So here I lie, my body broken and on the verge of death.
It was a good fight, I guess, but in the end, I fell. Just like the many who I killed. Wincing, I try to sit up, but my body doesn't obey. Something must be broken because everything beneath my chest feels like it isn’t there.
Maybe that’s a blessing.
Coughing, I expel blood from my mouth, but there is a steady trickle coming up my throat. When I breathe, there is a rasping noise as if there is water in my lungs.
It's definitely blood, seeping in because of the internal damage. That last blow did me in and all the healing in the world won't work because I was struck by my own weapon.
Note to self: The next time you come up with something that causes incurable wounds and cuts through souls like a hot knife through butter, make sure that it can’t be turned against you by any random deity.
As time passes without me getting any better I slowly come to terms with the fact that I won’t make it much longer. Breathing becomes harder and my vision is already blurry. What a nonsensical fate. To drown in my own blood right at the dawn of my victory.
Strange… somehow I remember dying like this hurting more. It’s not the first time that I was stabbed by a spear and bled out. Hardly a new experience to an immortal deity. But this time it feels like slowly drifting away. Must be the lack of oxygen.
Not that there is much left for me to do anyway in this burning ruin of a world.
To have this happen to ME! A God! Aren't Gods supposed to be all-powerful, omnipresent beings? Then why am I lying here, giving up?
Seems like the mortals got their concept of gods wrong. I may be close to all-powerful, but I am far from knowing everything. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here, about to croak my last breath.
Some distant part of me takes note of the fact that I am babbling as my thoughts drift here and there, but I don’t care. There isn’t anything I can do. I am well and truly out of options.
If there just hadn't been that stupid Myrm who had to make things complicated. If I just hadn’t become emotional, maybe I wouldn’t have gone on a rampage.
But is it really surprising that things go south when you put a Deity of Chaos onto the same world with one of Order? Even if Myrm hadn't attacked my followers, it was just a question of time until we would've been at each other's throats.
Fire and water just don't mix.
I try to recall when exactly things went south. At first, we interfered with the world just through our divine rules, given to the people who believe in us. Or should I say believed? I think there aren't any mortals left.
When the gods fight it's pretty much an apocalyptic event.
We probably should have never started to share power and knowledge with our followers. Once that practise was started, things getting out of control was pretty much a certainty. It was a steadily developing process of enhancing our followers, giving them ever more capabilities of committing cruelties which turned into a holy war the likes of which the world had never seen.
No, I am pretty much certain that Myrm threw the first stone by desecrating one of my temples with his presence. Or was it a tomb? A shrine? Damn! It was so long ago that I don't remember clearly. Or is it the oxygen deprivation?
Going further back, maybe it wasn’t even our fault. It was the World Enchantment which forced us to fight for the mortals’ attention. And who placed this curse on us? The Council. Yes, if anyone is to blame, then it’s the Council.
Another series of coughs wracks my ruin of a body and I feel my heart flutter in my chest.
Pretty sure that it won't take long now.
I shouldn't have slowed down my fall with the last of my power. Had I done nothing, it would have gone *splat* and the dying part would be over and done with. Off to the next reincarnation. Continue the wheel of death and rebirth.
Then I remember the faces of my enemies and have to chuckle. Back then, when I was consumed with righteous fury, I didn't take conscious notice of it, but their faces were priceless when I brought down the wrath of god.
The sky darkens and I blink my eyes, noticing that my vision isn't working quite right. It's blurry, but it can only be the clouds. They must be slowly rolling over the horizon by now, covering the whole world in smoke and ash. Dropping a moon on the world tends to do that.
It's so dark. I think I will sleep for a while, so I close my eyes.
Something hits me in the side, and I open my eyes wide, feeling the pain again.
“Wake up! Or I will kick you again, asshat!”
