Paul swayed on his feet while his vision blurred and faded. It was so hot in the cave that he was no longer capable of sweating. His skin was drying out and it felt like his throat was trying to dust. Any second now, Paul thought.
He waited and waited… and then waited some more. Only thing was, his vision started to come back. And he could swear that he felt a cooling breeze blowing gently across his face. The fire, which had filled the room, was now drawing back, its flames receding into the pit in the center of the floor. Paul could breathe deeply again, great big wonderful breaths of fresh air. His skin cooled and his heart rate slowly. And after a bewildering moment or two, Paul realized that he wasn’t dead. In fact, he felt fine. All his aches and pains were suddenly gone.
Vulcan stood before him, encased in bronze armor, a flaming sword in his right hand. His left leg was twisted and he rested his weight mostly on the right one. His face was scarred and his eyes gleamed from beneath bushy black brows. His arms were massive, the muscles distended to the point that he looked almost deformed. Worst of all, his lips were contorted into a sickening attempt of a smile.
“You demand my sword do you, human? I should kill you for such insolence. However, I shall stay my hand. Tell me mortal, what would you do if you had the favor of a god and all the power that comes with it?”
It’s like asking someone what they would do if they won the lottery, Paul thought. His answer had always been the same as everyone else’s: “What wouldn’t I do?” The only difference was that this was no fantasy. What would he do with unlimited power? And then the answer came to him:
“I would fight for all those people who have no one to fight for them.”
Vulcan stared at him for a moment and then he threw back his hideous head and let out a roar of laughter. He laughed so hard and so loud that the armor and swords scattered about the cave shook and dust fell from the ceiling.
“You would waste your time saving the little, useless, insignificant vermin that crawl all over this earth? I would make you a hero like those of old! Achilles fought for glory! Hector fought for honor! Hercules fought for fame! Forget the peasants! If you truly are worthy enough to wield my sword then you would use my power to defeat your enemies!”
“But, great Vulcan… I have no enemies”
Shaking his head in disgust, Vulcan speared Paul with a glance and said:
“Then you shall go forth and make some.”
Vulcan pulled back his arm and threw his sword at Paul. Paul’s body reacted of its own will and his arm stretched forth. Wrapping his hand around its hilt, he caught the sword and lifted it aloft. Again flames shot up the blade and this time it was encased in a blue fire.
To Be Continued In Part 5!
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