Some people, no doubt, had a 'WTF' expression on their face after reading the last chapter. There wasn't much I could do about that, of course, and despite feeling it came out of nowhere, I did, in fact, leave a bunch of scattered tiny clues (Went on a mission with Metatron, can use holy magic, knows inherent weaknesses of beings, etcetera) - in all honesty, there was no way I was going to have a random OC be that useful in a world where there are more than enough good characters to go around. But ah well - spilt milk eh?
This chapter will probably be the one that either makes or breaks this fic entirely, because I needed this to be done.
If you do keep reading, thank you for sticking with me, for as long as you have, and for continuing to follow me and this fic on this journey. And if you don't, well then, it's been a blast, and I hope, at the very least, some moments of this fic made you laugh, cringe, gave you feels and offered, even for an instant an entertaining distraction from the turmoil of life.
That said, enjoy the chapter.
The fabric was soft. Warm. I couldn't remember the last time I'd laid on something so soft. When last did I…? I couldn't recall. I couldn't even recall the last time I slept, when I thought about it. I couldn't recall the last time I ate either, too.
The bed was the best thing in the world. I didn't want to leave it. The pillows, too, had a weird rich scent of apples and grapes. Apples and grapes and mint.
Who the hell is Sethlain?
Something irked at me. A sharp pain probed into my skull, and for a brief second, a discomforting sensation settled in the pit of my stomach.
I jerked. I blinked. There was a maid before me. No, that was the wrong term. There was someone, in front of me, wearing a French maid outfit. A rather skimpy one at that.
Viser bowed. "It's three-o'clock, Sethlain-dono. Your mother requested that I fetch you."
Mother? "What are you talking about? Who's Sethlain? And where –"
The room was exorbitant. A single bedroom, yet, somehow three times larger than what I remembered the Dead Man's Drink being. Green seemed to be the default color scheme, green curtains, green rugs, green furniture, beds, and even lights. The bed I was in was big enough to fit five people, if not six. King's Size? Queen? I didn't know. I couldn't even envision it. There were shelves lined with books, posters on the walls of scantily clad women and others being outright pornographic.
"Where… are we?"
My head hurt. I swore, grabbing it slowly.
"Oh… fuck that hurts."
"Sethlain-dono," Viser let out a breath that was akin to a sigh. She walked to the drawer beside me, opening it. My eyes bulged at the sheer number of different sex paraphernalia within it. What the hell?
Viser grabbed something else, a drug packet.
"You haven't been taken your medication, Sethlain-dono."
"My… medica –" My head hurt again. The pain went from throbbing to piercing. I felt as though someone was digging into my brain with a hammer and chisel. "Fuck."
"Allow me, Sethlain-dono."
She opened the packet, and emerged her tongue. The tablet dropped on it. Before I could question it, Viser locked her lips with mine. Her tongue pushed the drug down my throat. She tasted warm. Tasted like candied apples and peppermint chewing gum. I caught a hold of myself and pushed her back.
"Viser, what do you think you're doing?"
She tilted her head at me. "Applying your medication, in the manner you instructed."
"The manner I –" What the hell? "What's going on?"
"Your mother is calling for you, Sethlain-dono."
Viser backed away, and bowed curtly.
"Shall I assist you with daily preparation?"
There was a rigidness to her words and actions. An overwhelming stiffness. The aching in my head wasn't making things better. The more I thought, the more it hurt. I was certain that I was missing something. Wasn't I in the middle of a fight just now?
I was. I knew I was. I was fighting someone. Something… some group…
An illusion? Maybe, maybe that was it. I closed my eyes, and channeled my power. "Vision of the Tenth Eye."
Oi, oi, oi, my heart leaped to my throat. Where's my magic? "Telekinesis." My lungs tightened. Where the hell is my magic? "Transmute. Ice Cloak. Muffle. Invisibility."
"Is… something wrong, Sethlain-dono?"
"My… magic." I breathed. "Where the hell is my magic?"
Viser grimaced. "Sethlain-dono… is this… a test?"
"What? No, what do you mean a test?" I bit my lip. "And why are you calling me Sethlain?"
"That… is your name, Sethlain-dono." Viser said. "You are Sethlain Astaroth of the Astaroth Clan, my lord."
Not an illusion, somehow.
Viser had insisted on helping me get ready. She followed me, quite literally, into the bath and insisted on washing me herself. The very notion that I was capable of washing myself seemed so unfathomable, that she'd stared at me in abject shock and horror for five complete seconds. Against my instincts, I acquiesced to her demands and let her do exactly what she wanted.
This bathroom… what the hell.
The bathroom had enough space to be used as a ballroom. Pristine emerald tiles and jade draconic sculptures decorated the space, along with a chandelier with green flickering flames, and a large, giant mirror.
Viser scrubbed my back, utilizing soap, which, once again, smelt heavily of apples. The manner in which she did so was familiar, comforting, and told me that she'd done this a hundred, if not a thousand times, over, and over again.