“Oh, Seria!” I cough out. She is looming over me in all her blonde glory... and a scandalously short skirt with a white, frilly hem. “What is my... most...” Despised! “...beloved Goddess of Life and Death doing in a place like this?” I take a deep breath before I can speak again. “Could you be so kind... and finish me off? Everything hurts.”
To be honest, I wasn't expecting that she would be the one to show up. If anyone, I was waiting for a full task-force from the Council of the Seven. I even had a nice speech prepared for them. Well, the chances of talking myself out of this situation are close to non-existent, but I would have at least been able to explain myself.
“Why are you even here? Is the Council... too afraid to show up? Or... even better... have they decided to send you as their messenger?” I smirk. “They are... just a little too late to join the party.”
Sadly, if they sent Seria instead of showing up themselves, then it means that they have already decided on a sentence. Surprisingly quick. Normally, it takes them centuries to come to a consensus.
Another coughing fit wracks my body, and I may have 'accidentally' turned my head towards the beautiful goddess, spitting a little blood onto her silken legs and the silver high heels she chose, fitting to the rest of her white outfit.
Her eyes widen as she inspects the damage to her shoes. “Kyaaa! Look what you have done to my Manolos!” She steps back, retreating to a safer distance.
“I am sorry... but I think that's not within my control.” Barely able to move my bloody arm, I reach for her. “I will wipe it off.”
Her reaction is immediate, and she kicks me again, going for the kidneys with the expertise of a kick-boxer combined with the medical knowledge of centuries.
I want to roll away, but that’s a little hard to do with a broken spine. Instead, I take the hit in stride and ignore the pain.
At least I try to do that. Instead, Seria’s leg gets sullied with another splosh of blood.
“Ah, and there I wanted to use my last bit of magic to cast a cleaning spell on you...” I mope when I recover. “That’s what I get for being the antagonist. People don’t believe me… even if I truly want to do something good.”
Seria doesn’t reply immediately. Instead, she seems to be pissed, silently fuming within her own mind. I guess the reaction is justified. After all, she is a Goddess of Life and Death for this realm.
Well… was… there shouldn’t be any work left now that I destroyed the World Enchantment that bound our pantheon to this realm, inadvertently killing all the mortals and gods who stood in my way.
I am also quite sure that I gave her a headache by causing a mass extinction event. There isn’t much I can do about it, but to plead guilty.
“Keep your magic to yourself!” She waves an educational finger at me. “You have to live long enough for me to tell you the divine judgement of the gods for what you pulled down here, Ascathon! Then I have to gather Myrm's soul for judgement!”
Seria sure is pissed. And when I tell her about Myrm she will be raging.
I tell her anyway. “You know that I blew Myrm up? There isn’t much left, including his soul. The little bits and pieces are probably strewn around half the continent. I got him point blank with Chaos Magic. Blew him to bits…”
“I know,” she grumbles. “I’ve watched the fight. That doesn’t save Myrm – or you – from the Council’s judgement. Even if it takes a millenia, Myrm's soul will be repaired and given proper punishment. The both of you will be punished. El Shaddai was very clear about that.”
Ah, the Council leader himself spoke a decree? That’s why they were so quick with a decision. I guess that there is no helping it in that case.
Seria has an ugly job to do if she has to reassemble Myrm. Not that its possible to do so, I made sure of that. Sucks to be in her shoes.
It would take some very skilled soul mages to undo the damage I did to Myrm’s soul within a reasonable amount of time.
“I don’t think that you can revive Myrm for him to be judged. That would come close to a true miracle,” I reply.
Though, it’s Seria who I am talking about. She is a very strong deity and her divinity is closely connected to the manipulation of souls. Maybe I am wrong in my assessment. If anyone can do it, then it’s likely her.
“What exactly did you do to Myrm’s soul?! I can't sense it anymore.” She looks around the vicinity as if expecting Myrm’s ghost to just float about.
