Chapter 3: New birth

“Welcome.” the voice of a strange, formless being resounded in the emptiness.

The newly arrived soul looked at his surroundings, confused and unaware of the circumstance it found itself in.

“Where am I?”  It asked with a bit of hesitation in its voice.

“You died, this is the place where souls gather before their reincarnation.”

“I’m dead? But…” Words were difficult to form as there was still a bit of confusion as to what state the soul was in.

“That’s right, you died and now you are here. You are still experiencing a momentary daze, you will be fine soon.”

“I don’t understand, I was with my wife and daughter and then…” the memories of the life it had just lived poured into its mind drowning out its consciousness. If it had a body it would be writhing in pain, instead it stood motionless unable to form a coherent thought.

“Ah yes, well, since this is your first time dying, things may seem incomprehensible to you, but you will eventually understand.”

The soul’s pain had finally subsided, “What happened to my wife and daughter?”

“They died.” The strange and formless being’s words were without emotion.

“They died? I tried to protect them… why… why did they have to die?”  

“Death is a part of life, one can not go without the other. It was their time.”

Those words, the soul could not accept them. It had lived an upright life as a farmer and had worked hard to provide for the family it loved. Its wife was kind and compassionate, and it loved her dearly. The soul could imagine what those men would do to her and its daughter. The thought sent chills through its consciousness.

“My daughter, she was so young. She didn’t even have a chance to live…”

“There’s no point in dwelling on the past, you cannot change it. All you can do is look forward to your next life! I am sure it will be much more satisfying.”

“Much more satisfying? How can you say that? Wait… aren’t you god? You can bring them back, can’t you? I don’t care if I am dead, but please, at least let them live! I am begging you!” The soul pleaded with the god before it, hoping for what it considered to be mercy.

“That is something that can’t be done. Their souls have already moved on. They have been reincarnated into new bodies. They will no longer remember you or their past life.” Again, the god’s words lacked any semblance of emotion.

To the soul, it seemed as if god were callous. It wasn’t as if the soul were incapable of understanding what god said, but it had a hard time accepting the reality. The loss it had suffered was still raw in its mind and it questioned the apparent indifference of the god before it.

The soul, knowing it would not receive the answer it desired and still feeling the pain of its loss, asked a different question.

“If all we do is live just to die, then why do we exist? Is there no purpose to any of this?” It was all the soul could think to ask, even though it knew it was probably a pointless question.

“That is for you to seek and find, by living.”

The soul thought about the words the god said, ingrained them in his mind and asked, “Then will I come to understand in time? If I reincarnate and live another life, will the answer come to me? Will life begin to have a meaning?”

“If you live enough, you will surely find the answer you seek, but you won’t find it staying here. It is time for your next life.”

(Lenia POV)

Being born is not a simple process, but being born from the life of another? The pain was excruciating, but eventually, the pain receded and consciousness was obtained, a new life had indeed been born. She opened her eyes for the first time. Adjusting her newly formed eyes to the light was difficult, but she soon gained focus.

It was not just the physical form which was newly made, but also the mind, and her mind also took time to adjust to the very first moments of her existence. Once her eyes gained focus she saw for the first time the personage of the one that created her. She knew he was the one who created her because it was driven deep within her psyche. Her creator, this man, was the one who she belonged to and no other. She felt an immense joy fill her very being, a joy she did not want to share with anyone.

The woman quickly rose and kneeled before the man who had created her. She would not keep him waiting, her very being screamed to serve him with her very life. It might have been an aftereffect of being so newly born, but she didn’t want the feeling to fade. This was more than just love, it was an absolute obsession. This obsession possessed her like burning flame and with such strong feelings she was uncertain how she should act or what she should say in front of her beloved creator. She could only look up at him with expectant eyes.

“M..a..s..t..e..r” She spoke for the first time with some difficulty since her vocal chords were only recently formed along with the rest of her body.

The one she had named master looked at her and spoke: “Your name shall be Lenia.”

He had given her a name. She was elated that her creator had deemed her worthy of one. She did her best to speak her name, “L-E-N-I-A.”

It felt like a wonderful name, but she would have liked any he had given her.

Lenia’s personality hadn’t fully stabilized within her and so, she exhibited emotional instability which resulted in her excessive servile behavior towards her master. She would always be his creation and as such, would always be tied in some ways to his will. But once her personality had gone through its essential development stage, she would begin to act more like a separate person. This would never negate her connection to her master, however she would eventually be able to express a more individualistic behavior according to the core personality traits her master had set for her.

