The world of blue.
Zed's consciousness was feeling thousands of needles stabbing him. The pain was far worse than even the severest of physical injuries for the pain this time was directed at the consciousness.
"Is this the best you have got?" Zed asked with a smirk, "Surely you don't think this can entrap me forever?"
"You've got guts," the voice said with some appreciation, "let me see what gives you so much confidence for someone with such a pitiful past."
The voice didn't really think the kid has the ability to harm him. While he wasn't in the top echelons of the world, he was confident there were a negligible amount of people who can prove a risk to him.
There was no way for a kid to be one of the rare people who could harm him! Still, he wanted to see more of the kid's memories and know where the confidence originated from.
His client has asked him to torture the kid so he doesn't mind prolonging the pain. Making the kid feel multiple emotions would be the best form of torture.
After all, is there anything more torturous than making the target feel hopeful only to fall back in despair?
More memory fragments started appearing in the world to replace the earlier ones. These fragments consisted of memories after he turned ten years old.
Ten years old.
Zed was sitting on a column of debris in the outer layer of the slum. Besides him was a girl who was at the same age as him. She has plum brown hair with caramel skin tone.
"How great the world be if there was no inequality?" The girl asked looking at the boundary that separated the slum and the city.
"Why think of the impossible, Elissa?" Zed asked.
"There is an attraction to the impossible," Elissa said, "Even my mistress says the same."
"There is an attraction for sure," Zed looked at his famished body, "To have a meal only the city residents could afford."
"Would you pray for me?" Elissa suddenly changed the topic.
"Pray?" Zed asked surprised.
"Yeah," Elissa traced her dust-covered face, "I'm being sold to a man from another city."
"Oh?" Zed wasn't startled by her words, "Do you have an idea about the owner?"
In the slums, prostitution and organ harvesting were pretty common. Most families would sell away their children for some resources. And for others, they would be forcefully dragged by the overlords.
"No," Elissa shook her head, "Hopefully a man with a soft heart for teens."
"I would hope for that as well," Zed said with a smile, "Hopefully you can find some happiness."
"Yeah, maybe I would become a mistress in the future," Elissa looked at him and said, "If I do then I would help you to leave the slums and even kill your caretaker."
"I would like that," Zed agreed.
Both of them didn't talk about another possibility: Her body lying in a sewer somewhere after being brutally defiled by her owner. That was a common fate for most sold women.
They knew this but kept this possibility in their hearts. One can always pray for better...
Eleven years old. (Refer Ch. 39 for a detailed scene)
"Allow me to express my gratitude for everything you have done for me by sending you to hell," Zed pierced a bloodstained knife in the heart of caretaker.
"You...are cold-hearted like your mother," The caretaker muttered, "Everyone in your family is the same."
The caretaker fell on the floor lifeless. His throat was sliced and his heart pierced by a knife.
Zed was on his knees fully exhausted. The rush of adrenaline finally stopped and the gravity of his actions set in.
The thoughts of his first killing made him tremble and throw up. His body reactions were different from his heart.
His heart only felt joy...
Zed, in a ragged clothing, was standing outside the annual charity gala.
A platinum blonde left the building followed by two boys. The woman's eyes were deep brown and her slender jade neck was complemented by a pearl necklace.
Zed braved his heart and went in front of the three with a bowl in hand.
"Madam and sirs, can you please give me some food?" Zed's eyes were full of hope.
The charity gala was one of the few time the slum dwellers could get their stomach feed and Zed has faith he would get his share of food as well.
The boys look at Zed with complete disdain. The rotten slum insect dares to ruin their good mood?
"Get lost," one of the boys landed a kick on Zed's stomach, "You think we are running a restaurant?"
Like a kite with its string cut, Zed fell a few meters away.
"Osiris, you should not use too much force," the woman laughed at his actions. She turned her face towards Zed and said, "Let's see that kid's Strings Of Fate."
