Chapter 2 Ascending Genius
Tyrzo Galevion after a long arduous journey had finally, finally reached the Fortress of Terminal Justice. Following a long cold trail from the lofty heights Atlytenia the nation that hung suspended from the Skyshell, through the very crust of the earth into the Inner World into the Kingdom X.
Tyrzo was looking for a soul that had been lost long ago. The soul of a brilliant magician who had in his burning desire to force his way past the boundaries of ignorance committed crimes so abhorrent that he was sentenced to the most severe punishment known to man. Full body death followed by the evaporation of his immortal soul. He would be completely erased from the world and while his soul burned it would power the most powerful artefacts for the benefit of all.
At least that was the theory. While it was true that the most monstrous of criminals were denied rebirth followed by the destruction of their souls, some of these monsters carried with them knowledge and expertise that was deemed to important to be lost for ever. So in an act of rationalisation filled with some of the most elaborate ethical contortions it was decided that these individuals should not face the burning of their souls just yet. Instead their souls would be placed in special flasks of glass and metal built especially to hold their essences and keep their minds alive. Inside these prisons that did not forget who they were, as it usually happens to disembodied souls. That way they had a long time to contemplate their evil ways. The only diversion they ever had from their endless exile inside their own minds was when they were call to advice their captors or provide them with data collected during the days of their career as human monsters. Only then after they had done their service to society, which is to mean as soon as they could not provide anything of importance to anyone any more, were they allowed to burn for the good of all.
The Fortress of Terminal Justice was the prison that housed the worst of the worst. A combined effort by many different nations who had agreed to provide a secure environment for all these evil men and women. And a perfect safe location to keep their unsavoury secrets out of the public eye. And it was also a convenient place to store most of the machines and weapons that worked only when fed with human souls as their very existence tended to scare most people weak and powerful alike. For Tyrzo this made matter a lot easier. Instead of having to elaborately plan a break in he only had to talk to King Xsistis the idiot sovereign of Kingdom X. The king didn't even really want the money, most of all he wanted recognition. The reason why the Fortress was located in X was that none of the participating powers trusted the other with keeping the criminally brilliant within their borders, closely followed by the fear when it became general knowledge what it was housing. King Xsistis VIII the grand father of man now sitting on the thrown on the other had was only to happy to play host to the prison as he had hoped that this would put him on equal terms with the powers from above ground. Tyrzo smiled and shock his head. The folly of the dimly lit.
He walked up the narrow path hewn out of the very rock on which the Fortress of Terminal Justice was standing. To his left and right were only deep chasms. The only way to the only gate to the jail was barely broad enough for one person to walk upon and always carried the menace of being hurled by a strong gust of wind into the stony depths far, far below. The security measures were half hearted. While the Fortress could be kept against most invading armies for quite a while and the abhorrent weapons inside were more than enough to destroy who ever thought of laying siege to it, it was rather easy for a single man such as Tyrzo himself to simply walk up to and through the front door.
As he reached it he was very well aware of the monolithic metal statues standing left and right of the entrance. As he stepped through the door he saw that the great main hallway was flanked by was practically a honour guard of more of these giant machines. Every single one of them was a prison cell itself. It contained the soul of someone whose crime was severe enough to justify body death but whose soul was allowed to live on. But only after going through lengthy tour of duty inside one of a penal automaton. A suit of armour that robed him from his magical powers and slowly drained his soul to power its mechanisms. While immobile like sculptures every single one of them was itching to jump into action, perform one heroic deed that might foreshorten its sentence and set its soul free again. As Tyrzo walked passed them he felt their gazes upon him, some of the most powerful among them even managed to very lightly probe the outer reaches of his mental presence with a feeble probe. This just made his smile a bit wider. The automaton guards were nothing. For he who knew his enemy while he himself remained unknown was destined for victory.
The third and final layer of security was far less obvious. Into the very structure of the Fortress where built conduits of power, through which the mind-force of a powerful sorcerer could be channelled giving him control over the wide assortment of weapons that had been fitted into building itself. Tyrzo knew that among all the glances that were cast at him there was one that was not looking at him with hunger but one that was mostly empty of any strong emotion. A glance that seemed to seep out of the very walls, the floor the ceiling. It watched him from all angles, it watched were he came from and where he was going. This was the only variable that Tyrzo could not fully determine before he came here. This presence represented a risk, a very small one but one that could open the door to all kinds of disasters. It belonged to the only free man that dwelt inside the Fortress, the Nameless Warden. A man who within this walls held almost limitless power. Now Tyrzo's smile broke out into a smile. This was what was making this endeavour fun.
