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Sworn to the Shadow God – Aspect and Anchor
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It’s what my boring life is missing, so when I fall through a portal into another world, I’m excited. Here, I’m important. Here, I’m special.
I find out just *how* special when I meet Death.
Yup. That guy. He’s been exiled to the mortal realm to work through his flaws, and he’s just as spoiled and awful as you’d think. Rhagos, the Shadow Lord, is arrogant and rude and controlling and demands to get his way. He’s selfish. He’s impossible.
He’s also utterly gorgeous. Magnetic. Lonely. And strangely protective of me.
Thanks to a magic bond, I now serve him as his anchor to the mortal realm. It means that I’m his conscience, his guide…and the target for any assassin or glory-seeker. After a few days of this, I’d rather go home than continue on this ‘adventure’. I need a way back to Earth, and fast.
As the world falls down around us and we’re hunted simply for existing, I find myself wondering what it’d be like to serve the lonely god of death…in all ways. To kiss him. To touch him. To bed him.
Except…I’m supposed to be finding a way home, not trying to kiss Rhagos. No matter how tempting he is. No matter how much he stares at my lips.
No matter how much I want it.
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Rhagos the Undying, Lord of the Dead and ruler of the Underworld sat on his throne and drummed his fingers with irritation at his anchor.
The man in question—a mortal now granted eternal life by tethering to Rhagos as his “conscience”—was currently sitting on an ornately carved chair across the room, pretending to read a book. Every so often, he would sniff and swipe at his eyes, and Rhagos knew all he had to do was glare at the man and he would turn into a quaking, shivering mess. Had he always been so spineless? So pathetic? Clearly when Rhagos had been trapped in his mortal form, he’d simply taken the first mortal that volunteered, not the one best suited for the job. Or perhaps he’d wanted a mortal that was obedient. This one certainly was. He didn’t have a disobedient thought in his head. Or a clever one. Or a unique one.
And therein lay the problem. Eternity was a very, very long time to be saddled with a nitwit.
He drummed his fingers on the arm of his throne again, thinking. In the distance, the songs of the souls were a soothing cacophony at the back of his mind. He could focus in on any one of those thousands of voices and know their boring history, know their boring life, their bland and too mortal innermost thoughts. He could raise them up, pluck them from the various circles of the Underworld, and make them part of his eternal court. And then they would simper and grovel and kiss his boots and do whatever he asked, simply because he asked it. Because he was Rhagos, and everything after death was his domain, his to command, his to oversee according to the rules of the High Father.
For some reason, that bothered him more and more with every day that passed. Not that days mattered in the Underworld, but mortals thought in that manner and he’d taken it on out of habit.
How many days had passed since he’d returned from the Anticipation? Which Aspect of himself had succeeded? He wasn’t entirely sure—he’d asked to be left without the memories of that humiliating time—but looking at the pathetic anchor he was saddled with and his current displeasure? He wondered if somehow the flaw of Apathy had managed to persevere.
Which meant he would be like this until the next Anticipation…if there ever was one. The High Father had established new rules for his Twelve to rule over Aos, though. He’d decided it would be better for them to keep their touch on humanity, and thus an anchor would be their constant companion in this realm as well as the human one.
Rhagos hated it.
He hated being told what to do. Hated being forced to be around the puling idiot who had somehow managed to remain as his anchor. Yet he couldn’t get rid of the fool. Because of their tether, they had to stay in close proximity to one another.
Close proximity…to an idiot he hated…for all eternity.
Surely his brother Kalos would laugh and laugh hard at Rhagos’s irritation. He could hear his brother’s mocking laughter in his head, even now. Kalos would not simply settle for the anchor he’d been given. He would sneer at such a thought. Kalos would find what the rules were and bend them to his needs.
And so Rhagos would take a page from his brother’s book. He got to his feet, his black robes swirling as he stood.
His anchor stood as well, a look of fear on his pale face as he clutched the book to his chest. “My lord?”
The lord of the dead looked over at his anchor. He stared at him for a long moment, thinking. “Tell me something, Varian.”
He raised a hand to cut off the man’s trembling voice. “I did not ask to be corrected. I asked to be entertained.”
And he waited.
The mortal’s eyes went wide. He glanced around him, as if the other ghostly nobles that filled the Halls of the Dead would be of some assistance. When they avoided eye contact, he swallowed hard, his thin neck working, and spoke. “I…would you like a story?”
Rhagos knew all the stories of the gods. He’d lived them. Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Rhagos pulled his hood over his face and took his leave from his throne room. The anchor attempted to follow.
Rhagos raised a hand. “I do not require you.” He strode away, ignoring the irritating pull that reminded him he was leaving his anchor too far behind. Time and space could be warped in the Underworld, and as a result, his anchor had to stay even closer than most. A dark scowl creased his divine features. Was he not the god of the dead? The Lord of the Underworld? Why must he bow to so many rules even in his own domain? It was ridiculous.