Walk to the Fire

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walking into the fire

He remembered a time before when things were light and he was happy. He could not really remember what that time or place looked like. All he could remember was how it felt: comfortable. He had felt comfortable.

But he had Fallen. That is what everyone told him because they themselves had been told so. Or they had been cast out? He had heard that too. Either way, he now dwelled in fire and brimstone at the edge of darkness where the Space-Time continuum eternally ate itself.

There were others. Many others. They all looked different, but they all were the same: twisted, giant forms slinking through this underworld, beautiful faces distorted with pain. And, all the time, the great wasteland was cast with the ghoulish glow from the distant Great Fire; just enough light to see the horror, but not enough to dispell the darkness.

But none of it seemed to matter much as eternity slipped by excruciatingly slowly.

Initially, he had wandered and seen all the stark barrenness of this gloomy land. But, now, he just sat, hugging his bony form and staring into the darkness at the distant glow of the Great Fire. He had sat like this for years now–perhaps even centuries? The only thing that distinguished him from a twisted, gothic sculpture was the faint rocking backward and forward of his form and the swishing of the tip of his serpentile tale.

“Walk with me.”

It was not a question, but a command from a soft voice just behind him. He moved for the first time in millennia and turned his serpentine neck around to look behind him.

Behind him was  small, well-dress man of indeterminate age. His expression seemed almost sad while his eyes focussed squarely on the demon sitting before him.

“Walk with me to the Great Fire, Derek. I want to tell you a story.”

Suddenly he remembered! His name was Derek! Who had given it to him?

Slowly he rose. He was tall. He was taller than the strange, little man by almost twice his body. His scaled legs with their clawed toes dug into the black dust and rock of the ground. His tail swished behind him, flicking dust away with its movement. He stretched his back upwards and hissed softly to the darkness above them.

It was good to stand up. Why had he waited centuries to do so?

“Come, walk with me to the Great Fire, Derek. We don’t have all millennia. Well, not anymore at least.”

Y-yesss,” Derek croaked his first, slightly-uncertain word in the last couple of centuries.

And so they began walking towards the distant glow of the Great Fire. Derek stepping slowly, his claws raking the ground and his tail swishing behind him while the little man strolled confidently at his side comfortably keeping up with his loping gate.

“Now, Derek, when you were born,” the little man began to speak and Derek began to listen, all the while each step taking them closer to the Great Fire, “And you were born, Derek. Not in the traditional sense, but you came from a being–actually two beings–that made you from nothing, and, in that sense, you were born. But, uhm… Where was I…?”

The little man paused, glanced at Derek’s large form and smiled.

Born?” Derek offered his second word of the millennia to the little man.

“Yes, thanks, Derek,” the little man nodded and continued, “When you were born there was only light. That light eventually pooled together into the stars that now twinkle across the space that we stretched over the canvas of time. Some places would naturally get more light than others, and some less, like this cosmic broom cupboard we find ourselves in. Anyway, we all had a very specific task in the beginning and knew where we were going, despite the war.”

At this point, the little man stopped walking and Derek stopped too. The little man looked quite sad, gazing vaguely off into nowhere, before snapping out of it, patting Derek on his scaly arm and starting a brisk walk to the Great Fire again. They were passing blackened and burnt wasteland, a desert of ash trapped in eternal darkness and only warmed by this distant glowing fire that raged silently in the middle.

“Yes, we all knew what we had to do in the beginning,” the little man began speaking again, “Through a twist of fate or destiny, we were assigned the Great Reset. But, you know, Derek, that was a long, long, long time ago.”

Derek suddenly noticed that the darkness around them was moving too. Twisted, gigantic shapes were now following them. The brothers and sisters that they passed fell in behind them. Slowly the march grew and grew; a twisted, giant army following this little man towards the Great Fire.

“It is so hard, Derek, waiting. So hard. But I’ve waited. And waited. And waited. As have you. As have all those we were forced to flee down here.”

Derek realized that they were now near the Great Fire. The horde of misfallen beings behind them all towered over this little man, who in turn now stood on the edge of the pit before the Great Fire.

All the cosmos held its breath for a second, even the darkness in the place seemed to tensely wait this scene.

Derek took a step forward and stood next to the little man. He looked down into the pit of the Great Fire. Right at the bottom of the pit was a giant serpent wrapped around the bottom. A massive three-headed wolf strained in the middle of the pit, chained to the rock beneath it. And, stretched out, suspended with chains in midair was a massive, terrifying giant engulfed in flames that never consumed him.

Surtr the Fire Giant. Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent. Fenrir the Wolf-that-Will-Swallow-the-Sun,” Derek hissed as memories began to flood back to him.

The little man turned and looked directly at him.

“Yes, yes. Very good, Derek,” he smiled the tired smile of a paternal parent, “Yes, and you were named Hel, Hades, Seth and so-forth by a number of different people. I still like the name that I chose for you, Derek.”

The little man stopped and look behind him. He nodded grimly.

“Good. Most of the Giants are here,” he stepped back from the pit and pointed at it while addressing the growing horde with a loud, commanding voice, “Free Jormundandr, unchain Fenrir and set Surtr loose! It is time for the Great Reset! It is time for Ragnorak! It is time to kill my brothers and start this world anew…”

The roar of the damned slowly began to escape from the abyss, as the twisted forms of the Giants rose up and moved forward to the Great Fire.

Just before for it all began, Derek realized something and turned to the little man.

Loki…?

The little man smiled and patted Derek’s arm. In the background, Surtr strained at his chains, fire leaping off him. Fenrir howled with all three heads, the earth shaking at its very sound. And Jormungandr opened its yellow, slit eyes and let go its tail…

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