my ring.” The dead who held Kratos pulled with their strength and stood the God of War up. He was still unable to use his body under his neck but again he stood as tall as he was. The small dead Egyptians were struggling to hold him up until they were aided by two others and now Kratos stood steady and looked upon the scales.
“Kratos,” Osiris began “I judge you,” he held out his arm, “before the kings of the past,” a finger at a time opened “before the gods of the deep,” the ring left his palm, “for the murder,” the ring turned in the air and fell slowly, “of your wife,” the flames caused the ring to glimmer in the dark, “and the murder,” finally hit fell upon the left scaled and bounced, “of your daughter.” The scales took the toll of his heavy ring and fell to the left. Anubis bore the weight of the scales and looked upon Kratos.
Kratos felt a surge of energy and it was as though he could once again control his body. The finger twitched again and it was more than that, it was a full movement. The rage of this last judgment caused him to regain something. The rest was coming and it was coming fast. Kratos knew this façade…this charade…this abomination of a judgment would soon not matter. They would not be able to contain the madness that was to come. He would take this thing that would be doled out to him but no matter the initial outcome he could retake the mount and destroy it to end his suffering. Kratos knew the Egyptians and their Great Swallower could not end the suffering of his soul nor could they destroy his body as it is chained to these blades.
“The weight of his sins condemns his soul.” The announcement was flat. No inflection in his voice. Anubis stood and held out the scales and looked upon them. There was no question where the weight told the tale. No question that the Egyptians were going to send him to the end of their world. He had gone to and come from this before in the Greek underworld and Kratos did not fear their judgment.
Osiris had taken his seat and smiled at the announcement of the condemnation. His hand seemed to begin to pet the throne he sat upon and it was at this moment Kratos realized it was not a throne at all but something …something evil. At a closer inspection of the thing Osiris sat upon he noticed Osiris feet were resting upon the head of a crocodile. The beasts feet were forward of its head and the shoulders were what Osiris was using as a chair. The body was that of a hippopotamus and it was huge. The body was so huge that Kratos could not make out what the hind legs were made out of. “Lions legs,” spoke the god of the underworld. “Amemit is hungry and when you are prepared you will be the feast she has been waiting an eternity for. Never before has she had the opportunity to dine upon a god but you shall give her this.” Osiris rose from the beast and looked upon it. He walked past Anubis and placed his hand upon the Jackal headed god’s shoulder. “You shall be removed from this place. Your body shall be prepared and then you shall return. Seventy days from now you will return here and be consumed.”
“Why wait?” In his head he heard it being said but they did not give him the ability to speak. Something was released from his throat but it was not the words he heard. “Why wait?!” he screamed from within.
“It is our way and that is all that you need to know. Take him back to his place of preparation.” Anubis had placed the scales on the ground and strode to stand beside Osiris. He placed his hand upon Kratos’ head and it dropped. Limp again and only the control of his eyes remained and his finger Kratos could not forget the finger.
The dead lifted the God of War’s body from the floor of the room of judgment. This time Anubis did not lead the procession and the men were almost running as they carried him through the hallway. During this movement Kratos worked at his finger and noticed his body mirrored its abilities. With the movement of one finger came the movement of the opposite one and this was just the beginning.
As they left the room the feeling of pressure left him and the release came upon him. The air stopped blowing the rotten flowers and the stale underworld was back.
The doors which opened to bring him in the room now closed and the men ran fast to keep from the bird which had been killing them. If Kratos could have smiled at their fear he would have because it seemed to be him they feared. The Kratos headed bird was only doing what he would have done if he had the opportunity. Soon he would have his abilities back and soon he would kill them all.
Before the bird could take another victim the dead men arrived at the room he would as Osiris put it “be prepared”. They launched his body from their hands and he again slid upon the floor. This time his head was facing the other man. The person from before who only looked when no one else was looking. This man was old and chained to the wall. Then Kratos noticed something he had not seen at their first meeting. The man wore the double crown. The same crown that Osiris had worn during the trial. This man was a king and yet he was cast here as a commoner.
The men ran out of the room but there was no door to close behind them so Kratos and this man were left in the open. From down the hall Kratos could hear the screams of the men and the sound of another victim to his bird twin. Inside his head Kratos was laughing at this scene for it was one less Egyptian he would have to kill.
The bird finished his meal and the sound of its talons could be heard entering the room. “Sleep.” Kratos finally realized what had been so familiar about the voice commanding him to sleep and to wake. It was his own voice coming from the monstrous bird. Again the word alone created something inside of him that he could not fight. Kratos looked to the man on the wall but the man did not look up.
