It was dark but I could see, see myself more specifically. Not fat but not in shape either, slightly bad posture and brown hair, just average. Where was I? I couldn't tell, it was dark but I could see myself in a mirror.
"Hello me, I am you," I said.
Startled, I looked at myself, I said it but I didn't. I raised my hand and looked down, it wasn't my hand; it was Marie's hand. I looked up to look at myself, I was also holding my hand up. Who was that in front of me then?
"I am you, what happened?" I asked me.
I could still hear it, thunderclap after thunderclap, and the constant deafening buzz of wild electricity. Fear in their eyes, the unwillingness on their faces, their bodies disintegrating; all of it was engraved into my memory.
"Why did you lose?" I asked myself.
I thought I could pull out a random item at any moment and instantly achieve victory, just like with Ash. I had the holy weapon, Lux Divus, and then [Holy Furor] scroll and many other things in my bag of holding. There was also Covenant of Mortality, two moves, and my stats would be at one hundred instead of thirty.
I would be exactly twice as strong, just like when I won against Ash.
"But you didn't do it, despite knowing how strong Ash was," I said to myself.
No, I didn't. It didn't even cross my mind. Am I that stupid?
"No, not anymore. You are just arrogant." I said to myself and sighed, "At least you scored before dying."
Lisa was dead, she was a real person. All of them were. My scroll amounted to nothing, they died anyway. I could think clearly but everything happened too fast. I stood up and my other me mirrored my movements, a single red petal brilliantly shining in the darkness drifted in between us, we started walking towards it.
"You are taking over, Marie," I said to me.
We high fived with the red petal caught between our palms. I couldn't feel anything before but now I did; warm wave spread through my body from my hand. It gathered in my heart, no, where my heart should be.
It felt like my insides were burning, I was gasping for air, clawing at my chest. Then my heartbeat returned but it was different. I could feel it, I could hear it but it didn't really beat like a heart should anymore.
It was a high pitched oscillating whistle, it reminded me of the sound a drill makes when it revs up to the limit. My senses started awakening one after another; the dull feeling of my aching body was first.
I tried to move my right arm but it didn't move, instead, I felt as if someone was injecting acid into it. I hissed and opened my eyes, darkness was replaced by the dusky sky, I had to squint my eyes, even the faint morning light was blinding.
Gritting my teeth, I used all of my strength to look at my arm, I probably shouldn't have done that. I wanted to cry, it was mangled and bones were sticking out, ripped strands of muscle were flapping in the wind. As a medical student, I knew that it wasn't possible to save it.
Not with modern medicine.
Weeping, I reached into my bag of holding, my ribs cracked with each movement, I couldn't feel my legs. Modern medicine couldn't save my arm or my legs, but there was something that could; magic. My fingers wrapped around a cold bottle, I pulled it out.
Shakily, I managed to hold it up above my head, the viscous golden liquid inside gleamed in the faint light.
[Vial of Life, Completely restores HP and removes any negative effects. Can be used only once per day.]
The whistling of my heart was getting louder and higher pitched, I think it was my heartbeat quickening. I pulled out the glass stopper with my teeth and poured it into my mouth, it was cold and had the consistency of mead but no taste whatsoever.
I struggled to swallow it, I could feel the coldness travel into my stomach and then to every corner of my body. Something cracked in me, the pain was so high I couldn't see anymore. I must have dropped the bottle because a clanking sound pierced through the whistling.
My entire body twisted against my will, I could feel my legs kicking against the hard surface underneath me. My right arm unraveled itself, it cracked and snapped, the pain was ungodly, I was screeching uncontrollably.
Then it stopped, in an instant. I no longer felt pain, my breathing was normal and I could see perfectly after wiping the tears from my eyes. I sat up and hugged my knees, my right arm, it was perfectly fine.
There was only one thing off about my body; my heart.
Wyrmscale Shirt was missing some scales above the heart, I could see my skin through the hole, it was as smooth as ever. I took off my heavy gauntlets and threw them aside, I slipped my fingers in and closed my eyes.
There was no heartbeat, just constant vibration as if something was rotating inside. Other than that anomaly, my blood circulated around my body just fine. I steadied my breathing and the whistling reduced in intensity.
My true heart was gone, Thunder took it. There was only one thing that could have saved me from death, Wakestone.
[Wakestone, Cheat death once per day. This red stone vibrates and whistles when touched, its warm surface has a thready texture and faintly glows. One time use item, only five can be carried at the same time.]
At least it worked, I don't want to go through that ever again. The constant whistling was annoying but I knew I would soon grow to ignore it, the same way a normal heartbeat was ignored. Physically, I felt phenomenal.
All of them were at three, only the four stats that CoM didn't affect remained unchanged; thirty-four Intelligence, eighty Wisdom, five hundred Physical and Magical. I sighed, my stats must have been locked in Covenant of Mortality.
I didn't know whether Thunder could use these stats for himself or not, CoM should stop working when taken off but it wasn't the case in this world. Goddamn whistling, I smacked my cheeks and shook my head.
