Chapter 6: Dirty business

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

Aleks was the last to exit the sewers. 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, 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 the Don’s hidden vault. 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’ 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.

At that moment, Roderan recalled something and spoke, “Master, we’ll soon be out of the slums. There will be guards patrolling the trade district. 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. This was his first time seeing the city by daylight but he did not want to draw attention to himself, especially from the eyes of the Church of the One. It would not do for ‘Him’ to become aware of his presence.

That was not 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. 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 had been 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 here 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 us 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 we moved along.

An eery 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 something is off.

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 for 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.

“There’s a secret to opening this door, hold on I’ll take care of it.” Roderan walked over to the large metal doors and began fidgeting with them, inserting one of his hands into a hole while fiddling around with a dial with his other one.

“Alright, now push here….” A low clicking sound could be heard and Roderan had a big grin on his face while he pushed the center of the large metal doors. A smaller door, which had not been originally visible, opened and they passed through it into the interior.

It was pitch black inside the vault as no torches were lit and Lenia could suddenly feel the presence of many auras within the vault that she could not feel a moment ago. Perhaps the vault doors had in some way masked their presence but she could now feel them as clear as day. Her detection skills were relatively low so she had difficulty detecting stealth-based classes but it was a simple matter to detect the aura of those who lacked stealth based abilities.

Torches were suddenly lit and at quick count, there were a dozen well-armed thugs within the vault with the man she recognized as Don Jefe at their head. He had a smug and self-gratifying smile on his face as if he had just outwitted his foe. He was wearing an elaborate dark, rich purple robe and held a rapier at the ready. The ridiculous triangular hat was still firmly on his head except now it had a feather sticking out. The thugs at his side varied in their appearances but all wore the same smug yet vicious grin revealing their rotted teeth. While they all wore the same sort of equipment, each thug had a different type of weapon readied wielding. They had clearly been expecting intruders and despite their lack of teeth, they all were eager to bite.

The vault chamber itself was a large underground room with barrels, chests, and crates pushed against the walls along the sides of the chamber. There were also pieces of furniture, but they were mostly indistinguishable seeing that many of them were covered by large sheets of white cloth. As for the display cases, armoires, and other types of cabinets they stood further to the back of the chamber. This was clearly where all of their valuables and wealth were stored and organized. Everything was arranged surprisingly neat and orderly.

Their leader Don Jefe chuckled vigorously as he stepped forward into the light, but something felt off with his movements,  almost as if he had been preparing for a dramatic debut, “I don’t know how you got to Roderan, but there are many magics unknown to me so I suppose anything is possible. I have always taken precautions with regards to my subordinates you see, so much so that the other Dons believe that I’m paranoid. Well, don’t you want to know how I knew you had gotten to Roderan. While I don’t doubt that tonight’s guest has already understood, I suppose I should explain it for the little lady. You see I have all of my subordinates tattooed when they swear loyalty to me, but it isn’t a simple engraving I give. I imbue these tattoos with magic which allows me to know about whatever happens to my subordinates. Still haven’t understood ?” he taunted lenia while looking at her lewdly “Well then miss let’s just say that if my subordinate dies then this tattoo will disappear and surprise surprise but Roderan no longer has a tattoo on his back, I wonder why that is because he seems fine doesn’t he boys?”

The thugs chuckled “Is this a new form of Necromancy? Wait don’t answer that, I want to have fun torturing it out of you.”

As he spoke his voice became more and more fanatical.It was almost as if he was possessed by something. Then his provoking manner abruptly came to an end and he stood tall and looked straight at Aleksandros “Did you really think that you could just waltz into my domain? The world is much bigger than you know. You are just an insect invading and infesting my realm just like maggots”

Don Jefe began to laugh and his subordinates laughed along with him, throwing all manner of insults and curses towards the intruders.

Lenia could no longer contain her anger and would have dashed forward to cut the tongues of all who dared laugh at them but she was held back by her master. Aleksandros took two steps forward calmly, his steps firm and resolute.

“If I’m a maggot then what does that make you ?” Alek began “ After all you are all beneath me”.” He did not yell, but this insult silenced the group’s laughter turning their mood rather sour as they were filled with anger

Don Jefe no longer wore his false smile and his mocking demeanor was entirely gone. He launched into a tirade berating Aleksandros as he weathered the storm of insults and ridicule.

“You fucking degenerate! You aren’t going to die anytime soon, I am going to cut every fucking inch of skin off your body and roast your exposed flesh over a fire. I am going to feed you piece by piece to my rabid dogs and have you healed just so I can torture you more until your mind breaks and you beg for death. I am going to enjoy torturing you!” Don Jefe frothed at the mouth, spittle flying everywhere as he raged on with his ceaseless ramblings, forgetting the rest of the speech he had prepared.

Aleksandros waited patiently until Don Jefe tired himself, “I will make a deal with you.”

