Taylor looked across the river that stretched out before her. It was a massive thing, far enough across that the light mist that hung in the air was enough to obscure the other bank. Out of the river jutted pillars of stone causing the water to twist and swirl. A layer of mist clung to the surface of the water, just thick enough to be seen but not enough to obscure the surface. The mist seemed to respond to the water's movement playfully creating its own patterns in response to the river's flow.

It was a majestic sight, a moment of pure peace and one of the most beautiful things she had seen in her life. At least it would have been if she wasn't dead.

Honestly it wasn't that surprising of a fate. With the way her life had gone a bullet to the head as her payment for saving the world fit right in. It was probably even justified, she had done some truly terrible things in her battle against Scion and she wasn't even sure how much of herself was even left by the time Contessa found her.

Looking up Taylor tried to pierce the mist concealing the far bank with her eyes. She knew she needed to cross the river, it was a certainty that sprang up from the core of her being. She was dead and this river stood between her and whatever came after. With the life she led she could not imagine that anything except Hell waited for her on the other side, but still she longed to cross.

Part of her wondered if she was being mastered, if she was being held in some illusion and the thought that she was dead was artificially implanted by someone. But the thought felt hollow, master powers affected the physical mind, and her mind currently had a hole blown in it and was busy rotting on some uninhabited earth. What she was now was whatever remained and it was beyond the reach of powers.

Taylor grimaced, more of that certainty. Maybe she really was mastered. Shaking her head she decided that she needed to cross the river regardless of the situation. If she was a Master she wouldn't find out more until she had crossed and if she was dead, well then she needed to face whatever came after.

Taylor walked down the gentle slope to the water's edge, the only afterlife she knew of with a river was the Greek Underworld. If that was the case then this river would be the Styx, or was it the Lethe, she couldn't recall the exact geography. If it was the Lethe part of her wanted to drink, the thought of losing herself to oblivion had its appeal after the life she had led.

She frowned as the form of Aster flashed through her mind. She understood the reasons she had made her choices, even now she could not call them wrong per say, but she needed to preserve those memories. To have made those choices and then abandon her memories of them felt viscerally wrong.

She snorted at how seriously she was taking the thought. Did she really think the afterlife matched up perfectly to her half forgotten memories of the myths of the ancient greeks?

She crouched down to the edge of the water reaching out a hand to stick her finger in only to stop when she heard the sound of something breaching the surface. Looking up she saw an enormous shadow in the river, one massive eye sticking out and staring at her. Slowly she withdrew her hand and the giant beast slid silently back into the mist, the shadow disappearing as if it had never been.

Deciding that she would need to find another way to cross. Taylor turned downriver hoping to find something to help her only to be surprised as she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to look closer and she saw a small boat drifting down the river, a woman sitting in it head down and eyes shut as if she was asleep.

Reaching down she picked up a pebble and tossed it at the boat, hoping to wake the girl before she slipped and fell in the water. The pebble struck the wood and the woman''s eyes opened wide, and she turned towards Taylor. The girl stood, a smile appearing on her face. She leaned down and picked up a massive scythe, far too large to have fit on the small boat. She rested the scythe on her shoulder and the boat turned towards Taylor, seemingly without input from the woman.

As the boat approached Taylor looked closer at the woman. She was a tall woman, even taller than Taylor, and pretty with striking pinkish red hair that went to her shoulders. She was wearing a white dress with a bright blue vest tied over it, the whole get up was wrinkled which Taylor supposed was unsurprising given that she had been sleeping in it. The Scythe she carried was odd, the end seemed to ripple, curving back out before going in for a second much smaller arc. All in all she was not what Taylor had been expecting for the ferrywoman of the dead.

The boat reached the shore and the woman stepped off speaking, "Taylor Hebert, right?" Taylor nodded in response. The woman punched her fist up in triumph and spoke under her breath, "Ha, I knew I'd find you quickly. There was no need for Eiki to threaten me with a babysitter."

The woman's attention then turned back to Taylor and she bowed slightly as she spoke. "Anyway, my name is Komachi Onozuka. I will be your shinigami."

Taylor felt dumbfounded by the display. While she had been largely agnostic in life she had still assumed that going to any afterlife that existed would be a largely somber affair.

After a moment she spoke up "You will be my shinigami? " She had heard the word before, some villain had used it as their name, but she could not put her finger on the meaning. "And what was that about a babysitter?"

Komachi blushed, "Ah, my boss threatened to assign a minder to me to stop me from slacking off if I didn't pick you up quickly. And I believe Americans from your Earth call psychopomps like me the Grim Reaper." Her voice became somewhat petulant as she continued, " I've always hated that name, I am anything but Grim."

Taylor once again felt the need to take a moment before speaking, "You are not what I was expecting."

Komachi smiled again, "Yeah I hear that a lot, or at least as often as I get around to ferrying souls. But anyway you just died, why should the one that takes you to what comes next be some creepy skeleton or brooding old man? I like to think my relaxed personality and pleasant conversation are much preferable to those alternatives."

Komachi stepped aside and gestured towards her boat "Well anyway shall we get going to the other side."

Taylor almost stepped forward but stopped herself. "Is there any reason I should? I doubt anything pleasant waits for me on the other side. I don't even know if any of this is real and not just some Master's game."

