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A note from Vihyungrang

Epilogue to follow. I hope you'll enjoy!

Dee laid her hand on the gravestone while countless invisible hands cleaned the area of any debris and trash. The gravestone itself was pristine due to the immortal level magic laid on it, but every once in a while someone who had ill will towards Dee took their frustration out on the surroundings of the grave. “I’m back Nessera. Perhaps for the last time. I came to say goodbye.”

Dee of all people knew that saying goodbyes over a grave was merely a symbolic gesture, but she did it anyway. There was no grief in her voice and in fact she had felt no grief over Nessera’s death for a long time. Nowadays thinking about the succubus brought nostalgic memories. It was true in a way that a woman never forgot their first lover, or at least it was true in Dee’s case. They had rekindled the relationship a few times over the ten years after the events after the fall of Paradisia, though it had never been serious. Now the succubus had been dead for over twenty years.

Nessera’s death had been a pure case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She often spent time in the Night city’s demon communities and had been caught in the crossfire between two groups of less than reputable organizations. The culprits were dead of course. The people of Night city still got shivers thinking about the event that was less than fondly titled as the ‘Calamity of a Dead Succubus’ as Dee rather forcefully searched and punished those responsible. There may have been some collateral damage. In the end, Nessera had received a funeral fit for emperors with many immortals present just to appease Dee.

“Moirai and Aurelie send their regards. I said goodbyes to them before coming here. They were not happy with me leaving of course, but they were aware that this was coming. Perhaps even more aware than I was.” Dee continued her monologue at the gravestone.

It had taken a year but the delicate dance of emotions that the three had formed had finally blossomed into a relationship. At first, it was just Moirai and Aurelie having feelings for Dee, but over the decades that had turned into a genuine three-way relationship. The two had tolerated each other and Nessera’s occasional visit at first partly because they knew Dee’s free-spirited ways. Dee didn’t want to be constrained and she had never understood the strict adherence to a single monogamous pairing that other people were so fond of. Ironically, the thing that brought Moirai and Aurelie together had been an alliance to keep some control over Dee.

The relationship between the trio had started off carefully, flamed into a burning passion and then petered out to a comfortable warm glow with occasional bouts of white-hot passion, or even cold anger over some issue they disagreed on. Moirai, for example, wanted Dee to do more to help the universe since Dee had the power to do so. Despite being affected by the presence of Dee, Moirai had always been a bit of a softie. Aurelie on the other hand often pushed Dee to help the other chimera like them, while Dee didn’t really care. Neither made any demands of course. They just tried to get her to be more active in things. In the end though, they all knew Dee would leave eventually, so they had as much fun as they could. And for almost three decades they had plenty of fun and happiness. That’s what eventually solidified the alliance and the feelings between Aurelie and Moirai. The two wanted to keep Dee from leaving.

“They could see it was no help though. I enjoyed myself immensely just exploring the universe with them, but after I had visited every world that sparked my interest and tasted every food I could get my hands on, I was just drifting. Getting more and more bored. According to them, they could see the spark of life and passion slowly draining from my eyes. I think that’s why they tried to engage me in their little projects truth be told. Ironically, it was the two of them that finally said it was time for me to go. They couldn’t bear to watch me waste away anymore. In their words, it’s part of loving someone to know when to let go. They were right of course. Apparently vacation Dee can eventually become an unhappy Dee. Well, at least they’ll have each other. And I already feel invigorated at the thought of seeing something new. Maybe I can find something that can actually put up a fight.” Her explanations to the gravestone were a little jagged and disjointed as sometimes she was telling complete stories and sometimes she was lost in thought and simply thinking things through without speaking a word. It wasn’t like the grave was going to complain about an incomplete story.

