“How did you know that they would follow me?” Lenia’s voice was wavering, she had after all just witnessed her master end the lives of three men in mere seconds.
Although she didn’t want to feel fear for the one who created her, her voice nonetheless was still shaky. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking especially as his face was now covered in cloth. There was so much she had yet to understand but for the first time, she felt slightly anxious towards the unknown.
“I was watching you.” Lenia looked inquisitively at her master. She didn’t understand what he meant by saying that? Was he following me without me knowing it? She asked herself.
“I don’t understand….” She wanted to say more but couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. The walls of the small room felt like they were enclosing her within their suffocating embrace. Her very soul seemed to beat to the drum of her overworked heart. It was as if her entire being would burst from her chest. That was the power of the ability that her master had used, ‘Banshee’s Wail.’
“Yes, it would be confusing to you. I was watching you, although not physically but with my soul. It is an ability I possess, ‘Astral Projection.’ With it, I can propel my soul out of my body and observe the physical realm through your senses.” Such an ability, wait does that mean he could see everything I did!?
“Master, were you able to see everything?” I really hope not! How embarrassing! Did I do anything to bring him shame? I didn’t get lost and followed his directions perfectly but I was followed so easily……
“Yes, I saw everything. I was with you the entire way.” Lenia’s face turned almost beet red at his response, embarrassment crept up her spine. She could barely bring herself to look at her master. Is he disappointed with me?
The young woman immediately got down on her knees and bowed, hoping he would be merciful but her master only seemed to look at her with confusion.
“Please master, please forgive me. This shame I have brought upon you is unbearable! If my life will wash this stain from me then take it, I beg of you!” Lenia was hysterically begging for her life. Her master tried to speak but couldn’t get a word in. He didn’t quite understand the reasons for her hysterical breakdown.
“Enough!” Without being given a chance to speak, he finally yelled at her over her words which caused her to shrink back in fear while still prostrating herself.
“Lenia, stand up, there is no need for you to beg for your life on the floor. You did nothing wrong. All was according to my plans.” His words seemed to have calmed her down enough that she could now stand.
“You aren’t angry with me?” He derisively snorted at her ridiculous antics but stopped himself and remembered that she was still developing. Her ignorance was understandable.
“I am not angry with you Lenia, you have done exactly as I hoped you would. You brought these men to me.” She wished he would explain more because she had no idea what was going on.
She didn’t want to look any more a fool than she already did and kept her mouth closed. If her master wished to explain himself he would and if not, then she must do the best she could to understand his plans.
“Watch and learn.” Aleks walked over to the three corpses, devouring the souls of the two weaker ones but leaving the soul of the one who was their leader in the corpse.
He had another purpose for that particular body. He activated his ability ‘Soul Puppet’.
This ability would allow him to control the body of a formerly living being as if it were still alive. The spell would only last for three days because that was the limit for how long a soul could remain within a body if not properly bound. The ‘Puppet’ would retain its memories and personality but would be entirely dominated by the ‘Soul Eater’ and would carry out his will.
The ability was somewhat similar to raising a corpse from the dead but it also had its differences. For one, the ability carried with it a powerful illusion that made the corpse appear to be in the same condition as of when the original body was alive. There wouldn’t even be a pungent smell and neither was there a way to see through the illusion. Not unless one possessed an equally powerful ability or spell to dispel it that is. The body would also retain its former fighting strength. The only downside to this, again, was the limited time it could remain a puppet.
The former assassin’s body began to jerk as it returned to some semblance of its former life. Before long the body rose and stood at attention waiting for Aleks to give his orders.
“What is your name, puppet?” The ‘Soul Eater’ placed extra emphasis on the word ‘puppet’.
“I am Roderan, master what is it you wish me to do?” Its voice sounded strangely normal. Lenia thought it might be somewhat disembodied or eery.
“Listen well puppet, you are to return to your former boss and you are to report the death of your subordinates. You will also tell the Don that his most powerful rival laid a trap for you and your men. That this was all a plot to weaken him and that his goal was to start an all-out war for control of the city’s underworld. Once you inform the Don of this, you are to create an opportunity to attack his rival. That should be enough to get these petty criminals to kill each other.”
