The Apocalypse Option

2) Role Reversal

Jason Vasil's PoV

I am the son of a god.

Crazy, huh? But it all added up. The Imposing man denouncing me as his son, The pretty young girl claiming to adopt me, the gifts she granted me, and all the crazy actions thereafter. They called themselves gods at the time, but I had a good reason to doubt their words. Only now do I realize that they spoke the truth. Did the Greek Goddess Artemis really claim me as her own? How cool was that!? Who else would it be? I mean… she gave me a bow, a quiver, and a crescent moon amulet… Of course it was her. If I was the son of a god, then I had a sneaking suspicion that the other members of our group were as well. And I was to be proven right later the next day.

It seems that our spear and shield man, now dubbed Tank, had received a message from his father, whom we found out was Hermes, the messenger god. That the messenger god had sent his son a message via another messenger was downright insulting… and confusing. The gist of the message told us that we needed to protect an Oracle, without associating with said Oracle. We were given coordinates to… somewhere in Europe I believe. And apparently it was urgent. So we hopped on a plane and headed out.

I slept most of the plane-ride. It was my second time to fly and it didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t afraid of heights or anything, I just preferred the lush greenery of the earth below. We arrived and Mr. Sweet-talker, nominated as our leader, rented us a car. For some reason, he insisted on getting insurance. Premonition? We got in the car and headed into a forest labeled the Black Forest, as told to us by Leader. After a long while we arrived at a sign that said , “IcannotrememberwhatthesignsaidsoIamwingingit” Leader proceeded to tell us that signs were first invented in blah blah blah and were used as a blah blah… “Quiet, I heard something!” We listened in and heard odd-sounding voices yelling, and also the distressed voices of scared humans. Leader drove quickly and came upon a tree blocking the road. A big truck was up ahead, with little goblin looking things surrounding and yelling at a group of humans whom were standing alongside the side of the truck. As we all got out of the truck, I leaped up into a tree, over ten yards up. Yeah, that’s right! As I landed, I saw Leader fly up and well above me, bastard. Bringing my vision back down, I saw Tank wall-run the truck and land in between the goblins and humans. All he said was ‘Hi’ before he stabbed one in the face. The fight was on!

I took drew two arrows and took aim at the two furthest away from each other. In my peripherals, I saw our knife thrower, dubbed Knives, pull out the twin pistols he had recently acquired and proceeded to blast a hole in the wounded goblin’s head. Gore and blood splashed all over Tank’s face, and the bodies of the surrounding goblins. I unloaded my arrows and penetrated the skulls of the outskirt goblins. They lived, but they wished they didn’t. Leader’s sword flashed and streaks of energy came down like lightning onto the battlefield. Tank had shield bashed the face of one of the wounded goblins I nailed, propelling him away into the trees, and at the end of the motion raised his sword and stabbed another goblin, Only to have its head burst open and gore flung to his face thanks to yet another bullet from Knives. I eyed the goblin that was flung away get up and run off. As I raised my bow to end his life, I barely had time to dodge the wounded goblin whom leaped forward to slash at me. I leaped backwards onto another branch to dodge, but he continued his flight to the ground. I noticed that it was the other one that I had previously shot. I prepared for him to turn and leap-attack me again, but he kept his momentum and ran from the fight. I glanced back to the battlefield to make sure none would attack my back, but none others stood besides the previous one whom ran off, conveniently leaving a trail of its blood for me to follow later on. So I turned my eyes to the retreating goblin, matched its speed, tracked it’s likely movement, and fired my arrow to pierce it’s temple just as it passed out of the cover of a tree.

