the price of love pt iii

last time, on iGoddess...

the body lay still, face down, and i stared at her hair rippling in the wind. my army cheered for the victory, but i did not. it would only get more difficult. “to Doubt,” i said, staring down at the body. the call was taken up by the rest of my warriors until it was a thunderous roar like a whirlwind around me.

i blinked.

and suddenly i was back upon my warhorse, galloping across the countryside, my companions running as if fresh and rested. we chased down Doubt and surrounded her so she was forced to face me. every time she tried to run, she ran into a solid wall of bodies and shields and my fighters shoved her back into the circle they’d cleared for us.

one by one we chased my enemies down. blood enemies. foes against whom i had struggled for lifetimes. eons. somehow i knew this day was the day i would strike them down for once and all, and be their puppet no longer.

one by one we hunted them down like animals. there were so many i cannot recall every single one, but i know there was a certain order to defeat them or else all my fighting would be for naught. contempt needed to be slain before Arrogance could fall, and yet i had to face Self-Importance and False Pride first in order to weaken Contempt enough to face her and win. and yet, i could not defeat False Pride without first felling Self-Loathing. and so it went. there was only one proper order, and it was a delicate puzzle i had to work out on the fly, in the rush of battle and drunk on adrenaline.

somehow, i remained clear-headed. and every single enemy wore my face, my body, cried out with my voice. i died a thousand deaths that day; i watched as i handed myself violent and bloody death a thousand different ways.

every time we were on the hunt, i rode my steed at a gallop and my companions easily kept pace. and every battle, i would suddenly find myself on my feet and my warhorse gone. after the first few engagements i realized my companions only grew stronger and had more energy after every fight, not weak and tired and winded. but i grew tired enough for a hundred men. and in the heat of battle there was never the stink that covers a battlefield like a thick blanket.

every enemy had her own horde of minions, which my companions fought and kept clear of me, and which i never saw. my own comrades i never saw clearly, either, only caught glimpses from the corner of my eyes. the air remained as crisp and clear as ever, and the barley swayed and rustled as it brushed against my armor. the chill in the air grew sharp as the breeze dried the sweat from my skin, but i felt clean. for all the blood and sweat, dirt and death that covered me from head to toe, i was clean.

the moment i had run Despair through the belly with my sword, i turned and my companions parted for me to walk a clear path…and suddenly Rage was there. she loomed until she filled my entire vision, my likeness in every way except her colors were more vivid, as if the background had faded to a pale, washed-out version of reality and rendered Rage in stark clarity. down to the red plumes on her helmet, Rage was identical to me in every way, only larger than life.

she grinned at me and my stomach jumped into my throat, then plummeted to my feet. in one swift motion her greatsword was out of its scabbard and arced upwards toward my head. i parried, and the jolt reverberated down to my toes. Rage was strong! far stronger than i. and as we fought, she grew. only slightly at first, but if we were perfectly equal in the beginning –not even counting her superior strength—any growth was her advantage. and she never stopped smiling at me, a dark smile that seemed all pointed fangs, and her eyes glittered with malice. she was making me pay; exacting her revenge for everything that had ever angered her, and i was Rage’s blood sacrifice.

but i held onto my own righteous, berserker frenzy and it was barely enough to keep up my defense. Rage fought me back and back. and she grew. and she was powerfully strong. i was losing.

i lost my footing and fell, bracing myself up with one elbow as i blocked another jab. i deflected the sword’s point, but not enough, and i took a wound high in my right shoulder. Rage’s sword did not pierce me through, just grazed me with the edge, but it was enough. the pain flooded everywhere at once, however, and somehow i knew it would leave a scar i would carry forever no matter how anyone tried to heal it. i remember only hoping that i would still be pretty despite the scar.

thinking herself the victor, Rage threw herself at me. but she was overconfident and underestimated me. i repaid her for my wound, and as she staggered back in utter surprise, i pushed myself to my feet and swung my sword with all my might...

...and her head went flying from her body. before my sword had completed its arc, Vengeance and Malice sprang from the pool of Rage’s blood at my feet.

they were peculiar. if i injured one, an identical injury appeared on the other. fighting them was like dueling two foes with one mind. one fell after i tore a hole through her heart, the other with her skull split. at that point, however, i could no longer tell them apart.

and on it went until there were almost none left. i rode my horse, my companions ran alongside me. we came to the spot i knew my next foe, Deceit, would be, and she was not there. confused, all one hundred and one of us looked around, searching for her. i knew she could not have gotten so far as to escape, and yet Deceit was nowhere to be seen! just then i caught movement from the corner of my eye and noticed that one of my companions wore her armor that did not quite fit as properly as it should. she carried her sword awkwardly, and her helmet was just a little too big.

she caught me staring at her and gave a start, her eyes growing wide and nostrils quivering like a deer that had caught the hunter’s scent. and i knew. she knew i knew.

i had found Deceit hiding among my own ranks.

“Deceiver!” i shouted, barreling straight for her at a dead run. i bashed her with my shield and then stabbed her in the chest with my sword as she lay stunned in the dirt. it was over almost before it even began.

“there is only one,” i said to myself. only one left out of all of them...and she was the most dangerous, the most important, and the most elusive. with her still free, i knew that it was possible my slain enemies could be resurrected.

in fact, it was most certain.

“She Who Never Lets Go is out there,” i said. She Who Never Lets Go, She Who Never Forgets...nor Forgives...

to pt iv

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