Addictive Rimeshade (9 page)

BOOK: Addictive Rimeshade
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I invited him inside my home! I slept with the devil!

If I ever needed proof of being cursed it's staring me in the face right now, it's gnawing through my soul, riddling me with insecurity and the overwhelming desire to wither into a ball and weep.

Cut me some slack, give this girl a break! Fate you're a miserable sodding fucker and a half! I loathe you for assuming my life is yours to court hurt.

This is what you get when you take pity on a man in the rain. No good deed goes unpunished. That should be my creed. In fact I should have it tattooed on my bottom lip and my right hand, so be warned that I'll bite and slap when you fucking yank my heart out and stomp on it.

The dangerous glint becomes the glare of imminent rage, his lips perishing to flat hard lines, his voice a snarl of wrath, saying,  “And therein is the problem, Lara. I've had pity, I've been given plenty of it. I've had ridicule, I've been persecuted, I've even known charity, so when will a woman deign to love me, to offer more than compassion and pity!”

He spits the word
like a lightning strike sent to sever my spirit.

Too hyped up to twig, I shout back, “It's hard to love someone when they take you on a joyride through the underworld on the creature who likes to eat live bait! I know all about snakes and I know they don't eat the dead! What a perfect companion you have down here in the bowels of hell, you don't even have to find the escapees, your ginormous warden will do that for you! No one will ever flee their cell knowing
out here waiting to devour them!”

He sighs, shrinking again, as if my anger is having the physical effect of diminishing him. Now back to the size of the man I shared my food with, who I almost broke bread (and the bed) with, he mutters, “This is hell. Hel, to be exact. She's my daughter.”

Fuckohara, I can't cope. This is too much!

Lara,” he purrs, employing persuasion, “Please don't be so tense. You're jumping to conclusions. Don't do that. I don't need any more unjust judgements cast on my family. That serpent is the world snake. He protects the world, all of it. Why does everyone forget that fact? Odin threw him into the sea, hoping to drown him, the reasons too numerous to mention right now, but suffice to say it's foretold that Thor will die when he's bitten at the final battle by my serpentine son. He will not harm you. He is my son

Sagging, my knees caving until I'm sitting on the floor using the doorframe as a functioning spine, I feel sapped by this place, by his 'family'. I'm trying to make sense of falling through the scrying mirror, but I'm coming up empty.

Dropping to his haunches, he rubs my leg, speaking in a soft tone of reassurance, “This will all be familiar to you because the tale never waned. It was adopted, perpetuated, but the foster parent chose not to preach truth but instead continued where Odin left off. Do not fear Hel, it's a place of peace, and my daughter is a loving woman. She even saved my nemesis. Odin has his reasons, none of them are altruistic. Instead his fear became a contagion which he passed on to mankind. He's their creator, but you, you can see through the illusion. I know you can. I have not harmed you, and neither will my children. You are becoming who you are.”

I'm becoming who I am?
I've always been who I am, I can't be anyone else, and I refuse to be a plastic Stepford for anyone. I work with the dead to avoid having to dress up for colleagues approval, foregoing make-up and worldy trappings which condone the mask of falseness. I'm fucking authentic! Don't speak shit at me and expect me to fall for it!”

Launching out of his crouch, his angry footfall thunders around the empty chamber, “Damn it, Lara! Don't you get it? You are æsir! I brought you here to protect you, to educate you of the truth before Ewan comes to steal you away.”

Fear trickles acid down my spine, the white room washing weak and wavering for a moment. “Who is Ewan? Why does he want to take me away?”

For what purpose? Why the hell am I a commodity men seem to think they can exploit and control?

“He is Odin's grandson. The winter of swords has begun, they come to destroy my children, and myself, in order to save Odin from his fate. The signs have come to pass, but they forgot about you until Ewan found your sister. She's now a giant living in the Umbra caves, handfasted to Ewan
, bringing war to my door. I won't fight them, Lara. I never did. If I die the truth dies with me, but you and me, we're the same, we're both æsir, which means we may live to suffer an eternity because we cannot perish.”

