The greatest betrayers of Myth, Religion and Legend are released from hell, returned to the world, to use this second chance to clear their name, to receive the adulation that should have been theirs, to be loved... but what price does the Devil demand for His generosity?
The three had been here for longer than they themselves knew.
There was no ceiling to this round room, or if there was it was so high that it could not be seen. The walls were pocked with blackened windows that filled with demons now and then that watched the trio and laughed and mocked. Gnarled creatures with eyes like coal and twisting horns ringing their heads like sham crowns. Each of these men saw them differently, and each man heard their taunting cries in their own language.
But they didn't know this. The language of the damned is always the same.
Screams echoed through the room, sometimes. The tormented souls outside suffered differently than the three who waited in here. They were Betrayers, afforded a special place in the Eternal Confinement, for was their Jailer not a Betrayer, Himself? Did He not rise against one who trusted Him, and was He not cast down for it?
There was a bonfire in the middle of the room and the three reclined around it on hard marble benches stained black with the soot that did not touch these damned souls.
They were stained enough already.
Loki Shapeshifter, Judas Iscariot and Mordred Le Fey.
Loki was long and thin, fair in the manner of his people. His hair was red as the flames that surrounded him and there was a fine network of scars around his red and green eyes from where the serpent dripped its poison on his face in the time before Ragnarok. His lips too were scarred where once Brokk the Dwarf sewed them shut as punishment for an insult. His legs and arms were shapely but the ankles and wrists bore red never-healing burns from where he broke his chains when the time came for him to end the world.
Sometimes in this place, he became a woman, who batted flirtatious eyes at the others with mocking laughter on her lips. Sometimes, he was a horse, who nickered softly and paced the room, restlessly. Sometimes he was a bird, who flew upwards, looking for the way out of this room. He could never maintain these forms for long, that power had been limited here in this place, restricted by being reduced to myth. It was how he was chained here, though there were no chains to be seen. Loki was the only one to ever sleep here but when he did he woke up in the middle of a nightmare, flailing at the serpent that was no longer there, feeling the poison's burn on his face, calling for Sigyn, his good and godly wife, who had gone into exile with him.
She was at rest now, now that Ragnarok has come, rewarded for her devotion to an unworthy man who never said a nice word to her. She was at peace but Loki never would be.
He was forever dressed in only a white fur trimmed tunic and high-laced sandals that he had worn for eternity, a gold torque about his throat the only ornament. He was here in this place longer than the others, longer than this place was even known of. Once upon a time, this place was ruled by his little daughter Hel, but no more. She died at the World's End and this place was given to another.
Judas was next to him, Judas dark and bearded, reddish highlights in his deep brown hair. He did not look at the others. He did not speak to the others. He lay on his back, his brown-almost-black eyes seeking the Heaven that he would never see, the mark of the rope that throttled the life from him burning red on the tan skin. Now and then, his lips moved in prayer, but always they stopped again, as if he had forgotten the words.
Sometimes despair came upon him and he wept, beat his chest, pulled his hair and tore the pure white robe he wore. Always the rips were mended and the scratches his nails left in his cheeks were healed. The angry welt on his throat would burst and the black blood dried quickly in the heat of this place, but that would never heal. It was the mark of his death.
"Why?" Judas sometimes murmured. "Why me? My Lord, forgive me."
Mordred, who called himself Le Fey, was the last. He was a Pendragon by birth, though Arthur never recognized it. The youth who should've been a prince didn't acknowledge it either. He looked like Arthur, though, strawberry-blond and handsome, blue eyes that reflected only pain and heartache. He was small and delicate, barely twenty years of age when he died, well formed except for the one shoulder that raised itself the tiniest bit higher than the other.
Well that, and, the hidden deformity in his chest.
Beneath the white and gold velvet tunic that he wore, there was a gaping hole. His heart had been there, but Arthur's rejection had ripped it from him. He had plunged his pike through that empty space, and Mordred's hatred had given him the strength to pull himself up the length of the shaft to kill his murderer.
That hole had never healed.
He did not look at the others, either. Why should he? He did not trust people. People turned on him. People judged him. People betrayed him. What good would it do to place his faith in these two? After all, they were betrayers already. That's why they were here.
There was only the confinement, the mockery, and the waiting.
So, forever, the three waited. They didn't know what they waited for. They didn't know how long they would wait.
But, they waited.
For there was nothing else for them to do. Myth, faith and legend joined in their evil, joined in their betrayal, awaiting redemption—maybe---awaiting an end--certainly.
About Heather:Heather Kenealy is the Winner of Cinescape's Short Story contest, and of the Stan Lee Presents The Seekers contest held by MTV Geek and POW! Entertainment. She is an avid comic book reader and writer, and besides short stories has written several screenplays and other entertainment based media.
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