Vaid detonated; the universe became a dissonant mess of scattered uncertainties for just a brief instant as the Godbox went with him. When it resolved, when the laws of physics had settled back into place with the corpus of reality nestled comfortably into its former local minimum, Trelmarixian remained.

He tried not to think about it. Vaid had put a lot of effort into making sure that would work. He couldn't have understood half of it if he'd had the man as his tutor. The Maelstrom had spent thousands of years refining the techniques by which he inflicted uncertainty on the world. All to give himself a fighting chance. If he hadn't been supremely confident in his plan's odds of success, he wouldn't have risked it. Trelmarixian knew that Vaid was smarter; it was unnerving, now, to be holding his corpse by its collar.

He dropped it suddenly, startled by what had happened. Szuriel had already done her part by ensuring that Palta and the Patron were dead. That she'd died alongside them was inconsequential. She was unnecessary. Vaid had been the last move of the game. Checkmate. The universe was dead.

He'd won.

Soon, he would surrender himself over to that same oblivion and the Entropics would move in to disassemble the cosmos he'd helped scour clean. The Keeper would die or move on to become the Vanguard of his own little universe. Perhaps he would do a better job than his predecessor.

But then, perhaps not. It hardly mattered to Trelmarixian, or to anyone else. He'd done his job; had completed the task he'd been selected for. This Biosphere had been broken, and the longer it persisted, the more people would suffer. Even Iterius had seen the truth in that — the universe had labored under a mass delusion which the Disavowment had been designed to dispel. But Iterius had been unwilling to do all that was necessary, and had actually plunged the world into an even greater darkness. Trelmarixian had worked ceaselessly to correct that.

Now, the vast, unending emptiness of the universe fell heavy upon his mind. There was no more life. Not anywhere. Even the Beast, the one creature he hadn't been certain he would be able to kill, had been slain by Kosm in the final battle. Even Vigil, who could see the infinity of creation and all its potential paths, had been gone for years. Even Vaid, whose sacrifice to the Founder's Stone had given him knowledge absolute, was now plummeting to the ground far below, bereft of—

Life. He felt them before he saw them, the Champions fading into this reality and coalescing from another time and place. He'd been warned about this, had been cautioned on how to act and what to say, but still he was startled. It seemed so strange, so weirdly inconsistent, to think that Iterius would send his puppets here, where they couldn't possibly do anything but watch him win. Did he intend that they would face him down and defeat him here, at the cusp of his victory? They stood less than no chance. Maybe he wanted them to remember this and go back to stop him before it could come to pass? Obviously, the fact that he was here said that if they had tried, they'd failed.

But he wanted to speak with them, anyway. He had questions, not for them, but for Iterius; perhaps they would know the answers, given their roles. So he selected a human form, a different one than he'd ever used so that they wouldn't recognize him when next they met, and began descending to meet them. He would need a name — they might not know much about 'Trelmarixian', but they would at least know better than to trust the Horseman of Famine. Better that they should believe him to be someone else entirely.

So he landed and moved to greet them. He introduced himself with the collected calmness of a man assured of his own victory, and decided that the name would be a test. When the account of this conversation was relayed back in time and told to him at the very beginning, he wanted to know which of these people was most dangerous. It wouldn't be a random name, but a clue that might or might not be picked up on. It would be a reason to distrust him, if they were already suspicious. And if not, then that was important to know, too.

And so, smiling as softly and sadly as he expected he might have done if he'd cared about the end of the world, he said, “Greetings, Champions. My name is Marick.”