Dee had spent three decades indulging herself. Despite enjoying most of that time, there was a limit to living without a goal and a dedicated source of motivation. Especially since her first three decades were spent in a frantic flurry of training and fighting with a distant and impossible goal. Being inactive like this was simply bad for Dee in the long term. She wasn’t meant for the comfortable pace of just existing, but taking on forced responsibilities wouldn’t work in her case either. Those would just cause her to become jaded and would go against her nature. She needed new things to see and try, and new sources of excitement. She needed a new purpose.

Being the peacekeeper of this universe didn’t appeal to her, but in some ways that’s exactly what she had become. “I find it interesting that my presence has largely been responsible for the longest stretch of peace this universe has seen in a while. We keep traveling around the universe and no one wants to accidentally attack a world I might like or have friends at.” Dee gave a small chuckle.

That was only part of the reason. Her words, even those spoken casually, carried a great deal of weight. That was one of the other things that bothered her. Because of her actions, she had to be extremely careful about what she said to most people. The problem was, despite her unwillingness to meddle in things, she wasn’t shy about offering her opinion when something bothered her. It had been her words that had finally put an end to the Dragonflight and Assembly taking all the angel controlled worlds, and it had been her words that had kept the three groups at bay for almost thirty years. Not that she got much credit for that as everyone had other things to worry about.

Instead of the hells and demons, the shadows on every world had taken the role of being the catalyst of chaos and change. Those shadows had been extremely active thanks to the gathered power of chaos and the ascension of Umbra as one of the three top deities. Many people blamed Dee as she was the most obvious target for their ire, whether fairly or unfairly. They didn’t blame her to her face of course, but it did predispose them to dislike her. That’s why very few people credited her for the peace she had brought, although unwittingly. People only saw the downside and not the good things her presence meant. Not that she really cared, but it did have some downsides. Being too well known was a problem on occasion.

“The damn mountain is coming along of course, and so is Croestia. I was hoping we might actually be able to create a body for Croestia in some other universe. This one doesn’t really have the means. You could do it theoretically, but the body would be kind of shitty, so I’m saving that for the future. As for the other one, apparently the mountain that we met in the White City is too snooty, so the Living Mountain is coming along to see if we can find her a better mate in some other universe. Personally, I think the bloody mountain is just too loyal and doesn’t want me to go alone. I don’t mind the company, though the mountain is still driving me insane.” Some things didn’t change. Even with the new perspective on things her ascension had given her, the Living Mountain could still make Dee question her sanity.

The idea about giving Croestia a body had taken a life after Dee had become rank fourteen. Croestia had become a more well-rounded personality with her own perspective as it shared in the sensations of Dee’s new body. Dee had tried getting help from skilled mages to create some sort of a homunculus body for Croestia, but there was something about the magical systems that didn’t quite work correctly with the intelligent magical item. They’d tried a more mechanical golem and that had worked better, but a golem body had no feeling to it, so the project had been shelved for now. Maybe other universes had better options.

“It might have taken a long time for me to finally decide to leave, but Death seems insistent on trying to force my hand. Apparently whatever she needed to happen with the Well of Souls inside me is now ready. Now all she needs to do is to die. Luckily it’s not quite that easy for her. There are only a handful of beings capable of killing her even if she doesn’t defend herself.” Dee grimaced a bit.

Just a week ago Death had attacked Umbra in the hopes of the Goddess of Darkness being drawn into giving her the deathblow. The idea was that Umbra would be tempted by becoming the second-ranked deity behind Eternity. Unfortunately for Death, Umbra wasn’t willing to play that game. For such a powerful goddess, she was surprisingly uninterested in the idea of going up one more rank. Death didn’t quite understand the other goddess. Yes, Umbra had aimed for greater power and position with her earlier planning, but she had done it more to become equal to Death and Eternity and to see if it could be done. She wasn’t really interested in rank per se. That, and Umbra wasn’t interested in becoming enemies with Dee. The two still had a cordial, sometimes even a friendly relationship.