"You're not a zombie."
That was also, something different. Viser wasn't a zombie. She wasn't my summon. She wasn't pale. Without being an undead creature, she appeared to merely be a tall, buxom woman. The lack of swearing and overall demureness threw me off completely. She looked like Viser, sounded like Viser, but, I couldn't tell if she was or wasn't Viser.
"FUS ROH DAH!"
"Please stay still Sethlain-dono."
I couldn't use my shouts nor did I have access to my magic. Neither of those things boded well for me. I'd been fighting someone, and I didn't remember the end of the battle. I didn't remember who I was fighting, or even why I was fighting them. My memory was spotty, and the harder I tried to think, the worse my sudden and overwhelming headaches became.
"No fangs, so, no vampire powers. And no inventory either."
"Sethlain-dono, please try to refrain from saying such things in front of your mother." Viser said. "…Things would not end well were she to discover that you've relapsed."
What? "What do you mean, relapsed?"
"I –" Viser stopped washing my back. "Forgive me, Sethlain-dono. I spoke out of turn."
"No, no – Viser. Explain. What do you mean relapsed?"
"I'm forbidden to say."
Viser wouldn't budge, no matter how much I pressed her. No matter what I said, no matter what assurances I gave, she refused to elaborate. It made the rest of the bath follow in an uncomfortable silence and increasing unease. I couldn't shake off the distinct feeling that something was amiss, or that everything was amiss.
The clothes Viser had me put on weren't the type of clothes I'd ever consider wearing. Tight and stuffy, they looked like relics that belonged in the Victorian Era than things that modern people wore. They felt like fantasy-land clothes. The color scheme was black and jade, which, somehow, was at least reasonably fashionable, so I couldn't complain.
"Is that… me?"
My reflection. My reflection was a cause for complaint. The face which stared back at me, was not the giant, badass Nord Vampire I'd created. It was a scrawny, skinny, young-adult body.
It was me.
It was my reflection. My reflection. There were minute differences, in that I didn't have as much acne, nor was I as hairy or unkept. My hair had gone from being a dull brunette to being a dark shade of green, but there was still no denying that this was my reflection.
I reached my hand out, slowly, for the mirror. I touched my face, examined it, closely. I never thought I'd see my own face again. I didn't believe it would ever happen. The face in front of me wasn't anything special, amazing, or roguishly handsome. It was plain, dull, and almost absolutely forgettable. Yet, it was me.
Well… a better me. There were no bags underneath my eyes from the stress of college and work and my overall shitty sleep habits in general. Stomach was leaner, because I likely didn't gorge as much on mountain dew or pizza.
"This is starting to creep me out."
I didn't even remember entering this world with this body. I hadn't. So… no one should know what this body looked like except me. It shouldn't be possible for anyone to use this against me.
"We should avoid keeping Lady Astaroth waiting, Sethlain-dono."
I could have spent hours, just standing there, staring at my own reflection, had Viser not dragged me away from the mirror. I couldn't resist her. No, I was too weak to resist her. The thought had snapped me out of my nostalgia of seeing the face I was born with, the face I'd almost forgotten, as I became overwhelmingly aware that I was far too weak to resist Viser's grip.
Exiting what was apparently my room brought me to a ridiculously large hallway. Again, the theme was a muted green. They seemed to really be obsessed with the color, for some reason. Moving past the hallway, I noticed other attendants, shuffling along. Some were in butler outfits with two-tailed coats, and others were maids. What drew my attention was that none of them even looked in our direction. They made it a point to ignore us.
I caught the gaze of one maid, and could have sworn, for a fraction of a second, that her lips tilted into a sneer. I blinked, and it was gone. Nothing but absolute cold indifference.
A lump settled in my throat. What's going on?
Exiting the hallway brought us into a garden. A greenhouse? It didn't matter. The greenhouse was ridiculous. The size of it made me feel as though I were entering a public train station. There were attendants, left and right, wearing gloves, either tilling the soil, watering the plants, or plucking fresh harvest. Fruits, I noticed, were in abundance. Apple trees grew side-by-side with grapevines, curry, and peppermint.
Further and further into the greenhouse, there was a large open space, a verandah, of sorts, with chairs and furniture. There was a tall elegant woman with waist-length green hair sitting at an ornate jade table there, with what seemed to be a paper in one hand and a porcelain cup in another.
Viser led us to the woman, approaching her, before bowing. "Lady Astaroth," she greeted. "I have brought Sethlain-dono."
The woman placed the paper unto the table before her. Sharp, dark green eyes flicked in my direction. "You're slouching."
"Do not apologize; improve."
"I don't –"
"Sethlain, straighten your spine or I break it." She dropped her cup unto a coaster. "You have one second."
