Originally lost, now found again.
The goddess of love has no heart. I was her sister; I should know.
Once I had her body hung from a hook next to my throne, after stripping every last sham of meaning from her shallow life of fine clothes and not a care in the world apart from a dance and a night with a pretty boy. They came begging me to release her, for once paying attention to the sister who truly mattered, the one of death and owls and night.
I let her go, the little wench. So many years ago, now celebrated in story as the arrival of spring.
One day, the paths of the dead lay silent.
I walked past the seven gates of Irkalla, where the guardians stood still, waiting upon no soul.
Finally, I stood at the threshold of the first gate, looking out into the domain of the living. I watched for the movement of reeds and water, listened for the sound of birds, smelled for the scent of growth and life; none were forthcoming. The air was grey, and above me I could not sense my brother Sun, nor my father Moon.
For the first time in my existence, I was afraid. It does not come easy to a force of darkness, and blind fear robbed my mind of all sense. I stepped onto the land of the living, a forbidden act for the queen of death—
I had always cursed my twin for her freedom in crossing between the lands of the dead and the living, as if it were no more than crossing a brook, as if on touching foot to the opposing side her existence would not be obliterated. She should have known better than to trespass after watching my condemnation to the shadows.
Had my sentence been lifted? I took another step, and brown dust drifted across my feet.
No. I was free because Irkalla had no further purpose as the endpoint of the living.
Yet where were the gods? Where was my mother, the great lady? Where was my brother, the Thunder? I called out to each and every one of them, repeatedly, and received no answer.
There was nothing left of them.
In the emptiness of the world, for the first time, I wanted to hear the bells on her feet, her coy voice teasing me that I would never be loved.