Halls of Asgard

❝Ary Aragon witnesses someone commit suicide, but the unthinkable happens―the body disappears.❞

With her best friend's support and a ticket to Seri Rue University (SRU), Ary Aragon wastes no time in escaping the unyielding chains of abuse her father and brother roped around her. Fear is no longer merely an acquaintance; looking over her shoulder becomes much more than a habit. Panic eats at Ary's sanity, distorting the sense of normality she thinks is all but hopeless to achieve. They will come for her. They always do.

To achieve a sense of protection, she applies to a self-defense class to ward herself from them, but reality has a funny way of clawing sense back into Ary's world. Before her very eyes, a student from SRU commits suicide, but the body—it vanishes.

Now, with deranged cephibions at her tail and the devil's advocate beckoning her soul, Ary knows one thing is certain: an estranged family is the least of her worries.

Paranormal || Fantasy

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4. (2) Bereavement

 

✝ (1) BEREAVEMENT || PRESENT ✝

ARY ARAGON TOOK A deep breath and pushed open the door to her new dorm at Seri Rue University (SRU), feeling a rush of relief as she realized that no one was inside yet. She held onto the inkling of hope that she didn't have a roommate, although it was extremely unlikely. She had worked incredibly hard to find a dorm room at such a cheap price, especially after she ran away from home—after her father murdered her best friend. She didn't believe herself that she managed to escape all the terror and hysteria without any belongings except a half-broken suitcase. It was terrifying, yet she managed to do so all on her on.

It was apart of the reason why she hated being around people. She never knew if the next person she would meet would betray her in the long run. It was also the reason why she found it difficult to trust people—even in the slightest.

Letting out a sigh, Ary placed her belongings beside the furthest bed from the door. She then laid down on the bed, feeling entirely thankful that it was comfortable. Anything is better than the floor. She thought dryly.

It took a few months to get where she was now—months full of impending fear and immense hunger; fear from her father and brother finding her and sexually abusing her again; fear from it starting and happening all over again; and fear of death. Ultimately, out of all the things that happened to Ary, one would think that death from her perspective would be craved, but it was the exact opposite.

She feared death more than anything in the world. Ever since she ran away, the thought of dying right when she just got her freedom was impossible to think of. All the hard work and effort she put into escaping the hell she was living with her deranged family would be put to waste if she died.

Ary brushed her deep thoughts away as soon as the door opened. She sat up, staring at the girl that entered.

"Hello!" She said with a bright smile, "My name is Azeroth, but I prefer to be called Azzy." She began setting her luggage on top of the other bed, which was on the opposite side of the dorm room.

"I-I'm Ary." She said softly, not returning the smile.

"I see you've chosen a bed already?" Azeroth asked, flipping her dark brown hair behind her back as she opened her suitcase. Ary couldn't tell if she had an English or an American accent. It was a twinge of both.

She nodded shortly, her opinion on Azeroth slightly muddled. She didn't trust her friendly demeanor. What did she want?

"Is it alright if I take a peek at your schedule?" She asked, her cheekbones becoming more prominent as she spoke. It seemed like Azeroth had genuine intentions, but Ary was still wary as she gathered her folded schedule from her pocket and handed it to her, taking precautions as to not touch any contact of her skin.

Azeroth seemed to notice her wariness but didn't comment as she silently skimmed through her schedule. "We both have a class in science and in math," Her brown eyes twinkled as she sent another comfortable, inviting smile. "What's your major?"

Ary dreaded the conversation as it continued. It seemed from the start Azeroth was quite the talker, not to mention that she seemed adamant to find as much information on her as she could. The thought of the girl finding out that many things about her left her feeling terrified, but she answered nonetheless in fear of being laughed or teased at. "F-Forensic anthropology," Was her only reply. She probably thinks that I'm stupid for stuttering like that.