Lenia was uncertain how to act, and so she continued to watch her master, whose face suddenly changed to something unpleasant.

“Good. Now, take this dagger and go and kill every person in this building.”

She was confused at first, it wasn’t as if she didn’t understand his order, but then she began to wonder why he had asked her to do such a thing, although the thought was only momentary. She took the dagger from his hand and walked out of the room they were in, still naked. She was pleased to have been given an order from her master and she wanted to please him the way a child wishes to please their parents.

The building she was in was strange to her, she had no knowledge of it but she felt as if she did. In fact she felt an urge of curiosity to look around but knew she couldn’t tarry long. Her beloved master was waiting after all.

As she wandered around she could hear many strange sounds she had never heard before and she wondered what they were. There were several doors in the corridor she was in. In the end, she chose the nearest door, which happened to be closed, and entered. What she saw, she didn’t quite understand. A naked man was standing behind a naked woman who was bent over the bed. The man was thrusting violently at her rear while heavily panting. They were too engrossed in what they were doing and didn’t even notice her enter the room. She had a thought that it might be better for her to be quiet, it seemed as if that was a good idea.

She didn’t understand what the man and woman were doing, but she didn’t need to. Her master had asked her to kill every person in this building and so she silently approached the man from the back. She deftly put the dagger through the back of the man’s throat. He had no chance to cry out. Blood started gushing out and down onto the body of the woman who was bent over the bed. She had very little time to react to the strange sensation she suddenly felt as the man no longer was able to continue with his thrusting. Lenia quickly withdrew her weapon from the man’s throat and then embedded it into the skull of the woman who had been bent over the bed. The two had lost their lives without even being able to react to the danger that they were in.

Lenia thought that she would feel something at taking a life, but she was surprised that she felt nothing. She felt no remorse, regret or grief. She wondered why she felt nothing. No, it would be wrong to say she felt nothing at all, she felt a degree of disgust. She stood there, naked, holding a dagger and some of the blood of her victims had fallen on her body. She felt dirty, not the kind of dirty you feel when covered in filth or grime. It was a much more debased kind of dirty, as if she had been soiled by some inferior being.

The feeling was strange. These humans didn’t appear much different from herself. She was human as well, but at the same time, she felt as if they were nothing alike. She was not like those humans. As she looked upon them, it was as if she were looking upon an insignificant rodent whose sole purpose was to be exterminated. This feeling almost overwhelmed her, but quickly faded soon after the outburst.

There were still more to kill and so she went about her dirty business, slaughtering the hapless and unfortunate people who had made this brothel their stay for the night. There was much she still didn’t understand, and the sights and smells she experienced in that place were all new to her. She would ask her master when the time was appropriate. She thought it must be something of significance since everyone human she killed that night beside the burly man at the door was partaking in it.

Massacring the humans in the brothel was a simple task. Most of the people didn’t even notice her presence until they lost their lives and the few that did notice her, didn’t seem alarmed at her presence. They even welcomed her, calling her over to partake in their strange ritual. Surprisingly, they didn’t question the blood on her naked body, instead they were becoming visibly aroused by it, though she didn’t understand why that at the time.

Once the deed was done, she returned to the room where her master was and found him sitting on the bed. He still hadn’t put on any clothes, but he had wrapped his face in cloth once more.

Lenia kneeled down before him, “Master, they are all dead.”

She seemed to have disrupted him from his thoughts and felt a pang of guilt for disturbing him. He paid it no mind much to her relief, “Good. Lenia, you did well. I am pleased.”

Her heart fluttered at his words of praise and she felt her face getting hot. She quickly stammered, “No.. no need to praise me master, I was simply doing your will.” She had somewhat lost her cool but quickly collected herself. She didn’t want to look the fool in front of her creator.

He looked at her through the slit in the cloth, but she couldn’t tell what his expression was. His voice was gentle when speaking with her, “A kind master should always praise his creations, especially when they do good, and Lenia, you do not need to call me master. Call me Aleksandros.”

“But master, how can I call you by your name? You are my creator, it would be disrespectful to call you anything but!” Lenia couldn’t justify in her mind the thought of showing anything but the utmost respect for the one who created her.

“Lenia, it would be a great pleasure for me if you called me by that name. Isn’t that enough?”

