I have another teaser from Stricken for you today, unedited as usual. :)
I hope you enjoy it!
"Seriously," Dom said, sobering, "you okay?"
Was she okay?
"I don't know." Aubrey hesitated, torn between confessing to the things clouding her mind and keeping them to herself. But that's what she always did, wasn't it? Bottled things up instead of talking? Hadn't exactly worked in her favor thus far, either. "How do you guys deal with this? I mean, you've lived for hundreds of years. Does life ever get easier?"
Dom pushed away from the wall, moving across the room toward her. "When Fallen younglings start their warrior training, the first thing they learn is a piece of Fallen wisdom. Perfer et obdura. Dolor hic tibi proderit olim."
"What does that mean?" Aubrey asked.
"Be patient and tough. Someday, this pain will be useful to you." Dom stopped a few feet from her and smiled. "No one, not even the Fallen, likes pain. But sometimes, pain is what makes us who we are. Pain gives us the tools that help us find who we need to be. Humans get so caught up in how they wish things were, they forget to appreciate the experiences that make them who they are."
"It's hard to appreciate who we are sometimes," Aubrey said, a little taken off guard by his seriousness. Who would have guessed there could be such wisdom and pragmatism behind those happy, blue eyes? "It's hard to look to the future when your past hangs like storm clouds overhead."
"History can be oppressive," Dom said, propping himself up on the back of the sofa. "The Fallen know this well. We have a few millennia of history hanging over our heads, but we accept it."
"Why?" She shook her head, thinking over the Fallen history and her earlier questions to Kaeden about why the Fallen continued to atone for their sins. "Your people have punished yourselves for so long. When does your debt to us end?"
"I don't know." Dahmiel held his hands up, shrugging. "Facing the past and owning up to the mistakes we made is the only way to unburden our future. Our people were prideful and self-serving. We put honor aside, too blinded by demon trickery to realize the depths of our depravity. Until our people regain honor, our futures remain burdened, weighted with the bodies of the thousands of your people who died because of our sins. We face the past to remember those who deserve remembrance, and to lay to rest the ghosts of those who do not."
Is that what she needed to do? Face her past to remember, and to forget?
She wasn't sure, but maybe, like the Fallen, she needed to let go of self-serving motives for cowering away, and turn to face the things she tried to bury behind an eroding wall in her mind, once and for all.
"It won't be easy," Dom said as she considered this, "but like the Fallen, you may find it freeing."
Aubrey frowned, her brows furrowing. "Your people find your guardianship of humans freeing?"
He nodded, smiling a little. "Some of us do."
"But why?" she asked. "Humans are violent and cruel. We kill each other without thought. We lie, cheat, and steal. We take from the weak, and destroy the planet with our greed. Why keep protecting a race barreling toward self-destruction?"
"Because, despite all of those things," he said, "humans live. Their lives are fleeting, burned out so quickly, but they still make an impact on this world, they still leave footprints in the hearts of others. They change things, one person at a time. They laugh and cry and love, and no matter what tragedy knocks them down, they pick themselves back up every single time and rebuild.
"Humans can be cruel like you said, but watching them is like watching Fallen children. They misbehave and cause trouble, but they're so innocent and so full of life. They're not mired in the past or fighting for the future. They live in the here and now, accepting life as it comes. And when they need one another, they can be fiercer than a Fallen warrior fighting for his blade-brother's life. If anything is worth protecting, shouldn't it be that passion and zest for life?"
FALL– The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.