Chapter 2 – Memories of old

“What’s wrong? Come on and eat.”, says Ghorza to Lev.

“I’m not hungry…” Lev said while staring at his meal and it stared back with its six eyes. It was a fuzzy cave worm. It’s one of the most abundant species in the magical cavern. Along with its unusually many eyes – despite it being a cave dweller, it has two long whiskers stretching from the sides of its head and a long thin slippery tongue slipping out of its mouth. It was half his size, so it was cut into three pieces. He got the head since it was Gherm’s “favourite”, his sister took the middle part, and the bottom will be eaten as a light breakfast tomorrow.

“You really don’t wanna eat that? You know, it’s pretty expensive to get one; not to mention that you haven’t eaten anything since you woke up.”.

“Really Ghorza, I’m not-”.

Grrrrrrr.

“…”.

“…Not hungry huh?” Ghorza asked while the sound of his grumbling stomach was loud enough to wake the dead.

Lev was dumbstruck. He was betrayed by his own stomach, leaving him unable to make any comebacks.

“Gherm,”, Ghorza said with an imperative tone while holding a piece of grey meat from the head “eat.”.

“Maybe it would be-”.

“Eat.”.

“Shouldn’t we-”.

“Eat.”.

“It honestly would be better to-”.

“I said Eat.”.

“Fine!”, he yielded. Since truthfully speaking, he needed to eat. No matter how disgusted he was with the idea of eating alien bugs, he had to adapt as his survival depended on it. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time he had to eat something undesirable.

He grabbed the grey meat from the now smiling Ghorza’s hand and stuffed it into his mouth without a second thought.

“Gherm? Why are you making such a face?”, Ghorza asked worriedly as fuzzy cave worms were, for as long as she remembers, Gherm’s favourite. She never imagined a day where he would show such a look of disgust when eating them.

“Nothing to worry about. It just looks like there was some lazlick mould inside it.”, he lied while he tried to put on a cheerful expression.

“Oh. Lucky you.” she said with a smile since though Gherm hates the idea of even getting near the mould, she adores their extremely sweet flavour.

‘How on earth did he enjoy eating these damned things.’ Lev thought as he kept chewing the bitter-sour meat while trying to maintain a look of joy on his face. To Lev, the taste was absolutely repugnant and the texture was just awful.

He finally swallowed the worm meat hoping it was all over, only to have his hopes crushed by Ghorza’s next words.

“Now time to finish the rest.”.

“Sure…”, he said with a smile on his face, hiding his desire to cry.

He managed to endure the urge to gag and continued eating with an expression of joy while making some small talk every now and then since Gherm was never the silent type. He believed that he held his act well as he performed all the small gestures, quirks, and nuances that Gherm had to the best of his abilities and it seemed to work. Every time he talked, he also expressed himself with his hands and during every embarrassing question he was asked, he twitched his ears and nervously tapped on the table with his left hand’s index finger.

‘Finally…’, he thought in relief once he finished his meal. He let out a sigh of relief, stood up, stretched his body, and proceeded to go grab a bowl of water from the left of the room. He drank a little and handed the bowl to Ghorza.

“Thanks.” She said before taking a sip and handed the bowl back to her brother so he can put it away.

“You’re welcome.”.

“Thank the gods you’re alright. I would’ve been lost without you.”.

“Don’t worry, I don’t die easily.”.

“You’re saying that as if danger is a norm to you. Next you’ll tell me is that you’re a war hero.” Ghorza said with a giggle, but she turned serious once she saw her brother lost in his thoughts.

“war hero, huh…” He muttered before turning silent as his mind was reliving the darkest moments of his life with the only sound coming from him is his left hand tapping on the table.

“Gherm? Are you alright?” She asked after she noticed that he stayed like in that state longer than he should.

 “…Gherm…?” she asked again, but this time her voice was filled with worry.

“Gherm!” She yelled, snapping him out of his stupor.

Startled, he almost dropped the bowl but managed to retain a tight grip on it. He then was going to ask her why she yelled, but he realized what happened ‘So it happened again…’.

“Sorry. I was thinking about something.”.

“I’ve never seen you like that. Were you really thinking about something or is it from your injury? Do we need to go back to Rogg?”.

“Don’t worry yourself. Trust me, it’s nothing.”.

She sighed and held her head, “You do know that though you rarely ever lie to me, the keyword is rarely. I feel like that you’ve been lying a lot since you woke up. Even during dinner, I feel like something’s off. It’s like you’re trying to act like you’re you. Please, Gherm, tell me why, and be honest this time.” she pleaded.

Lev was stunned. He’s sure that he could fool her, but something in his mind was urging him to say the truth. No, it was forcing him to. He tried to resist it, but the entity caught him off-guard and suddenly took partial control over him.

“I have memories from another life.”, He blurted with wide eyes.

“You’re joking.”.

