Ruler of Nintendo here, with my very first Kid Icarus fanfiction! I hope you guys enjoy this story, I've worked very, very hard on it. *Shudders. (I've worked for a year on it so far… kind of pathetic, but I lost it, and I had to rewrite it… A nightmare, I know). Anyway, please feel free to leave any comments, criticisms, or suggestions in the review section. I'm always open to them! Without further ado, I hope you enjoy the story!

Myth

"I'll hold your hand. Kiss me to sleep.

And please catch the wind if I can't breathe in.

And send it when I leave."

-Sarah Blaine

*l~

"Do you ever feel sad when the darkness approaches? When the world around you crumbles, and all you're left with is faith, duty, and your own unshakable will— the belief that, no matter what happens, you will once again see the light of day? There is a balance in this universe. A balance that has been fought over by many, many souls. A fire burns deep within your spirit, young one… A light that shines so brightly, everything in your wake is as darkness. What do you know of such things? Tell me, boy, what do you know of the gods?"

The child opposite her paused, startled by the question. Quickly, he drew his hand back, blue eyes narrowing as he did so. Still, the woman knew she'd piqued his interest. A smirk forming on her gnarled lips, the woman folded her arms into her cloak, straightening her tiny stature as much as she could. The perfume of the incense around them seemed to thicken. Though the boy could not see her eyes, as they were shrouded by the hood of her cloak, he could almost feel the spark of amusement radiating from them. He bit his lip, hand twitching.

The woman chuckled. "You are curious, yes?"

The boy nodded, brown hair falling into his eyes as he did. From under her robes, the woman brought forth old, knotted arms. Brushing her fingers over the young boy's soft hands, the woman closed her eyes and inhaled sharply, allowing herself to feel the spirit that had eked its way into her awareness.

"Allow me to tell you a story, boy." She took a deep breath, pulling her hands back. "As you know, this world is overseen by many gods— some of them, such as Poseidon and Dyntos, are from the previous generation. Others, like Pandora and Thanatos, are agents of the great darkness itself. Then there are those like Viridi— she's a firecracker, that one!— the Goddess of Nature, who ally with those who seek to further their own agendas. There are many others, as well, but none are as prominent as her… the Great Light, Queen Palutena."

As the words left her lips, it was as if the world around them grew silent. Even the crackling embers of the incense candles seemed to hush, filling the room with a serene peace. Palutena… The name was like a song.

"Ah, yes, you know the girl," she winked, and the boy gave her a shy smile. "She is the one who has ushered in this glorious peace— she is the Queen of Angel Land, the Goddess of Light, Wisdom, and her own chosen Heroes. But even more prevalent than that, she is the protector of humanity— you, me, and so many others in this tragically misguided realm. She is the one who keeps the celestial balance, my boy. Her and her alone."

The boy folded his hands politely, watching as the woman's gentle, crooked smile softened. She sighed, looking down.

"But there was another title she once held; one which carried with it unimaginable prestige. She was, you see, the leader of this land's namesake… the Angels, dear boy, who once had a flourishing and exuberant civilization. They, alongside Palutena, protected this realm and many others from sure annihilation. They created a noble army and used it to facilitate the throne of Skyworld's true goal— peace."

She breathed, shaking her head. "But you don't hear much of them now, do you? No, I suppose not… You see, they've been nearly wiped from existence. All memory left of them remains in this realm's name, and nowhere else. Why is this, child? Do you know?"

The boy frowned, lowering his hands. As she stroked them quietly, it looked as if the old woman had been taken to another time and place. She glanced down.

"They were murdered."

Her solemn words laced the air, entwining with the incense and almost becoming a part of the atmosphere. They made the room heavier. Darker.

"They were marvelous creatures, the Angels," she continued. "Majestic, mighty, and fearsome in all their beauty. Each one had the strength of a hundred men, the endurance of a hundred bulls— and Palutena was the ruler of them all. However, she was not the sole queen of Skyworld. There was another who ruled opposite her… the Dark Goddess… Medusa."

The boy shook.

"She was Palutena's sister, you see— just as the Goddess of Light watched over the day, the Dark Lady of Skyworld oversaw the night. Unfortunately, she was not as gracious as Queen Palutena was. Whereas Palutena kindled to humans, helped them to become greater, Medusa used her dark powers to turn them to stone. Eventually she grew so jealous and wicked that Palutena banished her from the heavens, turning her into a horrible monster in the process. And, as you know, Medusa sought her revenge. She called to arms the monsters of the Underworld Army and, with the hopes of rightfully reclaiming her throne of darkness, invaded the heavens.

