Otherwordly Reincarnation: The Hag Son
Otherworldly Reincarnation: The Hag Son
Part 1: Anacrusis
"Where... where are we?!"
That was the main question that rattled around in everyone's heads, when they finally managed to pull themselves up off the floor and look around in horror at the incomprehensible world around them. A world of white stone.
Danny and I were helping Adrian up, pulling on his arms. He managed to stand on his own, but when he properly had a glance around, he'd gone very pale.
"!?emag llabesab a fo elddim eht ni ew t'nereW !?deneppah tahw ,syug ...tahW"
"Shut the Hell up, Adrian..." Danny and I said in unison, as our eyes were drawn to the three mystic beings above. They seemed preoccupied with Class A for the moment, which surprised absolutely no-one.
I couldn't make sense of the scene at all... but, somewhere in the back of my mind, my brain was clawing, telling me I knew what was happening here. It was ever so familiar a sight, that I'd never personally experienced before, but noted as the experience of fictional characters.
This was something straight out of fantasy. And I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.
"You ought be eternally honoured," The unceremoniously powerful voice boomed once again, from the being floating in the centre, it seemed. "To find yourselves at our welcome in this... The Palace of Gods, the Ethereal Promenade."
The beings that spoke... to describe them was one thing, but to try and comprehend them was another entirely. It's as though a radiance shone off of their bodies, an unbearable presence. As though these things we looked upon, these amalgamations of flaming flesh, weren't their real forms, but rather condensed appearances administered for the sake of our sanity.
The presence of Gods... I gulped, closing and opening my eyes forcibly. The Hell...? This couldn't be real! And yet, as I looked around, it became more obvious that it was real, painstakingly so.
"Palace... of the Gods...?" Lillith muttered, from somewhere behind. Murmurs and whispers rang out among Class D... But Class A, however, were already getting a grip on things.
Class A appeared drawn to his words, mesmerised by the three beings' horrific beauty. No more sobs escaped the fray, now only excited exclamations and confused as hell mutters. I blinked a few more times, still struck by disbelief. It was something straight out of an anime, out of a crappy book I'd begin to read then put down at one point, never to read again!
The three beings shined, brighter for a moment, forcing us to look away. When we looked back, their amalgamated, inhuman forms took on an appearance substantially more human. Not that they looked any more natural - three floating men in the air above us was no normal sight.
The central figure, which bore a beard and shone the brightest of all, raised a hand and placed it upon his own chest, gracing Class A with a gentle smile. "I am the God of All. The creator of all other Gods. At my right is the Etherson, and at my left is Spiritus, my Elder children. And you, young mortals, have been chosen by our hands, to-"
The being's eyes, lacking pupils, somehow felt as though he'd suddenly begun to stare at us, at Class D, In a manner implying he'd only just noticed us. The being paused... leaned back... before leaning in towards the being on his left.
"Spiritus, what the fuck?"
"Wha- Pardon me Allfather, but you told me to summon the students in the field, did you not?"
"The winning students, Spiritus. The more powerful Class of students, this Class!" The God of All, as he referred to himself, indicated to Class A, who glanced from the beings to Class D in confusion.
Wait... were Class D not supposed to be here? My class weren't meant to be summoned?! I felt the blood rush from my face, as a cold feeling came over me. That... surely couldn't have meant anything good.
"How could you have summoned the wrong Class along with the correct Class?!"
"I'm a God, sire, I'm not omnipotent!" Spiritus grumbled. He was the youngest looking of the three, though that may have been down to the fact that he was the only beardless being. His hair reached all the way down to his feet, as he merely shrugged, wrapped in light. "It is no loss anyhow, is it? The correct Class is here, so what do they matter?"
"I suppose so..." The God of All hummed. The Etherson seemed discontent however, openly glaring at us and releasing a sort of silent fury.
"Shall I send them back then, Allfather?"
"No need for that, we can find use for them yet."
