Summary:“I’ve been a Saint, Pope, hero, survived several Holy Wars and the end of the world as I knew it…and yet I’m still here."
He always watched the sunrise. The ritual had started so long ago even the man himself didn’t know how long he had been doing it. He would watch as the dark was driven back by the light, a sight that never failed to give him hope. It was a subtle reminder that he had lived through darkness and seen the light come once again, seen civilization arise from chaos.
“And I’m still here.” The man whispered to himself. “I’ve been a Saint, Pope, hero, survived several Holy Wars and the end of the world as I knew it….and yet I’m still here. And I have no clue why or how I‘ve managed to survive this long.”
Footsteps echoed from behind him. The man drew back into the shadow of one of the pillars that decorated the garden and watched as girl no more than eleven or so made her way into the open area he had been standing in. She turned toward the sunrise and stretched, giggling softly to herself. The man smiled. He knew her, one of the priestess-in-training for this secluded temple of Athena.
“Helia.” He called softly. The girl jumped.
“L..l..lord Shun! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to disturb you!” She stammered and backed away. “I’ll leave now, you can back too….”
“It’s alright child.” He said gently and smiled. “I was just enjoying the sunrise. Isn’t that what you came out here to do?” As he spoke he could almost hear the voice of a long dead friend teasing him. Geeze Shun, you sound like an old man!
“Then you are welcome to join me if you would like.” He said aloud. I am an old man now, Seiya. He though back, even though he knew it was nothing more than a memory.
“Lord Shun?” Helia asked hesitantly.
“D…do you come out here everyday?”
“Yes.” He turned back and watched the clouds change colors. “No matter what the weather, no matter what I’m suppose to be doing, I always make the time to see the sunset.”
“Why?” Helia sounded puzzled. “Why come out when it’s raining or cold? The sun will raise the next day, won’t it?”
“I come because each sunrise is different. It will not come again, so each one precious. You will only see a certain number of them in your life time. Each represents a day that can never be returned.” Helia looked unconvinced. Shun sighed. She was young probably hadn’t realized that she too would die one day.
“I also come up here to remember.”
“Remember what?” Helia titled her head and looked at him questioningly.
“My past and why I accepted Athena’s Gift in the first place……”
It had been a few years after his first Holy War. Saori had made a request to him right before his eighteenth birthday. The day had become branded in his memory.
“But I can’t….” He had stammered. “I can’t be the Pope…there are other Saints that could do it, aren’t there?” Saori had shaken her head.
“They don’t have God Cloths.” Athena had pointed out. “Even if I gave Kiki the post when he comes of age, he’ll always be just a gold Saint. People respect you five. They know what you’ve done and they respect you for that. They’ll listen to you.” She had turned to look at him them “And you are the only one who can become Pope, Shun. Seiya, Hyoga, and Ikki aren’t really Pope material. You can become a great Pope.” She had sighed at that point. “Shiryu has already agreed to take up the post Dohko had before he died. He will watch for Hades to revive.”
“We killed Hades!” He remembered protesting. She had given him a look.
“We destroyed his body.” She corrected. “He is a god. Poseidon doesn’t posses his original body anymore, and neither do I. He will come back Shun. They cycle cannot be broken that easily.” Her hands had tightened on the arms of the throne. “I wish it was over Shun, but it’s not. Hades will come again. But this time Sanctuary will be prepared.” He remembered her looking up and meeting his eyes. “Please lead Sanctuary. Become the Pope so that when the next Holy War comes, you can prevent the tragedy that happened this time. Please Shun accept this burden.” He hadn’t been able to refuse her.
“Alright. What do you want me to do?"
She had surprised him by giving both him and Shiryu her Gift. To only age a day when for every year that passed…..he had wondered why she would want two Saints to have it but had never gotten a satisfactory answer. He had taken up the post of Pope without complaint, even though Seiya and Hyoga had teased him about it. Ikki had been proud of him, though and that had meant the world to him then.
Years had passed….and he had realized that it wasn’t just the burden of leadership Athena had been talking about, it was the burden of time. The years may have been stalled for him and Shiryu but that wasn’t true for the rest of them. He had been forced to watch as his friends grew old, then died. Eventually even Athena had passed away.
“Why are we doing this?” He had asked Shiryu as the stood over the graves of their friends.
“Because it must be done.” Was all the Dragon Saint had said.
As the centuries past, Shun had raised and trained new Saints. Shiryu had taken students in too… But neither of them had found anyone that could claim the God Cloths.
