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Caverns of the Skull
...a short story by Calis

The Six-Hunderd and Forty-Third Layer of the Abyss, also called Caverns of the Skull, in the blocked memories of the Nameless One.

"Where are ya going, ya leatherhead?"

A big man with an even bigger axe, clad in black plate, was blocking his way.

"Who's asking?"
"Malkas, Proxy of Kali. Now do I have to beat the answer out of you, berk?"
"I ain't speaking to no cross-trading proxy. Take me to the high-up, NOW."

For a moment, the huge warrior paused. It had been a while since anyone dared to speak to him like that. Then he regained his posture. "I'm going to enjoy putting YOU in the dead-book over and over again..."
The Nameless One barely avoided the swing of the axe.
"Don't worry berk, you're not going to give me the laugh."
The next swing of the huge axe cut into his torso, but luckily not too deeply. Damn. Another scar.

And then it dawned on him.

He'd been in this situation before...
Time slowed to a crawl as the Nameless One remembered.
Ysgard, in one of his past lives. Battling against Norm, proxy of Thor. He knew how to deal with big axe-wielding bashers.

As fast as it had decelerated, time accelerated to its normal pace again. Laughing, Malkas took another swing. This time, however, the Nameless One was ready. A swift step back and a blow with the flat of his blade did the trick, and the proxy suddenly found his axe in a less favorable position. "Goodnight, berk." With a swift thrust of his blade, Malkas was sent to his next life.

The Nameless One resumed his journey through the madness that is the Caverns of the Skull, skillfully dodging the hordes of battling petitioners, occasionaly raising his sword to block an attack by a raging petitioner.

And then he took a wrong turn.

The sounds of battle instantly faded.
Looking back, he saw that there was no "back". The corridor had closed behind him. There were still plenty of ways to go, though.

Then he saw the woman.

She was of a dark, unearthly eastern beauty. Soft as her voice was, the power was evident nonetheless.

"So, you were looking for me?"
The Nameless One refound his speech soon enough.
"Are you Kali, the Blood Goddess, Queen of Reincarnation?"
"Good boy, you guessed it. Of course, you don't need to tell me who you are."
The Nameless One finally found the courage to ask the question he wanted to ask.
"No, YOU need to tell ME who I am."

The deity smiled.
It looked like an innocent smile, but after looking into her eyes the Nameless One decided that there was no innocence in this woman.

"There is a price to pay, of course. And you might not like paying it."
"Name it."
The woman's voice changed. It was no longer soft. The malevolence echoed through the cavern.
"I want your soul."

A long ceremonial dagger appeared in her hands. "Poor addle-coved immortal... By coming here, you've already sealed your fate."
But the Nameless One begged to differ.
Instantly picking up the speed of a haste spell, he ran away.

"You won't escape me!"
The dagger flew through the air with enormous speed and connected with its target. Ignoring the sting, the Nameless One chose a corridor and by sheer luck found the portal that had taken him here.
Kali hadn't expected him to remember so much of his former power. The Nameless One was getting away! Luckily, he wouldn't tell anyone about it. Her poison would make sure of that.

The Nameless One realised he was far from safe. The Plane of Infinite Portals still held a lot of danger, so he dashed for the portal that would take him to the relative safety of Sigil. He gasped as the effect of his haste spell was lost, and felt his heart burning inside of him. None of this mattered though, he got away. These were his last thoughts as the lethal poison kicked in and his mind faded into darkness on the streets of Sigil...

The Mortuary, a while later.

"You couldn't resist, could you? You had to follow the addle-coved advice of that cross-trading Dustman, didn't you? I told you Kali wouldn't cut any deals... For someone who is as old as you are, you're pretty stupid. You don't know how lucky you are that you didn't end up being her pet immortal."

This was strange. He didn't remember knowing a flying skull. He didn't remember anything.

"Who are you? Where am I?"
It wasn't clear where it came from, seeing that the skull had no lungs. He didn't even have a torso, for that matter. Still, Morte Rictusgrin let loose a sigh. "Here we go again, eh..."

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