What the hell is essir?” I snap, still dizzy with the thought of some strange weirdo coming to claim me as his effing property, or something equally deranged.

Holy. Immortal. A god.”

It's so absurd I laugh scorn, “Ha! Yeah, right. If I'm a god then Steven and Marcy would be dead!”

His eyelids narrow, stating with icy precision, “Soon, s

ss. Very soon they will be.” Hunching his shoulders, shoving his hands in his pockets, he abruptly turns back to scrutinize me, “Would that be enough proof for you? I doubt it, but if it makes you happy I'll have their heads brought to you.”

Shuddering, the thought making me even weaker, I shake my head, “God no. I never want to see them again, not in this life or the next, nor the afterlife, nor in heaven or hell or purgatory or Sheol, nor in Asgard, Midgard, or Utgard. Never, you hear me?

So be it,” he smiles, but it's cautious. Gesturing as an afterthought to the room we're in, muttering, “Welcome to the underworld, also known as Hel.”

For the first time I really look at the environment, so distracted was I with a mother of a serpent patrolling the giant burrows, that I find myself amazed. It's white, the walls assembled with what looks like alabaster petrified roots. It's gorgeous!

“Hell is white?” I laugh, strength finally filtering into my limbs with the injection of amusement.

Leug nods, smiling too, for real this time, “It is apt. We are creatures of light, we are glorious, but the color white is not a loving hue, it's a mask for the nefarious. It is appropriate for the underworld to mirror the region of a tyrant and his realm of inequity and suffering.”

My breath comes calmer now, the dizziness abating. Tilting my head, still resting my elbows on my knees, I frown, “Are you saying Asgard is a bad place?”

Half shrugging, he turns his back to me, pacing across the chalky floor. The room is utterly empty, like an antechamber for receiving souls.

He speaks, and it echoes with the strength now in his voice, “Odin is the ruler of Asgard. When he cast me out of Asgard, he murdered my son Vali and tied me up with his entrails, binding me for torture, naked and beyond grief at the pointless death of my child. Then he turned Narfi into a wolf, who was Vali's brother. He subjected my son to the murder of his brother and to witness the torture of his father. Odin had his wife Skadi hang a viper
above me in the cave, the venom dripping into my mouth, causing me untold suffering, my trauma so severe I shook this planet with months of apocalyptic earthquakes. I hadn't yet learned to harness my godly power, so my pain transferred to the environment. Then to add insult to injury he banished Jörmungandr to the bottom of the ocean, he tied Fenrir up from the time he was a baby, trying to break his spirit and get him to vow complacency and allegiance to Odin, the cruelty he was subjected to beyond evil tethered to Gjöll's rock in Niflheim in the ice and freezing cold as an infant! They tied me up so I couldn't rescue him, sadism visited on a babe just because he's my blood and foretold to set the balance to rights, and he threw Hel down here with me, banishing her from Asgard too. It was only due to Odin's wife, Skadi's kindness, that I survived the ordeal. Does that sound like a good guy to you, Lara? Does Odin sound like the loving god he's remembered as? Tying me up with the intestines of my own offspring, after I gave birth to his steed, after I spent my entire life desperate to gain his approval and love? He cannot love, he's devoid of it. He's the god of war, the planet chooses to ignore that part of his history.”

Arching both eyebrows, I blurt, “You gave birth to a steed? Er....? Good lord, you should write memoirs.”

