Seven hundred years, in real time, had passed since the day myself and my fair city of Berwyn were summarily erased from the map.
Seven hundred thousand years, of subjective time, had passed in between that first death and my first respawn.
Though my future-self had made mine more extreme than the norm, and mine might have been longer than most, the so-called initialization period, that came directly before their first respawn, was something that all immortals had go through.
As I burst up from beneath the surface, the cold black waters that now flowed over my former home, I decided two things.
First off, death was still terrifying regardless of whether one could or couldn’t die.
Even knowing that my next respawn probably wouldn’t take anywhere near as long and likely wouldn’t involve regular beatings, grueling workouts and dark-matter enemas, I still didn’t want to die again.
It was too scary to take the risk. At worst, I’d be in for more mind-altering pain. At best, I’d be in for nothing at all. My soul scattering into the ether.
The second thing I decided was that regardless of how bad it had felt, and how mixed my feelings on the issue, I’d probably be arranging the treatment for some younger version of myself at some point in the future.
I know I’ve said it before, but this world was not a safe one. I’d learned this when I became semi-all knowing and I could feel it personally now.
I’d emerged into a world filled with lions and tigers and bears. I was fresh meat in world of beasts and creatures that should neither be seen nor thought of.
Had I come back as just my regular self, knowing my own strange luck I probably wouldn’t even know what happened when something came and killed me for the second time.
Never mind speaking of the many possible fates that were worse than death and waiting for unwary mortals and immortals alike.
My first heart beats in seven hundred years were coming a mile a minute, sped up by a cold fear and the instant trigger of my fight-or-flight impulse.
Anyway, it took me a minute to swim to shore.
It was a miserable swim. This was partly because the waters of Agartha on our side of the planet were always cold as a rule. However to make it worse, I’d seemed to have made my return to the world during the dead of winter.
And on top of all this, being blown away into a substance that was less substantial than ash, meant I’d ended up coming naked. So yes, it wasn’t pleasant.
There I was swimming in iced water, in the middle of winter, while in the buff. Then when I reached the coast I was wandering naked, getting snow on my shoulders, while in the buff.
My first and only priority was to not be naked. So I wandered for a bit drifting over an open plain of sand and dead grass, for a good two hours.
Wandering like a blind man in the tundra till, my dumb ass, remembered that the my [TPO], time, place, occasion ability was pretty much a swiss army knife, style, combination of a dozen handy teleportation and movement abilities all rolled into one.
I took a step forwards, and in a single instant I was at the nearest inhabited settlement.
A town that my semi-omniscience told me, was called North Brodick. A mid-sized municipality that had been founded on the new north-eastern coast of the old Tri-American Territory.
There was a scream I looked and saw that I was being stared at by a gaggle of washer women and young ladies gathered by a crick.
One chubby young girl had her eyes covered by her portly mother. One old woman mumbled something about certain parts of me looking a bit like her dead husbands.
Finally people started throwing things, and I had the sense to take a step back and shift to a different setting.
This time I found myself in a shop. It was dark, and dank smelling so they were either closed for the evening or closed down permanent.
It didn’t matter to me which case it was. What “did” matter was that there was big heap of slightly moth-eaten clothes there, for me to ste-...I mean borrow.
I took some pants, and a few shirts. I found a jacket that someone had left on a table, next to an ashtray, with some cigarettes that had recently been put out in them.
I took the coat. And took a pair of boots too. And then I used a bit of rope for a belt because the shop’s owners hadn’t had the good sense to sell belts too.
I quietly made a promise to eventually come back and pay for all that I’d taken...if I could be arsed to do so and still remembered. Which thanks to the points I had invested in my mental attainments and the changes that the partial-omniscience brought to my mind, was actually more likely than you’d think.
Then I took yet another couple of steps that whisked me away, dropping me in an empty room. An apartment in ruined city several miles north of North Brodick. One of many old world ruins that had emptied by the fallout, the evil mists, and monsters that had more or less dropped Agartha to the level of death world.
(Wait….monsters? What monsters?)
I blinked, as my the thing in my head, that gathered knowledge even when I wasn’t thinking about it, filled me in on the state of the world. Beginning with a images of rejects from a late nineties bad guy line up and ending with a bunch of fake-looking cg monsters that likely that heard about Darwin’s Survival of the fittest and took that shit seriously.
It was pretty much, exactly what one would expect from watching an evening’s worth of post-apocalyptic films.
The bombs fell. Most people died. A few people lived. First there was confusion. Then chaos. Then anarchy.
The monsters and the mists made of vengeful ghosts and corruptive magics didn’t help things.
(Wait...the mist is made of ghosts?)
Eventually, enough of the violent meat heads killed each other to lower the level of chaos to something manageable enough for the population recovery.
The cleverer ones set up kingdoms and tiny lordships for themselves. Their even cleverer followers, children and trusted lieutenants then turned around to oust them and start with the creation of proper countries.
So I guess society was finally back in the rebuilding stage. Things weren’t exactly peaceful. For instance there were at least five very bloody major conflicts happening within a hundred miles of this portion of the North Eastern T.A.U.(Tri-American Union).
Still it wasn’t as bad as it had been. There were all these factions, which I had no intention of getting involved with just yet. And all these feuds, which I had no intention of getting pulled into ever…
Still the rate of deaths, to births, was low enough that the population was climbing, and there were people who could live and die without ever having to pick up a weapon.