“As for the second choice, I will let you become my ambassador in the human realm,” Pyro offered.
“What is that?” the petite girl asked.
“Basically, I will monitor you from time to time. As long as your performance is satisfactory for the next ten years, I will grant you even more divine grace and favor. With my help, you’ll easily become a high-ranking member of the church. You will eventually become the popess.”
Eirinn felt her heart thump. She understood how great this offer was; authority! She had never concerned herself with struggles over authority, but it was hard to remain calm when one was offered a position above everyone else. She knew that, with authority, even if she couldn’t bring herself to fight and kill, she could still dictate the tides of millions of lives.
The god’s second offer was just as tempting as the first. They were hard to refuse and had practical implications.
“As for the third, I will restore your appearance. I can even make you more charming.”
“Take a look.”
A mirror appeared in front of the girl. She couldn’t believe the reflection. The face in the mirror was more beautiful than she’d imagined in even her wildest dreams. The skin was as smooth as a boiled egg, like the thinnest satin membrane that might tear at the mere thought of a touch. There were no trace of horrifying, demonic scars. The fine silver brows crested like moons and the eyes beamed silver dreamlight like the night sky’s stars. The nose was straight, unlike her mess, and the lips pink; they were their own entities, not just an end to the skin as it plunged into the black abyss of a mouth.
The face was indescribably beautiful. It outshone everything she’d ever dared imagine. If this face became hers, she could stand proudly beside Annelotte, perhaps even make the other girl shy away in inferiority!
“I have cleansed the impurities in your soul. This is your true appearance. This is not the limit of my powers, however. I can give you an even greater appearance. What do you think? Do you like it?”
Eirinn’s body shuddered like a small ship in a big storm.
Like it? I love it! Love isn’t enough to describe how I feel!
The beauty she saw in the mirror would make emperors give up empires for a second glance. She only feared she did not have enough to give in exchange for this beauty.
All women wanted beauty, even she, as innocent as she was, instinctively desired such possessing beauty. Who did not like the prospect of being more appealing than they were? Even more, this was the beauty that was supposed to be hers in the first place. It was a beauty to which she was entitled.
Those scars… those damn scars! How many glares and mocks and curses would I not have had to endure if not for them?!
She could hear her heart scream. Every nerve, every muscle in her body willed her to choose this. This was more than a dream, this was an obsession, a shadow in her soul that she had to sate. This was the root of all her suffering. If she could fix this, everything that stemmed from it, which was everything, would go away.
“And the fourth choice…” the god’s voice returned some measure of sanity to the girl… “… is a mystery.”
Eirinn stared at the god oddly.
“It is unknown because even I do not know what the blessing is. I checked your net of destiny. One part of it is shrouded in darkness. This means there are a few paths that are really important. Perhaps, something huge will happen in this world that will influence everyone’s destiny, and until it does, no one can know what their related destinies might be. Even I cannot pierce this uncertainty. This blessing I can give you is related to those futures.”
“Are you sure that thing will happen, whatever it is?”
“No. There are many outcomes unrelated to it, so it isn’t a certainty. If your possible destinies are strings, then the darkened area is something like a knot. I cannot untie it to look at the strings inside, so I don’t know what will happen. They are completely unknown. I don’t even know if the event will be good or bad. It could be something terrible, or something amazing.”
“So this blessing could help prevent the bad outcomes in that knot from happening?”
“You can say that, yes, but that wouldn’t be the whole story. I don’t know what this fourth thing is. I can only be certain it has something to do with the knot. Whether it will come to pass or what it is, I’d be giving you, I know not. This blessing might even be part of the destiny in that knot and might not influence anything, or it could give you a completely new possible destiny, one you do not have right now. That destiny, however, could be better or worse than the ones already in the knot.”
“Then…” Eirinn knitted her brow and thought intensely.
Power and authority was tempting, but they were nothing compared to beauty, not to mention the last blessing. The last one could be either a blessing or a curse, a gamble. She was not a gambler.
Pyro’s words made her reconsider.
