Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tannr and his group are barely past the Gate before Star is looking quizzically at me. "I'm surprised you're not going with him."

"My place is here, protecting my wife and children," I say firmly. "Besides, a small group can move faster and get away quicker."

She stares at me with those too-knowing eyes, eyes that peel my excuses away in layers. "You could have been part of the group if you'd wanted to. Tannr would have left one of his men behind if you'd volunteered."

"That's true - but it was Tannr who told me I needed to stay here with my family."

"There's something else, though, isn't there?" Her eyes are unnerving in their unwinking intensity.

"Well, it seems to me like Tannr is taking things to an unnecessary, even dangerous extreme. If Tannr was only risking his own life, that'd be bad enough; but he's taking five others with him to Svartalfheim - one of the most dangerous places in all the Worlds - endangering their lives as well as his own... and for what? Because this priest taunted Tori, humiliated her, he deserves to die? If I had him here, in the human realm, I'd beat him bloody, but I wouldn't kill him. I certainly wouldn't ask anyone else to risk themselves for my vengeance."

"You don't know," she says wonderingly.

 "Know what, love?"

"A sacrifice has to be perfect, undamaged. To offer the Goddess a damaged sacrifice is a terrible blasphemy - and Lolth is unforgiving. The priest couldn't harm Tori physically, but what he did might have been even worse.

He sent evil dreams to her, dreams of horrible, degrading, agonizing death in every form. There was no waking up, either - not until after the dream concluded. After just a few nights, she feared sleeping more than she feared being awake, but the stress tired her out and she'd sleep - and then she'd dream and wake up screaming. And since it wasn't doing her any real, physical harm, it wasn't breaking the rules.

But it was a form or torture - a torture of the mind and spirit instead of the body, but just as real. He deserves death for that, if for no other reason."

I stare. I've never heard my wife speak so eloquently, or so ruthlessly. "You've certainly changed," I say, trying to make a joke of it.

"I've had to."

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