Step Conversations

“They have been in there a while.”

“They are packaging up two deities so they can be slingshotted across the multiverse and sent to a care home so far away that numbers lose meaning. Of course it will take some time. But yes, they have been in there a while.”

Litvir and Retvik both sighed as they fidgeted awkwardy on the small, concrete steps of the tiny entrance to a Life Oasis. Behind them was a brick wall with a single wooden door built into it, a portal to the Life Oasis proper. But on the door, a sign had been haphazardly nailed to it, loudly stating that only up to two non-Life Goddesses could enter at once. Litvir and Retvik would have gone over this limit, so they were sitting outside, keeping an eye on their battered ship.

The last little while had been a bit chaotic for both Decay Lords. Learning that parallel versions of themselves existed was strange enough, but the manner in which they had learned so had been almost deadly. While Litvir had just about survived his conflict with Letharus, his twisted counterpart, Retvik’s battle had been decidedly deadly, and the blood had still not washed off either Retvik’s hands nor his mind.

“Everyvok seems unhappy right now…” Litvir muttered.

“It is obvious why.”

“Yes, yes. But no one wants to talk. It is dragging us all down. You in particular, Retvik.”

Retvik took a deep breath. “I am just still… flabbergasted at how different I was to… I did not even catch the bastard’s name. He tried to kill me, so I killed him. But what happened in his universe that made him so hideous?”

“He tried to-”

“He did. I do not want to talk about that.”

“Maybe you need to…” Litvir tutted. “Say the words out loud, get them out of your head and into the vast emptiness.”

“How will explaining the fact that he tried to rape me so I killed him make me feel better?”

“It gives your mind some space, to put it simply. Beings capable of communicating can only hold so many thoughts in their brain at once. Saying it out loud removes the thought from your main circle…” Litvir explained. “So you have room for other things. And, in cases of anxiety or stress, saying things out lout allows you to see that a problem is not a problem at all, or that it has already been solved.”

Retvik grunted. “I suppose… that makes sense… I was genuinely fearful for my life. I was also scared that, if he defeated me, he would return to hurt you and Arkay.”

“Mhm…” Litvir nodded. “I had the same thoughts while fighting Letharus. It is interesting how your parallel was pure evil, but Letharus and I are… almost opposites. Someone who was good was turned to the darkness, while the other realised their mistakes and changed for the better.”

“Still…” Retvik sighed, glancing at the door behind him. “Whatever is going on with Arkay has not helped matters. Galyn seemed particularly… angry.”

Litvir shrugged. “He thought Arkay would just kill Kalis. Probably believed Arkay had the strength to properly fight that Voidborn too. He did after all go and kill Lord Kenon. You and I, had we possessed Arkay’s power, would have most likely killed Kalis, Theocydes and probably Letharus and his other minions too.”

Retvik shook his head, vaguely annoyed by Litvir’s statement. “Arkay does not like to kill. Never has done.”

“Odd. A god of death who hates death?”

“Yep…” Retvik grunted. “Always hated having to kill. He may have changed a lot over the years, but Arkay has always used murder only as a last resort.”

“Hm…” Litvir trailed off. “I suppose that makes sense. Must be a huge source of his self-loathing.”

“That is not the only reason though. Arkay has… always believed that most beings can be saved. That most of us have some genuine goodness in us.”

“Most beings though are apathetic to the outside world at best.”

“Now imagine yourself being a god, knowing that and still being utterly helpless in changing it…” Retvik sighed. “He still believes some people can be saved, and feels betrayed when vok tell him to give in to his own murderous instincts. His failures to make others change can get to him…”

Retvik paused, glancing behind him again. The door creaked open briefly, before slamming shut. After another moment, Galyn stepped out of the doorway, tutting and alone.

“Where is Arkay?” Litvir immediately asked, climbing to his feet.

“Already back on board…” Galyn tutted, moving past Litvir and Retvik and heading straight back to the ship. “He will be… sulking in his room for a while. In the mean time, it will be up to us three to get the Thantir Two fixed up. Should not be too hard, there is a larger Life Oasis a short distance from here where we can stock up.”

“Why is Arkay sulking?” Retvik questioned further.

Galyn paused, then grunted. “He took offence to me suggesting that maybe he would be better off in Deathven as well, and that he might not be suited to being a Decay Lord out here if he is unwilling to get blood on his hands. But I do not think Arkay will sulk for long. He always perks up eventually.”

Litvir and Retvik glanced at each other, not really having much of an answer for Galyn.

“Come on, you two. We need to get more supplies!”

“Yeah, sure thing, boss…” Retvik grunted as he and Litvir both followed Galyn inside. “Guess we have a lot of tidying up to do…”