"Well you are welcome to stay on this side of the river if you want but I wouldn't suggest it. She pointed to the featureless coast, it is nothing but this going on forever in either direction. Only thing to do with your time is stack rocks. Plus it takes an eternity to reincarnate over here. It isn't that bad if you died so young that you never really made any decisions in your life but in your case I'd guess you would miss the rest of this cycle and likely the entire next one. As for whether or not this is real, do you think this side of the river is any more real than that one?"

Taylor snorted at the response, the more she thought about it the more certain she was that this was real. Masters she heard of just seized control of their targets, they didn't need to gaslight their victims to think they were in the afterlife. She should know, she had to be competing with the Simurgh as the worst master to have ever existed.

Taylor stepped towards the boat only for Komachi to grab her arm and stop her, "Oh yeah I almost forgot. I need to collect your coin before I can ferry you across."

Taylor turned towards the shinigami, "My what?"

Komachi repeated, "Your coin, the spirit of the money you had in life. You can't expect the afterlife to run for free can you."

"So if you die poor you don't get to go to the other side? That doesn't seem very fair" Taylor asked.

Komachi shook her head, "Life isn't fair. Why would you expect death to be any different? But don't worry if you can't pay there is a way to make enough on this side of the river."

Taylor looked down for the first time noticing the white robe she was dressed in. It was odd before now she had not even noticed it touching her skin. Not finding any coins Taylor looked back towards Komachi and said, "You know this is really not doing anything to help your case that this isn't an illusion created by some Master trying to get me to do something."

Komachi laughed quietly, "Don't worry, I know you didn't die with nothing, just focus on what you had in life and the coin will appear."

Taylor did as instructed and thought back to the bank account where she stored her pay from the Wards. As she did she felt her mind get dragged through a series of images, each accompanied by a strong emotion. Her pay from the wards and the college fund were met with indifference, a small fund set up by her father when she was three was accompanied by love, a few dollars left in the piggy bank that she had emptied for her original hero gear held relief, and, surprisingly, an account Lisa had managed in her name labeled 'If Needed' had hope. As the last image faded she felt a weight in her right hand. Glancing down she found herself clutching a large gold coin.

She hesitated a moment before she reached out and dropped the coin in Komachi's waiting hand, but luckily the emotions tied to the coin stayed even as the money left her fingers. The shinigami took a moment to inspect it and whistled softly, "Impressive amount for someone your age."

Taylor stepped onto the boat and sat down before asking "Do I get any change?"

Komachi sat across from her smiling, "What is it they say about money? You don't get to take it with you when you die?"

A moment later Taylor felt the boat beneath her set sail and she watched behind her as the shore faded into the mist. Taylor turned back towards Komachi and asked, "How long is it going to take to cross the river?"

Komachi furrowed her brow for a moment before answering "Looks like about two days for you."

Taylor paused, she had been certain the river had been nowhere near wide enough for that when looking at it from the bank. "What do you mean for me?"

Komachi replied, "It is part of my job to manipulate the distance between the banks to give the passenger enough time to reflect on their sins. The more sins you commit in life, the longer it takes."

"How long does it normally take?" Taylor asked.

Komachi shrugged, "About a day, give or take a couple of hours. Everyone does a bit wrong here or there and it adds up after a while."

Taylor snorted, twice the average. Guess there was no way she was avoiding Hell, not that she really expected any different with the life she lived.

Taylor glanced at the water and began to think about her choices only to be interrupted by Komachi's asking, "So what do you want to talk about?"

Taylor glanced back at the shinigami, "Aren't I supposed to be contemplating my sins?"

The shinigami smiled innocently, "Well yeah, but that is super boring for me. Talking is much more fun."

Taylor chuckled, "Has anyone ever told you that you are terrible at your job?"

"Just you, Eiki, the other shinigami, and almost everyone I have ever ferried across. I even had a shrine maiden beat the crap out of me over it once." Komachi winced and rubbed her arm as she said the last part.

Taylor shook her head in exasperation, "What even is there for us to talk about? How terrible Hell will be for me?"

Komachi shrugged in response, "You never know Eiki might not send you to Hell."

Taylor glared at the girl, "It is taking me twice as long as average to cross this river despite the fact I died when I was eighteen."

"Sure but the amount of time it takes to cross is based solely on the sins you committed, your Judgement is based on both the good and the bad you have accomplished."

Taylor paused at that thought. Did she even accomplish anything worthwhile? She had stopped Scion, if that thing that had occupied her body could even be considered her at the end, but had it been necessary. The path to killing Scion existed, would it have been found without her? Had her robbing people of their will and forcing them to die been ultimately pointless?

Komachi's voice distracted Taylor from her self loathing, "Well personally I would send you straight to Heaven."

Taylor focused on the voice so as to not be drawn back into herself. "And what justification do you have for that?"

"Do you know the workload I would have right now if that idiot had destroyed all of those Earths? It would be millenia before I could sneak in another nap on company time."

Taylor sighed, "You really are terrible at your job."

In response Komachi laughed heartily, and a moment later Taylor felt herself join. After all, she thought, there would be plenty of time for tears later.

A/N: Alright back to writing. It has only been almost two years since the last time I had gotten around to posting an update, fuck me. Well anyway I'm hoping to change that. I also have chapters going for The Lady of the Flies and Praetor, but I think this will be my main focus for now as for once my Muse has seen it fit to bless me with a story with a fully worked out ending rather than an endpoint and a vague idea of where to take it from there. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this, please feel free to post any criticism you might have.