The pain was gone.
The sound, the terrible cracking of bone, echoing thru the cavern; the screams that could only have been mine. Gone.
The light was gone.
Everything was gone, and for a time so short it cannot be measured, I experienced true peace. Then doubt and fear crept in, followed by understanding. I was dead but I wasn't gone. The me that existed without a body was experiencing the first second of death and it wasn't ending. I wanted to look around, scream into the silence, curse the gods, but everything I was, was nothing. I wanted it to end, but I could only fear the eternity of the Endless Void.
It was exactly opposite what the wise and faithful had described. Instead of a bright light guiding me to the promised land or my consciousness expanding and flowing throughout the universe, I collapsed into myself. I fell into deeper, senseless darkness.
For as long as I have now lived, it is utterly incomparable to how long I was dead. And at the same time, I was returned to my body a second after I died; light blinding me and echoes of my own screams deafened me. Bewildered, I picked myself off the ground, luckily avoiding the exposed blade. For several minutes I simply stood there, taking in the room. The chamber carpeted with bone and, now mostly ash, looked so unfamiliar. Everything with form looked so unfamiliar. Silence was my only comfort. In the Endless Void, I was imprisoned without my senses, but now they assaulted me. When the echos faded I closed my eyes, which didn’t entirely block the dim light, and stood quietly.
Standing there in total silence, it was entirely the wrong time for the voice to boom in my head.
I can’t say that she spoke words, or that what spoke to me is really a she, but fragile mind needed a guise of familiarity.
“You surprise me, mortal. The gods truly have no place for you. You curse them without fear of their rath.”
A pause long enough for me to think I’d imagined the voice. Surely I'd tried enough times to summon even my own voice in the Void and failed. However, this voice returned before self-doubt took control.
“And you have survived the Endless Void intact, without it consuming you.”
Intact? I would have chosen a different sentiment.
I opened my eyes and spun around, trying to find the voice’s source. Its direction didn’t change, but a glance up forced me to stumble and fall onto my back. Floating above me, essentially above the curious corpse, was a form; a large figure vaguely shaped like a person with one hand outstretched. Its core was my Endless Void, but that void was wreathed in blindingly bright light.
The voice continued, “You have done me a favor, mortal. You have righted a great wrong, discovering many who would cheat death and defile my order. And you have done so without fear of your own death.”
Looking back into that void and knowing my end, I was fairly certain fear would be a proper response in the future.
“You have also found my lost champion.” The figure reached down and seemed to touch the corpse below, though nothing obvious happened.
“So I will grant you my blessing. I am in need of a new champion, an agent to return lost souls to their path. You will be that agent. In your service to me, I give you the only relics I have ever forged.”
She pointed at her previous champion. The two daggers he cradled glowed faintly, but the hint was unnecessary.
“Use the blades only once. They will take any life they touch, and then they will take yours.”
Then she was gone. With the echos long silent and my head still, I lay there wondering about my future. Some hours later I realized I hadn’t been breathing and I cursed my own patron for failing to tell me what I had become.