"Mine is physiology," She said, taking clothes out and setting it on her bed. "You know, the way things function? Stuff like that." There was a leap of silence. Ary noted that all of her clothes were clean, organized, and most likely expensive. She is so lucky. I wish I was her. "You don't talk much, do you?"

Ary shook her head and blushed, wanting the conversation to be over with more than ever. It seemed as if the only thing she wished for—a quiet roommate—was the exact thing she didn't get. She waited for Azeroth to stop staring at her. It became uncomfortable after a while, but she thankfully stopped staring and gave back her schedule.

What is she thinking? She probably thinks I'm crazy and stupid now, Ary thought impishly as she took back her schedule, biting her tongue as she felt more idiotic by the second. She squeezed her cheeks when Azeroth wasn't looking and wished that she didn't blush as easily as normal people.

Well I'm not normal and I'll never be normal, She reminded herself.

She stood from the bed and put her old, battered suitcase in her designated closet. There were two closets on opposite sides of the room, which gave Ary an immense amount of relief. It would be embarrassing to her if Azeroth saw the worn out clothing she had or worse—commented and teased her about it.

She snuck a peek at her roommate and was relieved to find that she was busy on her phone with a smile on her face. Swallowing, Ary took advantage of her obliviousness removed the lock she had on her suitcase and locked her closet, not wanting the Azeroth to go through her stuff when she wasn't there.

Classes began the next day, she realized. A sudden rush of nervousness blossomed through her body as she sat down on her bed again. There was blissful silence, minus the minuscule tapping sounds that emitted from Azeroth's phone across the room. Nonetheless, she embraced the willful silence and laid down, deciding to sleep her unofficial day off in preparation for the next day instead of worrying as of what was to come.

After all, this was the first time in months where she didn't have to worry if her father and brother were going to find her. No, after running and living on the streets, he wouldn't think to look in this college a few states away.

The chance of him finding her was miniscule. And, with that thought comforting Ary, she fell into a blissful sleep, that was unfortunately plagued with hazard memories and distorted emotions.

A few hours later, Ary awoke, and it was late afternoon. She sat up, fear momentarily paralyzing her until it dawned that she was safe. The relief that she felt in that moment was palpable. She let out a breath of air and looked around for her roommate. Azeroth was nowhere to be found.

She checked the time. It was a little after seven. She applied to a self-defense class a few weeks back and the first session was tonight.

Ary pondered on whether to go or not. It wasn't that late, but there was a chance—though highly unlikely—that her father and brother were looking for her, roaming the streets, probably intoxicated or high. It was a terrifying thing to even think of, knowing that if she even took a step outside they could be there waiting for her. She swallowed and brushed the idiotic thoughts away.

I'm safe here... she assured herself, they can't find me here, not when I've travelled so far to escape them...

With another difficult swallow, Ary decided to go. It would begin in twenty minutes. She took out her battered phone—an untraceable prepaid cell phone—and searched for where it would be held. The location was a little over a mile away. She could walk there. I've walked further distances before, she thought bitterly and made her way out of campus.

She began to regret leaving when the cold air made her shiver. Ary scolded herself momentarily for not getting her jacket, which would probably not suffice. She shoved her hands in her thin cardigan pocket, increasing her pace. As harsh and pitying it sounded, she was used to the violent weather and not having the right clothes for it anyways. She was also used to walking long distances and not eating for days.

Ary sighed as she reflected on the events that occurred the past few months. She didn't like thinking about it, but the thoughts crawled into her mind unwillingly, no matter how hard she tried not to. It was a sickness and a disease that could not be cured; and that, was her life. She didn't know why they did it, but they did, and it caused her eternal suffering.

She briefly remembered, a hazy image, of a time where her dad was happy. It was a short memory, a glimpse of pure happiness—all she remembered was a heart-warming smile as her father carried her. Then, someone came into the room and said something, something she did not remember. And ever since, he had been a terrible, terrible father. Letting her starve because he forgot to feed her. 'Accidentally' kicking her because she was in the way. Locking her in the cold basement and forgetting that she was even there.

