Chapter 1 - New Ascendant
How long did I float in that void? It might have been a few seconds, it might have been an eternity. Time seemed to have ground to a halt within its desolate landscape. But eventually, the blackness lifted.
I slowly opened my eyes, and found myself lying down on a cold stone floor. As I sat up, I noticed something surprising. There was no pain - my legs had completely healed. The blood soaked clothes I previously wore had also been replaced by a set of plain white robes.
“Is this the afterlife?” I murmured, a little depressed. When my consciousness returned, I was half-hoping that I would wake up in a hospital room, surrounded by friends and family. But other than death, what else could explain this situation? It’s over.
My parents will be heartbroken. Both of them are old and have no other children, so this is going to hit them hard. Mom and dad are tough, though… hopefully they can get past this. If nothing else, I hope they can take comfort in the fact that I didn’t die meaninglessly.
Well, there’s no use moping around about what’s already been done. Let’s look for St. Peter or whoever is supposed to welcome me here. Climbing to my feet, I looked around the room I had woken up in. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting.
This building was a large dome made entirely out of gray stone. I’d guess it was around the size of a large theater. The walls were covered in many carvings of a strange language I don't recognize, making this place look like some kind of ancient temple. But it was well maintained; every inch was spotless and there wasn’t a single crack in the walls.
The dome’s ceiling was made out of crystal clear glass, and through it I could see a starry night. There was a full moon in the center of the sky high above me, its gentle light illuminating the inside of the dome.
“How beautiful.” I said out loud. But this wasn’t the time to stargaze.
Behind me was a massive set of double doors, around three times as tall as I was. No matter how hard I pulled or pushed, though, they wouldn’t open. There was no visible lock either; what’s keeping them shut tight? After trying a little longer, I gave up and decided to look for another way out.
Then I turned my eyes towards the middle of the room, where there was an ornate altar. Bathed in moonlight, the huge sapphire resting on top of it looked magical. If that gem were ever auctioned on Earth, I’m sure its price would break records. The thing was the size of my head!
I walked around, looking for any clues as to what I should do next.
This was a strange place. What was most bizarre was that the dome was split into two very different halves. The side I woke up in was empty. Apart from the torches mounted on the walls and the cold stone beneath my bare feet, there was nothing to take note of. However, the other half of the dome was completely furnished. It had two ottoman couches, seven or so stuffed animals, a king sized bed, a tall wooden wardrobe… and wait, is that a hot tub!?
In other words, that side looked like someone actually lived there. Most likely a girl, judging by the pink sheets and toys. The modern furniture looked out of place inside this mystical stone structure. It created a jarring contrast, and made me question the decorator’s taste.
I’m feeling more confused with each passing second. This place doesn’t seem like heaven at all. What is going on?
|[Welcome, Ascendant. Tallying Karma points earned.]|
This window again… what is it this time? While I was dying, it warned me about how serious my injuries were and the loss of my “HP”. Back then it reminded me of an RPG, and I almost laughed from how absurd it was. But I don’t understand this new message.
While I was thinking about what the notification meant, it suddenly expanded and multiple lines appeared beneath the original message.
[Survived for 28 years - 3 points awarded.]
[Saved a child’s life - 10 points awarded.]
[Self-sacrifice - 10 points awarded.]
[Strongest creature killed: “Rabid Dog” - 1 point awarded.]
[Reputation bonus - 1 point awarded.]
[Total Karma Earned - 25 points.]
[Evaluation: “D-” - Received 2 bonus points]
[Current Karma: 27 points]
[Unlocked Title: “New Ascendant” - Beginner protection active until 10th run.]
[Unlocked Title: “Good Samaritan” - Good aligned characters are slightly friendlier.]
I stood there for a while in stunned silence. Was this supposed to be a summary of my life?
I’ve heard many religious interpretations of what happens after death, but this is… out there.
Karma is a familiar word. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the idea that past actions can shape your future. People use it to justify morality, saying that good deeds are rewarded and evil will eventually be punished. That would explain why I got so many points for saving the kid.
But then why did I get Karma for something like “Strongest creature killed” and how long I stayed alive? That doesn’t sound related to morality at all. This looks more like a list of achievements in a game, rather than a measure of how good of a person I was.
If it’s based on “accomplishments”, then I’m not surprised my total points are so low. I wasn’t some kind of extraordinary figure. No great inventions or contributions to science.
Still… that evaluation is depressing. Getting a “D-” grade on my entire life kinda hurts.
If I knew that it would all end so suddenly, maybe I would have tried harder to leave my mark on the world. I don’t regret how I lived, but there are definitely things I could have done better.
[Ascendant. Your journey must continue.]
[Once you are ready to reincarnate, please approach this domain’s Gateway.]
The previous messages disappeared, and another window popped up. Reincarnation?
As the words sunk in, my face broke into a smile.
“Sure, why not?” I said happily, and approached the altar in the center of the room. Given how the sapphire on top of it was now shining brightly, I guess this is the gateway it’s referring to.
I’m not done yet. There is so much more I want to see and experience.
Reincarnation is exactly what I wish for. If this place is giving me a second chance at life…
Then there’s no way I could turn that down.