The woman's eyes turn violet as she gazed at Zed. A moment later her face lost its color. Hurriedly she rushed towards Zed.
"I'm sorry for my brother's attitude," the woman wiped the dust off from Zed's body and said, "Please give us a minute and we will bring some food."
"Marina, what are you doing?" the boys were annoyed by their sister's behavior.
Marina cast them a dreadful look and the boys shut up. She then took them inside the building and minutes later, they all returned with a tray of food.
The boys were now looking at Zed with pure horror in their eyes.
"Please forgive my rude behavior," the boy apologized by giving a deep bow. The three of them then offered him the food and quickly left.
Zed was dumbfounded but he didn't give this any thought as his mind focused on the plate in his hand. He quickly grabbed the food and stuffed it in his mouth afraid someone will snatch it away.
Twelve years old.
In a street somewhere outside the slum.
Zed was sitting on the road looking at the woman in front of him with eyes wide open. She has auburn hairs reaching her shoulders which complimented her red dress.
"What is it you desire?" The woman crouched in front of him ignoring the dust on the road. Far away there were a dozen men in black looking at the twelve-year-old youngster and their master in disbelief.
"Answer me, kid" The woman placed a hand on his dirty hairs, "Ask me anything and you shall have it."
"Food," Zed answered. He hasn't eaten anything good in a while and he thought the woman should be able to fulfill his wish.
The men in black started laughing at such a pitiful request but the woman was looking at him with a smile just like before.
"Are you sure?" The woman asked, "I can fulfill your wish with a snap of my fingers but think how ruined your life would become."
Zed's back was drenched with sweat as the gravity of his request hit him. He turned his face back and saw various hungry faces far away. They were just like him from the slums trying to make a living out of begging.
If he got the food and he didn't share then he knew what waited for him. Even if he agreed to share, they wouldn't allow him to eat even a small part.
He would be punished severely for wasting food if he eats a single portion. No matter how he looked at his request, he understood it would only result to pain.
"I..." Zed looked back at the woman and faintly muttered, "Money?"
"Are you sure?" The woman repeated her previous words again.
Zed was unconfident of his request. In his ten years of life, the only important thing he knew was food, money, and clothes.
If he couldn't get food then money was the second best. But was it? He looked back at the hungry eyes and knew his answer.
"Don't look at them," the woman took his chin in her hands and said, "Even if not for them, the society out there would not spare you if you have a treasure you couldn't protect. Greed is not restricted to your slums."
Zed realized the meaning of her words after some contemplation. He has always thought the slums were hell and the society out there was heaven, but it seemed the laws of slum still applied everywhere.
"As long as you wish for materialistic benefits, regardless of whether it is food, money, clothes, or even strength; your life would only become worse," The woman explained with a smile, "None of them are things you can afford to have in your current state."
"What should I request for then?" Zed asked her in a confused tone.
"That is a question only you can answer," The woman stood up from the ground, "But if you want, I can give you the greatest gift the world has ever known."
"Greatest gift?" Zed stared at her blankly.
If he got the greatest gift then wouldn't he become a target of everyone?
"Rest assured for the gift is something no one can ever take from you," The woman looked around before continuing, "It is something which can never be stolen even by the greatest of the thief."
"What is it?" Zed asked lost in her words.
"Eternal Wisdom," The woman brought her eyes back on him and said, "Everyone in this world believes they are born with this wisdom but alas, it is just a delusion."
Zed's eyes were filled with curiosity. For a moment, he forgot his existence as a slum insect and truly tried to think what was this wisdom which has eluded everyone.
"Do you wish to have it?" The woman's eyes were sparkling like a galaxy as she stared in his eyes.
"Yes," Zed nodded unconsciously.
"I, Veronica, shall then give you the greatest gift out there," She placed a finger on his forehead, "The Eternal Wisdom of Dream.
"Remember to dream is to hope."If you find any errors ( broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible.