“I have soooooo many questions…”
Arkay’s head was spinning with confusion. He was so confused that he’d had to sit down and have something to drink. He’d nearly passed out, that was how confused he was.
First he’d been essentially trapped and comatose, locked up inside the remains of his old universe, floating through an endless void while his body… changed? Something had happened to him. Arkay wasn’t sure. Then he’d found himself on a ship surrounded by strange beings, all of which claimed to also be death gods or something like that. Then somehow magically Arkay had learned whatever language it was they were speaking and they asked him a ton of things he couldn’t answer. And finally they… took a shard of his armour, used it to win a fight between two weird beings locked in battle in the distance and suddenly… Arkay was special?
None of it made any sense. At all.
“Why don’t you ask them then?” Saahro, the second most… familiar of these other beings, asked. He was only familiar because he was vaguely dragon-shaped. He reminded Arkay of a long-lost time god, buried deep in Arkay’s memories. Not only did Arkay have no idea what was going on now, he found he couldn’t recall much of his past either.
“Because…” Arkay rubbed his head. “Because I am trying to work out which one to ask first… So you are all death gods, right? Former ones? That killed their own universes… like I did?”
“You just figured that out?” Adis tutted. Adis and the large centaur being known as Ostos were both made of nothing but bone.
“I wanted to make sure!” Arkay snapped back. As he did so, he realised he had briefly teleported across the room and back. “I’m tired and confused and no one told me anything about what lies out here! I mean, why the fuck do I keep on accidentally teleporting!”
“You’re not synced to our time generator yet…” Seimeni tried to calm Arkay down, holding a glass of water for him. He wasn’t sure how Seimeni was doing that, since she was rather ghost-like and wispy. In fact, sometimes she turned translucent. “Because there are no… universal rules out here like there is inside a universe, things get messy and weird and broken. So we have time generators to enable Decay-Lords to, like, sync up and stuff. So we all see time the same way.”
“Space is infinite in the Space Between Universes. This means that time is almost a singularity, only measurable at Planck distances…” Vikalos, the obvious boss around here, explained further. “Which means that time is whatever you want it to be. That is why we cannot tell you how long you were drifting for, because your concept of time and our concept of time were originally vastly different.”
Arkay closed his eyes. “So there’s no time… at all… That’s going to make grilling a cheese toasty really difficult…”
“That’s why we have the time generator though!” Seimeni smiled. “Right, Vikalos?”
Vikalos nodded. He looked down at Arkay, realising that he was still desperately struggling. “Kiddo, do you need some space to clear your head?”
Arkay sighed, then nodded. “I do, I really do…”
Seimeni glanced at Vikalos, who silently asked everyone else to leave. The other Decay-Lords all grunted and tutted and began to file out.
After a moment of quiet, Vikalos summoned a chair and sat down next to Arkay. Arkay couldn’t work out why, but he felt… safer whenever Vikalos was around. Sure, they had similar armour-based builds but Vikalos towered over Arkay. When Arkay noticed that strange, golden glow in Vikalos’s eyes, he realised why he seemed to trust Vikalos.
“Is everything well?”
“Not really…” Arkay admitted. “And I just worked out why I feel less scared of you. You remind me… of the form I took when I killed my universe. An armoured, Panvaic monster, utterly unstoppable, utterly monstrous but also… unwanting… unmade then remade and back again…”
Vikalos shrugged, not really able to see things from Arkay’s point of view. As far as he was concerned, he was always Vikalos.
“You are still in shock, still in mourning after what you did. I believe that your universe ended… not too long ago, at least in your eyes.”
“But I don’t really remember what happened. Not the details anyway. I killed Kenon, I killed Yisini, I killed Epani and I destroyed Kinisis’s corporeal form. Kairos… I don’t even know what happened to him. When I took Kinisis’s light, it all just faded and collapsed. And I couldn’t move and then I could…”
Vikalos could tell that Arkay was struggling still, and attempted to change the subject. “Is there anything in particular you would like to ask about?”
Arkay fell silent. After a moment of thought, he asked a question. “What were those beings? And… why is me being a… an… antifthor or whatever it was… important?”
“The Voidlord and the Corruption? They are what control the Space Between Universes, little one. The Voidborns seek to silence all and the Corruptions seek to consume all. Us Decay-Lords are mere travellers, the vast minority who just try to coexist peacefully.”
“They want us dead.”
“Just us Decay-Lords. The Voidborns see us as a threat. The Corruption sees us as…” Vikalos hesitated. “Well, to put it politely, breeding facilities.”
“And how do I fit into this?”
“Any Decay-Lord can hurt either type of being. But an Antifthor, a Non-Corruptable, Non-Havrestable Being, can destroy them…” Again, Vikalos hesitated. “The others are nervous because you are a fundamentally dangerous being. Not just because of your power, but because you are sought after as well.”
Arkay took a deep breath. “I should… probably leave then. I am putting you all in danger just by being here, aren’t I?”
“That is true, but you give us a great deal more protection as well.”
With a sigh, Arkay got up, wobbling a little as he did so. “I still need… time to digest all this. Is it okay if I make myself some food then lock myself in my room for a bit?”
Vikalos nodded. “That is fine. This is clearly a huge change for you.”
“That is putting it lightly…” Arkay grunted as he left the room and headed towards the kitchens. “Thanks for… putting up with me so far…”