Uh-oh. Okay, that did not sound good. I gulped, and exchanged a look with Danny, who could only stare back at me. He patted himself down, before tearing off a piece of his elbow protection gear, and rearing his arm back ready to hurl it. With a yelp, I jumped on his arm to stop him.
"You are not about to throw elbow padding at a God!" I hissed, as he struggled against me.
"It's not my fault, my body's acting on its own! I'm aggressively disappointed right now!" He protested. When I finally got him settled, the Gods had already resumed their speech, paying full attention to Class A. "This is just... this is messed up, man!"
I put a hand on Danny's shoulder, trying to unscramble my mind still. He rambled on.
"Just how exactly does this happen?! We were playing baseball, right?! I was throwing against Gilligan, and he hit, and then... I... were we about to win, were we about to lose?! Why are we in... Heaven?!"
"I don't think this is Heaven..." I told him, shakily. "This doesn't seem like the friendliest of places..."
"That's because it isn't Heaven," the voice of Susanne cut in. The girl stepped up out of nowhere, like a damn cat without a bell. Danny nearly jumped into my arms in surprise. "They said themselves, this is the Palace of the Gods..." she was looking around, looking detached as ever. Only this time, there was a certain stillness to her, eyes wider than usual. She couldn't seem to stop gazing at the great white hall in wonder.
"'Palace of the Gods' doesn't exactly mean much to me!" Danny growled, only for Susanne to roll her eyes. "Where are we?! How are we here?! You're not seriously telling me those are Godly beings, are you-?!"
"Hey wisecracker, how about you keep quiet about your scepticism regarding the existence of Gods when in front of the supposed Gods?!" I proposed.
Danny caught the silence, and gulped, looking at me sternly for a second... before looking back upon them, with all the consideration of a man questioning his own sanity.
"I could never have imagined..." Susanne went on. "To think I was right, all this time. Well, to some degree..."
"You were right about the icky bone dice," I agreed, also caught staring at the holy beings as they conversed with Class A. "But wasn't your God's name David or something?"
"Didn't this Allfather guy mention he was the 'God of all Gods' though?" Danny pointed out, hesitantly. "That could mean that... Oh shit, that all the spooky stuff Susanne talks about and believes in could well be real!"
"I'm not necessarily about to say 'I told you so'..." Susanne said, narrowing her eyes. "But I will say this: something isn't right here. These beings summoned us here... yet deny omnipotence. That implies they have some sort of power, some kind of mysticism, but that it has a limit... I don't think they're real Gods."
"Oh for the love of-" I hesitated. "I was about to say 'for the love of God', but... ugh! You too, Susanne?! I mean look at them! You're telling me those aren't holy beings?!"
"They're beings alright, Bram, but I cast doubt on their holiness-"
"Children!" The voice boomed, towards us now. Danny, Susanne and I all stiffened up, going quiet. All eyes turned to Class D. Seemed that we weren't the only three talking quietly over the beings.
"Hmh... are you sure you don't want me to incinerate them, Allfather?" The Etherson asked again, which made my whole body freeze up. Incinerate us? What, with magic or something? I mean, if they could transport us from a school baseball field to... wherever this Palace was, then they could probably burn us to a crisp too, but it wasn't necessarily a positive suggestion.
"I'm sure. They are to live, Etherson. After all, the more Heroes we have, the better. Even if they are... lower tier..."
"Heroes...?" I muttered. Come to think of it, he did address as as the 'Young Heroes'. This was sounding more and more like something out of a manga! The rest of Class D exploded into equally confused mutters. With a breath, I leaned in to Susanne and whispered "...well, Gods or not, just listen to them. It might turn out for the better this way."
"I... don't like this..." she enforced.
The Gods looked upon Class D with something like disdain, as the God of All released a noise of irritation. "Yes, I said 'Heroes'. It is clear that some of you failed to listen, so for your benefit, I will repeat myself. Only this once."
The way he phrased 'benefit' was wrought with poison. I almost didn't want to listen any more out of spite, but the presence of such powerful beings didn't exactly leave me wanting to rebel.
