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Title: Archaeologist Discovers NEW Talis Cave
Body: This could go down in history as the most important piece of information for Specters. I don’t know what else to say other than Talis Ranis lived an extreme life and likely knew things in a way no one else will ever understand. It’s in his extreme life that he must have been able to unlock so many secrets and the access to power seldom seen in the world. Here is the message from my source.
“We were making little progress on the translations when we stumbled upon a section of cave flooring that was upside down. It turned out Talis had carved a slab out of the ground, wrote an essay, and flipped it around and placed it back in the slot. The translation, though still complex, was much less cryptic than what was written on the walls. For the “Aspect Slab” as we are naming it, Talis used the same language he wrote with for his book, except for this he wrote in reverse sixty degree angle. Meaning it was written backwards and the characters were carved in sideways… it’s complex stuff but the message we got from it is very important. The Talis cave is becoming more and more obvious a place where the Fable could write streams of consciousness during his alleged final days. The cave could potentially hold dozens more secrets equally as profound as this one.”
“Among the revelations and truths imposed upon me by the universe during my lifetime is one immutable fact concerning the nature of the Aspect. That which keeps me up at night pondering the Aspect and meditating for years in a row with a single thought of interest. The Aspect is organic, it grows much the same way we do. One can enjoy the use of an Aspect their whole life and never develop beyond a certain point, whereas another can increase their power wildly beyond the point they started at. For the Aspect I can say this secret, which is only a secret because of our lack of knowledge of it. Keep in mind, it is no secret to the Aspect. Immerse yourself in the element of your Aspect completely. Be baptized in that which is similar to your Aspect. If your Aspect uses water, drown yourself to the point of near death. If your Aspect uses fire, engulf yourself in flames regularly. How this applies to your individual Aspect must be carefully meditated on by the user. Injury is part of the process, death is not. Exercise caution and the acceptance of dying must be taken to a level exponentially higher than that which is required to awaken the Aspect in the first place. In my personal experience, since I am now dead I do not mind sharing as much as I used to, with my Feather Aspect I recall in my earlier days as a Master interacting with bird feathers as much as possible. I would eat them, rub them under my eyelids, weave clothes out of them, stick the stems in my flesh and let the skin heal around. I would never harm a single bird to get a feather. I only used feathers that fell from flying birds. I spent days following birds, running under them and following their migration, learning their habits and idiosyncrasies. I learned how to sense when a feather would fall, I could close my eyes and listen to the noise of a feather flowing in the wind and find it in the autumn brush among piles of leaves. I would count every bristle of every feather. I would make instruments from feather stems and feather bristles. I slept on beds of feathers and dreamed in terms of feathers and tried to make feathers levitate with my mind or combust or grow into a bird.
I merged and transcended with my Aspect at some point and became a Fable. Think on this deeply.”
Aggromania [commented]: Guess it’s time to drink bleach to upgrade my power.
Omat1 [replied]: You’re the third Specter I know with the bleach Aspect.
Zaline [replied]: Ah the internet, a place where world changing information is joked about casually. Do you have any idea of the severity of this knowledge as we are the only people aside from a corrupt city who knows about this and you’re really making jokes? We don’t deserve Talis Ranis’ wisdom.
Omat1 [replied]: Talis once convinced an entire crowd that the planet was flat just to mess with them.
Empyronn [commented]: This is actually significant. It sounds reasonable in a twisted sort of way.
Fringecx [commented]: Going to try this with my group of Specters, of course I’m not saying anything about where I got the idea from.
Petarack [replied]: Please give us updates.
Fringecx [replied] I’ll be sure to! I can’t imagine this method of immersion is in any way an instant difference but maybe over a period of time we’ll get stronger.
Obviousoblivion [commented]: You’re absolutely sure your source is 100% legitimate? I can see this sparking another Aspect revolution even though it seems quite dangerous. We have to do our part in keeping this secret until op says it’s ready to go live.
Anonymoose [replied]: I don’t think it’s so dangerous. Yeah, it sounds like Talis went pretty hardcore but in general I think he meant you need to be passionate about your Aspect and the things in nature that are like it. Otherwise how would Sage’s be able to do this?
Axecutie2 [commented]: This is obvious information.
Bladamyr [commented]: It’s disappointing Talis is dead, I always wanted to be the one to beat him.
Petarack [replied]: Hang on guys, we got a badass.
Hammerman024 [replied]: How did a troll even get in the secret forums?
Bladamyr [replied]: I invited myself, since I’m the best.
Mradmityourwrong [replied] reported.
CvarichSeven [commented]: Just heard a rumor about something insane, please dm me.
(Load more comments)
Reconstruction began the next day. As a majority of the city lay in ruins, the surviving districts housed the four million humans that were spared. Hege was in charge of divvying up land and jobs to the citizenry.