I glanced back to see Tank spit a tooth out of his mouth. My face twisted up in distaste when I realized it was too long to be human… He pocketed the goblin tooth amid coughs and spitting. While they went to deal with the bound villagers, I went to fetch the corpse of the goblin who tried to retreat. I dragged him over to the other goblins, grabbed the can of gasoline from the car, and proceeded to light them on fire. Satisfied, I saw that my party had removed the blindfolds of the victims and helped them out of their bonds. As Leader distracted them, Tank and I lifted the huge tree and flicked it aside like it weighed nothing. I couldn’t help noticing that he had the goblins tooth posed in a necklace. An odd trophy. We went to start our car, but quickly saw that it had no gas, thanks to the goblins we assumed. Leader said it was no problem, that he packed a gas can just in case. After looking around for a few moments, he stopped. His eyes went to the burning goblins, and slowly they shifted to rest on me. I sheepishly shrugged. “Oops?” So, under the eyes of the humans, we slowly pushed the light car to the side, trying to make it look like it took effort. We got in the truck with them and they directed us to the town up ahead to get some gas. They dropped us off at the edge of town and took off, never looking back.

We glanced around town, and saw it was decorated for some holiday, though no one was out celebrating. There weren’t many kids out playing, either. We quickly took in the lack of a gas station, and decided that we would be staying here for a while. A look at my cellphone showed going haywire. The others were having similar luck with theirs’. Strange… “We’re in the right place, so we might as well get the mission done.” I agreed. The few people we saw looked depressed, something I found odd given the festive decorations. We decided to split up to look for information about the where-about of the Oracle. Tank traveled to the library, while the rest of us discreetly asked around for the Oracle’s location. I noticed knives and leader talking to an older woman, so I joined them. She seemed too hurried to dismiss our questions. And she seemed scared. The last tipped us off that she knew something about the Oracle. Leader spoke in a different language, But I assumed he told her that we were here to protect the Oracle from those willing to harm her. She seemed hesitant and distrustful. I leaned over to Knives and whispered “I think it’s going well.” To which he laughed, seeing as how we had no clue what they were saying. After mustering her willpower, she quickly directed us to her house, ushering us to make haste.

The Oracle’s house looked futuristic, even though it looked like a house would in the 70’s. But compared to how Spartan the town was technologically… Once inside and away from prying ears, the Oracle began speaking in English and told us that the town was in the midst of “celebrating” a forced ceremony where the village honored the werewolves whom were the “protectors of the village.” According to her, the city was protected by the goblin tribe, but eventually they were overthrown by the werewolves. So now the villagers had to pay their “protectors” tribute by drafting a group of kids selected at random by colored markings on their birth certificates. These 8 kids between the age of 13 – 17 would be sent to the neighboring woods to be put through a test. They were to be sent off a few miles from town, and they were to try to reach the borders of the town before the werewolves annihilated them. And apparently the Oracle’s daughter had been drafted to attend this year’s ceremony.

She told us how she manipulated fate and got us sent here under false pretenses, that she had a vision of her daughter dying on this day, and needed outside help. She then proceeded to tell us that it was possible to willingly become a tribute if one so desired. I was opposed to the idea of willingly putting myself in a position to be hunted down by half a hundred werewolves. The concept that kids would be in danger tugged at my consciousness, but it wasn’t until my mother’s voice popped into my head demanding that I hunt down these wolves. That I had prey in my sight, so I couldn’t just walk away. Unwillingly, I submitted. At this point I decided to go fetch Tank from the library.

I met him halfway there at town square, and saw he had a pale cast on his face. I knew instantly that he had gathered much information about the town. Speaking in Greek, I told him how the Oracle manipulated us to be here, and how her daughter had been selected as one of this year’s tributes. He scolded me, saying we weren’t supposed to approach the Oracle, oops, then he told me to fetch the rest of the group, that he had a plan, so I obliged. I arrived back at the Oracle’s house and told her that we had a plan but we needed to go talk to our other member to discuss it. She implored us to save her daughter, and we lift amid promises.

We arrived back at town square, and before Tank could get his plan off, an official man approached us and started talking to us in a language I didn’t understand. Leader and Tank started conversing with him while knives and I looked at each other. They started following the man, so we hurried to catch up. “We’re headed to see the mayor at the request of the sheriff here.” So we followed him further into town. I nodded to the man and whispered to knives, “I wonder if he speaks English?” He grinned savagely and replied; “Let’s find out” I raised an eyebrow to him as he casually said “I vote we burn the city down and see what happens.” The official man glared at him, then continued talking to our party, though his eyes never left Knives. Guess he does…

We arrived in the mayor’s office, but he looked severely depressed. He told us how his son, Steiner, had become a werewolf, and that there was nothing he could do to help us. We were interrupted by an arrogant man who just walked in like he owned the place. He was overly polite in a way that screamed superior snob. I instantly wanted to kill him, but by the mayor’s downcast face, I assumed that this was Steiner. He talked to us for a good while, and we politely returned his questions while we clenched our fists. He offered us a tour of the industrialized area of town, told us when we were taking said tour, then left the room.