"You have all... ah, rather... you in particular," he looked back upon Class A again. "Have been chosen for your great skill, leadership ability, and determination, to become the heroes of a world unlike yours. A world that to you may seem foreign, distraught! Unkept and on the brink of war! A war bound to break out sooner or later."
"It has been our, the Holy Sanctum's, eternal duty to create heroes where there were none before. To select those worthy and raise them for reincarnation in a world that needs them. Such is our Godly interference! Even certain great heroes from your own world were originally from another, until we'd chosen them!" Spiritus spoke, proudly. "The Ingenious Nobunaga, Ivar the Boneless, Revolutionary Atatürk, even the one your species deemed 'Alexander the Great'!"
"These were all heroes who'd gone through our reincarnation cycle. Heroes who'd found themselves in your human history books, of your world. In the same sense, you, new heroes, will one day find yourselves in the history books of this new world!" Etherson finished.
"Now, the reincarnation cycle, is exactly as I describe it..." The God of All went on. "You will be born again as babes, with all your past memories intact. Each of you, as heroes, will be able to choose from three different [Hero Skills] to be born with. From there, you must develop these skills, as well as new ones, on your own. It will be up to you from then on to adapt and learn about your new world."
"Isn't this... isn't this too much like a-?" Danny began. I knew what he was about to say. 'too much like a video game', or 'too much like a manga'...
"Yep." I quickly put in. "Which must also mean that... we're about to be separated from everything we understand."
A hand was raised amongst Class D, and the hard, inquisitive voice of Maddie cried out; "If I may speak, oh Godly beings-"
"Please," the God of All said, raising a hand. "You may call me David."
All heads turned to Susanne, who had just yelled out. She went quiet again, and lowered her head. "...I'm not apologising."
...slowly, all heads turned back to Maddie once again.
"Very well, then, uh... David. Why, of all the people on Earth, have you summoned us for such an undertaking in particular?! We know little to nothing about combat, and less so about... War and Reincarnation...?" she asked, sounding uncertain. Looking over, Maddie was sporting a cold look upon her face, and took a very business-like stance. It astounded me, really, that she didn't seem quite so afraid as I felt.
Even the three beings appeared surprised by her up-front question, and the lack of any stray trembles in her voice.
As a long-time member of the fencing club, out of everyone in the class, she likely had the most 'combat experience' of any sort. Even so, fencing didn't necessarily prepare a person for anything like this!
"Yeah, a-and, uh... Is this even real?! Did someone slip a pill into my drink?! Because that's dangerous you know!" asked Felix, getting a little more brave. "I mean this place looks clean, but-!"
"!emit eht ton si woN !xileF"
"Shut the Hell up, Adrien!" groaned Lillith. "And Felix, this is not the time!"
"Not the time?! A 'new world' is gonna have new diseases! That just means I'll have more to worry about!"
"If you didn't want to worry about diseases in the first place," Danny growled. "Then you should've just taken your damn shot!"
"I refuse to be as dumb as you, Danny-!"
"QUIET!" The being's voice boomed, shaking the very ground beneath our feet for a second. Yells and cries of panic echoed, as the Gods glared down upon Class D. "You will not bicker in our presence!"
"Incineration it is, then?" Etherson asked, only for... uh, David... to shake his head in frustraion.
"Neigh, Etherson. Ask me once more and I'll make my fury known to you personally. I will inflict it upon your hunk of flesh."
The being known as Etherson lowered his head, apologetically. Maddie had gone a bit pale, but shot Felix a cold look. Felix mimicked the Etherson, and shut his mouth.
All was calm again, for now...
The God of All, Allfather, David (Jeez, these names were accumulating) looked upon Maddie again, and shook his head.