Don Jefe couldn’t believe what he was hearing and his fake smile returned as he addressed his men, “Ya hear that boys? This cunt wants to make a deal with us? HA! How about I make a deal with you? Have the girl on her r fucking knees and sucking my cock and then I might let you live once I’ve finished torturing you!” Don Jefe’s subordinates roared with laughter as they taunted Aleksandros with hand gestures and sucking sounds with their mouths.

Completely unfazed, Aleksandros spoke, “I like your robe, if you give it to me now, then I will let you leave this place with your soul intact.”

Don Jefe stopped laughing and looked at Aleksandros as if he were afflicted with insanity, “Enough games, looks like the boys from upstairs have finally joined us. Boys, let’s have us some fun, but don’t kill em. Especially that bitch he has with him! Oh, we’re gonna have some fun with her tonight! Hoho! I think I’ll even let you watch while my boys fuck that bitch into a coma.” While he spoke he rolled his hips around dramatically emulating gyrating motions.

Everything this fool did was overly dramatic and Lenia would have no more of it, “Master, they have insulted you enough, it would stain my honor to hear any more from this disgusting filth!”

“Indeed, let no one say that I am not merciful. Roderan, Lenia, slaughter them.” Aleksandros stood still, he had no intentions of joining the fight, he knew the two of them would be enough to handle the rabble. They may have had numbers, but not a single one of them was even half as powerful as Lenia alone. Aleks had previously ordered her to suppress her aura and now that had released it, they were too dumb and too weak to understand the difference in power.

Aleks had intended to be as inconspicuous as possible while within this city but it seemed that his actions would inevitably leave ripples in his wake. It was too late to be concerned with that now, this bloodbath would not go unnoticed.

Don Jefe’s men slowly closed the distance, they were clearly intending to surround their enemies and then beat them into submission. Lenia and Roderan moved swiftly, striking at the nearest of the thugs first. Lenia’s movements were fluid and her blade moved so rapidly that it appeared to sing and whenever it drew near to one of her opponents, blood sprayed in thick mists as if to welcome her embrace.

Roderan was formerly Don Jefe’s strongest enforcer, but he was only slightly stronger than the other thugs. He could not contain the numbers that bore down on him and he was pierced, clubbed and stabbed several times. However it did not seem to faze him, for no matter how many times he was struck with a killing blow, his body still continued to move as if possessed. When one thug would stab him, another would club him, but this only slowed him slightly.

Don Jefe stared blankly at the sight before him, it was unbelievable. Is this a dream? Am I fucking dreaming? What the fuck!? He couldn’t bring himself to accept the slaughter that was happening right in front of his eyes. Without realizing it, his facial expression had changed from one of arrogant condescension to terror as he slowly begun to distance himself from the fighting. His horror filled eyes locked onto the figure of the demented man with cloth wrapped around his face and his terror grew. The man seemed to grow right before his eyes becoming a monstrous figure bearing down on him, but it was all in his mind.

Before he even took four steps backwards, his men were all dead. The woman he had lusted after only moments before was covered in blood from head to toe and in his eyes, she looked like a demon that had stepped out of the bowels of the nine hells. She did not move, awaiting the instructions of the one she had called master. As for his former subordinate Roderan, he was nothing more than a corpse that somehow was stumbling towards him. The body was littered with gashes and deep wounds, many of them exposing inner organs but despite this, Roderan was still making his way towards him.

A blue light began to surround Roderan and soon after, the wounds one by one began to disappear. Roderan’s face was the last to regenerate and there was a childish smile painted on it, “Oy, boss! Sorry, but I have a new master now, and my master asks for your robe. It would be in your best interest to give it to him, he would rather not bloody it.”

Don Jefe’s mind no longer seemed to function. He stood there unable to move and began rambling on incoherently as Aleksandros approached him.

“You had your chance to live and you wasted it for foolish pride. Now, you will all become a feast that my power shall grow.” Aleksandros gently removed the robe from Don Jefe’s shoulder, not wishing to dirty it and placed the robe around his own body. It fit snugly against him and it felt good, even smelled good. Don Jefe has good taste, he thought while admiring the robe.

“Kill him.” Aleks gave the order and Roderan shoved his sword through Don Jefe’s gut, but he didn’t stop there. He pulled it out and repeatedly stabbed Don Jefe as he begged and pleaded for his life. His crying finally ending as he gasped his last before death.

“Look for the mask, It’s time to feast.”

A lone solitary figure floated quietly above the city skyline glowing brightly, the light of the moon mingling with its own light to obscure him from view.

Despite wearing a golden armor that shone brilliantly even in the dark of night, nobody down below had taken notice. There was a set of wings that protruded from its upper back. There was a total of eight wings, all the same pale white colour and equally spaced from one another. Around the neck was a horn likely made of some type of ivory and in his right hand, an enormous spear that radiated an immense pressure.

I can no longer feel them, the cry of souls aching to be guided into the heavens. He must be here, but where? The being looked out over the city but could no longer feel the power of the one called ‘Soul Eater’. I do not understand why he is allowed to exist, he is anathema to us, a mistake….

The being wanted to curse because it knew that nothing could be done until the day of reckoning and this day could not come soon enough in its opinion.

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