Birdy: For anyone expecting a chapter of SM and BC today, sorry. I couldn’t focus on the translation for the life of me, but I wrote this, and it isn’t terrible. I hope.
When I open my eyes, a sea of salt spreads out as far as the eye can see. I am reminded of the salt beds in the south west, but this is on a much grander scale. I look around, but no matter what direction I look in, there is only the never-ending expanse of white earth.
In one direction, the sun is sitting on the horizon. Oranges and reds play across the sky and dye the salted earth in their colors. I cannot tell if the sun is rising or setting, and when I try to guess by the temperature I discover something is amiss. Well, amiss aside from the clearly unnaturally scenery around me.
I feel nothing. There is no sense of temperature, no sensation of body weight, of my feet on the ground, or the clothes on my body. I pat my body, trying to feel something, but to no end. I nearly start to panic, but find the emotion suppressed. The strongest feeling I can muster is a vague curiosity towards my situation, with no strong feeling about it one way or another.
“What you’re feeling is only natural. It is quite difficult to feel something without a living body.”
A voice suddenly come from behind me. I turn my back to the sun sitting on the horizon and look for the voice. Standing only a few feet away from me is a pair of crystal green eyes. The eyes are set in the face of a young woman, perhaps 20 years old. I look the newcomer up and down and decide the best word to describe her is… green. From her hair to the light dress to the sandals on her feet, everything is a brilliant green. Even her skin is tinged green, though it gives of an aura of vitality rather than sickliness.
“Yes, thank you for that wonderful introduction. It has always been my life’s dream to be summed up as green by a mortal.” She speaks again with droll tone and an amused expression. This green woman, can she read my mind?
“Yes I can. Good job figuring it out, some people never realize I can and spend our entire encounter convinced they’ve lost their mind. Then, most people have enough of an attachment to their body to retain some emotion, so the impressive way you died may have something to with it. It was quite an explosion.”
Explosion? No, died? Oh, I remember now. I was walking to the store and passed the train tracks. I head crying and saw a child… collapsed on the tracks. The train was coming; I ran to get them off the tracks and… I died. Did the child live?
“Don’t worry, the child survived. You, however, were not so lucky. To say you died would be an understatement. Your body was caught underneath the train and pieces of you were strewn about the mile of track it took for the train to stop. Not much left to bury, though from what I see that isn’t a problem for you.”
No, she is right. I have no more family left, I lost them in the accident two years ago. I had a few friends, but I stayed to myself most of the time and was living off the life insurance pay out while I figured out what to do. I can’t say I have ever been happy I lost them, but I am glad they did not have to see how I died. Small blessings.
“Yes, well, I do like how composed you are, that will make this whole process easier.”
The green woman has pulled herself together, emitting a regal air. “Ahem, mortal, you have died. You now stand on the border between worlds. Most who stand here turn to dust, returning to the cosmos. By some quirk of fate, you have received another chance at life.” The green woman is saying things I would normally put down as delusions, but I do not think this woman should be so easily dismissed.
“That’s right, so listen up. There are countless worlds in this universe, and your soul has been claimed by one of those. Soon, you will travel there, your body will be rebuilt, and your new life will begin. Before you go, you will be granted a small number of powers to help you survive. The world you are going to is not as kind as the one you knew. Monsters roam the land, magics fills the people, and life is a constant battle to survive. You will need to adapt quickly if you want your second life to last longer than your first.”
This lady is saying some amazing things. This sounds like a fantasy novel.
“Don’t be so easily impressed. Now it is time for you to choose your gifts. Turn around.”
Raising an eye brow, I turn around face the sun once again.
To my surprise, I do not find the sun. Instead there is a white monolith sticking out of the ground. Across the surface is written:
Base Stat Increase: Health Up, Mana Up, Stamina Up, Strength Up, Wisdom Up, Speed Up
Combat Skill: Sword, Bow, Staff, Dagger, Hand to Hand, etc.
Magic Skill: No Chant, Quick Cast, All Attribute Affinity, Mana Recovery Increase,
Unique Skills: Potential Unlock, Magic Master, Hawk Eyes, Water Breathing, Heightened Senses, Sex Maniac, Dragon’s Blood, Knitting, etc.
In front of me stretches a list of hundreds of different skills. This is too much to digest in one sitting.
“Unfortunately, you don’t have very long. Perhaps twenty minutes. I don’t normally do this, but…”
I turn head around and look at the green woman. She has a troubled look on her face, as if contemplating what to do.
“Okay, I’ve decided. I’ll help you find the skill best suited to you. Walk over here and close your eyes.” She commands me firmly.
Without wasting time by asking questions and walk back to her and close my eyes. Then, for the first time since I opened my eyes in this place, I feel something. I feel a warm hand draped over my closed eyes and must resist the urge to open them. The warm exuded from her touch contrasts with the void of nothingness the rest of my body feels. Her hand feels like a warm spring afternoon, trees blossoming, bird singing, wild flowers dancing in it wind. When she pulls her hand away I almost want to cry, but then the void settles in again and I feel nothing but a faint tingling behind my eyes.
I look at the green woman and find a motherly smile on her face, something I would not have thought she could make.
“There, child. I have opened your eyes briefly, when you turn around you will see what gift suits you best. You can now find the gift that will let you reach your highest potential.”
Overcome by that faint curiosity, I turn around walk back to the white monolith. After the few steps need to reach there, I look at the listed gifts again.
This time, it as if my eyes are out of focus. I cannot decipher what is carved into the surface, and find it difficult to keep my eyes focused on any single part. The sensation is extremely disorientating and I consider turning away before my eyes suddenly focus on one gift.
“Oh my, I’m glad I did this. People with your affinity are born perhaps once in a million years. It would have been a tragedy if you had passed through here without choosing it.”
The green woman appears pleased by what I found. She is speaking to me quickly with an excited voice.
Dragon’s Blood. I do not know what it does. Will I be part dragon? Will I belong to some ancient dragon dynasty? I wouldn’t like that last one, I am not one for loft positions.
“We only have a few minutes left, so I will make this explanation short and hopefully easily to understand. There are still things you need to know.
“Your gift, the dragon’s blood, means you have the nature that makes dragons to fearsome. I cannot speak for your world, but in the one you are going to, dragons are extremely common. They range from the weakest, more like birds than monsters, to the strongest, being an existence that can wipe out countries.
“Dragons are extremely adaptable. They can live in any environment, if there is life you will find dragons. And if there isn’t life, you still might find dragons. With the gift of the dragon’s blood, you have acquired to ability to be anything. Your body will change to meet your needs, you will find it easier to learn new skills than others. To be honest, the full extent of potential isn’t known. Someone like you hasn’t lived in a very long time… I can’t tell you what will happen for certain, and there may be unknown side effects. A skill like this can influence a person’s mind. Shit, we’re almost out of time.”
The green woman says something very unwomanly.
“Okay, here’s the last part. This is important, so you need to listen. You remember video games from your world? Our world is based on a system like that. When you get to your new world, say ‘Status,’ and a widow should appear in front of you. Everyone in this world has something similar. You can track your growth with your status, and see find information about skills you have. It is extremely important you remember this.”
The green woman’s eye brows lower in a frown, “Jeez, okay, it’s time for you to go. Work hard! I’ll be watching!”
With those words the world around me slowly fades out of focus. Darkness blankets my mind and my skin starts to itch. The last thing I see is the green woman’s smiling face before I am swallowed by dark dreams.
I never learned her name.