"As I have no doubt stressed, the Class that I'd chosen was this," He indicated to Class A. "For their minds are still younger than the average person's, and capable of comprehending great change in the universe as they understand it. Such it is for any mind in or under the age of 20. However, your Class," He indicated to Class D now. "...was not meant to be here. We always select teenagers for worldly transport when it comes to Heroic Reincarnation, for your minds will always be older than your bodies. It is necessary to leave some room for development. Otherwise, you'd go mad in a matter of days!"
"Are you sure you do not belong to this Class here, girl?" Spiritus asked, indicating to Class A, who all put on smirks. Sheridan was there, arms crossed now, looking stoic but interested, admiring his hand and flexing his fingers.
Gilligan on the other hand, baseball still in his grasp, didn't seem too pleased. Then again, he never seemed too pleased with anything. He was just... staring at the bat, carefully, painfully almost. What'd gotten into him?
"She does seem more... astute, then her classmates," Etherson nodded. "More stricken by a leader's maturity."
Maddie opened her mouth, as though unsure of what to say, but after a moment, promptly closed it and shook her head. "I'm... I mean, I'm..."
She went quiet again. I heard Little Larry scoff, which made Felix emit a small noise of panic. Likely scoffed right on the boy's neck.
"Well, it doesn't matter in the slightest, now. You are all here because we want you here, and that is that. You are all bound for reincarnation, whether or not you like it."
"What about our parents...?" asked Lillith, quietly. A question that seemed to go on unanswered. Whether the beings heard her or not, or just chose to ignore her... I couldn't tell.
"Well, this can't just be in my head..." Someone from Class A muttered, rubbing their arms up and down. I bit my lip and took a few more looks around. This was... Happening. Oh shit, this was actually happening, wasn't it. Oh shit.
Reincarnation. Reincarnation, becoming a hero! I only just... It felt as though I'd only just become a teenager, and yet our teenage years were coming to a close. Now I was being told that I'd be reborn once more?
Live through every human phase prior to adulthood again...?
"Pssst, hey... hey Bram!" whispered a voice, harsh and demanding attention. I looked over, at Larry, who'd squeezed his way over to where I stood, leaning in close. "What do you make of all this...?"
...there it was. The question without an answer.
"Well, I, uh..." I faltered. Everyone in Class D looked my way, curious about the answer. I only stuttered more, mouth agape and head lowering. "I..."
...had no answer, is what I wanted to say. Larry blinked, and looked at me in astonishment. First time for everything today. First time Gilligan missed a shot, first time I had no answer for the class. I closed my eyes and looked away. I just wanted this to be over, this was all... this was too much!
"Now then," The God of All continued, with a smile. "Any further protests or inquiries can be taken up with our friendly complaints department." he indicated to the Etherson.
The Etherson gave him a surprised look, and stuttered out - "Wait, by that you mean... incineration?"
"Yes, I mean incineration." The God of All sighed.
"Oooooh yes~!" Etherson chuckled, rubbing his hands together and looking out at us, scanning Class D with his eternal eyes. A doll's eyes, almost, but with some distant glimmer of life behind them. "I do believe that I'd enjoy that!"
"Now then..." The God of All gave Class A a wholesome smile... spread his arms... and like that, a giant stone tablet popped up out of the ground in front of them, with a variety of glowing inscriptions carved upon it. "...choose your skills! First come, first served!"
Well, fuck me, okay.
Class A stared, astounded for a second... before an eruption of cheers and whoops burst forth, as they rushed forward and admired the stone tablet.
"Holy crap! This is amazing!"
"Hah! Of course we'd get served first."
"Such is the fate of real heroes..." Sheridan chuckled, making sure his words were loud enough to reach Class D. He looked me right in the eyes with a wide grin, as he approached that massive stone tablet.
"These are the Heroes Skills! Nobody naturally born in this new world will have them, so choose wisely as they'll be unique to you, and nobody else! You get three to choose from!" Spiritus announced, joyfully.
My class could only stare from afar. Seemed we'd be getting their sloppy seconds. Would there even be any good skills left, after Class A ate through that stone tablet?
"'[Hero Skill] - Experience Gain up'! I want that one!"
