The forest was teeming with life, deer grazing, and birds chirping. A nearby river gently flowed as it passed by a log cabin. Colorful autumnal leaves rested along the dark roof. The house was somewhat large, but the logs were damaged and cracked. A cool breeze crept into the building, chilling the very air itself. The floors are of an incredibly smooth cobblestone, and a wooden table with a dark finish was collecting dust. The table sat in the center of the room with two wooden stools. Along the walls held various nicknacks, including a sword that had now lost its luster with multiple cuts and nicks. A loud cough resounds through the cold building, just a room over an older woman lying in bed, hair white as the clouds in the sky, wrinkles dressing her face. Her eyes were clear as if they’d lost sight of everything. She shivers while lying in bed.
“I.. I’ve lived a full life. I laughed, loved, and enjoyed 1000 years of happiness. Artorius, Maira, Erica, Chase, sorry I’ve kept you all waiting. Looks like it’s finally my time.” She says in a trembling voice. “I’ll never forget even a moment of this life of mine. Not even you-”
A coughing fit breaks her sentence, and she notices a bit of blood on her hand and smiles wryly.
“The time has come.” She says, placing her hands at her side.
The coughing fit begins again but doesn’t stop until her breathing ceases. Blood dripped from her lower lip, and all of her movement ended as if the hands of time had frozen at this very moment. Yet, the hands of time kept ticking. The animals continue grazing, birds chirping beautiful tunes, and rivers flow ceaselessly. Time moves forward. Everything slowly fades away into an effervescent darkness. Bubbles fall from the darkness, sinking endlessly lower in this space. Within each bubble was a small blue flame dimly lit yet alive. They drift on for what seems to be an eternity, and light grows brighter beneath them. One by one, the bubbles are engulfed by the light in a brilliant flash of rainbow colors before they emerge from the tunnel of light and collide with the ground. Each bubble begins popping, leaving the gyrating flames to grow large before disappearing and revealing people from within. Hundreds of people stood in a meadow with grass blown to its side by the breeze. Her vision is fuzzy as she opens her eyes. A wave of confusion washes over her as she rubs her eyes.
“I… Opened my eyes?” She questions. “Didn’t I just…?”
The fuzziness in her vision fades as she surrounds herself with hundreds of other people.
“Where am I?” She questions as she plays with the edges of the wine-red hair that frames her face. “Wait.”
She looks down at her hands, expecting them to be wrinkled, but finds them 100% wrinkle-free. She then starts padding down different parts of her body, noticing the firmness and suppleness of her body. She wore a long blue coat with a light blue trim, missing a sleeve, and black leggings with tears in them, a pair of boots missing the laces but instead held together by light a light blue belt. Finally, she places her hands on her cheeks.
“I’m… Young again?!” She exclaims.
Right as she concluded, a man stepped forward. He wore a complete set of heavy armor and bright white wings extended from his back.
“I’m sure many of you must be confused, but I will explain things. Every one of you here, as I’m sure you are aware, is dead. This place is known as Aitura, the afterlife.” He explained as he stood before the gates. “However, we can’t just let you in.”
Rielle notices something appear in her field of view.
What is this purple scale I’m seeing? Is this judgment magic or something else? She thinks.
“By now, you should see the scale. You will be judged based on deeds you committed while alive. Naturally, if your good deeds outweigh your bad, you will be allowed entry; however, should your bad deeds outweigh the good, you will be sent to hell.” He states.
Everyone’s scale begins to fill with red coins and white coins. Some scales tilt toward the bad, while others tilt toward the good. However, Rielle’s scale was still calculating. Her scale continued to fill with white coins for almost a full minute, dropping less than a handful of red coins on the other side.
“Hm. Did I do that much good? I’m pretty sure when I was young, I stole quite a bit. Though with that amount, I doubt it matters much.” She thinks.
A man judged for his evil deeds pushes past Rielle, slides across the ground on his knees, and knelt fully, with his head on the grass.
“Please! Overturn this decision!” He exclaims.”I can’t go to hell! I can change! I can be better!”
The guard kneels, smiles, and touches his shoulder. He draws closer to the man’s ear and whispers.
