Everything that had happened before was simply a blur at this point. The death of his father, at this point, was also nothing more than a blur. Ever since defeating the Black King, the final enemy of a session that hadn't been plagued by omnipotent maniacs, trolls, or the insidious tentacles of the Horrorterrors, everything had become one restless, horrible dream. Fleetingly, the boy recalled the joy he had experienced upon dealing one closing blow to the tyrant. For a moment he remembered hugging all four of his friends and just crying happily. These hazy memories caused him to feel renewed, but soon he was cut down once again. How could he recall all of those wonderful things without remembering the carpet being pulled out from beneath him upon "claiming" The Prize?
Feeling fourteen sets of eyes upon him once again, the boy who was forced to become a man long before he should, shook his head. His mouth was dry and for a moment his entire body felt as if it was going to cave in on itself like a poorly constructed house of cards. If this had been any other time in his short life, he would have recalled his third grade piano recital and how nervous he felt playing in front of what seemed like a million judging eyes. Instead of this however, he went off into a part of his thoughts that he rarely strayed. For a brief moment he this was how a god was supposed to feel.
With a deep breath, the boy who now looked like a man began breaking the news to the creations he helped instill with life. He felt weak as the words left his lips, but to everyone else, the phrases were strong and confidant. That's what a leader did after all. He looked strong in the face of a challenge. He tapped into some hidden reserve of strength brought to him by the bond he shared with his friends, and he did what had to be done. Still, by this point in the game, they knew exactly how he was feeling, especially after he had said what he had just said.
The words hung in the air like a horrible stench. There was no way to dance around them for either party. For a moment the gods all looked at each other, and then turned back to their creations. They looked almost as distraught as the ones who had forged them. One of them, a girl wielding what could have been the Royal Deringer, dropped to her knees and began to breathe heavily. All but one of the other children went to her aid and began to comfort her. Their eyes were as glazed and fearful as hers, but they had to remain strong for her sake. They leaned her up against the wall of the old temple and another member of the quartet held her as she sobbed quietly into his shoulder.
The man who had said the horrible words but his lip as the attention was drawn to the sobbing child. He wanted to run over to her and break down with her, but that wasn't a leader's job when he had more pressing issues to deal with. He needed an answer. Then he could cry along with them, not that either of the two choices he had presented would have made him feel any better. Someone had to lose either with a yes or a no.
The child who stood before them who had not rushed to the aid of his comrade gripped the sickle in his hand, an obvious homage to a friend the four had to leave behind upon getting their second chance. The child acted with what the man felt was more conviction than he. He shook his head violently and threw accusatory fingers around the room. The fear and madness in his voice were apparent, but he was their leader, he had to suppress it. After his speech, he rallied his only three friends in the world and they all drew their weapons.
The destined four had made their decision.
One of the gods, one that always seemed to calm and collected, nearly fell to the ground. It was a rare moment of weakness for her. It bit into the leader's heart like a horrible serpent. He always viewed her as the strongest, most intelligent one of them. The way she talked before indicated that she had fully accepted both consequences, but the thought of actually having to this to her creation had apparently never crossed her mind.
The leader of the gods tried to be diplomatic, he honestly tried. They all tried. They tried sympathy. They tried reason. They tried promises. They promised that if they truly thought of doing what they were doing, they would all die, but in vain.
Having made their choice strongly however, they four children refused to budge. They refused to reconsider or take the third option and simply run off and live their lives.
So they died.
They had to.
Even though the children fell so easily, it was painful. Even though they were just a few clicks on a menu that took all of an hour to put together, it hurt. Staring at four unmoving corpses that you loved in an odd sense was only comparable to killing one's own child. These four knew nothing of children though. They were children themselves, truly. They just didn't look the part any longer. That's what SBURB did after all. It let one's body keep track of how long they had left. Right now, they had a while. They could do things. But if they didn't get back to work now, they would wither away and both their planet, their creations, and their chance at finally claiming their prize would would all die with a whimper.
The four stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity. They soon turned to their leader.
"We just have to try again." He said in a whisper. "We can just...learn from this."
More silence followed.
"What about the other way we could do it?" One of the gods suggested. She had taken a seat on the floor. Her rifle was kicked into a corner. She couldn't stand looking at it after what it helped do. She didn't sound as excited as she used to.
"I...I just don't think it's the best option." The leader said grabbing his forehead. He wondered if gods were supposed to sweat this much. It didn't seem very godly.
"So what?" Another of the gods cut in. "You want to do this again? You want them to have a choice? Your way...your way caused this." He threw his hand to the bodies which now looked just like little sleepy children, tuckered out after a long day. "It's my turn for this, dammit. I say we just make them like tools, cause that's all they are. They're tools for us." He swallowed hard. What he had just said stung his throat not because of how ugly it was, but because of how horribly true it was. "We make them strong, they do it, we're done. We forget about it."
The four looked at each other. Then they all looked to the leader again.
"No. That won't make us prove anything to this game. It'll pull some trick or something...I...I just know!" He was wavering. He had no front to put up now. They were all talking as equals. Children.
"Then count me the fuck out." The other male said throwing his blade to the ground. "Use one of my drafts or something for a kid. I'm not going near that fucking machine ever again."
The god who had remained silent since the ordeal spoke up. "Please, no. This isn't the time for such childish arguments. Both of your ways are just as valid, but..."
"But what? That he's the leader? I don't care. I'm out of it. I'm giving you my life force for this, but so help me, if I see any of your freaky puppets, I'll take em out. I want nothing to do with you." He then left.
They didn't behave as much like friends as they used to. Fights like this happened more and more. They still cared the world for each other, but everything was a source of stress these days. The leader mused to himself sarcastically that he wondered if being a god was supposed to be this hard. He then kicked himself for such a comment. He shouldn't be joking with himself, especially with what he did and what he had to do next.
"We'll use his draft." The leader said. "We'll refresh everything. We'll give them lives. Friendship. That's the stuff they need to truly get strong. I know what he suggested, but just making super strong slaying machines won't give them that extra push they need to-" He was cut off.
"You don't need to explain it." The god said adjusting her glasses. "We'll just do it and hope for the best. Are we going to do what we did last time though? I mean with where they live?"
"I wanted to try something else. And trust me, I know it'll make this scene a lot harder the second time around, but you have to trust me. It'll....it'll be for the best, ok?" He tried to smile. It was the same goofy ear to ear one he used to do, back when things involved palling around, killing imps in funny hats, and fighting a big scary king, like in the games.
The smile warmed the two. They nodded.
"Then let's get to work. For the last time. Remember though, after this Creation, the toll is probably going to put us near the edge. We've got to go all in. We've got to risk our bodies. We just have to keep our goal in mind, alright?"
The other two nodded.
They played god for the final time and it began once again.