Chapter 8 Visitors
Tyrzo was applying finishing touches to his latest master work. A task that was now so much easier that he was slowly burning away the soul of the greatest criminal that ever lived. What he had done, he had done for justice but having the perk of an energy source that was nearly limitless really was the crowning bit. He actually put the energy to good use. Almost without exception everyone else had simply taken Nizlaal's amoral research plan and built their own versions of the weapons that he had designed. Giant soul cannons that burned one hundred souls in a single shot causing destruction on a scale seen never before. At least these were quiescent now as there were hardly enough criminals who were so irredeemably corrupt that they were sentenced to evaporation let alone hundreds of them. That only left the single soul shells used in soul casters which now were mainly used by potentates as deterrent, attack a king and be burned in soul fire.
At least the Order of Reason hat the Great Soul Furnace in which it disposed of its greatest traitors. The soul furnace would burn for up to a year with the essence of the criminal allowing the Order to build some of its most impressive wonders. Of course there were always vivid discussions about slippery slopes and the dangers that the furnace posed. What if someone started to burn souls just to get access to it? Ridiculous! Only the most vile of monsters would be eligible for evaporation and even those were usually kept around for their knowledge, most of them were then pardoned after a century or three of service to the order, their sentence downgraded to 'The Long Path of Redemption'. This meant that the artefacts that kept their personalities intact were removed so that they would lose all their memories of their previous lives and then their soul-container would be shot into the wilderness of the Inner World where they were reborn among the primitive tribes there, destined to slowly work their way back to civilisation. Also anyone setting up someone else for evaporation would be deemed a high traitor himself. Tyrzo wondered what would happen if anyone would go into the furnace voluntarily.
The automaton body in front of Tyrzo was slowly taking shape, this was something he wanted to finish before the others arrived. He really loved putting his back into everything that he did as long as no one looked to make it appear effortless when they did. Now that his associates were about to appear having not one breakthrough but two at the same time was sure to impress them. At least it should. They were a tough crowd. He had recruited the four most brilliant free thinking minds of the world into one group managing to keep their egos in check directing them to work towards a common goal. Handling two or three geniuses was worse than herding cats, but four? That was almost insane. Well Tyrzo enjoyed the challenge.
He was carving a final sigil inside of what would become the automatons heavily armoured breastplate imbuing it with the power to withstand ridiculous amounts of damage. Even absorbing parts of its power to make the automaton even stronger. The clever bit was that the sigil itself was powered by the motion of the automaton. It would not be active directly but only after a couple of days of movement, but then he was not expecting someone attacking his new creation with military level combat magic any time soon.
Tyrzo had always loved the process of sanctifying. It relaxed him. getting to know the material he was working with, forming it carefully to enhance the ways the power of magic flowed naturally through the raw material, gently tracing it over and over during the process. Making delicate inlays from gem-wire that he had hand spun for the occasion and then lastly the carving of the sigils which imbued the object with power. When ever he had to clam down or think or just needed to unwind he worked on some little device or other.
"What have I told you Master Cydral? Soon you shall have a body again." Tyrzo said to the soul container that stood next to him on his workbench glowing in warm golden hues. "It will also make you faster, stronger and better than any other living man, if I do say so myself." He formed a few quick hand-seals activating his shell-art giving him self superhuman strength. He grabbed the breast plate picking it up from the work bench, his body quivering under the strain. He placed the plate with care into its mounting. He released the shell-art enhancing him while exhaling sharply causing everything around him in a one metre radius to be covered in a thin film of ice as he paid for the excess energy his magic had cost him in ambient heat.
"I do have to apologize for the lack of a voice unit in the automaton but I have not had the chance to acquire one yet." he said to the soul in its container. "But I will take care of it as soon as time permits. You will be able to freely write and use the I admit very basic facial expressions that I worked into the faceplate."
"Now the only thing that I have to do is to take the genius in a bottle," he took the container "and place it into its new body of pure shining metal." and placed it inside the automaton's body. He gently removed some of the metal pins from the container replacing them with ones from inside the metal body and attaching various cables and wires to it. "There. That should do it." He closed the breast plate with a push, then adjusted the head until it locked in place with an audible click. He examined every bit of the metal fame in front of him one last time to make absolutely sure that everything was as it should.
"Perfect. Now we just need a little help from our evil friend. . ." he took a metal rod inscribed with various signs of power that was connected to the base's power network via a red glowing gem wire. He spoke the word of activation watching with a grin that grew ever wider as the little rod started glowing with power. When it started vibrating and humming with it he laughed in delight. "This is even better than I had imagined. Everyone should have a war criminal burning stove in his house!" He used the rod to close all the seams in the armour of the automaton. Severing the few remaining wire connections and sealing the remaining holes. With that done he deactivated the red glowing rod, taking an elongated bolt which glowed in a dull unpleasant silver light once activated which was also connected to the central power grid. He inserted this bolt into the back of the neck of the automaton giving it its first jolt of power closing all the circuits within.
Tyrzo gently removed the wire from the rod that had seamlessly merged with the rest of the artefact and moved quickly to the front of the automaton to watch it come to live.
