In response to Daily post’s Crisis.
I will be writing these daily post responses from a character’s perspective.
Crisis to me is a state of mind. Some deem it impractical, involuntary, destroying-I don’t; I find it relishing. The state of when your primal instincts are pushed to a new level of awareness. In whatever scenario, whether you’re surrounded by your enemies, lost in the woods with a bear, or a pack of wolves. Whether you have lost your home, or escaping the reaches of wild-fire; it is a rich, empowering feeling. I understand for some it can be fearful, but as deceptive as it is, if you understand it, and adjust your body to it… it can become addictive.
Crisis, like when I was surrounded by soldiers, ruthless, ungrateful idiots who called me a monster, and tried to strike me down. I remember it well. There was something about it which allowed me to enjoy it. Though I felt in peril, and the need to protect my wife, my family, I found myself surrounded by those soldiers, and something inside me was released. It was though a part of me which I felt disgusted with came to the brim of existence. It was a crisis that could’ve been avoided. I was the one to walk away from that situation. Here is my story.
The Monster Within (Daps Story)
I spent the last five years running away from everything I knew. Five years… I fell to my hands and knees weeping my very soul out. I begged the gods for a quick death; a quick death was all I asked, but none came. I walked for weeks upon weeks, sluggishly stumbling through the snow like an old, pale-faced frost giant. When I collapsed, the real Ice Queen found me… Esmeralda was her name? No, Emerald. I think. She had beautiful green eyes, oh, I remember those eyes well. Those eyes were the ones I woke up to; after dying in the snow – or at least I thought I’d died. Her hair: thick, long, light brown. That shade, light enough to reflect the light of the fire that warmed us. I was sure I was dead, blood everywhere, absorbed into my clothes. Where did my clothes even go? Ah, I remember. She washed and repaired them, that’s right.
She gave me hope, a renewed sense of conviction. That being said, I’ll always remember her soft lips. Her kiss, untouched by the cold. She was the one who ignited my fire by telling me news of my Freya. My lady. Such a beautiful woman, not only for her looks. Some spoke of her being the incarnation of the Goddess Freyja, herself. Once I heard of her being pawned off to the brother of the prince that killed my mother, my eyes lit up with a boundless rage. I spent no more than a month training my body, my mind, and my soul. I left Emerald at her house to embark on a mission to save Freya. I owed her that much – ever since we were kids. She was the only girl who would go near me, never mind dance with me. I threw on my grey, laced tunic, and black leather trousers. I noticed Emerald watching me as I dressed, wrapping my legs with the cloth bandages that held my family seal in its stitching; surely a reminder of the shame I brought to my father. I stood in ankle-high boots and turned to face her. She handed me my father’s cloak, weaving words of wisdom that would stay with me for the remainder of my days, “You don’t have to wear this cloak. You’re not him. You’re not your father.” In her boldly spoken words my eyes uncomfortably glistened, expressing an uncontrollable emotion seeping from my heavy heart.
I was so sensitive back then, though that side never left me – it grew worse. You see, I had a monster inside me. My own shadow. It walked alongside me every step of the way, and I see it now I look back. My father gave it power. My father gave it rise. He taught me how to control it or did he hope to unleash it? My head shakes at the thought of it. Were they all that? So twisted, and broken that they wanted me to kill them all? I always felt this presence in my heart protecting me from such things like the first time my shadow reached for my body. Let me tell you the story.
Freya, and I were running from the soldiers hunting us down like wild dogs we ran through what seemed the heaviest of rains I had ever had the pleasure of enduring. My mind, lost. My body reacted on its own, empowered with adrenaline. My mind searched for answers, piecing puzzles together. Freya always noticed. I remember the way she looked at me when I caught her falling through the mud. My cloak covered in dirt, and heavy with water; stained with the blood of many men by this point. Though I had not yet taken a life in the name of revenge. I looked into those eyes, just like every other time watching the sea flow around them. I still remember those crystal blue eyes so clearly, so vividly, and just thinking about them makes my own eyes flow like a fresh water river. I clung to her bust, sliding through the mud myself. I found I held her away from the mud, I was protecting even when I, myself stood broken.