He tried to say yes, but he failed. “Nope.”.

“Come on Gherm, I’m serious.”.

“I’m serious as well.” After he said this, he could feel that the entity exhausted itself and was starting to lose control.

When Ghorza stared into his eyes, she found out that he wasn’t joking around. She started backing away slowly and grabbed a stone knife from the table.

“Ghorza…”.

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“So do you only have memories or is it something else? Are you really gherm?”, she asked with a furious glint in her eyes.

The weakened entity tried to make him say no, but through sheer will he managed to regain control over his body “Yes. Who else could I be?”, he said as he finally forced his body to back away from the enraged sister, almost regaining full control over himself.

“Then why are you backing away?”.

“Because you were always superstitious and I’m sure you think I’m a demon, which I’m not.”.

“Sure you aren’t, and I’m the chief’s daughter.”.

He tried to think of a way to prove himself to her and it came in two words “Meron powder.”.

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“What?”.

“I’ll prove it to you. I’ll drink some water with the Meron powder that we received in the holy ceremony a year ago, which we all know, is used in exorcisms and can burn demons. If I start burning than it’s obvious that I’m possessed and you can do whatever you want with me, but if nothing happens to me then you have to believe me that I got memories from another life. ” Lev told the flabbergasted girl.

“You’re crazy…”.

“No, I’m not. I’m just who I say I am and it’s not a demon possessing my body. Just give me a chance to prove myself, it’s not like you’ll lose anything by so. In fact, If I am a demon and do burn, I’ll die while you get your slightly scorched brother back, right?”.

Ghorza hesitated for a second and stepped back far enough to allow him to grab the Meron powder jar from across the room to the left, yet she didn’t lower her knife.

‘Thank god that she accepted.’, He thought before opening the jar, ‘Hopefully the thing about this powder being used to expel demons and spirits is just some superstitious nonsense, and if it does do that, I hope it either doesn’t work on me, or as unlikely as it seems, that it can send me back to where I belong.’.

He grabbed a pinch of the powder and sighed in relief as nothing happened, but it is known that some powerful demons have varying degrees of resistance to the powder, but all of them are expelled if they ingest it, and that’s what he did. He mixed the powder with some water and drank it…

…And nothing happened.

“Do you believe me now?”, he asked the stunned girl.

“So you’re really Gherm?”.

“No. I’m Tanach, the dreamer of worlds.”, said Lev in a sarcastic tone.

“Pfft! Tanach!? Out of everything you chose the lazy one?”.

“What can I say? I love being lazy.”.

“You sure do, Gherm. You sure do…”.

“So, care to explain to me how you have other memories?”, she asked Lev in an inquisitive tone.

Now that the entity weakened to a level that he can supress it easily, he had no worries of lying his way through this, but after recollecting all the information about bogey culture and that not only is reincarnation possible in this world, but also that the method in which he appeared here vaguely resembles a known method that Gherm heard about from his deceased father, he decided not to hide it and replied honestly “I honestly don’t know how it all happened. I felt that I was in a void, then my body was swept away as if I was inside a river, only to find myself heading towards a ball of light. After slamming into it, I woke up with an aching head and an additional set of memories.”.

After Lev’s explanation, Ghorza thought on it for a moment before her face took on a multitude of expressions. Confusion, shock, excitement, and then fear.

She sat down back one of the chairs. “Oh gods, Gherm, do you realize what this means?” she asked worriedly.

“No, not at all.”.

“You’re a chosen one… A chosen one! It’s been a long time since a chosen one appeared, and more so a greyborn chosen one…”

“Uh oh…”.

“Uh oh, indeed. If anyone knows about this, it could get you killed. If you gain any abilities never show them to anyone and never use them unless the situation requires it. But if you needed to use them and someone saw them… I don’t know what to do…”.

Ghorza had the right to be worried since chosen ones were known to change the world around them. They are reincarnations of the gods and their champions. They wield powers that can go beyond human comprehension. Their power can range from something simple like superhuman strength to something complex that can alter the fabric of reality.

She spent a moment thinking about how to deal with this situation, but then it hit her “Maybe… Maybe you could be lucky and turn out to be a lost soul. What do you think? Check your recent memories, do they contain any divine figures?”.

Lev sighed as he now knows what he became, “Looks like I’m a lost soul and not a noble one.”.

Lost souls are people who inherit the memories of another mortal, unlike chosen ones they’re not divine at all. They only have memories but no new powers whatsoever, which considering that most mortal memories are irrelevant since they are mostly of commoners from ancient times makes lost ones useless to the eyes of society and easy to forget. Only a few have managed to succeed due to their newfound memories since they’ve inherited the memories of great leaders and legendary craftsmen.

“Thank the gods.” Ghorza said with a sigh of relief “I feared that it might be over for us…”.

“Yeah, thankfully it’s just a commoner’s memory.”, he said with a smile.