"'[Hero Skill] - Ethereal Pickpocketing'?! That sounds useful!"
"Hah, well look at that~! I got both '[Hero Skill] - Infatuate', as well as '[Hero Skill] - Black Widow'! Now, what shall my last one be?"
This went on for several minutes. After a while, Lillith got stressed out and sat down... which led to Pirate Pete sitting down, then Larry, then Danny...
Eventually, Maddie and I were the only two still standing, she staring intently, and I... well, I was pacing. Pacing, unable to concentrate. This was somehow more Hell than what I imagined actual Hell to be. These were our fates, being picked off of a tree by scavengers!
"What did you get, Sheridan?" someone called out. I perked up, paying closer attention, as the boy chuckled to himself. He shot me one more look, before announcing it -
"Oh, just this little thing called '[Hero Skill] - Legendary Sword Mastery'. It's supposed to severely upgrade the rate at which I develop sword skills!" He said, proudly. I practically rolled my eyes all the way up into my skull.
I wasn't exactly expecting there to be any decent skills left over when our turn came around, but hey. 'Hero Skills' were still 'Hero Skills', right? At least they'd be unique.
Still, this was all so messed up, now that I had a moment of semi-silence to really think about it. What Lillith said before, about our parents... would we ever see them again? Or would they just be replaced with new parents? It didn't feel like there would be any coming back from this.
I sat down too, after a while... Maddie was the only one left standing, fist over her mouth and eyes darting around in heavy consideration. She looked like she had more trouble taking all of this in than I did.
"Hey Maddie!" someone called out, from over in Class A. I looked over, to discover that the source of the voice was Carmelita, beckoning her over. "What are you still waiting around for?! Come on over!"
...all eyes in Class D turned to Maddie, who now stood stricken. The three beings let off amused noises, as Spiritus snapped a finger. "So she is part of the better class. That makes more sense. Very good, then, come over girl! Take your pick before all the good ones are gone!"
She stood there, silent and hesitant, looking around at the faces of Class D. The class she claimed to be a part of little over an hour ago. Already, some of those faces that looked back at her were hateful, Larry's in particular. Lillith practically huffed and looked away in borderline disgust. Felix, Adrian and Pirate Pete were just staring at her, as though curious about what she'd do... Susanne didn't care, she was trying to chip away a piece of the marble floor for some reason, mumbling incessantly about 'yoinking the God stone'.
As for Danny and me... when she looked at us, Danny only grumbled and looked back at the stone tablet, seemingly keeping track of the skills disappearing one by one. With only my eyes left on her... I just sighed. And nodded my head towards Class A, giving her the 'go-ahead'. An action that surprised her beyond reasonable measure.
I mean... what was the point? No matter how much she claimed to be 'one of us', a 'real member of Class D', she just... wasn't. That was a fact. It was her plan that got us through even a single round in Baseball, not ours. She didn't belong, and it was about time we stopped pretending that she did... why have her suffer our patience when she could move forward, after all?
Even so, if she really wanted to be a 'member of Class D', then she'd not have hesitated. She'd have been sure of what she wanted and sat right down with us. But nobody wanted to be with Class D... not even I wanted to be with Class D. Nobody in Class D wanted to be in Class D!
Who in their right mind would want to be at the bottom of anything?
Staying in this crab bucket of a class wouldn't do her any favours. Forcing her to stay if she had the opportunity to break out just wasn't in my style, personally.
I nodded towards Class A again, in a 'just go' fashion. After a pause... she nodded, guiltily, and took the first step. A resounding 'tch' echoed across Class D, which brought her to momentary pause... but with a sharp breath, she continued on, and joined Class A again - all of whom welcomed her back with open arms and light cheers.
"Well, that surprised absolutely nobody," Larry muttered, under his breath, before raising his voice. "Not a single person is surprised!"
".yats d'ehs thguoht I ,lla retfA ?desirprus elttil a m'I"
"What's that Adrian? You like sucking dick?" Lillith asked, which made the boy stir.
