The Storm God’s Bride – Part I

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Irma had just reached her 18th birthday and it was the saddest day of her life, for it was the day she would be given to the Storm God, Rael’khan, to quell his anger. The town of Vermire had been hit with a drought that lasted nearly a decade, wiping out crops and leaving many in the village to perish from famine. 

Rain dances, rituals, animal sacrifices—nothing worked and for years their pleas went unanswered. Until one night, the very night of Irma 's birthday, the roof of her home was marked by a bolt of lightning that split the clear night sky. It was taken as an omen. Rael’khan had chosen his tithing. The next morning, the young woman was prepared with blessings, cleansed, and marched to the cliffside to be tossed into the ocean as a sacrifice to the slighted Storm God. 

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Irma, though young, was dutiful and prepared to die for her people. She leapt into the ocean without regret, soothed by the thought of saving her village. The faces of her loving mother and father flashed in her head, now tear streaked as they watched her plunged into the icy depths. Irma barely flinched at the rush of cold, unforgiving water around her. Her soulful, dark eyes shut tightly as the weight of her opulent wedding robes dragged her down into the darkness. 

Her life had been full of strife, despite her village being so kind to her. The townsfolk treated her like kin, and to Irma, they were family, but tragedy haunted the small community and each tragedy grew more heart shattering as dear friends and family members died, starved and full of sorrow. Their gentle community had fallen to shreds. Those precious people lost to her. To Irma, it only made sense to join the youths who had perished. Even more so if it meant saving those who had been painfully left behind. 

Her thoughts faded as her breath gave out. The scant light from the surface dimmed to pitch black darkness. Then suddenly, a rush of blinding light beckoned her eyes to open. Irma peered at the source and was startled as she came tumbling through an invisible liquid barrier, landing solidly on a cool, white marbled floor. 

“Ah! There she is. Finally. We've been expecting you for nearly a century. Someone in the reincarnation department is really dragging their heels.” A loud, boisterous voice called. “Poor dear, let's get you fixed up.” 

Irma was lifted off the ground in a gentle whirlwind that dried her clothes and her hair. It passed with a powerful woosh, leaving her standing in a palace of white. A strange young man dressed in fine robes smiled back at her brightly. 

“Darmagi, it's been too long.” 

“Darmagi,” Irma repeated. 

“Yes, you are the reincarnated goddess, Darmagi. Your childish husband has been waiting for your return. He's become quite impatient and pouting lately. Please go and see to him.” 

Irma was dumbfounded by his words and stared at the young Lord, mystified. “What? W-Who are you?” She asked, bewildered. 

“I am Cos, the messenger of the Gods. I'm quite busy, you know, so you'll have to settle in without me. Not to worry, However. Now that you've entered the celestial realm, your memory should also return. Please take your time, my Lady. You'll find your tantruming husband by following that corridor.” Cos gestured down a grand hall, then began to float off the ground. Shocked, Irma froze up as the messenger God bid her farewell, then dissipated like a mist. Now alone, Irma took a moment to process all that had happened. Her head was spinning. 

“Darmagi.” The Divine name was familiar to her, and repeating it stirred something from the bottom of her lake of memories, the Goddess of Mercy, a deity she was well aware of and had prayed to countless times. Was that who they thought she was? Was this all a dream? 

Confused but awestricken by the pearlesque palace, Irma wandered down the corridor she had been directed towards, all the while mulling over her current situation. As she walked the air shifted the further she traveled, until it was thick with electricity. Her hair bristled and the nape of her neck tingled as she approached a tall set of gilded double doors. Beyond them, she heard the distant rumble of Thunder. 

The flames lighting the iridescent torches had snuffed out in this part of the palace, leaving the air dark and ominous. Tugged by overwhelming curiosity, Irma reached forth, gathering her courage as she pushed the door open. Peering in, she witnessed a ruined room. The broken remnants of luxury laid strewn about. At the center of the dimly lit chamber sat a figure hunched and ragged looking. 

“I said—Let me be!!” An angry voice boomed furiously. 

A bolt of lightning flashed through the room, illuminating the figure’s face clearly. A handsome young man glowered back at her; his thick, strong brows knit in puzzlement. He glared at the petite young woman. 

“Da—Darma?” The tall young man sprung up. The firelight of the torches burned to life in his show of excitement, allowing Irma to see him properly. 

She was taken with his sunny smile right away. Despite his brutish physique, covered in scars that traced his muscular form like shocks of lightning, his face was warm and friendly. Completely opposite the scary expression he had shown earlier. 

A small gasp escaped her as the comely young Lord surged towards her, his strong arms outstretched. Stunned, Irma stood still, examining his bare chest and silk robes that hung in flowing folds around his waist. The shades of burgundy complemented his rich skin color. Irma felt tiny in his arms as he embraced her tenderly. 

“Oh, Darmagi, I have waited so long. How could you make me wait this long?” The young Lord whined as he pulled her to his chest. Though he had the intimidating appearance of a warrior, his demeanor was that of a pouting child. 

“W-Who are you?” Irma stammered as her face came flush with his barreled chest. He smelled like a dewey meadow after a fresh rain. Her heart fluttered. The scent drew another familiar feeling from inside her. 

“Oh, my poor wife. Your memory still has not returned. It will take time as it always does.” He drew away with a dampened smile on his face, then gestured to himself, prodding a meaty peck with his thumb. “It is I, your eternal groom, Rael’khan.” 

“Rael’khan!” Irma spouted in surprise. “You were the one who summoned me with a bolt of light, were you not?”

“Indeed, it took so long to find you, I lost all hope. Imagine my joy when Cos arrived with word of your appearance on in mortal world.” A profound look of affection glimmered in his cobalt eyes. “I sent for you as soon as I was informed.” 

In retrospect, Irma still felt no sorrow or remorse at shuffling from the mortal coil. In fact, she was enrapt by the new realm she had ascended to. Was she truly the Goddess, Darmagi, reborn? A small chuckle escaped her as she pondered on the strange string of events. 

“Is something amusing, my love?” Rael’khan tilted his head at her like a giant puppy. 

“I suppose you could say that, honestly, I don't know what to make of all this, but if it means saving what remains of my village, then I am happy to be your eternal bride. Please sate your wrath with my body.” Irma bowed her head in reverence. 

“Sate my wrath? Do you think I was punishing your mortal village” Rael’khan asked with earnest curiosity in his voice. 

“Were you not?” Irma glanced up at the young God. 

Rael shook his head sadly. “I was alone for a very long time, waiting for you…” He began, recounting his sad tale.

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