She awoke with a sudden jolt. Just moments before she’d passed out in a burning hellscape atop a mountain of minor demon corpses. Panic grasped her mind as she realized there was nothing around her. No hellscape, no screeching battle, no rivers of lava...no gravity? Where was up? She took a deep breath and became aware that she was wearing some kind of helmet. Her mind jolted back to the tortures inflicted upon her recently. This new body of hers was still wearing the armor from the moment she first came to.
“Wanderer, welcome to Kegilzih. The domain of Non-Creation. You will learn in time that a world filled to the brim with nothing is not as empty as it seems. Try not to lose yourself here, Wanderer. For someone else may find you. And usually, it is finders keepers here. For who would give up the only ‘something’ in this Realm?”
Ravela inwardly cursed the voice proclaiming her current unfortunate location. She had given up screaming at the voice after her second relocation. Ravela wasn’t her former name. It was the name this body remembered. Although she was the only occupant, her memories remained a messy mixture of the former owner’s and her own.
She groaned in frustration. She took a cross-legged position and began concentrating, focussing her mind inward. It felt so natural and calming. The only sound was her slow breathing. The armor suit from Pa Wellos ensured her survival. One perk of being favored by a Patron in a place deserving of the name hell.
She had no idea how long she would be in this dimension. The only thing keeping her alive right now was her armor suit. She’d be in serious trouble if she got trapped in this dimension as long as the first two.
Slowly she began to meditate, thinking of what she could do in this dimension to defend herself. Her telekinesis would be useless here, for there was nothing to push or pull. A frustrated grunt escaped her.
Her meditative state broke by the rising irritation she felt. She was h floating in emptiness, surrounded by potentially hostile nothing.
Ravela let out a sigh and resigned to floating helplessly. Her tormentor would probably get bored after a few minutes of this. It was easy to begin imagining things already. Slivers of color and whispers began to torment and assail her as her mind began to act out against herself out of pure boredom.
Something hummed a tune she knew nothing in this dimension could know. “Great. I’m losing my marbles already.”, Ravela whispered. Her fingers drummed in her lap to the tune she hallucinated. Wisps of colors began dancing in her vision.
Suddenly the well-known portal reappeared in front of her. Wondering how she would get to the portal Ravela mused whether this was her mind trying to get her out of this dimension or the real thing.
The solution, of course, was her telekinesis. She, at times, used it to give herself a foothold where she lacked one.
Ravela aimed and maneuvered herself into a position for a proper jump. Like a swimmer reaching the end of her swimming pool using the wall for a push-off return, Ravela placed an invisible block behind her feet and catapulted herself from her current location. The journey to the portal was without friction or force pulling on her. She wondered whether this was the way space felt or if her sensation was what it felt like to be untethered.
She felt a yearning to spend more time just gliding around. Changing trajectory now would be foolish, lest she aimed to stay here forever. After another few seconds, she passed through the portal and felt the drag of gravity.
She dropped about two meters. Blinded by the return of the sun, she managed to adjust her fall, landing on her feet. She blinked, trying to discern her immediate surroundings. She could tell that she wasn’t on an open field. The floor she landed on had a structure she knew from her old life.
It felt like she landed right on a sidewalk. Her eyes had yet to adjust to the bright lights, but with her ears, she listened for any voices or people running. All she could make out was silence. Then, as always, a voice announced:
“Welcome, honored guest, to Indigo, the Endless City. The current number of citizens is zero. The current number of guests is 70. We are currently enacting a strict curfew. Please understand that security is on high alert.”
After that, a voice poorly imitating the one that welcomed her added:
“This city used to be unable to count its current inhabitants before. The horrors that happened here remain unknown, but the worlds that perished with the death of the Eternal can’t be quantified. And how could they be? One does not become Eternal and Unending by being within the means of measure. Look, Wanderer, at the tragedy of ruin.”
Ravela just stood where she landed, blinking against the absence of darkness. Slowly her sight became focused. She could make out the pavement beneath her. She was expecting grass to be sprouting up through the cracks or some sort of decay happening, but when she began looking around, squinting against the brightness. All she could see was a state of perfection.