"Palutena fought long and hard, but still her strength could do nothing to match that of the vile Underworld forces. She was quickly overtaken, and could do nothing but watch as her faithful servants, one by one, were turned to stone and pushed over the edges of the clouds. Palutena was then captured and sealed within her own temple, unable to do anything as her Angels' spirits dwindled away, forgotten to the passages of time."

She paused, seemingly looking beyond the boy. "Forgotten… but not lost."

The child tilted his head, eyes begging her to go on. A knowing smile creeping upon her face, she inclined her head.

"One little angel escaped that day. He was the smallest of them all, but he was a fighter. He managed to evade Medusa's evil wishes, avoiding the spell that turned every flying angel to stone— because, my dear boy, this angel was born with a rather curious disability… he was an angel, with wings to match, and yet he could not fly. Having escaped Medusa's wrath, the Underworld monsters imprisoned him in the darkest depths of their realm, cut off from the light and all those who basked within it. And yet, he was not alone. He broke free of his chains, climbed all the way to the heavens, and used his goddess's blessing to drive Medusa from this place altogether. But his story does not end there, child. That boy risked his life not once, not twice, but three times in order to save this realm. Even when the true leader of the Underworld, Hades, came into play, this angel was not deterred— still he fought in the name of his goddess, in the name of all that was good, to protect the peace he'd worked so hard to win. Word has it that Palutena's even chosen him to become the leader of her army, child though he is… But Palutena is just a child, too. They both have much yet to learn. Still they work, every day, to make sure peace stays in this realm. That's a promise they made to themselves, and to each other…"

She leaned in, still smiling. "But that's just a myth… right?

The boy blinked, still lost in the words she'd described. It all seemed so real. And even as the woman continued to run her fingers along the lines in his hand, his mind could not be torn from them. Until, however, she gave him a hungry, toothy grin.

She whispered, "Now… That'll be one gold piece."

The boy drew back, an indignant look crossing his face. "That wasn't a fortune!"

"You're right—" She cackled. "It was a history lesson, which is even more valuable!"

The boy grumbled as he reached into his pocket and pulled a coin out, throwing it into the small tin that rested on the table next to her. Still screeching, the woman waved him off, calling after him as he passed through the curtains of her tent.

"Enjoy this festival, boy! And thank the gods, always— they are the ones we have to blame for this peace, after all! Hyeh, hyeh, hyeh!"

The curtain closed, and once again her stall was shrouded in darkness.

Deeply inhaling the incense around her, the woman settled back onto her cross-legged position. Most of her body was covered in the heavy robes, despite the delightful summer that had settled on the land. Outside, the people bustled about, trickling past her tent to enjoy the other offerings of the oceanside acropolis she'd found herself on. The boy was the first person she'd talked to in some time. Now, a closed-off silence filled her stall, giving her a placid sense of comfort.

But she was not alone.

"You know, young one… it was not the boy I was speaking to."

On the outer reaches of her vision, a shadow that had been nestled in the corner of her stall stirred. It was vaguely person-shaped, as its head perked up when the woman spoke. Closing her eyes and chuckling softly, the woman nodded.

"A fire that burns deep within your spirit… A light that shines so brightly, everything in your wake is as darkness… Tell me, boy… what do you know of the gods?"

Before her eyes, the shadow in the corner of the tent seemed to materialize, its owner becoming visible in the dim lowlight. As he came forth, the candles flickered, as if he was something the light was meant to shine on. He was older than the boy who'd just left her tent, but not by too much— and though his face was young and friendly, it carried eyes that had seen hardships not she nor anyone else could fathom. However, beyond the sadness and hardness, she still saw within his bold crystal gaze a wonder… the sparkle of hope. He dressed oddly for one his age—he wore a white, asymmetrical tunic trimmed in gold and red; not unlike a human centurion, but a uniform more graceful than the soldiers she'd seen of late. He wore tall guarded sandals and golden ringlets, but his most brilliant accessory rested atop his head— a crown of golden laurels, worn only by princes or nobles in this land. They fell short of his humility, however, as the boy looked as if he'd been scolded. Sheepishly, he stepped forward, his age-filled eyes contrasting to his nervous smile. It was his soul, she supposed. It was a pure one.

Near his back, she thought she saw something twitch. There was nothing there, however— she chalked it up to a trick of the light.

"I-I'm sorry to intrude," he said, throwing his hands up. "I was just waiting on my friend, and you started telling your story, and, well…"

The woman laughed, waving it off. "Worry not, child. Stories are meant for everyone."

Still giving her a small smile, he moved deeper into the stall. He was somewhat wistful as he spoke, and just like the woman before him, it looked as if he was gazing past her… to another place in time.

