Chapter 3: Verden
G r a c e
By waking up in the middle of nowhere it all begins—so many stories and legends.
And maybe I’m just like them . . .
Or am I not?
Or it’s merely one more extended delusion?
The sound of clipped wings caused by some breed of bird was detected while the footsteps of unknown beings were marching across the solid ground, coming closer to a place where I am. I just stood up there with closed eyes like some kind useless toy left to decay on the edge of time—like someone bewitched my whole existing, but my mind was the only thing that I had an influence on, even if I didn’t know where I am.
Someone’s constantly cries circled around me in despair for the sly tendency. Slowly their horror voices spread creepily beneath my pale skin that didn’t feel either that hard wind ruffling white curls around my face nor the winter’s freeze that showed its appearance as I inhaled it sharply through the mouth.
But then, something foreign occurred. This bane inside me, it just vanished, like that. . .but something burst out of me, it felt like mirror’s shattering on thousand pieces sending my soul ripped apart, evading away from moving day’s light.
I instantly opened eyes as I perceived my energy was coming back, weak but strong at the same time, quickly rising up from the bottom of my weak inner walls, while these frightful wailings were beginning to become louder, stronger and nearer. I sense them, their souls are alive, but without any trace of life.
Finding the strength in my limbs and turning drastically, I uncontrollably tried to go away from this spot as the snowflakes were falling slowly encompassing forest’s wild carpet while blurring my grieving inflamed orbs that were peering out warily in each distance that comes into my grasp. I ran and ran, not pausing for a second as they trailed behind me and their loud screams with a mix of rush wind, gushing the old leaves as they moved vastly superior, making my heart beat even quicker, but when I glanced back at them—I oddly meet with nothingness in front of me.
They are not here.
Weird and empty space is left in front of me.
“No one is here,” I speechlessly sniffed catching the teardrop that appears from the corner of my left eye; craving for an escape from this terrifying place as this loneliness on this large transcendental made me even more afraid. Afraid of them and.... afraid of myself.
Feeling like I was racing hour upon hour and not finding an alive soul, I subsequently stopped later. I just stood without reason on cold pavement of woodland, closing my eyes in exhausting and gasping sharply this breezy air in lungs as I rested my hands on my worn-out knees. They are not heard anymore. Joy. But-
Wait, I feel...tired?
Ignoring this though, I delightfully opened my eyes as I didn’t hear those creatures anymore. But when the image extended beneath my sight left me in dread.
“Where am I, for Heaven’s sake?” I confusingly asked this question aloud not hoping to be acknowledged.
It’s the frozen lake.
In the middle of the never-ending lake, I withstood by the frozen environment while observing the cold ice around me as the gloomy haze swings swiftly, getting closer to this spot. Looking down into my already stained legs with forest mud and leaves, the fog takes them all in its big vail of whiteness. Not even the night sky was seen as I glanced up, merely the Moon was, neglecting his glistening outlines. Then the long silence was stopped as a macabre of the words were heard.
It’s the familiar voice.
My eyes widened as I finally registered who’s voice this is...
“Stay,” my lips parted as I felt that the curse was again straking my nerves, my body, and soul, as if someone was pulling the strings over my figure, like to a wooden doll. I sense the same power as when I was in the woods. But I can not refuse this impressive although the dark power that manages my own body as a player in a chess game, which pulls me on wherever field she wants....which does not give me peace. “Here,” with every spoken word, it increases its grip on my neck, this invisible hand over me.
“Death is,” the differently raised voices of these creatures were thoroughly every word I uttered—they wickedly echoed like a tuned choir together with me, convincing me into their statements... I nearly became like one of these vague people, believing in the words without regaining the awareness as my eyes twirled around in fog like I was tasting some weird kind of drug, like Odyssey that felt the addictiveness of blue lotus flower and forgets all his painful memories. “what you need, Sin,” and then they showed themselves.
All together like controlled people, I was surrounded in the circles by a horde of tormenting souls of women that you can see right through their bodies, like ghosts that lost the beauty and the value. I stopped twirling and just looked at them, right in their eyes.
‘Οχι, Grace. Don’t accept...’
Some kind of voice in my head, it was calling me in a foreign language, but as if I did not register it - as if I had not heard at all its plead, I dropped down to the ice, waiving all rights to this dominating authority that keeps me in its hands while saying everything that they command me to. Exploited by evil, kneeling in front of them, with those black beauties whose name I can not know, like a servant before his king. Like nobody important.
