Back when I was a kid one of my favorite shows, was this, series involving a clown and talking doll. And of course they’d get into crazy adventures, but at the end of it, they’d always end up back in the clown’s room.
She’d look around and see the mess that had been made, while she was having her fun and then she’d stand up on her bed, hands on her hip, eyes full of righteous indignation and shout,
“Hey, who made this big mess!?”
And of course the camera would pan in on her and she’d look directly at the camera and well, you can guess the rest. After all this was a kid’s show.
The point is, I now understood that feeling she must have had. Having cut loose and then been subsequently brought down. Forced to ask the obvious question and stand abashed as the obvious answer remained to be the obvious answer.
I stood in a big house,…well not a big house per se, but big by Potter’s Run standards, which was the name of the town I was in, by the way.
Potter’s Run, the town I’d lived in for the last…twelve(?) years or so, and also the town I’d been born in…or rather, “re”-born in.
A rural little town, pretty much a village really, made up of subsistence farmers, who’d raid the occasional caravan if the harvest was low…which was actually quite often now that I was thinking about it.
I was in the biggest house in town, the new mayor’s house. Standing in the mayor’s office.
I was….I’m actually not exactly sure, what it was I was doing. I, the parts of me that make me, “me”, have been away for quite a while.
I’ve just recently learned that there actually is a way to kill an immortal for at least a semi-permanent basis.
Which was, um, some good information for me to know in case I ever truly pissed of, or was pissed off by, a fellow immortal.
Or in the more likely case, that things got to be too much and after who knows how many tens of hundreds, of thousands, of years, I decided I wanted to take a little break before I did something disagreeable.
The soul of a living being was a sturdy thing, but apparently they weren’t unbreakable after all, just very resilient. One could willing dissolve one’s own soul and go all one with the universe if one reached a sufficient level of mental and spiritual (read: soul) strength.
The opposite was true in that being strong of mind and spirit could also keep one’s soul from breaking or wearing away.
Which as an immortal leveller meant I should probably keep that in mind for investing talent points in the future.
Returning to my discovery, a sufficiently strong person or sufficiently strong attack, with enough depth to it, could be used to forcibly dissolve or break someone else’s soul. And though souls were immortal as a rule. It could take a broken soul any time between millions of years and billions of years to pull itself back together again.
And breaking the soul of an enemy like that…if you did it right, you could either be too strong for them face again by the time they got back. Long gone. Or if you were especially ruthless in your methods, or especially clever, you ensure, that the victim was either too weak or too muddled to ever become a threat again by the time they’d recovered themselves and regained physical form.
Unpleasant yes, but it was a trick that I intended to eventually figure out and keep up my sleeve…just in case.
Going back to subject of what exactly happened to “me”, well, while I probably should be last one saying this, being a cheat character myself, that buxom golden lady, cheated.
What’s worse I wasn’t even winning. I’d just barely managed to score a hit on her. I’d hurt her yes, but I’d sort of been hoping to bluff through with that, and make her back off, because I wasn’t likely to be able to do it again.
Unfortunately she had…other thoughts, or maybe she wasn’t thinking at all. Maybe she was the kind of mad that gets good men sent to jail for accidental homicide.
She pulled some kind of device out, pressed the button and made a miniature sun, I tried to [TPO] my way out of there but found that the device had also sealed off the surrounding spaces.
More alarming it had sealed of a space of one thousand miles, nearly a fourth of the Tri-American Continent.
The sun exploded and fried the entire space. The big surprise was that what I thought was a miniature sun was actually more like a miniature big bang, an energy blast that literally blew away everything inside. Including the space itself. Which from what I’d learned from high school physics probably shouldn’t have been possible. Still she managed, and I died. Hard. My soul getting annihilated along with the space.
So, yeah…in a match between a jumped, mortal man, versus an actual bona fide deity it seems that predictably enough the deity one.
Well…though I’m not a violent man…(at least I don’t think I am)….I take a small amount of pleasure in informing you my fairly one-sided murder was turned into a double homicide at the last minute.
While most of my other abilities had ended by rendered useless, energy manipulation and entropy manipulation had turned out to be quite handy at the last minute. She blew me up and in the split second that my whole universe was being erased, I fired my own little pop gun out of sheer spite. Just in the hopes of taking her down with me. Managing to burst the protective bubble that was set up to protect the goddess from her own weapon.
