Canton chroniclesrising.., p.2
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.2
 

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
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  “It was a very nice story, the one you made up so that we can feel sorry for you and your sisters, isn’t it, Aurelia? But you didn’t say everything there is to say, did you? In order to come outside of your little hole and play, you need a human sacrifice. Because the person who will give a body to you, will lose his own soul and die. Isn’t that right?” she said with a sarcastic tone, unknown to Edward until know.

  Instead of getting mad, Elonia laughed, a cute little sound.

  “Elizabeth, sweetheart, you speak about us like we are murderers. It’s true, we do need a person, in order to obtain a physical form. But… the ones who’ll merge with us, these chosen few, will be elevated. They will be powerful, and their spirits will keep on living, forever. It is a blessing really. You should be glad we even give this offer to you.”

  “And your sacrifice will not be in vain”, Aurelia added. “We will give you Powers, the likes of which you’ve never imagined. You will stop living in camps made of filthy trees and branches. You will evolve, rise up to higher planes of existence. You will be absolutely free of this world’s shackles. That is the gift we want to offer you, in exchange for your noble sacrifice.”

  Edward was mesmerized. Not only from their appearance and words, but also from the possibilities. His mind was already rushing, images of progress in his head. He wanted to evolve. He wanted to rise on higher planes of existence. He craved all that Power. Even if it meant sacrificing a few of their people.

  Even after all these years he felt guilty of this thought, this yearning. But there was no reason hiding from himself.

  “I think we can arrange an agreement between us, Aurelia.”

  The three Deities looked pleased beyond words, their auras dancing around them in joyful whirls, even the stiff Magenta’s. Having the leader’s approval, she was the first of the sisters to leave, without a single word.

  Elonia stayed a little longer, smiling at Jonathan, who had turned red from frustration. She touched his shoulder and gave him a kiss on the cheek, as she transformed into a small flaming wisp, and exited the cave.

  Aurelia stayed with them a little longer. There was complete silence at first. Then Elizabeth spoke.

  “Aren’t you also going to find someone to take as your prisoner, like your sisters so eagerly do?”

  “Elizabeth, that’s enough now” Edward said to her. “We would all be dead if there weren’t for these kind souls, so you better watch your tongue when you address to them.”

  Aurelia looked at them with sympathy.

  “I think I am going to wait for a little while, explore the possibilities. You are free to leave, now.”

  ***

  Their lives changed rapidly after that encounter. In a mere fifty years, they had discovered things they would have never imagined. They could roam the lands with automatic machines, and built tall buildings who grazed the skies. Bigger and smaller inventions, who were mere dreams before, were now part of their everyday reality.

  But most importantly the people themselves, they were changed. The Deities had kept their promises, and now every citizen in Canton had a powerful asset, or a Power as the simply called it, may it be extraordinary strength or speed, extreme intelligence or a way to control the climatic elements that surrounded them, being in essence, small Gods themselves.

  Edward smiled, as he thought that his people had indeed evolved into a higher level of existence. And the Deities didn’t require too much of them in exchange either. Just the people’s respect. And worship. And sometimes, their physical bodies.

  And people did disappear, like Jonathan’s new wife after the birth of their only son. Or those poor deformed twin farmer girls, adolescent noblemen and many others like them, over the years. But that was part of their deal. And it was a good one.

  Yeah, thought Edward Canton, as he laid in his couch, breathing his final dying breaths, they had made themselves a pretty good deal. In the end, he had indeed saved his people.

  So, it came as a real surprise to him, that in his final moments, the tears that streamed down his eyes, were ones of remorse.

  ***

  Laboratory 13, Institute of Research and Scientific Discovery, 126 A.D

  The Scientist was working frantically. He knew the answer was right there, he was just too tired and overwhelmed to see it.

  Just a little more now… then I’ll have the answer I need… The start of a revolution.

  He brought his hand in front of his mouth to contain a yawn. Even the greatest men were still bound to the need of sleep.

  He turned his head and look at his faithful Assistant. The young man didn’t look tired or sleepy. Rather, he looked totally strained. His eyes were out of focus and he was murmuring to himself, absent-minded. The Scientist felt a pinch of guilt. Poor guy.

  “This isn’t right… This isn’t fair…” the young man whispered, over and over.

  “You seem a little on edge, son”

  The Assistant jumped backwards from his sit, clearly distressed by the Scientist’s appearance.

  “Oh hallo there, sir. I didn’t sense you coming. Is everything alright? Did you… did you have a breakthrough?” He was looking at the floor while asking his questions.

  The Scientist rubbed his forehead.

  “Not yet. But I am very close. I can feel it. Just a tiny bit more… and boom. Then our success would be 100%.”

  “But, sir… we, I mean our experiment is already a success. Stephan White is a success. Nothing can touch him now. No Power at all. And he didn’t suffer… much. He felt almost no pain. He is a true Negator. Why… why do we have to put Helena through this too?”

  “Helena? Who is Helena?”

  This isn’t good. The man’s mind is slipping.

  The Assistant realized his mistake. He stood upright, and cleared his throat.

  “I meant Subject 32, sir. She is suffering, with no immediate results.”