A quick glance showed us that the mayor was even more depressed than when we entered. I didn’t feel like dealing with him, so I was in agreement with the group when they decided to leave. Halfway down the hall, Tank started to tell us his plan, but the Sheriff called out to us again. I was shocked to find out that he was in agreement with knives about solving the town’s problem with fire. Not burning down the entire town of course, but burning down the industrialized area of town that the weres populated. We ended up deciding that he was trustworthy, and Tank let him in on the debriefing of his plan. Apparently we were to go to the Goblin King, convince him to help us dethrone the weres, then have them reinstate their “protectors” status of the town that they once had. It sounded good enough, though I’d just rather kill them all and let the town go free. Tank gave some last requests to the Sheriff, while we prepared to head back to the goblins we had previously slain, then he joined us as we left.

After we arrived, I walked over to the tree that the wounded goblin was sent flying to thanks to Tank’s shield smash. I glanced in the direction that he was heading into and saw blood on the ground. Bingo! Using that, I tracked the goblin for a while. Finally, all traces of him just vanished. It was like he never existed, but I KNEW he went this way. As I sat there perplexed and at a loss for words, Leader cast a magic spell and a rope shot into open air. We walked forward and were thrusted into a glade set aside by what had to be magic. Goblins were doing some funky dance, then they threw something on the ground and vanished with a small pop. Ok…We walked out to investigate the area.

We inspected the ground, and I saw what might have been a goblin tooth shaped hole. I was still investigating it when Tank pulled his trophy from his neck and it was thrown into the ground. Eyes closed, I could feel the air hum from the power he was channeling. Next thing I knew, we were in what had to be an enchanted clearing. A huge, imposing hedge was before us, and a mob of odd, small creatures were directly in front of us. They didn’t look hostile, yet I was still on guard. Before I could draw my weapon to have it in my grip if nothing else, Tank advised us to stay unarmed. After a few words, they started giving us tips and directions wrapped in riddles. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what they said, but Tank looked as if he knew all along where to go and they just confirmed his suspicions. But I was sure that he was as lost as us a few moments beforehand. A sudden bright light behind me caused me to spin. Knives? He was illuminated like a 100 watt light bulb… The man was glowing brighter than a twilight vampire caught in the sun! The rest of the party merely glared at him until he turned the power down and returned to his normal state.

We bid the creatures adieu, and allowed Tank to lead us. His confidence in knowing where he was going bothered me. I guess there were more than one way to track something. Thinking back to leader’s odd magic thread he used to find the original goblins, I guess it makes sense. Still, it bothered me. We approach an entrance to what I assume is where we needed to go, though we would have to crawl to get in. Perhaps we would find another way? But upon seeing the group position their gear so that they could crawl on through, I let that hope die out. After a while of crawling, we met up with a group of goblins. My first instinct of showering them all with arrows died out when they motioned for us to follow them. We eventually arrived in a room with a goblin guarding the door. After a confusing moment, he started motioning with his hands. Pointing first at his weapon, then at a chest on the ground before us, then finally at a rune above the door to what must have been the king’s room. Seems we were going in unarmed. Again… While we started removing our gear, we noticed that knives just stood there, looking perplexed. “My tattoo is… enchanted? How am I to proceed?” The goblin guard smirked, pulled out a knife, and offered to remove it for him. I couldn’t hide my chuckle, that was funny. In the end, Knives offered to stay behind and sit on the chest to protect it. Thus we went into the room of the Goblin King.