And soon, Ary got used to it. Eventually, she knew where to hide, where to be, and how to act whenever he was around. It was torturous, yet bearable for a few years, but then he began beating her, saying it was all her fault. She still did not know what exactly she did, but he kept on repeating the phrase until it was drilled in her mind. She then adjusted her routine to escape the beatings. Again, it lasted for a few years until she was fifteen. He began manipulating her brother, Callum, who was five years older than her, to do the same.

And one day, her dad came home drunk; so drunk, that he couldn't even stand. He stumbled towards her, his breath reeking of alcohol and stale cigarettes, and began kissing her. She protested, but she was so weak, so skinny, too tiny. And she tried to stop him—oh how she tried, but it was useless. Even drunk, Vaughn Aragon overpowered her incredibly.

The physical and emotional abuse continued on for years until Ary turned sixteen, a few months before her seventeenth birthday. She made the decision of secretly applying to SRU, and managed to get in with a full-scholarship, minus the living arrangements. It was fine for her. It was enough. It was an escape. And she did. She left her brother and her father, two vile men, rushed to Massachusetts, and managed to survive until now.

It was tough. Hell, it was brutal. But it was worth it. Ary was away from them, she was away from the chains and locks they had on her. She had her battle scars, but she had her life. She had her freedom. They couldn't take that away from her. Not again.

Ary shivered and began rubbing her arms in a feeble attempt for warmth. She was almost at the gym. It was only a few more blocks and before she knew it, she had arrived.

It was a dingy place, with old brick walls, and a many dirty windows. She tried to escape the uncomfortable feeling that suddenly rose from within, and walked with hesitance to the entrance. She could barely make out the soft hue of light emitting from the door and stepped inside.

Warmth kissed her skin as she made her way inside, briefly checking the time to see that she was a few minutes early. She followed the chatter and walked into a gym. There was a number of men and women, some laughing, some silent. Ary treaded toward the silent group, sitting on one of the empty chairs and waiting.

She bit her lip and hoped that they weren't judging her. I hope they're nice.

"Welcome everyone!" A voice interrupted her thoughts. "This is a self-defense class for both men and women sponsored at SRU—for free! It is crucially important to know how to defend yourself in any given situation—and not just verbally." Some of the people beside Ary erupted into laughter, while she inwardly cringed. How was anything remotely funny from his words? "Although you won't receive any credits from attending this class, it's still free in the end. We do not ask for any kind of payment other than to show up."

Ary smiled tentatively. The only downside to this was not receiving any credits, but that was perfectly fine with her. She found herself listening attentively to the mans words throughout the whole session, surprisingly eager to learn how to defend herself. It would undoubtedly prove to help her in the future, in the slim chance she ran into Callum or Vaughn. In no time the session ended. It was mostly an introductory kind of thing that lasted a little over an hour.

Feeling a fresh set of determination, she sent a small, genuine smile to the man who earlier introduced himself as Jackson.

Ary left the place in a rush, wanting to get back home to her dorm as soon as possible. It was a bit after eight and she wanted to get back to her dorm as soon as possible so she could get extra sleep. That little nap she took earlier was the best sleep she'd ever had in her life. It was free from any type of worry or exaggerated fear, which was how she usually fell asleep—from paranoia.

It was much more colder than it was earlier. Ary couldn't help the shivers that wracked her body as she struggled to walk home. The streets were empty and there was a fierce wind that fought through the air, emitting a low whine. She wrapped her arms around herself, picking up the pace in attempt to gain the warmth back. She breathed haggardly, her breaths coming out like smoke in the night.

Ary didn't hear it until a few seconds later. Two loud bangs and then a harsh whooshing sound. She jumped, fear invading her system instinctively. She didn't know whether to run to the sound or away from it. There was a loud groan that followed with a string of curses. Her heart leaped as she unwillingly walked towards the grunts, which revealed a young man on the floor, clutching his stomach. His fingers... were red and filled with blood.