“Stay,” they became even louder while hiding in this daze, but I saw someone there, standing alone. Even my mind didn’t function normally. It was totally possessed, lost in the shabbiness of memories that went impulsively beyond my mind even if I didn’t want to recall them. People that were once everything in my world, to whom I harbored some feelings that I did not know the cause and to whom I surrendered without thinking of the consequences of my own and their fate. They saw my past. They went through my troubles. These femininities understand me...get me. I need peace...right.
From my odious fate...
From my life.
I believe in it.
“I st—, ΟΧΙ!" the cracked hollow scream escaped my lips along with another strong female voice inside me, stopping me from murmuring the words that I know my healthy wit would never approve. The true Grace don’t. I look around and stare at them. This path, these forces, suffocating me in to never go, to never get beyond this invisible barrier that was keeping me locked. Like the Labyrinth without its end. And me, poor Minotaur in it. But I am Grace.
‘It must have an end...It must, Grace. They will not break us.’
“No,” I responded to them boldly. “I believe in me.”
The angry voices were increasing with every second, isolating me from this white background, but not their black shadows. They try to convince me, but my power as a deity is radiating again as the gold light around me showed itself.
“I can go--,” just at the moment that I wanted to strongly declare what my heart wants, reflexly my palms shout up overlapping my ears. Slithering down my neck, some substance was progressing slowly to my stained white dress and with just a second, I screamed from the base of my throat as I felt something ripping inside me. Bang.
“Bride of death.”
It was a blood...that liquid was coming from my ears. How is it possible?
What is happening? Another cry from my lips interrupted my course of thoughts and they again became heard.
“Blood Queen, you can’t escape us.”
“Stop,” I yelled.
“The Grace of sins, prepare to be under filthy humans,” their anger voices were even higher and stronger, hurting me with every word they say.
’Don’t Grace,′ the voice inside my head so sweetly plead me, but I don’t-I can’t hear the end of the sentence from it. I just want to...
“Please, just...,” I blurted out as I feel so many pained shivers traveled through my body. I plead them and plead again in vain.
Please, just stop.
And then the silence stepped on the scene and the pain stopped momentarily.
"Don’t be afraid. It’s me, I will help you," my head shouted up as the someone’s honeyed, but a familiar voice spoke. The long gray dress came in my vision, staring down at my figure that was kneeling on the cold pavement of this winter nightfall. My eyes were wide opened as I looked up. My jaw split down, in terror of the view in front of me while my hands fall from my ears beside my legs.
“Lia,” the name that haunted my dreams for ages that I passed through. She was the identical as I remember her in that Norwegian village’s cottage, laughing at my silly jokes. The mop of curly brown hair that floats on breezy air as she was running beyond wide thickets that were full of wild bluebells and all her mean looks that she sent in my direction when I was saying that insects were ugly, even a butterfly. She was something so pure and innocent. She was...
A human friend for whose death I-
I was responsible, closing my eyes in that memory, a tear slid down my cheek. I opened them to see little Lia again in front me, standing in her favorite gray dress that her late grandma made for her sixteen birthday.
She warmly smiled down at me tilting her sallow head sidelong, yet she portrayed the creepy and cracked porcelain figurine as she watched me, examining carefully my static posture while going over all my features that were definitely in the shock and grief; pale like a ghost that she looked alike.
"Mate of Hades, under the Ananke’s will," her sweet voice was heard, but mouth didn’t move, not even a millimeter while the night’s clouds were becoming intertwined among themselves in a thick net and where the softly lighted reflection of the Moon couldn’t reach to this glimpse water below the surface, darkening everything beneath.
A strange mist was disappearing slowly, leaving no trace behind it, showing again around me the thick woods, but those trees do not longer have poor leaves covered with snow like when I woke up. No, they’re left to decomposed upon this neverending place that reeks more of death than nature.
"We are coming for you,“I stared again blankly at Lia as she slowly bent down to my level, close to my face, while the other souls were now perfectly seen, every part of them throws me back in thinking about their life, their pain...and why are they here.
They all looked different, their clothes describing their homeland’s origins as they were from various epochs of history. Rutting bones, you can see right through them, but beautiful faces of this young girls are still remaining. They all have the same eyes, that were the strange vibrant color illuminating their faces in shades of trees.
