2 Pawn

Doevm felt his soul travel out of his burned home. Everything was so dark. Now that his soul was bare, he felt the chill of death's hand guiding him to the afterlife. He drifted along like a leaf in the wind with no visible destination. Each day felt like the blink of an eye, and each week a year. Eventually, he felt a pull. Death's grip loosened and he tumbled out. He fell faster and faster. A faint light appeared and grew out to be as large and blinding as the sun.

"You insignificant little lich." A voice about as non-majestic as possible rang out. "Do you know what you've done?" The light faded, allowing Doevm to see a woman wrapped a cloth of light floating in space. He couldn't make out her facial features or her hair. She was an outline to him because the light made her a silhouette. He looked at his own body, except there was none. He was purely a soul that had left the mortal plane. "I should have gotten the hero to kill you."

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"Which goddess are you?" Doevm asked. "And how have I offended you?" As a soul in the goddess's plane, he had no magic powers at all. No matter how much he had speculated and studied the afterlife, he could never access it until now. The spell used on his own soul only worked because he had studied Arthur's unique power. Even with over a thousand years of knowledge, there was much he didn't know.

The goddess laughed: "I apologize for my unsightly display just now. I was a little shocked more than angry. Does the name 'Maker' ring any bells? I forget if your planet believes in my existence."

"No," Doevm replied. "My world's dominant religious beliefs are mainly in the god of evil and the goddess of good. There are other religions, but they have little support. I take it you are called Maker."

The goddess smiled: "Yes. It's so nice to talk to someone who can remain calm while speaking to me, but I must cut this chat short. Your soul will dissolve if it remains in my presence for too long. To put it simply, your world is governed by my two children – the goddess of all that is good and the god that is evil. Every reincarnation cycle, they each choose a champion and fight for dominance of the world. This stalemated game has been going on for thousands of years. That was until you came along. You are another piece on the board, a dangerous piece. Both my children came up to me and begged for their game to resume. They each are deluded that their victories are around the corner. While mildly hilarious, their concerns are not baseless. You are a threat they seek to eliminate. Usually, I would have just replaced you as the evil god's champion."

"But I am not evil." Doevm interrupted. A crack appeared in his vision. Strength left him. He could tell that his soul was weakening. Maker wasn't lying. "You do not have to worry about me. I am uninterested in this game. It's pointless. I just want to fight with the hero and move on in peace."

"They don't believe that and neither do I. You do not believe to be evil according to yourself." The space around the goddess changed to the world of the living. The land around Doevm's library caught fire. Hundreds of creatures ran from the flames. Humans surrounded the flames and used water magic to fight. "Yet your actions are evil according to humans. In the past, how many have you killed? How many bodies did it take for you to master every magic? Thousands? Millions? You're paradoxical and hypocritical. You'd make a fine god." She smiled, become brighter by the second.

Doevm laughed: "No thank you. That fire was an accident. But if you must, that fire was to burn all my knowledge. If humans got their hands on that, the world would evolve, and it was not ready to handle that evolution. I did what was necessary."

"Oh, that's the same words the demon king uses to justify his own actions. While you may think you have changed, you remain evil. I'm not here to dispute that. I'm here to warn you. While you may not have been a champion as a Lich, my children did take notice of you. They know that you'll reincarnate, and they'll seek to eliminate you. Even the god of evil will attempt to take your life. While you were evil and matched the qualifications to be his champion, I prevented that. He is afraid of what he cannot control. The goddess of good will attempt on your life because she knows you're evil. You will be caught between them."

"Why?" Doevm asked. "Why me? I didn't do anything to them. I just wanted to explore magic on my own. I just wanted to learn how to fight. Why are you helping me?"

Maker smiled again. "Do you think it will be easy; that you can just reincarnate and suddenly be human. You are a Lich through and through, no matter how much you will try to forget. You are and always will be a slave to magic."

