Zeniphel: A Muse Short Story
Updated: Oct 8, 2021
[This is the last story in Pure Intentions.
If you enjoy it, please feel free to make a donation or buy the paperback!]
Opaque aquamarine skies span above this world, with practically translucent curling clouds and light as bright as day without a sun. In this city, that’s before time and after space, there holds a renaissance market. With wares from any era that ever was or ever will be, an individual can find whatever their heart may desire. And for those rare visitors who have no true wants or needs, who have a complete and utter wholeness to themselves, there’s still plenty to find, plenty to do, and a wonderfully fun experience ahead of them.
Two such individuals arrive on this day, enthusiastic about their miscellaneous excursion. Canis, female of average mortal height, cascading hair of a cedar’s bark, eyes bright with color of its leaves, walks arm and arm with her companion. Her eternal companion, Loki, stands taller than most, his long black hair shining with an undertone of a deep red - like the last burning ember of a dying fire, with eyes of fossilized amber, one hand offered to his love and one hand on the hilt of his blade. Though neither of them can imagine such a need for her protection, this male has a fight or fight personality. This Immortal had promised her long ago – many lifetimes in fact – that no harm would come to her, not as long as he existed.
As the couple moves through the crowded streets, Canis guides them out of impulse, going for anything that catches her eyes. When they come to a particularly small table, she finds herself looking at crafted jewels of decadence. Unnecessary, delicate, splendorous, each raw gem is amidst fine weaved silver, making it clear everything is uniquely handcrafted. Her eyes had not been caught by the sparkling features of each piece (like most who wander over for a gander), instead she notices a rather rough looking stone of matte quality. There’s something of its unpolished nature that intrigues her and her thin little fingers soon brush over the pendent.
The stone itself seems rarer than a sun at night, rarer than the sound of cat’s footsteps, rarer that the breath of a fish, or even rarer than out-living death. A fragment of star, at the mercy of the cosmos, the lost crystal is a virtuous thing. When held in front of her eyes, Canis can see through the pendant and only through it can she see the universe. Swirling galaxies, glimpses of constellations, the entirety of the night sky, all dangling beneath her finger tips.
The proprietor of such oddities speaks softly now, “Ah, the owner of the necklace has finally arrived.”
Sucked in only to be spit back out, Canis feels a bit unsteady as she looks across the stand. Of course, she should have known… the perfect specimen of a female is across from her, long golden hair curling around her like a mane, has eyes covered in a dense shroud. Perhaps a women who plays as an out-stretched had of The Lady Fates, perhaps a sister of sorts to Lady Justice, perhaps something else entirely, but still someone very ethereal.
Given that Lady Justice is a dear friend and part of Canis’s High Council and it is because of The Lady Fates that she and Loki were brought together, she feels an instant familiarity, and therefore comfort, with the woman. “Hello!” she greets her with a smile while carefully lowering the pendent, “I hope we find you well.”
Her head bows slightly, “My lady,” and then turns to Loki, “my Sir.”
Interested in all things unusual and atypical, Loki is quick to take the necklace from Candice. Holding it out in his palm he inquires, “How much?”
The saleswoman’s smile in genuine and soft, “It is already yours. It is made from your,” she gestures to the couple, “stardust and has been waiting for your arrival.”
Reminding him greatly of Heimdall, Loki gives her a smile. “Well, shall I help it on then?” he asks Canis.
Sliding her forearm across the base of her neck, her hair is lifted and then the necklace is clasped. The braided chain almost floats around her neck, feeling completely weightless as it’s draped on her skin. The pendent pinches the chain at the valley of her collarbone, the elegantly fashioned tear-drop shape falling just above her bosom.
It’s only now that Canis understand why she’d never worn a necklace; she’d been waiting for this all along.
Solid azure skies curve with the Earth from horizon to horizon, clear and cloudless, with the sun’s bright light shining from its position of high noon. In this city, that’s primary feature is a university campus, the time and age is Common Era. It is the season of new, it’s the season of golden forests, it’s the season of students, but most importantly it’s the season of love. There are holidays that boast of the love of family, there are events that boast of the love of friends, and then there are the ever so special activities that bring young lovers together.
After sharing an afternoon picnic in the park, lounging on their blanket near the lake, the couple temporarily parts. It is when his lady is gone from his side that Loki finds himself in a fit of frustration.
Home too soon, it’s Heimdall that comes to his aid. Though their shared home is full with all sorts of Others (of Higher Beings that came to experience Earth for themselves) it is only Heimdall that feels not only like a true brother but Loki’s only friend. They are good companions to each other, regardless of his mischief, and they unconditionally look out for the other’s best interest.
Arguably, Loki’s anger and instability, his angst and heartache, his overall self-consciousness is within reason. Out of all the Others he’s had contact with, he is the only one without any powers; not a whisper or a shadow of any former abilities; he’s just so… “dreadfully human!”