She saw the sadness in my eyes; and I watched her long, raven-black wet hair stick to her face, and clothes. I don’t quite understand why it fascinated me, perhaps it was that even with her hair stuck to her face I could only see beauty. She was the only person I had left. I felt my heart beat pound in my chest like the hammer of a blacksmith battering the hot, burning anvil. My breath weakened, my balance swayed. My hair fell in front of my face and I stood in the mud, Freya in my arms. I felt the touch of her hand on my cheek which brought me back to her, “I’m sorry you lost your father, my love.” She announced, swallowing her sadness with a strong gulp, and wiping the tears rolling down my face. How did she know? The rain covered my face, and with the sweat squeezing through my pores it should have been undetectable. Is this what love means?
I carried her through the rain, using my father’s teachings to keep my balance. My pupils must have seemed wide, or at least I think that was why Freya looked at me with such a tilted gaze. Whispers of my past showed me the way to a village I used to visit, I hoped I still had a friend there. Was he still a friend? I had no choice; my dearest Freya was in no condition to be slushing through the mud, and rain – unlike myself. I liked to think of myself as the hero… oh, I wish I could. I’m really sorry I couldn’t save myself. I couldn’t keep the part of me you longed to keep… could I?
After squelching through the softened earth, much like my calmed heart I reached an inn. I carried Freya inside and whispered the words that liars, pretenders and heart-breakers sing. I was good at that. While she rested and the rain calmed down I sought aid from my childhood friend Vincent, son of the Raven. I always used to win the little duels we had as children. I made him so envious of me; I miss those days. Again, tears ran down my face, crafted from the darkest trenches of my heart. Why can’t I understand my tears?
I knocked the door twice, and opened it enough to peek inside. I shouted, “Vincent!” The door creaked open revealing the great hall inside. Something came over me when I entered, like the memory of the future engraving the ink of the world onto my back. Alarmed, I tried to close the door and walk away but he had already heard me. In front of me stood a larger man than I. He still stood over me, even with a crooked back and bum leg. He looked like he had been through more of Hel than what I had been through. He invited me in, and we drank a horn of wine together. I explained my story, and he explained his. I hid details from him to protect Freya, of course. He seemed very welcoming and it was a nice change. I did notice his mood changing, however. I could not help but feel the tension of the room getting stronger. I noticed his focused eyes, stiffened upper-lip, cautious movement, restless leg.
I felt my empty scabbard now, more than ever. I left my sword next to Freya’s bed. How stupid could I have been. I bowed my head, ever so slightly, humbly thanking Vincent for the food, and then left to attend Freya. When I closed the front door of the inn, I heard a horse outside whinny, and the sound of galloping pursued. At first I silenced my mind and shrugged it off. I couldn’t leave, as Freya was asleep, and her clothes still soaked. She rested by the fire, and I thanked the inn-keepers. My father and I met them when I was young, before all this.
My mind opened up, my eyes slowed down time they moved so fast. My heart raced. I was studying my memories. The ones from my past and the ones of my future; counting the days to my death. You’d call me stupid for staying, wouldn’t you? My dearest Freya. I could have woken you at the first sign of trouble. I didn’t. You needed your strength. You do not have my endurance, nor my resistance to the weather. You’ve lead a soft life. Not like mine… Oh how I admire your innocence. My hands are coarse, scarred and filled with the blood of innocent people.
Whether directly, or indirectly, I have caused the end of my closest friends, my allies, and the people I’ve considered family. I ran, I always ran. I’m still the same fool I was when I left the breast of my mother. I should have listened to the warnings. I should’ve followed you, Lisett. You knew me, before we even met. Maybe things would have been different if you took me with you. I can’t change my path now, though. I’ve been set in clay. I’ve been re-heated, and re-worked too many times. My nails brittle, body cracking, pieces of bone chipping away from my arms and legs. I feel like that to say the very least; the innocent souls were growing each passing day; they are beginning to engulf my soul; soon, they will swallow me. I am sinking into a sea of nothing, becoming no-one, where nothing but darkness resides. I am okay, as long as I am not the cause of another person’s death. I cannot let anyone else die, I simply cannot run away anymore. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you, Dad.
My eyes closed for a moment. I fell asleep, one hand gripping my sword tight and the other holding Freya’s hand. Moments like these seemed perfect, euphoric even. The inn-keepers walked in and told us we had a bed upstairs. I thanked them graciously, took Freya upstairs, and we sat in our room. She always knew when I was strategizing, learning, overcoming my fears, unlocking doors, and walking through the corridors of my mind. She put her hands on my cheeks, and held my face still. She forced me to look into her eyes, and asked, “Are you afraid?”
