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Chapter 3: Reaper


Everything around Lucien faded into darkness, and his already serene emotions became even calmer and more tranquil, to the point where he wondered if his emotions were fading into nothingness, but he felt the resolve and determination that pushed him to take his path remain within the layers of serenity in his heart, shattering his doubts.

Grabbing that firmly, he glanced around, only to find the darkness unveiling itself like theatre curtains for the grand spectacle, which it truly was, for before him a magnificent scene unfolded.

All around him, the Cosmos revealed itself in all of its boundlessness and limitlessness—brilliant galaxies whirling in symphony, nebula clouds swaying in harmony, and shining stars dancing in cacophony. He also witnessed the celestial bodies—black holes, red giants, white dwarfs, supergiants, and pulsars—that were all endless, and they burned in the blackness of space like flecks of colour on a dark canvas.

It was all woven together in the cosmic ocean, which contained all that was, had ever been, and would ever be.

Lucien witnessed the Cosmos in all of its glory, and he couldn't help but feel awe. But the feeling that erupted from his serene heart was cut short when he felt something awaken within himself—something so horrifying, so chilling, and so terrifying—he knew exactly what it was.

It was Death.

Lucien had prepared himself for anything, from soul-tearing agony to the possibility of losing control, but what happened next completely caught him off guard: an eerie wave of still darkness erupted from within him, sweeping the entire cosmos in an instant.

Death had arrived, unleashing its authorities on the universe. And the cosmos collapsed on itself—its forces withered by Decay, its lives shattered by Senescence, its fates tainted by Corruption, and its essence extinguished by Nihility.

Lucien's silver eyes reflected the breaking cosmos. He saw galaxies melting away into nothingness. He saw stars imploding in one final brilliance. He saw the mighty outer deities trying to resist the inevitable fate with all "Their" might, but only to utterly fail and perish into oblivion. He even saw the Earth collapsing along with the solar system.

As he witnessed the end of the cosmos, Lucien realised something; truth came to him on its own, and it was—this would actually be his duty—after the last living thing dies, he would put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights, and lock the cosmos behind him when he leaves—for he would be the Death, the Ultimate End of All Things.

Now the real question was, whether he was willing to accept this duty and become the Death.

That question floated through his head as Lucien looked ahead at the last remnants of the cosmos that were falling around him, forming a cosmic grave. In it, he found the ruins of innumerable civilizations, each telling him a bright and tragic story of hope and failure.

Was he truly willing to bear this duty? ….

The answer instinctively came to Lucien: "Yes." He murmured to himself. He had chosen this path, and he was determined to see it through. This was his second chance at life, and he intended to live it to the fullest, which required power. And he also understood this power wasn't without a price, but still, he was determined to tread forward for his dreams, for his hopes, for his desires, and so he accepted the duty of Death.

With that acceptance, the wave of still darkness that had erupted from him and caused the end of the cosmos returned, fusing with him in a roar.

Immediately, Lucien felt the blood pound in his ears. His heart thudded in his chest. His hands shook. His feet tingled. His vision was disfigured, as if he were looking through a fish-eye lens. But he persevered, fixated on his dreams, which were guardian lights guiding him out of the pain that threatened to tear apart his being. Still breathing was hard. Really hard. As if he'd just run a marathon around the world.

His emotions, however, had been broken free from the grasps of serenity and plunged into chaos; however, elation was the most prominent emotion he was experiencing, aside from dread, because despite his current state, he discovered that he was evolving.

He was ascending.

And so he persisted.


Corpse cathedral.

Adam held "His" silver cross calmly, looking ahead at a swirl of still and endless darkness wreaking havoc on the interior of the cathedral, but the colossal cross in the altar emitted blinding light along with all the bones, gently shining on the darkness in a bid to soothe it, but the darkness seemed to only become more restless, then it suddenly calmed down and faded away, revealing a figure.

The figure was a lad with a youth that seemed to exist outside of time. He was bronze-skinned, of average height, and had a chiselled build. His black hair was short and frizzy, exuding a darkness rivalled only by the void. His eyes were platinum silver, sparkling like the argent moon at night. He wore deep, dark robes embroidered with golden threads. But these were not the most noticeable aspects of him; rather, six pairs of wings with metallic colours unveiled themselves grimly from behind his back.

He was none other than Lucien, who had managed to successfully awaken part of his power.

Lucien opened his eyes and felt the world of difference from his previous self.

First of all, he felt liberated, like shackles that he didn't know existed within him had been broken. Though he had a good idea of what it was, he broke free from his mortality and became a mythical creature. He was free from basic human needs such as eating and sleeping, and his body had evolved, becoming much stronger and more resilient to the point he doubted any attack below the level of authorities could even touch or harm him.

Second, his mind was filled with knowledge about the power he had awakened—he held the authorities of Decay and Soul, which were the aspects of Death, and a long list of other abilities that were also related to Death, Necromancy, Teleportation, Resurrection, and so on.