Doevm narrowed his non-existent eyes: "Answer the question."

"I'm just as bored as you are. Their game is uninteresting. I am watching several worlds at once and moderating the entire universe, but even I have a limit to my patience. Their game must come to an end so a new one can begin. You are now a permanent addition to the game. Even if you die, you'll come back to life with the two champions. You will neither be good nor bad. You'll be a catalyst."

"That only answers half of my question." Doevm said. "Why me specifically? While I did manipulate my reincarnated self, it is only this once. You could have let me die within a cycle. In a hundred years, my actions wouldn't have mattered. Now I will never be able to move on from my past."

"I am not only a god; I am the god." Maker frowned for the first time. The warm light shifted red. "You will never let go of magic because it is simply a part of you. You will never be a simple human because, deep down, you will always be a Lich. If I left you alone, you would have slain my children." The space quacked and shifted. The stars came closer to spectate. Her robe blackened. More cracks appeared in Doevm's vision. "You did it all while saying you were justified. He foresaw that reality and chose to intervene, eliminating that reality before it begun." The red light faded, and her frown returned to normal.

"I did all that in the future?" Doevm asked, more in a state of wonder than fear. "Who stopped me? You said it was a he? Is he also a god?" The goddess shook her head, unwilling to say anything further. "You seem pretty fond of your children." Doevm made no effort to disguise the threat. "What makes you think I'll just smile and be your pawn? What do you think will happen now that you've interfered in my plans?"

"No idea." Maker said. "You will be a mystery from now on. A show is never interesting without a bit of danger. One more thing: in your next life, I made sure to keep your name as Doevm." She smiled for the last time. Doevm's soul was pulled downward. His soul tossed and turned in the dark. He patiently waited and relaxed. Eventually, he saw his own world again. He sped faster. The planet's green forest, brown deserts, and blue oceans all melded into one color.

He opened his eyes in the world of the living. "I'm back." He whispered with his new tongue. He felt excitement for the first time in his new life. His heart fluttered. New sensations presented themselves in all their glory. Then the pain arrived.

Everything had a cost. To align himself with the rebirth of the hero, there had to be a host. To insert his own soul into the reincarnation cycle, another soul had to be pushed out. To greet Doevm in his new life as a living being, was the most extreme pain he had felt in two lifetimes. He clutched at his chest. He felt lightheaded and numb. He twitched around. Hands placed themselves on his shoulders and shook him around. Voices entered his new ears. His screams in his brand-new voice were high-pitched. His first taste was his own blood.

"Congratulations," a voice boomed. "It's a boy." Doevm felt nausea as his body was moved. A pair of warm hands covered his cold body. He opened his new eyes and looked at a tired woman. Her scraggly brown curly hair was draped in sweat on her pained face.

She looked at Doevm with her brown eyes and smiled: "He's beautiful." She pulled him close to her chest.

"He's screaming like a bitch." A man said. "Get him a muzzle."

"Dear." The woman said with a tinge of fear. "He looks healthy and he's crying. Come hold your son Doevm. He's so cute."

"Fine." The father walked up and picked Doevm up by his arms with rough hands. Unlike the mother, he glared at Doevm. His breath smelled of alcohol. His belly pushed out over his belt and his blond hair was a mess. "Listen, I'm your father." He pointed to the mother. "And that cheating whore there is your mother. Happy birthday. It's amazing we decided to keep you. Now shut up." He tossed Doevm to the doctor and stormed out of the room. The doctor looked at the mother, who was crying into her bloody sheets.

"Why do you let him treat you like that? He's going to treat your child the same way."

"I-I know." The mother cried. "I know he should treat me better, but he used to be kind. The alcohol turned him into this. He supports us. Without him I'll…We'll starve to death. I'll get him to stop somehow, for Doevm. I'll think of a way to protect him Please, just pretend like you didn't see anything today."

Doevm's first thought of his new life was: 'You poor woman.'

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