“Let's better not talk about the guys 'up-there'.”
***At the Centre of all Things!***
Coughing, I sit up and pat myself rather energetically in order to put out the little flames on my clothes. When I am done, some pieces of my armour are still smouldering, but that's less of a concern at the moment. I can't believe that I committed suicide in order to save the world. Who would have thought that this nut-case of a religious fanatic would try to wield a mana crystal of that size! A small one would have been more than enough to end the world.
I shudder, remembering the ocean of power which threatened to drown my consciousness. When I jumped into that pillar of pure energy, I didn't expect to survive. The power threatened to turn me into dust, but somehow I managed to pull through.
At first, I tried to contain the power, then to banish it through the fragmented summoning spell which Sirra tried to cast. It was so hard to keep going. In the end, I simply accepted my failure and tried to channel the unleashed energy like I did with Illum.
All of that power flowed into me. It felt like my mind was expanding and changing... There is so much more knowledge inside my head! Memories which I wasn't aware of before. My head spins as I try to make sense of everything. I always suspected that I had forgotten a lot. It also seems like there's a lot more secrets to uncover about my past and the nature of the multiverse.
Noticing the tears which are running down my cheeks, I grunt in displeasure. Blinking, I try to get the stinging charcoal out of my eyes. Oh, gawd! How icky! That must be Sirra's remains! It's okay for me if I am starving and have to eat someone, getting their remains into my eyes is not! Did I inhale her?
When my vision is restored to adequate levels, I inspect myself and realize that I look like someone tried to fry me... a fried chicken comes to mind. But I am most definitely alive, which is most surprising after handling the power of a mana crystal. Two legs, two arms, fingers, and toes! All there. I am not even glowing like a mutated, nuclear monster.
“Stop fondling yourself! We don't have the time for you to show off.”
The harsh words force me to pay attention to my surroundings. I am inside a hall, sitting on a huge and elaborate summoning circle. And... now I am relatively sure that I am dreaming... it looks like everything is built out of mana crystals! The whole fucking room! Everything seems to radiate power and the runes on the floor are softly pulsing with energy.
I envision all my future experiments with the rare material – of course completely safe experiments. It's not like I intend to blow up a few worlds, just for the fun of it. If that happens, it will be an unfortunate, unavoidable accident. As I gawk at the treasure of unlimited power and potential, I notice that I am not alone.
There are two people in white robes. A dark-skinned man in his thirties who looks like he is very annoyed, and a busty blonde who glares at me as if I just killed her kittens. I can feel the power radiating off of them. Those two are strong!
“Get up! I don't have all day. We aren't a charity!” The man gestures for me to get to my feet.
Since I have no clue what's going on and am not eager for a fight, I oblige him and get up. Doing so, I notice that I feel rather well, despite the circumstances. I feel powerful and energetic! “What happened?”
The B.B. scowls at me. “You managed to get yourself killed and died. Congratulations!”
“I died?” I gasp. “Why am I not being reborn!?” What the fuck is going on? “B.B., why am I here?”
She furrows her forehead. “B.B.?”
“Busty Blonde,” I explain the obvious.
“Busty Badass... ah... Benevolent Being!” I quickly correct myself when her expression darkens further with each uttered word. Calling her by an imaginary nickname might not be the smartest move.
Glaring at me, she whispers, “It seems like your brain was fried when you ascended. Say that again, and I will demote you down to mortal! Believe me, there is no place in this multiverse where I won't find you.”
“Be nice, Seria. You two are going to work together in the future.” The dark skinned man sighs and forces himself to smile. I can tell that he doesn't want to, but apparently, his duties obligate him to greet me.
He scratches his temple, allowing the displeasure to show on his lean face. “You died, but as you did so, you showed up on our radar. We are always searching the multiverse for individuals with the potential for godhood. You fulfilled the criteria, so the summoning circle deemed you worthy to ascend.”
Waiting for a moment, he allows the information to sink in. “Don't waste the chance.” His tone turns dark and warning. “Godhood can be as easily taken away as it is given. You have a lot to learn.”
He gestures at Busty... and she looks at me as if she knows what I am thinking. Okay then! Let's go with Benevolent Being.
“That's Seria, the goddess of life and death in your previous world. She is doing her best, but it's clear that she lacks a few helping hands. Otherwise, your world wouldn't have gotten so far down the drain. You really did a number on it. There are too many souls departing that place, clogging up the river of souls, so I decided that we need more godly intervention.”
“You know what I did? And you aren't angry?” I ask, not knowing if I should trust them.
Tjenemit shrugs. “They are just mortals. I am busy with the multiverse, not a few puny souls. What I am concerned about is that with so many souls departing at once, it means that they are interfering with the pathways. That, I will take notice of! Don't do it again.”
Busty, Seria, clicks her tongue and looks away.
“Ah,” I answer rather unintelligently. “Gods are real, huh!? Does that mean that I can go back?” I study the summoning circle to my feet. It's rather complicated but in a useless kind of way. There are some parts which could be meant to unlock hidden magical potential, but I doubt it. It looks like someone tried to hide the fact that this is just an elaborate way to teleport.
So why did he say that they gave me these new powers? A number of possibilities come to mind. Either way, it's probably best to fake ignorance and to gather information. If they are lying to a new recruit right from the start, it seems like not everything is well in the land of the gods.
Tjenemit nods. He shakes his wrist and a notebook appears in his hand. He writes something down. “Yes, you can go back. In fact, rebuilding your world is your new job. Seria will teach you the ropes. Follow her lead and everything will work out. Hopefully, you two have eternity ahead of you. Gods are supposed to be eternal.”
