“Isn’t that right, Slayer?” the crotchety old hag, standing below 4-foot-tall, says with annoying confidence. Despite her size, she’s still big enough to get in the way of Slayer trying to stroll around the dark and desolate back alleys of the third haven. The dirty brick walls to either size have moss and weeds coming out of the cracks and are stained with blood splattered during ill-fated encounters past. Along the path are piles of rubble, dented dumpsters overflowing and coated with rotten trash and old corpses and bones no one saw fit to keep as trophies.
Slayer is used to encountering people in places like this, though mostly they’re people who hate the status and richness of his family, people who lost everything trying to gamble against him, fans of warriors he unceremoniously killed or even just normal thugs. Slayer prefers to come upon this sort than walk the open roads and be swarmed with fans trying to give him the most precious things they can offer. These alleys are a reminder that there’s no one in the world who could avoid making enemies, no matter how lucky. Among the stink and rot, being here helps Slayer to feel normal, even if he is cutting down entire gangs.
This particular situation, though, is new. Never before has Slayer encountered a tiny old lady during these little back alley strolls. “Yer not the first person to do yer research on me. Ye’ll have to do a little better to get my attention,” Slayer comments as he turns away and begins to leave the alley. If the old lady’s not a threat then she has something to give and Slayer doesn’t want it.
“Oh? You aren’t impressed that I managed to recite to you the exact words your mother said to you?” the hag pouts.
“I’ve faced plenty of Aljani with weird abilities. If it ain’t that then maybe you’ve just been spyin’ on me fer a long time. Doesn’ really matter when I know what it’ll amount to,” Slayer sighs, continuing his stride.
The hag hobbles along after him, apparently unconcerned by the litter and gross substances which have found their way onto her long dress. “I can assure you, I’m no Aljani, nor have I seen you before this day. I’m just an old lady who can give you what you want. What you really want,” she claims.
Slayer pauses for a moment, but it’s a line he’s heard before. A line which has given him hope and subsequently betrayed him in the past. He starts moving again with a swifter pace, making it difficult for the hag to keep up. Quickly short on air, she exclaims “it’s the greatest contradiction, isn’t it? All that luck, everything you could want, yet it isn’t what you seek. How can you be lucky if you aren’t happy?”
Slayer stops, properly this time. People have observed his absurd luck before but up until now it’s mostly just amounted to angry rivals citing it as why he wins his fights. Not that they’re wrong but this is the first time someone else has observed deeper than that. He faces the panting hag to see her holding out one simple object. A six-sided die.
“This is what you really want,” she states, “a game to prove what it is you truly want. Win, and your life continues the way it is. You walk away from here and I become just another would-be tool to get you something. Lose, and I take away all of your luck. So, will you play?”
Ah. Slayer allowed the feeling of hope to catch up to him again, right up until he heard the word ‘game’. For anyone else, maybe they would keep listening at least until they’d heard the rules of the game. How it would work, what the chances were, but none of that matters to Slayer. If it’s a case of win or lose then there’s only one option. His expression, which had moved to convey a rare sense of intrigue, sinks back to neutral. Seeing this, the hag quickly clarifies “this game will be decided with a single roll of this dice. Surely the prospect doesn’t frighten you?”
Slayer sighs again as he often finds himself doing and crouches to meet the hag eye-to-eye. “Fine,” he says, “what’re the rules?”
“As I said. A single roll of this dice. You call a number between one and six, I roll this dice, and if you call correctly you win!” the hag explains. “Sound fair?”
Slayer rolls his eyes at the word ‘fair’. “I’ve beat one-in-six odds with a revolver to my head. No chance you wanna use a dice with more sides?”
The hag cackles. “No, I’m quite sure this will be enough. So, what do you call?”
“One,” Slayer says without a moment’s delay.
“How decisive. Are you sure you don’t want to consider it more?”
“There’s nothin’ to consider, and I ain’t ever taken back my call before.”
The hag doesn’t move, the dice remaining still in her hand.
“Hey, ya gonna roll or-”
The hag slowly curls her fingers, grabbing the dice tightly. “There’s a legend about you, you know. I’m sure you’ve heard it. The one that says your luck is the last thing keeping Monduta alive.”
Slayer looks a little surprised at this little story. “No, I hadn’t heard that one, actually. Any more to it?”
“The legend says your luck is all the luck left in the world. Thus, your last fortune will be to die a peaceful death just before the world falls to its final oblivion,” the hag recites.
“… So why tell me about this now?”
“Because this legend assumes that your luck ends when you die.” The hag flashes a wicked smile as she continues “You said you beat one-in-six odds with a revolver to your head. This one-in-six could be the world’s end. So, Felix Waljan the Demon Slayer, are you sure you don’t want to change your call?” she offers, opening her hand to reveal the dice to Slayer again.
Understanding the situation, knowing the hag’s words are nothing more than a story probably only passed around by back alley crazies who are high on the fumes of death and decay, Slayer felt something. A feeling that had been lost ever since he was old enough to understand his own luck. He wasn’t scared or intimidated, he had been convinced that there was a real risk and spurred excitement. A gamble to beat out any other, one that wouldn’t be matched if he were to win. In this moment, he doesn’t care if this luck is just tricking him into some empty satisfaction, he truly wants to see where the dice will land.
“Y’know what. Yeah. I will change my call, jus’ this once. Jus’ to see what’ll happen. I call two,” Slayer happily confirms.
The hag cackles again, louder this time. “Very well! Then let us see, after a history of demons and aljani ripping the world apart, will the drop of this dice be what breaks Monduta once and for all?”
With that exclamation, the dice is cast down onto the ground of the filthy alley. It bounces, rolls, knocks into a stray bone and stops. Slayer and the hag look down in silence at the top face of the dice. The result of the gamble which bears the weight of the world.
Just one single dot.