The Path took me somewhere today. It's the only time it's taken me to another location.
I emerged in the church I first met Eternity in.
He was there.
I had known this, of course. I had come dressed in a simple dark cloak, in contrast to his flashy robe, intending to mock him. To let him know that I would be the one to end him. His arrogance had driven the organization into the ground and I would pull it from its disrepair.
All his previous bravado was gone, however. He still wore that purple robe over jeans and a t-shirt and looked about the same as always. But he reacted...differently. He was far more serious about everything.
"I've been expecting you, Alan," he said.
"So you know I'm here to kill you."
He closed his eyes and smiled, but the smile wasn't smug or sarcastic. It was...somehow genuine. "Yes. Just as I intended to kill Azrael. You know why you're here now, don't you, Alan?"
"To take your place."
"And you know why I call you Alan now?"
I nodded, pieces of a larger puzzle I had not quite been able to grasp slowly interlocking in my mind. "Yes."
"So, Alan. Tell me." He looked up at me. "What shall I call you now in my final moments? Who are you?"
Another piece fell into place. "I am Justice."
He nodded somberly. "Good. Good. I've been waiting to hear that name for months. You've finally found it. Are you willing to listen to a dead man's final words?"
He took a deep breath and started started speaking, pacing slowly as he did. Slowly, but with deliberation. Not flourish. "I'm incredibly sorry for everything. If there was another way to do things, I would have. But you had to break. It was the only way. You had to see the darker side of those close to you. You had to lose people."
He sighed. "You came here to kill me. But you won't. I didn't kill Azrael, though I wish it was that easy. The Slender Man will come to claim me, just as he came to claim Azrael. Just as he'll come to claim you when your successor comes. He'll also come for something from you. I'm sorry, Justice. I wish it weren't so. But you'll have to pay a price. Some lose a limb or two. Some lose an emotion. But every Oracle pays a price." He fell silent for a moment. "I had to as well. You have to be a broken man to be an Oracle. You have to break yourself."
"And what price was that?" I asked him.
He was silent for a moment. "I used to be in a situation like yours, Justice. I was a noncombatant in all of this. Removed from any major conflict. And like you, when the time came, I knew what I needed to sacrifice. I asked...I asked them to bring me a homeless person. Someone not on our side or their side. An innocent. A bystander in this whole war, but someone whose absence wouldn't be missed. They...brought me a girl. She couldn't have been more than ten years old. I knew I had to...I had to give up my innocence. I had to make myself a murderer. A monster. And I had to...I killed her with my bare hands." He started laughing, his hand gripping half of his face as he looked at me with one wild eye and his mad laugh's crescendo grew. "But that's not all. Noooooo, that wasn't all I did. I had to make sure I was really truly broke her. So before that, I raped her. I raped and killed her. By my own choice. I hated every second of it but I forced myself to do it because I knew I had to. And every month I killed another. Did brutal things. Because that's what I had to give up. My innocence in all of this. And you'll have to give something up too. Something to break yourself."
I fell silent for a while. "I've already lost plenty."
"That helps. I lost almost nothing. But what you've already lost won't be enough for him."
"I killed her. Worse. I forced her into a fate worse than death."
"As much as everyone blames you and you blame yourself, you're not the only one at fault. There has to be something, Justice."
I paused. "She's still alive. But I'll never see her again. I can't let myself." I looked up at him. "He'll take my sight."
He nodded. "And you know the visions that will come with that?"
I gave a heavy sigh and nodded. I knew what would happen if I lost my sight. "Yes. I know."
"Good. That will do." He turned so I couldn't see his face. "I know I've failed. It went well for a while but ultimately, I fell like we all do. So now I have another price to pay. It's your time now, Justice." He began swaying slightly. "He's...he's coming. I can feel it. It's time for me.... I know you'll do well, Justice. Good luck."
And then The Boss appeared before us, stepping towards Eternity, his body swelling and swallowing the man's up. He then turned to me, and everything faded to black. And I struggled to regain consciousness until I revealed that I wasn't asleep or dreaming. It was reality and my sight was gone.
I am Justice now. I am Messenger no longer but an Oracle. I'll need an aide now to help me with a few things, but for now, Tempest, my old Handler, has agreed to type this up for me, now that my world is dark.
I have to go for now. I have a lot of work to do. I'll be back, though. There are still things unsaid, but I need to take care of some business before that is possible.
But only once. The Messenger is gone. His replacement should be showing up soon. But me? Justice?
I have no reason to have anything to do with you people anymore.