Chapter 20: Dirty business (1)

Aleks welcomed the midnight air despite the horrid stench of the alleyway. For his ambition, some slight discomfort was a negligible concern. For he believed that his eyes saw farther than the ignorant masses that dwelled upon the earth in their trivial pursuits and meaningless lives.

It wasn’t that he scorned life, but he understood that the lives of the various people living were mere nourishment for the gods and their ilk. This included those called demons as well as devils. They were all technically the same sort of existence it was just that their domains or the laws which defined them and empowered them were different. This also affected their behavior and the type of followers they each possessed.

Those called gods tended to embody various virtues, philosophical ideas, forces of nature, etc. Examples of this would be Justice, Law, Fire, Forests, and countless others. There were a variety of gods that embodied a great diversity of laws. There were those who even embodied the same law but different aspects of it.

As for demons and devils, they were considered evil by the gods and their worshipers, but in the end they were all the same type of being. Demons were embodiments of chaos, destruction and annihilation as well as illusions, nightmares, and other horrors. On the other hand, Devils usually represented powerful desires, obsessions and fetishes. Things like Pride, Envy, and Lust for example.

To Aleks, there was no need for distinctions. They were all foreign invaders, colonizers, thieves, murderers, liars and every other despicable thing. It was truly overwhelming for him for there were many enemies and very few friends.

Aleks had been the last to exit the sewers and walked slowly behind his two companions. As he came out he was embraced by the serene light of the moon waning above the clouds. Illistria’s light shone brilliantly, illuminating the city streets and beckoning Aleks on with its warm and soothing luminescence. If it wasn’t for the squalor that encompassed him, he would take a moment to bask in its light.

Another time perhaps, once my task here is complete.

Roderan and Lenia were waiting patiently for their master and neither took notice of the beauty before them, instead their eyes were affixed on Aleks.

“Lenia, prepare yourself. We are walking into an enemy’s domain. Roderan, lead on.”

Roderan bowed and lead Aleks and Lenia through the slums as he guided them to where the Don’s hidden vault was located. Usually, at this time of night only miscreants and vagabonds stalked the city streets. While some had purposes nefarious, most others did so without purpose nor hope. None dared approach the three interlopers that had disturbed the squalid and decaying visage of this hellish place.

The reason was simple, none could help but cower in fear in the face of the raging inferno of Aleks’s obscene power.

Lenia casually glanced at her master hoping to perceive even a smidgen of her master’s intentions but his cloth wrappings masked all emotion. This made her feel uncomfortable so she distracted herself by examining her newly acquired sword and then by loosening the strap on her sheath for easy access. She was becoming more accustomed to her emotions but had some small difficulty from time to time.

Aleks walked proudly and with majesty, a bearing befitting royalty. His humble clothing created a dissonance of purpose and form. Yet he was not diminished by this, instead he radiated ever more brightly. As he approached his coveted affection he could barely contain the bubbling desire which was swelling inside of him, coiled even, like a viper biding its time before the kill.

Roderan led them on without a concern in the world. He was only a puppet after all and was neither bothered by his master’s power, nor by the affairs of the living. It took a while but they traveled much faster than Lenia had earlier in the day. Roderan knew the streets well and guided them efficiently through it making their way across the great southern bridge towards the trade district. The guards at the checkpoint were paid to ignore their passage and they pretended as if they hadn’t seen anything at all. 

At that moment Roderan recalled something and spoke, “Master, we’ll soon be in the trade district. There will be guards patrolling throughout. We must be careful not to be seen. They will think we are suspicious traveling at this time of night.”

“Do not concern yourself. I will use my ‘Astral Projection’ ability to determine where the patrols are but I must use it sparingly. Too much and our presence may become known to those I wish to remain hidden from. Continue.”

“Of course master!”

Roderan didn’t delay further and continued on.

During the night many torches all around the city were lit in order to illuminate the streets. However, more often than not their light would not cover the many dark alleys nor hidden passages. Because of this patrols would only traverse the main thoroughfare and would seldom dare to brave the more secluded areas. As such it would be a simple matter to avoid the patrols so long as they knew where they were.

Aleks had lurked in the sewer for most of his stay within the city and had only explored at night on occasion in order to advance his agenda. One might think he was a creature of the night, something like a vampire or some other being considered evil by those who worshipped gods. This wasn’t the case though, he mostly didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Especially from the eyes of the Church of Justice.

It would not do for ‘Him’ to become aware of my presence. At least not until the time is right.