But again, I am digressing, we were talking about Mayor weren’t we? The little man, who currently crouched huddled behind his overturned desk, his gun having slid out of reach. So close yet so far, like a glass of water, set out of reach of a sinner burning in hell.
….I think I was trying to kill this man for some reason. Searching my archive, I find the reason, this man was responsible for death of some boy named Dudley Patterson.
As to who the hell, Dudley Patterson is, or was, I think that’s who I was supposed to be, while I’d supposed been forcibly jammed back together forced to reincarnate through some more meddling from my future-self.
He was a sickly, cry-baby, putz boy that everyone in town, kind of shared the duty of kicking the shit out of when he got too annoying or got in the way. So, pretty much just me, from around the first time I was twelve.
Which I didn’t mind so much, since having the angels put my humpty-dumpty self back together again, was pretty much the only way I was going to be coming back before this universe experienced heat death.
And then more meddling from the future-me, was used to bring back the “real” me, Desmond. My immortal persona, kicking in, shortly after Dudley’s death.
The Mayor was Dudley’s “Uncle”, he and half the town had just engineered a small coup, after a certain amount of small wealth was found during one of the town’s raids.
My side, Dudley’s side of the town lost the war of arms and were on the brink of being sold off.
Looking at it, rationally it wasn’t like they could safely keep us here after stealing all the wealth and power for themselves, that would be just asking for trouble.
Still…while I wasn’t entirely sure I got why Dudley was so pissed, I wasn’t one to do things halfway. If “I” as Dudley had thought the Mayor should die, then the mayor would die. I’d consider it a bit of service to the boy who’d had to pass for me to return to the world of the living.
There was a scream, followed by a crunch, followed by me leaving the mayor’s office. There were more bodies in the hall and in the rest of the house. A few women and children, but mostly a lot of grungy looking guys, who all looked malnourished and wore surprised expressions on their faces.
Unlike the clown in the tv show, I had no intention of trying to clean up this mess. More like, I was pretty sure I simply couldn’t clean up this mess. People had died. A good portion of the town seemed to be on fire.
And honestly, asides from a few people, I didn’t really think I owed anyone there a damn thing.
I “did” make sure to shore up with the ones I owed though. After all a gentleman must always honor his debts, both the good ones and the bad.
Slave collars were the most insidious device that the current civilization had ever built. A mixture of subtle and hard magics, that read intent and physiology to make it so that even if complete obedience couldn’t be ensure, “disobedience would never be allowed.
Fortunately, I had a few skills, that let me brute force a work around. Dissolving those key magics that were intended to make such escape attempts into a fatal one time affair. I did so for Dudley. Freeing him…and me.
Eating the magics in the collar with my own magic before tearing the damn thing off me. And then I did it more gently for the Hewitts and their kin. The one family in Potter’s Run who’d never raised a hand to Dudley and who’d occasionally shared some food and a word of comfort.
Grammy Hewitt, made me free the rest of our part of the town as well. I acquiesced because she was one tough lady to argue with and like I said, Dudley owed her.
The one person I didn’t free was Dudley’s father Jep. A few folks tried to talk me into it. But I refused. As I was concerned Jep could stay in that cage and rot for all I cared.
He was a shitty husband to wife, who would conveniently disappear when Dudley was night. Having apparently run away one day, despite not taking a single one of her possession or even saying goodbye to her only child. And he was an abysmal father. Transgressing in every way a father “could” transgress. I won’t speak too much on that.
Perhaps it me projecting my own daddy issues, taking what happened to the poor dead kid whose body I now possess entirely too personal, but I’m pretty sure if I’d tried to free the man, I’d have likely broken his neck.
My debt, in my eyes, having been paid, I gave a final goodbye to the town and to my surprise they said goodbye back.
I guess, their being a town that occasionally moonlighted as bloodthirsty raiders made the numb to all blood and death, Dudley had wrought in his tantrum. Or perhaps it was just the simple fact there was a very special kind of hate elicited when someone you cared for deeply, thoroughly and completely screwed you over. Locking you in a cage to sell you and your children to slavers.
In any case, while I never intended to ever come back here again, I found that I held a small warm spot in my heart for the small village of bandits.