"I've heard that story a lot," he said, shaking his head. "But the way you tell it makes it sound so…"

"Legendary?" the woman chuckled. "Because that's what it is. You have not given yourself enough credit, I'm afraid. There are few souls in this realm who wish for peace, and even fewer who are willing to fight for it."

Seemingly taking this in, the boy glanced down. Smiling once more, the woman reached out to him.

"Come hither, young one," she said, waving him closer. Still a little self-conscious, the boy sidled forward, moving towards the woman's outstretched hand. When he was close enough, the woman grabbed him by the wrist, holding his palm out to her. "Ah, yes... it's been a while since I've had the privilege to read a soul as interesting as yours. Ooh, yes. Interesting, indeed."

The boy swallowed, looking up at her. "What… What do you see?"

"Light, Nature, and Darkness… All at war with one another. And yet, there is a harmony here, a love so deep that petty fights cannot unravel its threads. Still, it is new and delicate… fragile. There is doubt within your trust, suspicion within your love, and caution within your movements. Between all of you… and yet, there is the strong desire to care, to protect. You wish… to know about your future."

He nodded. Retreating, the woman somberly looked up, folding her arms back into her robes. She exhaled, a heaviness in her voice the likes of which she hadn't heard in ages.

"What you wish to know about… is beyond my sight, I'm afraid," she said, examining the boy's aura from a distance. "Your existence reaches far beyond my sight, young one. But, what I can tell you is this: you have quite a few souls attached to you, boy. While many love you and consider you their friend, not all of them wish you well."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You have fought hard for this peace, yes?"

Once again the boy nodded, staying silent. The woman looked down at her own hands, shaking her head in regret. "Sadly, it seems that a darkness is tugging at your soul… a malicious one, not a mischievous type, as you're used to… the kind you've fought before. It is more vicious than anything I've seen in a very long time."

"But—" His eyes widened.

"However, that does not mean much— whether this darkness will show itself in twenty-five hours, or twenty-five days, or twenty-five years— that is up to the hands of Fate. I can see many things, young one, but I cannot see past the target on your back."

He closed his eyes. "So, even after all this fighting—"

"A hero's fight is never over." She folded her hands together. "But you don't mind that much. You understand. And besides, there is something that comes with the spoils of war, no? After all… Your lady awaits."

"Pit? Pit! Where'd you run off to?"

The new voice seemed to startle him, as his eyes widened when it reached his ears. Almost effortlessly he broke into a smile, turning to poke his head out of the curtain. "I'm over here! Just a moment!"

He turned back into the tent, pausing as he did so. It looked to her as if he was trying to find the right words to say. Instead, however, he reached for his opposite arm, where a small pouch hung strapped to his wrist. He opened it, pulling out a small handful of golden coins.

The woman threw her hands up. "I cannot possibly accept this."

"Huh?" The boy looked to his hands, running his fingers through the rattling currency. "Oh… that's okay. I insist. We have plenty."

"I suppose you do," she snickered. "Very well. I certainly won't stop you."

Grinning, the boy tossed his coins into the small mound that had accumulated by her feet. Once more nodding his thanks, he turned to leave… however, as he reached the curtain, he paused.

"Just… one more thing. How'd you know who I am?"

"You're hard to miss, dear one," she laughed again. "Heroes' souls are easy to identify. Take it as a compliment."

He looked down, brow furrowing. "I've gotta… go now."

She tsked. "Yep. You do, sonny. Don't worry, though. I suspect that this cross in our paths has not fully been traversed."

"Oh, Pi-it!"

"Coming! Heh." He flexed his fists. "I've gotta leave it up to Fate, right? Fate's a weird thing. Guess I'll just have to wait and see."

"That's all we can do, I'm afraid."

"Yeah… Thank—"

He looked up. The woman was gone.

*l~

"Oh, the mortals are marvelous. I wish we were able to visit them more often. Wouldn't you agree, Pit?"

He smiled, sneaking a glance at the girl walking beside him. She didn't appear to be but a few years older, and yet she was just as regal as he was— she wore clothes similar to him, her cream dress made of the finest silk in the land. It was trimmed with the same accents he had, with gold accessories, a laurel crown resting atop her head. And yet, everything about him paled in comparison. Her pale skin was flawless, shimmering with the glow of life no other creature could quite replicate, not even him. Her eyes, too, were extremely similar to his— they held the same deepness, but sparkled with light around their edges. Just as his were a cool shade of blue, hers were emerald green, but held a complexity that his lacked. She was always thinking, he knew. Always.

He felt connected to them. Just as he felt connected to the small hand that clutched his in excitement, dragging him from stall to stall all over the town. Just as he felt connected to the radiance in her aura, or the big, genuine smile that she seemed to only give when they were together… Or the voice that could lift his spirits even when it was laced with sternness. The goddess was the bane of his existence, indeed. But he didn't mind.

