Eris knew nothing. She did not even know knowing nothing. Nothing just was, nothing became her existence, her existence became nothing. There was nothing, but conversely, saying that implies something. Not even nothing had nothing and was not even a ‘was’. No existence whatsoever existed.
Eris was dead. And she no longer existed.
There was nothing for Eris. There was no time. There was no thought. There was no concept of self or being. She had nothing, she was nothing, she was not even a was. Nothing subsumed her very being and replaced anything that she was with…nothing.
There was a great dark void, but darkness implies a light. This was darkness compounded by darkness, an all pervasive and invasive darkness that forbade the very existence of light.
Just like it forbade the existence of Eris.
“Welcome back. You have lost half your gold. You have 1 XP to gain before earning your next level.”
Eris looked around, unabashedly confused. Where was she? What is she doing here? Where was here? She looked about in a slow circle, slowly taking it all in. The king’s throne room. And before her, the king. And next to the king’s throne, the empty throne for the princess yet to be rescued.
She patted her chest a bit, then gave a long exhale before inhaling deeply. She was breathing again. And thinking again. And was herself again. She had a sense of self and understanding of her place in the world. She asked the king what happened, but he gave no pertinent information. So she just ran down the stairs and out.
So that was death. That was terrifying. She had no idea how much time passed, for, to her, time itself did not even exist. One moment she did not exist, for what felt like an eternity, and then suddenly she exists once more. It was startling and frightening and objectively and fully terrifying.
It was not like the times when Reincarnated Heo DICK left the world and the world paused. Time still seemed to pass, somehow, then, even if she was stuck in stasis. This was…nothing.
Eris ran down the stairs and right to the Item Vendor. She shouted at him, “Give me all the healing herbs…what, antidotal herbs? What do they do?” She studied what it did, finding they cured one of poison. And she knew what poison did, so she bought two of those, then all the healing herbs she could.
No way did she intend to ever lose all her HP ever again. Even if she carried nothing but herbs. She would insure her own safety above all else.
She studied the merchant’s list of wares a bit curiously, looking at the torch. She examined it a bit, then remembered something about finding a tablet in a nearby, and dark, cave. She looked back at her stash of herbs, then the torch, frowning darkly. Eris hopped from one foot to the other, thinking.
Finally, she sold back two herbs with a sigh and bought two torches, just in case.
She then walked over to where she was originally coded to pace at, and stayed there. She sat down on the side of the road, and let her eyes travel over the five by five area she randomly walked and did not leave for seemingly forever.
Life was simpler then, when she did not have life. When she was just meant to pace and greet. There was something then that she had lost. She gained her intellect, her existence, but she lost something. There was something missing, a piece of her that could not be regained.
She thought it over. What did she give up for her to gain life? What had been taken away from her, or perhaps rather removed, that was given away just so she could exist? She considered this a time, glancing from the area she was pacing at to the gateway leading out into the world.
That’s what she lost. That’s what happened to her.
She lost her ignorance of the world, forced to give it up to have the right to live within it.
Eris stood up with a sigh and a frown, running a hand in her long purple hair, the brown skinned woman adjusting her armor and copper sword a bit. Well, knowing that she had a place in this world, and that losing this world means losing herself, perhaps to a fate worse than death, motivated Eris.
Luckily, she knew there was no time limit. She could take things at her own pace. The tablet will be recovered, the princess will be rescued from the dragon, and the evil demon that is threatening the world will be defeated!
In her own time.
Eris looked back into the town that was her home, giving a little sigh. She took a soft breath then took a step out, leaving it for the bigger world beyond. She traversed into the wide world, full of danger and new experiences.
And experience points, whatever they were. She knew she kept gaining them, but did not know what they were.
Eris headed north, carefully. She tried to keep her eyes peeled for oncoming monsters, but it was useless. No matter how careful she was, they would just suddenly pop in front of her, randomly, without warning, when she moved forward. Sure, not everr step, but she did kill seventy some slimes in the same fashion, just having them suddenly appear from nowhere before her. The drakey did too, for that matter. Nothing was there before her, then suddenly she had to fight something.
Eris’ forward motion was suddenly stopped, even as she was thinking, by the appearance of another slime! It looked exactly identical to each of the other six dozen or so she slaughtered gleefully in the past. It stayed perfectly still, giving its somewhat creepy smile at Eris, waiting for her to select her commands.
Eris was about to select ‘Attack’, then…then she had a flashback to her own death. She held her copper sword up, waiting. She lowered her head in thought, her eyes shut. Did she not just condemn seventy some other slimes and a drakey to the same non-existence she just felt? Was there slime children growing up with dreams of being slime adults, only to be slain? Maybe these slimes really are seeking revenge.
Or…or maybe…she only ever saw one. The same one. The identically same one. One at a time, and that single one was always this one. Always the very same, identical one.
Did slimes instantly reincarnate? Is there just this one slime, coming back again and again and again, only to die at the hands of her vicious copper blade repeatedly? What about the drakey? Did that also reincarnate, just so it could meet her once again, only to be slain once more? Do they feel that state of non-existence before they return? Or are they as ignorant as she was, before, and they just exist without knowing it?
She lifted her sword up higher, frowning. She stared into its innocent eyes and smiling features, then growled, “What have you to smile about, slime?”
They slime, it kept waiting, smiling, watching. It just stood there before her, its doom impending, yet its smile ever present and not fading.
“Have you nothing to save for yourself? Can you do nothing?”
The slime kept smiling.
“I am about to kill you, you know. I am about to end your life.”
The slime jumped a bit, and kept on smiling.
“You’re about to be cleaved through with this sword and turned into a puddle of goo. I’ll…somehow…gain gold pieces and these ‘experience points’ from your death.”
The slime, it smiled.
“Is your life worth two gold pieces and one experience point? Is there nothing else for you?”
And still, the slime smiled.
Eris gave a growl of frustration, “Damn slime! Your life should matters as much to you as mine does to me! Say something! BE something!”
The slime simply smiled.
Eris gave a loud roar and turned her head away, cleaving the slime in twain. She had killed yet again.
Eris felt something. She gained two gold pieces and one experience point. The King said she gains ‘a level’ when she got one more of those. She felt power welling up inside of her, her hit points growing! Her strength increasing! Her defense going up! she had greater magic and more magic points! She had grown in power, becoming a better fighter!
A better killer.
Her tears sprinkled over the goo that was the slime.
Eris felt the power grow in her. But she felt her heart empty.