“Then you should’ve been a good person when you were alive.” The guard says.
He watches the hope fade from the man’s eyes as flames erupt, enveloping his body with brightness and heat, and in mere seconds, his body turns to ashes. Likewise, the same had happened to at least half of everyone there. Rielle brushes some ashes off her shoulder as the guard signals to the other guards operating the gates. The gates slowly open to the side as the main guard steps aside.
“Welcome to Aitura, and enjoy your eternity!” The guard exclaims.
Like all the others that began heading in, so did Rielle. From the gate to far into the city, stone bricks made up the ground. Many other buildings had similar designs using the same material, but not all of them. Some from wood or red bricks. In the distance, a gigantic building stood as the central pillar of the town. Lamposts littered the area, with one appearing every 3 yards or so. Decorative planters were also commonly placed among the roads, with various colorful plants and flowers neatly arranged as if painstakingly by hand. Rielle continued walking into the city and noticed a scent coming from the flowers and one in the distance.
“Mhmm. The flowers smell nice, but that other smell…Is delicious.” She says as she continues smelling.
“Admiring the scent from the bakeries?” A guard asks with a chuckle.
“Well…Yeah.” She says as she walks over to the guard.
“If you want something to eat, just head further in. The commercial district is one of the innermost districts, so it’ll be just a few minutes of walking.” He says.
Rielle tips her hat, covering her face.
“Thanks. Also, where can I find out about housing or any information?” She asks.
The guard reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a pamphlet.
“This has all the general information you’ll need. Sorry, our boss tends to forget things like this.” He says. “For housing, you’d head to that building over there.”
He points to a building just a few feet away with a sign that reads “Aitura Housing.”
“Thanks for the help.” She says as she leaves the guard to his business. She flips the pamphlet over the cover and reads the title.
“‘So you just died, how to survive daily life in Aitura, for monkeys.’” Rielle mouths. “I feel my intelligence has been insulted just by reading that.”
She places the pamphlet into her bag and heads to the housing building. From the outside, it looks almost the same as a few other buildings made from stone brick, aside from the sign and windows. Rielle saw multiple people sitting along the front side of the building as if waiting.
“Looks like it’ll be a long wait. Maybe I’ll take a walk first.” Rielle thinks.
Rielle turns from the entrance and notices children running about and happily playing. After watching them run by, she has an epiphany.
“Does that mean they’ll never get old enough to drink alcohol?” Rielle mutters. “I’ll offer a prayer, you poor, poor children.”
One of the kids stops to see her pray randomly.
“What’s that old lady doing?” One kid asks his friend.
“Praying that she doesn’t get any older, maybe.” He says as they continue running past.
A vein appears on her forehead.
“Sheesh,” Rielle mutters. “I swear it's like they can smell the 1000 years on me...”
After sighing, she decides to enter the building.
She walks over to the housing building. She walks into the housing store, noticing the green carpet, empty receptionist’s desk, and several rooms, each with their meetings. Seeing most of the people have left from the shop. With only one person ahead of her, Rielle sits on the wooden chair by the entrance. She sits down and crosses her leg over the other. At some point, Rielle drifted off to sleep. In her dreams, she stood before a city of collapsed buildings, some flaming citizens crying out in pain and anguish, and a lone person smiling and bowing before her.
“You’ll have to live with this blood on your hands for the rest of your life, Rielle❤.”
Rielle opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out, and sure enough, the dream begins to grow further and further away from her like a fading memory before the receptionist rouses her from her sleep.
“Miss? It’s your turn now. You can head to the third room in the back.” She says.
Rielle nods and rises from the chair, attempting to hide her discomfort from the dream. She walks past several rooms and goes to the third room at the back but tilts her head in confusion. The door reads “Manager” in bold letters. Not questioning the Receptionist’s instructions, she shut the door behind her. The familiar scent of sandalwood enters her nose, filling her with nostalgia. She turns around, and her eyes widen with surprise as her mouth hangs open.
“Hello, it’s nice to see you again, Rielle.” He states.
He slicks his graying hair back and smiles at her. Rielle closes her mouth and smiles back at him warmly.
“It’s good to see you again, Chase.” She says.