Heimdall gives him the time to breathe and calm down and then shifts in his chair so he’s facing him directly. “You may be called Theo, just as I am Oskar, but you are still Loki as I am still Heimdall.”
He completes signing the symbols of well-known runes, “you are Kenaz and Dagaz for a reason. Definition being that of awakening or dawn, with the equivalent of the infinity symbol; ever changing, ever shifting, ever open to new experiences and awareness. Then there is knowledge itself and light, with the to-be-greater symbol; the ideals of transformation and illumination.
“You are one of the few gods, ever to have been and ever to be, that needs constant change, constant continuation, constant… life! So, to be human - to live, to learn, to thrive, to want to teach and help and be there for people in pain…. Knowing what it is like to be in pain and never wanting that for anyone else. Well….
“You may be called the trickster, the god of mischief, the shapeshifter – sure, these things taken negatively, but truly you are a divine catalyst for people to be helped and healed, to learn and grow.
“You got bored when it was our time, we all knew it, and some acted rashly in handling you. But, you have always looked out for yourself, your safety, your survival. You were - you are still, just too smart for some. And now, now you are able to be free to do whatever you please!”
Resting his forearm on the back of the chair, he leans forward. “Do not tell me you do not feel like yourself; do not feel your own powers within you. Maybe you cannot change your face, but I have seen your social media and versus the man that sits before me… simply two different individuals, I swear to you. Even more so, from one video to the next… we have the outdoorsy hiker type, we have a scholar going through his favorite books, we have a man who enjoys and tries all sorts of foods without worry,” his chuckle is a rumble of thunder. “Loki, please….”
Easing back again, he folds his arms comfortably over his chest. “And now… now you have found someone that catches your eye; that sets that fire in your heart; that makes your mind race. You know her, you love her, you two not just from the same flame but from the same star dust. You have both been given a chance at such a great adventure!
“And yet…” he sighs “you are jealous of me for my, rather useless, abilities?”
The time had come for Loki to be finally reasoned with and such a glorious triumph had been given to Heimdall. Now, understanding a part of himself he imagined as indescribable, Loki sits in awe of – well – everything. Understanding a part of himself that always felt hard to fix or see – always felt like it was flickering, melting, mixing… the shape of a shapeless fire, the invisible wind that hurries clouds across the sky, something so intangible yet ever present. Understanding what can only be described as humanity.
Finally understanding what can only be described as love.
In this sleep, Canis explores some of her most beloved of memories. In this memory, she is in a realm with onyx skies that fill the line of sight, displaying a twinkling array of stars and a shimmering crescent moon. In this realm, a place that is outside of all time and space and relative forms of existence, lives a man and his wife.
Though their courtship had not been flawless, after Canis heard Loki say ‘I need to be yours’ (rather than ‘you are mine’), she was left realizing this is something revolutionary and profound. Leaving her to speak with a member of her High Council in her last moment of weakness. When the dark featured man, with golden eyes able to see it all, asks “But you feel it, don’t you?”
She couldn’t help but nod.
When he then continued to explain “Your mind doesn’t always need to know, need to understand. Sometimes the heart - the soul, has a job that is more important than the mind can offer.”
She was cleansed of all doubts.
Quickly thereafter came the first night in the home the man built for his wife. Though his instinct had been to give her a life of majesty and luxury, to want for not and have it all, everything that could glimmer would actually be gold, he refrained. Instead Loki built a forest from the ground up; he’d carved a river with his bare hands; he painted the night sky with the colors of her dreams; and manifested a cottage to be the embodiment of her nature.
In this home, in his arms, she is finally in the place she belongs. But this time, when Canis awakes from this memory that the perfect dream is over.
It is in the place outside of all time and space and relative forms of existence that they are found. It is in this place so secret and so safe that Loki fights for his wife. Bloodied, beaten, broken, with an armored boot pinning him to the muddy dirt, Loki watches as an unconscious Canis is dragged away. That his last thought before he’s hit across the back of his head.
The Lower Beings that claim to protect the Immortals now hold Loki against his will. Holding him in chains while explaining the punishment delivered to Canis. Being ruthless in their false sense of righteousness, they inform Loki that they are saving him from her. Keeping him safe, keeping him whole, but most importantly keeping him pure.
In all his resistance, he is released from his chains and brought to the demon in charge. Pushing against the grip of the two soldieries on either side, he tries to rush forward.
“Stop it! Stop it all! Spare her! Spare her – I’ll take her place, just spare her,” he cries.
Too swiftly, too quickly, the demon comes before him. Giving him a once over, toe to head, he frowns. Turning a cheek towards him, he squints, “And why would you do that?” He slides back, though still in arms reach.
Uncurling one of the hands at his waist, he flexes his fingers towards Loki. “A fragile flower brought into existence by Persephone with an ever so calculated amount of life taken from Pluto’s crypt became this most pathetic of beings.
“Why would you even care to do that… take the place of such an insignificant mortal?”
Thrashing against his captors, “She is not insignificant!” Loki roars.
The demon is unfazed, only switching his weight from one side to the other. “Oh?”