Every bone, and every cell in my body tried to procure the strength, and guile to tell a white lie – to protect her. I announced with streaming eyes, clenched fists and a gulping tongue, “The only thing I am afraid of” She took me closer, interrupting me, “Is yourself?” she pulled my head to her chest, and clutched me tightly, embracing me in her arms. I couldn’t help it. There was nothing I could do. I wept. My eyes flowed like a mountain steam, snot shamefully dribbled out of my nose. My hands quivered, and shook. I felt weak, and I held this unbearable pain in my chest. It felt so tight like the blade of a knife piercing my lungs. I cried out, and I’m sure everyone in the inn heard me whimper. It was pathetic.
I fell asleep in her arms after almost an hour of humiliating myself. My dreams manifested in my mind. It produced an over-bearing feeling. I came face to face with a green eyed devil through my mind’s eye. He had the skin of a snake, face of a human, and the eyes of a fox? Perhaps it was too dark to tell. It scared me. It talked to me, scratching the walls of my corridors, my halls, my peace. It tormented my very foundations. It was so angry, bitter, and wild. Are you my anger? My hatred? My malice?
I gasped for breath and woke to not a single soul in my room. “Freya?”, I called out, but received no response, not even an echo to console me. I tightened my leg wraps that kept my body strong. The bandages on my arms were gone, revealing the long eight armed tattoo that stretched down the sleeve of my wrist, from my elbow to my hand. The engraving of scar tissue proved a dark memory. The gruesome sight of my bare skin, defiled by the magic of blood left a sickening taste in my mouth. I had used it, defiling my soul. It made me strong, too strong. It made me a monster.
I had no choice but to find Freya, arms bare, and scars vulnerable to others. Christians would crucify me for the path I walked. Most Nordic people would fear me for my knowledge, my ways of old, pre-dating the ways of the new world. She knew it would be dangerous for my tattoos to be shown. Why did she take them? I walked down the set of wooden stairs, leading into the main hall. I stood, aligning my arms with the oak banister that curled at the bottom of the stairs. I saw my bandages hanging over the fire, drying. She had to wash them at a time like this…
I knew what she would say, “They were dirty.” Or, “Someone had to wash them. You wouldn’t, would you?” That was her way, always demanding me be clean. I found myself giving a soft smile at the idea of her arrogant, cleanly ways. I waited on the stairs as she talked to the inn-keeper. He was nice enough, a short haired man, stubble hanging off his chin. He was an honest bloke. A family man, two children, a wife. This type of setting made me forget, forget about myself, my stained past.
I heard the sound of a galloping horse moving in the opposite direction to last time. Could it have been a messenger? I had hoped it was just a traveller. I looked outside and felt the darkness reaching out. It wanted me. I saw nothing but the wilting trees, and heard little else. I caught glimpses of the full moon hovering in the sky, breaching the soft skinned, floating defenders we call clouds. That was the moment. The moment it talked to me.
“Thomas… Thomas!” it spat out words, like a ghoulish revenant, “They are coming for her. They are coming. Let me in. I’ll save her.” I shook my head. Freya clocked it. My hands shook, I gripped the other hand tight. Tight enough to leave bloody marks in my palms. I closed my eyes, and chanted an old tune, recycled with time. “In our darkest days, our darkest nights,” the voice hauntingly spoke, “We will run the colour sanguine down the walls of the world of men.” I tightened my grip, pushing my nails inside my skin. I continued, “We shall overcome, for all to see, the power of our own devils.” I repeated this, and repeated it. Until the voices stopped. Freya came up to me and spotted the dripping blood.
“What are you doing!?” she shouted, so refined, so confused. I looked at her, and breathed so soothingly,
“It stopped.” I announced, wiping the sweat from my brow.
Her sorrow for my soul was true. She fiercely approached me, brimming to the rim with bravery, “You will tell me what in the name of our ancestors you were doing!” I smiled, I found this side of her so lovely. “Don’t you dare smile, what aren’t you telling me!?” she shouted with a crunched up brow and sharpened eyes.