"I think there might –"
Oh god pain –
I'd forgotten what pain felt like. For a long time it was muted, toned down. My pain threshold as a Nord Vampire was so high that I'd been able to shrug off broken bones and muscles in seconds. For the longest time, I forgot.
I forgot how much it hurt.
Someone was screaming, but I didn't care. My world was pain. My back was on fire. It was on fire, and I wanted nothing more than to make it stop.
Make it stop –
Make it stop –
Make it stop –
The pain began to lessen. Soften. The screaming quieted down with it. Was I on the ground? I think I was. I wasn't sure. I couldn't tell. There was snot dribbling down my nostrils, liquids dripping down my face. Panting, my chest went up and down faster than I'd ever seen it go.
Lady Astaroth, the bitch, stood over me, stern-faced.
"Stand up, Sethlain."
"Stand up or I break your legs. You have three seconds."
She's… fucking… crazy.
"Two seconds, Sethlain."
I wanted to rise. I couldn't. My body was shaking. My legs refused to move. Move. Stand. Stand. Stand.
"One second, Sethlain."
Stand. Stand. Stand. Stand. Stand you stupid fuckers! STAND! STAND GODDAMNIT!
PLEASE STA –
"AAAAAARRRGH! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!"
I can't feel my legs, I breathed. Oh god I can't feel my legs.
"You're a disappointment, Sethlain." Lady Astaroth said. "Ajuka does his hardest to lead our people as the Beelzebub. Diodora fights on the frontlines and brings glory to our Clan. And here you are, his older brother, talentless, delusional trash incapable of conjuring up a basic spell."
She kicked my face. Her heel shattered my nose. I spat out several teeth, and blood, and rheum all at once.
"I cannot fathom why Ajuka insists I keep you around. I cannot understand how he stomachs being associated with you. I carried you for nine months and yet I am utterly repulsed by your sheer inadequacy."
She kicked my chest. Her toes broke several ribs. I felt them puncture my lungs. Blood pooled in the back of my throat. My vision began to blur. I couldn't make heads or tails of up or down anymore. The whys and hows and other questions I had at the back of my head didn't matter anymore. I just wanted to crawl somewhere safe.
Her heel came down on my right hand. My fingers snapped like carrots. There was too much blood flooding my lungs for me to scream.
"Are you begging, Sethlain? Fight. Fight. You are a man of the Astaroth house! You were to be its heir, Sethlain!"
She stomped on my other hand. My phalanges shattered like ice.
"P-please – "
"Fight Sethlain! You are my son! My son! If you loathe me, fight me, Sethlain! Rise! Do something! Use your anger and hate and do something! You're supposed to be my son! MY SON! You are not allowed to be this pathetic!"
Something swelled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't my magic. It wasn't my abilities. It was something I'd never felt, before, in all the years of my existence. It was a burning that travelled from my stomach all the way to my chest, my bloodied chest, and rushed, further, through the pain and confusion, to my lips.
"m… ot… ur… n…"
Lady Astaroth's foot emerged off my left hand. "What was that, Sethlain?"
My vision was almost gone. I'm dying. The thought came. I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be. With that realization, the knowledge that my pain would end, it wasn't fear which spurned from the deepest pits of my soul.
"I'm… not… your… son…"
It was spite.
"So… fuck… you..."
Lady Astaroth went red.
My world exploded in pain.
I wasn't, to begin with, an extraordinary person. That never bothered me. For a brief while, however, I became someone. Whether it was a fever dream or a wild hallucination, it didn't change the fact, that for a while, I, an average joe, held so much power at my fingertips, that all I could do with it was get in my own way. So powerful was I, that my own inability to properly manage or utilize my power brought me problem after problem.
In a way, it made me realize, and understand, that no one who is given power without attaining it will ever know how to use it effectively. I could claim as much as I liked that I 'attained' my power via beating the game, but that was different. I was never the Dovakhiin. The Dovakhiin, in his universe, trained with blood and sweat, effort and time. And I? I trained via inputting command consoles.
All that power in my hands… and I never even managed to establish the low-bar goal of getting a harem. Simply because I didn't know how to use it. I'd become like those irritating sons of Saudi oil magnates I hated – the ones that'd buy gold toilets and diamond-studded bugattis. They could spend money on frivolous and stupid shit because they didn't work for that money – so what did it matter?
None of this should have mattered to a dead person, anyway.
But, somehow, again, I'd managed to cheat the universe.
Waking up, I was re-introduced to the sight of my room ceiling. Even though it wasn't my room, there wasn't much else I could do about it. I sat up, groggily, and searched my body. There were no scars, no blemishes, no injuries. Nothing at all to show that I had, in fact, been on death's doorstep.
A dry yawn came from beside me. I stiffened at it. I turned, to the covers. Someone was there. Someone that looked familiar, or at least, familiar enough. The only problem, of course, was that this person had green hair tied up into pigtails rather than black.
"Ah…" I cleared my throat. "Hello?"
She sat up, and stretched. "Oh. You're awake."