The harsh clang of armored goblins positioned around the rim of the room met my ears, but I immediately acknowledged the presence of two Nemean wolves, positioned on either side of the makeshift throne. They looked scary. If they so much as hinted at jumping towards me, then I was going to grab on of the spears conveniently located on all sides of the room and turn them into a pincushion. But they merely sat there, growling. The Goblin King was positioned on the throne between them. Within a few sentences, I could tell that he had an ego the size of the sun, And a hot temper to match. He conversed with Tank and Leader while I sat back by the entrance of the room. I causally glanced around the room and notice a goblin sneaking glances at me. He had his head wrapped in bandages and blood caked his face. Guess the little guy survived my arrow after all. He flinched when he saw my gaze upon him. Smirking, I waved at him, receiving a tentative wave in return. Behind me I heard the thump of knives being thrown at a target. I could hear both Knives and a goblin conversing. And I raised an eyebrow and turned my head. “Your legs are too tense, You need to spread them further and loosen up!” “That’s it! Now, breath in, and when you’re ready to impale them, exhale your breath as you drive it forward.” What in the hell were they DOING back there?!?

The Goblin King’s raised voice brought my attention back to him. Apparently he was stuck here, and couldn’t help us. But if we dethroned the leader of the Weres, Krieger, from the village, then he would send his men to eradicate the remaining wolves. But tanks plan called for the king to take part as well. By the looks of it, it seems Tank was going to try to enrage the Goblin King and hopefully let the goblin’s fury drive him to attack the weres. Or to attack us, it could go either way. “Grasp it more firmly.” “No, you have to move your hand up and down the shaft to polish it properly” “Yeah! That’s the way!” “The faster you go, the faster the job gets done.” I turned back to the passage behind me. Are they having a circle-jerk in there?!?

I shifted my focus back to the Goblin King, noticing his face red and veins were pulsing in his head. Tank was trying to get him riled up enough to want to fight the Weres, but I had a feeling that we were balanced on a knives edge right now, and the slightest push would cause this whole plan to come crashing down. The Goblin King’s anger appeared to fizzle out, and all that was left was a calm seriousness. We were dead… But he merely glared at us and told us that if we did our part and beheaded Krieger, then he would do his part and eradicate the were infestation from the city, then he would resign the treaty with the villagers. He then told us that we were to leave his lair right now, lest he changes his mind and kills us. We turned and left the room. I was kinda scared about what I might find happening in the room behind us, and my mouth dropped open when we entered. Knives was playing around with a group of goblins, acting all buddy-buddy and play-punching each other’s arms. We announced that it was time to go, and we proceeded to get our gear from the chest. As I was fitting my quiver around my back, I noticed the Bandaged goblin approaching me with a spear in hand. My gut instinct to kill him died out at the submissive mien he possessed. He granted me the Spear in honor of besting him in battle. I liked that. A true smile formed on my face as I thanked him and said farewell. I noticed the spear was small enough to be used as an arrow, and that it was pure silver. Perfect. I packed it up and continued out with the rest of the group. We traveled through the cramp tunnel in silence until we reached the enchanted clearing past the hedge. Leader walked over to some odd mechanism, and started mumbling that this was the way out. He fiddled with if for a few but nothing happened. Finally he touched it and closed his eyes. The air hummed as he embraced his inner god. Then the next thing we knew, we were, the scene shifted and we were back in the original hidden glade.

By the time we got back out of the glade, it was almost dark. So much for our tour of the industry… Guess we wouldn’t be able to convince the weres to attack the goblins like Tank wanted… We hurried to the middle of town where a gathering had taken place. A group of 8 terrified kids were positioned in the middle of the gathering. Seems like we made it just in time. Leader told us that he wasn’t taking the place of a child. I was outraged, until he told us that they would likely confiscate our weapons, so someone needed to stay behind and cart all of our trinkets to the forest where we could have a fighting chance. I liked the idea.. So we handed all our gear over to Leader and he took off towards the woods. Those of us remaining stepped up to take the place of the Oracle’s daughter and a few other unlucky kids. They went and removed all the hidden weapons the villagers tried to smuggle in, chuckling at them. We were next, but we had no items for them to take. I think they respected that. We were ushered into a truck with the kids where we were carted off to the woods.

