A/N: I am typing again! This is a good sign. For those of you who are reading Bane of Rendsberg, I should have a new chapter by the weekend. I have 4 out of the 5 pages typed. This is one of the three pieces I hope to write and publish over this week. the third piece is fanfiction and very short. Velvety Cheerio, honsetly, I will be reading your story soon. I feel so bad about being so negligent.
For those who might be reading this without reading my other stuff . . . I think that this will stand on its own, but I do kind of know what's going on and you don't. So, when in doubt, read the first part. If not, just take what is said as the truth.
To all: I like humor, but this is anything but a humorous story. It is intended to be miserable, and it is. This the second of three in this story. Part III will have some humor in it when I get around to it, but it is not a really good natured humor. This would kill James, who thinks that I can't write anything but humor
The Story of Olivier Part II
I choked. I was unable to breathe. The pressure of the pain and the struggle clouded my mind. Then, there was nothing. The pain had gone away, but there was no cold or warmth. My ears strained for a sound . . . any sound. There was only silence. Not even the air whispered or touched me. I knew nothing of my surroundings. Even with this lack of knowledge, I felt that I stood upright, or at least I thought I did. The last I knew was that I was laid out on the mat that I slept upon, but now I was sure that I stood. I still had no sense of anything else to confirm or deny this. It was like I stood in nothingness. I wanted to bite my lips. I wanted to clutch my hands together. Although I knew nothing of the ground, I still wanted to madly flee from this place. I couldn't even blink my eyes. Cold frost ran up my spine, although I could still feel nothing outside myself. An ache crept in my mind, and I wanted to let the tears flow. My eyes didn't work either. I was lost and alone. Yet, my body was not uncomfortable like when I have awoken in the past and was unable to move. I could not exactly say that I was comfortable wither, but I did not need to change position. If I was truly dead, was I trapped in that immobile body? Would this be what eternity would be like. I could rest and think over my life.
Thinking often got me in trouble. My mind moved to the last events of my miserable little life. I had attacked my nephew twice, and he had run from me. The ache returned to my mind. Why did I have to do this to him? He had done nothing to make me hate him except bear that hated name. I should have loved him. He was a real, solid voice. His flesh was warm against my flesh. He had returned while I was in deep despair and accusations. He had cut my throat. He had ended this useless life. My blood had tasted strong and metallic in my mouth. I had died. This was death. I had provoked Michael's son into killing me. I was in the World of the Dead, where I would be judged for my horrible crimes.
My mind calmed. I knew that I would be judged for the monster I was. What use was there for a soul such as mine? I would know oblivion. I would cease to be. I, who should never have been born, would be no more. I wanted to smile. A tinge of regret pinged at my soul. I wanted to be with Michael one more time and hear his soft voice again. I doubt there would be any kindness left for me after what I did to his son, but there would be a moment of our reunion before he would know.
Suddenly, I was aware of my body. It sagged as if released from a force. My movements were freed. I clasped my hands together at my chest and bit my lips. My knees pulled in tight, and I cringed down. I still could feel or hear anything outside myself. Yet, somehow I knew I was no longer alone. My shoulders relaxed as relief flooded through me. The fleeting fear that I would be captured in that force forever alone still haunted me. In a way, it would be no less than what I deserved.
Having a bit more understanding of my situation and free movement, I knelt down on my knees. I bowed my head in supplication. I knew I was nothing compared to these judges, if there were more than one. I was nothing compared to other living beings. I don't think that I could fully understand how low I must be to the authorities of the Dead. I still had no clue of my surroundings. My hands dropped down from my chest and twisted in my lap. I really wanted to chew on my knuckles, but I was afraid to move too much and remind them that I was here. I knew I was in enough trouble from the deeds of my life. A part of me wanted to call out to assure myself that I was not alone, but I dared not. The roaring silence weighed heavy on my shoulders.
"Stand up!" came a firm voice booming from an unknown source.
