01 • Gods of Death and Apples
The last thing I remember is the frigid temperature of the metal staircase beneath my back and the biting pain from the bullets that had been pumped into my flesh. Blunt, steeped edges of the steps were digging awkwardly into my back, probably sending pain through my being, but the bullet wounds would be cancelling out the minute pain with waves of their own. Other than the pain, I could feel nothing. It was all I knew.
Right now, the pain is nowhere to be found, and so am I. I’m in the middle of nowhere; a plane of emptiness and dust with no beings in sight. There’s no wind; no air, but I am still breathing. There’s a dry taste in my mouth and a strange texture that reminds me of sand, but why? There has to be a reason that I am in this barren wasteland. In all my twenty-three years of life, I never knew anything to be without a reason, and surely this cannot be any different.
This can neither be Heaven or Hell due to my having used the Death Note. ‘A person that uses the Death Note can go to neither Heaven nor Hell for all eternity’. That’s the rule, and I knew that from the word go. As soon as Ryuk told me, I was prepared for that fact, and I believed that, after I died, everything would be an endless expanse of darkness without formation or life. I most certainly did not believe that I would come to a plane of barren wasteland.
“Hey, Light.” The familiar, raspy voice makes me smirk. “Welcome to the Shinigami Realm.”
I turn around and grin up at my former friend, and God of Death. “Ryuk. Nice to see you.”
“You too. Come with me. We have some things to talk about.”
“Why can’t we just discuss them here?”
“The Shinigami King doesn’t leave his throne. Sorry, Light.”
“Fair enough. Let’s go then.”
The barren wasteland around us shortly becomes lumped with old structures that have fallen to the ground in rubble due to the disbelief Humans have in the Shinigami these days. The fact that some structures are still standing conveys that many Humans still believe in the Gods of Death. It’s dilapidated and just looking at it makes me sick with rage. The Shinigami are strong beings that deserve to be acknowledged and returned to their former glory no matter the cost. They have done much for this world, and the world forgot them in return.
Out of the rubble, there is a structure still remaining, but it is not in its former glory. There are fissures and chunks broken from the magnificent building. It’s aura is of pure, unadulterated power, and it demands your attention without lifting a finger. The once brilliant colours are almost faded beyond recognition, but they are resonating in my mind, the entire building appearing to be in its prime.
“Can you see it, Light Yagami?” a powerful, resonating voice asks. The voice makes me quake in my shoes, and I find myself lowering my head in reverence without thinking about it. “You can. This building is the palace of the Shinigami Realm, and look at its state; falling apart by the day.”
In the silence that follows, not even Ryuk dares to say a word.
“This building, can you see what it used to look like, Light Yagami?”
“Yes, sir,” I find myself replying, my voice unusually submissive. “It’s amazing.”
“Do you know why you are here, Light Yagami?”
“During having ownership of a Death Note, you succeeded in killing hundreds of Humans. That is a feat worthy of a God of Death, and, as such, you have been given an opportunity that none of your brethren have before you - the opportunity to become a God of Death.”
In my shock, my head instinctively snaps up to look at the being offering a second chance at life. The being in front of me is more Human than I thought they would be. Unruly apple red hair and glowing red eyes, pale skin splotched with dark patches here and there, and seemingly Human attire. The only thing strange about them is that the dark patches covering their skin is serpentine scales that glimmer in the dull light of the Shinigami Realm. Well, other than the giant bat-like wings that are sprouting from their shoulder blades, they are relatively Human.
The being grins at me, baring a set of undeniably sharp teeth, jagged on one side as if made for ripping meat from the bones of beasts. “Do you see what this world does to you, Light Yagami? For a Human who becomes a God of Death, your Fate is to become something that resembles them. That is the destiny for all those who write as many names in the Death Note as you and I, and there is no escaping it. That is, unless, you decline my offer.”
Ryuk chuckles beside me. “What do you want to do, Light?”
“You’re curious, are you not?” The former Human stands and walks over to me, revealing that they are not much taller than I. “You want to know why I look so much like you.”
“Now that you mention it, I do see the family resemblance. Light, you never told me you had a family member become a Shinigami.”
“He doesn’t remember me. None of them do, and that’s alright. I was never counted as a part of our family, Ryuk. Light and I grew up together in another life. That’s how I know exactly what he is thinking right now, and how I know that he is going to take me up on my offer.”
He says it with so much confidence that it makes shivers travel down my spine, a strange sensation pooling in my abdomen. Watching as his brilliant red eyes morph into a warm brown, a gasp rips its way from my lips. He is so familiar, and his name is on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t manage to remember it. His grin grows at my actions and his raises his hand, revealing sharp black nails. He places the pad of his pointer finger between my eyes and a strange feeling washes over me, memories flooding through my mind and causing a cry of surprise to escape me.
He is dressed in older style clothing, but not old enough to be before the Edo Period; it appears to be late Edo, or early Meiji Period style clothing. His pale skin is flushed with heat, a giant grin on his face and panting breaths leaving him. A katana and a short sword are on his right side, showing his status as a samurai. In the place of the red hair of his present day self, unruly deep burgundy hair is pulled back away from his face.
“Raito,” I breathe, causing the Shinigami King before me to smile. “You became a Shinigami after everything we did.”
Raito nods, removing his finger from my head. “Yes, and I made sure you were given a second chance for life as a Human. I never would have dreamed that you would become a Death Note user once again, or have Ryuk with you again.”
I scoff and stare at the Shinigami beside me. “That’s why you were never surprised at anything I ever did. You knew what I was like.”
Ryuk shrugs, giving me a sideways look. “As I said before, I am not on your side or theirs, Light. I didn’t have to tell you anything.”
“Light,” Raito’s formerly kind voice has returned to the voice I first heard when I entered the building, and it drags my eyes back to him. “What are you going to decide? Join the ranks of the Shinigami, or go into the Oblivion and exist as nothing for all eternity?”
I stare at him. “If you know my answer, why are you asking me this?”
“You have to be the one to say it.”
“Very well. I, Light Yagami, take you, the Shinigami King, up on your offer for me to become a Shinigami.”
“As I thought.” Raito smiles and then walks back to the throne, sitting down and leaning his head against his fist. “You will be given two Death Notes, and the ability to change forms between your Human and Shinigami forms. Be warned, Light, in your Human form, all Humans will be able to see you. I must also warn you that those who knew you are still living, and that they will not take lightly to your return after all you have done.”
The faces of my former friends rush through my mind and I grimace. “They won’t be able to kill me again, will they?”
“You’re a Shinigami, Light,” Ryuk informs. “You can’t be hurt by worldly objects.”
Raito rolls his eyes. “Go get a Human, Light. You too, Ryuk. Bring me back some apples when you decide to return.”