How fucking long have I been asleep?
In that familiar abyss of comatose sleep, I sighed. Whatever my “inner world” was had long collapsed visually, deprived of any of the familiar sights I had come to enjoy within the safety of my own mind.
At least in here I still had both of my arms. That felt a little bit like I was compensating for something in the waking world, that something being a lack of a left arm, but at least I could just. Sit and meditate in this void without thinking about how to rebalance a new b-
“Oh! There you are!”
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I took in a deep gasp of oxygen, and a surge of scarlet Lightning howled overhead, illuminating “the void” around me for just a single instant.
This “empty world” was not so empty. It was a forgotten city composed of black stone and pavement, a perfect pintura down to every last brick, needlessly desolate. In some past world, I imagined, me and my comrades had had some great battle here and won, but at a terrible cost. I could still envision a final grand battle with a column of piercing electric blue fire ripping apart the sky.
I could still see the viscera and entrails of the man who had killed my-
Vincent Lockheart stood in front of me, but not the Vincent who had recently cut off my arm and had significantly aged in his sealing.
This was a younger Vincent Lockheart. Even younger than the one who joined the Royal Guard. This was Vincent Lockheart, “The Hero”. The first human brave enough to fight my father, Cyria, in combat over a hundred and thirty-two years ago. My father and his Wolves of Light, the Golden Fang, had patrolled the territories surrounding the valley of Blusk in which humans were born with great contempt.
I relaxed my shoulders and sighed as the world returned to complete darkness.
“What do you mean by ‘found me’?” I asked Vincent.
“You aren’t supposed to be in here.” Vincent replied, “This part of your inner world is off limits for very many reasons.”
“It’s my inner world,” I retorted, “I can do what I want in here.”
“This isn’t what you want.”
“Isn’t it?” I laughed, “I know you aren’t the real Vincent, but don’t give me that shit. I don’t need my sword to beat the shit out of you, especially not in here. I have to get strong enough to kill the real you.”
“The strength you build in here with me is going to be limited in its applicable uses.” Vincent advised, “And I’m not here to fight you. Don’t you want to wake up?“
“How the fuck am I supposed to wake up? They have me in some kind of medically-induced coma. My senses are so far gone I’m pretty sure that where we are is a place that doesn’t even exist in our timeline. And somehow I can STILL feel the FUCKING BOAT ROCKING!”
“All accurate. But all not the problem. Your body is a naturally-adjusted Light user. Your psyche and soul have drowned completely in the Darkness of your own blood and your own heart.”
Another scarlet Howl ripped open the sky as I squinted at Vincent The Hero. I could see it, now, on his back. The handle of a familiar moonshard claymore named “Murzim” but actually containing a sealed demon called “Epsilon” that used my body to assault my siblings before allowing the real Vincent to cut off my left arm with the weapon I’d been trained to wield all my life.
Oh. Oh this is about to get really fucked up isn’t it.
The Hero smiled as the red above faded once more into a complete void.
Before I had time to panic, tiny droplets of scarlet, glowing blood began pouring from the sky.
And in moments, the city of the forgotten cataclysm was illuminated once more, in raining blood. It vaporized as it touched the ground, but didn’t seem to be harming me, The Hero, or our surroundings. It took much longer to vaporize against my skin than anything else, though.
The raining blood soaked into The Hero’s hair, still tied back in a refined ponytail, and ran in three non-converging trails down his face until they reached his feral, grinning mouth. His left hand swiftly unsheathed and raised Murzim in my direction, beckoning me to my feet in the pouring, raining blood.
“You really think you don’t need a weapon against me?” The Hero taunted.
I stood to my feet. “Who are you?” I asked.
“Think of me as the ‘youngest’ version of you.” The Hero replied, after some contemplation, “The one who didn’t cry and look away when he saw this world for what it truly was. The one who took every responsibility thrust upon him by the status quo of cruel, un-feeling fucking parasites who kill and steal away all that gives life meaning. The one who survived.”
“Oh, so you’re Murzim.”
The Hero stopped in place. “What?” he asked.
“You’re my Murzim.” I explained, “Like, I’ve had time to think about this. Way too much time to think about this. I remember reading about the demon Epsilon and how it used a bone claymore capable of absorbing any attack. I always thought that was weird, especially when Stane’s special unique technique that no one else in the family could do ended up being exactly the same thing.”
The Hero frowned in the rain. “So you think Stane learned it from me?”
“Yeah.” I responded, “Duh. How else?”
The Hero frowned and shook his head in bitter disappointment. “You’re right about one thing. Me and the entity you call ‘Murzim’ are more or less the same creature, but not because we’re demons. We are both simply fragments of Vincent’s soul. The difference between me and Murzim is that I’ve been inside you since you were born, as the core of your buried Darkness Affinity. ‘Murzim’ is what has rested in that sword the Lockheart Family has been passing down for so, so many years.”
“So…Stane didn’t learn it from the sword?”
The Hero shook his head. “Of course not. He figured it out himself. He just loved the blade. Like you did. In his state of deep rest, Murzim was content with wielders who treated the sword with the respect it deserved.”
The Hero rested the blade over his left shoulder, biting his bottom lip and looking up into the raining blood absentmindedly. “What was it you said to Nalia? I don’t need my sword to kill you?“
The Hero lunged.
I expected to be able to escape with a surge of Light energy or something that would give me the edge in this inner world. I was sorely mistaken. Whatever I was “in here” had no true connection to the elements of the world outside, had fallen out of time with my own senses too long ago.
Before I knew it, the blade of Murzim ripped through and removed my left arm once again, in a hot-white eternity of perfect fucking misery and despair.
There was no fight left in me.
I collapsed onto my back in a broken heap, my left arm long gone in here and out there. No part of me was safe from the truth of what happened to me. No corner of my mind could escape from it.
The Hero looked down at my body coldly, without pity. I was bleeding out once again. Helpless. Even here.
I wanted to scream. Or cry. Or even beg for mercy. But I knew none of that was coming. None of it was possible anymore.
The Hero closed his eyes. The warmth of the blood pouring from above almost drowned out the warmth of the blood pooling at my numbing left side.
“You’ve learned all you’re going to from our collective battle experience.” The Hero said, “This is the only way for me to live. I hope you understand why I’m doing this to you, Michael.”
It doesn’t matter.
You cut off my arm.
I can’t even talk.
I can’t even resist.
Why put on this show? Why pretend that killing me is somehow killing you?
“Because it is.” The Hero replied, “This is the only way.”
In a single motion, he fell onto his knees and stabbed Murzim through the center of my chest, down to the hilt, letting out a deranged, eardrum-shaking scream as he did so.
A cacophony of scarlet Lightning Howled in unfathomable rage as it stabbed into The Hero’s body from every conceivable angle, trying to take my killer with me in one last act of grand defiance.
The Hero smiled calmly and let go of the sword. Howl’s Lightning had long faded but the rain of blood continued still overhead. As my senses faded into a yet deeper state of submersion, I saw The Hero begin to sublimate and vaporize as each droplet touched him. He didn’t resist this or fight this, at all.
In fact he seemed…happy?
Oh. Oh he just killed us and he’s smili