Athena had been reborn and still there was no one to wield the God Cloths…. Then just as predicted Hades returned. Shun had lead his Saints into battle and done his level best to protect Athena but…she hadn’t wanted to be protected and the fights had been hard….and in the end even Shiryu had died but he, he was still alive. There had been a moment of sheer disbelief as he stood over the wreckage and realized that he was the only survivor. He had gone into the battle expecting to die, that was what had happened to all previous Popes….so why was he still here? He had done his duty hadn’t he? Why wasn’t he allowed to rest?
He hadn’t’ want to take up the mantle of Pope again. But he had been the only Saint left alive and he had been forced too. Once again he had lead Sanctuary, only this time everyone had looked at him in awe. They had treated him with the same respect and awe they did Athena. He hated it, not only because he knew the punishment that gods heaped upon mortals who claimed the to be gods, but also because he knew he didn’t deserve the praise. He was alive because he had been lucky, that was it.
Things had gone normally in Sanctuary for a century or so…..and then the world had ended. Or at least civilization had.
Shun couldn’t even remember what petty thing had sparked it anymore. All he knew was that one minuet the world was there….then it had gone mad. Countries had declared war on one another and before he could even think of anything the bombs had begun to fly.
Each Nuclear strike was answered with another until at last the bombs were all gone….and so was most of the world. A bomb has struck Athens. The city was leveled…..but Sanctuary was fine. Athena’s protection meant that weren’t even touched the radiation.
He tried to help however he could. Refugees began flowing into Sanctuary but there was no way they could help them all. It was worse once the nuclear winter hit. The same shield that was protecting Sanctuary from the radiation seem to be blunting the affects of the winter in the area’s around Sanctuary…..and people began to build. He was barely keep Sanctuary running…there wasn’t a lot he could do to help them. About the only thing he could do was protect them. Bandits and scavenger groups that tried to attack those who had settled in the shadow of Sanctuary found themselves facing the Saints. Even the weakest trainee was able to defeat small groups, and the Gold Saints could take out a small army if they put their minds too. Even without his help that mere margin of safety drew people to Sanctuary. Eventually the winter ceased and the survivors began to rebuilt. By then Sanctuary had acquired a small city around it. Most built in the same ancient Greek style that temples were in. Some of the younger generations started to worship the Greek gods again.
It was just as people were starting to real be able to live, instead of just merely surviving, that the Holy War struck again. He had to scramble to get the battle field out of Sanctuary and away from the fledgling city.
Yet the Specters had gone almost willingly.
“Hades doesn’t want to win it like this.” Radamanthys had admitted when they faced each other. “But the cycle cannot be stopped.”
Once again Shun had entered the battle expecting to die…and once again the hadn’t. The Andromeda God Cloth was undamaged still and still refused to let someone else wear it. None of the other God Cloths had owners either but Shun had hoped that someone would have come along who could lead the Saints.
At least this time there was one other survivor, the Taurus Gold Saint. Shun decided it was time for Sanctuary to have a new leader. He would still be in Sanctuary but he was tired of making all the decisions, tired to having to take responsibility for everyone. It was a new era and it was time for someone else to take up the reins of power.
“But….” The young man (too young really but no younger than he had been..) had said stunned. “You can’t really be meaning too…”
“I’ve been here too long.” He had replied. “It’s time for fresh blood. Your as old as I was when I became Pope. You’ll be fine. Besides….I’ll still be around.” The young man had relaxed then, and Shun had smiled sadly.
He had kept his word of course, but not in the way the young man expected. Shun had advised him, but hadn’t allowed the new Pope to depend on him. As the city attached to Sanctuary had grew, more decisions had to be made. When ever the new Pope had started looking to him for all the answers Shun had simply…disappeared. Centuries of living in Sanctuary meant he knew all it’s secrets. He would simply disappear into one of the hidden areas until the new Pope made a decision.
Then once the new Pope had gotten used to leading and the people of Sanctuary had accepted him Shun had simply…left. He was tired and wanted to rest, at lest until the next holy war. Many small temples to Athena had sprung up in the country. He had gone to one of the more isolated of these. The head priestess had been happy to receive a Saint of Athena, even if he had sworn her to secrecy. He had worked out how to teleport long ago. He would check on Sanctuary, but he would stay there. The world would have to learn to continue on without him.
I just hope I’m making the right decision. Shun sighed.
“Lord Shun?” The Andromeda Saint shook himself out of his memory.
“Are you alright?” She asked. Shun ruffled her hair.
“Fine, just thinking.” He stretched and sighed. “Now come child. I believe it is time for breakfast.”