Nearly 1000 years ago…
Somehow, a few of us managed to evade the death wave fashioned by the gatekeepers. One would think that in a battle between hyperdimensional beings who could bend the laws of reality to their will, I would have anticipated such a thing and prevented it from happening. But no, there was no possibility that the enemy’s main forces were simply positioned behind the gate for an ambush. Sometimes I annoy myself with my incompetence.
I phased out into the æther for a few seconds until the sweeping death had passed, then phased back. Upon reentry, I was painfully aware of my allies dying left and right. Infinite Conceptual Death… I had to give credit to the gatekeepers for weaving such a complex technique into a trap.
The situation at the gate looked a lot worse. The rift was still open, an enormous tear in the fabric of reality filled with overwhelming darkness, except now, twelve black cloaked figures floated around it in a circle. The dimensions flashed, through barren wastelands, lush forests, cloud-filled skies, finally settling on a rocky plateau amidst a desolate desert.
The gatekeepers’ presence was beginning to stabilize the dimensional conflict. That wasn’t good. I had to hurry and end it.
I dashed for the rift, but three gatekeepers cut me off.
Crimson, Shine, cover me, I sent telepathically to my companions.
Two black cloaked figures instantly appeared, one on either side, and scattered the incoming gatekeepers with bursts of colored energy. I set my dimensional viscosity to the lowest possible value and phased through without harm.
Status report, I sent as I continued rushing towards the gate.
Nine tenths of our forces have been decimated. We’re in no condition to retaliate. Hurry and get through the gate, if we wait any longer we may not have a force left.
Roger, I sent, and immediately swerved around the ætheric blast striking my position. I looked up, my gaze falling upon four gatekeepers near the rift, the others undoubtedly hunting down what was left of the invasion force.
This was the final stand. If I lost here there would be no second chance.
Grammek, Night, come, I sent again. We’re going to push through.
I felt a pair of black cloaked figures appearing behind me, their strides quickly adjusting to match my pace. The gatekeepers in front seemed to hesitate. Then the one in the center pointed, and the other three immediately dispatched to intercept us.
I felt power gathering both in front and behind me, and phased out just as the gatekeepers and my allies exploded into battle. I phased back a second later, my allies having deliberately fallen back to draw away the gatekeepers. The pain was rending my mind to pieces now, but there was no time to repair it. I had reached the gate.
A single gatekeeper stood between me and the looming rift. He had a milky white æther sword drawn, and glared at me like I was some sort of pest. Somehow this one felt a little different than the other gatekeepers…
“Go back,” the gatekeeper rasped.
“I can’t do that,” I said.
“You’ve defiled twelve gates already… I know what you’re after,” the gatekeeper said. “What you intend to do will bring about the end of the multiverse.”
“Well you’ve already done a fine job of starting the process,” I said. “Converting multiple universes into conceptual energy, just what is all of that for, I wonder…?”
“I cannot let you enter Blackgate,” the gatekeeper said simply.
“I’ll enter with or without your permission,” I replied.
A moment of silence.
“Vajistara, keeper of the fourteenth gate.”
“Azure of Dekes Arcla.”
“I suppose this is where we do battle.”
“I suppose it is.”
The gatekeeper let out a long breath, then promptly sheathed his sword. “But I’m afraid not today.”
“Wha-?” I let my confusion stall me for a tenth of a second before an incredibly high pitched voiced reached my perception.
And then I was struck by complete annihilation.
It wasn’t anything I could analyze. It wasn’t anything on the level which my perception could sense it. It felt like a combination of several Conceptuals, layered upon one another until the fusion overflowed into pure annihilation.
It also wasn’t something I could recover from.
In my rapidly disintegrating form, I darted for the rift, holding onto the slim hope that the gatekeeper would somehow miscalculate and not be able to stop me.
But the gatekeeper instantly responded by raising a wall of æther around the gate. He turned to watch as I crashed into the wall and collapsed feebly to the ground.
“Give up,” the gatekeeper said, stepping over to where I was lying.
“You’ll die a thousand times over for almost killing me!” the other gatekeeper screamed.
I couldn’t lose… not when I was so close…
The annihilation had already eaten through most of my body and neurological complex, but there was still one thing left… something I couldn’t let happen no matter what…
I wasn’t going down alone.
An energy field flared into existence around me. One of the gatekeepers evaded, but the other was caught inside.
“No! What are you doing?!” the gatekeeper screeched.
My neurological complex, in its dying state, reminded me that the energy expenditure would only hasten my destruction.
But I didn’t care.
I grabbed onto the single gatekeeper with all of my power and initiated a cross-dimensional teleport.
There was no destination set.
I remember the gatekeeper screaming.
And then I was falling. Falling into the void…