“I’m running from my-” Every bone in my body stopped. A pain ripped through my head like no other I had ever experienced. Everything was quiet. I raised my hand to Freya and the world grew silent.
My eyes clung to something in the shadows. Something stood in the darkness looking back at me.
That was the moment I became something else.
I bore my teeth, witnessed my breath mark the window. I clenched my fists, and felt no pain. I looked at Freya, and even she took a step back. Had my eyes changed? I pointed to the top of the stairs, “We’re not alone, now hide!”.
My pupils widened, my eyesight focused. I felt it coming. What was it? What was this shiver, this sinister sensation, this pain creeping up my spine? The lights needed to die down. Freya needed a chance to hide. She shouldn’t witness this, not this – not now! Don’t be silly, let her see. Let them all see. I won’t, I can’t, I refuse! Let me out, I’ll protect her, save her. She’ll die here otherwise. Face it, you need me. No, I can’t. I stepped away from the window, feeling uneasy with this place. What was that smell? Oil? Burning? Oh no… Not again!
I grabbed the bucket of water and sprayed it over the fire dowsing the flames. Everything turned black. There was a flicker of a candle near the window but it was too risky to show my face now. I needed my shroud, this black fog. I could feel my shadow beckoning, tainting me, and pushing me to let it in. I couldn’t… could I? What would happen to me? Who would I become?
The door knocked.
I questioned everything, my existence, even whether this was a dream. My hands were bleeding, blood had covered my fingers, and I smeared it through the centre-point of my tattoos. I smeared it well, smudging it from my palm to my elbow. The ritual, complete.
I looked to the right of me, watching the world slow to a stop as the inn-keeper approached the door to answer. I felt Freya’s stare tickle the hairs on the back of my neck. What am I? To feel such things? I closed my eyes, but there was never a moment I saw more. I had a clear space around me. I clenched the handle of my sword, and grew ready.
I inhaled and everything disappeared.
The door knocked.
I exhaled, and the sun shone? No, too orange, too fiery. Torches.
The door knocked louder.
It was symbolic, a message. Was I to answer deaths door?
You’ll never protect her like this. Look at yourself…
Myself? I thought. I looked at my hands, only seeing the colour of sanguine coating my arms from my elbow, to the tips of my fingers. I let go.
The door opened.
I watched as the Inn-keeper fell to the ground. He fell into the table, knocking it further away. Why are my arms not moving? Why can I not do something. Move, Damn it!
I felt calm, my heart beat stopped. I tilted my head down, and breathed easy. Soldiers rushed in, surrounding me in a tight, ring formation. There were six of them. My father’s tactics. These ridiculous excuses for soldiers’ dare use my father’s tactics against me… they dare use THAT, his specific formation… the one where my body got broken, and bruised trying to defend, blindfolded against six of the best warriors this world had ever known…
Let me deal with them.
I stopped his words rattling around my head, I agreed, but I waited. My patience was at the precipice of exploding. My vision blurred with anger. Blood wormed its way around the handle of my sword, slowly slithering down the sides of my once white steel blade.
Then I saw her.
I saw that wretch. The woman who condemned us, the one who cast us down. When I saw her face… when I saw the flickering of the flames in her eyes, everything I knew was gone.
Finally, I am free of these chains… I shouted to my foe, I beckoned her, standing isolated in a circle of food, “Katherine! Why do you follow me so blind, so daring? Your reach, too far. You come for me? The boy you protected, practically worshipped. Have you come to beg for your life?” Disrespectful, disreputable, waste of life.
She threw her weight around, chanting nonsense. My ears turned off. My eyes closed. I grew weary of her screeching voice, demanding my head. She called a familiar name, “Vincent!”. My eye twitched. She noticed. He expressed a repugnant laugh, a bitter, and cold look. A large, fictitious smile, bearing his teeth in my direction. Oh how he looked at me with such distain, such malice. I warned them, “If you take another step…!”
“Or else what?” she taunted me. She kept my eyes focused on her, though my eyes were everywhere. I heard every single step he made. I saw the smirks sitting on the noses of these soldiers. These poor saps, pillars of mud that will melt away under my dirty boot.
I laughed, and I laughed.
I warned, and waited.
My hands still dripping with blood. They thought me weak.
Katherine’s voice hummed another command, “Kill him.”