Breaking his gaze from her, he looked back down at the ivory feather he was twirling absentmindedly between his fingers. It was funny, he thought, that the mortals all around him would never look twice at it. Nor would it ever cross their minds that it came from the boy himself… from the brilliant white wings on his back, hidden from their view by some not-so-complicated magic. It was the same for the girl in front of them, as they'd never see that her ankle-length hair actually matched her eyes or that the crown on her head didn't represent some mortal domain. Humans were simple creatures, he'd been told. But in some ways… he envied them.

Aware that he was being uncharacteristically morose, Pit hummed to himself. Weird.

He didn't even realize that he had fallen behind until his companion looked over her shoulder, giving him a pleasant smile.

"Are you ready to head back?"

Her voice was like a melody, tugging him from his thoughts. Looking up from the ground, the boy's eyes fluttered, vision unfocused. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess."

She stopped short, causing him to run into her back. Squealing in surprise, he jumped backwards, alarmed by her sudden pause. Whirling around, she planted her hands on her small hips. A skeptical expression crossed her face. "Really, Pit?"

"Uh—w-what? Don't look at me like that!"

Her eyes narrowed, and she folded her arms. "What's wrong?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he whistled innocently, clasping his hands behind his back.

She huffed, and as she turned around, her emerald hair flowed with the wind. She fell into pace with him, ripping the feather he'd been stroking right out of his hands.

"Pit." She pulled him to a stop, waving the stem in front of him. "Your feathers are falling out."

He blushed. "I'm stressed."

"About what?"

"Laugh at me all you want!" he pouted, sticking his nose in the air.

"Give me a break." She reached out, taking his hand playfully. "Come on! What happened to 'even the sun feels warmer'?"

He finally gave up, bursting into laughter. Palutena's eyes softened, and she relaxed. "There you go. Now, seriously this time. What's wrong?"

"Lady Palutena…"

"Don't try to deny it. You can't hide things from me, Pit. You're terrible at it."

That much, he couldn't deny. Over these past few years, Palutena's spirit had become so intertwined with his that he could barely have a passing thought without his queen knowing. It wasn't the other way around, though… A servant's curse, he supposed.

"It's kind of hard to explain," he said, frowning. "It's just this sinking feeling at the back of my mind, y'know? Like we left the temple, but didn't turn all the ovens off."

Palutena tapped her lips. "Those darn carrots…"

"Huh?"

Breaking into another grin, she squeezed his hand, her eyes looking straight into his. "I know you're worried, Pit. But you've done so much already. It's time for you to relax— just for today, at least. I mean, look around you!" She gestured to the street they walked along. Countless mortals were in this bustling city, where traditional decorations hailed the start of a brand new peace. There were so many festival activities that they'd already enjoyed, and no doubt many they had yet to experience. To his left, the orange and purple sea reflected the setting sun. Somewhere in the distance, a lively tune played. This was the same city they'd saved from Hades's final assault, and he hadn't had the chance to marvel at this view then. Despite himself, Pit couldn't help but smile. It was a beautiful sight.

"The mortals may not realize what saved them… but they do know that something did. This festival is for you, Pit. Enjoy it! The rest can wait."

That last part… she knew.

"…You feel it too."

She was still smiling, but it looked more contemplative now. Turning to face the water, she stepped toward the edge of the outcropping, eyes scanning the horizon. A gentle breeze caressed her skin, blowing her hair slightly. "Tell me, Pit. How's the weather?"

Folding his arms, Pit raised an amused eyebrow, impressed that his goddess would bring up a topic as mundane as the weather. However, he stepped next to her, humoring the girl whose intentions were never clear until she wanted them to be. He looked to where she did on the horizon. To his surprise, Palutena's observations— as per usual— were spot-on. While the sea was mostly calm, small white-capped waves fell against the sand banks, and a certain charge was in the air— sharp, as if the atmosphere itself was holding its breath. Taking in the heat, Pit inhaled. However, his skin instantly stung as a biting wind cut through… one much too chilly to be a regular summer breeze. Still though, he was determined not to give Palutena the satisfaction, so he shrugged it off.

"Feels humid."

She shot him an exasperated glare. "That, my friend, is the winds of change… but what I have yet to determine is whether or not that change is in our favor."

Tapping his fist against his chin, Pit's eyes narrowed. Not all of them wish you well…

"Lady Palutena… Do you feel like something's… I don't know… there?"

"Yeah." She looked away, her eyes clouding over. "I do. And I'm going to take care of it when we return to the temple. But, right now, my day belongs to you. I owe you that much."

