I felt the world around me melt away, one last time. Dying wasn't as cold as I expected it to be, in all honesty I felt rather relaxed. Yet as I sunk into the endless abyss of oblivion, that feeling disappeared, along with all others.
I was alone now. Did I die alone? Somehow... I just couldn't remember.
"You... would you take a world of peace, or a world of war?"
A low, mystical voice reverberated in my head, or, rather, whatever I was composed of, since I definitely wasn't alive anymore.
"Well... peace is infinitely better than war, except for the fact that it's really boring...." I thought this, and though I lacked a mouth, the words seemed to echo from me as though being played through a speaker.
"Ha! You always were that way, looking to take enjoyment from even the simplest of things." The voice asked.
"Was I? I... I can't remember." I thought.
It was perfectly true, though I was sure that I had been dead for only a few moments, almost every memory from my previous life was just, gone. Everything, except...
"I'm gonna go ahead and guess that you're the reason that I can remember Algrid?" I asked.
"Yes, and before you ask, the reason why you've no memories of your previous life is because that life is over, and there's no brain or body for you to remember with. Your memories of Algrid are encased within your soul, and they will stay with you, even in your new life."
"New life? I guess that means I'm being resurrected." I said.
"Indeed. In accordance to a request I received from my kin, my duties in this case are to serve as a ferry between your previous world and my kin's. Of course, I need your permission to grant you this new life, along with whatever boon you wish."
I thought about it for a moment. Part of me was sure that this would be an easy choice if I had memories of my past life. On one hand I could have had a good, long, fulfilling life, which would make me less likely to agree, as I would likely feel as though my one life was enough. On the other, my previous life may have been terrible, or I might have died far too soon, which would make me more likely to agree, since I might be able to have a better second chance at a good life. Without knowing what my past life was like, this was a rather risky choice in my opinion.
I came to my decision.
"No, I'm good." I said firmly.
"Wonderful, then, just let me... wait... what?"
"I said I'm good. I don't trust you. You come out of nowhere after I die, tell me it's okay that I don't remember anything, then just expect me to go along to who the fuck knows where? Yeah, gonna have to go with a solid no on that." I explained.
In truth, I had no reason to believe that this entity had any malicious intentions towards me, I just wasn't exactly ready to jump into some new life without any information, and who knew if it would be willing to tell me what I wanted to know after I agreed?
"But... but you could live a life of incredible riches... or, or have your way with as many women as you want! You could have it all! You just have to agree!" The voice spoke with a mixture of shock and fear that entirely replaced its once mystical quality.
"Look, your offer sounds great on the surface, but not knowing anything about my past life makes it really hard to know exactly why I'm getting this offer in the first place! If you'd be willing to tell me a few things, then I'd be way more willing to consider."
There was a long silence, during which I realized that I had successfully won the entity over. Sure enough;
"Alright, I'm not supposed to do this, but... what exactly do you want to know?"
"Well... how exactly did I die?" I asked, slowly.
I felt the being sigh, before an image flashed in front of my eyes.
A young man was sat in a bed, surrounded by three people. His barren room seemed lonely despite the group. Two of the people standing close to the right side were very obviously his parents, given the resemblance. On the left side was a man in a long, white coat, holding a strange looking instrument that was piercing the mans skin. The woman, the young man's mother, had her hand clamped tightly over her own mouth, a thick stream of tears pouring from her eyes. His father was faring no better, his hand shielding his face from the scene in front of him, his own tears dripping from his chin.
"You were the victim of a horrid disease that, until your diagnosis, was unknown to the world at large. You lived for nineteen long years, unable to stand or walk on your own. You found solace in a game that my kin had implanted into your world, hoping to find candidates for resurrection. At the end of the nineteen years, you had had enough, and decided that death was preferable to the suffering you had always known."
I considered this information for a moment. Perhaps with the memory I might have found this scene painful or saddening, but it felt like I was looking down at someone I had never met before. It felt strange, watching my own death yet feeling nothing.
"So... why was I chosen for resurrection?" I asked.
"You were competent. The game that was Algrid was meant to find people who would do well in the world it was based on. You did incredibly well with the various systems and quests, thus my kin has decided you would be a good addition to the world."
"Alright, last one, and then I think I'll be ready to make an more informed decision. What exactly am I supposed to do in this next world?"
A simple question, but this one more than any other would determine my answer.
"Nothing, in truth. Your life is your own. My kin has made no allusions to what or why exactly she wants you in this world, only that she does."
She? I suppose that made this "kin" a female, maybe even a goddess.
