At certain times each day, the bells of the Cathedral of Tihr would ring informing the citizens of the city of the time. There were of course devices that could tell time, but for the common folk the bells were a normal part of life. The bells were ringing, seemingly just like any other day, but of course it wasn’t just like any other day.
“Sir, you are finally awake! How are your injuries?”
Resting quietly on an infirmary bed deep within the Cathedral, Paladin Arcurio finally opened his eyes. He had been unconscious and heavily injured ever since the explosion which almost took his life. He had powerful vitality and a strong defense so ultimately he was able to survive, but nonetheless the explosion was more powerful than he expected.
“Knight Irene, you survived. Good, what of the others?”
“Paladin Arcurio, only those of us who weren’t with you at the time survived. We only survived because we were far away from the explosion. It collapsed part of the tunnel which buried you and we had to dig you out. I’m just happy that you survived sir.”
“Call me Gregor, there is no need for formalities. You saved my life after all.”
“Sir, I wouldn’t dare!”
Paladin Gregor Arcurio chuckled with some effort as he was still in some slight pain.
“Sir Gregor then. I owe you my life, if not for you safely bringing me here I may have died in that disgusting tunnel.”
A hint of red creeped up Irene’s neck and she didn’t dare look straight at the handsome face of Paladin Arcurio. Even when looking somewhat sickly from his injuries, he was still extremely handsome.
“Um.. Sir Gregor…”
The Paladin smiled at noticing her embarrassment. He sat up straight and with some effort attempted to rise to his feet. Noticing his struggle, Irene shakily rushed to help him stand.
“Knight Irene, prepare my armor and ready as many Knights are available.”
“But Sir, your injuries…”
“Haha, don’t worry, they will heal shortly. We can’t waste anymore time. We must hunt down that heretic as soon as possible before he can cause more harm!”
Paladin Arcurio’s words were laced with venom as he thought of that despicable being that almost took his life. He wanted nothing more than to tear the man apart.
Irene hesitated but finally said, “Sir, you aren’t aware of what happened last night. It will not be that simple and perhaps you really should rest longer.”
Arcurio looked down at the Knight who was helping him stand. She couldn’t bring herself to look at his face and so he only saw the top of her head. She was blushing profusely at being so close to him and her words were much more meek than she had intended. Even though she was a Knight who had fought in many battles, she hadn’t had close relations with any man before. As a Knight of the Church of Tihr, they took certain vows and were not allowed to be in a relationship while serving as a Knight. If they wished to marry, they would need to retire from their position.
“What has happened? Tell me quickly.”
As they walked out of the infirmary and towards the Knight’s barracks, Irene explained the events that had transpired the previous evening. Paladin Arcurio could already sense the tense atmosphere throughout the Cathedral halls as the two walked. Many of the Clerics, priests and attendants were busily running around the premises holding a variety of supplies and instruments of healing. There were many who had died and been injured in the chaos of the previous night and the Cathedral was busily attempting to help the injured and those who had lost their homes in fires.
It was a truly chaotic scene and Arcurio couldn’t control his anger at seeing the many injured within the infirmary and the people with lost expressions as they wandered the hallways. There was pain and hopelessness in many of the people’s eyes. Many had most likely lost a loved one or lost their material possession or wealth.
“Dammit! This must have been the work of that heretic. I can feel it! I will kill that b*****d!”
Paladin Arcurio had a sudden bout of anger which caused him to cough in pain. Irene was nervously trying to aid him from falling when he started coughing in pain.
“Are you sure you are okay sir?”
“Don’t worry, have someone get a priest to come and heal me while I get my equipment ready. For the sake of Justice and our god Tihr, we must kill that evil being!”
Day had come with Aleks getting very little rest, but it didn’t matter to him for he didn’t need much rest to begin with. Even in his original lifetime he had hardly slept, spending long nights with his nose in a book doing research and testing theories. He was a man who slept little but accomplished much. Well, by some standards that is.
Two soft knocks at the door to the former Don’s personal office brought Aleks back from his thoughts.
Jerrick, one of the puppets under Aleks’s control, entered respectfully closing the door behind him.
“Boss, all the loot has been moved successfully. We stacked up the boxes as best we could, there’s too much though. Made quite a mess of the place. Had to grease a few pockets and pay out some promised rewards for last night but those were just minor expenses compared to what’s there. It was the only way to get some of the boys to act ya see and of course to shift a few eyes so we could make the proper moves and I know you don’t want too many eyes on this place.”
Aleks nodded, satisfied with the puppet’s performance, “Good, you have done well.”
Aleks glanced over towards Lenia who was still sitting quietly with her eyes closed in meditation. It would still be some time for her to consolidate her power and adjust her consciousness appropriately. Her senses were still subconsciously on alert in case of an emergency but otherwise she was focused within herself.
“Continue to watch over the residence and keep everyone away, I will take care of the loot later. What news is there from the city?”
“A lot of people died last night, I would say things went swimmingly haha. The council was so scared they didn’t even allow the council guard to be deployed. Something about assassins in the night targeting the lords, haha, bet ya know something about that right eh boss? The city guardsmen had a hell of a time trying to keep order and they couldn’t put the fires out all night. It was complete pandemonium. They finally gotta handle over things earlier in the morning though, city has declared martial law and things finally calmed down. Won’t be nobody leaving the city for now though, well excepting those with special means of course.”
Aleks remained seated while he listened to Jerrick’s report only occasionally slowly rubbing his right hand across the left cheek of his mask.
“There was a bigger commotion than I expected, but that is a good thing. Hmm, those assassins did their job well. It seems that tonight will be another busy night but this time for us. It looks like I can’t hold off any longer…”
“Ah boss, what do you mean exactly?”
“We will be having some unwelcome guests tonight and I need to prepare. Make sure no one disturbs us for the time being. Lenia and I must not be disturbed no matter what. Is that understood?”
“Sure boss, no problem! Not like anyone is gonna come by and bother us here anyways with all them boys outside. We already paid off the city guard as well so no worries.”
“Good, go see to your duties.”
With that, Jerrick left without disturbing the two further. It was quiet once more as Aleks slowly removed the gold mask from his face and looked at it for a long time before doing anything else. He was still somewhat hesitant, but it was time to face his fears and his past.
Gently placing the mask down on the desk, he touched it once more with his right hand feeling the smooth contours. There was no expression on the mask, it was just a bland face but Aleks could almost feel that it was crying. It was just his imagination though, no tears could possibly fall from its empty eyes.
With a deep sigh, Aleks calmed his thoughts and emptied his mind of all things. The world quieted, seemingly as if nothing existed. There was only him and the mask. His mind began to quiver, resonating with some unseen force within the mask and soon the world slipped away in its entirety and Aleks felt a shifting sensation that made him feel a sense of dizziness.
Only Aleks was capable of such a thing, for his soul was indelibly tied with the soul within the mask. It wasn’t something one could simply explain, but the two shared an unexplainable connection, something powerful enough to shake the world.
They shared the Origin, an insurmountable power that gods and devils alike would kill for. They would pay any price, destroy any rival, crush innumerable worlds, slay entire generations, all to obtain it.
The Origin, the heart of a world, the soul of a god of beginnings.
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