Chapter 4: A predictable outcome

“Aleksandros….” His new creation was looking at him like a child with a hint of confusion on her beautiful face.

No, her perfect face. She will undoubtedly draw the attention of many eyes, but I have made her strong, Aleks thought as he admired Lenia’s face.

“What is it Lenia? If you have something to ask of me, then do so. You need not hesitate.” Lenia still felt a degree of fear for her master, although it wasn’t the kind of fear that made her worry for her life, but a fear out of respect for a being she owed her existence to.

“Why… why do you live in this horrid place?” She went right to the heart of the matter I see.

“A very pertinent question. It is indeed unfortunate that I must reside in this squalor, but do not fear. It is only temporary” Alek’s voice bore a hint of majesty, something not very befitting of a man living in such conditions.

The ‘Soul Eater’ had only recently arrived in this city and had come with no wealth to speak of. He had come to accept that he was trapped in this body and no matter how he tried, he could no longer return to that place. That being he hated so much had made sure of that.

If I am trapped here, then I will make this world my own and dye it in my colors! You will not have the last laugh you cursed being! This desire had become his new ambition.

“Ah! So it is just temporary…..” Lenia was still naive, there was much she needed to experience and learn. Since she was his first, she needed to become a capable leader.

Aleks had spent all of the ‘Soul Potential’ he had acquired when creating her, and despite the fact that he was able to consume some SP from the humans that Lenia had killed in the brothel, most of their souls were of low quality. Hence he was unable to recuperate the SP that was used.

On average a high-quality soul would give Alek anywhere from 50 to 100 SP, whereas a low-quality one would only give a measly 10 or 20. Creating Lenia was quite the investment, it had cost him close to 1000 SP. This was due to the fact that the souls that he created were of the highest quality with their base cost being 100 SP. Increasing the level of the creation also had a cost. For a human, it cost 15 SP for each additional level after level 1 up to level 40. Each positive trait had a different cost depending on usefulness and also additional classes or ‘Class Up’ cost SP as well.

Other races had varying costs depending on the abilities and their specific racial traits.

Humans were less costly than say, a demonic race, for example.

The more he customized his creations, the stronger he made them, the more the cost would be significantly increased. Lenia was level 40, and possessed a base class, and two intermediate classes. In terms of power, this would put her within the upper echelons of the greatest adventurers in the world. Even the most powerful adventurers maxed out at level 40, but this was not the maximum level. His powers as a ‘Soul Eater’ informed him that level 100 was the maximum level which could be obtained.

It took considerable time to reach a level of 40 which is why attaining such a level, was often considered a legendary feat. A level beyond that was simply unheard of. Alek had discovered that there was a significant increase in SP required for leveling the creation past level 40, likely for normal inhabitants, it would be impossible to obtain the required amount of XP past this point, by any ordinary or conventional means.

The ‘Soul Eater’ system was complex but thankfully his menus included information regarding every aspect of creation. Thanks to this, he would never make a mistake due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of the system.

Unsurprisingly, the world’s inhabitants seemed to have no knowledge of the system and were struggling in the dark. They understood that they needed to fight monsters in order to increase their strength but they also believed that rituals or blessings would help them advance their abilities. Often they spent their lives strengthening themselves through trial and error.

Thankfully, Aleks didn’t need to concern himself with such trivial things seeing as there was no class above a ‘Soul Eater.’ If he had to class up through a blessing or ritual to that despicable being he would not be able to bear it.

While he was absorbed in thought, he realized Lenia was still staring up at him from her kneeling position. He must have looked the fool to her being so absent minded, but it wasn’t as if he was wasting time. Understanding the ways of the world and his own advantages and limitations was extremely important.

Lenia had no such thoughts, all she was doing was dutifully waiting until her master was ready to speak with her.

“Lenia, we are lacking in many basic supplies which we will need in order to survive here And while I can’t truly die, it is still painful to be hungry or thirsty. There is much to do. For now, I will give you a list of supplies to buy or acquire by trade in the city above. You are to sell what we looted from the brothel and obtain the items on the list. This is a test for you to overcome, see it as such.”

