Chapter 5: The curse rears its ugly head

It wasn’t long before they rode to war.

Aleksandros watched his father, the Duke of Ianice, and the many nobles under him riding in splendor with all of their knights and levies.

Their most elite soldiers wore shining and gleaming mail that glistened in the sunlight. Even the levies were excellently equipped with new oiled leather armor and well-sharpened blades.

Assembled were many thousands of men eager for the honor and privilege of fighting for their country and their king.

Tch.. fools.

Aleksandros couldn’t help but sneer at them in his heart, although he didn’t allow his feelings to show on his face.

War is not honorable, and it is not something to seek in eagerness. These fools ride to their deaths, what honor is there in that? No, they are just mere sustenance for the gods. For their deaths and the reincarnation of their souls will give the gods they worship nourishment and strength.

Aleksandros certainly didn’t know everything about the gods, but he knew some things. He knew that believers were essential to their growth and power. The stronger those who worshipped them grew in both power and faith, the more the gods would gain upon their deaths. Their souls would grow in potential and the gods would devour that potential, growing ever stronger.

His reasons in the past for devouring that potential within whatever souls he could were to disrupt that process. Of course his actions hardly even put a dent in the system of reincarnation which was created by those gods.

Nonetheless, he was determined at that time to do whatever he could, given his limited strength. It wasn’t that he believed he could actually make a difference. It was a way for him to vent his frustration and to keep his sanity. Well, whatever was left of it.

The procession had gone smoothly, and the Duke had spent considerable time with his wife, his son and his younger daughter over the days preceding the procession.

Indeed, Aleksandros had a younger sister who was two years his junior, but he couldn’t bring himself to care too much for her. Although he also couldn’t say he cared nothing for her.

I suppose she is cute enough.

His thoughts were quite complicated on the topic of his sister. She was definitely an exceptionally beautiful little girl. She was still very young, but even still, one could tell she would one day be a beauty. This didn’t matter much to him, he no longer cared about such things. He was much more concerned about what might happen to her because of the curse which affected him. For some reason, this left him with a bit of distaste in his mouth.

Either way, he was forced to spend time with his family before his father left. His mother cried tears watching her husband go. Aleksandros’s baby sister was too young to realize what was going on and acted as she usually did. Brock stood beside Aleksandros in order to comfort him if he so needed it, but it seemed his concern was in vain.

There were many with varying emotions. Wives watched as their husbands slowly marched away. Children shouted and cried out to their fathers, mothers and fathers to their sons. It was an event both joyous and sad.

None of this mattered to Aleksandros, however. He showed no sign of sadness, loneliness or any other emotion regarding his father’s departing. He only looked on while contemplating much within his mind.

I have a feeling this war will not be so simple

He was busily trying to predict what might be coming due to this war and of course because of his curse. He knew very well that he was never destined to live a peaceful or happy life. This was why he was incapable of feeling anything at the current moment. At least in the past lives he lived, while he was alive as those other people, he remembered nothing about who he truly was.

It was only this life that was different.

Why? Why now? Why can I remember everything? What does it all mean?

Unfortunately, he had no answer to these questions.

Brock continued to observe his young master with concern, but Aleksandros was too busy to bother with him.

As Aleksandros predicted, the war turned out to be not as simple as was thought by all in the kingdom and by his father. The war lasted ten long years with much bloodshed and destruction.

Ultimately, many countries were drawn into the conflict. Even the Asparian Empire was drawn into the war despite their previous agreements to remain uninvolved.

Many countries fell, hundreds of thousands dead, cities abandoned and ruined. It was a nightmarish, hellish landscape far beyond what anyone expected. Diseases and famine spread throughout the region, leaving many hungry and ill.

Being relatively far away from the fighting and the worst of the carnage, the people of the Dukedom of Ianice continued to live their lives in relative peace. But as the war dragged on, it inched and creeped ever closer to where Aleksandros made his home.

There was never any doubt in his mind that it would come, only when. He was close to 16 when the war finally reached his doorstep. He had never expected that it would take so long, and he had taken to thinking that each day would be his last. But the days dragged on and the years passed fleetingly.

His family grew older. The Duke had long been absent from fighting on the front lines. He had come home a time or two, but he hadn’t returned in many years. Aleksandros’s sister continued to grow even more beautiful than anyone had imagined, but his mother had surely wilted as the war continued.

The stress and worry burdened her endlessly. She didn’t even have time to concern herself with her son and daughter.

Instead, Aleksandros spent all his time studying and learning as much as he could of the state of the world, given the time he had been granted. He was hardly ever seen walking the halls of the castle or among the many gardens that surrounded it. The maids and servants were deeply concerned with his odd hermit-like behavior, but there was nothing they could do but leave him alone.

There was only one person who continued to disturb him despite his self-banishment to the depths of the library.

“Brother! Where are you? Are you hiding in this dusty old place again?”

Aleksandros sighed.

Why won’t she just leave me be? Haven’t I made it abundantly clear that I do not wish to be bothered by anyone?

“Brother!?” His sister shouted with her melodic and song-like voice.

Aleksandros attempted to slink away into a corner with the book he was reading. It was a book titled Hypothetical Magical Formations and Theories. Aleksandros was especially enthralled by the concept of magic which didn’t exist in his former, original lifetime.

Well, he shouldn’t say that magic didn’t exist. Perhaps it always did exist; it was just that they hadn’t tapped into it due to their world being focused on the study of the sciences. He had some theories about this particular topic but had no one to discuss his theories with, and ultimately, they were only conjectures. There was no way for him to test his theories at all, and the world he was living in now was clearly one of magic and not science.

It’s strange actually, but I believe that power was magic. When we built the tower of Babel, there were some questionable theories that I developed through inspiration. Could it be that there was more to that than what I thought at the time? I always found my inspiration for the construction of the tower to be almost mystical and strange. It was as if there were something, or someone guiding me.

“BROTHER!?”

The shouting had become almost a squeal of anger as his sister became more frantic while looking for him. If he didn’t come out now, her voice would probably go hoarse from the shouting.

“Shelise, I am here.”

“Why didn’t you come out sooner? You surely heard me! Were you hiding from me on purpose?”

Her glare was almost frightening, but Aleksandros remained unmoved. His expression was bland as it always was.

“Don’t give me that look, can’t you at least move your lips a little bit? You are worse than a doll!”

Aleksandros sighed inwardly as his sister went off on one of her tirades.

“Well, enough lecturing. Brother, let’s go outside for a walk! I want to see the western garden, and I want you to accompany me!”

His sister was always like this, and it was most likely another one of her attempts to introduce him to some young lady in hopes of piquing his interest. He was about ready to refuse, but the gong of bells rose furiously, uprooting the quiet noon.

“Those are alarm bells, are we under attack?”

Shelise gave Aleksandros a questioning look which was laced with a twinge of concern.

“Is it that time?” Aleksandros mumbled under his breath, causing his sister to give him a second glance.

“Brother, do you know something?”

“Shelise, get to safety quickly. We are all in danger.”

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