My whole being jumped at the sound. I swallowed hard at the loss for what to do, but I dared not disobey. Biting my lip, I stumbled to my feet. The collapsing to my knees was not as hard as the standing up with no senses. I could still feel nothing around me like I did in life. There was no air. I could not feel solid ground under me or the freedom of the sky above me. I struggled to my feet, unsure if I stood on my feet or I was laid out flat in front of the voice. I didn't even know where the voice had come from. It was all around me, but it was nowhere. When it was not active, there was a complete silence that I had never known in life. I could smell nothing, not that I thought this side of life would have a smell. No taste played upon my tongue. I could not say why I suddenly knew that several beings surrounded me, although I could nto sense them by any normal means.
"Speak your name," the voice from nowhere ordered.
I blinked my eyes. I thought those beyond knew all these things. "Olivier Tönnin," I answered flatly. I would have liked to have bowed, but I was still unsure of myself and feared to insult them.
This was all irreverent as severe pain shot through my entire being. I screamed out in the agony. I would have gagged and gasped, but my body was no longer physical. I fell to my hands and knees, although I still could not feel solid ground under me. I did what I could to suppress the tears. I don't know if the pain was truly all that bad or it was because I had spent that indefinite amount of time feeling nothing.
"Do not lie to us," the voice stated without a hint of emotion.
I swallowed hard out of habit and not necessity. My fingers curled inward and my brow knitted in confusion. I thought I had spoken the truth. As if sensing my dilemma, the voice spoke again. "Speak your real name."
I closed my eyes tight and grabbed my arms to hug myself. "I am Olivier . . ." My mind raced. I knew my real name, the name given to me on my accursed entrance to life . .. That hated name. I swallowed hard and gave in. I turned my face upward . . . at least, I think that was the direction. With a spark of hope, I felt that I would not exist much longer and I could put up with this humiliation. "I am Olivier Cuxhaven," I stated. My back involuntarily stiffened with the anticipation of more pain, but it didn't come. I had given the correct answer, despite the arguments that my father would have made otherwise.
"Do you know why you are here?" asked the voice.
"I am dead," I replied. With a surge of courage, I squared my shoulders and tried to stand up straight with my arms at my sides. "I am to stand judgement for the crimes I committed in life. I have done enough evils to have my entire existence erased," I stated boldly. I knew such things would come up eventually.
Still, no emotion as I received my reply. "Your soul stands before us in judgement. In no way are we willing to give in to your desires. You are not worthy of having your wish granted."
My knees gave way. I collapsed. All support fell from me as if I never had had a skeletal frame to support my being. I was nothing but a gelatin blob on the floor that needed to be cleaned up. I could feel the tears flow down my face. My fingers curled in the effort to grasp hold of something, anything for comfort. I had to know I would mess up dying as well. Father said I could do nothing right. He always knew my worth.
"You will be punished with pain unimaginable in an increasing rate to your soul for the rest of eternity. There will be no reprieve. You will be constantly reminded of your crimes. Altenglisch Hans Cuxhaven did nothing to deserve the pain that you inflicted upon him. He was the answer to your heart's desire. Your soul is too corrupted with vengeance to realize this."
A sob escaped my throat. I had really made a mess of things. I wanted to argue their judgement. Why couldn't they just destroy this useless soul and be done with it? I didn't want to exist. No one who had ever lived wanted me to exist. I didn't deserve to exist. Yet, as the weight of the judgement crushed me, I knew their words were righteous. What right did I have to dictate what I wanted? I had done the evils of my own free will. I had a brief flash of the happiness I once had with Alteng. I was warm and snuggled against his body as he slept. It hurt more. Some strength of my will brought me to sit up. I grasped my hands together. I kept my eyes closed and my head bowed. I had no fight in me. I would just wait for the commencement of the punishment.
