“Why are you doing this, my child?”
Arkay froze. The voice rang in the air around him, from no obvious direction.
“You do not need to do this, little one.”
The voice seemed closer this time. Arkay thought he had been sneaky enough to evade detection. To the point that he had ventured rather deep into the cold, gold, crystalline fortress. Clearly he was wrong.
With a sigh, Arkay finished placing down the explosives he was dealing with, then stood up, looking for the source of the sound.
“You do not have to run away and hide. You do not have to pretend that you are something else. You are one of us, Arkidetelos.”
A gold and silver being stepped out of the darkness. They looked identical to Arkay, except for the large pair of antlers sticking out of their skull. This being also appeared to be unarmed.
“I am Olohmega. I am the High Void Lord of this crystal fortress you wish to destroy. And I will be the first to admit to you that us Void Lords were wrong about you, Arkidetelos.”
“Well… you are still wrong…” Arkay stuttered as he stepped back, not really sure what was happening. Was this some sort of trap? A distraction? Were other Voidborns clearing out the explosives Arkay had already placed while this one was keeping him occupied? “I am not a Voidborn. Never was, never will be.”
Olohmega tipped his head to one side and smiled. “Oh, but you are. Your father would never have admitted it, but you are definitely one of us. Your aggressions against Kenastaton make much more sense when you see them as a lack of proper education and care from parental Voidborn figures. I want to offer you the care and education you were never given.”
Arkay glanced around, looking for an exit. He could just run, but he was pretty sure the Voidborn in front of him knew how to get around this crystal maze better than he did. “But… maybe I am happy not being a Voidborn? Maybe I don’t think I am a Voidborn?”
“You are a Voidborn in the same capacity that you are a Decayling, a Time Drake, a Life Goddess. But the Life Goddesses do not let you build, the Decay Lords do not let you decay and you are completely out of touch with the Forward Flow. Yet you have always been a being of order. You work tirelessly out of a sense of duty and honour. You fit in more than you think.”
Feeling more and more concerned, Arkay backed up against the wall, away from the explosives. He knew that the Voidborn had seem him place them down, but he didn’t know whether the Voidborn knew about all the other explosives Arkay had placed.
“But what about all the dead that lay at your feet? Most of my universe died because of invading Voidborns! You’ve hurt, maimed or killed countless beings… just to get to me?”
Olohmega’s smile faded. “You are correct. We made a lot of mistakes, based on the intel that we initially had. The way the Life Goddesses vied for you, the way the Decay Lords kept you away, we believed they wanted to make you into a weapon to be used against us. Combined with the current Purge the Life Goddesses forced against Voidborns in the area, one would easily believe that we were under attack and retaliating in kind. But mistakes can and will be rectified. Starting with you. I wish to make amends, Arkidetelos. We wish to make you a powerful offer.”
“What… sort of amends and offers?”
“We will not put you in a cage to be stared at and experimented on. You would be a Void Lord without question, free to rise our ranks and become a High Lord yourself. Surely that is better than the eternal captivity at the hands of the Decay Lords, or eternal enslavement and yet more suffering in the claws of the Life Goddesses? They see you as an object to be sealed away or exploited. I see potential in you. More than that though, you can make the Void Lords better.”
Arkay sighed, considering Olohmega’s word’s carefully, keeping himself close to the wall.
“If I… If I accepted your offer… would you… would you spare them?”
“My friends. Leave my friends alone. Leave the Thantir alone. They just want peace.”
“As long as you renounce them and join us, then yes.”
The little Decayling fell silent, still weighing up his options. On the one hand, this may have all just been a distraction or a trick. But at the same time… this… might have been Arkay’s chance to… not be someone else’s servant. For countless centuries, Arkay had been slaving away for other beings. Even after he’d escaped, he’d been told that things would get better, that he’d be free. That hadn’t been true at all. But… There were too many buts. Too many uncertainties. And Olohmega just stood there, patiently waiting for Arkay to make his choice.
After some more thought, Arkay made his decision. He straightened himself out, sighing loudly.
“Fine. I’ll join you, on the condition that you let my friends leave freely, that you let the Thantir live on in peace and you let me return to my ship so I can renounce my Decay Lord ties to my friends. In person.”
Olohmega smiled. “I accept your conditions, Arkidetelos, but I would like to know why.”
“The Thantir tried their best but they were clearly not right for me. And I… I want to talk to my friends personally. I won’t be seeing them again. It’s unfair to… just leave them and never explain why. They’ll understand.”
“That is a very fair request. Go. Tell your friends. We will be waiting for you, Void Lord…”
Arkay paused, briefly confused by his new title, then smiled a little. With renewed vigour and a hint of nervousness, Arkay picked himself up and headed back to the ship. He had a lot of explaining to do…