Kratos tried to call out to the man for any sign that the man was still living but he could not speak and this man could not hear his thoughts. “Sleep.” And to this the god could not resist. He closed his eyes on his own and held his small fingers close to his palm because these were the things he had control over. He drifted off to sleep. The last thought he has was that he, with all other sins aside, deserved to die for killing his wife and his daughter.
“Wake up fallen one,” Kratos opened his eyes to the room he had begun to hate, but something was different. As he looked around the room he realized his body was back in his control, but he was weak. The chains that bound him to the planks of wood beneath him held when it would not in the past. The chains were small and should not have been able to hold back his god like strength. “Over here fallen one.” Kratos snapped his head to the side to see the recently familiar old king.
“Who are you Egyptian?” Kratos said these words and was almost surprised that he could hear his voice again. The words flowed out and this told him he would fulfill his lust for the end.
“Egyptian?” a slight pause as the man looked off to the distance. “I am not one of these who roam the halls. This is why I am chained not allowed to be. I was once their king though. Look how they treat those who rule them and once a sun passing Anubis pays me a visit.” The man looked to his arms and Kratos could see fresh marks from a sharp weapon.
“Enough of your riddles old man who are you?” Fire was back in the blood of the God of War as he struggled to be released.
“You will only tire yourself. Once they remove the parts which make you whole you cannot have the strength you once did. As for me I am Apophis pharaoh of lower Egypt and master of the Hyksos. I was pharaoh and so I was imbued with Isis and became a god. My sins are not weighed I am not judged but because I am not them I remain here.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Kratos knew not the name but cared less. All he cared for was being released from this and returning beyond this madness.
“I just assumed you wanted to know what this was all about. The reason Anubis came knocking on your door in Greece. Spartan you may want to listen because you awakened many things down here and they came to pay you a visit.” Apophis stood but could not move more than a few feet from his wall. He turned almost fully around and looked at his wall. Kratos had seen the room was without any of the strange drawings but behind this man was a finely drawn set of them. The old king lowered himself and began to carve into the wall with his fingernail.
“What do you know about all this? How do you, a man attached to a wall for all time know what is happening beyond this realm?” Kratos pulled his head back to a position where he could see the ceiling. He still tugged his arms on the chains which bound him. The more he did this the more he became tired. Something was missing from him and he knew it, but he could not imagine what it was. He felt his heart beat and so this was not the problem but what “parts that make him whole” could the old man speak of. Kratos questioned the man further to take his heart off the current questions. “What little drawings are you making old man?”
“I am making sure when this place is no longer mine someone knows of me. My people took the great Egypt from them. We came from outside and from within to take down the people who descend from gods. I am sure they have taken all of who we were and removed it from their precious walls. So I scribble upon these walls in hopes that someone will know who we, who I am.” He held his head down and shook it. “But you do not truly care about me and who I am. You want to know.” Kratos dropped his head and looked upon the old man as he turned. Apophis sat back down and looked upon the chained up god. “IO.”
“IO, the river nymph?”
“Down here she is a goddess. After your father cast her out she fell upon the great desert and was worshipped.”
“As I remember it she ran here, but what does she have to do with any of this?”
“She is like a grandmother to the gods up there. A wife of Zeus and the only one left thanks to you and your carnage. Once you laid waste to your father she believes she is next in line but there you were when the rest of them arrived.”
“I would like to say that I do not care. I would like to say they can have it but as long as it is, then I am here. I must destroy it all to end this pain. They judged me and they spoke the truth but Osiris cannot take me from this world.”
“You do not have to kill them all. The two gods who rule this place are Osiris, who you met and Isis. She is…”
“I know who they are. Sister and mate but damn you what does this mean.”
“Listen fallen one I am telling you how to finish it all. You caused chaos when you destroyed the Olympians but that was only half of it. The other half is the Egyptians. They were there when the world came into creation and by killing them you can end it, but you only have to end one to take them all down. Osiris. He is the key and with him dead the rest topple and wither.”
“I will kill them all and end the suffering and everything else. How do I regain who I am so I can leave this place? Old man you cannot even leave how can this information help me?” Kratos pulled as hard as he had the strength to but this time he could barely move his arms.
“The answer to your question is your little friend,” as if by a cue the bird walked in the room.
“What is that? I love that it follows me and kills them but what is it.”
“Your Ba.” Apophis paused. “Oh you ignorant Spartan. Down here we are not just spirits that float in some river when we die. We split into three parts. The body that is, the Ka a double which stands at our side, and our Ba. Your personality that is manifested into a hawk but is given your head. It is your personality that makes it so aggressive. Personally I love it because they are afraid of it. Usually it they just fly around down here and retrieve things but yours. Oh yours is something else.”