An eternity of pain and torment were now mine. There would be no way out now. I could not die. I was already dead. I could never be free. The horrible mistake could never be corrected. My back curved my body forward into itself. Michael, help me one last time. Tell them to destroy me. Don't let them hurt me like this. A sob wracked my body again. Why should he help me? He gave me his son, and what did I do? I tortured him and tried to kill him. What for? I wanted to die, but I was too cowardly to take my own life. I clasped my hands together tighter. I'm certain I would have faced the same judgement if I had done the deed myself. After all, I had killed my father. I was an abomination on the face of the world even before Alteng was born.
"Olivier Cuxhaven," said another voice. This one was softer and some warmth to it. It cut through my despair. Maybe, the condemned would receive a final request before the pain started. Maybe I could be with Michael for a few moments and beg his forgiveness for what I had done to his son. I wished I could have a chance to tell Alteng how sorry I was for what I had done to him, but he was still on the other side. The Dead were not allowed to associate with the Living. I had my time, and I had squandered it. "Do you understand why you are condemned?"
I wrung my hands and tried to stand to attention. I wanted to answer correctly. The pain hadn't started yet, and I didn't want to feel the shock of pain from a wrong answer again so soon. "I can think of several reasons. I should have never existed. I was a disappointment to my parents. I had no right to live, much less force the hand of one worthy. I couldn't protect Michael. He died because I was not good enough to protect him. I killed my father. Kinslaying is a horrible crime, and I am guilty on both sides. I forced Alteng to commit the same crime, and I did so under the name of Kobolds that had never given me their name to be family."
"All the crimes you committed could have been forgiven up to you second attack upon Altenglisch Hans Cuxhaven," answered the flat voice. "You would not have been one of the Blessed because of the first attack and the murder of your father, but you would not have been damned either."
I blinked my eyes in confusion. "The taking of his hand was not worse and more unforgivable?" I queried amazed. "The Customs say that makes him a monster. Not only that, he would have died of the blood loss if I didn't stop it. I also greatly cut down his usefulness. He is no longer as articulate."
"When you severed your nephew's hand, you were unaware of what you were doing at the time. You sought forgiveness for this crime as well. You nearly gained it as well," the second voice explained. My eyes opened wide. I wanted to question him further about it, but he continued on. "When you took his eye, you wanted to attack him. You meant to kill him, then you wanted to use this to provoke him. You felt no remorse for this at all, nor did you seek his forgiveness. If you had spoken when he held your life, he would not have committed his crime. You would still be alive."
"He would have forgiven me?" I spoke incredulously.
"Not just like that. He would have most likely ran from your home. He would have found it hard to trust you again."
"Have I damned him?" I asked. A pain that had nothing to do with this world stabbed through me at the thought. I had never even considered what I did to him might destroy his soul. Alteng was a good creature. What have I done to him?
"No," came the first voice.
My nerves released again. I was still dead and damned, but, at least, I didn't drag poor Alteng down with me. I never really wanted to damn him despite the horrible marks I placed upon him. Somehow, I didn't really believed what the Customs said about these marks. Still, pain and punishment were my judgement. I wanted to plead with them that I was not all bad, but I have always heard that there is nothing as unmoveable as the Dead. Still, I took what comfort I could from what I was told. I did not damn Alteng. Maybe, Michael could forgive me.
A hand clasped my shoulder. I jumped in surprise. Was this it? Now I would be led away to my sentence. "I believe Olivier Cuxhaven is redeemable," spoke the second voice. "The judgement is too harsh."
I swallowed hard. Could I be so lucky? Is there a chance to hope? My gratitude to this being overflowed. I could grovel at his feet and offer myself to him. I could be his slave for eternity. The weight returned to my body. My people lived to serve others. Granted, we did so for a price, but we did chores for others all the same. I would have my reward. It would be too good for me, and he would be insulted to have such a flawed being as me around. I only trembled under his hand.