With Umbra out of the consideration, that left just Dee and Eternity and neither of them was willing to oblige. Death had actually considered going after the Old Ones, either to get them to kill her or to provoke Eternity, but Eternity had already informed her that the Old Ones were not the only ones who could be imprisoned, should things come to that. “Still, Eternity has been dropping hints that if I want to leave, then it might be a good idea to go soon. The bastard actually spoke to Moirai in her dreams.” Dee wasn’t happy about that at all, but what was done was done.

“I still feel bad leaving some of my friends behind. Moirai and Aurelie of course, but Faylen, Razark, and Viansola as well. Vian just got over her anger towards me too. Now she’s mad again.” Dee had a fond smile on her face. She was quite proud of the little girl.

Most of her friends had done well in fact. Notably, Razark had found peace and Faylen had become even happier. She had blossomed as a mother and had added two more kids after Viansola. The two little disasters were also close to Dee, but she didn’t feel the same kind of connection as she did when she had played with little Vian. Of course, Viansola wasn’t so little anymore. The kid was over thirty now, older than Dee was when she had attacked Paradisia. That said, elves matured more slowly and Vian was still considered a teenager at best, and she often acted like one. Sometimes she did have a reason though.

It wasn’t simple to live in the shadow of an aunt like Dee. Little Vian’s life had been perfect while she had been at home, but once she joined schools and academies her peers eventually found out that the dreaded rank fourteen being often spent time with Vian. Some people were afraid and lashed out, while some tried to suck up to Vian to get closer to Dee. Most just kept their distance though. It was hard for Vian to make true friends, although she did eventually manage to find some.

Unfortunately, at one point things had become bad enough where Viansola had faced rather nasty treatment from some other kids, and the little girl had blamed Dee for her situation. A little unfair, but not entirely without reason. As a result, the two had hit a rough patch. Dee had to stop herself from killing the bullies, but it was something Viansola had to learn to deal with. This wasn’t a nice and kind universe. Dee did offer her support and gave advice. The situation had been resolved eventually before she had to personally step in, though perhaps not in the best of ways. The parents of the bullies had found out their kids had harassed the niece of the most powerful being in the universe and had rather wisely decided to make a run for it. Eventually the relationship between Dee and Vian had recovered and grown even stronger as the girl’s own personality had developed.

“Selvaria was of course devastated once she found out I was leaving. I think she was the saddest to see me leave. Truth be told, she will most likely be the one I’ll miss the most out of everyone.” Dee teared up a little thinking about her mother. They had actually managed to create something like a parental relationship over the years. Selvaria was a frequent companion on Dee’s little adventures, and any time not spent with Moirai and Aurelie was spent with her. Selvaria was also a frequent visitor with Faylen and Viansola, so at least she would have ‘grandchildren’ of sorts to look after once Dee was gone. Still, it wasn’t the same thing. It was always sad to see your child leave without knowing if you’d ever see them again, and Selvaria had been forced to go through that twice. One of the few things that didn’t become easier with experience.

“This is the moment to say goodbye. I can’t say I will never return, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect Eternity will not make it easy, and I don’t even know if time works normally when it comes to travel between universes. It would be sad to return, only to find ten thousand years have passed here and everything I love had died a long time ago.” With the last sweep of the immaculate gravestone Dee turned and walked away. She wasn’t really saying goodbye to Nessera, more like putting her own thoughts in order.

Slowly a portal to the Astral Plane formed in front of her and she stepped through. Before she let the portal close, she gave the universe of her birth a last look and a small wave goodbye. “I will miss this place and everyone in it.”

She turned towards the distance within the Astral Sea. Thanks to her new senses, she could tell which directions she could take to get away from this universe. She could detect a place full of life in the distance, something different from everything else she could feel in other directions and decided that was a good place to start her journey.

--------

“So she’s gone?” Lumen asked with complex emotions. She had kept in contact with Dee, although their contact had been fairly infrequent.

“Not entirely, although she will be in a few weeks. It takes time to travel to other universes, even for her.” Eternity replied. The four deities had once again gathered around Eternity’s fake campsite. They couldn’t observe Dee anymore, but Eternity could roughly locate her thanks to his mastery over space. Dee left small ripples in her wake as she passed, something others would be unable to detect.

