‘Do not go placidly into death,’ her words rang in my thoughts, though she herself was gone. I loved her the first time I saw her, even though she had rushed me like an angry wildcat, fierce, and ready to claw me in revenge for my misdeeds to her husband. Yet she came around. How quickly passion transforms the dark to light, like a flower blossoming in the dew and sun. It was as though we were partners of the soul, meant to find each other through the maze of life. All those others, though I loved them in their own way, at the time, none were meant to be paired the way Hallveig and I were meant. All men of power can have many lovers but despite their power they can have only one love; for me that was Hallveig Ormsdottir.
Despite all the tragedies in my life, I had not known a truly broken heart until that moment. The agony of an empty soul, irreversible loss, such profound despair. That moment when we lose the most precious gift that a human can own, life, that we cannot cling to no matter how desperately we try, or pray or bargain with God.
No sooner was she gone than her boys came to me, demanding the wealth that their mother had brought to our union, the wealth that had come as the estate from her late husband, Bjorn Thorvaldsson, dead now these twenty years. Klaengur and Ormur, ungrateful whelps, that lived with wealth under my own roof all those many years. When I was the father taking the place of the one that abandoned them by his death when they were still too young to wipe their own arse.
Of course I refused. All the wealth and property that Hallveig and I shared was agreed to pass to the other, should one of us die. I owed nothing to Klaengur and Ormur. They did not take my rebuke well, as I should have known. They mocked me and threatened that they would see me in rags and would have not only what had been their dead fathers but would have mine as well. I should have known they were aware of the power shift in my Iceland, that I grew more impotent by the day and that Gissur grew stronger. I should have known they would go to him to not merely arbitrate their claim but seek retribution on their behalf.
It was no angel nor demon. It was my inner voice. It was not me, yet it was me. It told me things as if it possessed all knowledge, yet it was not God. I know this because it also asked me questions. Sought answers to things I had no knowledge of.
“Who is the killer?” it asked me. “Who is taking my people before their time?”
I knew nothing of this of course. I didn’t know why it asked me these obscure questions.
“Will I be killed before the day of my birth?”
What strange thing is this to ask. A test of some kind, but a test of what?
“What is the point? What about the Singularity?” it asked and then went silent.
Sometimes I felt as though my life was just a saga, a story being told by a distant author, a scribe who etched my life onto parchment. It has all been real but at the same time it is as though my life has been a play on a stage and I am both an actor on the stage and a viewer in the audience.
“What does this have to do with me? “ I asked the voice.
“You should run. Run before they come for you. Maybe you can escape. Maybe history could change,” it said.
‘I have no spirit to run any longer,’ I thought. ‘What is the point. When all is lost then all is lost and there is nothing.’
“There is the Singularity,” it said.
But this meant nothing to me, just more strange words. It was in that moment I saw the short dark shadow approach him, the voice, with a cup of what surely was poison.
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