The last thing Aeverith remembered was being stabbed through the heart by a magical Soul-Sword. And then, pain. A pain so intense, he thought that he would die for sure. Anything the chosen one’s sword penetrated should have perished in an instant. He should’ve been dead by now.
But he didn’t.
“Shit…" he groaned. "Where’s my sweet release of death?” Beneath the torturous ring in his ears, his voice sounded quite different. A bit deeper, perhaps.
Aeverith opened his eyes. He was still in the main hall of his castle. Two sides of the black wall had collapsed. The roof was now gone, most likely because of the blast from the Soul-Sword. Several spots of fires were scattered everywhere, alongside with countless corpses. Piles and piles of dead bodies covered the entire floor. Most of them didn’t even bear any resemblance to humans anymore, only black lumps of what used to be limbs, torsos, and heads, devoid of any life-force. Not even a single drop of blood remained.
A sight Aeverith knew all too well. He was the one who killed them, afterall.
Ignoring the splitting headache, Aeverith forced himself to rise from the ground. Every muscle in his body felt sore. His lungs inhaled hot burning air. Blood dripped from a wound somewhere. But, he stood. Aeverith had always managed to stand, somehow.
Vision blurry, he spotted several figures moving far away, rushing toward him. He couldn’t get a clear view of them, but one thing was certain. The color of their robe was blue. Azure mages. Enemies.
One of the figures pointed at him. The rest followed with their gazes.
“He’s alive!” a voice shouted.
Out of reflex, Aeverith reached toward the space in front of his chest, ready to kill. Several hours ago, he was indeed prepared to die. But now that he was still alive, he had no plan to go anytime soon.
Wait a second, he thought, stunned. His hand only caught empty air. There was nothing in front of his chest. He searched, but no luck. His amulet was missing. His powers… gone.
He was as good as dead, then.
So he ran. Aeverith forced his body to move, leaping through the smouldering ruins. He had to run away, far. Anywhere but here. Each bone of his limbs felt like they could shatter at any moment. His steps were faltering at first, but soon enough he gained momentum. Weird. Even though he was injured beyond all measures, this was the fastest run he had ever done.
And then he stumbled. With a loud thud, he crashed head-first onto the ground. Blood gushed out from a new wound on his forehead. His skull felt like exploding. Behind him, the sounds of footsteps grew nearer. Aeverith struggled to rise, but his legs finally gave up. With his heart pumping hard against his ribcage, he scanned his surroundings, trying to find anything he could use to defend himself.
What he found was beyond horrifying.
A human body laid right next to his feet. That body was the exact thing that tripped him. Unlike the other corpses, it—he was still intact, with limbs made of flesh, skin, and bone. And, unlike other corpses, he was still alive. His chest rose up and down, weak, almost unnoticeable.
He… he’s me.
Aeverith couldn’t believe his eyes. It was himself lying unconscious on the ground. But, however he told himself otherwise, he couldn’t be mistaken. That slender body, that slightly hunched back, those deformed x-shaped legs, that Ulevari tanned brown skin, that wavy mess of a black hair, those facial features far too delicate to be called handsome, those hideous burn marks that traveled from his chin up to his right cheek, and that crumpled, almost nonexistent right ear… Those were his.
“I-imposible,” he stuttered.
What's going on? If that’s me, then who…?
“The Wicked Supreme Overlord is dead!” someone yelled.
The Azure mages had arrived. They formed a circular formation around him, blocking every possible exit. Aeverith was prepared to make his last stand, but it wasn't him they stood guard against. It was him, the other him, his body.
"Is Aeverith really dead?" asked the other Azure.
With extreme caution, one of them went to check the body's breathing. "No, he's alive."
"Restrain!" someone ordered, probably their leader.
Aeverith could only watch in terror as the Azures conjured a shining blue barrier around his body. Then, the leader stepped forward and bound his hands with magical shackles. His body let out a weak groan. Hearing that, everyone jumped backwards, terrified.
Is this some kind of shitty fever dream or something?
“Does anyone see his amulet?" asked the leader.
The Azures scanned the area for a while, before answering with trembling voices. "No, Commander."
"You three, disperse! Find it immediately. The rest of you will come with me to secure the Overlord."
Suddenly, someone crash landed in front of Aeverith. For a landing that clumsy, she must have done a hurried mid-flight dive. Aeverith flinched backwards in shock.
"Are you okay?" asked that woman. The firelight reflected by her armor hurt his eyes. She was in her early twenties, maybe younger. Her short auburn hair was disheveled from her flight. Her features were strong, almost like they were carved from a rock.
Aeverith’s whole body tensed, his fists clenched tight. He recognised her in an instant. She was the chosen one's most trusted companion, Eryss.
"Are you alright? You lost a lot of blood. I mean, a lot." Eryss grabbed his shoulder and shook him. "Dellin, can you hear me?!"
The name stung his brain. Aeverith knew that name as well as he knew his own. Dellin. The chosen one. The sole wielder of the Soul-Sword. Savior of Tandraria. A boy destined to defeat him, to stop The Wicked Supreme Overlord once and for all.
He was the one who pierced through Aeverith's heart, delivering the killing blow. Their final battle ended moments ago, with Dellin becoming the victor and him nothing more than a lifeless corpse. Dellin was supposed to kill him. Aeverith was supposed to die.
Except he didn't.
"Dellin!" Eryss shrieked in panic. She turned her head toward the group of Azures. "Help! Is there any Viridian here?! Dellin, hang on."
Aeverith snapped out of his daze. Why is she calling me with…
At that moment, he saw his reflection on Eryss' armor. It wasn't his face. It was Dellin's.
And everything went black.