I’ve done something. I don’t know if it is good or not. Guess we’ll see.
It all started when I reached the dome. I assume it’s Death’s place, because it’s much more heavily defended than everywhere else. There were Veth wandering around, but one of them came up to me and started talking. He called himself Continuity. Had weird, knobbly armour, and a large, square horn on his nose. Interesting thing, really. First thing I did was ask where Arkay was. I didn’t mean that to be my first question, but it’s just what fell out of my dumb mouth.
Continuity though had questions of his own. He wanted to know my name, so I told him that everyone told me my name was Iatre. Turns out, a lot of Veth don’t know their real names, and Continuity was one of them. He explained to me that Death was busy on ‘mortal plane’ business, and that he and several other Veth were keeping the basics running. He showed me around. Continuity also recognised that I was meant to be a Veth Prime at some point.
When he mentioned the Veth Prime, I asked about Arkay again. The second time, he lowered his head. He knew exactly where Arkay was. He took me by the hand and led me off down a set of stairs by the side of the big dome. We went past various closed and locked doors, to a single room off on its own. Continuity opened the door with a key hanging from his neck, then pushed the door open and let me go in first.
Weirdly, he didn’t follow me. He stood awkwardly at the entrance.
The room was clearly some sort of lab. But that wasn’t what bothered me.
Arkay was lying on a table. He was conscious, but tied down. A black, inky substance was dripping down from a tube sticking out of the ceiling above him. Where the liquid touched his body, it would spread out, as if it was slowly eating him. Occasionally, he would grunt in pain.
Of course, I walked up to him and asked him if he was okay and what was going on. His reply wasn’t… great.
Basically, Death was consuming Arkay. Absorbing his essence or soul or whatever he is. Essentially killing him forever. And doing it slowly, as to cause Arkay extra pain.
I felt terrible, standing there, looking at him. I didn’t know what to say. Arkay though, he had a lot to say. He was holding back tears. He didn’t want to be erased. He just wanted to sleep for a bit. But he also wanted to work with Death. And he also wanted to be alive. But part of him also wished he’d never been born. It was as if Arkay had a number of different personalities, his mind fragmented and broken.
All I could do was stand there and listen as he rambled away to himself. He was slipping away. He was in agony. I couldn’t take it any more. I blocked off the ceiling tube. I had to. I knew Death would be super pissed at me. Heck, she might put me in the same shithole Arkay’s in. I didn’t care.
Once Arkay was free from the horrible, drippy stuff, I took a step back and looked around. He was crying. Whimpering. He was in pain.
I looked around the lab. There were medical supplies all over the place. Something about the room triggered something in the back of my mind. Memories. I was a healer. A doctor. I helped the sick and injured. But I did more than that. I was a scientist. A genius. An inventor. A manipulator of the physical form. I could bring the dead back to life. This caused me to start recognising some of the stuff around the room.
I had to help Arkay. Help him properly. But I couldn’t work out what Arkay wanted. I found some sedatives. A lot of them. So I gave them to him, so at least he wouldn’t feel pain for a bit.
But as Arkay fell asleep, I felt a cold presence.
Death had appeared, right behind me. She looked at me, grinning like a lunatic.
“You can help him and me at the same time, you know…” she whispered, her eyes glowing.
“I… can?” I stuttered. I was terrified. And why wouldn’t I be scared? I had ruined the punishment she had set up for Arkay.
“I want you to turn him into an attack hound. Seal his mind away, focus on his physical form. He finds himself in dreamland forever, and I get the pet I always wanted.”
“And what if I say no?” I stupidly asked.
Death’s grin grew ever wider. “Well… There is plenty of room down here for two disobedient Veth…”
There was nothing I could do.
At least you get to sleep now, Arkay.