I am not here of my own accord.
Fate was set. Pulled into motion. Gears of time and space and virtue, all meshing together to tick down. To continue counting the seconds until the bell would toll. Until the hammer would strike.
I am not here of my own accord, I can promise you that.
I am here.
And I am no fool.
I must do what it is that I was destined to do. Regardless of how I feel, of what I want, I know what I must do, and I will do it.
Pave the way.
They have folded into the thorns. Over and over again. Men leading men, women leading women. Children and adults alike, all succumbing to the thorns. Choked away by the black brambles. Skewered as they desperately tried to fend for themselves. As they desperately tried to climb out of this hell.
That’s what await those who stay. Who don’t dare tread the thorns. Chaos, destruction—an endless cycle of monotony that will consume you whole.
That is what awaits in this land.
Waits lies on this side of the brambles.
The cogs that churn in this hell.
It is what happens to those who don’t die on the thorns. Who don’t even attempt to escape. They lose their mind and, eventually, jumped into Tartarus of their own free will. Swallowed by their need to end it, to see the darkness through.
It is a sad fate. To die on the brambles, or toss yourself into Tartarus—both are equally dismal. But, that is life here. What these people are born into. A simple fact of life.
One way or another, you die here.
Fate has made it so.
Deemed it to be.
This hell that we have been thrust into—no, that humanity, as a whole, chose. Through our arrogance, and our selfishness, and our need to justify our own desires, we chose this.
We chose hell.
Honestly, what did we expect? Is this not the way of life? The way of nature?
It will take you. One way or another, because of what we have done:
This hell will consume you.
Another way of saying “unless”:
If you do not try, then there will be no success. No chance. No way for Fate to make a change.
Why should they forgive us? Fate gave us a beautiful road, pathed with stars. Lined with gold. The road Fate created first was glorious, heavenly. Led straight into the mouth of Jupiter, spewing gems and jewels like you couldn’t even imagine. That road was so beautiful.
We—in a glorious amount of selfish stupidity—dashed it to pieces.
Ungrateful beings that we were, we took that path and scoffed at what it held. At the peace and beauty and contentment it led to. We—stupid vile beings that we are—wanted more. So much more.
Too much more.
It was not enough to be given the stars.
We wanted to make some of our own.
No wonder this wall of thorn is so daunting, so impenetrable. If I were the Fates, I’d make it just the same. No, I’d make it worse. Make it so that it would never weaken. So that there would be no chance for it to break. Never allow us a chance to escape.
Fate is not as cruel as I.
Not as heartless.
As I said, I am not here of my own accord. Fate has sent me. Deemed me to be the one. Placed me among the brambles so I could test them. So I could mold them.
Fate has sent me to break us free.
Foolish, selfish, ridiculous beings.
I have come—whether I like it or not—to rid us of this hell.
I have come to set us free.
As I step amongst the brambles, I feel the way they press. Alive. Hungry. Ready to consume the souls of those who would be bold enough to dare escape. Itching to devour all who try to brave the brambles, fight against thorn. The earth here is broken. Rotten. Tainted. And it knows who is to blame.
It’s dying to punish them.
All of us.
For what we have done to this ground. All the wretched, putrid things we have filled this good earth with.
It wants us dead.
The thorns are closing in. Doing their best to push us into madness. Make the mouth of hell closer, wider. The thorns are determined:
If they cannot swallow us, then hades will.
One way or another, they want us gone.
This is not the way Fate created them to be. Not what Fate intended. Not at all.
They have gone their own way. Off the path that Fate has set.
Which is why they have sent me.
As reluctant as I am, I know my place. Know my path. Even if my feelings conflict, I will not argue with Fate. Will not veer from my orders.
I know what I must do.
Hands blazing, wholly convinced that this is a bad idea, I grasp for the thorns. Eat away the brambles. Blue flames erupt, scourging the land of this curse. Wiping the slate clean.
Humanity is free.
In the blink of an eye, all this torment—this deserved punishment—is over.
Before the others can realize it—before humanity can come to terms with their new salvation, new freedom—I rush through the blazes. Rush through the ash of thorn and bramble.
I know my path.
I must be the first free.
That way, I can do what I came here to do. Be what I have always aimed to be.
I will protect Fate.
Ensure that the gods’ wrath does not blast them to smithereens. That humanity does not waste this gift given by my fathers. By the beings that I share my blood with.
I will not be humanity’s savior. No. I will not be their ruler, nor their king.
I will be a silent watcher. Waiting. Hoping. Praying.
Do not taint this new earth, friends.
There won’t be another chance.
Because I—demigod that I am—will not accept a punishment for Fate’s grace. Will not allow Fate to take the fall for our arrogance—for another mess that we create.
I will not allow it.
Do not waste grace, my friends.
Because one day, it may run out.