“The Chaos Magic likely sliced it to pieces…” I huff, trying to breathe, but this conversation is quickly using up my last reserves. “Will take an eternity to heal him, unless someone finds the pieces and puts them back together. Hrhrhr…”
Damnit! Even my evil laugh sounds pathetic! What’s an evil god worth if he can’t have a good villain’s laugh? I cough again, but this time there is no blood, just a dry rattling in my lungs. It seems like I am finally bleeding out.
At this point I can’t wait to move on, revelling in at least a little victory.
While it’s impossible to destroy an immortal’s soul, which is a metaphysical container for someone’s memories, it’s quite possible to damage those memories. Souls are per definition immortal and will recover from any damage over time.
My thoughts derail and my consciousness starts drifting off again, but I don’t care.
Inevitably, I start thinking about what’s ahead of me.
The journey through the River of Souls, the great Void between Worlds and Dimensions. Its filled with the souls of the dead. They just float there, dormant and sleeping. Some maybe forever, while they forget more and more of their lives.
And maybe, if they are lucky, they drift near one of the countless worlds of the multiverse and get sucked in, being reborn into a new life. The faster you are reborn, the more you can remember of your previous life. So if you want to remember anything of your past life, you have to be reborn fast, or you need a very strong soul that’s capable of enduring the eternity of drifting without memory loss.
How lucky that I am the second kind. Wasn't always a god, though.
She throws up her hands. “Great! So you really tried to dispose of Myrm for good. That last spell of yours looked like something nasty. I have no choice, even if it takes some time to bring Myrm back, I have to do it.”
The idea that all my efforts might turn out for naught slowly seeps back into my brain.
“Are you sure that it’s worth the effort?”
“Oh shut up! Didn't YOU hear? The Council of Gods has judged your case. Both of you will receive your divine punishment. If El Shaddai says so, all the gods in the multiverse will help to piece Myrm back together.” She shakes her head in dismay. “Even if it’s just to tell Myrm that she gets her soul cut to pieces and tossed into the nearest Void Zone. That’s how Divine Judgements works. HEY! Don't slumber off!”
She kicked me again!
Damn, I'm beginning to hate that goddess. Almost managed to drift off. Why does it take so long for this fucking body to finally die?
I don't even have the power to answer. Why does the fucking Council even care enough to meddle with us? What do they stand to gain? Or is it just because of principle at this point?
“Whatever. I'll just get it over with. Ascathon, Divine Being of Magic, Divine… ah, and so on and so forth, you know the rest.” She waves her hand, dismissing the formalities, probably because she can see that I won’t last much longer. “The Council has found you guilty of bringing great, unnecessary suffering over the lesser beings you were put in charge of.
“The punishment is being stripped of your divinity. You will be reborn into a place where you can learn from your mistakes and reflect on what you have done. I cast you out into the River of Souls to a proper place of punishment.”
I blink as the wheels in my head try to catch up with her words. Normally, I am quicker, but lack of oxygen tends to make me a little slow.
“Wait, what… stripped of Divinity?” I didn’t even know that is a thing! I want a re-evaluation of my case. Get me some higher authority! Oh, I forgot… the Council is the highest authority.
She sighs, ignoring me. “Puh! What a uselessly long speech, don't you think so too?”
Sadly, I can’t answer. My sight is narrowing to a tiny dot, turning dark at the edges.
“Noh… now… wha… abou…” I wheeze, trying to find out what she meant with taking my Divinity. Just great! First, my body doesn’t want to give up my soul, and now it decides to croak when there is actually something important going on. Things that affect my afterlife are pretty important in my opinion!
Seria bends over me, furrowing her forehead. “Hey? Are you still with me?” She nudges me with her toe, proving an incredible amount of insight in choosing the exact spot she kicked earlier.
The mere touch sends an entirely new wave of pain through me, hinting at a ruptured kidney.
The pain quickly causes me to change my immediate goal.
Oh, by all the gods let me die already before this barbaric woman kicks me again! I don’t even care about being a god anymore. I also won’t reflect on my actions. Not in the least, even if they send me through a million of the worst reincarnations they can come up with!