"!dias I tahw ot esolc yletomer neve ton s'tahT"
"Are you coming on to Larry? I don't know if he feels the same about you, Adrian!" she went on. Adrian gaped at her, mouth sputtering desperately, before he quickly closed it.
"That's right, keep it shut." she finally sighed, proudly. "Okay, found a way to get Adrian to stop talking. That's one positive we got out of today, huh?"
"I hate her..." Larry shook his head, eyes still set on Maddie. "Who does she think she is?"
"A member of Class A," I reminded him, tiredly. "...and it's not just that she thinks it, it's a fact. She was never Class D material. I still don't even know how she got that demotion. For a guy who 'isn't surprised', you sure are acting as though you were stabbed in the back, Larry."
"Oh, there'll be plenty of stabbing to come, if this really is one of those 'fantasy worlds' of swords and magic and... all that crap." He said, eyes still on her.
"Hopefully with clean blades," called Felix. "Cuts with rusty knives can spread tetanus you know."
"Yes, they can also kill you, Felix. Not through some spread diseases, but with the whole... piercing, blood loss business?" Lillith pointed out, which just made Felix roll his eyes.
"...tetanus kills people too!"
I turned back to Danny, putting all that behind me as they argued on, only to peer into an angered expression. His eyes still set on that stone tablet, shaking his head.
"Are, uh..." I began. "Are you okay?"
"It's just more injustice..." he said, through grit teeth. "And It's always them! Why is it always them?!"
"Class A..." he specified. "We saw it on the field, we saw it all our lives, we see it now in- in... where is this place, limbo?! A space between worlds?! I don't know, but it's no different! I just... I don't get... why?"
"Because... we're Class D, Danny," I reminded him, feeling some of his sadness involuntarily seep into me. "That's just the way it is. We're not particularly smart, not particularly gifted... worst of all, we're not very particular just in general."
"I could be particular!" he protested. "I could be very particular! Ah..." he thought for a moment. "...what do you mean by particular?"
"Like... interesting! Unique! Having your own qualities, that aren't just... recycled human tropes."
"Oh..." he lowered his head, and looked at his open palms. It looked like Class A were just about finishing up. "...I... I don't think I have it in me to be particular, Bram."
"I know, Danny..." I placed a hand on his shoulder, pausing for consideration... before a smile crossed my lips. "But hey... reincarnation, right? A new chance at birth, a new chance to be something else, right?"
"I'm not sure I can be something else... don't get me wrong, I'd like to be, but... even so, even with this, isn't it gonna be hard to adapt? I mean, we're gonna be reborn in a country on the brink of war! Or... in the middle of a war, whatever these Gods said! What if I die before I get to be somebody...?"
"Is that what you're worried about...?" I asked quietly. He shrugged.
"I mean... I was honestly hoping that things would improve when I left Redgate Academy. Now, I'm just... a little frightened. What if everything's worse...?"
"...then... lets not let that happen." I suggested. "Lets... yeah, lets find each other as soon as possible! We'll start in this new world together, and learn about everything together! As children. We'll power through it all, protect each other, and stick together. Won't that make it easier?"
A load seemed to lighten from his shoulders, somehow, and the edges of his lips lifted a little. "Yeah..." he finally looked back at me, with a growing smile. "...friends until the end, right?"
"Friends even before birth." I chuckled, which only made his grin wider. He extended his open palm, and I grasped it, as though agreeing to a deal of sorts.
"Good... then, looks like you're stuck with me for a while longer!"
"Pfft. I'd rather be stuck with you than Little Larry right about now... the guy's seriously fuming!"
"Ah, well, you know," Danny shrugged. "Little nipples, large temper."
