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Alma - Chapter 164

Published at 23rd of May 2020 06:20:04 AM

Chapter 164: 164
"Are you about this?" said Velvund as he started at Reed with an indiscernible expression, so as to not sway him to toward one decision or another .  

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He had to make the decision on his own .

"I understand, Gramps, but I still need to know regardless of how I may feel about it later . There are some things we must confront no matter what, don't you agree? I think this is one of them . "

It was the truth . Reed knew it all too well, to the point that he no longer struggled against it . He had already accepted that he was destined to walk upon a path of thorns, no matter what he might want of his life .   Suffering had become such a prevalent aspect of his life that he had developed an abnormal tolerance for it .  

Was it a defeatist mentality or a realist one? Reed did not know . All he knew was that it had become his shield against the horrors that he had been subjected to all his life . It was not something he was proud of, but he knew that it had served him well, especially as of recent .

It doesn't matter either way . I'll gladly take it as long as it helps me endure the pain .  

Reed, Lu'um, and Velvund walked past the ominous gate and then it creaked back into life and closed itself shut with a resounding slam . A booming clap of horror echoed out into the remote mountain range, heralding the arrival of the three poor fools that had entered . There was nothing to be gained within the bowels of the mountain except . . . misery .

Long, black hallways of darkened rock finally led into something vaguely man-made . Somewhat normal, if only in theory at the very least . Steel, circuitry, and dim lights were all that could be seen . A technological crypt in the heart of a mountain that was hidden to the world . Anima-conductive fiber optic cables ran the length of every hallway that Reed passed through, making him wonder how much power was being used to keep the entire place operational . He guessed from th3 flow around him that the Anima coursing throughout the facility could have probably powered a capital city like the Shining Nexus easily .

"Why does this place need so much power? What exactly is being run here that needs enough power to run a city?"

Reed asked the question in curiosity, but he already knew that the answer was not going to be anything good . . .

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"The cables around us are all connected to the central hub of the facility where the Dreaming Council is being kept . Some are power cables; others are data cables; a few more are for . . . other purposes . " 

The further ventured into the facility, the colder it seemed to get . It even got to a point where Reed saw his breaths turn into puffs of white mist . When his teeth started to unintentionally chatter, Lu'um pulled close and conjured a tiny ball of warm light in front of them .

"Y-You running a goddamn meat locker in here, Gramps? W-Why the hell do you need it to be this cold down here?! Any colder and it might start snowing in here, for Heaven's sake!"

"The amount of residual heat generated from the Dreaming Council's integrated systems is so problematic that it became a necessity to develop a highly aggressive cooling solution . There's nothing that we can do about this, my son . We can't have a multi-billion credit investment go up in flames, can we?"

When they finally made it to the deepest level of the facility, Reed gasped in genuine horror . Lu'um made a disgusted face in revulsion, appalled by the offensive sight .  

Velvund sighed when he noticed their reactions and said, " . . . You wanted the answer to your question, right? Well . . . here is your answer .

Allow me to formally introduce you to the Dreaming Council, which is, in fact, composed by . . . three of the Four Sovereigns . "

A living nightmare of fused flesh and circuitry, sustained by the efforts of three capital ship-grade Anima reactors . They were a biomechanical monstrosity of astounding intelligence and cold logical reasoning .

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Within a freezing lake of liquid Anima laid true ruler of Mulia in all of its ungodly glory . Reed shuddered and said, " . . . Three of the Four Sovereigns? Then what happened to the fourth one?"

A lifeless conglomerate of male and female voices spoke unison and said, "Our associate, The King of Flowers, Sovereign of the South, is alive and well . He is not part of us and serves the continent in a different way than us, Son of Coatlicue . "

Lu'in flinched momentarily when she heard what it had called Reed and said, " . . . Mind your manners, lowly servant . Do not forget where you stand and most importantly, who you stand in front of . . . " Her words were even colder than the temperature of the alien chamber they were in, full of indifferent animosity . To her, it was as if she was gazing upon a grotesque insect and nothing more .

