Jack felt for a moment that life had ended. A world he knew crippled, a battle last, but the war...it felt as if he lost it a long time ago.
“Layla…” Jack whispered, grief molding his face despite his greatest efforts. “Please...not like this, not like th-!”
Jack’s voice finally broke and he fell speechless. The body in his arms was too light, which made it a lot heavier on his soul. Lifting her up he began a slow walk out of the warehouse. The damage done was immeasurable, but it wouldn’t be standing much longer.
Jack didn’t know where to go or what to do. He felt a strange coldness in the air, one that he would never forget. As if realising the cold his arms were emptied. He lowered his eyes to find his daughter no longer there. Raising them, he saw the black figure across the empty street. The coldness, there was power among it and it pulsed from that lone dark figure.
“Where...where..?” Jack began to ask Death, but his strength was leaving him fast. Anger festered within him, a mix of all emotions that pushed him. The blue runes along his arms began to glow. “W-Where is she?!”
Appearing to the left of Death was a man in sunglasses and to his right was a thin man wearing a tie.
“Careful, Famine, it’s windy out today,” the one in sunglasses joked.
The thin man ignored him, taking a long drag of his cigarette and stared straight at Jack. The three eyed the angered warlock carefully.
“Well...would you look at that,” War murmured. “This one has some potential...shame I’ve already got a champion.”
“...” Death stepped forward, crossing the street while War and Famine watched.
“I guess we’re not waiting for-?” Famine droned, but stopped suddenly when a short, white-hairwoman walked past him.
Death waited for her and then the two walked up to Jack who was all too ready to start handing out a few hits.
“Layla is with her mother now, Jack,” Death told him slowly. “My condolences.”
“I am so very sorry for your loss,” Conquest told him sincerely. “Is there...anything we can do for you?”
Death glanced at her.
“You’re...them,” Jack murmured. He felt the power pulse through him. It slowed his movements and weakened his heart. “What do you...what…”
Death waved his hand and in that instant the five stood in the emptiness of limbo. Jack felt his powers cut and all the horsemen felt their power weaken, of only a little. If they didn’t trust Death to be neutral they might have felt they were being placed in a trap.
“Jack, the loss you have felt compared to your actions has been found...biased,” Death told him. There was an edge to that statement. At this, Famine twitched. “That being said, I have come to offer you power, but power that can only be accepted if you find peace, acceptance in all that has happened.”
Jack stood there, unable to respond, only listen. His arms hung limply at his sides.
“This power is not offered frequently,” Death continued. “Decide if you want to hold this loss or release it from your heart. You will have everlasting peace as my champion, Jack.”
To Jack, this was an offer to escape. Take the power, lose that feeling in his heart, but never feel anything again. In that moment, it was a tempting offer, one that someone in his situation would happily accept if it wasn’t for…
“Jack, we’re not done here,” Conquest told him. “I know what you’re thinking, but you haven’t heard the other options.”
Jack turned to her. Unlike Death she didn’t have a cloud of darkness covering her face. She seemed Jack’s age, but with steel eyes and white hair it was hard not to think of her as older.
“I can’t offer you peace from the pain you feel,” Conquest continued. “But I can offer you a place as my champion. Your powers came from me and through me I can make them stronger than you ever thought possible. This world is going to need your help, Jack, and you can’t help it if you’re neutral. Don’t escape this pain, conquer it.”
Conquest looked pleading for that moment and Jack felt something stir in his heart. It was an emotion he knew all too well and it is what made him who he is. Conquest smiled as Jack’s decision became clear. It was a confident smile.
“I see,” Death spoke simply. “Well, your choice is your own. Here I was thinking someone would accept my offer.”
“Don’t beat yourself up, Death,” Conquest murmured with an amused sideways glance. “There’s a reason your power is so rare. Gives the rest of us a fighting chance.”
“I suppose, but I can’t help but feel the world needs a champion of Death.”
“Trust me, the world can do without one a little longer.”
Death turned and followed War and Famine into the void, disappearing in a blink. Conquest remained, taking Jack’s hand into her own. There was a sharp jolt and the runes on Jack’s forearm grew so bright and fiery that the last thing he saw before the flash of light ended was Conquest’s determined eyes.
The next moment Jack blinked to find himself in the warehouse once more, alone. There was pain inside of him, energy not stored so deeply, but it needed to be used. Fire burned his core, working its way into the rest of his body like an acidic blood. Feeling his skin boil in that instant and just as soon as it started, it ended. The pain disappeared, the pulse of extra energy left his body.
In blue fire the warehouse crumbled, the stone scorched with the cool sparks. The sheer strength of this magic broken the massive building complex that surrounded Jack. It those moments he thought he would die. After the last cinder block stopped moving he realized it would take a lot more than a building falling on top of him to end his life. He was now the champion of Conquest.
Be sure to follow!