Challenge #02504-F314: Who Waits Forever Anyway?steemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction5 months ago


This Prompt harkens back to the lich who talked to an adventurer explaining how he made sure the corrupt got the karma they deserved.
It had been a few hundred years since the talk with adventurer, the "spa service" was going well and a few innocents would wander in from time to time hoping to be healed from illnesses no others seem to be able, or willing, to help them cure. Surprising how many clerics are not as altruistic as they claim to be!
One young woman comes into the place and sees the lich's true appearance and, unlike so many, isn't alarmed by his looks, or afraid. She asks to work for him. It's obvious she's very sick, but she doesn't ask to be treated. Instead, she wants what's left of her life to mean something and help others like he's helping them. And, near the end of her life, when she's too weak to do any work and has become bedridden, she holds his hand and tells him, that she loves him and is very proud of him. What's a lich to do? -- DaniAndShali

[AN: One thousand blessings upon you for providing that link and sparing me twenty or more minutes' of archive trawling. May you have green lights when you need them and may you always win more money than you invested in the scratch-offs]

Every now and again, as an immortal, one gets to meet the remarkable. She called herself Whisper when she came to me. Her voice was weakening, even then. I could bleed life from the tumour that was bleeding her dry, but I could not re-instate that vigor to herself. She would rally, that was true, when I drained it, but it inevitably came back. It inevitably took more. Physics had cut it, but it came again in other places. Some where no physic could hope to cut it out and have their patient live.

There were potions to help her stay alive. Potions to give her some vitality and vigor back. I knew them well. I offered them freely. She refused. She wasn't there to take, she said. She was there to give. The fact that I helped her rally was a boon, and my own choice, but the potions... those were hers.

She was dying, and she knew it. I could ease her pain and I did, but she would much rather spend her twilit hours in helping others before she went to the undiscovered country. She had her gods' blessings and they worked for all. Even the wicked.

Her eyes saw me and were unafraid. She knew what I was doing as well as any of the many adventurers who come and find the truth. I only hide my true nature to ease the fears of the fearful, after all. I introduce myself as Koschei the Undying to the many who come and those curious enough can see the truth for themselves... Whisper found it of her own volition. Looked without fear. Saw everything... and accepted.

That doesn't happen every day, you know. It doesn't happen once a century. I can hope, perhaps, for once a millennium. Whisper was... extraordinary. She was wonderful... she was... and that's the sticking point. Past tense. She was all of those things. She chose, of her own free will, to die without pain. The tumour that killed her stole her life and I, a fool, could not kill it for her.

I did not take her blood and flesh. I did not steal any of her essence. I let the Reaper take her to her well-deserved rest. I buried her body with respect and reverence in ground I can no longer walk because it is sacred. Some visitors like to meditate in the Folly that holds her remains. Other people tend it. People. Not thralls and certainly not I, because the undead cannot walk on hallowed ground.

Whisper once more... that's all I ask. But she will not. Not in that form. She believed her soul would be born again and I can certainly hope to meet her in a new body. Yet she will have a new heart to match her revived soul and I dare not tangle with that. She has her own fate. One I cannot force.

Ah, but I can hope. In a hundred years. In a thousand. Perhaps we will see each other again. Perhaps she will find me, and see everything, and be unafraid because she recognises me.

My heart is nothing but dust, now. Rotted away in this husk I call my body... it's amazing, for all of that, that it can still feel heartache.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / prometeus]

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I have to admit, this made me very sad. He found someone wonderful to be at his side, however briefly, only to lose her. Almost seems like the gods showing him something he already knew. How high the price is that he's paying for his immortality.

Oh yeah, he knows. He knows it hurts, but his choices match with his consequences, and that is the way of life.

That lich obviously? XD

Well. Yeah...