"I'm more surprised that I'm alive."
The woman, with green pigtails, 'booped' my nose. "I healed you, idiot." She said. "But seriously, Uncle Seth, calling Granny Astaroth a bitch? I didn't think you had it in you."
My brain was having problems processing things. "Uncle?"
The door swung open at that instant. The naked girl on my bed waved her hands. "Oh, hey dad. Guess who's finally up?"
Dad? It was with no small amount of dread that I turned my neck. Green hair, chiseled face.
It was Ajuka, but he was different. His eyes, they were… darker. His presence wasn't as light or as easy-going as I remembered. There was a rather visible scar running over his left eye, and the eyeball itself looked… artificial.
"Seth-san." His voice oozed displeasure. "We have a lot to discuss."
The underworld… was different. No, not different, it was practically unrecognizable. Utilizing the Satan's private train to shuttle from one side of it to another, gave me a first-time view of the Astaroth territory. What stood out the most was the fact that it was… small. Or at least, smaller than I believed it should have been.
The next thing that stood out, was how industrialized it was. There were giant buildings and factories as far as the eye could see within it. Steam, rather than smoke, emerged from the top of what looked to be giant reactors and plants. I couldn't for the life of me fathom the need for such things.
The sky was another major difference. The color was a dull, eerie red. It reminded me of the Blood Moon rising in Zelda. People didn't seem to care, though. Devils, as far as I could see, moved around, with purpose, direction, hobbling from one place to another, moving one thing or another. Bullet trains sped by in a connected railway network, floating drones zipped back and forth with packages and carriages –
It was unlike the underworld I knew.
"Sit down, Seth-san. You can take a tour of the place later."
Ajuka sat across from me, in the trains first class car. His aura was different. Not only his aura, but his general dress sense and style. Beside him, the woman who bore a ridiculously close resemblance to Serafall, but with green hair, held what looked like a –
"Is that… a Nintendo Switch?"
"Yep." She replied.
My brain was trying to catch up. "What… what are you playing?"
"Pokémon." She shrugged. "New game came out. Kinda sucks though."
"Seth-san," Ajuka cleared his throat. "Focus. What is the last thing you remember?"
"Before or after your mother kicked the living shit out of me?"
I furrowed my brows. "I think… I was fighting someone. Some group. But… I don't remember what happened. Or who even won."
"No one did." Ajuka said. "You were fighting the Hero Faction, Seth-san. And no one won."
Ajuka snapped his fingers. A tablet emerged. He handed it over to me, and I collected it. On the tablet was a new site:
The DAILY GEHENNA
Saturday, 15th of Joseph, 2103
SAIRAORG BAEL CONQUERS WESTERN FRONT
ROOKIE SUPER-DEVIL, RIAS GREMORY, ANNIHILATES BARAQIEL REGIMENT
ROOKIE SUPER-DEVIL, LEVI ASTAROTH, CONQUERS CAIN'S ARCHIPELAGO
HIDE YOUR WIVES: RED DRAGON EMPEROR CAPTURING DEVIL WOMEN
REVOLT IN CLAN PHENIX OVER FORCED RATIONING OF TEARS
WAR EFFORT TOLLS: DEVIL RACE ON LAST LEGS?
My eyes locked on to the second title, and then to the last. "…What in the…?"
"You told me he was a bit slow on the uptake but I didn't think it was this bad."
I snapped my gaze to her. "Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Levi, be nice to your uncle."
Levi? The girl rolled her eyes. "You're sure we're related?"
Ajuka flicked his gaze. "Levi."
"Alright, fine." She pouted. "I'll play nice."
"Forgive her." Ajuka said. "The point is… Seth-san, in case it isn't obvious, we are living in a much different world. And all of it is because of you."
"I… don't understand."
"Perhaps this will help,"
The image on the tablet changed. It changed to an object, glossy, encrusted with hundreds upon hundreds of runes and languages, most of which I somehow knew were Hebrew and Japanese characters. This monolith…?
"I've… seen this before."
"That, Seth-san, is a Rock of Ages." Ajuka said. "It's an artefact which has the main purpose of accumulating and gathering power. Its primary function is to suck away magical power from any being, and later utilize it for something else. In this case, that being was you, and that something else was rewriting history."
Ajuka flicked his hands into the air. An image appeared.
"Nakamura Ichijo did exist," Ajuka said. "But somewhere along the way, he was killed and replaced by the Commander of the Grigori, Azazel. Azazel got to you, Seth-san, and got you to pour your nearly infinite power into the Rock of Ages. Once you did that, he set things up, so you'd be eliminated by the Hero Faction. And you were."
I blinked. "Hah – that's… that's a joke, right?"
Ajuka stared vacantly at me. "Do you believe this is the time for jokes?"
"I… lost?" I didn't believe it.
"I didn't say you lost, Seth-san. I said you were eliminated. There is a difference."