  “Your point, son?”

  “My point is…” he clenched and unclenched his fists, unsure if he wanted to continue the conversation, “sometimes I think we take it too far. The Deities will be furious if they found out about our abductions and experiments. If they knew what we are doing here, against them… After the Powers they gave to us. Our whole life depends on them. Our technology, evolution, construction. Our offence and defence with the expertly trained Heroes from our Academy. What would happen if they took all those gifts away from us?”

  The Scientist was not entirely surprised. His Assistant was young and naïve, with only twenty years of age on his back. But he himself was old enough. He had seen and known things. He extended his arms and grabbed his Assistant by his shoulders, squeezing them lightly.

  “Son, look. I understand your doubts. But the Holy Deities, they are not as good and pure as you may think, neither as magical. They’ve been taking people for years, so they could live their lives the way they want.”

  “But we knew that from the start, sir. Since Leader Canton first spoke with them. They never hid the truth from us. Our people for their gifts. It was always like this and it always will be.”

  “But will it? Does it have to be that way, forever?” The Scientist leaned closer to his Assistant, almost whispering. “You don’t know that, do you? What if they get bored of us? Tired? What if, a time comes when they think, they can’t handle us anymore?”

  He saw the doubt growing on the young man’s face. The fear of knowing that your life depends only in the mood swings of three mystical beings.

  “Those experiments, those people, they are our only hope, to strike back, if needed. Do you understand that?”

  “Yes” answered the Assistant, certain, the doubt gone from his voice.

  “And we only have a tiny bit more to go before we are completely successful, son. Patience.”

  He got up, turning to leave.

  “And one more thing. It’s better if we kept our distance from the subjects. Especially the female ones.
Understood?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  They stayed silent for a while, working frantically at their computers.

  “I’m sure you’ve heard, sir. About that rich kid’s disappearance. Walter, I think he is called. He is a member of the Academy, too.”

  The Scientist nodded. It was the current talk of the town, the sudden vanishing of Walter Wagner. The son of one of the richest families of Canton. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, and really timid, as the rumours had it. The young man was gone in the middle of an Academy operation, under suspicious circumstances, which had also claimed a woman’s life. The fact that he was apparently bullied by his fellow Heroes, was proving to be a great scandal for the Council.

  “All I know is that the Heroes are here to protect us. If their hands are spilled with blood, there is no need for their services anymore.”

  All the more reason to go along with our plan, and quickly.

  “We didn’t… take Walter Wagner, sir, did we?”

  “The Institute is clean on this one.”

  The Assistant pondered on this for a while.

  “Maybe Magenta took them” he muttered. “They did disappear close to her mountains.”

  The Scientist shook his head in disbelief.

  “She only takes girls, son, you know that. And their bodies have always disappeared, until now. And that’s the strange in the case. Walter’s body disappeared and the dead girl remained there to be found. It is a really troubling story indeed. Let’s hope it will come to pass, and not escalate into something far, far worse.”

  He couldn’t be more wrong.

  ***

  (Passage from the Official History of Canton by Ceaser Julius, 142 A.D)

  The War. Or as some people call it, the Great War or the War of the Sky Mountain. The first major war in Canton’s short history and therefore, all the more devastating. Was it possible to have foreseen this war? Was it possible to stop it? Questions that have been arisen and still torment the people of Canton, the survivors of the destruction and mayhem.

  In the beginning, there was the disappearance. Walter Wagner, son of a well-known and wealthy merchant of the West Providence, developed a Power at his 18th birthday, as it was common with the youth of the time.

  But Walter’s non-violent nature and small physique, caused him to be an easy target at the Academy, which was a place of hard, continuous competition.

  The facts are still unclear, but one thing is certain. Walter was in a constant fighting state with some of the best and cockiest teammates. This continuous struggle resulted in a deep, troubled mental state for the young man. At 27th November 128 A.D, Walter Wagner disappears from his Final Exam, which took place near the Sky Mountains.

  A trail of steps and a shape of a falling body is discovered next to Beatrice Sterling, a girl from the nearby villages and Wagner’s supposed girlfriend at the time. The searching operations were huge, the criminologists working full time. Parents full of rage, demanding justice. Search, after search, after search. In the mountains, the caves, the land all around the villages. Nothing.

  After a few months the story was short of forgotten. The problems begun just a mere year after Walter’s disappearance. The West Villages were under attack. They came in the middle of the night, grotesque creatures no one had seen before. They left no trace other than their footprints. All search parties were gone, dying in the mountains, their bodies found with bites all over them, half eaten.

  After a while the Council, Canton’s highest authority, could not turn its eyes away anymore. Something sinister was up, in the dark caves of the Sky Mountains. The officials dispatched their Academy Heroes on Magenta’s dwellings. Half of them found a tragic death. The other half returned plagued by insanity, barely able to form a coherent sentence.

  The extremely few Heroes who still could talk, described hellish laboratories deep in the roots of the mountain, which produced fiendish creatures, small and huge alike, something which was previously described only in words of fiction. And a powerful enemy, who annihilated their whole team.

