“Hey..Hey wake up young man” The Ashen One heard a deep and somewhat ominous voice, he felt his head was groggy, and strange feeling of tiredness. He felt himself opening his eyes and looking at the source of the voice.
After seeing the one who was calling, he flinched a little. He saw a strange looking creature with a glowing red skull with a strange form and one looking eye , a black coat with a hood covering all his body, and his hands were skeleton-looking, and his in his right hand he was holding a schyte
“Whoa, hey, calm down… I’m not here to hurt you” said the strange creature with a reassuring voice, expecting to not scare him. “Sorry to scare you, but I wanted to see how you were since you were asleep like for hours.”. The Ashen One, still confused, stood up and looked at his surroundings and saw that he found himself in a strange pure white place, without borders or walls just a white endless void.
“Where am I?, Who are you?” said The Ashen One , still looking around the endless void.
“To answer your first question, I am called the Grim Reaper, or Death. I am the one who guides the souls of the deceased to their proper place depending of their actions in life. And to your second question, this is the Afterlife, where the souls come and have their judgement to decide if they will end up in heaven or hell” After hearing all this information, The Ashen One was more confused than ever. He has never heard of these names.
How did he end here?, He didn’t remember. The last thing he remembered was that the firekeeper speaking to him after she was holding the First Flame,then there was only darkness,then there was a strange light and then…nothing. This place looks nothing like it was in Lothric What happened to the Firekeeper?. Lots and lots of questions rounded in his mind.
“But surprisingly, I can see that you’re not dead, which is very strange because this has rarely happened” said Death with a surprised tone. He didn’t know what to feel right now. Nervousness?, Confusion?, all of this was new to him. Then Death asked: “Do you have a name, Young Man?"
“…My name…”. He didn’t know what to respond, it was a very long time since he has learned his name. The only names he has ever received was ‘Ashen One’ or ‘Unkindled', but never a true name.
“You may call me Raiku…” The Ashen One said, thinking of a quick response.
“Oh, so that’s your name. Very well, Raiku… So do you remember how you came here?. Said Death with a studying voice, looking at the Ashen One and his strange armor.
“No…I don’t remember how I came here, or how did I end up here…” said The Ashen One responded with a calm but nervous voice, then he heard Death with a slightly disappointed voice: “That’s a shame… do you remember at least anything about your life? Anything at all?"
The Unkindled blinked, he did remember many things that happened in Lothric . All those times killing hollows, dragons,monsters. Those times seeking the Lord’s of Cinder to return their ashes to their thrones. Irina, Orbeck, Greirat, Sirris, the people he tried to save. The Painted World of Ariandel, The Ringed City. And Specially, all those times he died and returned to a bonfire.
The Ashen One wasn’t sure if telling all of this to Death, yet he only decided to tell him: “ I don’t remember too much and I the only thing I remember is my name” He said.
“Very well, Raiku, Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution according to your situation here, and I have to still guide a soul that I recently judged. Perhaps you should come with me and accompany that soul until a solution comes, what do you say?” Said Death and extended his hand like waiting for a handshake.
The Ashen One thought for a second, perhaps coming with Death would mean he’s going to have a chance to talk with somebody, and precisely he was very lost in this place so that meant he had no other choice but to accept.
“Very well… I’ll come with you, maybe I could get to know the place you told me” he said, and accepted the handshake. “Good, then let’s get going, I don’t want to keep her waitin, she’s a little impatient” said Death.
Death then led The Ashen One through a passage that looked like an enormous cave, there were rocks everywhere, including the sky. After walking in silence for some minutes, they arrived to a what it looked a strange rock . Upon arriving he noticed further ahead a very strange creature.
it had gold cat-like eyes with fur patterns on it’s cheeks that were shaped like jagged triangles. It was wearing a blue sleeveless vest with a long sleeved white undershirt, along with light blue shorts and cloth padding wrapped around her feet. She also had brown hair that was bound into a ponytail using a blue hair band. Upon noticing Death coming, the creature spoke with a female voice with an angry tone:
“Thank goodness you’ve came, I’ve been waiting here for who knows”said the Creature, “ and who’s this?” she said noticing The Ashen One , who was looking at her strangely.
“This is Raiku, he was the precense I’ve felt before. And Raiku, this is Rhea, she’s the soul I’ve told you before” said Death, introducing the two.. The Ashen One, not wanting to be impolite, stretched out his right hand at her level to give her a handshake as an introduction and said.
“Greetings, you may call me Raiku, it’s a pleasure” Rhea also returned the handshake,.