"All right, Lady Palutena. I guess I can be happy, if only for a couple hours."

"You've earned it—"

"Well… there's one other thing, too."

She sighed, rolling her eyes. "Figured."

Unable to hide the heat rising in his cheeks, the angel looked away. Digging the toes of his sandal in the dirt, he bashfully chuckled, trying to figure out a way to muster his words. "Now that the war's over… You won't be needing me anymore."

"Oh, Pit…" She sighed, bringing her other hand to cover his. "You know that's not true."

"Just… promise me something, Lady Palutena."

"Anything."

"Last time there was a peace, you barely spoke to me. I was bored to tears."

She laughed. "Come on, it wasn't that bad!"

"Yes, it was!" he protested, but even he couldn't hide the smile creeping into his voice. "It got to the point where it was all just patrol schematics and formal occasions. I swear you were trying to avoid me."

"I would never—"

He rolled his eyes. "Just… don't let it be like last time, okay? At least give me the time of day."

"Well…" She dropped his hand, but her smile never faded. Instead, she rested them on his shoulder, leaning on him gently as they continued down the road. "I'll put it like this: I owe you my life, Pit. So I suppose you're entitled to some favors. And if all you require of me is my presence, then… well, that'll be easy."

Beaming, Pit let her words sink in. Lady Palutena… she always knew what to say. There was a reason he considered her to be his best friend. No one else in the universe came close.

"Let's go," he said, this time taking her hand himself. "We have a festival to conquer."

*l~

Meanwhile, far across the sea, a tempest was brewing.

Great clouds swirled in the sky, towering over the ocean below, behemoths cascading over the water and covering every patch of blue with darkness. In the center of the cacophony, a spiral started to form… and finally, lowering from the clouds, a funnel fell toward the surface of the water, pulling the navy sea into its grasp.

"Rise!"

The booming voice ricocheted through the monstrosity, filling every particle within the raging storm. At his command, whole parts of the sea traveled up the length of the funnel, creating a twisting ring of wind and rain. Thunder pounded in response.

"Rise!"

The storm pushed forward, trailing the sea's surface. Waves nearly as big as the funnel itself crashed against it, but still it did not falter. It merely pressed on, cutting through the sea as if it was its mission to do so.

"Rise…"

The voice was less forceful this time. As his words faded, so too did the ferocity of the air above the sea, the waves and rain slowly tapering out. The funnel wobbled lightly, breaking apart just as its contact with the ocean's surface was severed, and sending a mass of water crashing back into the sea below. As the last droplets met the surface, the storm thinned. Sunlight streamed through the patches in the clouds.

Some distance away, a middle-aged man watched the display with faint numbness. His body was as weathered as the rocky shore he stood upon, red eyes narrowed towards the horizon. Any passing mortal would have mistaken him for royalty, noting the dignified way in which he held himself or the few golden trinkets that decorated his body. A gilded crown, three-pronged in design, rested atop his hair— which, if caught in the right light, looked just like the ocean's spray. His clothes, as well, were modest for a noble: he wore a simple sash across one shoulder and loose-fitting pants that always clung to his skin, as if they were wet. However, as with many things in this world, it would be easy for a mortal to mistake him for something he was not… And he was definitely not a mortal.

His skin, light blue as the shallow ocean before him, looked sickly in the evening light. He exhaled, snapping his fingers into a fist. Miles away, lightning flashed in the sky— thunder rumbled across the land. However, to his passive surprise, he noticed that these happenings did not deter the presence that was now within his company. Soft footsteps displaced the sand they walked in.

The other made no movements as the short man took his place beside him, green eyes drawn to the rainstorm at sea. A small chuckle sounded in his withered voice. "You have not lost your edge, Earthshaker."

"Dyntos…" The god exhaled, opening his eyes. "What brings you here?"

"The wind, the roads; my own two feet, mostly." He slung the steel hammer he carried into the sand, leaning on it smoothly. "However, it seems that it goes a bit deeper for you… looks like you've got a bit on your mind, Earthshaker. Penny for your thoughts?"

He reached into his gray, oil-stained tunic and produced a small golden coin, flipping it in the other god's direction. Snatching it out of the air, the man sighed. "They came again last night."

The older man nodded, gray beard wispy in the breeze. "Your dreams."

"Yes…" His eyes narrowed, still looking over the horizon. His fingers brushed absentmindedly over the coin's ridges. "It has been many years since I have had dreams like these."

"Nightmares."

"I am Poseidon, God of Sea!" the blue-skinned man roared. "I do not have 'nightmares.' That is a petty term, coined by humans who are too cowardly to face even the most gentle of negative circumstances. I do not have nightmares… However, I do receive the types of dreams no god is immune to… the prophetic type."

