Chapter 19: An old tale

While Roderan was completing the mission that Aleks had given him, Aleks was busily regaling Lenia with an old tale. One which she seemed very eager to hear, much like a child eagerly awaiting a story from their father.

“A long time ago, there were once two brave and charismatic young men who sought to defy the gods. Well, much more than just that. It was the very idea of gods, of worship, of religion. They wanted nothing of it and perhaps in some way, in their arrogance, they believed that men were gods. This was mere foolishness to the standards of those who live today. The gods are real and ever present, guiding them, teaching them and welcoming them into their embrace. Or so they say. Anyway, their words were grand and persuasive. They convinced many who lived on the Earth to build a tower that would pierce the heavens. In those days there were no magical creatures or beings of immense spiritual power. There were just men and their foolish desires. The mind was their only true virtue.”

Aleks paused as he recalled those days. They were the brightest of his memories and they were filled with hope and ambition. He and his best friend and brother Ishmael had accomplished such grandeur, such magnificence. But it was all for naught.

He glanced at Lenia from the corner of his eye and saw her there watching him carefully as she waited on his words with bated breath. Her pure nature and childish curiosity made him feel some slight embarrassment which he hid well from her eyes.

“Ahem.. It was no ordinary tower, but one filled with a powerful energy and an entire people’s will. Its peak rose beyond the clouds and It all seemed to be as he had said, that this tower would finally bring the very idea of gods to their knees. He was wrong. When the energy of the tower was released it bore a hole into the fabric of reality. It was a beacon that lit up the stars, one that did not go unnoticed. On the other side, somewhere so distant only beings of a higher plane could understand, there was the realm of gods, of devils, demons, and other wicked things of fantasy and legend. One after the other they poured through the hole that was made like an endless tide. An infinite horde of winged monsters and monstrous beings went on a merciless rampage. They destroyed everything and killed everyone. In the end, that man begged the so called gods for salvation. The irony… A man who sought to rebel against the gods instead, on his knees begging for their mercy. I watched him crumble and could only feel disappointment at a man I respected greatly. He was no different from any other fool but I loved him nonetheless.”

Aleks spoke as if he were dwelling on a distant and forlorn memory. Lenia couldn’t help but wonder at how his tone had changed as the story of his progressed. Also, she noticed that the story became more personal towards the end.

“You speak as if you were there….” Lenia commented not realising that she was thinking out loud.

She had not expected an answer but her master replied regardless.

“That’s because I was.”

“How can that be? Didn’t you say this was a story you read in an ancient book?” She only asked because she was confused. His story sounded as if it were some myth or legend.

“You will only find the story of the Tower of Babel in myths and legends but it was real. Not what the books say however. The story has become one twisted to teach a moral to the people of this world. Well, more like propaganda that those beings wish people to believe. It is a story that happened who knows how many thousands of years ago. It is the story of the fall of Babel where Ishmael sought to rebel against the gods and became a Fallen One. In the legends, he is said to be a man cursed by the gods for his act of rebellion. The story has very little truth in it the way it is told and I’m not even a footnote in this tale but there is some truth to it. Never speak of this to anyone. I only tell you because you are one of my creations.”

Her master turned to look at her, his gaze boring a hole through her very being. She shivered at his piercing eyes which were all she could see at this time behind the cloth covering his face.

“I was drawn to this place because there is something I must obtain. It is most likely a trap set by one or more of the gods, but it is something I absolutely must have. Even knowing I may be walking into a trap there is no other way. What I seek is the mask of Ishmael, a prison where the soul of my brother and eternal friend resides. It was a parting gift from the horrors that we unleashed. Ishmael submitted in the end and begged for their mercy but I refused until the end. Our fates were different because of this choice. It is an ancient relic of great power and it has some connection with the Tower of Babel which I now know exists in some shape or form somewhere still. The mask is the key without a doubt, it is the only way I will be able to fully access the Tower’s core. The Tower was built by the both of us and it can’t be activated by me alone. Ishmael no longer has a physical form, but his soul should be enough if my conjectures are correct. The tower somehow connected with my soul and a part of it resides in me. It should be the same for Ishmael.”

Alek’s words filled the emptiness of the room but there was also some uncertainty there. It seemed as if he were trying to convince himself of something. He appeared to be rambling to himself despite having an audience in Lenia. She watched his strange behavior and rapid way of speaking with interest. She seemed more absorbed with his strange antics than the story he told but she still tried to listen intently. This was clearly a side of him she hadn’t seen yet.

Such a sad fate. I couldn’t imagine being separated both body and soul from my master. I would go mad.

When he finished, Lenia etched her master’s words deep in her heart as she thought of the grave consequences that befell that poor Ishmael.

She could only hope that she would not succumb to a similar fate. She wished to always be by her master’s side.

They talked for a while longer and as the time dragged on, eventually Roderan had finally made his way back into the sewers where Aleks temporarily had made his abode.

“You have completed the task I gave to you, excellent.” Aleks’ words were no more than idle pleasantry but he uttered them anyway.

“See Lenia? My plans are beginning to bear fruit! These fools will now be out for blood and blood they shall find. Let it destroy them completely!”

Aleks laughed an almost maniacal laugh, he seemed to be enjoying this series of events.

“What will we do next master?” Lenia questioned him excitedly, he found her behavior quite endearing.

“We wait now, until midnight. The night is still young and there is still much blood to be shed. From here on there will be an all-out war between the two Dons and they will be too preoccupied with their feud to notice a missing artifact…. or two.”

Aleks was pleased with how events were moving and he beckoned Roderan closer.

“Your job is not yet over, but do not worry. Once your mission is complete, I shall reward you. You will become a part of my strength and will aid me forevermore with your life’s essence.”

Roderan was incapable of feeling fear seeing as he was just a puppet and so he didn’t balk at Aleks’ words.

“What is it that you wish me to do?” He answered his master without hesitation.

“You are to lead me to Don Jesef’s vault and help remove any threats that get in my way. The artifact will be there and once we have it in our possession, your job will be complete. However, We must move swiftly before they notice your absence. But first, it’s time to feed. 500 SP, not bad considering I did nothing. Thanks for your efforts!”

The ‘Soul Puppet’ Roderan cracked an uncomfortable smile as Aleks uncovered the cloth around his mouth and visibly devoured the souls he had been carrying within his body.

“No problem boss!”

He couldn’t get over the strangeness of the one he was now temporarily serving but such thoughts were not important because he was only a puppet to be used and then discarded.

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