The Nameless Warden expected him inside a large domed room that was located in the perfect centre of the fortress. The dome itself was made from a clear translucent stone that let in the reddish light of the Inner Sun, the planets glowing core that shone its warmth and light onto the realms of the Inner World. The effect was rather dramatic. IT painted the Warden in his oversized armour in the colours of rust and blood. His animated armour was ridiculously thick, outlining the bulging body of a humanoid bull rather than that of a man. The face of the Warden was that of an old man, his white hair combed back to a ponytail to reveal his regal face with its ominously lit harsh angles and sharp ridges. Before he had entered Tyrzo had been very careful to hide his smile and appear neutral but seeing this figure in front of him was almost to much. It was the eyes jet black housing a baleful flicker of light that nearly tipped him over the edge. It was so childish. He could almost imagine how the people who had come up with the design for the Nameless Wardens appearance had been filling one slight after the other with ideas one more outrageous than the other. He carefully hid his smile inside of smirk, smirks came easy to him. He also reminded himself that this sentinel would inspire shock and awe in the uneducated but at the same time would breed overconfidence in people like him. Just because he looked like he was hiding some princess in a deep dungeon did not mean that he was to be taking lightly.
They stood in silence for a while. Tyrzo wondering if this was another psychological ploy to keep visitors under control or if he was actually expected to say something specific. Yet in the end it was the Nameless Warden who broke the silence.
"What do you seek?" he said in a rumbling voice that sounded powerful yet wise.
"I have been sent here by the Council of Terminal Justice to extract from one of the prisoners information vital for the greater good of all." he answered in his best arse on official business voice.
"Is that so?" the Warden asked "And who is it who is required to answer the call of nations so that he may redeem himself in time to be released into the flames?"
"I need to speak to Khrus Cydral." this was the crucial point. Tyrzo knew that Cydral had been sentenced to body death and evaporation for his crimes and he also knew that he was deemed to useful to burn immediately. His trial had one upon a time been a great spectacle as well as his condemnation into the Fortress of Terminal Justice. What Tyrzo did not know though was whether Cydral had outlived his usefulness. In that case he might have been burned a long time ago or another even worse scenario was that someone else had come and gotten him out of the fortress.
"Khrus Cydral. . ." the Nameless Warden said pausing for dramatic effect. That and to expand his consciousness into the archives of the fortress to see where the prisoner was. "Yes indeed, he is held deep below in the fifth circle of final storage. He will be due to transfer into the final circle of disposal in 30 years."
Tyrzo did not really care, "I will not need him that long. Do not worry."
"Then I need to see the Letter of Authorisation." he declared in his thunderous voice with a solemnity that Tyrzo's opinion would have made him a big hit at every wedding or martial arts contest. He stepped forward taking out a scroll of parchment out of one of his inner pockets. The Nameless Warden broke the seals, unrolled the letter and his eyes opened wide in surprise.
"This is a. . ." his voice turned into a gurgle before he could finish the sentence.
"A forgery? Yes I know." said Tyrzo finishing the sentence for the Warden. "And I do apologize for it being such a crude one. But I did what it was made for." and he allowed his wide grin to return to his face.
The Nameless Warden let go of the paper, as it fell to the ground it revealed the hilt of a knife, its blade well hidden inside the Warden's abdomen. The hilt was bound in leather and around the grip a ruby wire was wound. The wire was pulsating with light in the rhythm of the slowing heart of the Warden. With each pulse the glowing turned brighter and shone longer.
The Warden slowly overcoming the shock of the unexpected attack drew in a rattling breath. "But surely you know" his eyes grew firm again "that by killing my body you will only make me stronger?" he now looked Tyrzo straight in the eyes, his face a marked by cold anger.
"Of course I do. What kind of idiot do you think I am?" Tyrzo answered regarding the Warden with a crooked smile.
"And do you realize that once this shell of mine is gone you will have no chance to beat me in combat?" the Warden continued. His mortal voice growing more feeble, but the one echoing through Tyrzo's mind gaining in force.
"Yes. I know." he answered with a sigh. "I actually did my homework, you know?"
"So how do you..." this time Tyrzo did not let the Warden finish he cut of his speech with a wave of his hand and pointed at the dagger.
"See that knife. I put a lot of love into the creation of that one. While it will not kill you it will trap your soul. And before you even start. I know that it will not hold you forever, but it will hold you for long enough to get what I came here for. Once you control this place again I will be long gone."
"You can not escape." said the warden
"Really? Watch me." answered Tyrzo as he walked past the entrance door accompanied by the screams of the Nameless Warden and the sudden shrieking of the prisons sirens.