Deo was busy ordering his hordes to construct simple units for them to be stored in. Rubble had to be cleared and the streets had to be cleaned. Deo worked with master architects and builders to ensure that he ordered his hordes to engineer structurally sound buildings.
Abstract orders such as telling them to build an object based off a blueprint was not an easy thing to do. Deo spent a week figuring out how to order them to do things the way he imagined. Fortunately he had enough Alivers, undead with fully functional brains, that could be ordered to do broader tasks. Still, Deo got better at syncing his intentions with his orders.
The central district of Ophir, the Fortune district, was cleared completely. Deo wanted a large open space to build his own residence, his hall. He decided on a massive, flat ziggurat. A construction style some ten thousand years old. The peak wouldn’t be more than a couple stories above the ground and the base was more like a large plateau. There was the flat base and a second, smaller base on top of the first shaped in a rectangle. The peak was disproportionately smaller than the rest of Deo’s ziggurat but it was meant to only fit his throne and some space on the sides. It would be much like a king’s audience chamber from antiquity mixed with a more ancient pyramidal building choice.
Deo was making a statement by making his hall outdoors. It said, “I am not bound by walls. My domain is everything around me, for as far as the eye can see and beyond.”
The peak of the ziggurat was actually near the edge on the far back, instead of a central peak. The base was nearly a full kilometer from end to end. Only a couple of stairs high to mount the first level of the ziggurat. These were located on all sides except for the back. The second floor was shaped in a rectangle and served as a hall going lengthwise to the third floor, the throne seat. The second floor was accessible by a single set of staircases at the base of the short end. The distance between the first and second floor was about the size of a person and a half. The third floor was too high to be climbed but not so much so that the drop would kill. Certainly someone seeking an audience with Deo would be forced to strain their neck upwards. A staircase on the back of the ziggurat was the only way to reach the top floor.
A raised wall blocked the back side and there were several areas with rooms and even a hidden trapdoor at the top that led underground. The ziggurat itself was oriented to the rest of the world, seeing as Ophir lay in the corner of the Sister continent. Deo wanted to face his enemies.
During all this Deo had to micromanage Lorrely’s corpse doll. It was the only thing that kept her happy which meant her bodyguard, the angel Jan, could stay by Deo’s side. Jan was the Seravim Aspect, and because Lorrely needed Deo to live so that her doll would not disintegrate, Jan had to protect Deo.
She spent her time painting and applying makeup to the corpse. Everyday it looked more and more alive. Deo had to order it to walk with her, sit with her and in general act somewhat animated. It was worth it to keep a string of suicides from occurring to his skilled human professionals. The angel had already saved his life after an electrician who lost his family to the undead ran at Deo with a knife. Jan moved with a burst of light and decapitated the electrician with his black blade. The movement was too fast for Deo to tell if Jan had teleported or flew that fast.
Part of this delicate process of starting an empire was learning the powers of his followers. What made them tick, what were their motivations, likes and dislikes. How soon before they got bored and decided to just kill him. Were any of them actually loyal? Deo paid attention to every detail every chance he got. Jan and Lorrely were the easiest to psychoanalyze and they seemed to be on board so long as Lorrely had her corpse doll.
Hege was in it for the ride, the thrill of going up against the world. Assuming Deo stayed on top of his game, Hege should remain on his side. But Hege was an opportunist and Deo had no way of knowing who was secretly under control from his Aspect. Spying on him would breed distrust and Deo felt Hege only had their empire’s best interests in mind. Which, in the most extreme case, could mean Deo would eventually be obsolete. That was too far down the road to worry about right now. Hege being able to match Deo in strategy meant they both knew working together was to each’s advantage.
The other Specters were mostly off doing their own thing. Deo didn’t see much of the girl in the veil or the man with the catapult or the Specter with the fangs and the reptile-like head or the man with black veins. Perhaps they were deciding what to do or killing time until the next battle. Deo didn’t even know most of their names or their Aspects.
There was one he did know. The emaciated girl who controlled the rats. She eerily went by the name Bubonica. She lived in the sewers with her rats and her disdain for humans was certainly warranted. Deo learned that she was a ‘sewer dweller’ deposed people, poverty stricken that were treated worse than vermin. In Garghent they had been called sewer slickers and every metropolis had them. A result of building cities on top of cities was a large amount of underground tunnels and structures. It meant the most unfortunate or desperate could hide illegally in the vast sewer networks. Bubonica had it bad enough to awaken an Aspect in her meek existence in the sewers. Rats were her only company and all she wanted to do was propagate her swarm off of human flesh. Her and Deo’s goals aligned quite nicely.
