The Abyss Also Gazes Into You
Ah, Partheno, the most beautiful of all the gods! Adored in the heavens for his charm and beauty, he is the paragon of gods, and your true champion… Or so you thought.
Before I began to read, I was aware that Partheno probably required a trigger warning of some sort. I knew this was going to be the most difficult of the stories I’ve read. This, because Partheno is, actually, twisted. In this case, it’s not an exaggeration of some harmless fun and games, no: there is a real abyss here, and as the MC, you walk right into it.
After the MC is attacked by the minions of the King of the Under Realm, she chooses beautiful Partheno as her guardian. The other gods react the way we’ve come to expect by now: asking her whether she is really sure she made the right choice. Their argument this time is that Partheno is a pervert. He is flirty as all get out, but not necessarily more so than Teorus, Ichthys, or Taxolouve. Also, at this point the other gods cannot know what darkness lies at the heart of Partheno, so their misgivings are probably what they always are: banter. We will take a moment to remember the rather unkind things they said about my beloved Zyglavis.
It is decided that the best course of action is for the MC to stay with Partheno in the heavens, where his powers are greatest and the divine wards prevent incursions from the nether realm. Partheno is the perfect gentlemen, looking after the MC’s every need, taking care of her while giving her the necessary space. He will tease her, occasionally, but it is understood as humour by both parties.
One day, while they are taking a stroll – Partheno understands that the MC cannot stay cooped up in his quarters indefinitely (shockingly, there’s no broadband internet in the heavens) – they are attacked by Crow and Servillah, the Dark King’s minions. This should be impossible, as divine wards should have hindered them from getting in in the first place. As Partheno tries to protect the MC, he takes a hit and goes down. Only Zyglavis’ timely arrival keeps the MC from being abducted. A crisis meeting of all twelve gods is convened; the fact that the wards failed indicates that they might have been tampered with: there could be a traitor in their midst. The MC is asked again if she wants to remain with Partheno. She trusts him, and wants to stay with him. He agrees to continue as her guardian, but for the sake of her security, he will take her to a secluded place no one knows about.
Cooped up together in the woods, the MC learns about Partheno’s tragic past. The isolation also fosters a sense of trust and intimacy between the two, and it’s not long until the MC discovers that she is in love with him. Since she knows that this kind of liaison is forbidden, she doesn’t tell him… until he confesses his love for her. Wrapped up in the bliss of their new-found feelings, the two go back to the house and become intimate. In short, everything works exactly the way Partheno planned it.
Because this is when Partheno betrays her.
All of this happens not even halfway through, but to tell you anything more would be a spoiler. Also, I put a spoiler warning on my Bottom Line, just to be on the safe side. The story might require a content warning. I found some of it a bit… difficult.
The gods of Punishments have readmitted Partheno into their midst, but the gods of Wishes are still avoiding him. While the MC and him go on dates on earth, he hasn’t taken her back to heaven since the end of the main story. When she asks him about it, he is rather evasive.
It turns out that the other gods, the palace gods who belong neither to Wishes nor Punishments, are openly hostile towards Partheno. And while he can handle this adversity, he doesn’t want to subject the MC to it. Not only because he doesn’t want her to be hurt, but also because he is afraid of still being a danger to everybody around him.
Ah, where to begin? The chemistry between the two starts out lovely. Anyone who has met Scorpio or Leon can only look on in awe at what a great guy Partheno is. It is only natural for the MC to fall in love with him. The problem is, obviously, that this is all a ruse. He has his act down perfectly, and she falls for it.
Real problems arise after Partheno shows his true colours. From that point on, it’s a pretty muddy ride. She understands his motives and immediately determines that the Partheno she met as a god was the real him, and that she must save him. He, on the other hand, remains set in his track for far too long, and it takes the intervention of the King of the Heavens to finally get through to him. There’s no such thing as meeting half-way: he switches from light to dark and back again, with little transition.
The Love Meter
Stunningly Blessed, of course. I am obviously attracted to the worst of them.
* * * SPOILERS * * *
Difficult. I liked the story, and at the same time, I didn’t. The twist was phenomenal, the betrayal unprecedented, but the denouement left much to be desired. Far too much time was spent on Partheno’s past, and far too little on his road to redemption. He attempted to kill the MC, after all, and waged an all-out war on heaven.
He could have come around far earlier than he did, because most of his own torment was based on a misconception. The truth was in front of him the whole time, and he’s not the kind of character to not figure things out. He could have saved himself far earlier in the story. As things stand, I understand his motives, but I wish he’d had time to truly repent. Well, I hear there is some of that in his sequel. I guess I’ll just have to give Voltage more of my money…
Ack. Whatever. I like him. Partheno himself is an interesting character that simply could have been handled better. Also: does he remind anyone else an awful bit of Loki?