Leader was trying to tell the young boys that they shouldn’t be sad. That this was a chance for them to become a MAN! Tsk, Nords… We arrived and met with Krieger, the leader of the weres. We were debriefed of what was to be expected of us as prey, and while he kept talking, I zoned in on his scent and that of Steiner prancing around the scene. I would keep track of them while we shepparded the children to safety. After the children were safe, the doggies were being hunted down. They told us we were free to run, that they would give us a generous head start. So I grabbed the nearest two kids and took off with my allies doing likewise.

We barely got into the woods before we heard them coming. We sprinted forward, but I slowed down upon seeing Leader fly down into a clearing. We all headed to him and got our gear. With my crescent necklace in hand, I asked everyone to hold their gear out to me. I dug into the power of the necklace, and sent a silent prayer to Mother Artemis. Feeling a strange power within me, I touched each of our weapons in turn. Visually, nothing changed, But I could tell that they all held the potent power of silver within them now. Game on!

Leader announced to us that they had us surrounded, but were making no move to come closer. I watched everyone use this time to get their armor, weapons and relics situated. I notice that knives gave Leader his gun set before the man flew up to watch the wolves. They were using this time to prepare for a fight. I smirked. I’d rather use this time for a pre-emptive attack! I breathed deep and let my senses flourish. The weres were indeed surrounded us from all sides. I aimed my gaze towards town, and nocked an arrow. They were hidden behind trees, but if I ricocheted this arrow off that tree just right, I will be able to send it right into their line of troops. I took a deep breath, carefully angled my bow correctly, and on my exhale, I released the arrow. It hit the tree and ricocheted just as I had planned. The other looked up at the twang of my bow, then scrambled up when they heard a piercing wail that turned into a wet, gurgling sound towards the end. Damn, I nailed him! I couldn’t help my smirk as every turned from the wail in front of us, to me in astonishment. I could hear the sound of weres gathering by their fallen comrade, then I heard them back away on either side of us, possibly granting us an exit! Leader’s voice came down from the sky, “Guys, they allowed a breach of their line for you to pass through. That was one hell of a shot.” So we finished putting on our gear, grabbed the kids, and headed through their line.

After a short while we were confronted by three weres. I set my kids in a tree and prepared for battle. Immediately, Tank impaled one so hard I was sure it was dead, but It was still standing. I drew two arrows and aimed at the were looking at the children behind me. I allowed him to get closer, so that my aim would strike true. And it did. I unleashed both arrows and they impaled the poor were. He dropped without a sound escaping him. I leaped to a tree about 5 yards away and glanced over to see leader blow the head off the wounded were, once again splattering our poor Tank with bloody gore. The third were pounced at me, but I nimbly dodged back into the tree in possession of the kids. I looked to see Knives run up a tree and do some weird backflip kick to his knife, impaling it in the were. Damn… Our group converged and finished off the were. We retrieved the children and headed towards town.

Multiple skirmishes like that broke out, but we always ended it swiftly. Finally we arrived at the border to town. We sent the kids down and we all walked over the boundary line. At least so I thought, until I saw Tank standing just behind the line. He made sure the kids were alright, then he turned around and waited for the weres to catch up. Crazy man… But they came out of the forest in human form, lighting cigarettes and the like. They smiled at us and proclaimed “Good hunt!” and moved past Tank and towards the center of town. We escorted the kids to the gathering of people. They looked ecstatic at seeing everyone alive. Krieger started talking as Tank sullenly joined us and listened in. Krieger started praising us and begun a long talk about us joining the titans to betray the gods, but Tank would have none of it. Well in the Were’s field of hearing, he tried to motivate us to attack him. He was appalled that we would let him monologue when we could easily attack him now. I agreed whole-heartedly. But I wasn’t going to initiate this fight. I’d fight once the conflict had been started, but I was NOT going to be the one to start it. But in the end, the point was mute. Krieger called over Steiner, and together, they were’d.
~
I leaped onto a building and analyzed the battlefield. Krieger charged tank and slashed him in his gut. For a brief moment I could clearly see his insides, before it magically sealed itself back up. I looked away from them and took aim at Steiner. He was eyeing Leader whom had flown way up into the air. How foolish was he? He left his neck wide open! I inhaled deeply, making sure my mark was true. Then I exhaled upon releasing the arrow. It traveled through the carnage of the battlefield and pierced Steiner through his throat. Damn! Nothing could have lived through that shot. Up above us, I heard Leader trying to convince the villagers to take arms and remove the cur who are infesting their lands. I liked his plan.

