The God-creature appeared once every century. Today, after more than a thousand years, I was finally on the verge of killing her.
She had first materialized at the edge of my domain, the Kingdom of Enkar, a red-haired girl in a billowing green dress, floating high in the sky with some unknown magic. She had flown straight to my palace, past my guards and into my throne room.
Once there, all she did was stare at me, and cry, tears running down her face for several long minutes, before vanishing again. A hundred years, later, the cycle repeated itself. Then again in a hundred years, and again.
In comparison to the Starshine Elves of my domain, she looked plain, ordinary. But for some reason I couldn’t explain, I was drawn to her like nothing else.
And I was the emperor of this world. I had incredible powers of my own, and immortality, bestowed from the strange floating words above my head that said only “Admin 1”. I couldn’t stand her impudence, her mystery, her strange familiarity.
So I reached out to her. The next time she appeared, I presented her with gifts, filled a grassy plain a hundred leagues wide with gold, jewels, and magic items. She had ignored them, still looking at me, still sobbing as she watched, then disappeared.
My circle of mages assured me she wasn’t a ghost, nor any other kind of magical spirit they knew. I spent a hundred years enlisting them to research her possible origins, to develop a spell that could communicate with her. I raised a generation of linguists and magic experts in my kingdom, to find every possible way to I could talk to her, every language she might understand.
The next several times she appeared, I knelt before her and begged her to respond.
Nothing. All she did was cry.
It was infuriating. So I raised the largest army the kingdom of Enkar had ever seen, and attacked her when she appeared the next time. Perhaps that would get a response from her.
Arrows bounced off of her skin. Battle magic that could level mountains dissolved on the surface of her green dress. She didn’t even deign to fight back, just did the exact same thing she’d always done.
The technology of my world advanced, and in the centuries to follow, we fought her with guns, cruise missiles, even nuclear weapons. Generations of thinkers spent their lives to try and understand how to defeat her, or what she represented.
All for naught.
Today, she was dressed in different clothes. Soft pants, a thick cloak with no hood. She was no longer crying. The look on her face was all determination and cold focus. It frightened me a little.
Today, she was talking.
“Emperor Julian,” she said. “My name is Astrid.”
Why did that name sound so familiar? The memory felt so distant, so faint.
“I’ve been your girlfriend of three years. You don’t remember because you’ve been here too long. And because of the blood loss.”
“You’ve been playing World of Enkar for the past two hours in the real world.” The determined expression cracked a little, and the God-Astrid’s face fell. “It’s a virtual reality game that dilates time by a massive factor.”
I was familiar with virtual reality systems in my kingdom, but this sounded completely different.
“The maximum allowed time is five minutes, because any longer causes permanent memory loss. But we broke the rules.”
“W - Why,” I stuttered. It was all I could manage. Everything was happening so fast.
“There was a gas explosion." Her voice faltered. "You got - you got hurt pretty bad. You were a doctor. You knew there was no hope for you. I was a programmer on the original model. So you asked me to jailbreak the time restraints. You wanted your last hours to be happy, even if it meant losing yourself.“ She looked at me, her eyes getting wet again. “You've been bleeding out on your living room floor for the last one thousand, nine hundred, and twenty years. Are you happy?”
Using my abilities, I’d experienced every pleasure known to man. I’d eaten the finest foods every day, made love for years on end, conquered kingdoms with a single knife and my martial arts skills. I’d fallen in love with mortals, many times. I’d reincarnated myself as a powerless peasant, just to experience the thrill of working my way up to the top again.
But I’d always been happiest when I saw Astrid. When I was imploring her, fighting her. She was the most exciting challenge, the most intriguing persona. She had always made more sense than anything else in Enkar.
Acting on instinct, I ran forward off my throne and hugged her. She wrapped her arms around me, and a thousand years of decadence couldn’t compete with how good that felt. “Where were you,” I whispered. I wanted to see her every day of every year, not just one every hundred.
She kissed me. That felt even better than the hug. “I’ve spent eighty years in a simulation of my own,” she said. “Running scientific models. Testing theories.” She leveled her gaze at me. “I think we can save you.”
She tapped the air above her head, and a voice called down from the heavens, ringing in my ears.
“Admin 2 has entered the game.”
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