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Eternal Paradox | Alex Reborn: Childhoodwinked

November 21, 2023
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Like time, the wheels of fate rarely spin with any sort of predictable precision. We long to believe certain tales, we cry out with weapons like reason and logic, we pray for patterns by which we can govern the world, but too often we are scattered like snowflakes in a brutal winter storm.

The stories we tell ourselves do not always resolve into happy endings, and to the story of our lives there is only one true resolution in death. But take heart, for while the great tragedy ensnares everyone we shall ever know and love, not every sad story ends in death, and some begin with it.

In a peaceful village called Izu, one such story began over two decades ago with an omen of blood-red skies and darkness during the day. The people of Izu knew nothing of Black Sun, the ancient secret society whose legacy was terror and blood sacrifice. They knew nothing of the history of their local ruin, known as Sarem. After all, if the people of Izu had known even a speck of that story, they would not have established their settlement in the midst of Black Sun’s most sacred sacrificial site, the altar of Sarem.

Evil altars may be worn down to ruins over time and forgotten by the ages, but their evil remains, like a stain on the fabric of reality, a dark shadow that lingers in the corners of a child’s nightmares.

Behold the innocent child of this cruel fate, a boy of seven, a boy called Alex. He was not made for this world, and such nightmares plagued his early years. Each night, an eternity would pass as the terrors of Black Sun’s legacy paraded through his dreams. He often thought the nightmare was over, only to discover that he had been tricked. The poor lad spent more time in nightmares than in the world; the dreams were strikingly real, and their memories stuck with Alex all his life into adulthood.

To share the horrific details of these dark dreams would not serve our purpose, so instead we focus on how Alex’s torment made him stronger. Trapping an innocent in a prison of nightmares is not a natural thing. Compare it to tossing a kitten or chicken into a raging ocean maelstrom. Chances are that the small creature will be broken and dragged under within seconds. But if that kitten survives, if that chicken somehow escapes from the whirlpool and struggles eventually to the shore, it would be counted worthy among all kittens, exalted among chickens.

Alex’s destiny was not to die when the maelstrom of Black Sun finally enveloped the village of Izu. He had been set aside by fate, marked by time and called to the Eternal Paradox much later in life. He had survived his nightmares, and he would survive what was coming.

The clansmen of Black Sun had cast powerful darkness spells, then set out for Izu in great force to restore their sacred altar at Sarem. The parts of the world that had already experienced their terror firsthand knew that fear was their primary form of attack. The ancient magic would strike despair and chaos into the hearts of their victims even before the physical onslaught from the legions.

The sun over Izu turned black three days before the attack. By day the sky was a dark, blood red. The moonlight and starlight were stolen from the night skies. The leaders of Izu fought bravely against the fear of these omens, praying to their gods and mustering their defenses against any possible enemy. Even in this far corner of the world, they had heard tales of evil magic preceding a slaughter from afar known as black punishment.

Under the impending curse of black punishment, weaker villages would scatter their leadership and run for the hills, but Izu stood strong, even as the Black Sun legions appeared in full force on the hill that overlooked the village, ready to charge. They stood like a thousand shadow statues. When the charge commenced, walls rattled and the earth shook.

We will not tell you of the bloodshed upon Izu that day. We will not describe the wails of the women nor the cries of the babies as they were ripped from their mothers’ arms. We will not recount the stench of slaughter in the air as every living creature was cut down and destroyed at the hands of a vile cultist mob called Black Sun.

Instead, we will look with hope for the future at the one child who survived, hungry and shivering in the depths of a cave where the invaders would never find him. Before departing to join the fight and meet his own end, Alex’s Father hid him away in this secret place with instructions not to emerge for at least seven days, when he knew the cultists would have moved on to their next bloody target.

The youth did as he was told. The damp and treacherous blackness was no more terrifying than the dreams through which he had suffered all his life: An eternity of darkness. While lost in those depths, Alex discovered his life’s purpose and was born anew. When seven days had passed, so did his fear, so he knew it was once again safe to emerge from the cave. He did so, but he was no longer a child.

At first the light burned his eyes, but he felt its warmth and moved toward it, staggering with disorientation. With blurred vision, Alex trudged bravely through the carrion birds and along the bloodspattered stones, toward the smoldering ruins of his home.

COMING SOON: Alex Reborn 2: Cry of the Misfit

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