Turning fully to face me again, a good twelve feet away, his smile is disarming, “Yes indeed. I am perhaps the only male in existence who knows how it feels to be female. I am a shapeshifter, I can be anything I choose, and for him I chose to be a mare, to give birth to the eight legged steed that carries Odin across the skies, for his spiritual hunt. Sleipnir is his name. I gave Odin everything, including my own child, yet the threat I posed was too great for him to ignore. He has farsight, he knows the future, so despite me being ignorant of it at the time, he still persecuted me. I was innocent and he ruined my innocence. So I played my part, I became the mocker of the gods because I understood these gods are fallible, their leader especially. His heaven, his Asgard, it's a hierarchy. There are many gods, yet he refuses to consider any of them equals. He is so afraid of his fate that he created Valhalla where he assembles and trains an army in their afterlife, for Ragnarök. Even though his warriors fell in battle to honor him, in order to achieve the esteemed position to go to Valhalla after death, snared in death by the Valkyries, he doesn't ever let them into Asgard. He expects them to die for him again, fighting me without even allowing them to reside within the haven of the gods. Heaven is
, your version of it, especially for a warrior. There is no honor in dying twice for a vain god so afraid of one male. Me. An army against me, how fair is that fight?”

Shaking my head, I don't understand, the words are too foreign. “What is

It's armageddon, the apocalypse, it's the Norse word for the end of the gods reign. It's the greatest war in heaven to be witnessed by the earth. It literary translates as
the fate of God
. And Odin is terrified of his fate.”

You're right, this sounds very familiar,” I nod. At least he puts it into context. And he's right about Odin too, he sounds like a brat regent hiding behind the might of his men instead of battling by employing his own cunning. He sounds awful.

The room is whiter than oriental jasmine, the fragrance just as sweet. And then I remember, white is the ancient color of mourning, it is the shade of grief. This is indeed hell. I can understand why Leug would mourn. I can't even imagine that kind of suffering, and I have known a fair portion of it myself, intimately.

He nods, watching me with his wise all encompassing perception, “Ironic, isn't it? Your tales recall heaven as being a place that is bright and white, your god wears the robes which lack color, and you throw stones at the devil for wearing black. Step back a few thousand years and you are looking at an entire realm of suffering, yet now you call it heaven. Back before the modern era mourners all wore white. Heaven, Asgard, is not a tranquil place of peace. And I would know darling, I was fucking born there.”

Getting thirsty, I push up off the floor, strolling to the middle of this vast empty room which has a ceiling as high as a skyscraper, asking, “I never thought of god as evil, just... missing. I don't really buy into the love of god crap because I was an orphan exploited by a sociopath. But I considered my anger personal. People need god, they need to believe in something.”

Leug's face twists bitterly, his voice harsh with anger, saying, “Reverse psychology is a fool's tool. You were raised believing god knows your lies, why? He'd have no reason to employ such propaganda unless he'd lied to you first. He assumed you were as evil as he, as flawed as he because he is mankind's maker, so he turned it around and blamed mankind for all misery. It is reverse psychology. Only the guilty assign blame.”

No, that was the devil,” I argue.

Says a book, says the scribe, whose scribe? His! Think about whom that benefits. Who is your devil if not him? He's master and inventor of slaughter and war. The key of truth fits first inside a keyhole. Looking through a keyhole is a very limited view, but when you unlock the door are you ready for what it will reveal to you?” snaps Leug.

But god is god. He created everything, we have to acknowledge that,” I debate.

Leaning his shoulder against the wall, he says, “What kind of a god creates a creature, and then expects it to feel like you owe him? You owe him nothing, not allegiance and not thanks. You didn't ask to be born, that's all on him. If anything mankind should be blaming him for their woes, because he's the bastard who put them in this position. Life is a result of actions not of the child's doing. A child shouldn't have to thank a parent for life. It wasn't your decision, it was theirs. Life is hard, it's cruel, and it's merciless. Thank your parents for casting you into its net to be chopped up in the canning factory, a factory god made when he created the race called mankind. Made to serve his ego.”

“But religion serves a purpose–”

He cuts me off, arguing, “The pope doesn't care about your soul, he cares about the papal purse. It's a game of smoke and mirrors begun by the maker of mankind. And he was cruel, sadistically so, to his creation. Had his father treated him so, none of us would exist. He's a brat who's allowed to break his own toys, and that toy is mankind.”

BOOK: Addictive Rimeshade
2.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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