Lenia listened intently to the words of her master and wracked her brain trying to piece everything together so that she could better understand her master. She wanted to be of use to him and more than just a tool for attracting enemies.
“Now go and do as I commanded. Once you have completed your objectives, return and report to me.”
The former lieutenant to the Don bowed to his new temporary master and left to carry out his mission.
“These criminals, or Dons, as they call themselves are naught but fools. They believe that they have true power because they can make people do as they wish through fear. They use their money and their power for selfish ends without any real purpose. For what? So that they can live a life of luxury? What a crock of shit! In the end, their bodies will return to dust and their souls will return through the veil only to start over yet again. An endless and pointless existence.”
Lenia was surprised by her creator’s outburst of anger. It seemed very much unlike the man who always appeared to her composed. Are we so different? She thought this for a brief moment but shoved it back within the recesses of her mind. It was wrong to be so disrespectful towards her creator. How dare she compare herself to him?
“Uh… “ She wished to say something to get rid of the awkwardness caused by her master’s rant but she didn’t know what to say.
“Forget you heard that. It was unsightly of me … the tale goes back a while.” Aleks took a moment to collect himself before continuing.
“There was once a brave and charismatic young man who sought to defy the gods of this world but he was foolish. His words were grand and he was persuasive, convincing all of humanity to build a tower that would pierce the heavens….. or so he believed. It was no ordinary tower, but one filled with powerful magic and an entire people’s will. He made the impossible, possible, and the tower eventually was finished. It’s peak rose beyond the clouds and It all seemed to be as he had said, that this tower would finally bring the gods to their knees. He was wrong. When the magic of the tower was released it bore a hole into the fabric of our reality. On the other side of that hole was not the realm of gods, but the realm of demons. One after the other they poured through the hole he had created. An infinite horde of winged monsters went on a merciless rampage. They destroyed everything and killed everyone. In the end, that man begged to his god for salvation. The irony eh? A man who sought to rebel against the gods instead sought their aid. I watched him crumble and could only feel disappointment at a man I respected greatly. He was no different from any other fool.” Aleks spoke as if he were dwelling on a distant and forlorn memory.
“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? Did this happen recently?” 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. This happened thousands of years ago. It is the story of Ishmael, the Fallen One. In the legends, he is said to be a man cursed by the so called creator.” 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 behind the cloth covering his face.
“I am here to obtain the mask of Ishmael, an ancient relic that allows one to use the power that still resides in the ruins of Babel. Although the ruins are deep within the Earth, with this relic, I will be able to sit upon the throne of Ishmael and command the magic of the ancient city. The mask is made of pure gold, but it is so much more than that. Within the mask is Ishmael’s soul, sealed for all eternity. This is the fate of one who lacks the strength to match with their ambitions. His soul was imprisoned in that mask, as a parting gift from the demons he set loose.” Alek’s words filled the emptiness of the room.
Such a sad fate. I couldn’t imagine being separated both body and soul from my master. I would go mad. Lenia etched her master’s words deep in her heart as she thought of the grave consequences that befell Ishmael. She could only hope that she did not succumb to a similar fate. She wished to always be by her master’s side.
“What happened to Urie and Hessoff?” Roderan had returned to Don Jefe as per his new master’s instructions and was being questioned by the Don.
“Both are dead Don Jefe, we were ambushed by Don Gregorio and his men. It was a trap, and it is also very likely that they must have been the ones who attacked your brothel l.” Roderan knew that Don Gregorio was Don Jefe’s greatest rival among the Dons but all of the Dons were technically rivals.
Don Jefe slammed his fist against the desk he used in his own personal office. There was much bad blood between these two Dons and the recent events were disturbing to him. There was supposed to be a truce within the city and breaking that truce could lead to serious consequences.
