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Initializing cutscene…






Playing cutscene…

A man stood in the middle of a large city. People walked past him, blind to his existence. And he was blind to them. He had wrapped a piece of cloth around his eyes, while also keeping his eyelids firmly pressed shut. Wax was placed in his ears. He didn’t want to hear. It was another sensation that brought information. The same was true for his nose. Breathing was something he hadn’t needed to do for many years. It was still strange, and he caught himself sometimes trying to breathe. But it was better this way. Smelling was worse. It gave him more information. He reached for his head and groaned, “Need… to turn… this off.”

The man knew more than anyone else about everyone who walked past him. He understood them better than they knew themselves. A shadow reached out from him and wrapped around everything, invisible tendrils interacting with the shadows cast by those around him. It was a connection, a bridge of sorts, opening a path between souls. A road only he could walk. He knew every small embarrassing fact about those around him. But there was far more information than just that. Even the most mundane, irrelevant information was delivered.

The man groaned again and pushed his way out of the city. Just stepping foot inside was enough of a struggle. Reaching the city’s main square was somewhat of a personal victory. But standing there for five minutes was the most he could handle. One on one, he could tap into a soul, delve into the depths of a being. Truly understand them. And then change them. Small bits and pieces or massive chunks of memory and knowledge. It was a power he’d had since a young age. One he trained, day after day without rest. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Each step became harder. Just reaching the city gates was a challenge. His hands were tightly wrapped around his head and he screamed in pain and agony. People turned their heads, looked at him. They were confused and scared and a million other emotions. They all flooded his mind. He couldn’t filter them. It just kept bashing into his being, filling him. I need a greater understanding of destruction. I can’t keep creating more information. This isn’t doable. I need to… “Arghhhhh! It… hurts…”

This is the early life of a man who later became famous as the Soul Stealer. He spent the next thousands of years comprehending the depths of Destruction, searching for a path to destroy information before it could reach him. His hard work paid off. When he re-emerged from seclusion, he was a man reborn. He had cut off his nose and ears and dug out his eyes. All the nerves in his body were cut off. The only sensation he allowed inside his body came from the power in his soul. He saw with it, smelled with it, heard with it. Even tasted with it.

The Soul Stealer became a feared existence. His disfigured form the main cause for this, though his habit of leaving his victims mentally destroyed but alive didn’t help. Across the vastness of existence, an order came. To kill the man known as the Soul Stealer, for he threatened the society as it existed. He could enter a soul. Alter it. And no one would know. It was a terrifying knowledge, knowing that every thought could be fake, a result of his making.

Rumours spread and myths were born. One children’s story became especially famous. Parents warned their children of the Soul Stealer. He would hunt children who had been bad, feasting on their souls and replacing it with something else. If the kids were lucky, they could still think; if they were unfortunate, they ended up dumb and mindless.

Some of the most powerful existences born came together. They agreed that the soul was sacred. Murder was acceptable. Actions and consequences. But the soul was pure. It couldn’t be touched, by no one. So they teamed up and set their sights on the Soul Stealer. They went to kill him.

Nine existences levitated in a stretch of empty space. The Soul Stealer on one side. He stood tall, proud of his deformed face. It made him into the man he’d become. Strong. All powerful. There wasn’t a soul he couldn’t touch. And after he gained entry, everything was possible. He could change memories, push on emotions, or take out the little pearl of Creation that bloomed at the very center of a soul. The fuel of life. His soul told him how delicious it tasted. So he hunted for it. He ate it. And revelled in bliss. The thought alone made him drool in anticipation.

Eight of the most powerful creatures had come to slay the Soul Stealer. They stood with righteous justice on their side. A golden dragon far greater than anyone else was at the front. A roar blasted from its throat, carrying with it the tongue of Dragons. “Surrender your soul! A seal and you may live.”

Tendrils shot from the Soul Stealer, connecting with the invisible shadows of the eight creatures. His raspy voice sounded out in their souls, “Bow. You live. Stand. Dead.”

A rat who was so small next to the gigantic monsters that it was easy to miss her suddenly increased in size. She glared at the Soul Stealer, “Back off!” Then she cut at the tendril, destroying the connection between the two. “You can’t touch me!”

The Soul Stealer turned his head towards her, looking at her through his empty eye sockets. Her soul was open to him. Disobedient. He didn’t need a tendril connected to her. It was just something he enjoyed. A move of power. To show everyone how far beneath him they were. The tendrils were only to strengthen the connection.

The Soul Stealer focused on the rat. Brethia. Youngest. Insecure about her position. Naked. He knew her weak points. A path to reach her appeared before him. Memories of her were slightly altered, enough for her mind to come to new conclusions. She didn’t even look confused. She just accepted this new path. She was inferior to everyone else, most of all the Soul Stealer.

Brethia opened her mouth, completely believing that her mind was her own, and said, “My apologies. I spoke out of place. Let me punish myself, so you do not have to expend your energy.” She turned her claw towards herself and without hesitation struck out at her chest.

“BRETHIA!” the golden dragon roared. “STOP!” Time paused. Everything froze, except for the golden dragon. His claw flashed by, knocking away Brethia’s attack on herself, and then locked her up. Time resumed as quickly as it paused. But Brethia was suddenly locked up. She argued, fought against the injustice done to her. Complained that she had to punish herself. But the golden dragon ignored her. He turned to the Soul Stealer and roared, “UNDO! NOW!”

The Soul Stealer grinned and shook his head. His voice, hoarse and deadly, echoed in the golden dragon’s mind, “Too… late. Seven… it is.”

An alligator swam forward, knocking the golden dragon back before he could strike. He sent a message, soul to soul. “Patience, brother. Follow the plan we prepared.”

