It was about six thousand years later when I stirred from the depths of the Lake Rymose. One thousand years after the world had recovered and been populated anew by humans from another planet, we gods had been captured into our places of worship by the Goddesses of Creation and Destruction. We had been forcibly separated from the people, and could feel the pain as they desecrated our temples and dismissed us as little more than old myths.
From the depths of the lakebed, my coils shifted, as restless as the waters itself, scales brushing smoothly against one another. It was night and had I been free to move, I could have seen a starry sky above. As it was the waters of the lake were far too dark and murky for me to make anything.
I didn't know what is was that had stirred me from my rest. All I could do while I was sealed into the bottom of the lake was swim around and sleep, and after the first few days or so, sleeping had become my main preoccupation. Well, sleeping, and trying to manage the many emotions I could feel pressing against me, as tangible as the touch of another dragon, pressing down on my as though to crush the breath from my body.
But being robbed of breath would kill me no more than cutting out my heart would. As it was, I simply rearranged myself into a more comfortable position for sleep and closed my eyes when I heard the call.
It was like trying to pick out the sound of the leaves of a specific tree rustling in the middle of a forest during a storm. I began to stir once again, feeling the waters roil in response, but I drifted along, trying to catch a stronger sense of what it was that had awoken me. It was close by, whatever it was, and I began to swim, moving back and forth as a dog does to track a scent, until I could pick out the emotions and the thoughts that were calling out to me—the prayers of a faithful woman. But not to me.
Many times I had heard the prayers and wishes of these new humans to their gods, but never had the words reached me. Yet I could hear them clearly this time—a prayer to some god of the afterlife to be bribe by some sweet or another to take their parents to a better death or something. A stupid request, but these people, I had learned, had no idea what the reality of the universe was. My curiosity over what had been calling me satiated, I began to swim back to the seal that held me captive, only to jerk to a stop once I realized WHY the call had woke me up.
It was not the words of the call itself, nor the woman. Or rather, it was the woman, but only what she carried within her, and what she carried was the life force of the bitch who had stuck me into this prison in the first place. Some way or another, that woman was an avatar of the goddess of destruction, and I had a feeling that as far as seals went, she probably counted as the real thing.
But first thing was first; I needed to determine whether she was the real thing or not. She was just on the shore of the lake. If I had been able to break the surface, I might have dragged her in in my haste to be free, but that would have been a dangerous move. If she really was an avatar, then chances were she would have killed me for attacking her. It would have answered my question, but I wouldn't have survived to get any benefit out of it. No, I needed to use another approach.
It wasn't hard to figure one out, either. There were many of the mutated animals still on the planet, surviving and virile; it was child's play to prod the conscious of a giant snake that resided near the lakeshore and to take the primitive emotions it felt and twist them, causing it to be driven by a single-minded urge to attack the woman I had sensed. As the great snake made its way to the target, I moved off into deeper waters, where I would be safe from any magic and still be able to observe the battle.
One very dead great snake later and I had the proof I required; the avatar had unleashed the spirit of destruction to save her comrade. She would suit my purposes. And it was just as well that she would be traveling over the water the next day, or so I read by skimming her thoughts. It just meant I would need to exert that much less effort to bring her to me.
The next day, with the water warming under the sun, I could sense the young woman getting onto the boat and the boat moving through the waters. Now that I knew what she was, I could pick her out of the crowd of frenzied emotions easily, and I would probably be able to do it no matter where she was. If I managed to get myself loose, anyway.
It was time to put my plan into action.
Picking out her minds and heart in the crowd, I focused my energy and began to wrap my own magic around her. Just a thin layer, but it would be enough to affect her mind—specifically, it would affect her mind.
Now was the hard part. It had been over a thousand years since I had last seen myself, and I had to dig around a bit to remember exactly what I had looked like as a human, but I pulled it together and tugged at the woman's mind, mingling her energy with mine.
… That sounded better in my head.
When I opened my eyes again, I was looking at a very young woman—younger than I had expected, actually. She couldn't have been much older than Jyoti when she had become a goddess, before she concealed herself in that child-like body she wore now. The young woman had dark brown hair pulled back into a braid and deep blue eyes—clearly a water user. As I had thought, she wore the traveling robes of some order, presumably one of the new religions of the world.