I tried to look also into Lia’s eyes—but she didn’t have them, there were only dark red bulbs of foreign light that I was captured by, majestic and hideous in one. Smiling maliciously, Lia shot up from the ground without leaving her gaze off me, “and we will destroy,” together with her on the head, all of them in a group, whose end cannot be seen from darkness, began to approach me with speed of light.
I guard myself scaredly away from them, carefully crawling with my hands across the dirty ground, getting up and trying to escape her as all of the girls went straight through my body. I screamed in agony as I throw my head back. I felt every one of them going right through me. But Lia stayed for the last like a queen...waiting.
Again languishing on the cold pavement of forest ground, I faced her as she crocked cynical closed-mouthed smile while tilting her head sideways.
"Get ready to lose the only thing that made you alive in the first place, lover of Underworld’s Lord."
And then she passed right through me with a wicked smile on her full red lips.
As I stirred in my sleep, the warm morning rays caressed my face, passing through thick, black frames of the glass ahead. The light was hard at first as I opened my eyes, lying down between fluffy mattresses of this spacious and comfortable bed. Nightmares began again, but with new things in them.
‘Hah, perfect’, the secluded snicker dropped through my lips while my eyes were still locked on high railings above my head. Arising up as my pale fingers found my messy hair, my perception cleared as I noticed that I was alone in the large luxurious chamber, drenched in the sweat of nightmare. And then I remembered why I was here.
I found a mate.
“Oh, right...,” I confusingly confirmed to myself, smiling brightly at that memory. “I found him.”
Rolling down fastly from my wonderfully made bed, I ran to the bathroom, freshening up as the cold water made contact with my just awakened face. I glanced up in a mirror as the fire bolls were shining around me again. I looked bad, that was the first notion that came to my brain. Hair going in all different directions, bags under my golden eyes can also be seen. Yeah, not so fairytale princess morning.
And second, I pondered as I looked around this bathroom, how people here do something in dark? I don’t get it.
‘Don’t they use the candles anymore?’
Shrugging my shoulders at my crazy thoughts about this era, I moved through the dark wooden door. I dress up in the same clothes as yesterday after getting showered and went to leave, but again my brain doesn’t stop from thinking...something to feed my poor mouth while I probably looked like a real zombie.
They’re not going to hurt you, I mean ghosts. Zombies don’t exist. About the creatures that I first mention, I meet them before as they weren’t torn apart in a profoundness of Underworld’s river. Trapped between Heaven and Hell, without a mind nor soul in them, you see right through, the nothingness wagers in them as their lives were a long time gone, destroyed like them—in the air.
But the ones in my dreams, they looked like them, they even smell like them, but they have a mind. They still half-alive, their purpose is something based on giving a pain to certain someone, I guess.
‘Certain someone? Do not make me laugh at Grace, it’s us.’
‘I know, mom,’ I rolled my eyes annoyingly at Ignis.
’Mom? You don’t have one, little Grace.′
I stopped on track as I heard her. “I know,” I silently whispered to myself. My heart is in my mouth whenever she tells me that. Truth hurts, but it gives the satisfaction of knowing it.
Again, I started slowly descending the marble staircase. As I was closer to the room that I woke up on the evening before, the aroma of something good made me crave for food even more, if it’s possible. What? I love food, despite I don’t need it...but I choose to. Who can resist the sweet fruits or cakes, or spicy roasted chicken with warm cheese? Named him. I bet you.
Gods, as they are a spiritual illusion of their power-hungry spirits and them as such exist as long as they do the interests of the world, but it happens that the dark side prevails on some occasions. Each god has a bad and good side of his soul; they are resembling human souls, but they do not have a physical membrane, namely, body. They’ve stronger auras. In case they want to appear in the world, they are presented as handsome human beings—that look exactly like their spirits—and in that form, they cannot formulate all parts of their own power. But, of course, there’re exceptions. But when they are in the human body, they have to eat food. And when they dock in their realms, then they feed on what is chiefly in that part of the three worlds.
Going through the so-called living room and overhearing the sound of someone managing dishes, I followed it casually while my stomach aimlessly growls from hunger. And then, the shock was certainly plastered on my face as stared at this man’s muscled back in front of me.
Lucifer. Is. Cooking.
‘Heck, a devil is cooking!’