Dyntos folded his arms. "I don't suppose it had anything to do with our friend in the south, did it?"

Poseidon was silent. Once again averting his eyes to the horizon, the older man's fingers tightened around his hammer's grip. Nodding to himself, he once again opened his mouth to speak.

"Have you spoken to your niece of late?"

"Palutena." Poseidon cocked a smile at the name, as he glanced back down to the water below. "She used to contact me once every day— to make sure that my domain was healing, and that my integrity remained."

"Yes, yes, me too… smart girl. She makes a fine ruler."

"My eldest brother chose his successor well." Poseidon nodded sagely, closing his eyes. "However, I fail to see how that is relevant to what is happening now."

Dyntos's fingers twitched. "Just humor me. Ever since our… joint endeavors began, have you heard from her?"

"I have not been able to get into contact with her… since then, actually."

Dyntos grinned, pointing his index finger at his temple. "It's all in her mind. It's too cluttered! She has many, many thoughts swirling inside— plans to protect and rebuild the realm, the state of the gods, and worry for a boy she has quite an affection toward. There's simply no room for any other disturbance. In fact, there's only one voice who has a place in her head… and it ain't mine, I'll tell ya that much. Perhaps our decision not to include the fair lady was a wise play."

Poseidon shook his head. "No… She'd be far too distracted. Her servants never would have been able to help her during the reconnaissance missions." However, Poseidon tilted his head. Glancing back at Dyntos, he gave him a questioning look. "You say that her mind is too cluttered to contact her? Surely we could do so at any time."

"That's the thought, isn't it? Alas, that is one of the many reasons I've sought you out this evening. The main reason I came here, dear family, is to have an interesting dialogue." Dyntos smiled, the lines on his forehead crinkling. "I wish to speak theoretics."

"Tch." The sea god's lip curled in distaste. "I have no desire to indulge the ramblings of the oracles. Their minds are too old, too weak. If you keep spending so much time with them, your mind will be that way as well." Poseidon shook his head. "You can keep your theoretics."

"Ah, but the best of discoveries would not have been made without theoretics… which is precisely what has brought me here today." The god tapped on the butt of the hammer's handle, and to Poseidon's surprise a small hatch opened, revealing a secret compartment. Dyntos reached in, pulling out a long device— a spyglass, black with golden accents. Twirling it in his hands, he looked up to his companion with a spark of wise mischief in his gaze. "I want you to see something."

Eyes narrowing at Dyntos, Poseidon took the spyglass and cautiously lifted it to his sight. As he gazed through it, he realized he was not seeing a close-up of his surroundings, but a place that was very different from where he now stood— this gray landscape was barren, with no life to be seen anywhere. In front of him, a massive ravine spiraled into nothingness… and yet it seemed as if he could feel the malevolent air rising from it. Lowering the glass, he looked back to Dyntos in shock.

The old god, meanwhile, smirked and once again leaned on his hammer. "Built it myself. It can show you anything I want it to. Take a closer look."

Hesitation tugging at his body, Poseidon once again brought the spyglass to his eye. This time, despite his misgivings, he looked closer to the ravine. There, something unbelievable was taking place. A black mass was churning just above the gorge, casting a shadow over the land below. As he willed the glass to look closer, the sight he was met with chilled him to his very core.

The darkness did not belong to a monster but to colossal, menacing storm clouds… clouds unlike any he'd produced himself. They seemed almost solid in nature, and blacker than billowing smoke. It was a storm, all right… but not one found on this plane of the world. Mouth falling open, Poseidon lowered the spyglass.

Dimly, he was aware of Dyntos speaking. "Those aren't your clouds, are they, Earthshaker?"

"He… He broke through the barrier…" Poseidon's fists clenched. "He crossed between the worlds! That's impossible… nothing imprisoned in the Underworld can ascend to our level!"

"Right you are." Dyntos smirked. "Now… look to Skyworld."

Poseidon once more peered into Dyntos's magic spyglass. However, instead of the familiar sight of Palutena's marble temple, he was met with a still, stagnant darkness… as if a shroud had covered his vision. Unsure if this was some sort of mistake, he looked back up. "Nothing…" Poseidon whispered in disbelief. "I see… nothing. I'm afraid your magic has failed, Dyntos. You aren't what you used to be."

"Nonsense!" Dyntos snapped, jumping up and snatching his spyglass from Poseidon's hold. The sea god grunted in surprise. His look souring, Dyntos rubbed at a nonexistent smudge. "My magic never fails. It is just as you see it— the way to Skyworld has been blocked. That is the true reason you cannot get into contact with Lady Palutena. A thin layer of darkness has blanketed her thoughts. And darkness, as you know, is the one thing she cannot expel."

