“Hey Calli,” Gura said, shifting on the couch and looking over to the reaper watching TV, “tell me a story?”
“What for? Just listen to the show with me.”
“But I want to take a nap and the TV is distracting.”
The reaper sighed, drawing a smirk of victory from the Atlantean. “Fine, what kind of story do you want to hear?”
Gura hummed in thought, wondering what kind of adventures Calli had up her sleeves. She was sure there would be plenty of stories she could tell about warriors and gods and the Underworld, but she was curious to know if the reaper could handle something a little different. “Tell me love story.”
For a moment, Calli was quiet, turning the volume down on her show. “Well, I have one, I guess,” she muttered lowly, tilting her head back against the top of the backrest to stare at the ceiling, “I can’t promise it’ll be very romantic though.”
“That’s okay,” Gura yawned and pulled a pillow to her chest, “tell me the story dad.”
Once upon a time - or in the beginning? Whatever.
Once upon a time, in the first world ever created by Lady Life, magic was everywhere. Everything had powers that makes the things you see nowadays look like child’s play. Humans and other sentient beings were ascending to godhood, animals were becoming nature deities and even the smallest patch of grass could grant wishes. There was even some dude that could make food come out of thin air. It was wild.
All the things you would expect to live there existed: humans, elves, fox-hounds, winged lions, dragons, the works. And of course, there were the most favored, recurring creations of Lady Life: the phoenix.
“Wha-“ Gura startled, “is this about-“
Calli just raised up a hand to stop her. “Hush. I’m telling a story.”
Where was I? Oh, the phoenix.
The phoenix of First World would eventually be called the Eternals. They were some of the most powerful beings in that world, I’d say they were the strongest version of the phoenix across the universe today. They could cut through entire mountains with a swipe of their wings, night would seem to turn into day when one flew overhead, and the entire eternal rebirth thing. Legends say Lady Life created the fire bird first and loved them so much she created the Eternal Phoenix, but I can’t say how true that one is.
Anyway, one day a warrior phoenix came down from the Golden Mountain, where all of the other phoenix lived, and used her magic to live among the humans. Why? Well, she thought they were interesting. She saw what they did in their villages, lived in their kingdoms, worked in their fields, fought alongside their warriors, the works. She was growing a respect for them and she started loving them.
For a long time though, the love was nothing more than appreciation. That is, until the phoenix met a spell hunter. At first, the phoenix wasn’t very impressed. Spell hunters were basically glorified scholars anyway, they just traveled across the world instead of staying in the kingdoms to study. But the spell hunter was instantly attracted to the phoenix, who wouldn’t be?
So the phoenix started tagging along because she hadn’t seen what a spell hunter did yet and the spell hunter was f-wording excited. Together, they traveled the world and documented magic that neither of them had ever seen before. You remember when I said there some dude that could make food out of thin air? Yeah, they found him and learned how to cast that spell.
Somewhere along the way, the two of them fell in love. From there, they spent all of their time together. They went around looking for more magic, ran into battles on accident, got into trouble, all those romantic things. The spell hunter took the phoenix to meet her parents, and the phoenix took the spell hunter to the Golden Mountain to meet her phoenix parents. Everything was sunshine and rainbows.
Then, the Fates decided that the First World had to go.
Calli’s tone became somber and Gura knew bad things were going to happen next. She looked up at the reaper only to see she’d hunched over in her chair, elbows planted on her knees, head down against her hands. Clearly, she was having a hard time telling the story.
“We can change the story if you want,” the Atlantean whispered, hugging her pillow closer to her chest.
“It’s fine,” Calli sighed, “I’ve needed to get it off my chest for a while, if you’re willing to hear the rest of it.”
It didn’t happen all at once. Gradually, the magic in the air just started to go away, and less and less of the new things born into the world had the same amount of magic as their parents. It took a few years for anyone to really notice there was something wrong but it didn’t matter. They wouldn’t be able to stop what was coming next anyway.
Soon, entire islands were getting destroyed. Left and right a beam of light would blast down and whatever it hit just disappeared; humans, plants, animals, they just vanished. It was the apocalypse, the very first one, and people didn’t know how they were going to handle it. The destruction just got bigger and bigger, until entire kingdoms were getting swallowed up. There was hardly any land left untouched by the hands of the Fates.
The phoenix and the spell hunter ran to the Golden Mountain for safety, it was one of the few places still intact. All the phoenixes returned too, and one day Lady Life Herself appeared to tell them that everyone in the First World was going to die as decided by the Fates and there was nothing She could do to stop it.
You could imagine it wasn’t good news to the spell hunter and her lover.
The destruction was closing in on the mountain, there was no escaping and there was no noble death, the only thing anyone could do was to prepare for the end. But the spell hunter wasn’t having it. At the final hour, before the world was wiped off the face of the universe, she summoned Lord Death Himself.
She begged for Him to save the phoenix, to take her to another world and hide her from the eyes of the Fates, to make sure that the phoenix was truly Eternal. Mercifully, Lord Death promised to grant her wish. The phoenix would continue to exist until the end of all existence, they would be together until the Last World is destroyed.
The price was the spell hunter’s eternal servitude.
Of course, that was a no-brainer. She agreed and the phoenix was whisked away into another world, soul now permanently under the watchful eye of Lord Death. The spell hunter was taken to the Underworld and stripped of all Overworld magic to make space to learn the skills needed to stand beside Him.
That’s the legend of the two lovers, doomed to only meet under the shadow of death.
Gura let the story settle, giving time for Calli to recover. She knew the reaper wasn’t very fond of telling stories about her and Kiara’s past together, always leaving the memory sharing with the phoenix, so Gura wasn’t expecting to unlock the TakaMori origin story so easily.
“Does she know?” the Atlantean asked, looking up at her friend.
Calli shook her head and leaned back against the couch. There was a distant look in her eyes, the kind she usually only got when she talked about Kiara losing memories. “No, she doesn’t.”
“And what if she asked?”
“I wouldn’t tell her.”
Gura frowned, getting up and sitting down on the arm of Calli’s armchair, gently laying a hand on the reaper’s shoulder. “Why not?”
“Because it doesn’t matter, it was an eternity ago.”
The Atlantean hummed, “I’m sure you know she would love to hear the story though.”
“She would,” the reaper sighed, rubbing her face, “she’d love to know I was the first one to- never mind.”
Gura chuckled, easily imagining a smug smirk on the phoenix' face, “She’d go nuts. You’ll never hear the end of it.”
Finally, Calli cracked a smile, “Exactly. All that matters now is that we've got another shot at existing in the same world together, right?”
“Right!” the Atlantean affirmed, hopping off her seat and starting to walk backwards out of the living room, “Anyway, I got something to talk to Kiara about, so bye!”
The reaper bolted out of her seat to chase after her, sending Gura laughing and running through the house and up the stairs to the bedrooms.
“HEY. Get back here!”