I was almost too preoccupied with looking my fill of the world above the water when the young woman spoke up. "Who are you? And where did you come from?"
"Ah, yes. Forgive me for my rudeness." I bowed just slightly, or at least I made my projection do so. As wound into her mind as I was, I could feel the faint stirrings of satisfaction from the part of her that held the core of the goddess of destruction. I hoped that I had projected my helmet onto my head, or else the woman might notice that I was making a very displeased expression.
But she felt nothing that seemed suspicious. I continued. "I was wondering if you would be willing to help me."
"What can I help you with?" She stared at me and I thought it was simply because I had come out of nowhere when she added, "And what is this that you're wearing? I don't think I've seen anything like it before."
"It's armor. You wear it to protect yourself." Surely this new world hadn't come up with some kind of incredibly different armor? I could see a sword hanging from a belt at the priestess's side, and it was of a style I recognized. "In any case, young lady, would you be willing to come to my aid?"
She still looked at me suspiciously, but I could see her beginning to relax and a calm smile spread across her face. I almost felt sorry about what I was about to do. "Of course, sir. I would be happy to help you. Do you require spiritual assistance? I'm not really allowed to receive confession, but…"
I had no idea what she was talking about, but it didn't matter. She had consented to help me and that was all I needed. Still and all, my conscience was beginning to nag at me. The least I could do for her after this was make sure that she wasn't horribly taken advantage of by someone. "I don't know what a confession is, but there is something that only you can do to help me."
Panic broke on her face as the water beside the boat swelled and swept over the deck, dragging her along with it as it fell back into the lake.
As she dropped into the water, she began to struggle furiously, but my water held her in place, more unbreakable than any chains could be because these would follow her movements. I swam to her side, crossing the distance easily enough, and brushed against her body with mine.
… I'm serious. These things really do sound better in my head than when I actually put pen to paper.
"You are the avatar of the goddess of destruction, are you not?" I asked in her head, forgoing speech. Dragons do not have the necessary anatomy to speak, after all. I could feel her shock at my words—so she had known after all. More unwelcome, I could also feel the part of her mid that harbored the goddess's core awaken and stretch at my words.
"My darling Nereus. It's been such a long time since we've last laid eyes on each other, has it not?" Her "voice", sweet as Pontus honey, brushed against my mind like the languid caress of a lover. Which she had been, once upon a time, but that was neither here nor there at the moment.
"And it will be some time yet, given the clarity of the water. Besides, you're borrowing a mortal body, aren't you?"
"It was necessary, darling. I was much weakened after we sealed you all. We were unexpectedly attacked afterward."
"Amazingly, I can only hope that I can congratulate whoever it was. Now, if you would handle the business of my seal?" The conversation was finished In seconds at the speed of thought, and I turned my attention back to the mortal woman. "Your predecessor sealed my in this lake long ago. I intend to have you release the seal."
A variety of emotions flared through the woman—fear of me, fear of drowning, the agony of holding her breath for so long, indignation at how she was being treated, and the pure bright faith that would lead to a stubborn dismissal of my words. The core extended itself into her mind, however, and I could feel Haine beginning to take control and direct the woman's body.
As it was, though, she wouldn't be much help if she managed to suffocate herself before she gave me what I needed. I brushed against her once more. "Don't be stupid. Are you a water user or not? Concentrate your magic and save yourself; it is only an especially stupid and useless person that believes dying for a cause is preferable to surviving and fighting another day."
My words weren't necessary; Haine took control of the young woman's body as I dragged her along in my wake, swimming swiftly back to the seal; a carved representation of my dragon form, coiled up, and formed from lapis lazuli. I roughly pushed her in the direction of the statue and moved away to watch, "watching" with my senses. The wretched goddess touched the statue; she ran her hands down its length in a way that brought bile to my throat, but it was necessary if I wished to be free of this accursed lake. And finally, I could feel the binds of the spell break free; my magic surged forward in a tide, and I could feel the cage that had held me in the lake break open.
But first things first. The goddess had retreated into the young woman once more, and so I grabbed her and carried her off as gently as I could, heading for the far shore that she had been traveling towards before.
If this sounds familiar--yes, this is Genesis, which I posted a long time ago. I'm doing a rewrite.