I opened my eyes to see a beautiful apparition. A lovely woman stood beside Lucifer, robed in deep red. She had such a smile on.
“Amitabha,” said Lucifer as the goddess took me in her arms. I was nothing. Weightless. Just a little thought of existence.
The goddess nodded to Lucifer with a warm smile. Then, with respect and dignity, she turned around and walked through a small portal.
Most portals are crackling full of energy of the kind akin to the world they transfer to. This one was soft, and peaceful. As we slipped through it I felt blissful in a pure and healthy way. Calm. Complete.
We entered a world of light, lotuses by lakes, and sprawling fields. I knew the world as we stepped foot on the earth and she set me down. I floated from her. Stretching, I unfolded from myself.
All around me was beauty and peacce. It felt amazing.
I turned to thank Amitabha- and saw the portal behind her. A hand was clawing through, a shoulder following. It was like an awful anti-birth. It was forceful, disgusting, and burning with callous irreverence.
Bella burst through with a roaring yell, burnt and bloodied by the energy of the portal. Her blue eye sparkled rabidly and she stumbled on her first steps on the earth.
Amitabha turned calmly to face her. She did not seem in the slightest bit surprised. “So you are here.”
Bella laughed. “I’ve made it!” Her eyes rolled around her head to take it all in, but I knew she couldn’t see enough. Her breath was ragged from anger and exertion. She laughed again, and it was frenzied.
Amitabha was nonplussed. I looked from one to the other, and it dawned on me as Bella drew a sword from her hip that she’d lied to me about one more thing.
“I’m finally going to kill you all!” she hissed. Dramatically, she pointed her sword at Amitabha. “I, Daughter of Mara, will destroy you stupid Buddhas!”
Amitabha watched with serene disaffection. I stepped forward. “But Bella, you can’t-”
I knew this place was too peaceful. Too serene. Too precious to be allowed to be destroyed.
Bella knocked me aside. “I have defeated the supposed ‘god of gods’. I have Lucifer as my minion, and-” she flicked a sneering wrist at me. “I’ve tamed Chaos. So,” she took a deep breath then screamed to Amitabha “I’m going to kill you all!”
“No!” I said. “Bella, you said you wanted to save everyone! You can’t do that if-”
“Snapshot! I lied! Now move aside, or rather -” and Bella’s crazed gaze landed on me. “Help me, Chaos. Kill Amitabha for me.”
“Do it!” she screamed in my face. “Do it, and I will let you be my slave again! I will give you infinite pleasure, Chaos!”
Amitabha stepped forward. Serenely, she placed a hand on each our shoulders. She looked first at me, then at Bella. We both held our breaths.
With her exhale, a sense of peace infused through me. It soaked into me gently, destroying anger and hurt. I felt pure and true to myself. Connected to Amitabha, to Bella, to this land and all that dwelled in it-
With a groan Bella collapsed. Her sword fell to the ground. She clutched at her head, moaning. “It hurts, it hurts,” she whimpered.
Of course, I realized. The destruction of ignorance and anger can be painful.
“It hurts!” Bella screamed. She staggered up to her feet, fingers having dug red marks down her cheeks. Eyes rolling, she took one terrified look at Amitabha before lurching for the portal.
With a shriek, Bella fell into it as if all the hounds of hell were at her heels. Then there was silence.
For a moment, Amitabha and I stood still. The wind blew around us, the grass swayed. I felt at peace. My mind, my spirit, felt on the brink of achieving something new. Enlightenment was only a grasp away, and I felt it.
But when I looked down, there was Bella’s sword. I stooped down and picked it up.
“Pleasure is a blade,” said Amitabha clearly. “It is fleeting, yet leaves marks of desire upon the soul.”
I closed my eyes tightly. What did I want? Of course I wanted to stay here. But I also pitied Bella. She was pathetic, really. Lost. Helpless in her own way.
I opened my eyes, mind focused and clear. “I’m going to go get Bella,” I said to Amitabha. “I’m going to heal her.”
A pleased smile drew itself on her face. “To heal a demon and bring them to the Pure Lands is quite the challenge. Good luck, Chaos.”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
Amitabha reached into a pocket of her robe. “I have a gift for you. A welcoming of sorts.” And she held out a D20 dice to me. It rippled in swirls of red and gold. When it touched my palm I felt warmth within me, a little bit of Buddha-essence within myself.
As I held it up to the light, Amitabha spoke. “This dice is different from the one you had before. This one will not tell you whether you will defeat an enemy in battle, but your chances of healing their souls. Be prepared, your life is about to change.”
I smiled as I pocketed it. “Thank you.”
Amitabha bowed her head respectfully. “Best of luck. And beware of the sword you now carry with you. Pleasure is a double edged blade.”
I looked down at Bella’s sword. The weight of it was massive for its size. I felt it like a scorpion, deadly and latently poised to strike. To hold it was to perch on the edge of a blade. But I was ready to do just that.