Irinya carried that achievement with honor and more pride than was wise. She had been bred for her fate, died and suffered for it too. She’d fucking earned the right to revel in her curse. But she was being forced to leave death behind.

Now, she would walk in the light?

And prey upon the living!

What the hell was Death thinking?

Her only regret was she would be alone. For the first time, tremors of fear whispered along her nerves and thrummed in her veins. Her fingers had the audacity to tremble, not even asking for permission, as she stared at the Gates of Hell.

With a growl, she fisted her hands, digging the sharp points of her nails into flesh until she bled.

Gah, she smelled of fear, and now the shakes?

She was not this weak thing.

The chill of her blood pooled in her palm and sought a relentless path between her fingers. At the mercy of gravity, fate pulled her life's essence to its doom. Maybe a piece of her would remain in hell, crisped on the cursed ground?

Pain had long ago become a trusted friend, but fear? She could do without this new companion. It made her weak, vulnerable, and she didn’t have time for that.

Behind her, the deep breaths of her master pulsed in the acrid air.

“Why have you stopped?”

Ahimoth towered over her, his twin horns casting long shadows on the twisted ground. Master of torture, brother of Death, Ahimoth had once claimed her soul. He owned every piece of her pain, every shriek, every scream, even the tears he’d extracted with his unrelenting hands.

Her love for him ran nearly as deep as the fierceness of her hatred. No surprise he’d been the one to escort her to the gates. Death was a cruel bastard, but even he wasn’t heartless.

A drop of blood gathered at her knuckle and lost its battle against the pull of the earth. Even it feared the long descent to the smoldering ground. It separated from her fisted hand, falling with reluctance to traverse the suffocating fumes, heating with each agonizing inch until it splattered on the brimstone with a hiss of surrender.

“Would it surprise you that I don’t want to go?” Irinya stiffened and leveled her chin.

“Would it surprise you that I don’t give a damn?” Ahimoth’s throaty chuckle reverberated through the air and made the ground tremble.

Not in the slightest.

Irinya held back her smile. He would never have the satisfaction of knowing he’d gifted her with a slice of pleasure.

He hated this order as much as she feared it. But Death commanded her exit from Hell and Ahimoth obeyed his brother without question.

The gate waited, twisted souls forever cursed to guard against the encroachment of the living.

That’s what awaited her in exile, souls pulsing with the light of hope, happiness, and joy. The land of the living sickened and twisted her gut. It made her veins churn with the rising tide of this fear.

Forward or back? She could refuse.

Death always offered the damned a choice, or the illusion of having one. He offered a choice to everyone but her.

©Ellie Masters November 2016

My reader group was given a choice…does Irynia move ‘Forward or back?'

They voted.

Irynia will move forward. Read on click here.

If you want to be a part of this FORKED TALE in the making, signup for my newsletter, and join my readers group at The EDGE on facebook.

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