"No, no, no. That can't be right. It's the same thing, isn't it? There's no way I'd have lost."
"That kinda thinking is why you're here in the first place."
"Yeah, Levi, quiet." I hissed. "The adults are talking."
She barked a laugh. "Adult?" She snorted. "You?"
"No, I've got to show him!" Levi stretched, pointing her index finger on my forehead. "You need to remember."
She tapped my forehead –
And my mind went splitting with pain.
Anti-Monster Resisted Miraak's Robe
There wasn't much I could do, when the golems kept gaining on me, never giving me the needed chance to think. Killing them was more trouble than it was worth, because the more I killed them, the more they got harder to kill. Hunting down Georg was what I needed to do. Finding the wielder of Dimension Lost and making him tear open his dimension was one possible way to beat the blasted things –
But I can't fucking travel through dimensions!
Another Anti-Monster broke the sound barrier with its punch. Shockwaves tore through the air in front of my nostrils, the impact sending my hair flying behind me. I reached randomly into my inventory for any weapon, and emerged the Mace of Molag Baal, swinging it into the Anti-Monster's face and tearing it into non-existence.
Anti-Monster Resisted Soul Trap
That was my answer. That was the only way I'd be able to effectively find my way into Dimension Lost. I needed to create a shout that could and would let me travel through dimensions. For me to do that, I needed to think and I needed to focus –
Two Anti-Monsters blurred beside me, one coming high and the other coming low. I clicked my tongue.
My lips slapped tightly together.
I opened my mouth to speak, but I couldn't. My lips had been melded into one another. No, it wasn't that –
My mouth was missing, gone. I searched my face for it, and it was gone. Just… gone.
"So it's true." An Anti-Monster spoke. "We were told you had the power to rewrite reality with your words. We were skeptical, when we also heard that a simple mouth gag could render this power useless, but yet…"
The Anti-Monster pointed.
"For a being as powerful as you are to never even realize you'd been cursed… it's pathetic."
Cursed? My brain searched for answers. Cursed? When was I…?
The answer tore into me like serrated blade.
Nakamura – Nakamura did this –
My heart lurched in my chest. Shouts can be stopped by gagging?
Of course. Of course, they could. Ulfric Stormcloak, at the start of Skyrim, was set to be executed, and he'd been gagged. A flimsy piece of cloth was all that stopped Ulfric Stormcloak from shouting his way free and escaping death. Had Alduin not shown up, there was no doubt that he'd have perished there.
Shouts were predominantly a spoken language – the Thu'um, the Voice. The language of Dragons.
If I couldn't speak –
I can't shout.
This can't be happening.
Two Anti-Monsters emerged from my left and right, moving faster and faster than before. They grabbed at the same time and tore –
My arms ripped off. I backed away, armless, from the creatures, and waited for my regeneration to kick in –
What the fuck is going on right now?
"You must be confused." The Anti-Monsters spoke. "You've consistently shown that every spell you cast requires your arms to cast it. It seems you're incapable of using magic without your hands and without your words. That means… this fight is over."
The Anti-Monsters dogpiled me. One, above the other, above the next. Pinned underneath their weight without my arms and without able to speak, I wracked my brain for something in my arsenal that would turn the tides –
The Vampire Lord transformation would be too slow. The Battle Cry power wouldn't work when I had no mouth. That left only –
Summon Spectral Assassin
Summon Arniel's Shade
The incorporeal spirits wouldn't last a couple of seconds against the Anti-Monsters, I knew. Lucien Lachance, the first Speaker for the Black Hand, and Arniel Gane, a ghost of the College of Winterhold, would only buy me a few seconds.
But a few seconds was all I needed.
Without hands, I couldn't use the object myself, and typically, in Skyrim, you couldn't give weapons to spectral followers. But we weren't in Skyrim, and the rules didn't apply –
I tossed out all the Daedric Artefacts from my inventory, and nodded at them to attack.
"What in the wo –"
Lucien Lachance picked up Auriel's Bow and Arniel Gane, grabbed the closest weapon to him –
Oh fu –
My world went white.
I gasped. My vision was blurry. I blinked, and blinked again, and realized I was back in the train, and Levi was across from me, her finger still on my forehead. Less than a single second had passed between. We continued to move, through the Astaroth Territory, with Ajuka slowly sipping from his cup.
"…You said… I… got beaten. But… I…"
"Seth-san, you see, the mistake Azazel made was assuming that the reason I let you be was because I was scared of you, or that I had no way of beating you," Ajuka sipped his tea. "As a matter of fact, I did have ways. Numerous in fact. However, in every conceivable timeline, no matter what method I conceived to destroy you, it always led to the same, exact, thing:"
Ajuka waved his hand. A hologram appeared, of earth. My eyes bulged once I noticed two, fast moving beams travel out of the earth, and soar into the sky. Seconds later, the earth was bombarded with numerous, meteorite sized balls of plasma.
