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The spear missed by a hair as Kratos swam to the side. The Blades he held glowed a brilliant blue as he raised them above the mermaid's tail. Kratos plunged his Blades into her flesh and spun around, flinging her into the mural inside the hut. How did I know how to do that? He realized he would have to think about his uncanny prowess later, for the mermaid was already up. She lunged again, but Kratos anticipated this and dodged easily. He stretched his hand and snatched her hair as he put his boot on her back. He forced her to the ground and raised his Blade. "Wait! Stop!" screeched the mermaid. Kratos' arm held itself as he tugged on her hair. "Why did you attack me?" he demanded, hiding his surprise at speaking underwater. "I had to defend myself!" she answered, desperately attempting to claw away. Kratos pulled harder. "Defend yourself from what? I had no intention of harming you." he replied. "Please! Release me and I will answer your questions! I swear it!" she begged.
Kratos pondered his choice. His first instinct was to simply kill her, but something deep inside urged him to relent. The mermaid's hair slipped out of Kratos' fingers and she levelled with him. "Who are you?" was his first question, eager to find the identity of his attacker. "My name is Amphitrite. My husband is-" She halted mid-sentence, remembering his ultimate fate at the hands of the warrior before her. "Is who?" Kratos asked, curious as to why she decided to stop. Amphitrite sadly turned away. "He's dead." she finally said, a tear sliding down her cheek. "Anyway, I attacked you because I thought you would attack me." Kratos blinked, surprised at the thought of him attacking unprovoked. "I have no reason to attack you...Who was your husband?" he inquired. Amphitrite took a deep breath, wiped her tear away, and faced Kratos. "How could you forget, Kratos?" she asked. Kratos was taken aback, stunned that she knew him. "What have I forgotten?"
Amphitrite clenched her fists. "How could you? You killed my husband!" she screamed. Kratos searched his memory desperately, trying to find any remnants of taking another's life. Suddenly, he stood on solid earth, high above the oceans and cities. He gazed at a watery figure sinking into the waves and turned into a raging whirlpool. He held two Blades, similar to the ones from the temple, but red and gold, worn from years of use, and covered in blood. He had an armlet on his right arm, the rams of a goat emblazed on it. He turned to see a man garbed in white cringing against a rock. Blue markings covered his skin, a golden tiara sat over his dreaded brown hair, and blood oozed out of his mouth. Kratos slung his Blades over his back and strode towards the man. "The death of Olympus means the death of us all!" cried the man, trying to dissuade Kratos from his intentions. Kratos merely clenched his jaw and curtly retorted, "Then prepare for your death, Poseidon!"
With that, he seized Poseidon and headbutted him. Kratos grabbed his neck and punched him, Poseidon's jaw shattering under the weight of the blow. He rammed his fist into Poseidon's face once more, sending him sprawling to the ground. Kratos immediately smashed his shin into Poseidon's chin and grabbed his neck. Using only a fraction of his strength, Kratos lifted Poseidon off the ground as he clawed vainly to escape. Kratos bashed his head into the rock and grabbed Poseidon again. Kratos repeatedly smashed his head into the rock until his face was a mix of bone and blood. He released, and Poseidon fell to the ground. Kratos seized him again and threw Poseidon into a boulder overlooking the cliff edge. His head struck first and he fell limply to the cold dirt. His vision blurred, Poseidon turned and attempted to crawl over the cliff, but Kratos had already caught up with him and dragged him back. Kratos clenched Poseidon's head in his hands and aimed his thumbs into the soft tissues of Poseidon's eyes. With a twitch, Poseidon was blinded, blood oozing all over Kratos' fingers. With one last burst, Kratos spun Poseidon's head, his neck breaking instantly. Limp and lifeless, Poseidon fell over the cliff, his body turning to liquid. What remained splashed into the water as Kratos awoke from his flashback.
Kratos' head spun as he steadied himself. "Poseidon..." he muttered. Amphitrite nodded angrily. "God of the Sea. My dearly beloved husband...that you stole from me." She clenched her fists, tears streaming down her face. "I am truly sorry." said Kratos, ashamed that he had taken a husband's life. A father's life. Amphitrite, shocked, drew close to Kratos. "Sorry? That is the one word I never expected to hear from you." Sadness could not conceal itself in Kratos' eyes. Amphitrite silently nodded. "You feel...guilty?" she asked, trying to be sincere. Kratos nodded. "I think I know what it was like to be a father. A husband." Amphitrite layed her hand on his shoulder. "You did. You had a wife and daughter." Kratos shuddered at the word had. It sent another shiver up his spine. Kratos was no fool and knew that his family is dead. He turned away from Amphitrite and lowered his head in silent mourning. His Blades fell from his fingers and clanged to the ground.