I shifted my attention to Krieger, but a soft chuckling brought my attention back. Steiner pulled the arrow out of his throat, and started chuckling again. He went to shatter the arrow, but I willed it to return to my quiver. Steiner glanced at his empty hand and Let out a bark of laughter. It terrified me. He should be dead! He proceed to pounce after me, claws stretched out to slice me. I nimbly jumped to the building to my left. Upon landing I noticed Steiner’s attention shift to the battlefield. I glanced down and saw Knives, dual wielding silver knives, pounce on Krieger’s back, implanting them into his shoulders. Krieger reached back, grabbed Knives by his face, and proceeded to pull him of his back and held him up in front of his furry face. I went to take aim, but upon seeing movement in my peripherals, I flew off the building and landed on the one across the street. But Steiner wasn’t after me. I saw him leave a NASTY line of gashes in Knives skin. But the healed up almost instantly. I drew two arrows and zoned in on Krieger, trying to find an opening. I saw flashes of gunfire coming from the sky above, and in the flashes I saw Tank reaching the apex of his jump, sword aimed downwards. He landed with his sword piercing Krieger’s neck muscle. (whatever it’s called) Krieger looked up, and I unleashed my arrows. Both of them scoring in his throat. He howled in pain, but a nasty wet gurgling replaced the sound as he fell to the ground, Knives being released from his grip.

My excitement for the kill was short-lived when an angry, blood-curling howl pierced the air. The gathering weres started heading towards us, all 30-ish of them. Oh shit, Steiner was mad! I looked over to see his eyes, now glowing an eerie red, were focused upon me. I also saw that the arrow hole in his neck was healed to perfection. Uh-oh… He pounced on me again and slashed. I leaped out of his tackle, but his claws nicked me. They should have completely pierced my skin, but it would appear that my skin had hardened considerably since a previous hunt a year ago where I got sliced and diced by a tiger.

Steiner’s claws didn’t pierce my flesh, and my allies were quickly on him, distracting him from me. Leader finished his motivational speech and the roar from the villagers halted the approaching weres. As did the battle cries coming from behind them. Goblins, courageous thanks to Leader’s epic speech, charged into the Weres and kept them away from us. My gaze went back to the battle at hand as Steiner reached down and grabbed part of the fountain, that had somehow gotten shattered in the fight, and hurled it at Knives. Holy shit! We scuffled for a few minutes, upon which leader yelled out that we needed to all attack together. So we all calmed down and zoned in on Steiner. I drew two arrows and trained them upon Steiner, where I waited for the call to go. Steiner reached down to grab another chunk of fountain, and Leader yelled. Tank rushed forward and stabbed Steiner in the kidney, I released my arrows into the upper part of his back he conveniently left open for me. Knives pierced the top of his head. I had heard bullets go off as well. Steiner just stood there. At first I thought our attacks did nothing, until I realized that he had died where he stood. I was surprised Tank didn’t get hit with all the projectiles flying around. I mean, Piercing Steiner were arrows, knives, and… no… bullet holes? I ran my eyes up and down Tank, and saw him covered in gore and blood, but no bullet holes.

I looked down to Krieger’s corpse, seeing an extra bullet wound and half his head missing. Looking up again at Tank, I realized where the blood and gore came from. The poor guy just couldn’t catch a break. In a bout of anger, he bent down and beheaded the kneeling corpse of Steiner. The remaining Weres who were still alive took off, being hunted by the goblins. The villagers rejoiced as the fight was over. Over the next day we met with The Oracle and her daughter, who were both thrilled at or successful mission. We oversaw the goblins and the mayor of the village’s treaty signing and, persistently convinced the goblins to sign the treaty and uphold their part in the agreement. All I had to do was sit back and look serious, while they did the verbal threats and muscle-flexing. All ended well and we headed out of the village knowing that we had accomplished an epic deed worthy of legends. But we still had no gas for the car…

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