Chapter ?: Reborn (?)

A/N: This is a drabble, not a full chapter, for reasons that will become clear. See the second A/N for more details.

This was the sixty-eight time she'd seen this part of her life. I knew this because I'd been trying to delay it from her, hold it from her as long as possible. Every time it played I knew it broke her, just a little bit more than the last.

By the twentieth, she'd figured out why she was killed. By the twenty-fifth she'd figured out who Fire was. By the thirtieth, she'd grown silent and just watched. If this continued, she'd go mad. There was very little I could do to discourage this action, too. It was just what she was meant to see, each time. This was how the world was supposed to be. There were millions of other souls just like hers with tales just as tragic, most of whom had become insane. Those who escaped to become an einherjar were the lucky few.

Despite all of this, something about her case drew me to her. She wasn't even that special, not really. Thousands were murdered before their time, dozens by their own family. There's nothing unique about her case, not even the fact that her husband had moved on to what was arguably a healthier relationship. The two of them barely shared anything in common, and their love would have become repetitive and boring eventually. Their children was what kept them together, a familial love and bond.

I shouldn't even be considering this. I'd be shattering lives if I did this, with barely any upsides other than returning this woman to life. I could restore anyone, literally anyone.

Despite this, what Xane had told me stuck in my head. Emmeryn had a point, we shouldn't be so focused on the bigger picture. Especially when it was individuals who would save us, individuals that we refused to help.

I was going to regret this. If not from my siblings, almost certainly from the rest of the pantheon. This wouldn't even further our schemes to defeat Grima. Perhaps if I just…

I reached out and touched her soul. The image playing in front of her soul trembled once, twice, and then shattered.

Anna screamed, and the void split in half, red and blue lights flickering and illuminating the other souls. Anna's hands curled into claws as she looked around in a frenzy, not even seeing me even as she stared at my position. Excellent.

"Come on." I mumbled under my breath. There was a chance that her spirit had already broken, that she'd be a shade wandering the realm causing havoc rather than an actual spirit. I'd be in even deeper trouble, that way.

The scream stopped, and Anna stared at me, now seeing me and panting heavily. Her image flickered once or twice, then solidified and the spirit was gone. Clad in chain armour, a sword and a staff on her back and what looked like a shield in her hands, she glared and demanded one question.

"Where. Is. My. Daughter."

Yes, this was going to work out just fine.

A/N: Alright, so, it's been a while. Between university, nanowrimo (which I failed due to university demands) and my laptop exploding (second one in a row, hooray) due to an incompetent tech guy who soldered my hard drive while trying to fix my keyboard I've not had much time/resources/motivation to work on the story, so I decided to reread it rather than going off my notes and dear god did I make some bad decisions.

1. Fridging Anna. It might not have been my intention, but it played out like that.

2. Failing to develop the Cameron/Cynthia relationship properly (which is going to remain - I stand by it being a healthier relationship in general)

3. Fridging Flavia, which is going to be a little harder to fix but I might be able to later on

4. Spending too much time on the OCs rather than the canon characters, even with canon character POV chapters

5. Inconsistent style of first-person narration

6. Bad writing in general

I don't have the motivation to redo the story as a whole. If I tried, it'll die. Instead, I'm performing the time-honored comic book tradition of pretending bits of it didn't happen and retroactively slapping a band-aid on the wounds. Hopefully this'll mean that I actually want to continue working on the story, instead of drifting apart from it as I was.

This does mean that a bunch of the prior foreshadowing is going to lead to nothing, but at this point that's basically unavoidable. If my motivation for the story peters out a second time, I'll upload an overview of the plot and a couple of half-written scenes that I managed to save from the destroyed computer to give some kind of closure to anyone still reading, rather than just leaving it unfinished.