She had no words to refute his request, for her heart only burned ever brighter. Her master had bestowed upon her a great gift, his name, and had even said it would please him if she called him by it. She didn’t want to disappoint him.

“Alek-sandros.” She said his name while testing it on her tongue.

“Lenia, come with me.”

Lenia quickly rose and followed her master out of the room and into the first room where she had killed another.

“Lenia, did you know that when a person dies, their soul remains within their body for three days before it ascends?” He said this while standing over the dead bodies of the man and woman she had killed earlier.

“No mas…Aleksandros, I didn’t know that.” She didn’t really know how to respond to him, her knowledge of life, in general, was still very limited. Still she was curious and decided to ask more, “What is a soul?”

Her master continued to look down at the dead humans while he answered her, “A soul is what we really are, it is more than just our consciousness, it is our very essence and it resides deep within our physical form. These humans you see here, normally their souls would ascend to the place where their creator is and they would be reincarnated into new lives. But, these souls won’t be going there.”

His answer made sense to her, because her soul was connected to her creator. She was happy that she didn’t have to die to be with him. She didn’t understand the last part of what he said, though, “What do you mean their souls won’t be going there?”

“Let me show you.”

Her master hadn’t covered his mouth with the cloth and he opened his jaw wide and sucked something right out of the two dead humans. She couldn’t believe what she had seen and she couldn’t really describe it in words, but something was sucked out of the humans. Her master seemed satisfied and turned to her, he appeared to be smiling.

“Did you see? Their souls are now a part of me and have become my strength.”

She understood now, her master not only could create life, like hers, but he could also take the very essence of others by force.

She only felt a bit of pity towards the humans who had lost their souls, “It is good that such worthless beings have become your strength!”

She believed her words had pleased Aleksandros.

“Lenia, I want you to find some suitable clothing from within this build for both yourself and I. Take whatever you see which might be of some value, but be careful when choosing, so that you only take something that will not go amiss.”

Lenia nodded and quickly went about her master’s orders. She did wonder whether any of these humans would have suitable clothing for them to wear, but she didn’t question Aleksandros’s command.

She went about the various rooms looking for anything useful or of some value as well as clothing for them to wear. She needed to find clothing which had not been bloodied or dirtied in any way. Her master had commanded her not to take anything which would be noticed, but she wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that. Noticed by who? She thought to herself.

She scavenged through the belongings and found what she believed to be suitable clothing to wear. She had also taken a few knick knacks here and there that seemed like they might be of some value. While Aleksandros was busy devouring the souls of those she killed, something had caught her attention just as she was returning.

It was the glint of a bracelet that had belonged to one of the prettier women in this place. She had never seen a bracelet like this before, and it wasn’t just pretty to her eyes, it was simply beautiful.The bracelet was made of gold, with several gems embedded in it. She stared at it, not sure at what she should do. Was this one of those things her master had warned her against taking, an item that if missing would be noticed?

Her hand glided along the surface of the bracelet, and she was tempted to put it on her wrist. It looked beautiful on her, and the more she looked at it the more she wished to keep it. In the end she decided to take it with her and like a child, hid it so that her master wouldn’t notice. She would surprise him when the moment was right, thinking that if he saw it on her later on, it would please him and he would look at her, and only her. This was a simple thought, but her mind was still growing.

She returned to her master who had finally finished devouring the souls of all the people within the building. She held out the loot she had scavenged from her victims and beamed a bright smile at him.

“Look! Aleksandros, I did what you asked! Are these valuable?” she happily asked.

He seemed to be satisfied with her performance, but it could have just been her imagination. It was difficult to see his facial expressions under the cloth, but he patted her head and said, “You have done well, we can sell some of these things to buy food and other necessities and these clothes you chose are better than what I was wearing before. You have a good eye for these things.”

Every word of praise made her smile all the more. “Thank you master! Oops! I mean.. Aleksandros.”

Her master chuckled, it was the first time she heard him laugh.

“Let us get dressed and return home, we have much to do.”

They quickly dressed and Lenia followed her master outside and into the night, through the dark alleys of the city. He led her into the sewers beneath the city of Andor’s Edge. She followed him for some time. She tried her best to remember the various landmarks her master pointed out to her and the twists and turns they needed to make. Her master made sure she understood that it was important she learnt how to navigate the sewers so that she could find her way to their home.

She didn’t understand why he lived in such a disgusting and dreary place, though.

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