“Sad to see her go.” Lumen muttered.

“We always knew she would. She’s not the type to just hang around. She is rather adventurous despite her protestations otherwise. Once it became clear she had a grander adventure just waiting for her somewhere else, it became only a matter of time. Still, I’m rather pleased to have had her as my Champion.” Umbra nodded along with her sister.

“Maybe now we can get rid of the rumors finally.” Lumen stated with a sigh of relief. Dee had been rather active in spreading the rumors about Lumen and Umbra, and the legend was now accepted as a fact by almost everyone. Lumen had actually made an appearance to try and quash the rumors, but her fervent denials had only made the rumors more believable. Lumen could feel the power of faith starting to affect her already. The change would be slow and gradual, but it would come. It didn’t help that Umbra was completely playing along.

“Yeah, I doubt that. I think you’ll only make it worse again honey. Not that I mind.” Umbra grinned. For her, it had started out as a joke, but now she found herself rather liking the idea. It had a certain something that was hard to quantify but made her more inclined to agree.

“So, what will happen now that she’s gone? Was it worth letting her leave?” Death asked a little peevishly. She was referring to her own plans of course, though not just those. If Dee had become her replacement, then the peaceful effect she’d had on the universe would have become more permanent as well.

“Yes, it was. You know your duty. We were the first, and we will be the last. That was what you signed up for.” Eternity shut down the goddess’ argument.

“Still, she does make one good point. How long will it be until the hostilities return?” Lumen posed the question that had been on her mind for a long time. “I’m not saying we should’ve forced her to stay, mind you. I’m just pointing out that her presence was highly useful. Ironically, the less she acted the more her presence kept things quiet.”

“That depends.” Umbra mused. “How long will it take before everyone figures out she’s gone? The hostilities will begin very carefully at first and will stay that way until they are convinced she isn’t returning. Still, the War in Heavens might have hit a lull, but it isn’t over. And as long as there is power to be had in this struggle, it never will end. The demons and Paradisia have both had decades to recover. The first new hell is about to be born. The two groups will be the minor participants in the war behind the Dragonflight and the Assembly, but the battles will return. As much as some things change, many others will stay the same. Now there’s room for new players as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pantheon took a more active role for example. They may have started out as refugees running away from the war, but that was a really long time ago. Now they’re in a position of relative power, and their neutrality is already being questioned.”

“That reminds me of something. Will we be able to pick a new Champion now that Dee is gone?” Lumen suddenly realized a potential issue.

“Eventually yes. The connection between you and her will dissipate over time once she is fully gone. You won’t get your powers back, those you gifted her and she gets to keep. But eventually, you can pick someone new. Not that anyone will be able to match her for a very long time.” Eternity explained.

“You do realize that you’ve simply delayed the inevitable, right?” Death pointed out as if she hadn’t heard any of the previous words. “I did it once, I will be able to do it again, now that I know it works.”

“Perhaps.” Eternity admitted. “But I will make sure my wayward daughters will not be helping you this time. Good luck in finding someone who can match Dee without that help. I’m the God of Time and even I won’t bother holding my breath while waiting. No, I’m afraid we’re quite stuck with you for a while still.”

Umbra gave a small sigh. “She might be gone, but the universe will keep on moving along. What remains to be seen, are the exact consequences of her life here. Some will last for a long time, like the fall of Paradisia, while other will be forgotten as soon as her presence disappears. In the end, it will all become nothing but memories as legends.”

Lumen gave a small smile. “I wonder, will there be an Authority born out the legends that have already been written about her, and will most certainly be written in the centuries to come?”

“Almost certainly, though will it be just one? She will be the subject of countless legends.” Umbra nodded her agreement. “The other question is, will most of those legends speak of her as a hero or a villain?”

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Vihyungrang

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