‘Tragedy of ruin, my ass!’ Ravela thought while looking around. This city appeared to be in excellent condition. Well, minus the people.
Ravela shook off the paralysis of not being in a dimension of perpetual pain and war. She began to walk down the street. She walked past blocks of residential buildings, not a soul in sight. Just empty streets. Ravela picked her direction by walking with the sun on her back.
At every crossroad, she looked at whether there was a more prudent direction she could take. After a short while like this, Ravela saw a sign that had food on it.
Intrigue, and the hope of the first sustenance since she began her journey approximately two years ago, thrown into a female yet alien body, urged her to explore the alluring sign. Her current pace changed into a slow jog.
Reaching the windows of the restaurant, she looked inside. To her surprise, there were lights on with tables set inside. Ravela entered the restaurant and walked through to the dining area. She marveled at the beautifully crafted tables and got lured further into the restaurant. She turned a corner and suddenly was confronted with an even bigger hall full of set tables.
The outer walls are lined with a bedazzling amount of food on a perfect buffet. Some flying drones flitted about, switching out trays for new trays of probably freshly made food. Ravela couldn’t believe the feast she had in front of her.
A pristine buffet was untouched, just waiting for her. No rivals to challenge her for the food. What a nice change of pace that was.
Walking up with a slight tremble, Ravela fought the urge to eat right from the buffet. She took a plate and began selecting a variety of different tasty-looking bits and fruits.
She picked a table close to the buffet and sat down. She activated the unsealing of her helmet and took a breath of fresh, unfiltered air for the first time in a while. Ravela couldn’t lie; she indulged in the buffet way past the time she was full and didn’t regret it one bit.
After spending two incredibly well-invested hours gorging herself, she got up. She looked around wondering if someone would bill her but the drones kept on steadily working with no regard for her presence. Once again outside on the street, she realized the sun was almost touching the horizon perfectly fitting between the street. A match too perfect for her taste.
A siren began to blare and a voice announced something in a foreign language. Ravela however needed no translation, for what was now displayed on all screens in this street and presumably all over Indigo.
A countdown, no doubt. But what for? Ravela had a stunning realization. ‘They were currently enforcing a strict curfew, she recalled. What happened to violators of the curfew? Was that countdown only happening on the nightside of Indigo? Come to think of it, how long was a day in Indigo?
Ravela began running down the street. She was not a citizen. She was a guest. Guests needed a place to stay. She dashed down the streets while thinking about finding a hotel. Her full stomach protested her efforts. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest of ideas to indulge in that buffet to the extent Ravela did. She tried to understand the foreign countdown. Thankfully numbers were easier than languages. At least these were.
Why would this city have a curfew?
She was pushing her limits.
She was trapped in a residential area of an enormously large city without subways or any way to travel fast. Ravela stopped at a crossroads. Frustration built up, a helpless scream escaped her. Options, she needed options. So far her sight had been nailed to the streets and buildings only on street level.
Ravela looked up. She was scanning the lowest roof. Five stories were jumpable. But she needed other criteria as well. She needed a stairway. New plan! She started looking for a good step formation.
It took some time but eventually, she found her staircase to the top. She prepared to catapult herself up with a telekinesis-aided jump. To her surprise, she flew up almost triple the height of the building.
In her confusion, she slowed her fall to the rooftop by flexing her telekinesis. In many ways, this ability worked like a muscle. Touching down on the roof she wasted no time. A quick test was in order. One jump straight up, just using her physical strength, revealed to her that she could jump the height of the next building just on her strength alone.
Baffled, she caught her fall and landed on the rooftop once more. No time to speculate, Ravela decided. Making the leaps up the next three buildings. On her way up she began to notice something strange.
Gargoyle statues sat on every spot on each building and even on the roofs. Even when they thematically didn’t fit in at all. Once she reached the top Ravela lay her eyes on something that made her gag under her helmet. The roof was filled to the brim with withered bones.
Half crushed, completely pulverized. Many of them varying humanoid skulls that were split open. Only a few remained intact.
