Ashe had been lying in bed for the last three days or so, the sickness had carried on for a few months and now it felt that the end was near. He couldn't recall as to how he had gotten sick, it just seemed that weakness had been slowly overtaking him. And now it was too much, he couldn't get up to eat or take care of himself. A kindly woman who oversaw the inn where he had rented his room had taken care of him somewhat, bringing him broth and now for the past couple of days feeding it to him.
Ashe drew a deep breath and turned his head to look out the window. He was only twenty-eight years old and he knew death was coming for him. When he had noticed this wasting sickness, he had visited healers who gave him various herbs and remedies but none helped. He had even gone to see an Elven healer who administered what power she had but in the end, she simply told him that there was a blackness growing inside him that would not draw back. Her last words to him were to "Walk in Unilaweyeas path."
Unilaweyeas was the elven name for Benedeus, the One-God. Ashe had always suspected there was something beyond this world but had never named it as being Benedeus or any other thing. And now, now as he lie here wilted away to under a hundred pounds, his hair having turned gray and much of it fallen out; he wondered where this One-god was. Where was the gracious Benedeus who performed miracles and healed the sick? Who was never seen by mortal eyes but his works were known throughout the world? Perhaps Benedeus was a fairytale as many people had said. Just a figment of the imagination for people who feared death. He closed his eyes tightly to keep from weeping then as he feared death himself, not knowing what lay beyond for someone who had lived the life he lived.
"Why do you weep young man?" Came a voice from the room and Ashe's eyes popped open. "Who's there?" Ashe whispered with a weak voice.
A man then stepped into the light as he had stepped from the shadows themselves, "A friend," the man said. He was dressed in the same color crimson that lit his eyes, his hair a stark white color falling just past his shoulders. The man seemed almost serpentine in appearance and Ashe felt uncomfortable in his presence. "I can offer you much Ashe McGray," the man continued as he stepped closer to the foot of Ashe's bed. "I have heard your fears and I can assure you that this doesn't have to be the end."
Ashe studied the man for a moment and then suddenly felt sick to his stomach, he knew who this man was and now he knew that Benedeus must be real for the great serpent of hell, Mallechavius stood before him now. Ashe tried to draw away from the white haired man with his eyes filled with hell-fire but he was far too weak and could do nothing. This seemed to please Mallechavius who came even closer then, his voice falling to a soft whisper, "You know me, Ashe but you do not know what I can offer you. Serve me, and you will walk this world for a hundred more years as my servant.
Ashe still in fear drew enough courage to ask, "You mean I would walk this world as one of your demons? Doing the evil that you love to see beset the world?" He swallowed hard trying not to let his fear show but his eyes betrayed him. "You would walk this world as my servant but not as some red-skinned, horned demon. You would walk in your own skin. As for setting more evil upon the world? Perhaps I may ask something of you from time to time but in this time, people don't need my help or yours in doing wrong. I know you've seen it, Mister McGray."
He was very much right as Ashe had seen the evil that had came upon this world in recent years. People had no concern or love for one another, they only wanted to help themselves, to come out ahead of all others. "Where is Benedeus in all of this?" Ashe asked then, wondering why the God of Light had allow so much darkness into the world he had created.
"Benedeus?" Mallechavius had spat the name out as if it left a bad taste in his mouth, "Benedeus cares no more for this world! Your Lord of Light has left you all to suffer, seeing as how the races have fallen to evil ways." Ashe did not believe him as the King of Hell was known for such lies but Mallechavius continued on as if he spoke a golden truth, "If Benedeus cared, do you not think that he would have healed you of this malady? Do you think that he would have allowed this blackness to consume you from the inside out? I can heal you Ashe and all that you need do is say that you will serve me."
Ashe thought then of his situation, as to how he had just wasted away to nothingness. His weight had fallen to under a hundred pounds and his hair had grayed and much had fallen out. He wondered where Benedeus had been in all of this, why Mallechavius had offered him health and Benedeus did not. He had fallen into tears once again as he pondered all of this. He had been forgotten by the one that had created him, "Why has Benedeus not saved me?" Ashe cried.
As Mallechavius opened his mouth to speak, another voice boomed into the room, "Because you have not called upon me." A kindly old man stood in the room next to Mallechavius. He was garbed in a great white robe, his face bearing a white beard and kindly look. A light seemed to emanate from his pale blue eyes, "You have borne this sickness within you for months child and never once did you call upon me."
Ashe seemed to rejoice in the presence of Benedeus for Mallchavius shied away from him in fear. It was said that the only thing Mallechavius feared was Benedeus and now he saw it with his own eyes. "You will heal this sickness within me then?" Ashe looked up to the One-God with hopeful eyes. Benedeus' eyes saddened somewhat as he looked upon Ashe and he whispered then, "Yes and No, my child. You will die today, you will pass from this world. There will be no sickness in the afterlife so I can say yes. But you will be judged by the things you've done in this life so I must also say no."
Ashe swallowed hard, "And you know that I have not done great things in this world. That I have not done your works."
"No, you have not done my works and you have done much evil in this world Ashe. But you have done things that will not be forgotten. You have saved lives and righted wrongs. These things will be taken into account I assure you."
Mallechavius spoke up then, "You may yet serve me in hell Ashe, say you will follow me now and I will promise you a hundred years more!"
"BEGONE!" Benedeus shouted and Mallechavius disappeared in a plume of crimson smoke with a hiss in reply. Benedeus then turned back to Ashe, "I cannot promise what lies on the other side for you but I can promise that you will be judged accordingly."
"Will I serve Mallechavius in Hell?" Ashe whispered as he felt a darkness creeping upon him.
"Do you believe that you will?" Benedeus answered him with an arched brow.
"No," Ashe replied with his last breath, his eyes falling together for the last time.
And the darkness turned to light as Ashe's soul went forward for the final judgment.
It rained the day they laid Ashe in the ground. No one stood over his grave to speak words of comfort for few really knew him and fewer would know what to say.