Lenia seemed pleased to have been given an important mission, even though it wasn’t truly all that important. Aleks main goal was to allow her to gain experience by walking among humans. Since she would now become his eyes and ears and would someday manage his household, she needed to be capable of at least this much.

“Oh, and one more thing. Do not draw attention to yourself, is that clear?”

“Of course mas… Aleksandros.. I will be very careful. You can rely on me to carry out this mission!” Excellent determination, she is maturing quickly.

“Then go, I will rest until you return.” Lenia left him there in the silence.

(Lenia’s POV)

Left, right, left, and straight! Finally! Lenia was concerned she would lose her way, but thankfully she was capable of remembering everything her master had told her despite it only being once. She was amazed she didn’t get lost and thanked her master for so ably creating her. Lenia didn’t want to fail the very first mission her master had given her.

Climbing the ladder leading out of the sewers beneath the city was a chore. She couldn’t understand why her master had to live in such a disgusting place even though he had explained it to her properly.

I suppose I just can’t understand someone of his magnificence. Oh.. Maybe I am the one lacking and my master’s home in the sewer serves some grand purpose! Although I really hope we can find somewhere more suitable to live soon…

As Lenia pushed open the sewer entrance leading to a secluded alley in a corner of the slums, she vowed to do whatever she could in order to ensure that her creator lived a life deserving of his grandeur. She pictured herself and her master in magnificent palaces, with wonderful tasting food and other grand luxuries on display. The thought sent a tremble down her spine as she imagined it.

Ugh! Brought back to reality by this rat-infested alley. And look at my clothes!? I look like a pauper. Hmm, I didn’t realize how bad it was…. I wonder why?

Fortunately, there didn’t appear to be anyone around to see her exit the sewers.

That’s a relief! Don’t want to fail right at the beginning. It would most likely be suspicious to see a young woman exiting from the sewers.

Taking a step forward, she stumbled on a cobblestone and ripped part of the leather sole of her right cloth shoe. Yet again this reminded her of the sorry state she was in. With a sigh, Lenia continued on her way through the side streets to the main road which ran throughout the city connecting the various districts.

Walking through the slums was an unpleasant experience. Many eyes were on her from the moment she set foot in this wretched place. Eyes filled with murderous and envious intent. Most people wore little more than rags and smelled of urine and feces. She would have undoubtedly gotten lost if her master hadn’t explained to her the way to go and given her a basic map drawn on cloth. Navigating the slums, was like navigating a maze.

While it did take some time, she had successfully navigated her way out of that piss hole and towards the more vibrant parts of the city. There had been one too many lustful gazes on her for her liking, but no one had the courage to approach her in daylight. Killing one of those miscreants would impede my mission.

The trade district of the city was immensely different from the slums that she had come from. Not only was it filled with citizens in a variety of bright clothing, but there was also many market stalls lined the streets on all sides. There was quite a few large buildings and warehouses destined to be used for trade and traffic. This district was truly incredible. One could find anything here in amongst the many markets, so long as one had enough coin.

Despite Lenia’s desire to return to her master as quickly as possible, she got caught up in all of the new sights and smells of the city. Everything was still a new experience for her even though she did possess some basic knowledge of the world.

Now that she found herself in a more civilized part of the city, she decided to put the bracelet on that she had kept hidden while traveling through the slums. She caressed the smooth metal and rubbed her fingers on the gems while smiling happily. For reasons she didn’t know of, she found herself greatly attracted to the beautiful jewelry.

It doesn’t really go with my clothing though…

Lenia was quite the beauty and her mismatch of clothing along with the bracelet she wore made her stick out like a sore thumb. She wasn’t aware just how much she stuck out and continued on her way, ignorant of some of the eyes that followed her. It didn’t help that she was carrying an assortment of things which she had looted the previous night.

It wasn’t as if the knick-knacks she had stood out, it was just the fact that such a beautiful woman was carrying them, along with the strangeness of the shoddy clothing she was wearing.

I need to find a peddler of some kind who will purchase these items from me. I would ask, but I don’t wish to associate with these filth. I am jealous of their finery!