“ The name’s Rhea Snaketail, and … are you a knight or something?” she asked the Ashen one, referencing to his armor which he said: “Yes, I am” he said, emotionless.
“What’s with that look?, As if you had seen a Jakkai before” Rhea asked, noticing the strange look he was giving to her.
“Good, now that you two introduced yourselves, we have to keep going” Death said, not letting The Unkindled to say his answer, which made him sigh a little in relief.
They continued walking in silence, Until Rhea spoke: “You still haven’t answered my question ya know?” she said looking back at the Unkindled. “Where are you from anywas?, I’ve never seen someone with that armor”. She asked, noticing that he was frowning a little, until he decided to answer.
“Sorry…it’s true, I’ve never seen someone of your kind before, at least… not where I come from” The Ashen One said looking forward, and then looking down at Rhea.
“Huh, really. Is your homeland a cave or something. How did you even die anyways?”.She said with a disbelief tone . The Ashen One shook his head. “According to Death, I’m still alive, and he doesn’t know either how did I get here, so for now...I’m lost”. He said, looking melancholic.
“Really… I don’t believe it, He told me that this place is for people that died.”Maybe you’re really lost, or maybe you just don’t want to accept the fact that you’re dead” Rhea said, crossing her arms, and looking at him with a stern face. The Ashen One looked to the side, he wasn’t sure if he was actually dead or not, and certainly he didn’t want to know. So the looked back to Rhea and asked:
“What about you then, how did you die?” That question seemed to trigger something on her, because she flinched and opened her eyes wide.
“I…I’m not sure if I were to tell that right now, it’s… complicated” She said, her serious voice has now changed to a nervous one, and her face was now one a mix of shock and sadness. The Ashen One, noticing her surprise, he felt that she didn’t want to answer that. Which is somewhat compressible for him , since talking about dying it’s not an easy theme, and he also felt many times the coldness of death in Lothric.
It was then when Death stopped walking, and the two looked that in front of them was a strange green river that I looked it was very,very large, and on it’s surface, many skulls floating could be seen. On top of the river, was a large canoe with the shape of strange skull in the front and a candle lit in top on it.
The Ashen One could feel the souls emanating from the River and that made feel uneasy, but he had to keep his composture to not look suspicious, because he believes that this place is not Lothric.
“We have arrived” Said Death “This is the River of the souls, some call it the Styx. Either way, Hell is on the other side, and that is were we going”. Death continued, signaling the green river.
“But, I thought you said I don’t belong in hell. That’s not fair!!”. Rhea said. Which death answered: “I am always fair. I will explain along the way.
Then both The Ashen One and Rhea had noticed that Death looked a little shorter than before, which Rhea Asked:”…and how do you keep changing sizes like that?”.“Its one of my job perks. Now get in the boat.” Said Death impatiently, getting onto the boat, but before they get in the boat, Death said:
”Wait, I almost forgot. You need to pay a fare of one coin of any value, from any place”. The Ashen One checked his bag, looking for one of his gold coins, he then pulled out a rusty gold coin and showed it to Death. “
Will this one do?” He said. Death took the coin and took a look to it. Then he said: “Hmm, looks a bit rusty, and this is a design I’ve never seen before, but I’ll accept it. Get in”. The Ashen One nodded and got into the boat.
“But I don’t have any money with me!” Said Rhea. Death said nothing for a few seconds making Rhea gulp nervously until he said: “ Well…you could try always try summoning it. Or…Try checking your right ear”. He then pulled out a shiny gold coin from behind her ear. Making her exclaim in surprise:
“A gold coin! But how?”. She got into the boat and Death started rowing.: “Is it not a Jakkai tradition to give deceased loved ones fare for their trip to the afterlife?. He said In a mocking tone, then he changed his tone to a serious one.
“We have to hurry now, we’re almost late for our meeting”. He continued. Which Rhea only scoffed and placing her elbow in the side of the boat. “Heh, I’m already late…”. She said in a sarcastic tone. Which Death answered: “You almost deserve Hell for that pun”. Rhea said nothing.
The Ashen One, who was silent during their conversation, decided to ask Rhea: ”What did you mean before… about not belonging in hell? Isn’t that where the dead go?”. Rhea still keeping her elbow on the side, answered:
“I don’t know, that guy said that I don’t have a place in heaven or hell, so he’s sending me to a place he didn’t still told me the name”.
Death then heard their small talk and said: “If you’re desperate to know , we are headed to The Ring Of The Slightly Damned”.
END OF CHAPTER 1