A note from Daoist Enigma

Sorry for the delay guys, was a bit stuck writing lately. 

I think that this is a great chapter, came out exactly the way I wanted it to. So let me know how you like it!

Much to Tim’s satisfaction, he didn’t lose his consciousness this time. However, instead of being teleported to the alien landscape, he was expecting, he found himself back at his parent’s home. Seated on a plush, beige sofa was Frank, with one leg crossed over the other, exuding an aura of calmness and peace, instead of intimidation and strength.

“Frank?” Tim asked, in an uncertain tone.

For a moment, there was no response from the other man, and Tim wondered if his trip down south and his encounter with the aliens was all a dream his sick mind had conjured up.

“Unfortunately, No,” the unknown entity answered, his voice exuding a natural melody that soothed Tim’s, wounded heart. This was a sensation he couldn’t, no, he didn’t want to resist, for it lacked the slightest intent to harm him.

“Then… you are the one I’m supposed to meet?” Tim asked, with some hope leaking into his hoarse, tired voice.

The image of Frank seated on the sofa suddenly became ethereal, a white fog obscuring Tim’s vision for a second, and the next thing he knew, a completely different person was seated on the sofa.

“…. Lily?” Tim knew it wasn’t her, but the eerie replica of his second cousin staring back at him was still an unnerving sight.

“Do not be alarmed, child,” ‘Lily’ spoke with the same voice from earlier, clearly not belonging to either Lily or Frank. Tim didn’t know if that made it more creepy or less, but for now, it wasn’t as if he could do anything about it.

“This isn’t real, is it?” asked Tim, quickly catching on to the implication.

“If by real you mean that this realm does not exist in the physical world, then you are correct,” answered Lily, giving Tim a thumbs up and a bright smile.

Tim seemed to be dumbstruck by the reply, wondering if his eyes had seen wrongly. Wasn’t…. what kind of…. Overlord…. Acted like a cheerful teenager….

Lily gave Tim a puzzled look, and asked quizzically “My gestures were supposed to convey encouragement and a sense of pleasant surprise, was I mistaken?”

Tim looked even more stupefied by the reply, hurriedly answering in an attempt to smooth things over, “No, well, erm… those are definitely the correct gestures. Yes, definitely correct!”

Lily lightly chuckled, and her image once again morphed into a different person. This time it was his first-year college dormmate, Matt.

“Ask then, child. But be wary, the answers you shall receive shall be limited by your present rank. You may ask for the greatest secret behind the multiverse if you so desire, but I fear that the answer might not live up to your expectations. Or you may ask me how my emissary can wield such immense strength, and perhaps the answer then will be more to your satisfaction. The decision lies with you,” said ‘Matt’, with a certain gravitas to his tone that was lacking earlier.

Tim felt a rush of nervousness and exhilaration seize him, and he was almost hyperventilating by the time the words finally came out of his mouth, “Can… you tell me how to revive the dead?”

“Your ‘how’ presupposes that a method to revive the dead exists,” ‘Matt’ answered, causing Tim’s heart to lurch, but then followed through with an explanation, “It is both impossible and possible.”

“Please explain,” Tim blurted out, a hint of desperation leaking into his voice.

“At your level of existence, a soul is like, borrowing a few terms from your old world, an astronaut without a suit. Once the shell covering it, that is, the human body perishes, it is exposed to the outside world and most souls disintegrate in a matter of seconds,” Matt explained calmly, not reacting to the expression of horror on Tim’s face.

“No…. does that mean..-“

“Do not fall into despair yet, child. I did mention how a soul exposed to the outside world is like an astronaut without a suit. Then, naturally, there has to be an equivalent to oxygen for the soul. Can you guess what it is?” ‘Matt’ asked, flashing Tim a reassuring smile.

“E-Erm” Tim stuttered, baffled by the question. “Sorry, they didn’t quite teach me about the occult in my Tax Law classes,”

A slight smile could be seen on ‘Matt's face, as he uttered just a single word as if that explained everything, “Willpower.”

“Uh, is that a good thing?” Tim asked, clearly not getting the point.

“I already know who you wish to revive. For she is standing next to you,” Matt answered, as he pointed to an empty space next to Tim.

Waves of shock coursed through Tim’s veins, as he turned his head to get a glimpse of the woman for who he’d give up anything if it meant having her back.

…. Unfortunately, he saw nothing but thin air.

“Persisting this long, while not a miracle, is still a commendable feat. Every hour of existence slowly chips away at a minuscule portion of her willpower, her mere existence a fight against the natural laws. At this rate though, I fear that she will not last more than another year in her present form,” Matt further continued his explanation, but this time Tim wasn’t as shaken. There was a chance! A CHANCE! A FUCKING CHANCE!

“Can you save her?” he asked, willing to do anything if it meant having her back.

“Child, do not be disappointed with my answer. I can save her, but among my many titles, I am the Keeper of Balance in the multiverse, and as such cannot be biased in my dealings. If you wish to save her, you must do so yourself. But preserving her soul can be done, if the corresponding price is paid,” Matt answered, his tone both compassionate and gentle.

“Can you tell me how to save her?” Tim asked, trying to keep his voice polite. The ‘lord’ had been far kinder than he’d expected, and if he refused to save Anya, he had to have his reasons.

“That, I can. Either become an immortal or acquire the help of one, and you shall achieve your goal,” Matt answered with a solemn expression, putting an emphasis on the word ‘immortal’, clearly hinting at its difficulty.

“Can… you let me…. see her?” Tim asked, his voice cracking in the middle a few times.

“I can, but that will only weaken her further,” Matt cautioned, causing Tim to involuntarily flinch.

Taking a deep breath, Tim turned his gaze towards the spot ‘Matt’ had pointed out and spoke, “Anya, I… I know that you probably don’t want me to do this. I know…. that becoming an immortal, on any planet or universe, can’t be fucking easy. But…. I also know that I don’t – I can’t…. I can’t, live without you. If there was no way, then so be it. Now though….. I have to try. Please… please… preserve her soul,” Tim sputtered out, in between sobs, sniffles, stutters, and tears, but his voice full of an indescribable level of joy and a sense of relief that made him feel as if he were reborn anew.

“If you choose to preserve her soul, you will be denied the choice of selecting a weapon and will have to enter the trial unarmed,” ‘Matt’ said sternly, indicating that there was no room for negotiation.

Tim instantly said “Yes,” once he heard the conditions, it was honestly better than what he was expecting. He still had Frank on his side, so he wasn’t doomed to a definite death… a good enough exchange for saving Anya.

“Very well, then. Good luck, Timothy Quill,” stated Matt, and the world went white.

The moment Timothy left, ‘Matt’ gave a long, timeworn sigh as he shook his head afterward. In reality, even preserving Anya’s soul was more of a gift than an equivalent exchange, the price simply conjured up to offer a semblance of fairness. Not that there was any citizen of the multiverse who’d question His judgment, even if he was nothing but a fragmented part of the main body’s soul, but he himself lived up to the title ‘Keeper of Balance’ as a matter of principle.

Timothy had been given this gift, not because of some future benefit he might bring or even his own talent…. No, the truth was far simpler….

After all, He had also loved once....

A love story that perhaps, hid the greatest secret in the multiverse.

A note from Daoist Enigma

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About the author

Daoist Enigma

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Wordsmith


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