When I calmed down, I picked up my gauntlets and took off the armor, I stood up and looked around. The whistling in my ears intensified and my stomach twisted into a knot. I was on top of a tall building, broken roof tiles revealed where my body first landed.
I could see Balera's cityscape perfectly from this spot, ruined buildings, most of them charred, there was even a fire raging far away. I jumped down to a lower roof and then onto the streets, I couldn't see even a single body.
The false hope that people managed to flee was soon extinguished when I saw a little boy, or what was left of him. He was impaled onto a fence, blood dripping from his legs. I grabbed my mouth, I couldn't do it.
I vomited acid, there wasn't anything else left in my stomach.
The more I walked the more bodies I found, not as much as there should be though. They must have been turned into nothing, just like the Lions. I squeezed my fists so hard that blood dripped from my fingers, they were all dead.
The realization that I could have saved them if not for my stupidity was crushing my soul. I was trash, I let them all die, I couldn't even save one person.
I walked on autopilot and stopped in front of a familiar building, the sign with the white horse was charred, so was most of the building. Holding back tears, I walked into the lobby. There were slash marks everywhere, the stench of blood was overwhelming.
Dirty, I felt dirty. Chuckling like an idiot I walked to my room. "Hello Victoria, where are your legs?" I asked her.
Victoria didn't reply so I left her mutilated body and swayed from wall to wall, my room was open. There was no one inside, it looked just like I left it, my dirty shirt was still on the carpet. I locked the door and went to the bathroom, taking a wine of bottle off the table.
I put my clothes into the washer and stretched out inside the bath, still giggling uncontrollably. Everyone was dead but I was dirty so I had to clean myself. I took a chug out of the wine bottle and thoroughly cleaned myself.
"Can you wash your back? I can wash my back!" I hummed a childish song under my nose.
I was crying, my eyes were red and aching but I couldn't stop the tears. I took another chug from the bottle and wiped myself, it was time to face reality again. I clothed up, my hands shaking, I was sweating, struggling to breathe.
Every creak of the wooden floor reminded me of the crackling lightning, I was jumpy, the walls were closing on me, I was suffocating. I had to get out of there, I ran out of my room, my loose hair whipping against my shoulders.
I stopped in front of Victoria's body, I hugged her head and rocked back and forth. I jumped away in fear when I came to my senses, disgusted with myself, I brought a blanket from a nearby room and covered her body with it.
Where is this goddam basement...? Found it.
I ripped a shelf full of wine bottles of the wall and dragged it behind me, treading over the bodies and trying to not slip on the blood. I grabbed a chair from the restaurant and walked outside, towards the palace.
As expected, the palace was completely demolished, it looked like lightning repeatedly struck inside. There were no bodies, just the smell of burnt flesh permeating the area. I dragged everything into the garden and plopped down onto the chair.
I grabbed a random bottle and opened it, it was fizzy and sour but I couldn't care less.
The sun was slowly rising and the clouds were clearing, replaced by a thick smoke of the burning city. The sun started to shine on me but it didn't make me feel better at all. I was picking up a bottle after bottle, throwing them aside after chugging their contents.
I fell to my knees and barfed next to the chair, I sat back up before picking up another bottle. The passage of time was not a concept I understood anymore. Maybe I could die of alcohol poisoning, no, that's impossible with my stats.
"Teacher! There is a survivor!" Someone shouted in the distance.
I tried to see who it was but my head was wobbly and all I could see were patches of color. I threw my bottle aside and squinted my eyes, there was some white figure rushing to me but I couldn't make out any details.
"Whasth wash thast?" I tried to ask but only gibberish came out.
"Are you okay?" The voice asked again, I could tell it belonged to a man.
He tried to grab my shoulder but I shook him off and fell from the chair, "Fukhsin ghosht!" I bellowed.
"Calm down! I am not a ghost!" He said, trying to approach me again, "Teacher!"
I crawled away and threw up to the side, I didn't believe this ghost at all. I could see another figure approaching, it was taller and red but that's all I could really make out. I violently swung at the air in front of me and the white ghost dodged back.
"She is drunk out of her mind, teacher." The white ghost said to the red one.
"I see," Red ghost replied.
The red ghost approached and me and squatted just out of the range of my legs, I knew because I tried to kick him away but missed. I crawled even further back, dragging my butt on the grass.
"Shthay backh!" I screamed again.
"We are not ghosts sweety, you need to calm down." The red ghost said.
I didn't believe him and kicked at the air again, my back hit something a wall or a crate, I wasn't sure.
The red ghost sighed and said, "My name is Gand Terroso, I am one of the seven Lions."
I jumped up and shakily pointed at him, "Lion!"
"Yes, do you know what happened to the Lions that guarded this city?" Gand asked me.
I laughed through the tears, my fist hitting the ground.
"What's so funny?" Gand asked me.
"Lisha, Landh, Rhyshe, Andhre," I wiped my tears, "Thundehr hilled us."
Gand was silent for a moment, he took a deep breath and said, "You are alive, quite definitely not dead."
I laughed again, I almost coughed my lungs out struggling to breathe. I tried to get up but I fell straight into darkness' soft embrace.
Maybe it was for the best.