Amphitrite instantly recognized the Blades. "Where did you get those?" she asked, pointing at the Blades. Kratos slowly pointed at the temple. Amphitrite turned away, quietly saying to herself, "The Blades of Sparta? That isn't possible..." She slowly reached down and grasped her spear. "He cannot live. For what he has done..." she muttered. She spun around, Kratos' back to her. Amphitrite raised the spear above her head and charged. Kratos, being the weathered warrior, had heard every word and knew she had taken up arms against him. He waited patiently for her to approach. Just a little more... He spun around and snatched the spear out of Amphitrite's hands and threw it aside. This time, no mercy will be granted! He grasped his Blades and swung. The left Blade sunk into Amphitrite's ribs as the right pierced her tail. Blood spewed from her lips as she cried out in agony. Kratos did not wish to kill her, but Amphitrite left him no choice. He pulled her near and seized the hilts of his Blades. He gritted his teeth as he tore her in two. It was a gruesome sight. Her internal organs spewed out like an octopus' tentacles as blood blotted the water around her. She reached out one final time, mouthing one word: Poseidon. Life drained out of her as she floated away, following the current. Within moments, she disappeared from sight. Kratos regretted taking another life, and swam towards the surface.
Kratos returned to the feeling of fresh air as he neared the beach. He climbed out and stood up, facing a strange doorway. There was an insignia emblazened on the door. A circle spliced at the bottom with two stems branching out and curling upward. A familiar presence enveloped Kratos as he approached the doorway. Suddenly, everything shifted around him once again. He no longer held any Blades, and his mid-section scar was gone. The door was opened, a golden palace gleaming inside. The statue of an armored woman stood beside the door. "Follow these stairs, Kratos," said the statue, "they lead to your ultimate reward."
Kratos, not knowing what else to do, climbed the steps and entered the door. A warmth embraced Kratos as he stood before a magnificent palace gleaming with a godly essence. He continued to walk forward and soon approached another door. A red door with the same golden symbol as on the gateway. Kratos pushed the door open and witnessed a golden throne waiting for him. Two statues accompanied it. One was a skeletal monster, rotten and dry. The other was a pale, flame-haired man with horrific talons on his back. Above the throne was the empty shell of a giant serpentine creature, its eyes white with death and its jaw open. Kratos neared the throne and the flashback ended. Kratos stood before the empty gate once again. Before he could do anything, it opened mysteriously. The palace shined within the portal but it was not golden. It appeared aged and worn, as if no one had tended to it in decades. Kratos entered the gate and stood before a derelict palace, its walls crumbling and covered in vines. He walked forward and opened the mossy red door. The throne was there, as were the three tokens. Something was different, however. There was someone on the throne.
Kratos neared the throne and made out several characteristics of the one seated in it. Long hair hung loosely on the figure's shoulders. Two large black wings draped themselves around it like a massive shadowy cloak. Demonic orange eyes stared cruelly at Kratos'. Kratos stood at last at the bottom of the steps leading to the throne. "Who are you?" he asked. The figure did not move an inch. Kratos moved forward slowly. "Who are you?" he asked again, curious as to why this figure seemed familiar. The figure smiled, bloody fangs glistening in the light. "You forgot about me?" said the creature, its voice piercing Kratos' mind. "I expected a little more from you." The figure shrugged casually and walked toward Kratos. The monster unwrapped its wings and floated in the air above Kratos. The creature's body was muscular and scaled, as though it had spent a lifetime beneath the Earth. Kratos drew his Blades angrily. "I ask once more, who are you?" he demanded. The demon merely waved its finger. "Tsk tsk tsk, is this the welcome I recieve?" it asked. Two Blades were clutched tightly in its hands. The sight of them sent a surge into Kratos. They were silver with red runes engraved into them. The hilts resembled demonic monsters, the blades jutting from their mouths. The creature held up the Blades. "Look familiar? I suppose they would be, but it has been years since you last saw the Blades of Chaos."
Kratos shuddered at the mention of the Blades' names. The demon smiled again. "But then, how could you forget the same Blades you used to slaughter your family?" it mocked. Kratos lowered his head in anguish, realizing that he was a murderer in the life he did not know he lived. His grip on the Blades of Sparta loosened but did not release, for he knew he would need them in a moment. "You...knew my family?" he asked. The creature laughed, its voice cracking the walls around them. "Know your family? Why, Kratos, don't you understand?" it said as it stood on the ground and stood face-to-face with Kratos. "I am your family."
TO BE CONTINUED...