For the first time in two centuries, the seven gods were gathering together on their divine island. It was time to talk about the end of the world.
Or, rather, about what they could do to prevent it.
The Lady strode forward, her bare feet moving gracefully over the hot sand. Fresh tufts of grass sprang up in her wake, along with the occasional flower, but the Lady knew they wouldn’t last long. They called this beach the Eternal Sands for a reason.
Besides, it was Aljin’s domain. And Aljin was the desert men’s god.
He waited a hundred feet ahead, standing at full height in his resplendent golden armor. The glow surrounding him turned even brighter as he gave the Lady a dazzling smile.
At his side stood Augustus, the many-faced god of the Julian Empire. For this meeting, he’d chosen his favorite aspect: a tall, wise-looking man in his physical prime. His skin and hair were as orange as the Lady’s were green, and his beard was neatly trimmed. His only garment, a white loincloth decorated with orange motifs, reached down to his knees.
Just the three of us, for now, the Lady thought. The other four will join us soon.
Aljin spoke first. “All of us, coming together again. I never thought I’d see the day.”
“You won’t, after today,” the Lady said. “Not for a thousand years.”
“And why is that?” Augustus asked.
The Lady turned to him. “You’ve seen the vision, haven’t you?”
“We both did,” Aljin said. “In seven years, the Vengeful One will come.”
The Lady shuddered at the memory. The foreign deity from her vision was winged, and black as night. He could breathe fire, shoot storms of ice from the tips of his claws, and topple mountains with a swing of his tail. But, worse than that, he was larger than the world.
“He’ll shatter our world into little pieces,” Aljin continued. “None of us are strong enough to stop him. And so, the Supreme One told us to gather here, on my beach, and receive his guidance.”
“Which, of course, means that there’s a way out of this,” Augustus added.
“And that is all you know so far?” the Lady asked.
They both nodded.
The Lady sighed. She didn’t want to tell them what she knew. But the path forward had been set, and holding back her words wouldn’t change a thing.
“The Supreme One has told me more,” she forced herself to say. “He told me of a way to fight the Vengeful One and have a chance at winning. But it requires a great sacrifice.”
“We must preserve this world,” Augustus said. “Tell us what this sacrifice is, and we’ll make it gladly.”
She looked him in the eye. “No, not gladly, my friend. To gain enough power to fight the Vengeful One, one of us must absorb the divine essence of the others. Which means that six of us must die.”