When his guests arrived Tyrzo was expecting them. It had involved a bit of hurrying and some hiding of chaos by shoving it hurriedly into closets, but in the end he stood in the second story of his balcony looking into the stars moving through the furthest layers of the sky-shell deeply in thought. He was mainly thinking that it was incredibly uncomfortable to be standing in a thoughtful pose for ten minutes while waiting for his guests to finally walk into view. It was even worse watching them walk at a leisurely pace towards his home. At least he got to watch them through his mask with out them noticing that he was not regarding the stars meditating on their secrets. He was very pleased that as soon as they had come into view of his humble abode they had noticed that every window was shining like a beacon in the almost eternal night on the dark side of the moon. He was sure that they were wondering were he got all the energy to get away with such splendour.
What was far less pleasing was that there were only three people coming towards him instead of four. While everyone was dressed like him in a midnight blue robe wearing white masks without openings with carved in faces he could tell them apart by their build and the way they walked.
The tall broad shouldered man that could not help but to look regal even in disguise was prince Nashrin Nirza great innovator of blood magic. The prince had single handedly elevated blood rituals from borderline fraudulent hedge magic to a high art for which the world now envied him. He could extract blood from sentients using the tiny specks of life force within them to great effect. He had passed laws in his domain that reduced the monetary taxes considerably yet had balanced this out by demanding a blood tithe every month. The power he drew from his blood pools was phenomenal, this combined with the rampant rumours about him protected him from attacks by greedy neighbours. The low taxes also attracted people from all over the globe who went their to make their fortune no matter how creepy their lord was. This in addition to the fruits of the princes research had also made him incredibly wealthy.
To his left was the tall slender figure of Sree Invonia an old friend of Tyrzo's they both met during his sojourn at the Order of Reason she had been a master knight when he had arrived there. They had quickly become fast friends sharing theories, work, adventures and other more intimate things. After Tyrzo had left the Order they had remained friends. Sree had a similar problem to Tyrzo, she was much to open minded for the strict Order of Reason that combined with her status as itinerant Knight wandering the world to fight the evil of superstition had brought her into contact with many schools of magic that where deemed fallacious by the Order. Her insistence of treating even the most ridiculous form of witchery of the more barbaric of tribes with utmost respect trying to find the root of truth within their errant doctrines had in the end led to her dismissal from the Order. Tyrzo had been there for her then helping her to find own place in the world. To this day Sree kept her armour and swords from the order, upgrading them with the due veneration as time passed. Quite as if she had never left the order. She once told them that some individuals inside the order had turned against her but that she was still part of the Order and would remain loyal to its cause until the end of time.
Sree was having an animated discussion with the woman next to her. She was smaller almost tiny but what she lacked in height she made up for with curves of which she had many all of them in the most flattering places. This was Niani Danar the great Atlytenian traitor. Oh great Atlytenia most exalted of all nations, built into the very crust of the sky-shell. Closest nation of all to the final mysteries of the stars also the one furthest removed from them. For a people that lived right next to them, their highest houses going past the channels of the sun and the moon almost touching the outer crust, they were adamant that no one should ever move past that final frontier. This was something that drove Niani crazy. She was not the only Atlytenian whose imagination was fired up at night when sitting in the highest towers she could hear the clicking, whirring and scraping of the passing stars. No there were others like her. But she was the first to work her way through the most prestigious of the Atlytenian academies becoming a renowned professor in her own right who never gave up her dream of the stars. How were they connected to humanity that they would react to what they did on earth? What powered their motion among the outer layer of the sky-shell and from where did the aurora come from? Was the outer crust maybe not the last?
She insisted that such questions should be allowed. There was a great scandal that shook the society of Atlytenia for weeks. In the end she lost. Because of her great services to her country she was speared the death sentence but she was forced into exile declared persona non grata. She was never to return and every Atlytenian who dared to as much talk to her risked of sharing her fate.
The person so conspicuously missing was the venerable Feng Shima one of the very few people to ever reach the level of Transcendent Power in the discipline of mind-force. For most people immortality was a concept that contained various reincarnations which for most also brought the loss of memory as few could afford growing a full replacement body when their time was starting to run out. Fewer still had the considerable wealth it took to actually maintain a replacement body at all time as well as the artefacts necessary to capture the soul after death while keeping their memories alive so that when they returned to their new bodies they remained the same person as before. Not so Feng Shima. High grand master of sanctifier. Power of shell-art. Transcendent power of mind-force. His total mastery of body, mind and energy made him come as close to true immortality as anyone yet. In a way the venerable Feng Shima was the odd man out. The thumb opposite to the four fingers. While everyone else was deeply devoted to the advancement of knowledge Feng Shima was looking for personal enlightenment. This had never been a problem though because in most things he and the others saw eye to eye. In the end everyone had to struggle to attain real true understanding. It was only that Feng Shima's gaze was directed inside where the others were looking outwards. The four had greatly benefited from his teachings improving both their shell-art as well as their mind-force using the many meditations and exercises he taught them while he learned from them the higher art of sanctificing. He always listened to their theories, never interrupting, thinking about them sometimes for months on end only to return with a shockingly insightful comment. Always thanking the one he had listened to for showing him a new way of thinking.
Tyrzo felt apprehensive. Of all the people in their group the venerable Feng Shima was the last who would miss a major reunion. Something must had happened. Something dreadful.