“Hello there my little Nox, I suppose this means it’s your turn now?” It spoke in a voice that was soft and clear, like the tinkling of wind chimes.
I nodded my eyes still closed. The sacrifice wasn’t allowed to speak, papa had made it very clear that I shouldn’t talk no matter what.
“Aww… Come on Noxy, you can talk to me can’t you? All those other sacrifices were so boring, none of them ever said a word to me…”
I tried to do what papa said and just keep my eyes closed, papa told me that as long as I didn’t see anything and didn’t say anything then I would be able to leave. Papa said it would grow bored eventually and send me back home.
“Nox, I know what they must of told you… “Don’t gaze upon it or it shall steal your soul! Don’t speak to it or it will tempt you to your doom!” Something along those lines right? Those silly old elders at your kind’s villages are all the same, they always make me out to be some sort of demon or monster…”
Papa was very clear, even as a mage he wouldn’t be able to help me if I didn’t follow his instructions.
“But you see Nox I’m not any sort of demon or monster… No… Nox, I’m not a monster or a demon, I’m a god…”
Papa had made me promise that I would follow his instructions exactly, that I would heed all his warnings as I waited for the allotted ceremony time to pass.
“And as I god I can do amazing things… Like for instance: giving you the power to walk again…”
I trembled as I almost opened my eyes and gasped out of reflex, it took all my willpower to keep my eyes and mouth firmly closed. My mind flashing back to that horrible car accident that took my legs away forever.
“Or perhaps more than that, perhaps I could give my precious little Noxy what he’s always dreamed about, hmm?”
I was shaking, it was getting harder to resist opening my eyes. I wanted to look at what was speaking, to ask if it could actually do what it was saying.
“Perhaps for my special little Noxy I could give many blessings and gifts I wouldn’t normally give to others… The ability to fly could be among those gifts little Nox…”
I wanted that, I always dreamt of flying. I wanted to soar through the sky, to experience what it would be like to be able to move in a way others just couldn’t. Even still I held back, I had to stay strong and not give in to temptation. For papa and for my village I couldn’t give in to my own selfish desires.
“I could save you precious village too, I suppose…”
I froze, I didn’t even breath as I heard it speak.
“I know you weren’t alive to remember what the world was like before, but surely some of your elders were and they must have told stories… a world without mana radiation, a time when food, oil, and water were plentiful and people were at peace. Where wars were fought by machines and a person need not worry about thieves or raiders coming to there homes in the night…”
What it described was just like the world from the elders’ stories, it was almost exactly the same.
“I have the power to send your people back to that time, back before us gods decended to your world and changed everything you mortals knew… But that sort of favor would come at a cost…”
I shivered as I felt something caress my shoulder.
“I can give many blessings and gifts for free to one as special as you, little Noxy, after all it isn’t often one finds such a pure soul with such vast amounts of potential, but a favor as large as turning back time…”
Something strangely warm and cold at the same time was holding my cheek.
“That is not something I can give freely without receiving something in return…”
There was a pause as I felt the warm-cold touch move away leaving my skin.
“But then if I don’t do so your village won’t last much longer, and your beloved father won’t even live to see its end. Tell me little Noxy, did your father ever tell you about the cancer?”
I flinched as I saw papa coughing violently into a handkerchief before turning to tell me he was fine in my mind, I remembered how the light blue handkerchief had red stains when he put it away.
“No? Well maybe he was trying to spare you from pain, after all the trauma and heartache such knowledge could’ve caused you might’ve tainted your soul. It wouldn’t do for one born marked as a sacrifice had a tainted soul, that would spell an end to everything wouldn’t it?”
I slumped in the cloud chair, the reality that had been hidden from me finally clicking into place in my mind. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened and I didn’t blame papa for hiding something from me again, after all I was born to be a sacrifice and had to be pure of heart and soul.
“How many times have you had to find out that those you cared for were hiding things from you little Noxy? How many times have you had to discover the truths everyone else wanted you to remain ignorant of on your own?”
I had lost count of how many times it had been now, at some point I had just accepted that people would hide things from me. I think the last time I let it shock me was when I learned about sex two years ago, I had felt like an idiot for only just finding out about something everyone else around my age had apparently known about for years when I was sixteen.
“But now that time is over… You’ve already been freed of that burden little Noxy, you’ve already been sacrificed to me…”
Yes, that’s right! After this I could be free! My thoughts were suddenly uplifted as I felt a burden that had been suffocating me all my life finally lift off me.
“It’s just a shame that this new freedom of yours comes at the cost of your village and family…”
And just like that my positive mood was gone and I felt the familiar burden I had carried settle back on my shoulders.
“Your village should’ve known that the Hula tribesmen would betray them, in fact I bet your father did know being the clever man he is, but by now most of the people you know should be dead…”
My heart stopped as I remembered something that papa had told me before I entered the sacred temple’s holy grounds. He had said that though it would tempt me and try to mislead me in many ways it could not directly harm or lie to me. It could not lie and it had just said that by now most of the people I know should be dead, that the Hula tribe had betrayed the village.
“But then I have already said that I can save them, haven’t I? That I could turn back time and bring the remaining people of your village back to a time before the great collapse, and as I’m sure you know I can’t lie to you can I little Noxy?”
I shivered as I felt something pat my shoulder.
“Now, why don’t you open your eyes so we can see each other while we talk…”
I opened my eyes and saw bright hazel eyes, there were so close I could see the reflection of my own eyes in there dark pupils. Then in an instant the eyes were gone and a short distance away a beautiful young woman in a long green dress was sitting in a cloud chair much like my own and sipping something from a tea cup.
“Good, now we can really start getting to know each other! But first I’m sure that you want to know the cost for little favor I’m doing for you, don’t you Noxy?”
I looked down and away, ashamed to find myself attracted to it. “Yes… Loki…”
“Ah, now that’s not the face you should be making. This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for you, I’ll be sending you to a whole new world and giving you more power than you ever would’ve imagined! I’m even going to fulfil your oldest dream by giving you the ability to fly! And to make things even better you’ll be saving the people of your village by doing this, honestly little Noxy this is a great deal for you!” Loki spoke excitedly tossing away her teacup and moving beside me in an instant.
“And on your end?” I asked carefully. Gods never made deals unless they stood to gain something, papa had made that clear to me many times.
“Oh little Noxy, it’s nothing too much, hehehe.” Loki grinned and giggled as she stroked my arm. “I just get you to spread beautiful chaos throughout the world I send you to…”
As I trembled in fear at her words and touch Loki disappeared only to appear in front of me as a tall man holding out a silver dagger.
“Now you should know what you have to do, after all I can’t do you any physical harm…” A cool and charming male voice had replaced the soft tinkling voice Loki had used before.
As a trembling hand stretched out and grasped the offered hilt of the dagger I found myself deeply concerned by the grin on Loki’s face. If it will save the village, save papa… With that thought I plunged the dagger into my own chest, slumped in the cloud chair papa had woven from his own mana for me all those years ago I closed my eyes for the last time as the world faded to black.
“Yes, we gods can’t do any harm to mortals directly because of our divine agreement, but nothing was ever said in the divine agreement about pitting mortals against one another and having them harm themselves that way now was there…?” A soft cackling was the only sound that accompanied me on my journey to the dark abyss of death.