The golden dragon abruptly turned to the alligator. It wanted to argue, but was stopped by the laughter sounding out from the Soul Eater. “Plan… Joke… Try.”

The seven remaining creatures formed half a circle around the Soul Stealer. The golden dragon, most powerful of all, stood straight opposite their opponent. To his right was the alligator, followed by a turtle and another dragon. On his other side stood a human. Small horns on his head and wings on his back. Left of him were two more creatures. A black panther and a qilin.

The Soul Stealer watched them, grinning. He knew their plan; he could see it in their souls. Memories from the past and trajectories for the future. The weapons they fought with and how they’d trained with those weapons, he knew it all. It was one of the wonders of the soul. Once the information was inside, it was there. He didn’t need to read it, watch it, or anything like that. It was part of him, as though it always was there. The countless years of training to master a technique and the small troubles they were still experiencing, he could understand their struggles. But in this understanding, he also knew how to counter it. Every attack they could throw at him, he was prepared.

The golden dragon fired a beam of pure red mana. It lit everything up, even the nothing. But the Soul Stealer knew the ability. He knew everything there was to know about it. It burned the skin, there was nothing he could do but use a technique to strengthen it. But this beam didn’t cut the illusory yet. The golden dragon was stuck at the bottleneck. So, in the eyes of the Soul Stealer, this attack was pointless. He ignored it.

The Alligator opened its massive maw and bit down on the Soul Stealer. Yet another physical attack. A waste of time. The Soul Stealer didn’t care for it. He just worked, slowly but deliberately, to alter the souls. Change them, piece by piece. Make the enemy fight each other. He didn’t need a body to do that. He just needed his soul.

The qilin fell to the might of the Soul Stealer, soon followed by the weaker of the two dragons. A green one, full of life and Creation. But it didn’t possess the strength to keep the Soul Stealer back. Their minds convinced them they were on the wrong side. They had to protect their real ally, the one who’d always been their ally. The Soul Stealer! So they fired their most powerful skills and abilities at the golden dragon, who was clearly in charge of this assault. They attacked him with everything they had, and he was forced to move his attention onto them. And away from the Soul Stealer.

The Soul Stealer laughed. He watched the eight struggle, saw them fight each other. All he’d done was play with who they were. They never had a choice. It was always completely in his control. The chaos that followed was what he loved most. That moment in time where the enemy were convinced they were his allies, and fought for him. Died for him in a battle they believed to be truly righteous!

The golden dragon’s scales cracked. Blood seeped from its skin, but its overpowering presence still stood strong. He fought off three of the most powerful beings in all of existence. He stood at the apex. That knowledge burned fiercely within himself. It burned stronger, brighter, until he finally became convinced that there was nothing he needed to beat anyone. All his possessions were worthless. He dropped them into the void. Tossed them away. They only slowed him down.

The Soul Stealer grinned. Even the ones where his influence wasn’t apparent, they were under his control. He’d touched them. They were his. Their souls altered exactly as he wanted them to. He reached out with his hand, passing through space, and grabbed the rat. Brethia was back to her small size. She struggled against the chains, but couldn’t break free. The Soul Stealer watched her, grinned, and then an invisible hand reached inside of her and pulled a marble out.

The marble’s vibrant, pure green colour blinded everything in existence for a brief moment. The seven righteous fighters paused, covering their eyes. Planets that were too closeby disappeared. Gone, as if never there. Then the Soul Stealer threw the marble into his mouth and chewed on it. His soul told him how it tasted. Delicious. Pure bliss. He smiled, smacking loudly and marveling in the moment.

The Soul Stealer’s brow twitched. A strange sensation. Minuscule, but new. He observed it and saw nothing, so he shrugged. His attention turned back to the fight. The qiling died to a blast of pure energy, obliterating its existence. But right at the moment where the soul moved on, the Soul Stealer reached out with his invisible claws. His fingers cut through the soul, until they pulled on the vibrant green marble at the center. And it ate this marble, sighing. Mhm… Good. Best.”

Two more monsters died. The Soul Stealer didn’t let them enter the cycle of reincarnation. Their soul was the most delicious food in all of existence. He grabbed the power, fueling their life, and smacked his lips as he ate them. Each next one, something happened to his body. Small spasms. They confused him. But they were small enough that he ignored them. The bliss from the small marbles was too great to give up on. He ignored the signals. The warnings his body was giving him. And by the time the golden dragon finally fell, the last of the eight, and he ate the core of its existence, he finally realised something was wrong. Truly wrong.

The Soul Stealer suddenly realised memories were missing. He had so many, he didn’t notice it at first. But it suddenly happened so fast. More and more was disappearing. He couldn’t find it, no matter where he searched. “WHAT!” he roared from his mouth. Then he saw the cuts and gashes. Small imperfections in his soul. He searched for where they came from, their origin. That was when he noticed the green marble at the center of his being. Eight monsters were there. Attacking it. Blasting it to pieces with their most powerful attacks. Its eyes went wide. It wanted to fight. It wanted to purge these monsters from his soul. But he’d invited them when he ate their marbles. They were part of him now. Killing them was the same as killing a part of himself. So he hesitated.

That hesitation was enough. The golden dragon was more powerful than he predicted. Somewhere, something had gone wrong. He didn’t know what. He never would. His consciousness started to slip. Little by little, his life faded away. He wasn’t just dying. His entire being was disappearing from existence. He could never rise again. In a final, desperate attempt to leave something of himself behind, he tossed knowledge into the void. It was tainted with his being, so that if it was ever used. In one form or another, he’d live on.

End of cutscene…

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