“I love her,” her growls.
If something so evil could smile, that’s what he tries to do. Coming out as an up-turned grimace, something hideous and frightening of his own accord, he expresses it while taking a step closer. “You love her, aye? Do you ever know what that means? Incarnate of Lies, of Chaos, of Change, of Destruction… are you even capable of such a thing? Seriously… do you ever know what that word means?” his breathy convulsion is a dreadfully poor excuse for a laugh.
There is a stir deep in Loki’s breast. There is a churning in his stomach, a boiling of acid. The air in his lungs thickens to smoke. Any moisture left in his skin evaporates into swirling steam. He closes his eyes, baring his mind for the fire to break through ever speck of his skin…. But, the worst never comes.
Yes, when he opens his eyes he is blinded. But blinded for a completely different reason all together. White… a pure, solid mass of white surrounds him. No, a pure solid mass of white is coming from him! From the very core of everything that he is, beaming through everything is he not, just a simple, perfect light.
With the strength of eternity and the will of time, Loki stands. “This ends now.”
Her soul so weak, almost extinct. All of her broken. All that is her taken away, only a tiny flame remains. Glowing white, it flickers - gasping for breath, reaching for life. Loki lowers himself to her, cradling her in his arms.
Holding her close, holding her safe, giving all that is he is to her. “I love you,” he murmurs.
He then squeezes her and kisses her temple, then rests his cheek against her hair. “I mean it with all my heart, all my soul… all of me.” He wishes so desperately to explain what it really means for him to love her. But instead all he can do is shield her from the world and say again. “I love you. All of you. From your beautiful chocolatey hair, to your spring green eyes, to the body you built through years of training… I love you and all your beauty, all your brains, all your passion.” He cannot stop the tears now, the rushing stream down his cheeks.
“You are perfect,” he chokes. “With all that is you, will all your hardships and sadness, you are perfect.” Rocking her slowly, his head begins to shake. “I love you for how strong you… you are far stronger than I… than I could ever be. You are a true warrior, Canis. My love, my life… not just a survivor, but a fighter, a warrior,” he clears his throat, “a Valkyrie.”
Pulling back, he brings a hand to her face, a thumb to her cheek. “A steel rose forged in the fires of your own strength. And I vow to you… now, forever, however long you’ll have me: I will love you, I will protect you, I will provide for you, I will support you. I promise.” He heaves another breath through his, “I promise.”
“I promise… so come back to me.”
Just because Canis is mortal doesn’t make her less than Loki. She is of his same stardust, just shaped in a different mold. They are equals, they are worthy of the other, and no one is to ever question that again.
Very much alive, though seriously recuperating, Canis lies on the hospital bed. Loki hasn’t left her side for a single moment, worried about every little thing. Though most of the time he is fussing over her or keeping her entertained, it’s in the quiet of her sleep his mind stirs awake.
It’s the journey that brought them here that he’s filled with regret. Not the beginning, not them now, but all that happened in between. He hadn’t been able to keep her safe, he hadn’t been able to protect her. She had been hurt, she had almost died! Even if she had forgiven him before it even happened, (which that in itself makes him weep), how can he forgive himself?
It’s times like this when he feeds into the beast and the beast feeds into him, his eyes reflecting the madness. Black from pupil’s pit to iris’s halo, the darkness is all consuming.
But when his eyes meet hers, her love is brighter than a shooting star… any star, any planet, even the moon… definitely brighter than the sun. When his eyes meet hers, the color comes back; when his eyes meet hers, the lost pieces of his soul come to be intact.
Opaque aquamarine skies span above their world, with almost translucent clouds and light as bright as day without a sun. In their city, that’s before time and after space, there’s a renaissance market open to any who care to visit. A couple, whose hearts are whole and desires met, move through the overflowing streets.
Canis, standing tall in her mortal height, and throws the waterfall of brown hair behind her shoulder. Eyes shining like two peridots, she admires the world around her and carefully observes its events. One arm still intertwined with her companions, the other hand brushes across her new necklace. “It’s such beautiful work,” she comments. “Maybe we should go back… give her something for her trouble.”
Loki, her everlasting companion, slows to match her pace. With the average height of a deity, he’s able to look back through the stalls. The knot of his hair shifts from the base of his neck to his shoulder when he has to turn more than anticipated. Brows coming together in confusion, he then bursts out a laugh.
“She gone!” he clarifies to Canis in utter amusement. His amber eyes sparkle with life and he twists her so she can see.
After she can confirm that the little booth they visited had indeed vanished, her laughter is pure and light-hearted. “Well! I guess there was nothing more she needed to do.”
And that’s the truth, though Canis and Loki may not have known it. That woman with eyes of time and mind of space, that woman who speaks of light and whose heart breads life, had simply come to give a gift. To give a gift with the purest of intentions… to give them the gift of a clean slate, to give them the gift of far off places, to give them the gift of new found people.
And perhaps most importantly, she came to give them the gift of memory.