Born Immortal Chapter 35

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Gerda crept slowly out of the living room holding a spear in her hands in such a way that it was obvious she had no experience with the weapon. Gerda had been born after the war and had never needed to learn how to fight, but she was a mother and her son was lying out on the patio unconscious with nothing but an exhausted girl for protection. She couldn't sit around and do nothing.

Loki's back was turned; he was picking up a sword from off the ground. The small handgun was useless now that it was empty because he hadn't brought extra ammunition for the backup gun.

Gerda quickly moved to Hakon's side and put her hand over the wound in his shoulder. It wouldn't heal on its own while Hakon was completely drained of energy.

Suddenly there was a shout and Gerda looked up to see Frey running full speed around the corner of the house with Grima and a tired-looking Tyr behind him. Loki swept up the sword and turned to face the three with a set look on his face.

Frey was furious to see his first-born son lying on the ground in a pool of blood and frightened to see Gerda out in the open, unprotected, leaning over him. Frey no longer cared about Tyr's prior claim on Loki, he ran to the large man and swung his sword down to the left and swept it up in a smooth arc aiming for Loki's right hip.

Loki only just managed to get his sword up to deflect the blow. He was tired and sore and his right hand was still covered in blood, making his grip slippery.

Frey brought the sword up. He feinted a swing down. As Loki raised his blade to block, Frey changed direction, thrusting the tip into Loki's chest. Frey put his hand on the round pommel and pushed, forcing the blade through ribs and sternum.

Loki dropped his weapon, in shock from the pain. He looked down at the hilt protruding from his body in surprise. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. He had planned it so carefully. Every move he had made for so many years had been leading him to revenge, to victory. Not death; not an ignominious death for him.

He looked up just in time to see Grima approaching with a stern expression on her face. Loki had faced Grima and her spear once before and it had taken a force of nature to save him. There was going to be no reprieve this time.

Grima spun her spear up and around so quickly that Loki didn't have time to be afraid of death as the wickedly sharp blade on the end sliced cleanly through his neck.

Frey jumped back to avoid the spray of blood as Loki's head rolled off and fell to the ground.

Frey spared not a moment for the defeated enemy. He ran over to Hakon and joined Gerda in helping him heal. Frey wasn't rough with Astyr as he moved her aside, but she was in the way and Frey couldn't think of anything other than his son at the moment.

Tyr came over and, far more gently, picked Astyr up and set her on her feet before crushing her to him in a hug that made all of his unspoken feelings perfectly clear. Tears were still running down her face but they had a slightly different flavor to them now, relief.

"Daddy," Astyr sobbed into his chest. "I thought I was going to die."

"No, baby," Tyr said softly, "You did a great job. You did everything you could." he wasn't sure yet what exactly had happened, but Astyr had come through it alive and that was all he needed to know for now.

There was a soft whimper behind them and Tyr jerked around to see the sorry-looking brown wolf lying on the ground with blood oozing out of the bullet wounds in its chest.

Astyr broke free of her dad and knelt down beside the animal that had jumped in front of her just in time to save her from Loki's bullet. She put her hands on his side to offer what comfort she could to him; she was too weak to even think of healing him.

"Grima," she said, turning to look at her guardian, "is there anything you can do? He saved my life."

Grima came and knelt down beside Astyr and laid her hands over the wounds. She concentrated for a moment before sadly shaking her head.

"He's lost too much blood." Grima said softly, "He's too far gone for me to help him."

The wolf gave a soft whine and Astyr bent lower to look in his eyes as he passed.

Suddenly, Astyr was watching a complete vision of the life of, not an animal, but a boy.

The boy was born in a dirty hovel to parents who were neither loving nor kind. He would curl up in a corner whenever he couldn't escape outside to avoid the shouting, the fights, and the beatings. The thick forest around his home contained a large population of wolves and the boy would often stay with them in their dens for days on end until his father would find him and drag him back home.

When the boy was a little older, his mother left, tired of his father and disinterested in the son she left behind. The boy's life became much harder after that; it was constantly switching from bearing the abuse his father rained down upon him to being responsible for saving the drunken man from his own excesses.

Centuries passed in this fashion with the boy growing to be a man tied to the alcoholic wreck of a man who had brought him into the world. The boy's plans to leave and make his own way in life were always thwarted by his need to save his dad. Astyr could clearly see the way the father used guilt to manipulate his son and it made her angry for the boy.

Anger gave way to shock as she saw Loki approach the father and son and threaten them into moving here to trap Astyr, herself. Shock turned to horror as she relived her first meeting with Randy from his point of view.

She felt the emotions tear him apart as he realized how much he cared for her. Her heart broke for him as he was forced to betray her and as he jumped out the window leaving behind his murdered father and a life that held nothing for him any longer.

She was quickly coming to the end; there wasn't much more time remaining before he would sacrifice himself for her, but the scene that came next confused her.

Randy was tracking a scent that led to a dilapidated shack in the middle of nowhere. He went inside and found a secret door that led down into a hidden chamber. He found a door and a light switch and discovered a woman being held prisoner in a stone cell.

Astyr gave a gasp as she recognized the wasted shell of the woman from the photo her father had given her for Christmas. The photo of her parents when they got married.

The vision ended; indeed, it had only taken a moment for Astyr to see Randy's entire life, but that life was now finished. Astyr felt hot tears spill down her face unrestrained. The pain of seeing Randy watching the events going on around the mansion and struggling with his desire to save her and his fear of Loki felt like a steel band around her chest. He had given up everything and then had run in to give up the one thing he had left just to save the only person who had given him kindness and respect.

Randy's last breath left his body and Astyr gave a loud sob as she realized there wouldn't be another.

Tyr and Grima gasped as well as Randy's body transformed back to his normal state.

Panic gripped Astyr as it occurred to her that she had no way of finding that shack without Randy. She screamed and started pounding on his chest, desperate to bring him back. He was the only one who could lead her to her mother.

Grima put her arms around Astyr and dragged her away from Randy's lifeless body.

"It's okay, Astyr," Grima said to her firmly. "He saved you, but you have to let him go. There's nothing you can do for him now."

Astyr screamed louder. "No! You don't understand!" She pulled herself out of Grima's arms and ran to her father, frantically grabbing his shoulders and looking him right in the eye.

 "Look," she shouted, "Look at what he saw!"

She let the scene run through her mind again as her father watched. He brought his hands up to the sides of her head and asked her to show him again and again.

Finally, he put his arms around her and hugged her tightly, all the while saying, "She's alive."

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