“I must warn you. Everyone’s destiny is intertwined. So, when I peaked at your destinies, I saw some of the destinies of the people related to you as well. In that knot, I see your companions’ destinies the most.”
“What?!” Eirinn was shocked. Her decision would affect her her friends? She could no longer be frivolous.
“The one whose destiny I saw the most in that knot, the one most intricately and extensively linked to yours, is a human boy named Leguna.”
If not for those last words, she’d have chosen the third option without hesitation, even mention of her companion’s destiny only made her hesitate somewhat, but Leguna’s name was a bomb that shook her entire world.
Pyro waited patiently.
Life returned to the girl’s eyes only an hour later.
An odd expression came upon Pyro’s face. He had thought that the first three options would be far more tempting. He wouldn’t have given her the fourth option if not for that particular thing. He did not think she’d choose it.
“You sure? This might not change your future at all. If your life does not go down a string leading to that knot this might be a wasted blessing. Even if it did, this blessing might end up being a curse instead. Are you certain you want to accept this?”
“Yes,” Eirinn answered decisively.
Nothing, not power, not authority, not beauty, could compare to Leguna. If beauty was her obsession, then Leguna was her god.
For him, she’d suffer a thousand lives of torture. He’d stood by her when no one else would, had accepted her when everyone else shunned her. Even calling him her god might not be going far enough. No matter how tempting the other offers were, she had to choose this the moment his name was mentioned. She would rather waste this blessing than take the chance, however minute, that not choosing it would bring about a bad outcome.
“This is your last chance to change your mind.”
“I’m sure! I won’t change my mind!”
The moment she spoke, the girl who couldn’t even strangle a chicken and had been berated constantly stretched out her hands and held tight to her destiny. She never would’ve imagined her decision would affect the destiny of the world, nor did she care. Everything she did was for Leguna, and Leguna alone. The world could burn, if that was to be the outcome, as long as Leguna was safe.
“Um… god…” Eirinn stammered, “Can you do something small for me?”
“You’re getting greedy, girl. Where is that little cat that didn’t even want my favor?”
“Umm…” Eirinn’s face reddened, “Can you take away my scars? I’m not asking you to make me as beautiful as that reflection, if I can just look… normal, that would be fine.”
“Of course…” Pyro intentionally slowed his words, “…not!”
The beaming smile on her face dimmed.
“You know how heavily your scars affect your life. They are a part of your destiny. I can only change your destiny once. I can either change your looks, or give you that mysterious blessing, I cannot do both.”
“Why not?” Eirinn pleaded, on the edge of tears.
“We might be gods, but we are not sovereigns. As powerful as we are, we are bounded by the laws of the world. We cannot interfere in the destinies of mortals too much. Once is our limit. I can change your destiny once and only once, either your face, or that blessing. If I were to do both, the world would smite me.”
“Ah, I’m sorry, Eirinn did not intend to harm you… Eirinn… Eirinn just…”
She did not think her scars were such a big deal. Yes, they were difficult to remove, but a god must be powerful enough to do it like it was nothing. If they were connected to her destiny, however, she understood now how difficult it would be to undo them, to the point that a god had to risk his life to work on them.
Oh no, god wouldn’t blame me for this right? I didn’t mean it!
“Don’t be scared, child.”
Pyro’s face was the epitome of benevolence and tolerance.
“Don’t think of a god as such a petty thing. Punishing my devotees because of a small offense wouldn’t give me their faith. I won’t blame you for something so inconsequential.”
Eirinn wiped the tears from her eyes. Her sorrow was two-fold; once for offending her god, once more for her destiny to be grotesque.
Two beams shot out of his eyes and into the girl’s body.
“You now have my blessing. You shall leave.”
The god’s voice carried the force of the world. A decree no mortal could deny. It was now Eirinn’s fate to leave this place. The space crumbled as his words fell. A blinding light once again enveloped the girl. When she came to, she was kneeling in front of her god’s idol. To the side, Madin was still praising his god frantically.