All of the Dons had agreed to this truce because the Head Lord’s of the city had demanded they lay low with their activities for a while. The people of the city were becoming antagonistic and order needed to be maintained. Even if the Dons were criminals, this was a demand they needed to heed, otherwise, there would be much loss of profit. Their assets and operations would be raided and they would lose the protection that they had brought from the various lords.
This was a dangerous time with war looming between the Federation of Lords and the Merkan Imperium to the east. The High Council could not afford there to be strife among the populace with things being as they were. The Dons were to be left alone as long as there was no open conflict in the streets, but this act by Don Gregorio would mean war between their two organizations if nothing were done.
“Fuck! What is that piece of shit thinking? Now of all times he wants to start a war? The other Dons will hear of this immediately! It’s time to call a meeting of the Dons before this gets even more out of hand. Don Gregorio will pay for this! Roderan, for now I want you to tell our men to lay low. We will protect our assets but no one is to retaliate. Is that clear?” There was only the two of them in the office and so the only one who heard these orders was Roderan, and as the Don’s second in command, it would be his responsibility to relay them to the rest of the organization.
“I will see to it immediately Don!” Roderan’s response was enthusiastic despite his will no longer existing. The Soul Eater intended, after all, to ignore these commands and use Roderan to incite the Don’s men.
He immediately left the office and went looking for some of the Don’s men in order to enact the next part of his plan which was to use these men to attack one of Don Gregorio’s assets. Roderan left the headquarters of his former boss. From the trade district, the building looked just like any other merchant’s shop, but within was the offices of Don Jefe and from which he oversaw his criminal organization.
The trade district was bustling like any other day and there was nothing out of the ordinary. Roderan calmly made his way through the throngs of people towards a warehouse which was operated by Don Jefe, located in another part of the city. It took him a while to reach the warehouse since the city was enormous. Once he arrived, he quickly set about gathering as many of the Don’s men as he could.
“Listen up. One of our operations was hit the other night by Don Gregorio’s men.” When the men heard that, there was an uproar as they shouted in anger.
“That fucking dirty bastard!”
“I can’t believe this shit!”
“Let’s fucking kill them!”
The men expressed their anger with their desire to kill. This will be easier than I thought!
“They will pay for this! Get your shit and let’s go fuck them up!”
“We’re gonna kill those motherfuckers!”
“It’s about fucking time!”
The men all cheered and excitedly grabbed their weapons and soon a dozen armed men were moving through the streets of the city without concern for who saw them. It wasn’t that uncommon to see an armed group moving through the city since many adventures lived within the city and groups of them could be seen moving about. Either way, people made sure to give them a wide berth as they navigated the city streets to their location. Their target was a tavern in the western part of the trade district. The tavern acted as a front for the illegal drug trade which was Don Gregorio’s main business. He had his hands in a few other things, but his biggest money maker were drugs.
The group of men led by Roderan busted in through the door of the tavern and began smashing everything within. They did allow most of the normal customers to leave but when Gregorio’s men launched a counter attack, a lot of innocent people were caught up in the melee.
Roderan’s group had the element of surprise and slaughtered Gregorio’s men who were unable to respond properly.Once Gregorio’s men had been mercilessly slain, Roderan and his men then proceeded to trash the entire tavern including the secret rooms in the basement. At some point, Roderan slipped away without the other men noticing.
Looks like my work here is done, time to return to my master.
The ‘Soul Puppet’ made his way back to the slums and from there into the sewers where his master waited.
“You have completed the task I gave to you, excellent.” Aleks’ words were no more than idle pleasantry but he uttered them anyway.
Everything Roderan had done, Aleks had already seen through the puppet’s eyes. His ability allowed him to attach his soul to the puppet’s vessel and be carried along with it. This was a useful ability because it allowed him to do more than just observe. He could also control the puppet’s body if he wished.
“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 like a child would, he found it almost 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 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 Jefe’s vault and remove any threats that get in my way. The artifact will be there and once we have it in our possession, you will escort us outside the city and then, your job will be complete. We must move swiftly, however, before they notice your absence.”