"Very well!" all eyes were drawn over to Class A, now standing back and falling into silence. That stone tablet was looking remarkably... less shiny now. Very few skills were left, and everyone in Class A seemed to be boasting about their three special heroic skills. Maddie, standing there next to the chatty Carmelita, looked decidedly mute and uncertain. The God of All raised both his arms, and spoke loudly: "It seems you are ready, heroes! You will all be born as great people, children of Nobles and Kings, children of blades! You must remember to train from a young age, mark your successes and build up your power! It will be necessary for your survival when you become adults and the oncoming war reaches its breaking point! You will be the deciders of fate, for this lonely world. The light amidst the approaching dark! So thus..."
Maddie looked our way once again, ignoring the God... something twisted coming across her face. Regret?
"...I send you off, with wishes of good luck... and a demand to flourish!"
The God clapped his hands together, suddenly and sharply... and like that, they were... gone! Just gone, no fancy blue lights to envelop them, no incredible flashes, they were standing there one minute the next they weren't!
Class D began to get up, grumbling and mumbling, as the God of All looked upon us and had his smile fall off.
"Ah... right, uh, am I gonna have to repeat the whole speech again?" he muttered to Spiritus, who shook his head and muttered back: "Nah, it's fine, I think they get the gist. Beside, not like they'll accomplish as much as the other class. They'll probably just... live through this world, and change very little. It'll be no problem."
"Eat a dick!" somebody in my class yelled out.
The three beings paused, before the God of All sighed, and indicated back to the stone tablet. "Yes yes, throw your measly insults around all you want! Just choose one skill each and get out of here, I grow tired of speaking to you mortals."
"Woah, wait, hold on!" I called, just as we all stepped up in front of the stone tablet. "What do you mean 'one skill each'?! The other class got three each!"
Mutters rumbled, and the three Gods exchanged a look, before glaring down at us. "You should be grateful for even getting a single [Hero Skill]. Having one alone makes you immaculate in this world. Are you deprived of gratitude?!" the Etherson growled, making us all step back.
"Now now, I'm sure they are merely curious as to why they are receiving a different treatment, that is all-" Spiritus began, only to get interrupted by Etherson.
"Mortals are not that stupid, they ought to know. It's obvious, after all!"
"Calm yourself..." The God of All warned, and placed a hand on the stone tablet. "We were not expecting two entire classes of children to appear, as has been established. We were only meant to have the one here. Therefore, we won't quite have enough skills to go around. One [Hero Skill] amongst you each will just about wipe the board."
"So there's... no other way?!" called Pirate Pete. The God of All shook his head, sadly.
"No other way."
I glanced back at the board, feeling my eyes twitch. This was... insane. So few skills left, all because we weren't worth as many. Somehow, this problem just kept coming back around but I couldn't figure out how. I turned back to my class, solemnly, and looked them over. Despair and tragedy was written across them... but with that, an ounce of determination. Not all was lost yet. Danny's face especially hardened, as though ready to deal with whatever he had to.
"...well, Bram... you choose first!" Lillith insisted. My other classmates muttered in agreement. Was that really okay...? I turned back to the board, stared at it... pondered the options.
One skill... only one.
The right skill could save me in the correct circumstances. The wrong one could doom somebody else. What were the options here...?
[Hero Skill] - Thunder Resistance
'You take 50% less damage from all attacks under the thunder attribute of magic. Dulls the effects of thunder damage taken from magical weapons. Dulls user's thunder attribute abilities.'
Aha! So there was some downsides to certain skills. That one would make me resistant to incoming thunder attacks, but at the same time, it would make my own thunder attacks weaker. This was... this was just like a game after all!
Mind going into tactical mode, I looked over the others, one after another, in consideration.
[Hero Skill] - Eye of Blanche
'Summon a familiar, taking the shape of a butterfly, that can be directed and sent anywhere within a 100 kilometre radius of the caster. The familiar's vision and movements can be accessed by the caster at will.'
Ah, so this was something of a surveillance skill? It was... decent, but nothing really incredible. I suspected one of the boys would've liked this one, perhaps... or Lillith. She liked her surveillance, that one.