“Excuse me young lady, may I be of assistance?” A young man called out to Lenia from a few feet away. He was a young and handsome man wearing a strange hat with a plume feather sticking out. He wore a luxurious tunic adorned with many colors and a light cloak over his shoulder.

He appears to be wealthy, but I don’t like the look in his eyes. I would rather not answer, but he might be of use to me.

“Perhaps you could assist me. I am looking for a peddler to sell these items to.” There were some citizens who stopped to stare and gossip when seeing this wealthy man speak to the exotically beautiful woman. They were surprised at how clean she was even though she looked like a slum dweller.

I’m beginning to think it was a mistake for me to come above ground, it doesn’t seem as if I can escape being noticed. Did my master miscalculate by sending me into the city? No, he would never.

She decided to ignore the bystanders and approached the wealthy looking man. The young man gave her his most innocent smile, but she could tell it was tinged with falsity. I should be careful around this man.

“Ah, I can certainly help you with that if you wish. I could even escort you to someone I know who will give you the best price. A lady such as yourself should not be walking these streets unaccompanied.” The man’s eyes glanced at the bracelet on her wrist while he spoke.

“By the way, that bracelet on your wrist is quite lovely, you should be able to fetch a high price for it. Where did you obtain such an extravagant piece of jewelry?”

Lenia reflexively covered the bracelet with her hand and gave the man a cautious look. She also looked around the street to see if anyone else was looking at her, but most had already continued on their way. She realized she had made a mistake wearing the bracelet out in public. She admonished herself for her stupidity.

I should play along for now.

“Truthfully, this bracelet was given to me by an admirer and is not for sale. He made me promise to wear it. I couldn’t refuse his kindness.”

The wealthy looking man still had that fake smile on his face. She wondered if he thought it made him look charming but to Lenia it just creeped her out.

He chuckled suddenly, “Ah, of course, of course! A beautiful lady such as yourself would have many admirers. It is just that an acquaintance of mine had a similar bracelet. The resemblance is uncanny really, but I must be mistaken! Please, allow me to escort you, it will be much safer with me accompanying you.”

The man bowed with an extravagant gesture and waited patiently for Lenia’s response. His demeanor seemed to suggest that he could not imagine her refusing his company.

This man thinks an awful lot of himself. Does he think any woman will just fall at his feet?

“What is your name good sir?” I’m only asking so I know who I am to avoid!

“How boorish of me! I haven’t even introduced myself. My apologies. I am Don Jefe Di Caramillo!” He introduced himself with a bit of flair.

He was carefully watching Lenia to see if there was any recognition in her eyes concerning his name. He found none since Lenia had no idea who he was. This pleased him, it would make things easier.

“And what is your name m’lady?” This Don is really pouring it on thick, isn’t he? Does he think I am just some ignorant maiden who would be fooled by fancy words and flirtatious actions! I want to gut him right here… If only there weren’t so many people around.

“I must apologize, I do not give my name to strangers on the street. I will be on my way, thank you for your offer of assistance.” Her words left no room for answer and she quickly left before Don Jefe could answer.

Don Jefe watched the mysterious woman quickly leave his sight, he was not at all pleased by what had just happened. “What a shame….”

“Roderan, get out here now!” Don Jefe called out to a man who had been hiding nearby.

The man who had called Roderan slinked out of a shadowy corner. He was clothed in mostly black and two sinister looking daggers were attached to his vest. His face was mostly covered by a shroud

“Follow her, and make sure that you aren’t seen” Don Jefe hissed, the false smile no longer on his face. “And take those two klutzes with you, just in case.”

Roderan ran off stealthily to follow Lenia.

I don’t see that Don Jefe anymore, looks like I have distanced myself enough from him. Now to get back to my mission.

While Lenia was not lacking in strength and combat prowess, she lacked in detection skills and was unable to detect the men who were now ably stalking her from the shadows.

Shortly afterwards she had found her way to an area which was heaving with market stalls rather than businesses. She realized that these traders would be more than just willing to relieve her of her loot. A proper merchant would most likely only scoff at her, it wasn’t as if what she was carrying was especially valuable.

