“How is it your fault?” asked Oriana.
Kent answered without looking up from Paul’s knee as he bandaged a bruised gash, “It was my fault for allowing you to come down here to visit me. I shouldn’t have spoken to you or told you my name. Those men obviously had some kind of electronic surveillance measures in place looking for my name with a few other key words. I was careless; I underestimated how far they would go to try to stop me. I should not have been so relaxed.”
Paul, Kelly, and Oriana all exchanged puzzled and concerned looks with each other.
“Why would those men want to kill you so badly, Kent?” asked Oriana.
“Yes, and who are they, who do they work for, and what kind of organisation has titles like Sophim and Sybaran?” asked Kelly.
“And why would they want to sadistically torture and murder me in front of you?” asked Paul.
Kent sighed heavily and slumped into his chair exhausted. Oriana got up, and started to make some tea for the group. Oriana declared they would not talk about it until Kent and Paul each had a warm cup of tea to hold. Meanwhile, Kelly went around looking at Kent’s chamber and all the things he had inside. She eventually stopped at the twelve tiered idol and started counting the different figures on it. She noticed that there were several gaps on the display. She wondered what they might mean, but lost interest and went browsing this book shelf for a minute before Oriana had finished setting the tea and biscuits on the table.
“Thank you Oriana,” said Kent as he nursed his cup of tea, “once again my apologies for so foolishly getting you all involved in this. I knew it was a possibility that they were still looking for me, and I should have exercised more caution, given you a false name and not brought you down here. I think from now on you all had better make several copies of that video and store them in safe places. That video is your lifeline. They won’t dare risk hurting you so long as you have it safe and keep it to yourselves. If you do release that video, they will come and kill you all as well as myself, so alas it is best we just keep this at a stalemate.”
There was a chorus of panic and shock from Kent’s audience as they expressed their disbelief that their lives were now all in lasting danger. How long would they watch them? What happens if the video is accidentally released? Why would these people be so murderous? Kent couldn’t answer so many questions so he said he would start with the basic questions to fill in some background for them.
“Those men belong to a cult called the Tyranni. They have a belief that the highest achievement in life is to gain as much power as possible over other people. They have a completely different way of looking at life. A different set of beliefs and values to what most people would consider normal and healthy. Their motto is: no truth, no peace, no hope. If you value honesty, if you value human life, and if you value morality then you will not find any common ground with these people.”
“I don’t understand, are they like devil worshippers?”
“Not really, they believe in three evil gods: Mudtra, Tagora, and Spardes. Each of these evil gods could easily be described as the devil though. They’re all vain, shallow, jealous, and vicious idols.”
“So they are a weird cult after all. But why are they so angry with you?”
“Because I signed up with their rival faith the Aeshir.”
Oriana, Kelly, and Paul all gasped at the same time.
“Why did you do that? I think you mentioned something about money,” asked Oriana.
Kent nodded, “Yes, my grandfather was a religious man. He believed firmly in opposing the Tyranni, he was a member of the Aeshir. He was active in fighting them too. They eventually ended up killing him. When he died he left a lot of money in his will, but according to the values of the Aeshir a person may not inherit any money without first taking on three years of service to the faith. This is because unearned wealth breeds weakness and moral corruption in a person. My grandfather left behind a considerable amount of wealth. Which according to his will could only be inherited by either his son of grandson: that’s my father and myself naturally. But he added a condition to the inheritance that we must chose to commit to three years of service within the faith. My father had no interest in this and considered seriously challenging my grandfather’s will in court. However, that would have been expensive and difficult so I volunteered to take the oath and complete three years of what I saw as just community service.”
“So you wanted your grandfather’s money and thought you would just sign up with a cult?”
Kent chuckled, “Yes, that was what I was thinking at the time. I thought it would be no big deal. I would be serving soup to homeless people, keeping little old ladies company, and cleaning up parks from rubbish. So I went through the tests, I was interviewed, I was accepted into the monastery and at first it was pretty easy stuff. We lived off the land mostly weeding, digging, and clearing land for more crops. The monastery was self-sufficient but the technology was a mixture of primitive and advanced so that while it was safe there was still always plenty of work to do. Each evening we would have classes in philosophy and talk about our lives and our decisions. For the first few weeks I wasn’t taking it seriously, I thought it was silly and strange, but not too bad that I wasn’t willing to stay for a few years.
“However, after a while I just started to feel really down. I was thinking about what is the point of my life? What’s the point of just seeking money? I actually realised that I didn’t actually have anything good to spend the money on: travelling, booze, women, clothes, and boating trips was about all I could think of. I started to realise that my life was quite empty and meaningless. I just didn’t really know what I was doing with my life. I felt miserable and empty… and the strange thing was that I had always felt miserable and empty. What had changed was that now I was aware of what I was feeling.”