"But Medusa—"

"Was different. This darkness is deeper, more potent. It seems our friend in the south is growing ever aggressive," Dyntos said, examining the length of his invention. "Decided that the borders of the Underworld were too smothering. Concentrate, Earthshaker. Feel the surge in the air. Tell me… who does it feel like?"

He shot his companion a withering look, but decided to humor the old god regardless. Inhaling sharply, Poseidon closed his eyes.

As he opened his spirit to the energy surrounding him, Poseidon's muscles tensed. It was true, what Dyntos said— though the air was thick with humidity, as it always was in the summer, there was something else there as well… the underlying feeling of tension. A shift in the atmosphere. As he observed closer, he recognized the type of wind that barreled past him… a fell one, the kind not seen since…

"No." He shook his head. He knew this power. He knew what effect it had on the world… the misery and the pressure it brought with it, as if it set the land itself on edge. He knew it. But it simply couldn't be. "That's impossible. You, me, Palutena, and Viridi all imprisoned his soul together. Only another god could—"

"Break that spell. You are correct."

"But the magic we used to imprison them— none of us would be imbecilic enough to—"

"No, we wouldn't. And that… is where my theoretics come into play."

Dyntos clasped his hands behind his back, a knowing smirk curling on his lips as he paced the shoreline. A weary, defeated sigh exhaling from Poseidon's breath, the sea god relented.

"All right, Dyntos. You've caught my attention. What do you have to tell me?"

"I went out to get supplies for my projects the other day—"

Poseidon rolled his eyes. "I thought you could simply make anything you desired?"

"Oh, I can. But I do enjoy getting out of the workshop on occasion. It's amazing, what you pick up on the streets— like the fact that dissent is stirring between the various human kingdoms. It seems as if the negative energy is affecting them."

"Humans are good for doing nothing but destroying themselves and everything surrounding them. They are not intelligent enough to do anything else. I hardly find their 'royal affairs' interesting."

"Or— I bet you'll find this interesting— the fact that our beloved queen was seen in town with a date."

"Who?"

"Who else?"

Poseidon shook his head, once again looking out to sea. "I cannot say I approve… But if she has found happiness, then I suppose I cannot be bitter about it. I just hope she makes the right decisions... and that Pit is really who she perceives him to be."

"She will. And he is, tested him myself. But I didn't come to discuss Palutena's personal life. The mortals are all affected by our affairs, as you know. They feel the darkness in the air. It's making them antsy. Like little insects, they march off to war… It's the discord, you see. The god's powers they have the most contact with are the powers they channel… And powers, I'm afraid, are the key to all of this."

Poseidon lifted his eyebrow, prompting Dyntos to sigh. The old god turned back to the horizon. The sun was now setting, casting a warm glow over Poseidon's coast. "What do you know of the dark angel?"

His companion was caught off guard by the question. Folding his arms, he pondered what information he had. "He was… a mistake."

"Continue."

"He… was supposed to be a manifestation of the evil within Pit. However, it seems that the angel has no true evil… merely a penchant for fighting dirty and a hearty side of sass. He was supposed to be destroyed as soon as possible." He glanced to the side. "However, more important priorities arose. He helped our cause, so we left him be."

"Precisely." Dyntos grew contemplative, eyes looking beyond the horizon. "He's a carbon copy of this world's savior… A weapon in his own right."

"He's not hurting anything now, so I fail to see what he has to do with it."

Dyntos's face was grim. "Remember when our dear cousin Pandora was defeated by Palutena's pet?"

"Her soul slipped back into the Underworld, but…"

"The dark angel stole her powers…"

"He did." Poseidon lifted his chin, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that, when your brother was defeated, we all took great precaution to bind his soul in the Underworld where it belongs. However, in our moment of reprieve, I am afraid that we all overlooked something that should not have gone unchecked… tell me, Earthshaker, were you the one who sealed Hades's powers away? Because Palutena didn't. And neither did I or Viridi."

"No…" Poseidon stepped back, breath shallowing. "Dyntos, what are you saying?"

"It would have been quite easy to make off with the powers of the Underworld king… no one was watching them, and not a care was shown toward them. A god's powers are separate from his soul, as it were. But, if that is so, that leads the way to some rather… unfortunate prospects. Hades didn't have possession of just his own powers. He also had Medusa's. Two of the most fearsome beings in the realm."

"No, no, no…"

"It would have to be a divine being." He nodded. "Otherwise, the power would be too much for them. However, I do not think Hades has resurrected himself. You know it, I know it. The Spirit in the cloud… we have faced him before."

