Chapter title: This fall I don't know if I survived
A bright light blinded Meliodas as he sluggishly pried his eyes open. His body felt strangely sore. Painfull even, which, he was happy to say that he hadn't really felt in centuries. Not to this extent, anyway. Usually, it wouldn't be much worse than a dull aching in the part of his body where the injury was located, until inevitably, he would transform into his demon form, patching his body back up for him. If he was incapable of doing that, the sunrays of Elizabeth's Goddess healing ability would take care of it shortly after.
Was this the sensation he had convinced himself that he missed so greatly? He had to re-think that.
But that would have to wait. The first thing on the agenda was to figure out where in the world he was. Or, what might be more accurately, out-of-this-world, he thought, as his brain finally was able to connect with his body, letting him prop himself up on one elbow and shading his eyes from the intruding brightness with his other hand.
The room he had waken up in was grand. Likely some kind of foyer with white and black checkered marble flooring, bronze walls with golden details. Human-sized paintings of godlike figures decked the walls and the room was filled with luxurious furniture. A staircase was located in the middle of the room, leading up to a second story, out of sight from where he was sprawled out on the floor.
The staircase also held the answer to where the offending light source came from. At first glance, it appeared to be coming from the large stained glass windows at the wall where the stair parted ways into two different directions. At a second glance though, it was clearly illuminating from the beautiful, if not slightly intimidating, woman who stood three steps up.
Meliodas lowered his head back to the floor, fighting off a spinal headache. When he was finally fairly certain that he wasn't going to throw up, he raised his head again, squinting his eyes to rid himself of the double vision and locked his eyes with the celestial beauty.
She was tall, at least 5'10, with bright, light hair. It almost seemed silvery, sparkling graciously in the shimmering of the gloss that radiated around her and enveloped her shoulders. Just like a certain girl he had known for a couple of years now. Her curvy figure was gracefully draped in an elegant white dress, flowing seamlessly around her and held in place by golden, braided bands, gently tracing her dress all the way to the floor.
Meliodas felt a flicker of familiarity. Almost like a dèja vu, coming and passing too quickly to knowing for certain if it was real or not, looking into her splendid copper eyes.
His own emerald green, trickster gaze lowered to the ethereal woman's bosom for a quick assessment, before blinking rapidly and rubbing his eyes in a long rehearsed aversion, returning to meet her eyes with the innocence of the child he knew he looked like.
“Yo,” he greeted merrily, trying and failing to push himself off of the floor. His elbows wouldn't fold far enough behind him, for him to put his palms to the floor, without the blood in his head seemingly wanting to burst out of his ears, making him dizzy and nauseous and he imagined he could literally taste his spine.
“You're injured,” she noted. It was more of a statement than a question. Her expression remained as stoic as it had been for the few minutes he could remember being there. He couldn't be sure if this was a friendly visit or not.
“It would appear so,” he answered her chipperly, while the searing pain of what could only be a stab to his lower back screamed for attention. He hid his face in his arms once more, gritting his teeth and flinching, unable to keep from giving the wound exactly what it wanted.
What had happened?
He remembered waking up at the boar hat like any other day, snuggling his face to Elizabeth's back as she sighed softly in her sleep, before he got up, got dressed and went down to make some coffee.
Ban was fast asleep, hunched over one of the tables as usual with a half-full jug of ale still clutched in his right hand. Diane, luckily remaining under Merlins shrimping spell, was cuddled up against King on Chastiefol by one of the windows. King looked at Meliodas with terrified, bloodshot eyes, frozen in fear of waking her by any slight movement. Meliodas had chuckled, giving him the thumbs up as he entered the kitchen to continue his quest for caffeine.
Nothing else came to him. It was clouded by a black fog that he couldn't see through, no matter how hard he squinted at it. The confusion on his face must have registered at the tall woman, as an invincible string seemed to tug at the creek of her mouth, forcing it into a reluctant and crooked smile.
“I've taken your memories, dragon sin of Wrath- Meliodas.”
So, they had met before, then. He should probably apologize right away.
“Oh, well, that's a bit inconvenient, miss...” Nope, no name, so he tryingly added, “...iss?”
She closed her eyes with a humorous smile on her lips, folding her bat-winged sleeves in front of her and walked the few steps down the stairwell.
To Meliodas chagrin, he realized she was standing barefoot in front of him. Even if he was a 3.000-year-old demon, unable to age by the curse put upon him by his father, he felt a little bitter that he couldn't have stopped aging after he had grown to a somewhat more desirable size.