[Hero Skill] - Legendary Stick Mastery
'The user possessing this skill will develop and gain 5x extra experience points in the area of fighting using sticks, staffs, and canes. Strengthens 'stick' weapons held by the user.'
Oh, I could picture it now, me standing atop a dead dragon, victorious, holding a stick...
Yeah, I decided to pass on that one too.
One in particular caught my eye though... It wasn't overly good, nor overly bad... in fact, for a [Hero Skill] it seemed... mediocre. And yet, I couldn't help but read its effects.
[Hero Skill] - Soldier of Fortune
'All attacks made against the user of this skill have a 10% chance of missing, regardless of context or circumstance.'
That one caught my eye. It sounded... well, it didn't sound great, for a [Hero Skill], which is probably why nobody in Class A wanted it, I suppose. And yet... knowing games, it would be useful. For every ten attacks made against me, chances were that at least one would miss no matter what.
That was the one. I wanted that one.
As soon as I'd selected it, it shined a bit brighter, off the tablet, before disappearing entirely. I stepped back, feeling no different to before. Huh... was something meant to happen?
"Good, now then," The God of All sighed, looking around as though bored. "We're running out of time here, so next up! Choose your single skill! And you, boy..." The God's eyes narrowed on me. He raised a finger, ready to snap it. "Good luck in the new world!"
"Wha-?!" I gasped out. "Wait, you sent all of Class A at the same time, why am I being sent off right away?!"
"I wanted to give them all one final speech. You heard it from over in the corner, you get it!"
"But hang on! Can I at least say goodbye to my friends-?!"
I turned as quick as I could to Danny, and the rest of the class, their eyes all widening as I opened my mouth to speak, trying to get my last goodbye in. But it all happened too fast.
In a snap, I was gone, bright lights obscuring my vision. Lights so vast and bright, you'd think I were on the brink of madness, my body struck by the sensation of being torn apart by hundreds upon thousands of needles.
It felt as though I'd been ripped from that reality, torn through space and time, air screeching through my ears like maelstroms of torment. It lasted seconds, but enough to fill my heart with utter terror and fear, arousing a scream from my clamped mouth.
I screamed, harder and harder, harder and weirder... Then when it all stopped, my senses returned to me, my ears rung, I was still screaming...
But the sight before me made me shut up. A dark, malformed sky full of stars and clouds... treetops of willows and shadowy things...
Noises, of the sort I never imagined real... where was I?!
It was cold, serene and... sudden.
I tried to move, only to find that movement was more difficult than I could've imagined. Everything about me felt... smaller, somehow. Was I wrapped up in something?! What was happening to me right now-?!
My thoughts silenced. A face appeared, more twisted than anything I could ever have imagined, leering over me. A face so inhuman, my shorter breath was caught stiff. One eye, transfixed in a blue face wrought with wrinkles. A centred eye, orange in the pupils, shaped almost like that of a reptile... an eye that captured my gaze so intensely I felt for a moment as though I were somewhere else.
Grey, thin strands of hair hung loose from that face too, almost touching the very tip of my nose. I was being inspected by this... thing. And I couldn't do a thing about it. Even as I tried to form words, they simply wouldn't come.
"My my... what has somebody left at my doorstep, hm...?" the thing spoke, in a gravely, yet decidedly feminine voice. She tilted her head, this thing, this... hag. There was no other word for it. A one-eyed hag. "How peculiar... my meal won't cry?"
I choked out more, in tired breaths, trying to say something, anything. Everything felt far too small for my body. I was breathing too hard. What was happening?! Even my teeth were... not all there. Was this the reincarnation cycle...? Was I... a baby, helpless to the whims of this beast?
"Curious..." she spoke. My eyes widened when she extended a hand- no... a metal claw! Shaped like a hand, only tipped with sharp edges... I felt it wrap around my body, gentle yet harshly, somehow both at the same time. "Lets look at you further, hm? Perhaps you aren't that curious after all... and if you truly aren't, then who am I to turn down such tender flesh?"
To be Continued...