Poseidon looked as if he'd been winded. "So you mean to tell me—" his eyes widened in rage, "the Spirit in the clouds stole my brother's powers, took Medusa's, which he had in his possession, and proceeded to create this storm?"

Dyntos clicked his tongue. "Not just theirs, I'm afraid."

"Why haven't you told the others about this? Why haven't you warned them?" Poseidon jumped forward, taking Dyntos's tunic in both hands. "Our cousin, Thanatos?"

"Unaccounted for."

"His accomplice, Pandora?"

"Unaccounted for."

"Let me guess." He sighed. "Viridi?"

"Just fine, actually," Dyntos mused. "She's doing quite well for herself. Her newfound alliance with Palutena has left her domain in a healthy state."

"Argh!" Poseidon released his companion, whirling back to the sea. "How did we not see this before it was too late?"

"I can't say I'm heartbroken over the prospect, but this does leave room for an interesting development." Dyntos tapped his chin. "I am quite curious to see how this will play out."

However, it was obvious that Poseidon did not share his sentiment. He raised his trident to the sky, and the sea crashed at his rage. "We must inform Palutena about this at once! We must go to Skyworld… We have to tell her! You and I, we have to prepare our forces—"

"And that, I'm afraid, is where our joint endeavors end."

A creeping realization fell into Poseidon's spirit. "But… You…"

The old god closed his eyes. "I'm afraid… I cannot help you."

"What?" Poseidon whirled around. In the distance, the low rumbling of thunder could be heard. "Why not?"

"Because, old friend…" Dyntos sighed, picking his hammer up from the ground. "I simply am too weary. I have lost all desire to participate in petty power struggles and the love of war. No, Earthshaker… I wish to do something different for a change. Instead of building weapons and monsters that do nothing but destroy… I wish to use my talents to create. To bring joy to a realm that has known nothing but sadness ever since those like us ascended to the Higher Plane."

Poseidon's eyes narrowed. "They told us this would be a 'Golden Age'. We were promised greatness. And what has become of us?"

Dyntos inclined his head. "And that, Earthshaker… is why I have elected to sit this one out. Completely."

"We are…the last of our kind."

"The only two from an obsolete generation of gods… I suppose that the young'uns really do have the advantage these days."

"Dyntos…" Poseidon stepped forward. "If Pandora and Thanatos have been targeted… then that means… if this force breaks through from the Underworld…"

"The rest of us will be next."

"There are nine of us, Dyntos. Four of us are either incapacitated or unaccounted for. Pyrrhon hasn't been seen since the Aurum Incident… That puts us at four total. If you walk away…"

"You will fight, just as you always have," Dyntos said, waving him off. "Palutena will be fine. She has her own protector. I fear… that we were all wrong about him."

"What do you mean?"

"I fear that the angel is far more powerful than any of us have given him credit for. As long as Palutena has him in her favor, she could conquer the entire realm if she wanted to. She won't be needing me."

Heaving his hammer onto his shoulder, Dyntos turned away from his ally. Poseidon, at a loss for words, had a million thoughts racing through his mind. Hades, Palutena, the Spirit of the Storm… it was sickening how all the pieces fit together. Shaking his head in disbelief, Poseidon called out toward his retreating companion.

"They won't care about your pledge of disinvolvement. They'll still come after you."

"Let them try." Dyntos slung his hammer over his shoulder. "I don't care how many gods' powers this demon has. Mine are still greater. As long as my workshop is on lockdown, the Titans themselves couldn't get to me."

"But the Underworld's boundaries…"

"I wouldn't worry too much. The Underworld Gods have much power over their domains… but that is where their influence ends. Even if this demon has the power of four gods, he did not gain every last ability they were capable of. The Storm's Spirit is nothing more than a shadow. Bodiless. While it spreads its power over us, I do believe that its core stays confined to the Underworld. Why, the only way out is if it could get enough power to create a vessel— and that won't happen unless Palutena herself had her powers stolen from her." The old god shook his head. "No… even if Thanatos and Pandora have been defeated, and their powers taken in turn, it would take a miracle for the spirit to resurrect itself. And that… is where I leave you."

Poseidon was deathly still as Dyntos turned from him once more. However, the God of the Forge paused, once again looking over his shoulder. "One last thing, Earthshaker… The Spirit of the Storm… Do you have any idea who it is?"

The sea god, still numb, stepped forward. As the waters of his domain swirled around him, pulling him into their chilly embrace, Poseidon couldn't have been more at home… and yet, he felt as if he'd been confined. As the words left his parched lips, the god didn't quite hear them himself, instead closing his eyes as their sound faded into the blackness.

"A memory."