“Why do people collect items? Is it greed to have them always at hand? Or is the fear of throwing away something of worth.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
I ruffle my hair and clench my teeth, watching Seria as she wolfs down yet another bowl of fried rice. It's been three days since she killed my brother and for some odd reason I don't give a shit about it. Probably I should, but when it comes down to it, I have to admit that I was about to kill him myself. The fact that I don't know why Seria is sulking troubles me much more.
She probably has no problem with the fact that she killed him. She hated him after all. I also know that she is really tough when it comes to blood and gore. So why is she locking herself inside her apartment and hiding from the world? Is she frustrated that my brother managed to pull her strings?
Pursing my lips, I watch out of the window-front which is taking up the whole southern wall of the living room. Seria surely has it good when it comes to living arrangements. The view we get over her family's flying city is amazing. Located high in one of the palace's towers, her apartment feels like being on the top of the world.
My father was shocked about my brother's betrayal, but he was always dense in that regard. He was never able to express something like fatherly love, so he was never really close to us. My mother was the one who made decent beings out of me and my siblings. In the end, even she proved to be fallible. Would it have made a difference if she had taken care of Perseus? In some aspects, the fault of Perseus turning out as he did can be laid at our feet.
I return my gaze to Seria who is determined to focus all of her attention out of the window. She munches on a bowl of fried rice, using her bare hand to shovel the rice into her mouth.
After Perseus’s death we left the cleaning up to the rest of the family and sought refuge in Seria's private quarters, where she informed me that she is determined to get this pregnancy over with in record time. So when she presented her glorious backside to me, I was all up for the task. Though now that things are cooling down I am starting to think about her feelings. My eyes wander to her round belly and she notices it.
Huffing, she touches my hand and starts pulling on my life force, which is immediately replaced by the amulet around my neck. “I wish it was already over. I've a few memories about first time births, and I am not fond of the pain.”
I intertwine my fingers with hers. “Aren't you making up for the pain with a lot of pleasure?” I furrow my forehead, looking down at her hand. “Though I do wonder. You can pull energy from a man just by touching him? Why didn't you do so earlier?”
“It's about the amount of skin I can touch. The more, the better. And do you really want to tell me that you would prefer a mere touch to hot sex?”
I laugh and get up. “Definitely not. So why do you do it now?”
She grimaces and looks down at herself. “Are you for real? It's no fun when I can't even move.”
“I certainly don't mind.” I put on my most earnest face, trying my best not to grin.
She looks at me and finally the corners of her lips curl upwards. At least a little. “I swear. At some point I'll introduce you to the really kinky stuff. Then we will see if you are still high and mighty afterwards.” Having said so, she returns to devouring the fried rice.
I shrug and stand up, deciding that I should finally give this room a good look. It's not like I lack the time and a room can say a lot about the person who lives in it. The first thing that comes to mind is that Seria's apartment is almost Spartan and very clean. There are a few sculptures and pictures on the walls, nothing exceptional. The pictures are of fractals and look like the ones she used to help her students train their memories.
“Did you draw them?” I ask. Seria answers with an acknowledging grunt.
I continue my inspection with the oversized television screen, an invention that only recently became attractive for Dedessians. They don't have a pop culture of their own, but they gleefully hitch-hike on Newerth's TV shows and music channels.
It's interesting that Seria doesn't seem to have any personal items. Neither is there a real working space to conduct studies. Maybe inside that huge cabinet?
I stroll towards it and open the two winged doors. What greets me is... surprising? Men's clothes? No, to be exact, it's a bunch of jackets and T-shirts of various sizes. And there are a lot of them. The whole cabinet turns out to be a walk-in wardrobe. And the left hallstand has my most beloved jacket right at the front. I'd wondered where it disappeared to.
Realizing that the hallstand has wheels, I decide to give it a test. So I pull, and pull, and pull... until I reach the other side of the room. The thing is huge, at least eight metres in length and stuffed with neatly arranged jackets. The older ones are even vacuum-packed to make them smaller? Or to preserve them? Raising an eyebrow, I turn my attention to Seria who froze; hand with fried rice halfway up to her mouth.
She swallows. “I can explain that. There is a perfectly fine explanation for why I have those.”
I never expected her to have lived the live of a monk until she met me. Though seeing it like this... she certainly didn't hold back in this lifetime. Why I am kidding myself? Don't forget, she is a succubus. “Oh, I believe I understand perfectly well. So I can assume that my jacket is the last one in your collection of trophies? Or is this indicating how many love rivals I'll have to fight in the future?”
She bristles. “Oh, of course! Everything comes to an end sooner or later. This is a hobby that ended when you caught me. You are the one who got me with a baby, so you are the winner. Hand on my heart, may the tree swallow me whole if I lie.”
I frown. “What a strange expression.”
“Oh, it's not an expression. You see Yggdrasil out there? Back in the old days when the survival of the fittest ruled, we sent our children through the labyrinth under the tree. Those who were weak or of bad character didn't come out. It served as a test of strength and to judge one's mind, so people who did something bad always could try their luck in the labyrinth to prove their innocence.”
That's barbaric! “You forced children to take the same test as adults? That can't be fair!”
“Oh, you actually have a better chance to beat the labyrinth as a child. It gets more complicated and dangerous the more devious your mind is. Yggdrasil may not be sentient, but he has certain standards. He is a mythical creature after all. I am just glad that my parents never saw the need to test me.”
“So they had to take the test?” I muse.
“Oh, yes. Mom had to when she was a child. She almost died. Dad wasn't tested since he was born in another clan. But Mom once threw him into the labyrinth when they had a fight. He wandered the labyrinth for four days until he got fed up and blasted his way out.”
“Blasted his way out?” I echo.
“Yes. He collapsed a tunnel and dug upwards until he broke through to the surface. Almost gave some civilians a heart attack. They reported a zombie crawling out of the earth in the park. Marcus, can you go and call my Mom?”
“Why do you need your mother all of a sudden?”
“My waters broke, and she has medical experience like nobody else in the multiverse.”
I reach up and wipe my forehead with the back of my hand. Her waters broke. Yes. That's a good reason to call for help. “I'll go immediately. Don't stand up! Don't go anywhere!”
“I don't intend to.”