111 – Joyous Melody
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The goddess recalled a distant dream. In it, she saw a different world. A time and a place where she lacked any sort of power and barely scraped by. A life where she cursed everything for making her life so difficult.

But while she recalled that, she also remembered something else.

A face that had become blurred with time. An assertive person that dragged her along, pulling her out of that despair. Bright emotions and feelings that had been ground away by the unending solitude.

…There was a goddess who was fond of seeking beautiful women from across the cosmos and using them as her avatars.

Envy. Jealousy. When she came across a young woman that might grow more beautiful than her, she reached out to take that beauty for herself. Stealing their lives, souls, and appearances… For the sake of remaining ‘the most beautiful’, everything was permitted.

A divine being known to be ‘beauty’ itself and that drew power from the moon of a distant cosmos containing various transcendents, Goddess Celeste.

One day, that goddess noticed a new threat to her domain. A beautiful young woman from a far flung world whose inhabitants had yet to even walk on the path to immortality.

A lovely mix of features that would draw any person’s eyes, and all while still yet in the full bloom of womanhood. A beauty that could likely enchant even those loft transcendents if she stepped upon the path to immortality.

But there was no way for that to occur. That world she was in was still eons away from discovering their ‘path’ to open the doorway.

Even so, it seemed that the heavens weren’t blind. As if to reward her for being born into misfortune, despite all odds, she quietly lived to adulthood and flourished. A rose, managing to not only survive, but thrive in a sooty environment.

Celeste was jealous. Unlike her, who had to fight tooth and nail to reach where she was, the girl wasn’t punished. Not only that, she was rewarded.

So Celeste decided to pluck it. The beautiful rose in that tiny blue planet… while it didn’t pose a threat, Celeste desired it.

Thus, on the day her beauty began to bloom, Celeste pulled some strings to bind her. Not direct interference, but subtle machinations to end the girl’s life and retrieve her soul. Subtly, in such a way that any potential transcendents on that planet wouldn’t notice.

But she failed.

The knife in the dark that Celeste cast out, the strings that should have tied around the girl’s neck failed to reach. As if wrenched away at the last second, the girl evaded Celeste’s grasp.

So she tried it again.

Once. Twice. Thrice.

The Divine Beauty attempted to end the girl’s life multiple times that day. But each attempt failed.

And on the last, she was forced to withdraw.

The planet was too distant and the power she had to expend to act without directly descending was too much.

Over the next year, she made a few more attempts at random, hoping to get lucky. But each time, the same event occurred. At the last moment, a mysterious ‘something’ would step in and divert the thread of fate she tried to tie around the girl.

And then a full year passed.

Seeing the girl not only continue to live, but flourish even further, Celeste could no longer stand it.

Ensuring that the ‘anomaly’ interfering with her attempts was kept at bay, she directly manifested in that world and snatched the girl away.

It was done quickly. An action outside of that world’s time axis, moving in parallel to its temporal dimension.

She thought herself clever. And to ensure there wasn’t a chance of a mistake, Celeste quickly dissolved the girl’s ego and overwrote it with her own.

It was an instantaneous process. One that she had done countless times before and would continue to do in the future. Something that took a single thought to do.

But before that thought completed, an unfathomable being intervened.

Celeste had been foolish. Seeing that tiny blue planet unguarded and its lifeforms so undeveloped, she thought it to be a fledgling world bereft of any protectors.

She was wrong.

A thunderous, almighty wrath that even the boundless emperor of her cosmos couldn’t deny.

A swift retribution that struck out in an instant. An apocalyptic rage that erupted without mercy, without discrimination.

For that single girl’s soul, an entire cosmos was burned away, wiped out entirely.

And then it was just her.

Celeste was forced to stand before an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being whose powers didn’t diminish in the slightest despite being at the opposite end of the universe.

What could she do but bow her head and accept her fate? Between being extinguished completely and simply becoming a mortal, Celeste chose the latter.

Or so it appeared.

While she acquiesced, she left a tiny bit of herself behind in her divinity, a faint remnant will.

And then she vanished forever.

That omnipotent Creator took Celeste’s divinity and the poor girl whose ego was mostly overwritten and did his best to undo it. To draw back the girl’s shattered ego and memories.

But it was too late.

The girl had been changed forever and nothing could be done without completely destroying her soul and restoring it from scratch.

But the Creator was too kind and refused to take such an action, unwilling to extinguish the souls of any of his creations. So instead, he carefully tailored Celeste’s divinity to suit the girl and restored her ego.

She was different. Her name was forgotten, her past erased, and all she could remember were vague bits that didn’t connect.

And the Creator realized it. The young girl who should have lived happily had been cursed with an eternity she never desired.

And she realized it as well, although she understood the reasons behind it.

In compensation, the Creator made two promises to her. One was to alleviate her loneliness by giving her a world of her own and letting her transfer some souls over from Earth to keep her company for some time. And the other was a prophecy.

One day, she would find someone ‘interesting’. A ‘destined encounter’ that would put an end to her existence as a goddess. An anomaly that she wouldn’t be able to ignore.

The girl that had become the goddess believed in him and waited. As she did, she tried to keep ‘that person’ in mind. The precious person whose name she had forgotten, whose face she could no longer recall, and whose voice no longer resounded in her heart.

Even so, she remembered. She forced herself to remember the promise and that such a person existed. That such a person reached out to her and pulled her out of a life riddled with misfortune. That such a person showed her life could be filled with lovely colors and memories.

But mortals were not meant to withstand the sands of time.

Eventually, she forgot that such a person existed. Eventually, she forgot that she had ever been anything but a goddess, losing herself in the continuous cycle of creation and destruction.

As if riddled with a guilty conscience, Earth’s Creator continued to allow her to transfer souls, no matter how ridiculous the request.

Of course, unlike her predecessor, the goddess always allowed them to return.

But eventually, even that became routine.

And then, eventually, even the Creator’s second promise was forgotten.

…How long had passed since that time?

Resetting the world once more, the Goddess that took on the name Serena from the fragmented memories yet again turned to Earth. Seeking souls that could bring a momentary burst of color into a gray existence, she scanned the world to find someone.

And then something caught her eye.

A man- a mere mortal who dodged his fated death three times in a manner of minutes. One who returned to an empty home and then desperately ran out when he realized it, seeking ‘someone.’ Who ruthlessly murdered hundreds just to find a trace of a clue regarding that ‘someone.’

Seeing him, Serena’s heart beat.

She instinctively realized it. This was ‘that person.’

She had forgotten the promise, but she remembered that fact. That some day, a ‘karmic anomaly’ would appear.

So she reached out.

As his life came to an end, she drew his soul towards her world and made him an offer.

He was cautious, but she was determined.

And then, as he departed to her world…

“Do you want to play a game?”

…He walked back into her life and dragged her along with his plans, just as he always did.

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