That wasn’t the sole reason though, he did not desire to be surrounded by the filthy denizens of this place. He rather preferred the stink of the sewers in comparison to the corruption of the Human soul from the mark of the gods. One was only filthy on the surface, while the other was dark and festering.

Because of this, he had become accustomed to traveling at night and could navigate the maze of roads that dotted the city with ease. Following Roderan was a simple matter and it wasn’t long before they had arrived at the entrance to a moderately sized building nestled in one corner of the trade district. There was nothing particular about its design or about its outward appearance. It was a simple construction, of stone and wood just like any other building within the trade district. No unique adornments decorated its outer walls, which made it indistinguishable from any other neighbouring building.

“This is the place. It’s inside this building but it will be heavily guarded.”

Roderan pointed to the seemingly common structure.

“That’s what I have you for. Gain us entry. Kill them if you need to.”

Lenia and Aleksandros followed Roderan to the entrance of the building. Roderan knocked on the door in their secret code.

“Who’s there?” A deep, hoarse voice responded from within.

“It’s me Jack, open the door.”

The door then opened revealing the individual referred to as Jack on the inside. He was a stout, bald, hideous looking man with the stench of alcohol on his breath. His clothes were stained and dirty from food and alcohol. Even his thick bushy beard was littered with bits of food.

“Oy, Roderan who’re they? Oh, she’s a beauty! ‘Ave you brought me a present? Should’ave wrapped it!”

The man was clearly drunk and laughed stupidly as he approached Lenia.

Lenia looked to Aleks for guidance, she didn’t want to act without his approval. Aleks shook his head, there was no need to make a scene. Roderan stepped in the man’s way and stopped him.

“They’re with me.” Jack stopped grinning and wobbled as he complained to Roderan, “You get all the fun, I want some too…. Ugh.”

“Let’s head back inside, are the other guys in there?” Roderan put his arm on the man’s shoulder and guided him back into the building but the man suddenly stopped and turned around to look at Aleks.

“Oy! Who is this here? Why’s he got cloth wrapped around his face, he a leper?”

Jack came dangerously close to touching Aleks and Lenia tensed up. She would have already killed the man if Aleks had not put his hand on hers to stop her.

“Leave em alone Jack, come here. I want to tell you something.”

Roderan grabbed Jack by the shoulder and spun him around while whispering something in his ear which made him laugh.

They finally gained entry into the building and closed the door behind them. The room they walked into was mostly bare except for a table and a chair. There were also torches on the walls which brightened up the room. Further inside they could hear raucous laughter from several men. There was a hallway with a few doors along it, the laughter was coming from one of the doors further in.

“So what happened Jack, lost a bet and got stuck with guard duty?”

Roderan joked with Jack while leading him back to the chair.

“Ah! Those bastards were cheating, I know it! Damn. took all my money too…”

The man could barely walk and Roderan helped him settle into a chair.

“Just relax, no one else will be showing up tonight so no need to be too cautious. We’ll just head on in, okay?”

Jack cradled his head and shooed them away.

The three walked further in, careful not to draw attention to themselves from the revelry.

Aren’t they a little too careless? Something feels off.

Lenia couldn’t put her finger on it but she felt the atmosphere was too lackadaisical for a place which is supposed to be secure. She looked to her master to see if he had noticed anything but she still had no clue what was on his mind.

Roderan continued to lead them downstairs and further into the complex, the underground area was much larger than expected. It was almost like a series of tunnels with torches to light the way. There were even traps but Roderan knew their location and dismantled them as they moved along.

An otherworldly silence permeated the solitary confinement of the long hallways and it left Lenia feeling unnerved. Not even a rat could be seen scurrying along the tunnels. She wanted to say something but held her tongue so as not to offend her master.

Surely he must be aware that this is suspicious.

When they reached the end of the maze of tunnels, there was a large metal door leading into the inner vault where all of the Don’s wealth was kept secure. It was necessary to have such complex security and it would be difficult for anyone to navigate through this sort of maze without a guide who knew the way.

She now understood why Roderan was necessary for her master’s plan since he had told her that he didn’t wish to use his powers too freely. Why he did not wish to use his powers was perplexing to her. Were he to use his ‘Astral Projection’ ability, then he would have no trouble with navigating the maze or dismantling the traps. Instead of scurrying around like rodents, they could simply slaughter every human unlucky enough to find themselves inside this building.

No use trying to understand his brilliance. All I need to do is trust in him.

That thought brought her comfort, there was no need for her to think too deeply about it, she would just follow him.

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