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Divinity

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He has no name. None of them do. Names are precious things, only to be given when one was deemed worthy of it.

But they know him only by the domain and dark underworld in which he rules.

The God of Death.

He is the second brother of three, born to an ageing goddess of the earth, their father turned to dust long ago. To have balance in the universe, they were given dominion over three different worlds: the Heavens, the Sea, and the Underworld.

The eldest reigned high up in the sky, all lofty ideas, flighty and without true direction.

The youngest, all tempest and wild emotion, ruled equally stormy seas.

But the middle son…

To the outside, the middle son is god of a dark, and frightful world. Where hopes and dreams, things and beings go to die. Some will await resurrection, if the scales are in their favour. Others await an eternity of torment by their life’s misdeeds. But he rules justly and fairly, as only a good ruler should.

To his wife, the middle son that she married had turned into the very realm he watched over. Dead. In soul, and in spirit. She felt trapped by this world, by his family who gave him this duty. She felt further trapped by his attempts to reach out to her, to bridge the growing gap between them. Every moment of effort another chain to bind her to her wretched existence. Perhaps it was a mistake to send their child away to learn about the world of the living. Though, seeing her husband wither away, she feels she’s done right by her son, who will never know this slow decay. Yet she says nothing. And in saying nothing, she traps them both in this cage they call marriage.

To his brothers, he is the most loyal, and decent, even when they themselves are undeserving of it. ‘He knows honour’, they say.

And yet, the whole world loathes him, curses him.

‘It’s nothing,’ he tells himself.

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She doesn't wish for death. She never has.

She doesn't beg for mercy as their fists pummel her slight frame.

'Witch!

Doesn't cry.

'Murderer!'

Doesn't make a noise.

Her vision is getting blurry. Her lower lip is bloodied from her teeth biting into the tender flesh.

The sun is going down. They'll soon tire of their game.

The trees' branches are swaying in the cool breeze, leaves crafting a soothing melody. Somewhere in the forest, she can hear birdsong. She listens to it like a lifeline.

The boys from the village have left, but it barely registers.

With a deep, shuddering breath, she gets up on her feet. She takes a moment to steady herself against a tree. She makes her way deeper into the forest, trying to take a shortcut back home. Every step is torture and she makes slow, and painful progress.

Suddenly, she trips over an exposed root and lands hard on the ground. The grass cushions most of her fall but she's winded - and tired.

She twists herself around to lay on her back. The sun is gloriously red-orange and warm on her skin. She lifts her hand to shade her eyes from the light filtering through the leaves of the tree she's fallen under. The bird is still singing.

Vaguely, she remembers there'll be a full moon tonight.

She thinks of her grandmother, all alone in their little cottage. Her gentle smile. Her love of the moon.

Her eyes close, her breathing steady.

She doesn't wish for death.

Only peace.