And plus he looks imposing even from behind, as I studied him. The Hades of Underworld, beyond the kitchen island, is doing things that I would never suspect he can achieve. Gradually sinking down, his black short hair replacing the tan skin painted with various black symbols, so nice to create a composition together in one. I know there are more. And I will see them, I hope. The wholeheartedly smile owned my face while leaning against the door’s wooden frame in astonishment for this precious scene in front my eyes.
“Booh!” A loud shriek burst from my lips as someone had settled their palms on my shoulders from behind, just to frighten me. I shifted angrily to see this wicked person who tried this not so funny jock on me.
“You didn’t just...,” I felt as trigger been pulled within me as the power released itself out of hand. The bright yellow thunderbolts were seen to escape my body that was on the verge of exploding from everything. My orbs flickered to moments in the castle, where I was happy perhaps, but the soreness of that place. . . The dark red was casting upon my eyes; strange and even familiar strength coming from spirits’ depth.
Everything that I went through. . .
Believes that I did trust to make others content. . .
The so-called blessed life and aches in my heart. . . Everything compressed in this one ordinary moment, one stupid joke that transformed itself into the stupid mistake.
Apollon slowly began retreating away from me as his hands shout up in surrounded.
“Easy there, bull,” he said to me, shouting up his hands in mocking defeat with an amusing smile on his face.
‘Hah. God against God, Grace...Who will win, dear?’ I voice that hear so many times called me. My mind just inwardly seethed for blood. Harm. Something dark inside me is calling me...and I’m scared to commit to it.
“A bull?” I felt like the destructive person appeared on the surface of my body, swallowing me whole in this momentum as my conscience goes to the lowest part of my skull, in the corner, not giving a single push of resistance to Ignis. “I will show you what this bull knows,” a wicked smile spread across my face as I was looking Apollo right into his green eyes.
“Hey. Relax, darling,” just when I tried to step ahead, suddenly someone from behind, a person covered me with his strong hands, holding me away from Apollo. The sparks ignite through my body from all places that our skins meet and my stiff muscles give away. It feels so warm. “Relax, Grace,” Lucifer murmurs tenderly in my left ear, brushing a stray lock of white hair. I inhale sharply as I felt that his power radiating from him, soothing mine. “Good girl,” releasing my hands from my body, he went back to continue making meals for us. I hope it is for us.
“Now I know for certain that she is your mate,” Apollo said as the grin appeared playfully on his lips as he looked from Lucifer to me.
“Shut up, Apollon,” Lucifer answer him, quite sharply these words, that I really don’t know the meaning.
‘Shut up? I kinda like that word. What do you think?’
’Ignis. . ,′ I mentally scolded her.
‘Okay, okay. Go back to your lovely mate and his friend.’
“I’m sorry Apollo. I’m really sorry, I don’t know how—,” but he stopped me from continuing my sentence.
“Relax,” he slowly approached me, taking softly my small hands in his. “Don’t mention,” he winked cheerfully, but I know that he hides something within his green vibrant eyes. Taking his hands away and passing me, Apollon sits down on one of the stools. “It was my fault,” he murmured under his breath to himself, but I heard him as he bent little bit down on the bright white island.
“No, it’s—,” I turned to him trying to convince him, but someone else interrupted me this time.
“Just shut up, both of you. Grace, it was nothing, you can’t hurt him. We are immortals,” the devil said without leaving his position from the kitchen stove, occupying his mind with some dishes that we can only hear as he roughly knocks them, by accident maybe...
“But—,” I tried once again, and it goes in vain.
“No but, Grace,” he turned huffing around with now full dishes in his hands. “Sit and eat,” Lucifer commanded annoyingly, little louder this time, as he moved to put three plates on the kitchen isle for us to eat.
“Okay,” I went down to one of the tall black leather seats and took the fork together with a knife into my hands. The eyesight came down on the plate in front of me with the food I had never seen before. “What is this?” I asked them pointing the fork on this unknown cuisine.
“Pancakes. Eat,” Lucifer answered uninterested, not living his eyes from food as he was eating. . .I think he was eating.
“Dig in it,” Apollon smiled warmly at me, directing his bright green eyes to my food. Returning the smile, in the same way, I unnoticeable nodded, more to me than to them. I slowly cut this that had a resemblance to the color of baked bread, light brownish, other perhaps, with some kind of dark brown filling from the inside. As a small piece of it made contact with my mouth, I closed my mouth moaning in this sweet taste.