Those last words send a chill down my spine. I touch my chest, cupping the heavy assets which rival Seria's. When B.B. crosses her arms beneath her chest, pushing it up, I realize that I have lost.
No, that's not the problem! “You are joking!? Does that mean that I am trapped in this body forever!?” I shriek, my voice bordering on hysteria.
“You look good enough. There is no reason to freak out about it.” Tjenemit raises an eyebrow and looks at my tits, allowing his eyes to wander down to my hips. Despite this obvious inspection, I can see the gears turning in his head. Finally, he laughs. “Reincarnated with the wrong gender? Sucks to be you!”
For a while, his laughing voice fills the hall and I feel the blood draining from my face.
Finally, he clears his throat. “I was just joking. Gods are immortal and even if we die, we come back with almost all of our memories intact. There is no memory loss or large gaps, like at the reincarnated stage. I must warn you though. It works much like normal reincarnation, so if you off yourself, you have to be prepared for two or three decades of growing up until your powers return.”
I let out a sigh of relief. “I have no immediate wish to kill myself, but being a woman forever isn't something I would like.” Maybe I'll give it a few decades, or centuries before I pass on. Maybe I'll go by Ascathon next. It doesn't feel like being around Zane, Janice and the others will get boring anytime soon. And just maybe, I feel a little obligated to the little ones and my mother.
Tjenemit nods. “Whatever. Take your time to play around with your mortal friends. Every young god has a little growing up to do before he or she realizes that meddling with mortals isn't worth our time. Give it a few centuries, and you will know what I am talking about.”
He hesitates, checking me out. “Too bad for those boobs, though. Make sure to join me in my bed for a tumble before you switch bodies. Seria, you can take over from here.” He turns and walks away, paying me no more attention.
My face distorts in disgust. I am not against doing it with a stranger for the fun of it. Though, doing any person as a woman and then meeting them again as a man... that feels... wrong! “Surely-”
Seria punches my shoulder before I can call Tjenemit things. “Don't make an enemy of him! He is the supervisor for this region of the multiverse. And besides, in a few decades, he will have completely forgotten who you are.”
Rubbing my shoulder, I step away from her. That woman packs a punch, but strangely enough, it feels like she just tried to protect me from making a huge mistake. “Fine. Just why are you so mad at me?”
“Because I manage the river of souls in your world. Or the pathways, as some call it. They allow us gods to go wherever we want to. I was just starting a vacation when you decided to murder half the continent, clogging up the entire system!” she fumes. “I had to leave my mortal body and shove in a random soul as a place-holder.”
Oh, so you were on vacation while your world went to hell? Somehow, that doesn't raise my confidence in her credentials. I smile, trying to build up some trust. “I am sure that you can go back... back into your vacation-body?”
After some thought, I add, “After giving me a crash course in being a god?”
Her expression sours. “That won't be an option. Up until now, I had free reign on my world, but because of the disaster – which you caused – Tjenemit will stick a whole group of real deities up my ass. And they won't be the imaginative kind which the mortals like to worship. The damned Council will breathe down our necks! I will be decked out with supervising everyone for a few decades! By then, my mortal body will be grown up and it will be immoral to rip out its placeholder-soul!”
I never had a problem with taking over a body, though that woman clearly sees a moral issue with such a practice. Are gods required to hold the moral high ground? If so, is there something like a demon-faction which I can join?
“I understand,” I answer, thoughts whirling through my head as I try to cope with the new situation. I am good with adjusting to new circumstances. The whole reincarnation business thickened me in that regard.
Though, that woman has a few screws loose. Apparently, she entered a child's body! I have no idea why growing up is supposed to be a vacation for gods. Growing up and teenage hormones are the worst part of living.
Pulling down the corners of my mouth, I look at Seria. “Can I go home now?”
***The Eternal Battlefield***
Coughing up dust, I slowly regain my consciousness. After opening my eyes, it takes me over a minute to understand what happened. There is a huge, glowing crater where the Eternal Battlefield is supposed to be. I myself am stuck inside a steep mountain cliff.
The others are nowhere within sight and I can't feel their presence anywhere in this world.
Seems like they simply went on and left me all alone. How disrespectful. They could have at least said goodbye. That's only good manners. Only Janice is left. I can feel her... but I doubt that she wants to see me. She is also kind of supercharged right now. Better not mess with her when her emotions are boiling over.
I free myself from the rock, where I caused a human-shaped dent. Stretching, several of my vertebrae pop back into their original position. “Ah, getting nuked is so unpleasant...”
Turning, I look over the battlefield. I must have been out for quite some time. Here, I can find only death and destruction. The few living auras clearly belong to clean-up crews. It's kind of hard to summon any sort of emotion for the situation, though I am surprised that it turned out this way. The reincarnated really fucked up heavenly.
“I guess I will simply go home to my mountain and pretend that this never happened.”
Then I realize that this isn't an option. After all this turbulence, the Council will turn their attention to this world. They will send a few upstarts and it will be much harder to stay hidden. Yeah, better to go if I don't want to get involved with those guys.
“Ah, and maybe I should change my body and my name after all this. Being a half-orc only got me the evil eye. Maybe I should try to be a green kobold next? Yeah, Nazareth, god of mountains and travellers! That sounds nice!”
Having made up my mind, I look up at the sky. There is always the little problem of dying. Being a god doesn't make that easy. The web of pathways lights up in my vision. They are a crackling web of energy which runs through the whole multiverse.
I am still pondering the possibilities when I notice one of them leading directly into the sun.
I smile. “Never tried that before.”