“How is this little thing going to release me?” but the words from Apophis were not needed. Again the bird hopped on Kratos’ chest and stared at him. The bird tilted its head and looked into the eyes of the personality it was created out of.
“Ahhhhh!” Kratos let out of cry of pain and of surprise. The bird took its oversized talon and dug a hole in Kratos. Blood poured out of the wound and the bird just hopped to the ground. It reappeared and was holding one of the canopic jars. This jar had the head of a jackal. The bird used its mouth to rip off the top. On one leg it stood dumping out the contents into the hole it had created.
Kratos instantly felt his stomach take hold and the hunger of the time he was without it began to pain him. He closed his hand and felt more whole than he had recently.
The winged Kratos hopped again and reappeared. The jar he held this time was a baboon adorned the top. The bird tore off the top and shoved the mouth of the jar into the hole. As though he had been given the breath of life Kratos felt as though he could breathe again. “This thing is giving me back what they took. This is what you meant. Will I have all of me back when this is over?”
“Oh you fallen god, you will be a finished painting when your Ba is done. The hieroglyphs of your life will continue to be written and you will rise again.” By the time Apophis finished his rant the bird had returned with a falcon headed jar. The bird just stood there and looked at Kratos. It held the jar and tapped it against Kratos.
“What is it doing?”
“When you are whole you are alive and when you are alive he does not exist. It seems to be contemplating its live and yours.” The Ba looked towards Apophis and bit off the head of the falcon. The claw clutched the jar so hard the jar shattered. Kratos’ innards fell onto his chest. Like a snake they crawled themselves into the hole. Every part of Kratos was beginning to feel like they did a few days ago. Something was still missing but Kratos knew soon he would shake this underworld free of its demons.
The Ba kicked the pieces of the jar to the side and walked across his chest. The personality of Kratos was definitely in this thing because the bird placed its claw on Kratos’ throat. The God of War could feel the talons gripping his neck. The sound of chains falling to the ground could be heard as Kratos took his hand and grabbed at the bird. He pulled it off and held it high. He looked at his own face and crushed the body and tossed it. Kratos rolled over on his side and dropped his legs to the floor. He looked down and saw the final jar at his feet. The bird had brought them all to him but could not finish the job.
The jar held the head of a human upon it and a part of Kratos inside. He took the jar in his hand and popped the head to the floor. Kratos poured the contents into his hand. Pink and slimy was the thing which dropped out of the jar. Kratos knew not its function only that he needed it inside him. He shoved his hand with the piece into the hold and he could feel it take hold.
Kratos, the God of War, the Spartan, the killer of gods, stood and felt whole again. He still had a hole in his chest but on the floor he saw the hook and string from the plate where his heart once was. He took this into his hand and began to put himself back together.
“Now fallen one, what will you do? Will you avenge, revenge or just wreak havoc? I suggest you claw your way out of the underworld because you will not find Osiris here. He has gone to be with his mate for a bit. Anubis guards the gates to this realm. I am sure you will enjoy taking him from the living to the dead but remember there is no need to kill the rest.” Kratos had stopped stitching and cut the string with one of his blades. The hole was as closed as any other of the wounds he endured was.
“I will kill as I see fit. I will start with the jackal and feed my hunger till I am gone. You tell me that IO is the cause of this then it seems that is the root I will work my way to.”
Apophis rose and looked to Kratos. “You do not need to do that. I am not saying she does not deserve to die because I am sure she does. You want the end? Then take it to Osiris and it will end.”
Kratos began to walk out of the room but he turned and looked at Apophis. “This will end old man.”
“You are already dead or else you would not be here.”
“No, I am half god like you. My earthly death was a mere façade and your killing me will remove me from this place. I feel nothing but pain, like you…” before he could end the sentence Kratos had flung the left blade from his hand into the chest of the old king. Apophis looked down, reached up and touched the blade. He gripped it with his hand and smiled. Kratos pulled the blade back to his hand and took three of the man’s fingers with it.
Kratos turned and without a word began to walk out of the room. He did not know the path out of here but he was sure a trail of bodies would follow him. The blade he had thrown was resting in his hand and he sheathed it. The doorway lay ahead of him. Kratos looked to the floor and took a moment and closed his eyes. All the other times he had left the underworld it was a simple upward direction but this was different.
“Anubis! Arm your men for I am coming for you!” Kratos cried this into the fire lit hall. “Tell your gods I am coming for all of them!”