  After a tormenting year for the West Villages, the lost Wagner boy re-appeared. He was now a full grown man, full with muscles and malice. His voice was coarse and his intentions sinister. He gave a message to the people and that was, word for word, the following:

  “I am the Great One, chosen of God, and I will elevate this Holy Land into something greater. I have the greatest of all Deities on my side. And therefore, everyone who stands in my way, will die.”

  Wagner’s attacks were merciless. In every corner of Canton, people who knew nothing of war were dying in the hands of mutated cave dwellers, the hellish underground laboratory Beasts and the mercenaries, men who willingly followed Wagner and his cause. The Council had no choice but to dispatch the Academy Heroes, who dealt great damage to Wagner’s armies, but were helpless when it came to Wagner himself. Countless Academy members lost their lives, including the ones who had bullied Walter Wagner as a young man.

  The War went on for almost two years, countless people losing their lives in the process. And then the Institute had no other choice, than to unleash its two greatest weapons, who were being kept secret until then, hidden from the public eye.

  Stephan White, a man capable of nullifying any kind of Power that tried to touch him, and a young girl, her name and age unknown, who multiplied one’s strength to an incredible degree. Together with the remaining Heroes in a last attempt, and by sacrificing their own lives in the process, finally defeated Wagner the Great. Canton could breathe again, free from conquerors and the War.

  But, despite the apparent period of peace, the faith of the people was shaken. Magenta, a Deity worshipped and loved until then, was an accomplice of Wagner’s destructive mania, with Elonia and Aurelia unable to help their people, much less participate in the fight by directly opposing their sister.

  The Institute of Science, the innovative pillar of the island, whose major role was to help the people of Canton, had betrayed its own citizens, being responsible for many kidnappings. The way the Scientists experimented on people made them, at the end of the day, no better than Wagner himself.

  The Council, Canton’s elected officials, had undoubtedly played a large part in the events taking place all the years after Edward Canton’s death. The remaining people of Canton demanded the change of their very core system of order. All the old corrupted officials, who knew of the Institutes abduction and experimentation, were dismissed, with young idealists taking their place. The Institute was permanently closed down, a small independent part of it remaining functional, with the sole purpose of monitoring the technological progress on the Island. Most people themselves grew distant from technology, turning to agriculture once again.

  And still, people were afraid. They were afraid of their Powers, and the corruption they brought to the human minds. They wanted nothing to do with the Deities’ gifts anymore.

  With Magenta trapped, buried within the mountains after Wagner’s defeat and the people restless, scared to death by the idea of another war, Aurelia and Elonia made their decision. No more Powers. The Deities would remain hidden in their dwellings, until the people were ready to accept them once again.

  More and more people found their way on Canton Island, lost ships from Earth’s waters. Ten years after the Great War, the Canton face has changed entirely. The people are simple and happy, and more colourful now that new races from Earth exist on the Island.

  Peace rules through the land, and everyone swore to never forget Wagner or his attempts to destroy Canton. Everyone’s wish is one and the same: that our land remains safe and no man, woman or child be sacrificed again in the name of Power.

  ***

  1. The Chosen Few

  Canton Eastern Outskirts – 7:00, 20th July, 200 A.D

  Valentine Stone was sitting at the edge of her bed, still shaking. Her legs were stiff and heavy like logs and her hands were curled up in small fists, her n
ails digging hard in her palms.

  You have to get up and go to work, Val. It was nothing but a stupid dream. Not a nightmare, just a dream. A projection of your unconscious everyday fears and anxieties. That what they taught you at the University, isn’t it?

  She kept reminding that to herself, but she was still unable to stand up. Her mind kept going back to the dream.

  She was in her familiar, well-loved bench in a park. In front of her laid a thick dark forest, with sturdy tall trees. Behind the bench stood a family house, painted white and brown, with a beautiful wooden porch and rows of barley in front of it.

  People were laughing inside the house, seemingly having a great time in the cosiness of their home, but Val never joined them. She came here to be alone, in order to gather her often confusing thoughts. She always managed to put them in order just by looking at the forest, the barley or the colourful sunset in the sky, listening to the laughs of the people in the wooden house. But today something seemed off.

  She looked at her right side and saw that the bench, her bench, was occupied by someone else. She took a good look at the little girl sitting next to her, observing the details of her small body. Val thought that maybe her brain was playing tricks on her, projecting a kid version of herself. But their differences were too big, even for a distorted dream version.

  The little girl’s hair were raven black and so were her eyes, and her skin was naturally light-tanned. They had nothing to do with Val’s light brown fluffy hair, dark blue eyes and fair, almost transparent skin. Val was also fairly tall and well-built for a woman, whereas the girl was fragile and small, much more than Val had ever been as a child.

  “Are you going to observe me for a long time, Valentine or are you going to speak at last?”

  The words coming out of the girl’s mouth were harsh and unforgiving, not quit fitting for a child.

  “What?” Val asked, taken aback by her sudden question.

  The little girl laughed, ironically.

  “Oh right I must have forgotten. You don’t talk a lot these days, do you?”

  Val felt the rage growing inside her, a feeling she hadn’t tasted for quite a while.

 
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