Ary swallowed and felt her stomach lurch at the sight. She froze as she noticed a gun laying beside him, smoke oozing from the tip of it. She didn't know what to do. Seconds later she glanced at his stomach and noticed he had a familiar logo imprinted on his sweater. He goes to SRU... she realized, oh my gosh...

"Are–are you j–just going to stand there or help me?" He groaned, attempting to stand. Ary wondered briefly if the roles were reversed—she would definitely be crying for help. With that thought in mind, she ran to the man, the blistering cold forgotten, and kneeled to his level, moving his hands from his stomach. At closer inspection, she could see that there were two puncture holes in his dark sweater. Blood matted the material and it turned darker as he bled profusely.

Ary raised her head to inspect his face, and noted that he was paler than what she perceived as normal. His vibrant green eyes turned brighter as he cursed. "I–I..." She stuttered. "You—need medical attention. I—you—um, we need to get you to the hospital!" She shrieked, panic overwhelming her senses. "You got shot! Two times!"

"Look lady," He was breathing heavily, his eyes staring into hers menacingly. "Just give me the gun and help me stand up. I don't need to go to the hospital."

"Are you crazy or something?" Ary cried out, grabbing his arm. "I need to bring you to the hospital before this gets infected. I'm not touching that gun. Now, on the count of three, I'm going to pull you up. One, two—"

"Give me the gun," He insisted, skin glistening in the moonlight, as she tried pulling him up. He blinked and ripped his arm out of her grasp, stumbling and collapsing to the floor again.

"I–I," she stuttered. "I'm not touching that gun!"

He cursed. "I can't reach down and get it—it's going to cause more blood to come out," As he was speaking, blood trickled out of the corner of his lips. He coughed, and blood splattered out of his lips and onto her face. Ary flinched and ignored it. There were more pressing matters at hand.

She stared into his shining green eyes and glared at him. "Forget about the stupid gun! Now, help me so I can bring you to the hospital. You're going to die soon if this isn't treated immediately. Let's go!"

The man heaved a breath and rolled his eyes, struggling to reach over and take the gun. Fear paralyzed her as she frantically thought that he might use the gun to shoot her. She did not trust him, not one bit. And with that thought, she tackled him and kicked the gun away with her foot. She gasped as she collapsed on his body, which caused the man to curse and then moan in pain.

He glared at her for a moment before he pushed her off, groaning as he grabbed the gun and aimed it... at himself. Everything suddenly clicked, the two gunshots, the unexplainable reason why he was here by himself, the urge to get the gun... he wanted to die.

Tears sprung her vision as she frantically sat up, ignoring the slight pain, as she began to cry. "Don't do this. You—you have so much for you—so much left to live for!"

Out of all things, considering the seriousness of the situation, he laughed. "My life will end to benefit both of us."

Ary furrowed her eyebrows. "What are you—"

His bright green eyes were sad. "I don't have time to explain now, Ary," His breaths were shorter, more frantic as he grasped the handle of the gun tighter. "Just—just listen. After today, trust is something that cannot be bought through feeble promises and visions of worth. I will t-tell you now and I shall tell you again—trust is useless in this world." He coughed and spit blood onto the floor. "Do not listen to anybody or trust a soul unless it is yourself." He was wheezing for air as his vibrant green eyes darkened gloriously. "I bear you this gift—my death—that will again benefit us both. In exchange for my death you gain my ultimate protection and immortality."

Ary, who was stunned by his confusing words, could not even a breath a word of her own. Because after his little speech, at incredible speed he raised the gun, placed the barrel at his forehead, and pulled the trigger.

She screamed. "No!"

Shocked, as she watched as blood splattered everywhere—everywhere. It was on her face, her arms, her body, everywhere.

He was dead. He committed suicide. He was gone. He was dead.

Forever.

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