Whispers filled the air as if a heated discussion was in progress. My heart was lifted. Maybe there could be hope for me yet. My fingers touched the hand on my shoulder. It was a bigger hand than mine, and by this and the angle of the wrist, I could tell that this being was human size. I smiled briefly. Our legends always describe the divine beings that protected us were of a human size and nature. After all, the humans were often a key factor of bringing us into their households and shielding us from the predators outside.
I wanted to move the hand to my face, so that this new friend could know me. Maybe, he would give me a chance to know him as well. I knew I had a more selfish reason for my actions. The hand would be comforting as it explores the contours of my face. There had been so many things that I wanted to know in life, but I never had achieved them. I wasn't worthy of them, but I felt that I could steal them here before the punishment began. Michael nor Alteng never wanted to know the solidness and shape of my face and body. This would be the first person to know me. Yet, I did not have the strength to move the hand to my face.
"Be still," the voice commanded.
I froze. I must obey. I was still allowed free movement, but I didn't want to make things worse for myself. I laid my hand on his hand. I moved my head so that I could touch my cheek to the hand and arm. Calm and comfort came to me despite what my future held. All that mattered for the present was the hand of a friend, who was there to protect me for the time being.
The hand withdrew, leaving me alone. My shoulders dropped. With a sigh, I accepted my fate. Maybe, when I am led to my doom, I could ask my friend to allow me to cuddle him in gratitude for the moment's hope. I had done my evil of my own freewill. I knew the torture was my just reward. Although I knew this, I still prayed for mercy. I felt that my god was one of those that whispered, and he did not hear me nor cared for my anxiety. I don't think that I have ever been more scared than I was then. I knew this judgement would be a thousand times worse than my father breaking my bones.
Finally, silence fell. I bit my lips and twisted my hands. The decision had been made. Would there be anymore appeals made if this one failed? Did they decide that oblivion suited me better? I doubted that I would be so lucky. The hand returned with its mate on my other shoulder. They guided me around. My feet stumbled with the unfamiliarity of the lack of ground. I assumed this movement was to make me to face my judgement. I pulled to stand straight, but as soon as the hands left me, I cringed back.
I was forced straight again. The kind voice spoke in my ear. "Have hope, my little friend. Stand up and face your judgement."
I bit my lip harder. I tried to obey. My arms were smoothed down at my sides and my back was forced straight. My new friend didn't understand that I was never a brave being. I was always spineless, but I did the best I could to obey his wishes.
"Olivier Cuxhaven, we have been compelled by Valcar, the Guardian over the souls in your Realm of the Death, to show mercy upon your foul soul. You are an exceptional case. But, we do believe that you feel remorse for what you have done. Yet, we cannot allow you to go free without any kind of punishment or proof. You will face your sentence half a day for everyday, excluding your birthday, for the next seven years or as long as it may take to achieve your goal here. Your birthday should be remembered as a day to give thanks for the gift of life that you were given and threw away. There shall be no punishment on that day from us.
"During the free time you are given, you will perform a task. You will write a contract, which is your confession of the sins that you committed. This contract will be a plea to the ones that you have wronged. If you acquire the signatures of those that are here in the World of the Dead, then you will go back to the World of the Living as a ghost to get Altenglisch Hans Cuxhaven's signature of forgiveness. If you succeed, you will be as one pardoned. You will never know the joys of the Blessed, but neither will you be punished any longer. You will have seven years to do this. If you fail to get even one signature, then your punishment will be reinstated in full with no reprieve or hope. Is this understood?"
I trembled something terrible. I wanted to explain that I knew nothing about reading or writing, but I dared not argue with them. Would they be so cruel as to tease me in this way? I shook my head to clear that thought. They would not be so petty as the Living. "Yes, sir. I understand," I answered finally.
"Valcar will assist you in the writing of the contract and help you find those that need to sign it."
I nervously stepped forward. I bowed successfully. "Thank you, sir," I replied with some semblance of hope in my flawed soul.