Most of their conversation involved their hatred for the human race but Deo was able to gleam how her Aspect worked. It was called Rat Spores and apparently her bodily fluids, such as her sweat and blood, contained tiny spores that if come into contact with something edible, human flesh or breathed into the lungs, would allow for the spores to grow into microscopic rats that devour endlessly until they grow to normal size in the span of minutes. A single human could feed hundreds of rat spores.
Her Aspect had to be activated to release the spores, otherwise a simple conversation could result in rats gnawing their way out of Deo’s eyes through something as simple as spittle.
Deo had all these sorts of thoughts buzzing in his head as he focused on reconstructing Ophir.
Deo climbed the steps to his throne. Construction wasn’t fully complete and there were many details and furnishings that had to be added but the barebones of the ziggurat was finished. He lined thousands of corpses on the streets around, on the first floor and anywhere between a point Deo would likely walk to.
Deo reclined to his chair at the top, finally relaxing since the siege weeks ago. The winter months rolling in made the entire process slower and colder but the sheer number of workers made construction work very efficient as soon as he had figured out how to order them with the optimal instructions.
Deo ordered an undead to tell Hege to come. Deo needed an update on world events and to work out the next course of action. It was too cold to nap up on the peak so Deo ordered a corpse to bring him some wine and bread while he waited. Deo felt the pressures of what he was attempting. Spending so much time in his head thinking through things repetitively left him drained. Deo needed to ground himself before he spiraled into despair. There were a million things to consider and prepare for and Deo already had to control sixty million corpses and the mental strain of his undertaking took a toll from his sanity. Something felt off but Deo couldn’t place it. It annoyed him to no end.
Seeing the world atop his throne brightened his mood and raised his spirits. The world acclimated itself in much better fashion while Deo sat on a throne. Now the clouds looked like his clouds and the mountains his mountains and the grass his grass. The world was less of an open, mysterious and primeval thing. It took on a shape modeled by Deo’s eyes as they rested themselves on a throne.
Deo leapt out of his seat and looked down on the chair. “The chair of kings is a dangerous thing.” Of course sitting on furniture does not suddenly make one the ruler of nature or master of creation. But it can feel like it…
Deo slumped back on his throne.
“Found a snake on your chair, eh?” Hege teased, as he ascended the last step.
“The snake in the mind.” Deo replied. “I did not hear you approach.”
“Old habit.” Hege said honestly. “This is impressive.” Hege remarked, seeing the ziggurat for the first time.
“It still needs some work.”
“You went primitive with the building choice. Can’t say it’s unpleasant on the eyes. It is an interesting contrast to modern architecture.”
“I think so too. It’s the sort of building those ancient people would have first built once they settled. The ones from our chess game.” Deo said.
“Indeed it is. Going off of tradition, the owner of such a building was usually worshipped as a deity or an avatar of some sorts.”
“Perhaps I am one was well.” Deo ordered his undead in the area to bow down.
“That snake in your head, remember, it is one that will eat its own tail.”
“I know. I was merely joking.” Deo ordered them to stand normally. “I do wonder if those old deities from ancient civilizations were really Specters, worshipped because their power made them akin to that of a god.”
Hege rubbed his chin. “It’s a popular theory I’ve heard before but the argument breaks down once you ask the question ‘what power did this particular god have?’ that god could be associated with crops, war, winter and stomach aches so what’s the Aspect? Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe there have been Specters for thousands of years but I don’t think we have enough information or evidence to say that all of human belief and innovation comes from Aspects.”
“Fair point.” Deo lapsed into silence and sipped on his wine.
“Well I am sure you did not call me over here to talk history.” Hege said.
“Yes, I would like to know how the humans are adjusting.” Deo asked.
“They are unsettled by the presence of your undead but overall are returning to normality fairly fast. It helps that wealth is redistributed so that all the survivors are well off. Having only the most skilled chefs and artesans makes quality of life above standard for many of the common citizens that survived. They know the alternative and they trust me to keep them alive. I’d say you have their loyalty. We are working on expanding the districts considerably, updating appliances and reinforcing defenses. We are also training an elite military and preparing heavy weaponry and anti-siege measures.”
“Good. Things will pick up in the spring. Have you heard of Lazulie in Eleaveer?” Deo asked.
“Ah yes, the revolutionary. He has all but succeeded. Last I heard there were only a few sectors left in the city not under his rebellion.”
“He impresses me. Lazulie has done, more or less, the same thing I did minus an Aspect. I admit I am a bit jealous, it would have been interesting for me to take Ophir without an Aspect.”
“Not an easy task, indeed.”
“Our paths will cross one day, I think.” Deo said.
“A likely possibility. You will try to recruit him, no?”
Deo smiled. “You’re sharp, Hege. Imagine what the three of us strategists could do?”
Hege spread his hands. “I will leave the fantasizing to you. My mind works more analytically.”