Third, his senses had evolved, revealing him a completely different side of reality—he saw a chaotic and abstract world filled with all kinds of information and a myriad of spirits, and above it all were seven lights of different colours. There was another world that was even more abstract than the previous one, as though all the authorities and symbolism of the universe were included within it. He could even tell you when and how the mystical creatures whose skulls were in Bone Cathedral perished. He could also see who they were when they were living (Oh my God, those bones actually belong to Ancient Gods!).

Fourth, he had attained immortality. Actually, his current condition was a little complicated; he was neither alive nor dead, but somewhere in between. He'd transformed into something more abstract and conceptual in essence, becoming closer to Death.

Finally, he noticed six pairs of wings unfolding from behind his back, indicating how far he had ascended—he had become an Archangel. To be honest, that was a fast power-up; he had gone from Mortal to Archangel in a matter of moments. And he finally felt some true joy and relief, because with this power, he wouldn't just die as soon as he left the corpse cathedral.

Restraining his thoughts, Lucien descended onto the ground and finally managed to notice the situation around him. The interior of the corpse cathedral had been completely destroyed and disintegrated, with only ashes left. The bones and cross, though, seemed completely unaffected.

Lucien cleared his throat, "Sorry." He said to Adam, scratching the back of his neck.

Adam merely waved "His" hand in the air. The Corpse Cathedral was immediately restored to its previous state. Then "He" strode toward Lucien from the cross.

"You have become an Archangel." The Angel of Imagination stated. There was no surprise in "His" countenance as though "He" already expected this, though it could be due to the fact that all Adam had was divinity, not humanity. And this somewhat frustrated Lucien, for it made Adam completely unpredictable.

"Yes." Lucien looked at his metallic wings. "I have."

Adam merely hummed. "He" didn't seem to want to press into any more details about Lucien's current state.

And so Lucien continued, a sombre look marring his countenance. "So what is the price for your help, Adam?" He asked outright.

"Price?" Adam said. "You already partially paid it."

Lucien hesitated for a moment, as he had a good idea of what he had paid, but in the end, he still asked. "Is it the knowledge from the previous life?"

"Yes." Adam nodded, clutching the silver cross. "Even though I have already foreseen most of the future of the world, your knowledge of what was about to happen was still valuable to me as it was more detailed and comprehensive."

"So you know that…" Lucien trailed off into a conflicting silence, finalising the rest of the sentence within his heart. '…..this world was considered fictional in my previous life…'

Adam smiled gently, as though "He" understood what Lucien wanted to convey. Then "He" glanced up at the Archangel. "What is the line between reality and fiction?" "He" proceeded slowly. "Lucien, with your ascension, you should be able to feel and understand the world around you more, so tell me, do you believe it is any less real than your previous world?"

Lucien looked past the corpse cathedral, at the world outside in a moment of scrutinising silence. "No," he finally answered to Adam. This world felt no different from his home, though it was also somewhat more beautiful and magnificent, as well as horrifying and twisted. It felt truly real in every sense.

"That is all needed." Adam said, "His" gaze was somewhere far away. "Faith."

"Faith…" Lucien furrowed his brows, but before he could inquire further, Adam interrupted, talking out a bunch of documents, a set of money notes, and a key from out of nowhere, and then "He" passed it to Lucien, who accepted it curiously.

The Angel of Imagination revealed. "These are your identity documents, which deem you a proper citizen of Eastern Bayam, as well as a few thousand pounds and a key."

"This…" Lucien was surprised; he didn't really give much thought to his identity issues, which he previously didn't have. This actually solved many problems and would allow him to integrate into the world completely.

Adam pointed at the key and instructed. "This key will lead to a villa in the capital of Eastern Bayam. Take some rest and adjust to your new life and powers. I will also send someone to teach you about the basic knowledge of mysticism." "He" immediately continued, answering the question that Lucien wanted to ask. "After you are completely prepared, we will talk more about your path."

Lucien looked at the documents in his hand deeply for a moment and then nodded to Adam, accepting "His" instructions.

Adam suddenly warned. "I have concealed your existence, but the gazes of the gods are completely focused on the world, searching for you, the source of disturbance that caused the appearance of the white moon. And the forces of the outer gods are also looking for you, so keep your head low for now, Lucien."

Lucien chuckled wryly. "So I am already famous?" He ventured. "Have they given me a title or something?"

"They have." Adam said so, much to his surprise. "The outer gods call you the Reaper."

"The Reaper, huh?" Lucien smiled ironically, "That's cool. Anyway, I will be off and about now." He began to walk towards the door of the corpse cathedral in firm footsteps, but when he reached the foyer, he turned and gazed back at Adam, "Thank you." He said silently before opening the door and leaving the cathedral.

Adam gazed at the door of "His" cathedral in silence for a moment, then "He" took out a deck of tarot cards from "His" robes, and from within it, "He" selected three cards while divining the future.

They were the Fool, the Chariot, and….

The Death.

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