A Wordplay short about exposition.
|My vision clears, and all I see are my own hands. They were always so steady, so willing to take up the tasks I set them. Now they tremble and quake with an infirmity that they should not be capable of. I can see a dozen gashes and cuts along them, all dripping lifesblood, but not near enough to account for the gore crusting and flaking up to my elbows.
For the first time, I look past my shaking hands and see the wreckage I had caused below. Pieces and bits of wolf litter the ground; had I not seen it myself, not gone to feed the thing with my cousin, I would not have believed it all belonged to the same creature. And then, I remembered.
The howl welled in my chest and I would not loose it. It threatened to burst open that boney cage in which I held it, but I swallowed it down. Then I saw his face and again my muscles were no longer my own. Its madness, its grief, its rage threatened to crack the midday sky. Or it would have, if the hammer and clash of battle around me had not all but drowned it out.
Unbidden and unheeded, my very first words had torn their path through me and though it beggared belief, I had found more.
“You bastard!” A word I had been well-acquainted with, especially by him. “You thief, you godsdamned slavering shit!” Breaths coming ragged now, I had to gather air. “He was mine, do you understand? Mine to make pay, mine to break, mine to kill. You stole my vengeance!”
No one had known my plan, on this last day of last days. I had uttered it to no one, helped by the fact that before today I had never uttered. Oh, how he had loved that; to abuse the bastard son that couldn’t talk back.
I don’t know why, but I found my hands grasping the remains of the fallen brute and hammering them with all the strength that I had left. Flesh and gore squelching with each blow. This must be what madness feels like.
“Gods, what an ugly shit you are.” Thud.
“I had to have been blind drunk to father you on something that hideous; I’ll bet she was just glad for once to feel something betwixt her legs.” Slam. Thud. Crack.
“What’s that boy? Raven got your tongue?” Crash. Squelch.
Gods, how he had loved that last one. He thought himself so clever. Everyone in the hall laughed, of course they did. You had to laugh when the All-Father made a jest.
I continue to lash out, but I feel my energy wane for the first time. There was something terrifying in that.
“Hah! The All-Father! All-Father to whom?” Never to me. Made to live in his hall, eat at his table, but never to be family. Never to feel the warmth of love or a real home. Some of my other kin had tried, but I had grown wild with anger long before this.
The rain of blows is less steady now. I can feel what I had thought to be inexhaustible stores of blackened hatred and rage drying up. Left now only with grief.
“Damn you creature, you were a bastard, like me. Did you not understand? I would have brought you your sire on a platter had you the words to ask.”
Tears, are these what I feel? They stream down my cheeks to fall and mingle with the ruby pools of blood below.
“Was your gullet so needy? Your hunger that bottomless? … Was mine cousin’s hand not enough? That you had earned, but this you took. Took from one who had no part in your imprisonment, who looked at you with pity and not fear.”
I begin to gasp; I had not realized how much of oneself was expended in simple speech. My arms hang limp at my sides, I have not the energy.
“I suppose I should thank you. If there were anyone left to record this, I would be thought a hero and not the villain I had planned to be. Rest Fenris, I am sorry you had to die to slake my hatred, my vengeance.”
I blink; everything has become brighter, but as if lit from below, not above. I look round to find that the very ground has kindled, even through the slickness of blood coating its every surface. They had said he would do it, the coward.
With no energy left to move, I feel the flames lick at my feet and sides. With the outrush of my last breath.
“Let the world that comes after be better than this. Anything but this.”
The pain comes and my vision bleeds to white. Millennia may have passed, or perhaps a handful of seconds. Without opening eyes I wasn’t aware I possessed, I see fields of green and two familiar forms, men larger than life. No. … It isn't possible. Can it be them?