“Ever the diplomat, Hege,” Deo said with fake exasperation. “Tomorrow I am going to introduce myself to the world scene but I’d like to know what’s going on. I’ve been too busy to keep up.”
“Well, Garghent is annexing Daedal as we speak. They are becoming a vassal city to Garghent and the rest of the Sister continent is either too weak to stop Garghent or waiting to see how the other cities react. Everyone is keeping their hands hidden except for Garghent and by the looks of things, no city is confident enough to challenge them. There hasn’t been any news about more attacks in the Brother continent but it has been over two years since the last metropolis was obliterated. Needless to say they are holding their breath over there.”
“Hmm.” Deo thought for a minute. “I imagine any message I send out would be largely ignored right now. No one is in a position to make a move.”
“The timing may be poor for such an entrance afterall, Deo.”
Deo waved his hand. “No this perfect, exactly what I had in mind.”
“You will have to explain your logic to me sometime.” Hege said. “I will send for the media crew so you can make preparations.”
“Thank you. One more thing, Hege. Can you send an emissary to the Palaot islands?”
“What for?” Hege asked curiously.
“There is a man there who wishes to join me. I told him I would call him once I have domain.”
“Very well.” Hege turned and left, descending the stairs.
Once the media crew arrived Deo worked with them, setting up the shot and lighting and hashing out the technical details of where to broadcast the scene. It would be a live shot streaming on Ophir’s major news channel and from there, hopefully picked up by other channels on the continent.
The next day, with everything ready, Deo sat on his chair. On his left was the angel and on his right was Hege. The camera would pick up legions of the dead in the background and the city itself would look like a ghost, empty of most of the iconic buildings that had stood there only weeks before.
Deo was dressed in an expensive suit and wore various paints to accentuate certain features such as his eyes. He was a king of the dead and wanted to look the part.
The camera crew had everything ready and waited for Deo’s signal to start recording.
Deo nodded to the cameraman. He flipped the switch and the red light of the camera turned on.
Deo stared at it as he started his speech. He spoke methodically and in a low voice.
“Ophir is no more. If you have loved ones, relatives or business partners that lived here they are likely all dead. The new name is un-Ophir for only the undead remain. I am lord here. My name is Deo and I am the leader of Villain Throne. To clarify, we are explicitly evil. There is not a trace of morals or compassion in us. We are cursed beings, spawned from the pit and children of the void. Struggle against your fate as I will expand my empire, slaughter millions, destroy your societies, burn down your cities and salt the ground beneath me. As you can see my intentions are clear. I will never lie nor will I harm the innocent. That is my promise I vow to keep. The fact that there are no innocent humans is an unfortunate happenstance. A circumstance of your damned race. Do not squander your time for your days are numbered. Villain Throne declares war against the world. Prepare as you see fit.” The camera shut off and Deo relaxed in his chair. He’d have to wait to see how his broadcast was received by the world. The chair was comfortable and well made but lacking any flair or romanticism. That’s what was wrong. He didn’t have a proper throne.
We’re all vying for that seat of power.
The memory leapt unbidden into his mind.
“The king of chairs is the throne.” Deo said suddenly, to no one in particular.
“Humans are unique in that they construct places to sit, the antithesis of evolution. Complacency and arrogance where survival and instinct should be instead. We ignore the predator and prey dynamic. Chairs are diametrically opposed to nature. They are the source of Man’s sentient consciousness or the first product of our self-awareness. Chairs are ingrained into our psyche, imprinted on our sense of hierarchy, class and social standing. When you stand in front of a throne you have no choice of but to feel its power and your suppliance to it. It makes you greedy to be the sitter, jealousy and violent thoughts influence your actions. Under its spell you wage war and slay your brothers and sisters. As for the sitter, you take on the qualities of your throne. It wears you as you wear clothes. You become the vessel for the throne and it thirsts for worship and blood. You must satisfy the throne or be discarded for another sitter. Chairs have domesticated humans. We are addicted to them. Standing wears us out and we yearn for the feeling of sitting and long for its caressing shape. Walking becomes an exercise to sit for longer periods of time. We’re all vying for that seat of power and the throne is the king of chairs.” Deo noticed he was rambling to an audience of Specters, the Specters that needed to decide whether Deo was worth killing or joining. He hadn’t noticed them arrive.
So blind does the throne make its sitter.
Deo addressed everyone. “We are Villain Throne. The seat of power is occupied by me. That is the meaning of our name. Who pledges allegiance to the Villain Throne?”
One by one the Specters approached the second floor of the ziggurat beneath Deo, bowed and pledged their lives to the throne. Deo’s group was now official.
Deo turned to Hege. “Can you bring me the master carpenter?”
“That snake in your head wants a fancier chair?” Hege asked with a smirk.
“The fanciest chair in the world.”