I’m up alone in the quiet house. The massive turkey is in the oven. All the cooking is prepped and ready to go in the fridges (it took two – I’m very grateful for the spare fridge in the garage!). In a matter of minutes last night, my company helped me peel and mash about 15 pounds of potatoes. The only thing I have left to do (until the turkey comes out of the oven) is make the roll dough today. I was supposed to do it last night and let it rise in the fridge overnight, but I was too tired. I’d been on my feet constantly since about 2:00 pm yesterday.
But I did have time to continue Gregar’s story. I’m moving into the part that I wrote a year or two ago, deleting sections and adding new parts, but the end of this short is in sight.
NaNoWriMo count: 32,676
I jerked awake screaming. Shaido reared and neighed beside me, a hand’s breadth from my skull, and I wanted to throw myself beneath his hooves and let him break my body into a thousand pieces.
Kae’Shaman placed a hand on my shoulder, drawing my gaze to him. He sat beside me, his ageless dark eyes gleaming in the moonlight. Sympathy and regret shone in his eyes, but not recrimination. Not like I deserved.
“You were right,” I whispered, my voice ragged and rough as though I’d been screaming in torment for days. “I killed her.”
“It was only a Dream, Gregar.”
“A Dream.” I laughed, a wild, pained sound of an animal. “I killed in a Dream at your beckoning just nights ago. She’s dead.” My voice broke and tears poured down my face. “She was na’lanna. My heart knew her. Yet I still killed her.”
“She is not dead.” His voice echoed with surety, his gnarled hand fierce on my shoulder. He shook me, making me look back into his face. “I know it, Gregar. The last light of this world still lives.”
Bewildered, I searched his gaze, afraid to hope. If I had not killed her…then I would ride to Vulkar’s Mountain this very day and throw myself into the Three Hells. I refused to live another night if I could end my life and save hers.
“She is very strong in the Dream. It will take more than your rahke to kill her there.”
“But…” My head throbbed in agony and desperate hope. “My rahke killed my mark. The danger he presented was great enough that you sent me through the Dream to eliminate him. As soon as I awoke, I felt that Vulkar’s Call had been completed.”
“Aye. You killed that Death Rider according to Vulkar’s will. But you did not kill her. It was not Vulkar’s will for her to die, let alone by your hand, because He knows your heart. She knows your heart, too, Gregar, and her power in the Dream will protect her. Your love will help shield her for a time, though not forever. Other Death Riders will not have their love to keep her safe.”
“I can’t bear it. I can’t dream about killing her every single time I close my eyes, even if you say she’s unharmed. That dream…changed me.”
With my eyes closed, I could feel her, faint and far to the north, but I knew I could find her. I felt her Call, that irresistible urge to ride straight to her and drag her into my shadowy embrace. And then what? Would I kill her as I’d done in the dream?
In the darkest, most shameful secret place in my heart, I acknowledged the truth. Aye.
Shuddering, I pulled away from Kae’Shaman and leaped on Shaido’s back without halter or saddle. “I’m Shadowed.” Corrupted. Tainted. Murderer. Not just a killer for Vulkar any longer, I would kill an innocent woman–whom I loved!–as well.
“Aye,” Kae’Shaman replied, sadness lining his face. “But not Shadowed enough to abandon Vulkar’s will.”
“Not yet.” Grimly, I signaled Shaido with the tightening of my knees. He galloped through Camp without need of reins. He knew exactly where to take me.
Straight to the Three Hells, may my soul burn in eternity.