It took several attempts but she eventually found the right kinds of traders who were willing to purchase what she had from her and she also obtained the items which her master had written on the list. She had more than one request to purchase her bracelet but she refused all offers even though they were tempting.

With the small amount of additional money she had left over, she was able to repair the soles of her shoes. This was not an anticipated expense but she couldn’t bring herself to face her master with ripped shoes.

If only I could have purchased more fitting clothing as well! But there is no way I could do that before adorning my master in proper clothing first. That would be blasphemous! I must hurry back to him to attend to his needs! I hope he will be pleased with my results.

It was already late afternoon when she had finally completed her objectives and made her way back through the slums and into the sewer where her master waited for her. She had no trouble finding her way and her excitement from anticipating the praise she would receive from her master was apparent to anyone who cared to notice.

Their current home was an abandoned room located somewhere in the sewers. It had once served as a maintenance room, but now had other purposes. Lenia didn’t know how long her master had been living there but it didn’t seem like it had been a significantly long time. There was very little in the way of amenities and her master slept on a simple straw cot. Despite not having spent any real time in it, she already found it quite detestable, but she trusted that her master had a plan of some kind.

Lenia opened the door to their temporary home and Aleksandros was in a sitting position waiting for her.

She happily addressed her master, “Aleksandros I have returned!”

Aleksandros remained still, two daggers resting on his lap. “I see, not alone though.”

“What do you mean?” Lenia asked with confusion.

“Show yourselves!” Aleksandros shouted as he flung one of the daggers towards Lenia who caught it skillfully, dropping the items she had been holding.

Turning around, Lenia backed towards Aleksandros as three forms suddenly appeared from the shadows. Lenia was surprised to see that she had been unwittingly followed. The shame she felt at having failed was unbearable.

“I don’t understand….. How?” Those were the only words she could get out of her mouth.

Aleksandros stood and stared intently at the three intruders while saying, “This is not your fault Lenia, this is all according to my plans. I used you, intending for this to happen.”

The foremost intruder who appeared to be the leader of the group stepped forward, “Don Jefe sends his regards. Kill them, slowly.”

The assassins launched their attack, quickly covering the short distance in between them, revealing their short swords. These weapons were gleaming with a sticky black substance and Lenia could sense the danger that they posed. She deduced that the short swords were most likely coated with poison. The two attackers began striking in concert, both swiftly and precisely.

Looks like they activated a skill that allows them to move rapidly across short distances.

Thankfully, the difference in their levels allowed Lenia to quickly parry the two attacks while covering for her master. He remained still and made no moves to aid Lenia. Instead of reacting, he was quietly observing the fight between the three adversaries.

The leader of the assassins was growing impatient. Even though they had the advantage in numbers and were fighting in tight quarters, they were not able to strike the female down.

“Hurry up! Kill her! Ugh, do I have to do everything myself?” The assassin’s leader removed two daggers and threw them towards Lenia providing an opportunity for his men to attack. These blades were also coated in poison and even a scratch would be fatal.

“That will be enough!” Aleksandros said firmly as he stretched out his arms and began to concentrate intently.

The air around him began to pulse violently as he drew his hands closer to each other at the center of his body. His arms shook as if he were pulling an enormous weight towards his chest. A sinister glow started to emanate from within his body and the sound of wailing cries echoed throughout the room.

The assassins who had been engaged in battle with Lenia jumped back towards their leader out of caution. The three interlopers together shrank back in fear and uncertainty of what was happening. They had never seen anything like this and the immense pressure emerging from Aleksandros was suffocating too. As if they were being strangled by unseen tendrils.

“Boss, we need to get out of here, this can’t be good!” The two would be assassins were on the verge of scattering as Aleksandros suddenly released the power he had been building up between the palms of his hand.

A wave of intense energy hastened towards the Don’s henchmen and as it sped, the wailing of the dead cried out in fury. This magic was known as the ‘Banshee’s Wail’ and it was a skill unique to a ‘Soul Eater.’

The assassins were thrown violently against the wall but it was not the impact that killed them. The ‘Banshee’s Wail itself had sucked their bodies entirely dry, leaving nothing but a husk of a corpse.

Lenia having seen this for the first time shrunk back in fear of her master’s awesome power.

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