"Killing you, no matter how it was done, would always lead to the destruction of the world."
What… the fuck?
"I – I didn't do that."
"Your spectral minions did." Ajuka said. "That bow, Auriel's Bow, I believe? Firing it into the sky, once, caused it to hit the sun and send solar flares raining back down on the planet."
I'd actually forgotten that the bow could do that.
Jesus Christ Skyrim.
"The world… ended?"
"It did." Ajuka said. "Of course, it didn't stay that way. Arthur and Azazel realized their mistake, and tried to fix it. Azazel provided the Rock of Ages and Arthur provided Excalibur Ruler. Together, they pressed a reset button. Their plan was to make the world as they saw fit. Azazel made it so the Fallen won the Holy War, while Arthur made it so Camelot and the age of magic and heroes never ended, and ensured only humans can have Sacred Gears."
"But…" I pursed my lips. "Then how am I…?"
Ajuka stared at me, no mirth in his face.
"How are you still here? The answer, Seth-san, is two-fold. The power in the Rock of Ages was yours to begin with, so, while it ended up shaping the world according to Azazel and Arthur's wishes, it made it so that several of the impacts you made would stay. Second… you were never truly… dead."
Ajuka glared. He waved his hand, and an image of a rather infamous Daedric Artefact emerged.
"Why, in the name of all that is unholy, would you have such a thing? That thing – is an abomination. It is chaos and madness personified. A staff with the ability to completely and utterly generate any random phenomena in existence – that – that Wabbajackis the only reason you're still here."
I didn't know what to say. "I… huh." I had nothing to say. "Getting hit by the Wabbajack… saved my life."
"Yes…" Ajuka sighed. "But it in turn stripped you of your powers, abilities, memories, and remade you into my younger brother, for some inexplicable reason."
I searched within me for some sort of power. "I don't have any powers at all."
"I can't even use Devil Magic?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Why bother telling me any of this?" I asked. "I mean… unless me dying will end the world again?"
"There's a ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine-nine chance guarantee that it won't." Ajuka said sharply. "That said, Seth-san, I rather prefer the world the way it was before all this chaos. I am one of the few fortunate individuals to not have had my memory overwritten. Countless others do not ever remember the world being any different, and unfortunately, I do not know if it will ever be possible to revert it back."
"The instant your Wabbajack entered into play, my Kankara Formula became defunct. You cannot accurately calculate the precise atoms of every molecule in the universe, if there's a specific group of molecules that insists on making everything into a game of Where's Waldo."
"In other words," Levi said. "We need you to find the damn thing."
"…More or less, yes." Ajuka agreed. "As a matter of fact, I believe you're likely one of the only two people alive who may be able to even touch it without going utterly insane… or turning into a wheel of cheese. The Wabbajack is out there, somewhere, crippling my abilities. With it out of the way, I'll be more likely to discover a way to reverse this chaos. I need it gone."
I laughed. "What am I supposed to do about it? I don't have any powers!"
Ajuka's piercing stare locked on me. "Are you saying, you believe that without any powers, you're incapable of doing anything?"
I bit down on my lower lip. He's asking me that? "What do you think?"
"I thought, you'd be filled with righteous indignation at the knowledge that you were deceived by Azazel. I thought you would wish to set things right, if not out of a sense of responsibility then at the very least out of a desire for vengeance. I thought, Seth-san… that even if stripped of everything, you would still have within you, the burning soul of a dragon."
"You thought wrong."
Who did he think I was? What did he think I was? Without my Skyrim powers, I was weaker than the average human. I was weaker than bloody stray devils. Viser had been able to drag me around and I couldn't even resist her. How, in the world did he expect me to go hunting Azazel for revenge? What was I supposed to do, pelt him with rocks? How was I supposed to find the Wabbajack?
"If… if I had my powers…" I said. "Can't I get them back? If I can find this Rock of Ages thing –"
"They're gone Seth." Ajuka said. "The Rock of Ages turned to dust after the power was used up. Your power was used to reshape the world. You cannot retrieve it."
"Then… can't you… I don't know, create some sort of weapon or power or something for me, I mean, you can create anything with your power, right?"
It was the first time I saw him do that.
The expression was so foreign on his face that it made me flinch. It made me sit back, straight.
"I mean –"
"It seems I truly overestimated you, Seth. You really are just a child."
The doors to the train swung open. The train was still moving, but the train-car door was wide open.
I flinched. "W-what?"
"You've shown to me that there was no merit in keeping you alive all these years. I attempted, numerous times, to give you your memories back, and you were always either driven insane or mad from despair. I'd believed it to be the work of the Wabbajack… but I realize now I was wrong. Even now, when your memories have come back organically, you're still nothing but an irresponsible, sniveling coward."
"Wait, Ajuka –"
"Get out or I kill you where you sit. You have three seconds."
My back went rigid. He meant it. I knew. I knew he meant it. My spine shuddered from phantom pains and screamed at me to run. My legs and hands followed as well. I didn't think, I just moved.