At least, so he could reach the dishes at the higher shelves in their kitchen. Ban, that stupidly tall son of a bitch, had taken a liking to lift him up so he could get them for himself, mockingly exclaiming an “uuup-si daisy”, whenever he did. A blow almost harder than having to ask him to get them for him in the first place. He wasn't a particularly prideful person, which a series of up-the-skirt incidences had clearly proved and left no doubt about. But still, even he had to draw the line somewhere.
“I'm sorry, I can't recall your name,” he finally admitted.
“Meliodas, that part of your memory, I have not taken,” she said wistfully, coming to a stand only a few centimeters away from him.
“I know. Someone else did, though,” he chuckled, winching noticeably at the burning it left in his lower back. “I'm afraid there's a lot I can't remember anymore.”
“That should be understandable. It's about 1.500 years since we last met, after all.”
If that was not a hint, he wouldn't have known one if it had punched him square in the jaw.
Meliodas wracked his brain for the answers. From what he had gathered up to this point, specifically from her ability to extract from his memories, this woman must be either a mage like Merlin or a Goddess, which was more likely. Especially considering the crew he surrounded himself with at that time, half a lifetime ago.
Half of his lifetime, anyway.
But wait, a Goddess? That could only mean...
“Panacea?” he asked in slight disbelief, looking up at her unblemished face that looked as pure as it had a kiloyear ago. “I don't understand. Why did you bring me here?”
Panacea lowered herself to one knee, lending him a hand to get back up. When he wasn't able to reach for it, she propped herself down behind him instead, carefully turning him over and placing a hand under his knees and his shoulders, lifting him up bridal style.
“Oh, thaaat's degrading,” he uttered as his face scrunched up in pain, unwillingly being carried by the unfaltering arms as they started up the stairs. “Where are we going?”
“To my chambers,” Panacea answered, ignoring Melioda's expressed of embarrassment. “You should lay down for a bit. We'll discuss everything after you rest.”
“If you would just heal me, we could save ourselves some time,” Meliodas suggested with his never-faltering positivity. He was sure that there was a good reason for her to take his memories and bringing him here, but being in the Goddess Kingdom of Theòtita, he was unable to use his own demonic powers of healing, which left him at the mercy of his genetically-caused enemy, while being in such a reduced state of health.
“As I said, we'll discuss everything later.”
Meliodas decided to accept the delay. He did feel exhausted, and from what he could remember, the Goddesses had some excellent beds.
He was asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. These Goddesses had a few things figured out. He could only imagine that said pillow had been stuffed with angel feathers. If it was the high quality of it, or if it was plain fatigue from the pain of his injuries, wasn't really important at the time. Even if it hurt to lay on his back, and even if he was in one of the most vulnerable positions he could possibly be in, he couldn't help himself from descending into a deep, fever-induced sleep.
Luckily, the sleep was dreamless, as far as he could recall. The last thing he wanted, was for Panacea to witness the way he tossed and turned by the horrid dreams that usually shattered his mind, tearing him away from the comfort of his bed who he shared with his beloved Elizabeth and throwing him back through 3000 years of losing everyone he had ever loved. It was surprising how significant the number was. He was a demon, after all.
When he woke up, the quilt had been pulled over him and a cold cloth was placed on his head. Strange, he thought. Why wouldn't she just heal me?
He felt compeletley over the novelty of being cute and sick at this point. Mostly, because of the lack of slightly gullible nurses who would brush their breasts across his own chest while tending to him, or bending over while cleaning up the glasses of water, he would accidentally knock over from time to time.
'I'm kind of a sleaze bag, aren't I? …Oh, well.'
He pried his eyes open, wanting to rub the sleep out of them, but his arms felt even stiffer after staying still for... how long? He looked around the room, searching for a clock, but all he could find to give him any indication of time was the window. Which, truthfully, wouldn't tell him much, as the sun never set in this place. They didn't even have the same sun as they did in Britannia. Their sun was called Chrysì Theà- Golden Goddess, and it would never go down.
Time went by differently in the Goddess realm than what it did back in his world. An hour in this place would be felt like a minute at home. Well, actually, his home was somewhere entirely different from Britannia. There, it was the other way around. An hour in Brittania was a minute in, well, Hell.
Even so, he knew he would be able to tell the time from where the sun was located in the sky, even if that didn't help him much, as he had no idea where it was when he came here.
In the end, he gave up on his quest for the concept of time and let himself drift back to sleep.
To be continued.