" . . . . Our apologies, Heiress of the Moon .  We did not intend to offend you or Her Highness . Such a thing would never have crossed our minds, we swear . All we did was answer his question to the best of our abilities . . . "

A truthful answer, for the existence of the Dreaming Council could never be revealed to the world . Neither Mortal not Chosen would ever permit themselves to be ruled by such an abominable horror, even if it possessed every requirement needed of a perfect ruler .  

Therefore, a mask was required for the Dreaming Council and they could not have found any better than the King of Flowers, who was an Eisalon .   A creature blessed to be beloved by all by virtue of its naturally calm and gentle disposition and its innate racial ability .  

"Our flower mask has served us as intended for millennia without issue and in return, it has enjoyed prosperous tenure as the figurehead of our authority and all the benefits that come with it . . . "

This is the real truth?! I am to believe that this creature is responsible for the ages of unbroken peace after the Unification Wars?!

"If the King of Flowers has no say in ruling matters, then am I to believe that you are the reason for Mulia's longstanding peace?"

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"Yes . You are correct in your judgment . We have been . . . guiding Mulia for the last three thousand four hundred and fifty-two years in secret since our birth . During that time we have . . . quelled eighty-six uniquely different plots to overthrow the Four Empires of varying complexity .   

Some elementary and pedestrian; others far more nefarious and intricate in design . Nevertheless, we have . . . silenced all who have tried to destroy the order we have brought upon the land . There is very little that we do not know of the affairs of our own domain and nothing we cannot unravel given . . . time . "

Another truth was spoken by the eldritch machine-creature . Without its astonishing intellectual and predictive capabilities, the Four Empires would have fallen long ago . Greed and ambition was an eternal flame in the hearts of many a noble family in Mulia, always seeking greater wealth and power for an endless amount of reasons .

Discontent of the current royal families and their overly generous conduct with other empires . Old, festering grudges of radical groups against other races . Malicious intentions harbored by the most twisted Mortals and Chosen . Ambitious designs and determined beliefs that the current system Mulia has been operating under for millennia is outdated .  

The Dreaming Council sent a pulse of Anima through one of the many cables connected to their bloated flesh and in response, a loud mechanical thrum filled the alien chamber .

"Every century insurrectionists rise up from the ground like weeds . . . . Fools clamor and gather others fools for their causes and in the end, they all meet . . the same fate . "

 The platform Reed, Lu'um, and Velvund were standing on trembled as it slowly began to rise up upwards toward an opening ceiling . They were being taken elsewhere by the Dreaming Council, past the infrastructure that sustained their existence .  

All of the Dreaming Council's many faces twisted as they said, "All who have opposed us have been . . . re-educated and given a second chance at life in service of the greater good, for we are merciful and forgiving . Only those who have repeatedly rejected our generous proposals have suffered a fate of their own making . . .

We . . have made sure to follow in our benefactor's footsteps to the letter . Our test results have proven that our unique method of subliminal guidance is only two percent less effective than the use of an Alma .  

Therefore, we can wholeheartedly assure you both that our re-educational method is, for all intents and purposes, absolutely foolproof . There is no need to be concerned . "

. . . Excuse me? What the FUCK? Did I fucking hear that correctly?

He turned toward Lu'um but it seemed as if she had not noticed his questioning gaze . She was far too focused on contemplating whether or not to tear the abomination in front of her to pieces with her bare hands . . .

The platform arrived with a resounding clunk when it arrived at its destination .  

It was pitch black with the exception of a sea of luminescent lights and strangle cables sprawled around an endless expansive .  

Reed couldn't make out anything in the room and said, " . . . What is this supposed to be?"

The Dreaming Council paused for a moment and then said, "The lights will be on momentarily .   Apologies for the . . . untimely delay, but we can not have the Nursery break protocol . "

A nursery . . . but for what?

Reed felt his stomach churn and nervously swallowed a lump of dread and spit down as he waited for the lights to turn on .

Never before had he feared the arrival of light . Today was the first time he wanted the world to stay dark . . .

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