I have encountered most of you at least a time or two. Oh…the confusion I see in your eyes! How delicious! You have no idea how you know me or why on Earth I would know of you and that is exactly how I prefer it. I am what you fear in the shadows. You think it is the monsters that exist there that are the biggest threat, but I am here to educate you. It is yourself that you fear the most in the darkness and I was born into that darkness. It is I that will force you to face the truth of who you are. They call me Karma, but my name is Nemesis…
The magic contained within Emma was ancient and familiar, yet it held a foreignness that made it clear it was not wholly of this world. I latched onto the bit that belonged to the witch queen, the hot gold ichor that had become contaminated power, filled with rage, hatred, and despair at a life stolen. It was the catalyst that had created this monster. The final act of vengeance cast by extraordinary primal magic. But vengeance belonged to me. I was the source and balance of it. I pulled at it, plucking at the abscessed kernel of goodness walled off from the corrupted soul of the little girl.
I slipped by him and entered first, going preternaturally still as I stepped into the entryway. Where golden light usually filled the castle, today there was a putrid green cast to the air. Dust motes swirled past, seeming to glow in the murky light.
I nodded. “Yes. The truth is the mortals are always the ones that pay the highest prices when gods war. They suffer the most loss, the most injustices. There were many reasons why the gods disappeared from the world. Many reasons why the mortals stopped worshipping.”
Adrestia jumped, whipping around and throwing a wild haymaker. I leaned back to avoid the lightning-fast punch, my hand coming up to catch the deceptively delicate fist as it came at my face. I studied Adrestia as images of her past deeds, good and bad, flashed through my mind at the skin-to-skin contact. It was all overshadowed by her panic and the jumbled memories that had sent her fleeing.
I heard the echo of childish laughter on the wind. Tensing, I scanned my surroundings, but relaxed when I realized it was just the remnants of a memory triggered by the sight of my blood. I was unique among the gods until that day long passed. It was a memory that filled me with warmth and ultimately revealed the answers to an eons-old mystery.
Revenge and vengeance fed from themselves, one act creating the need for more. In the hands of mortals and gods alike, it was a neverending cycle of destruction and despair. It was only by my touch that balance and justice were achieved through revenge. And only because I wrought it so, only because I thought and knew the price, only because I controlled my power.
I stood petrified, afraid to move. A part of me had gone quiet and still, frozen and in shock at the breadth of this violation. In needing to create distance from the horror of the nightmares, I had become prey. I had become a victim. I wanted to scream my denial but was not sure I would be able to stop if I started.
I would not hurt Thanatos, and yet I did. I could not close my eyes, but I could look away. And as cowardly as it felt, I did. I could not see the act I was committing. I could not watch, and shame filled me as I left Thano in the one way that I could stay with him.