All were bleached by the sun all without a hint of flesh on them. The siren began to blare again. Panic gripped her mind.
She tore her eyes from the horrific discovery and looked in every direction. Ravela needed a different district. A spot where she could hope for a guest to be sheltered. On the distant horizon, she spotted something that could be an amusement park with a stadium. Dismissing it as too far away she kept looking. her eyes made out some greenery way closer behind some tall buildings. A park? A chance!
She began jumping from roof to roof. Disregarding the sickening cracking noises beneath her very feet. ‘Just keep jumping', Ravela told herself while jumping to and from macabre graveyards. The Gargoyles now burned themselves into her memory on every new jump.
Reaching the edge of the park Ravela began her descent back down to the streets. She hoped for some generic hotel by the park at this point. Anything would do. She wasn’t running out of time she WAS out of time.
Looking down the road she scanned one long side of the park for anything relatable. In the distance, she recognized a canopy and small golden cones. ‘Jackpot’, she triumphed. She jumped down the road with a telekinetic boost. Noticing that her surroundings had changed to a commercial district. Luxury stores of a wide variety lined every street.
She landed close to the Hotel and rushed through the doors just in time to hear some kind of lockdown mechanism trigger.
Behind her massive steel plates lowered themselves just in front of the fancy portal entrance.
“SCREEEEEEEEEEEE” The streets erupted in a monstrous uproar that left Ravela trembling. That could have been curtains for her.
Walking up to the counter she found it unmanned. Jumping over the well-crafted front desk she went over to the panel full of keys. All accounted for. Outside she could hear screeching screams and sirens blaring. Her only hope, for now, was that this Hotel was stocked just like the restaurant she visited and that none of these Gargoyles were inside this Hotel.
There were two elevators but she decided to take the stairs. She had taken a room on the second floor. Close to the staircase. Ravela wondered with every step how those things could destroy a city and all the worlds attached to it if Indigo was indeed so well secured against them. Then again what were the odds the drones just secured the city after everybody died and just kept working pretending as if had nothing changed?
In front of her room, she took a moment to take a deep breath. She opened the door to a marvelous chamber. The windows were blocked by the heavily fortified shutters. The moment she felt some disappointment about the view the panorama window sprang to life displaying the park outside.
It was a lovely view, barring the vicious gargoyles that were everywhere. The former statues circled the park, perching in the trees and surrounding fence. A shiver went down her spine. Thousands upon thousands of red glowing eyes stared directly at her building.
She didn’t dare to imagine what would have happened had she been out there. No amount of muscle would have saved her from this swarm. She would have made some fine dining for these beasts.
She stepped into the room. A big beautiful bed awaited, four posts and plated in gold. She considered jumping in right away to pass out but another thought hit her. She could take a proper bath. She pulled the door shut behind her. Her plate suit flew off as she went into the second room she assumed to be the bath. To her surprise, the tub was already filling itself. She placed her helmet beside the sink.
She lowered herself into the tub and began working away at the stench of sulfur and ash. Ravela used everything sponges, soaps, oils, and lotions, shaving her head with an actual razor. For the first time since this horrid escapade began Ravela felt clean.
When she was done she took her helmet and returned to the main bedroom. Ravela for the first time got a good look at herself.
White skin, pointy, but not long, ears, and a face that could have been sculpted out of marble with thin black eyebrows angling half concerned and half-amused.
The eyes were the strangest part. Entirely black, but when she used her telekinesis two amber orbs appeared in those voids.
Levitating her helmet beside her, she inspected her pupils closely. She glared, and the amber turned crystalized and harsh. When she smiled, the two orbs became warm and liquid-like reminding her of honey. The pupils themselves looked just like that her former human self. She had fought for so long that she never even got the chance to just stand and look at herself.
Ravela decided that she liked her body. Well, she had accepted her new self long ago, but for the first time, she saw herself undistorted. She was in a female body there was no denying that. She sat down on the bed. Ravela slipped under the blanket and the moment her head touched the pillow she was asleep.