The soldier to the right of me came rushing in, left knee vulnerable, right arm weak. He aimed for a downwards slash? At wood? Childs play. I let him come closer, and closer. Until he was but a step from cutting my throat. I let him swing. I moved towards him, and pirouetted around him. By this moment, the soldier next to him tried to protect him. It was a decent effort, I suppose. I reached for the dagger out of the first one’s boot. Open, vulnerable. Mistake.
I pulled it out and stabbed his sword at the base of the blade. I altered his direction. He spurted blood everywhere. I liked it. First soldier, dead. Second soldier, covered in the blood of his friend. I threw the knife to the other side of my circle blinding the soldier. The blade pierced his eyeball… Third soldier, dead. I smiled. I kicked the bodies of the bleeding corpse, and the second soldier to the floor. The second soldier fell into the blade, still standing out of the wooden floor, held up by a bloody corpse. He wouldn’t have died from just that; so I pulled my sword out, parried the sword of another, and pressed my boot on the back of him forcing his neck to slowly, slowly slice by the blade of the sword… dead.
When I lifted my foot they fell flat. The Inn-keeper watched me, horrified by my change. I enjoyed it. I laughed so hard. Clearly, they had enough? But they kept coming. So I parried the fourth, broke the nose of the fifth, dodged the six, cut the fourth’s arm, gripped the fifth’s throat – pulling him in front of the sixth’s blade, dead. I wasn’t satisfied. I quickly dropped the remaining two soldiers in a pool of blood.
By this point Katherine had ran outside. I followed, covered in the blood of my hunters’. They were stupid, weak, senseless and unworthy. “You are just like your mother” I vaunted, echoing back from the trees that stood around us. She screamed injustice, injustice, like a child that had just had her sweets stolen. I took another step closer until I left the darkness of the room and entered into the light of the standing torches placed outside.
“Why are you walking away? Don’t you want to play!?” I laughed, enjoying the look of peril she gave. I loved it. It excited me – made me lust for the sight of her blood splattered along the off-road. I had a chance to return her to the shit she belonged to. “Your life is forfeit, your soul, mine.” I stood in front of her gazing into her eyes reflecting a figure covered in pints of blood, soaked in hate, dancing with death. I whispered into her ear, “You wanted a monster? Come on then. Have your monster!”
I hovered my sword above her head. The light shimmered from my bright, white steel sword that I held in my left hand, in judgement. Blood dripping from the tip, onto her face, “Is there anything you wish to say before I take your head?” I saw the fear in her eyes, sweat pouring from her face. The sweet aroma of a bladder failing, “F-F-Freya…” she uttered in my ears. Then I heard it, so clearly, so loud. It echoed around the world and back.
I heard the wailing scream, “Thomas!” from inside; My monster and I stood aligned as one. We ran. Our eyes glance at the bodies we butchered but we do not stop to pay any respect. We skip steps, running up the stairs as we reach for Freya with every breath, every stretch. We reach the top and see Vincent strangling her near the window facing the river. We run our fastest. We bolted down the corridor like Thor’s hammer, roaring like thunder. My right fist cracked his cheek-bone, I felt it. My left – his ribs. My knuckles broke, but I did not stop. He defended against some but not all of my attacks. I fractured his nose, chin and shoulder bones. I chipped away at his arms, brutally, forcefully swinging my fists with a fury, that even the Gods not capable of.
He broke my relenting attacks and pushed me back. My knuckles broken, blood covered every inch of me. I stood there like a demon, no… I stood a monster. I couldn’t let Freya see me. She had fallen to the floor, gasping for air. Vincent aimed for my neck, squeezing my throat with his enormous hands. He threw me into the wall which tunnelled my vision. I had to close my eyes.
I knew what I had to do.
I did what I must.
Without a second thought, I acted.
I broke his guard, performed a hay maker, causing him to stumble towards the window. I threw myself into him, and launched him out of the window, myself included. I landed on him in the water, hearing one of his bones crunch as he hit the bank first. I hoped for the back, but perhaps the leg. We rolled into the water. We were swallowed by the river, a fleeting idea that once darkness claimed you; it would take you straight to Hel. I held onto him, at first; strangling him in the water, ensuring his last ounce of breath was taken from him by my hands. We both fell under the water, and my grip loosened. He drifted away, as did I.