Cut Short Eternity
"Oblivion really isn't all it was cracked up to be," said Regis as he drifted in the white void where there had once been heaven. Shattered fragments of his armor drifted by, dipped in a mixture of gold and red. For all he'd lived his countless lives worshiping an almighty Ruler of Heaven, the so-called deity had done the same thing mortals did when stuck with a sword. Scream and bleed.
Regis touched his chest and felt nothing. He vaguely recalled a seraph's sword glancing across it earlier. That was another thing he'd found odd. The invincible host of heaven had been about as threatening as a swarm of children. About as durable too. He'd lodge a complaint about false advertising to the afterlife, but he'd just obliterated it.
"In which case where am I now?" said Regis, not even bothering to turn his head. All he'd see was more white. If he was lucky he'd catch a glimpse of his sword's hilt, which was currently orbiting him. Minus a blade, but a souvenir was a souvenir. Wasn't every day one cut down their god. Someday he'd be able to hold it and look back on this day. Or he could do that right now. Semantics.
The hilt came into view from his left. Regis reached out and plucked it from...well it certainly wasn't air. He wasn't going to think on it too hard. He had the hilt and that was all that mattered. Even if said hilt was far too large for his childish hands to hold.
Regis took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose. He recalled the last moments of the battle. He'd disarmed the Ruler of Heaven, taken hold of his sword, and shattered the whole of the afterlife with one final blow.
Then the Ruler of Heaven, ever a poor sport and unwilling to accept his loss, had used his dying godly essence to force Regis back into the form of a child. He'd been trying to rewind him from existence altogether, but it was probably hard to focus long enough when the two halves of your brain, and the rest of your body, aren't connected anymore.
In any case, Regis was now a child. The good news was that the regression had healed his mortal wounds. The bad news was everything else. Like the fact his armor didn't fit him anymore. This would probably give him cause for concern if he hadn't just made age a moot point. Child, adult, whatever, the world was gone and no one cared anymore.
Regis didn't know how long he floated in the void. He would probably have gone insane if he wasn't certain he'd already done that a long time ago after discovering his repeated life. Though that brought to mind the question of if he was really insane since he was questioning his sanity. Did that make him sane? Or just a more broken kind of insane? Had he already gone insane then went sane again after finding it wasn't all that fun? He had all eternity to ponder questions like this.
Eternity didn't last for long. Regis was broken out of his mental count by a presence. He took a brief moment to memorize the current number (10,365,968,395,284,855) and looked around.
There against the white backdrop of nothing were bold curves of black, giving a humanoid form to the blot. It looked remarkably like a woman. Had he gone insane again? That wasn't supposed to be until later. Whatever later meant.
Regis oriented himself to what would appear to be a standing position to the blot. He'd gotten quite good at moving himself around, he just lacked something to move to to make the effort worthwhile.
The blot definitely looked like a woman. Her black hair waved about with no breeze to aid it. Her eyes locked onto Regis's, piercing and stern.
"And here I thought this world had been completely unwritten," said the woman. "Yet you remain so that must not be so. You have a story about you, a heavy one indeed."
"Was that a fat remark?" said Regis, checking his limbs to make sure they were still their slender form. Apparently being dead gave more perks than just allowing an assault on heaven. He should have been a withered husk by now. Or maybe not depending on how much time had passed.
The woman did not laugh or smile. She just eyed Regis. "Your story is strong, one of order. I have need of such to make sense of chaos."
Regis didn't say anything. He was now certain he had gone insane again and this was a figment of his imagination. Still, it was the most entertainment he'd had for a while, not that that was saying much. He could have fun with this.
The woman spoke again. "I am Lady Ink. Who are you?"
"Regis, the King of Heroes," said Regis. "Pay no attention to my childish form. I have lived far longer than most could even imagine."
"Then I will waste no time. Regis, I require the aid of characters such as yourself. Will you lend your story to my cause?"
Regis looked around at the empty white. "It's not like I have more pressing matters at hand. Very well, I accept."
Lady Ink nodded. "Then I shall craft for your a gift to aid in your journey." She held up her hand and ink spilled forth from her palm, coalescing into a shifting blob of lines and shapes. "What do you see?"
Regis was hypnotized by the gentle flow of the ink. He saw a form in it, rising from the dark mass into a recognizable shape, one only he saw. "A sword."
The ink bound itself to the form Regis named, becoming rigid and unchanging. Lady Ink brought her other hand up and touched the newly-made construct. "And what does it mean to you?"
Regis's memories ran freely through his mind, as fresh as the occasions that formed them. And each one had a common form bound to his sword. With it he had saved lives, ended threats, and fought for survival in a world against him and his allies. With a sword, he had become a hero. It was more than weapon, it was a concept bound in steel.
"Power," said Regis. "The power to save, to spare, to slay, to survive. Power to be a hero, power to make the decisions others could not, power to defy fate. That is what it means to me."
Lady Ink raised the construct to her lips and spoke the word that defined it. The form shimmered and shrunk. It still held the shape of a sword, but now Regis could feasibly fit it in his pocket.
Lady Ink gestured to Regis and the construct flew to him. He took hold of the ink, feeling its consistency and form. Bold, black lines scarcely the thickness of paper.
"The sword means power to you," said Lady Ink. "And so that is the form it will take. You are now thus armed with power, are you ready for what lies ahead?"
Regis held the construct in his hand and nodded.
Lady Ink called forth the shapeless black again. But this time it resolved into an arrow. "Travel," she said. "But to where is up to you. Fix a location in your mind, and the construct will do the rest. Be warned, where you are going is a place of chaos and change. If you wish to remain intact, your story must be strong. The world will change around you, but you must not if you wish to succeed. Are you ready?"
Regis looked down at his construct. He had thought this was just a figment of his insanity, but now he wasn't so sure. He had broken his destiny before, could he take on a new one? Did he dare to think he could start over with one last life? One of his choosing. Freedom. Complete and total freedom. He'd thought his story was over, but it had yet to even begin. And this time, he'd be the one writing it.
"Power," said Regis. The construct in his hand immediately assumed the form of a simple blade, comfortable and familiar despite his age. He slid one foot out assuming a stance he had taken many times before. Body tensed, blade at hand, the battle about to begin. How long had he been in the void to forget this feeling? Adrenaline surging through him. Every one of his senses on edge. He had no fear. Death would be a welcome sleep. Pain reminded him he was alive. That was how it should be.
Lady Ink gestured and the construct arrow flew to Regis. He took hold of it with his free hand.
"Where do you wish to go?" said Lady Ink, black swirls gathering around her.
Regis held the arrow up and fixed his desire in his mind. "Take me to a place of excitement."
The arrow flashed and Regis was gone.