“Ugh, I really, really fucked up.”
The tiny pod was barely big enough for one occupant, yet there were four seats wedged into it, two of them empty. This pod was going straight to the Decay Lord stronghold known as Deathven, and normally the trip would be instantaneous, but apparently there was some delay in processing. Traffic, the voice in the speaker had calmly explained.
Kalis however didn’t mind at all. The delay meant he’d had some time to think to himself, and in doing so, realised that he’d made some massive mistakes over the last few… well, forevers.
“No, really?” Letharus grunted, only half awake. He had been sedated, his head not in the right spot to manage being flung across the multiverse. “What fuck up have you done this time?”
Kalis shrugged, picking at the faded leather on his seat belt. “I fucked up with Arkay. I pissed him off and said stuff I… I didn’t even mean. For a moment, I was someone else, so angry, so hurt… I thought Arkay was my friend and that he was hurting me and I didn’t realise that… I was hurting him.”
“You threatened to rape him. Are you not surprised?” Letharus sighed. His eyes were pretty heavy and he definitely wasn’t concentrating on Kalis. The kind old therapist inside him was too exhausted to really give much assistance. “Honestly seemed rather uncharacteristic of you.”
“Because it was!” Kalis threw his hands into the air in annoyance, before trailing off. “It… wasn’t me. I turned into the fricking monster that everyone accuses me of being! Maybe I’ve been a monster all along…”
Letharus glanced up at Kalis, then sighed some more. Now they were stationary, he didn’t feel too bad, but the whole journey had been nauseating. “If you were a monster, you probably would have torn Arkay’s womb out and delivered it to Lord Theocydes without hesitation. Wouldn’t have ever even considered Arkay’s offer of friendship.”
“Yeah, but still…” Kalis sniffed, fidgeting a little. “I made them all angry and they sent me away. I did genuinely hurt Arkay and I feel terrible about what I did. I… I wish I could take it all back, that I just… stopped asking him. I really am a monster…”
“The fact that you are feeling remorse suggests that you are not… that bad…” Letharus tutted. “I cannot say that you are a good being, but you are not completely evil. You are redeemable. Acknowledging that you are wrong and genuinely wanting to change a first step towards becoming a better person.”
Kalis paused, sensing that something was… different. Their little pod was moving. Quite quickly, in fact. But the movement abruptly stopped, leaving both him and Letharus somewhat confused.
“You felt that, right?”
Letharus nodded, but remained silent. Something was clicking to their side. A panel in the otherwise blank wall moved. After what felt like an eternity, the panel popped inwards, landing by Letharus’s feet.
“Sorry about that!” a loud, gruff yet friendly voice echoed from the outside. “Turns out we had a clog in the Portal Intakes, so everything had to be delayed. Cannot be teleporting little Decaylings to the wrong areas now, can we?”
Kalis peered at the tall, heavily armoured being. They reminded him of the Decay Lord he had met prior, Decay Lord Galyn, except this one was red, orange and gold rather than leafy green and silver.
“Uh, who are you?” Kalis asked. “Where are we?”
The being reached inside the pod, tugging on a lever on the ceiling. The pod split apart, finally giving Letharus and Kalis some space to look around. At first glance, they appeared to be sitting in some cross between a train station and a waiting room, surrounded boring grey walls and a dark blue carpet and with a large metallic plate in the middle, most likely a transporter pad or something.
There were also several doors leading in and out of the room, all signposted. Letharus couldn’t comprehend what they said, but Kalis could just about read one of them.
“Thantir… Decayling Processing, Revitalization and Education Nursery?”
The being nodded, undoing the seatbelts that kept Kalis and Letharus in their seats. “Yes indeed. You are here to be deprogrammed from Voidborn tendencies, fixed up and then, hopefully, properly integrated into Decay Lord society here on Deathven!”
The armoured being paused, spotting a small note attached to Kalis’s belt. He swiftly read it, then smiled. “Ah, Galyn sent you! You both definitely look like the sort Galyn would send my way…” They paused once more, lifting Kalis and Letharus up. “Come on, come this way. We have to get you cleaned up before we do anything else.”
“Sure, but…” Letharus stuttered. “We are… children of the Void, surely we do not belong here?”
“Yeah, you’re treating us way, way too nicely!” Kalis added. “I thought Decay Lords hated Voidborns!”
“Neither of you are Voidborn, just corrupted by them!” the being explained, leading them to the signposted door. As the colossal being pushed the door open, Kalis saw what was inside: some sort of strange spa area, with relaxing music and little fountains of water. “We hate Voidborns because they take innocent beings and turn them into monsters. Part of my job is to help you both get back on track.”
Kalis’s eyes widened. “You mean, you’re not going to… hurt us? We get to be like… normal beings?”
“Why would I hurt you?” the armoured brute blinked. “Anyway, you can call me Vikalos, I shall be getting you cleaned up before passing you over to the professionals. You both are in safe hands now…”