‘Amazing. So sweet...I need to more of this.’
‘You will get fat, Grace. Do you remember that amazing time of renaissance?’
“This brown, how it is named?” I questioned them as they stared at me, without moving at all. Lucifer stared wide-eyed, clutching firmly silverware in his hands, but Apollon’s eyes were going again from me to Lucifer as his eyebrows wiggled cheerfully. “What?” I asked them totally confused.
“Oh. . .Nutella,” Apollon replied with the loose jaw, but smiling after some time, examining Lucifer opposite me.
“Where is it?” I voiced out with demanding tone, diverting my eyes from my mate. Now, this is more important, I mean food. Apollon got up with his lightning speed and return with a glass jar full of this brown sweet divine jelly. I took it from his eyes, opening it slowly and taking in carefully its beautiful smell. Also, he threw me a spoon that I caught on the fly as my heightened reflexes wake up. And then I try it. Pardon, a full big spoon of it.
“You. .. ,” Lucifer began saying, but Apollon interrupted him, finishing the sentence in the shock, “. . .are crazy.”
I smiled at them, getting on more spoon of Nutella, and then leaving it beside me, on the counter. “Immortality makes you insane,” I say to them little bit giggling at their faces while lifting the napkin to my lips.
“Yeah...,” Apollon confirmed wiggling in his seat, casting his eyes down nervously, not anymore looking at his friend in front of me. After some moments of not talking at all, Lucifer broke the uncomfortable silence standing up while putting down our dirty dishes aside. “I think you need to buy new clothes.”
“The tailor is coming?” I raised an eyebrow wondering what they’re thinking about it.
“No, Grace. We are going shopping,” he said so seriously, but ending with word shopping.
‘Shopping. Shops? Ah.’
‘Sometimes I think you are the stupid one, Ignis.’
‘You are me, I am you. Sorry, we’re one.’
“And your hair. .. ,” now is Apollon who calls from behind me, stopping me from the discussion with my beloved friend inside my head while drinking something in the white mug.
“Messy as hell, I know Apollon,” rolling my eyes knowingly, I stood up also, putting Nutella on the place from where I saw Apollon searched for.
‘You are an unbearable soul, you know that?’
Did she laugh wickedly saying: and you aren’t?
Yup, she did.
“The hell is finer than your hair, Grace,” he declared from the behind. Shifting angrily and narrowing my eyes at him, I tried to look intimating at his choice of words for my head.
He insulted our hair, Grace. Yours.
I know. I have ears.
Apollon raised his palm with a mug in it and pointed on his friend that was beside some large white object, looking through the window. “I’m telling the truth, ask Lucifer.”
“I’m gone,” and like that my lovely mate went through the door, leaving to of us in our competition of staring. And who is the winner?
And so like that, after less than two minutes, defeated, Apollon went through the same door, heading towards the living room, but of course, he had to utter something. He is God of Sun after all. Right?
“Apollo,” Lucifer’s voice was echoing against the stern dark walls of a kitchen even if he isn’t physically here. Well, he has a heart, I guess right. Protecting a true mate is in the blood... And he knows he can’t fight it, it’s much stronger than any power he can imagine.
But he doesn’t know that, hopefully.
“Okay, okay. I understand,” I get a feeling that Apollon rolled his eyes at mine protecting soulmate. Now, I have my own black knight. Oh Zeus, how lucky I am?
‘Stop being sarcastic, Grace. I love you more when you are quite an innocent girl.’
‘Not turning to that pathetic, naive excuse of a woman, not sorry.’
‘I hope so, I need the strong soul.’ Ignis’ moods are indeed strange.
As I left a kitchen, going across the marble floor of a living room, I tried to sense them closing my eyes for a moment. Like the spider web making its way through my skull while I concentrate on my mate, the pictures of those two guys came upon my vision as I discovered the path to them.
With now open eyes, I concrete once again, making a picture of him in front me, as the portal like mirror show itself in front of me, but quavering like it felt my anxiety.
Relax, Grace, Ignis said to me as the burning golden fire with the bright ends took the whole mirror under its cloak, not even slightly melting it. I step in front it to touch it, the ends dance beneath my fingers, twirling and bending in rejoicing. They welcome us, again. . .
‘A wish is a command.’
You wish, Ignis.