written yesterday, 11/10
This time I had no shame and I picked up a jog, which turned into a sprint as his taunting resumed in the sound of laughter and of rustling in the undergrowth beside me. My breath came shallow and ragged as I ran, dodging around trees that appeared jaggedly in the flashes of lightning. The rain began to pour down upon me, soaking me to the skin within moments—my theory was initially that the storm had intensified, driving more of the rain further through the trees. But upon looking up, I noticed that the canopy had thinned appreciably, and that now I ran through a thin smattering of trees. Then I noticed that the black wolf raced along right beside me. He turned his face to me, a mocking grin struck across his canine visage.
The moment I realized this, the trees ended and we went pounding out into a valley filled with tall grass, flattened by the wind. I reached out and the ground exploded before both of us. I was running too fast and too hard to exercise too much control over the action. The wolf and I went hurtling backward. I saw him hit the ground on his back as I dislocated my shoulder in the collision. Biting back the cry that threatened at my throat, I crawled to my feet and hit him again with a blast of fire, before reaching down and seizing the wolf by his scruff. It quickly turned into a handful of Razi’s matted hair.
I dragged him to his feet and then off his feet, so that I could stare into his dark eyes. The fear in them pleased me in a visceral, savage way that I had not felt since killing Vandr. What had I felt after I’d killed Vandr? I couldn’t remember, not quite. I lifted my other arm, my eyes going a little wild at the pain that screamed through what felt like every nerve in the appendage. My mouth opened in a pant after I thought I’d fought back the urge to vomit enough. Razi’s eyes moved to my lifted hand and in the moment before I closed my fist I watched his fear turn to panic, watched his mouth open in supplication.
I closed my fist and his voice fell silent. His mouth opened and closed as he struggled to draw breath. It seemed to go on for several minutes, this process of him suffocating—but I cannot be sure. His eyes rolled back into his head, the whites showing as he died. I dropped him onto the ground and allowed my arm to drop back to my side, once again battling back the bile rising in my throat.
I looked out across the valley, lit by lightning and torn by the wind. I did not know where to go from here. I did not feel—anything. I wondered if I had, in fact, felt this empty after slaying Vandr. Somehow I doubted it. Somehow I didn’t care.
I’d had enough of symbolic vengeance. I’d had enough of the gods and their trifling in others’ affairs. Razi had orchestrated All Names’ slaying at Huna’s behest. This knowledge made me feel tired.
I sat down where I’d stood and Drex emerged from the jungle, only he was not alone—I watched with dead eyes as Nosturi and Kurki stepped out from behind him. They seemed to practically gleam in the darkness, and both of them fixed me with their passive and impassive blue eyes.
“You start throwing fireballs at your friends, you get a motherfucking god intervention,” Drex said, looking darkly at me.
I laughed, and it sounded dry even to me. “I do not need an intervention, my friends. My work is done.”
Nosturi looked away from me and down at Razi’s still form. After I had killed Vandr, he had seemed relieved, albeit a little guilty for feeling such. This time he just looked sad.
“I’m sorry,” I said, and I surprised myself by meaning the apology.