Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 59 – For what reason?

[Gelmire Olsten]

Late thirties… edging towards my forties at a morbidly rapid pace. Sometimes when I feel the top of my head there is only skin. My face has lost much of the mid-twenties lustre that was my pride. Now, only wrinkles pile up beneath my eyes. There are far too numerous of occasions in which I would wonder to myself what the purpose of all my actions are.

‘Will this be my life?’

‘Is this really how I lived?’

‘Is there something more?’

I, Gelmire Olsten, currently exist as one of the higher echelons of the ‘Church of Xagon’. Though it formally exists as a religious organization, in truth it is nothing more than a front for a council of villains lead by the elusive ‘Grand Cardinal’. This was a fact that I understood since long ago and yet there was never a time I tried to distance myself away from it. How could I? A life of opulence and power to those who accepted. For those that did not… well, let’s just say they don’t exist anymore.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Every villain had to start somewhere, right?

When I was younger, I lived in pious priesthood for the church. I truly devoted myself to the service and worship of a long ancient goddess that no one even remembered the face. Even still, during those times I would quietly believe in my heart that my destiny was special. I continued to fool myself into thinking a life of devotion and servitude would bring me closer to the divine and she would miraculously appear before me.

I believed…

However, that’s not how the story went, now is it? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

‘Here’, with a knife in hand and my country’s neck exposed. Recruited into the inner circle of the church and being taught the true objective of this organization was when everything started to fall apart. The people whom I believed to be my peers in devoted priesthood were nothing more than scoundrels and con-artists and that I would be taken in as the next generation of a long line of villains.

Did I accept? Of course, otherwise none of the events of today would’ve transpired. If I didn’t accept this phony lifestyle way back, then perhaps I wouldn’t be lying down right now in a pool of my own blood. I could only gaze up at the torn ceiling of this dilapidated warehouse as the dark clouds formed overhead. The strength in my arms slowly sapped away and I could not feel what existed below my torso… if it even was still attached.

So then, what exactly where these ‘events’ supposed to be?

The main objective was to sink the final dagger into the long disease-ridden corpse of this country. The higher tiers of the church, we all knew… ‘I’ knew from the moment I was accepted into the corrupted inner circle that this nation was slowly on its decline and would eventually fade. Knowing that, the only logical conclusion anyone would make is to abandon ship, or was I wrong?

There was a young girl, perhaps about eight or so in age. I don’t even know her name… I never really even cared.

She was the illegitimate offspring of the neighbouring empire’s ruler. ‘Zhiglov Balia’, no one could forget that blood-soaked name. All throughout my life, he had long held that title and in that time, several of our other neighbouring territories were wiped off the face of the planet. Either destroyed in its entirety or ground up and spat out into a slave… a ‘vassal state’. That was the stained legacy of ‘Zhiglov Balia’.

With such an abhorrent figure, our church negotiated a favour. That we would be taken in as allies to the Baliazoural Empire and be given noble status. In exchange, we would sell out everything we possibly could. Anything they wanted we would freely give them: our military logistics, our way of life, we could even conduct covert brainwashing through our churches onto the populace to stir public opinion. All of that dubious exercise and more.

However, that blood-soaked emperor only wanted one thing. A girl. Hidden somewhere within this country. His secret offspring.

I often wondered to myself why he would even care about such trash. If it was simply the matter of handling an illegitimate bastard then all he had to do was kill it. It wasn’t as though the child would claim the emperor’s throne, at least not with the amount of competition that already existed. It was a question I never thought I would actually get the answer to, but our leader… the ‘Grand Cardinal’, knew the reason.

Though I do not understand the specifics. It apparently had to do with the blood lineage of the emperor. It supposedly had a certain special trait that allowed them to control a powerful artefact. A divine object that had the power to disrupt the balance of power on the entire continent. I never found out what that ‘artefact’ was exactly, but with a reason like that I could sort of see why he would want to reclaim the child. Dead or alive.

‘Return the child to the empire… if not, then kill it’, those were my orders from the Grand Cardinal.

It was too late now. An unknown party had already reclaimed the child and I was at death’s door. My mission was a failure. I lived a life of indulgence and now I was going to die. At a time like this, I felt genuine fear. The spirituality that I thought was lost from my life suddenly returned to me. I became afraid of facing the consequences of my life.

From the moment I accepted the church’s evil… I became that evil.

… I was going to be judged at Xagon’s gate. What would I tell her? What were my excuses? Did I even have a right to make them?

I was scared.

I didn’t want to die like this… Not like this.

My bodily strength left me… but I still had one ace-in-the-hole. This power; the power of the ‘shadows’ granted to all the higher heads of the church by the Grand Cardinal.

With blood and tears, I poured every ounce of power I could squeeze from my dying body and transfused the shadows with my essence. A distilling and distant sense of liberation rushed through my entire being. A freedom I had not felt before. With that excitement… like a conductor, I orchestrated the powers of the shadows imbued with my essence towards the traitor.

“Roland!” I shouted his name. He gazed at me with open and awe-struck eyes. I leapt towards him and forced the shadows down his throat. That bastard who ruined all my plans tried to stop me but did not act in fear that he would kill the body.

… The next thing that entered my vision was my old and decrepit body lying limp on the floor. Dead with no lower torso and a pool of dark black blood surrounding it. I grimaced at the picture but… “I have this body now,” I giggled to myself like a young girl. Faced the insipid knight that wrecked everything and scowled at him with this new body. I pointed in accusation, “Roland is gone, no… not yet, he is still here. But if you want to get rid of me, you’ll have to kill this body too!”


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