I leapt through the open doors, but I didn't fall. Gravity paused, because Ajuka wasn't finished.
"You are not family, Seth. If I ever hear you utilizing the Astaroth name for anything, if I ever see you again, you will breathe your last."
With those words, gravity resumed.
A garbage pile.
That was where I landed. That was where I, Seth, one-time Dragonborn, Vampire Dragon Emperor, found myself. Literally, in a giant, steaming pile of trash and garbage. The smell was putrid enough that my eyes watered, my clothes soaked in unmentionables being pumped out from the factories of the Astaroth territory, and my fall had only been broken because the liquid garbage and toxic sludge was soft enough to accommodate me.
This was funny. All so very, ridiculously funny. The sheer ridiculousness of my situation was enough to make me burst out laughing, but I couldn't, because there was garbage all over me, and opening my mouth in this place would probably make me accidentally swallow it.
Hah. Ajuka – the bastard – he didn't understand. He didn't get it. I was just… doing what it took to survive. I mean –
Hah. Fucking right. Doing what it takes to survive. Why bother?
Why? I was literally in a garbage pit right now.
Maybe… maybe I can get my powers back – and – and once I do that…
It wasn't even the same world, anymore. Not really. It had the same characters, but this world, it wasn't DxD. My presence and actions had morphed it into something utterly unrecognizable. Unique, foreign and dangerous. I couldn't leverage any knowledge. I couldn't change events, cause there would be no events I knew to change. What would I do? Try to conquer it all, again, like the cocky son of a bitch I'd been?
To think… all this started because you wanted a fucking harem.
Hah! That was the funniest part of it all! A harem! Oh gods, a harem! What I wouldn't give right now, for my biggest concern to be collecting women! Hahahahaha!
"FUNNY! Very, fucking funny! It's all, fucking funny!"
I kicked aside sludge and metal.
"Fucking funny! SO funny! Look at me! I'm laughing here!"
I kicked. And I kicked. And I kicked –
"Isn't this the fucking funniest shit in the world? Huh? Isn't this just bloody! Fucking! Funny!"
I didn't know how long I stood there, kicking and kicking and kicking every thing I could see in my sight. Kicking and punching like a maniac, like a madman, that was all I did. That was all I had the strength right now to do.
Once I got tired of kicking, I dropped to my knees, unto my tiny pile of trash, and stared up, to the eternal, blood-red sky. I couldn't tell morning from night with it. There wasn't anyway to tell morning from night with it. Stagnant, and unmoving, the red sky mocked me.
"You think this is funny, too, right?"
No one answered me.
"…Yeah. I thought so."
At that moment, a large, disturbing sound emerged from my stomach. It felt like it was being eaten from the inside out.
"…what is this weird –" I thought about it. "Oh. That's right."
I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt hunger. I'd all but forgotten that it was a thing that most living beings felt. I stood from the trash pile, and a breeze rolled over me. My teeth chattered, and I hugged myself on instinct.
"…and… there's that… too."
As a Nord Vampire, I'd had absolute Frost Resistance.
…I'd almost forgotten what being cold felt like.
…why bother? What was the point? I'd just stay here, and wait for the cold and the hunger to get me.
The… c-c-c-cold –
"H-holy f-f-fuck, i-i-it's f-f-freezing."
This was how they knew it was nighttime – the temperature dropped to below zero in seconds. I hobbled my ass off the mound and started to search for some sort of shelter, or some kindle, or something, anything I could use to start a fire –
I was an idiot. There was no sun in the Underworld. No sun meant no heat. Artificial sun meant artificial heating. When the artificial heating was gone, its true nature came back. Hell wasn't hot – hell was below freezing.
I made my way off the trash mounds, legged it through the darkened roads and tried to find light, light meant warmth, warmth meant good – good meant survive –
My teeth chattered, and I laughed, and repeated that mantra. Survive. Why? Fuck why. I was going to survive. I was going to fucking survive. Not because I had a reason to, not because I even fucking wanted to. No – at this point, I didn't want to be here. I didn't want to be hobbling my freezing ass to find shelter while covered with underworld sewage.
There was only one reason I was doing it, one thing, burning, again, from the pit and depths of my stomach. I needed to pay back that bitch, Lady Astaroth, who broke my spine and crushed my fingers. I'd string her up, and fuck her skulls out. I'd do it in front of Ajuka, the cunt, who told me to jump off a moving train as soon as I wasn't any use to him. And I'd fuck his daughter too, in front of him, and flip him the bird.
I'd find Azazel, or Nakamura, or whatever the fucking son of a bitch called himself, and I'd rip out that godforsaken silver tongue out his throat and shove it up is asshole.
And the Hero Faction, that brat, Leonardo, with his Anti-Monsters – I'd hijack his quirk and make a group of Anti-Monsters that'd sodomize his ass.