‘But not the kind of commoner that you’re thinking of and not one from this world.’.

Though there is the concept of transmigration and latent memories in this world, it is usually among this world’s inhabitants. As far as he knows, there was never a case of inheriting memories from another world and there never was a case wherein the foreign soul took control of the body instead of integrating with the previous soul, which means there’s either a problem in the reincarnation process or Lev’s resistance of his own world’s process led to a failsafe that sent him into this world. There’s also the possibility that supernatural entities were at work, leading to current events.

“Great! Though commoner or not, you better hide it. They’re usually considered useless, but who knows what secrets lie in your new memories. Aghh, this entire issue is giving me a headache.”, she said while rubbing her forehead.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you. I know the issue is complicated and it’s not something that I can just tell others easily. I know that if others find out about it I could be hunted down, tortured, and then killed. Lost ones aren’t indispensable so if I do get caught I could be experimented on, chained to be cut open, and have mages and researchers see what makes me tick, so that they can see if lost ones have any hidden gifts, or maybe it’s just so they can amuse themselves while they display their superiority over me as they probe me both physically and mentality and laugh as they twist me and break me while stripping me of-“.

“Stop!”, Ghorza screamed with a fury she hadn’t shown even when she thought he was a demon. “NEVER say anything like that again!”.

“Never… please…”, she cried while hugging him.

Lev stood there shocked. He realized that he took it too far. He was always known to unknowingly spout the worst-case scenario without taking into consideration the feelings of others, usually leaving him guilty.

And due to the influence of the entity which he concurred should be Gherm’s soul, he felt guiltier than he should be. He hugged her back and let her cry on his shoulder and when she was done he smiled at her. “I think it’s better that we go to sleep and leave the thinking for tomorrow.”

” Yeah… sleep… let’s go to sleep…” she said before taking a deep breath, “You better feel better by tomorrow since we have a lot of work to do to gain back those merits.”.

“Alright. See you tomorrow.”.

“Good.”.

After cleaning the dining room and storing the remaining meat, they walked to the sleeping quarters and laid on their separate mats made from old rags that they bought using their hard-earned merits.

“Good Night, Gherm.”, said Ghorza before she closed her eyes and entered the land of dreams.

“Good Night.” he said before close his eyes, but sleep he did not.

After waiting a few minutes, he checked if she’s actually asleep before breaking his facade and losing himself in his thoughts.

“So I died huh…” Lev muttered to himself before thinking of what exactly happened at the moment of his death.

‘I was shot during my victory speech. Brutus and Maria were there, he applied pressure to my wound to stop the bleeding while she called the ambulance.’.

‘Heh… I’m pretty sure the big lug started crying like a baby, despite his large intimidating physique, he was always a big softie. Maria, on the other hand, she was a tigress.’, he thought as he remembered how she always used to get into fights no matter the odds.

He reminisced about their childhood as a tear fell from his eye, ‘Will I ever see them again? I hope so because life loses a bit of its meaning without them.’. He also felt Gherm sympathising with him causing him to frown.

‘Sorry, but from what I’ve seen and from what I’ve known from your memories, you’ll be trouble in the future. I’m not the type that kills innocents but I’ll try putting you to sleep for now.’ He doesn’t know how to influence souls and before today he doubted their existence but despite his lack of knowledge on the concept, he realized that when he managed to regain control over his body it was due to his greater willpower.

He tried to focus his intent on subduing Gherm, but even though in the beginning he felt that he overpowered Gherm’s soul and managed to constrain it, he couldn’t subdue it or isolate its effect on his emotions. He kept trying to subdue Gherm further only to fail in the end ‘Well, that’s that. I’ll deal with you once I have a better understanding in the future. And trust me, I always find a way.’.

He felt that Gherm brushed his warning off, doubting he can do anything due to their current life.

‘You’re right, but who said I’ll live my life the same way that you did? Do you think I’m content with that? Now, what should I do about my life and how can I change it to the better?’, he contemplated while looking at his hands. Gherm’s life was anything but easy. Abusing greyborns is the norm, and though the other bogeys try to act civilized and merciful by giving them the rights to own items via merits, they still overprice the sold goods which are usually of the worst quality. Even small-time criminals that as long as they aren’t grey get treated better.

‘I need to find a way to improve my life, and I need to take care of her. At least until I can free myself from Gherm.’, he thought as he looked at the sleeping Ghorza, even though he isn’t exactly Gherm, he inherited his memories so he knows how much Gherm cares about her and can feel his influence. He realized that considering how he’s easily accepting the change in his environment, he could be merging with Gherm which is something that horrified the latter. Thankfully, his will managed to overcome his counterpart’s, so it will be more like him assimilating Gherm than gaining any of his negative traits via an equivalent merging process.

Many questions swirled in Lev’s head, and he knows that he can’t solve them all in one night, so he closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

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