"Sister, huh? Okay... I remember you telling me something about a boon of some sort, right? What exactly is that?" I asked.
"Well, I was given a portion of my sister's power that I can transfer over to you, giving you an ability or gift, as long as it's within reason, of course."
That gave me one final thing to consider, and I decided that I had one final question.
"Potential. Can you give me unlimited potential? Not just limitless strength or anything like that, but I want to be able to reach any level I want, as long as I'm willing to work towards it." I said.
The entity was silent for a few moments, then, as it spoke, a golden light radiated from everywhere, engulfing me in an endless warmth.
"May I take this as your assent to this request?" The voice asked.
"Yeah, I guess so. I don't really see the point of giving up on life just yet." I said.
"Very well, you will be given potential that exceeds all living beings. You must simply do what you can to reach out and take the things you desire in life. If you wish for strength, then improve yourself beyond any mere mortal. If you wish for love, then be your honest self, and find it in droves. If you wish to rule, then show no mercy to your foes and take whatever throne you seek. But whatever you choose to do with your life, live as well as you can! Farewell!"
The light engulfed me, and a wave of memories filled my head.
I had a head. I had arms and legs. In fact, after feeling around for a moment, I came to the conclusion that I once again had a full body. It was an odd feeling, to go from being nothing to once again having flesh and bone.
The memories resolved themselves in my mind, giving me an overview of the life I now inhabited. My name was Drake Greymoor, at 5 years old, I was the youngest child of the Greymoor noble family. My mother and father were veterans of a long, bloody war between 2 human nations, and for their service, were given control over a large, bountiful forest and a handful of small villages.
I had 4 siblings; Three of them were girls, and triplets at that, age 10. Mira was a powerful mage, Karka was an unmatched archer, and Deirdre was a warrior who surpassed our parents at the young age of 10. Our brother, Derrick, was 15 and the most well rounded warrior in the family. He wasn't as competent at any of the triplets talents as they were, but he could use all of them quite well, making it difficult for the triplets to beat him in sparring unless they worked together.
I was something of an oddity in my family. Where my siblings all gravitated towards methods war, I had found solace in reading and studying. Indeed, as Drake's memories took their place in my head, I found myself filled with examples of financial reports and medical profiles. While he had not been a warrior, Drake had certainly been a budding genius.
Of course, I had no intentions of remaining here, reading and whiling away the hours hidden behind the pages of books. In fact, as the last memory fell into place, an incredible feeling washed over me. It was a mixture of pure euphoria and excitement, and it made my heart pound rapidly in my chest.
I could feel my potential. Anything I desired in life could be mine if I was willing to strive for it. My knowledge of the world of Algrid flashed before me, laying out the network of facts and theories I had about the world. In an instant, I knew what path I wanted to take. This village stood at the edge of an enormous forest, which was notable for the large, ancient tree at its center. Everyone born in this village had a mental attachment to the tree, and, randomly, at some point in their life, they would feel an inexplicable need to visit the tree.
Of course, in truth, that was utter nonsense. In the early days of the game, there was an optional quest that took you to this village, and you would be "called" by the tree, despite being an outsider. Unfortunately, the developers of the game found that the reward for completing the quest was too strong, so they removed it entirely.
But the fact that the game was supposed to be identical to this world meant that the chances were that the reward for completing the quest probably exists as it did in the game. That logic might have some flaws to it, but for now, it was a good place to start. At the very least, I knew that the tree was calling to people in this world too, which made me more confident that I was correct.
I looked up, and found myself in my father's study, a book detailing the enormous amount of logistical work the kingdom did at the end of the war sitting open in front of me. A window directly in front of me filtered light down into the room, and my face reflected off of the clear glass.
Young and cold, my gaze held a distinct edge to it that likely came from my previous life. Their grey coloration did little to soften the malicious appearance they held, and the corners of my small mouth held the phantom of a smug smirk that would likely never go away.
A flash of motion in the window caught my eye, and I watched lazily as my sisters chased Derrick around the field behind the house. I leaned back in Father's chair, closing my eyes and sighing. Everything felt so heavy and my mind felt sluggish and tired. Perhaps my young body just wasn't yet equipped to handle the myriad thoughts and emotions racing through me at this moment.
With a yawn, I looked up through the window into the rapidly darkening sky. I would sleep tonight, and tomorrow, I would fill my day with planning on how best to start my journey to the tree.
I smiled. At the moment I had died and met the Entity, I felt wary of their purpose for offering me another life, but now, with a limitless future ahead of me, I was secure in knowing that I had complete control over my destiny.
And I had every intention of getting everything I could out of this new life.