Then the rest of the Hero Faction, all of them, who had a hand in this, I'd hunt them down, one, by fucking one, and I'd think of the most crazed, depraved method in the world to shuffle their souls off the mortal realm.
I'd kill them.
I'd kill all of them.
I'm going to fucking kill all of them.
It wasn't even about setting things right. It wasn't even about revenge.
It was all about spite.
Hobbling my way through the biting cold, my teeth chattered, my ass was freezing, but my heart, my soul, it was on fire.
"RAAAAAAAGH! I'M COMING FOR ALL YOU FUCKING BASTARDS!"
I was going to get them. I was going to get all of them. But, to do that, I needed a plan. I had to be smart. Whether or not I'd be able to outsmart the likes of Ajuka or Azazel I didn't know, but I didn't care. If I was too dumb to outsmart them, I'd outdumb them until they stumbled, jaw held ajar in disbelief and confusion. I didn't care what it took. My life? What the fuck did my life mean to me now? Even if I died, fuck, even if I had to die –
I'd make them pay.
A plan, Seth. You need a fucking plan.
For now, I needed shelter, then food, and then, most valuable and most important: information.
Light… I inhaled. Perfect.
Making my way to the light, I nearly stumbled, a few times, but didn't let that stop me. Light… warmth… warmth –
The light was coming from a fire. I never imagined I'd see a dumpster fire in hell, but yet, that was exactly what it was. A large barrel, set ablaze, with a shady, dirty looking figure standing directly beside it. I approached, immediately, without even thinking. The shady man gave me a glance and eyed me up, from head to toe, before spitting to the side.
"Find yer own fire."
"I just need the warmth for a few seconds."
"Ya deaf? I said find yer own fire."
"It costs nothing to share –"
"If I gotta tell yer a third time – amma kill you brat."
"Now, let's not – "
The man pointed his finger at me. Magic. Oh fuck. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. "Hey now, friend… easy… easy…!"
"Get." he gestured.
"I'm leaving – no need for any – oh shit."
I bulged my eyes wide, and looked directly behind the man. Without saying anything, I turned around to leg it.
"Huh, what's – "
He turned around, and I spun on a dime, and pounced. "The fucking oldest trick in the book!" I sunk my teeth into his jugular on instinct, and ripped loose. "Shoulda just fucking shared the fire old man!"
I bit again, and tore, and again, and again, and again –
I was more beast than devil. More savage than humane. The old man gurgled, failing and trying to clutch his bleeding throat. He pointed his finger at me, and fired off a beam. It pierced clean through my shoulder and kept flying.
I kept biting.
My shoulder hurt, it hurt, but it was nothing, nothing compared to the beating I got from Lady Astaroth.
The old devil didn't or couldn't fight back. The bleeding was too much, my frenzy too chaotic. Minutes after I'd launched my attack, the man lay, still, only the occasional twitch of his hands to show the slowly slipping grasp between life and death.
I spat out the blood, and began to rifle through the man's pockets. There was nothing but some notes and gold coins, which I assumed was the currency utilized in the Astaroth district. There was a locket, likely the only real thing of value the old man had on him, and a faded, dusty journal.
I cracked open the locket, and found only a picture of the man, younger, and more well dressed, standing besides a young, blonde woman. I discarded the picture and kept the locket. The only other thing was the man's journal, which I began by opening the last page.
…Sunday, 15th of Benjamin, 1992
Today, my soul and joy has died. Lenore was lost on the Eastern Front, and I have died with her.
I flicked the pages further. The further back I went, the further the journal described life, apparently, with a woman maned Lenore. Very little of it was useful to me, but I was willing to take any information I got.
I examined the journal. The weight. The look. The feel of it.
I felt, for it. I closed my eyes, and focused, deeply, on it.
The book crumbled into ash in my hands, and I breathed, slowly, gently, unable to hide my disbelief, as I rose my hands up in the air, and cast –
A small gout of fire spurted out from my hands, rising up, before vanishing.
What had Ajuka said? My power was used to recreate the world. He also said that the Wabbajack was out there, waiting to be found, interfering with his power. Did that mean, scattered across this new world, were items which had belonged to my inventory? Not only my spell tomes, but my books, my armor, my Deadric Artefacts –
"Ha. Hahahahaha! FUCK YES!" I pumped my fist into the air. "FUCK YES, BABY! I'M GONNA GET IT ALL BACK YOU FUCK – ow, ow, ow, that bites!"
My shoulder was still hurt. Couldn't go pumping my fist into the air willy-nilly. It also didn't help that I was still really, really hungry.
I looked over dead devil who I'd just looted.
"Shoulda just shared the fucking fire."
I've heard of a dog-eat-dog world but…
I fought down my initial sense of disgust.
"Guess everything always tastes better after a long, nice roast."
It was the start of a new dawn –
And I'd be having devil for breakfast.
Not a rewrite. Just a re-skin.