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Here, Cain sacrifices Chloe to assimilate multiple puppet powers at once.

Her body was perfect. All of its muscle, all of its fat; its curvaceous ins and outs. The silhouette of her feet hung from her ankles like droplets from a tapered nozzle in the golden slits of sunlight splaying up the staircase he ascended. From the chambers of his shadow, where his damned origin and all of his dead puppets resided, Cain carried Chloe to the Alignak Simulacrum. For great power must come, he had found, great sacrifice. In fact, it might be more apt to say that sacrifice had found him. When a human— a human who wants godhood— takes too voraciously, does not fate's hand eventually press down in protest?

Between his psychic and empath backdrops, Cain's inheritance of blood magic had created a particular magic Valucre might have never before seen the likes of; but it was not given freely. Throughout the years Cain met the hand of fate time and time again with everything he held dear. At each turn he presented, without flinching, his every humanity for each aspect of immortality he could attain. A twenty-year-old body aged by years spent simultaneously within the bodies of a hundred others, what remained of Cain was nothing of himself. In fact, the stolen body wasn't even his. It was that of the frozen god Alignak made his by transition of consciousness made possible only by Cain's particular type of blood magic.

Pads on the bottom of his feet worn into fine callouses worthy of treading sharp stones and long journeys in tandem scratched like sandpaper across the uneven stone on the mountaintop veranda seating the Alignak Simulacrum. A body like Poseidon's rose from rich stone, opalescent emulations of oceanic splashes atop a great gypsum block engraved with the dead god's name whose heart Cain ate. Inside it was the original Cain's own heart. Within the statue, by virtue of the heart's power, resided the power of its rendition. Worshiping this, anybody could attain Alignak's sempiturnal power- once devoured by the Cain whose heart powered the beacon of power. And now it became only greater.

One knee met the ground as he laid her body before the altar. It was finally time he release her; time he feed one more piece of himself to the beast that was power.

Cain had long ago learned that the pursuit of power without purpose was mere idiocy, but had so fully given himself to it that to stop now would be even worse. The only other choice, then, was to exact his purpose. Central Fracture was out of his reach for now, but he would become as powerful as necessary to defeat the strongest in every nation who defended rulers both errant and belligerent with authority.

The Earthbreaker stood in the sunset beside the outlines of his dead love and the Simulacrum. What came next would pain him worse than cutting out his own heart.

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Borrowing a concept from an old associate, Cain kept the fourth wall of his office open to another dimension. In getting lost after within the Vortex for months after his deposition from Tia, he had found a suitable place to regroup. The veritable portal was created by a cubical series of Fauxton receivers to which Cain and Dr. Amantis held patent mounted on the room's corners whose paths converged in a cone on the fourth wall, routing to a demi-realm through the Vortex that could only be reached from Tech Mountain by tandem of all eight corners of the Fauxton cube. 

In a room far, far below Cain's office resided his Shadow, a significant but singular piece of Cain as he existed now. In the Puppet Room, the naked body was arched back as if pinned to a spot in the ether, suspended like a wooden dancer. Orbiting his body, connected by ghastly strands of blue light, were singular pieces of all the puppets he owned. The room was like a galaxy of floating objects ranging from tongues, eyes, fingernails, pieces of hair, to simple blood cells themselves. The only thing he controlled that did not exist within that very room was laid before him at the Simalucrum. Its construction on Tech Mountain had been necessary because proximity to the freshly completed Simalucrum was necessary to power its birth; but piece by piece, the Puppet Room that drove Cain's mass puppet power was being transported by worker puppets up the stairs and through the fourth wall of the office, into the demi-realm.

There the Shadow would be placed beneath a babbling waterfall in meditative posture, able to draw from the sunny valley crafted for the sole purpose of calm and connection. There, the puppet pieces would be spread and orbit freely, controlled to a better degree with more than darkness and dead stone to draw from for the medium that was the Shadow to use as fuel to control them. In addition to secrecy and nature, the Cain's Demi-realm provided more space for more puppets. His new method of drafting for each of them a brain from the singular cell derived out of the piece he took from them allowed Cain's puppets to run mostly autonomously save for the directions he implanted in them. All he needed to do was create the brain on inception and they were their own animal living for his purpose from then on.

Cain had his own Fauxton responder and transponder, so he could connect to any network of Fauxtons with enough time to connect; but Chloe's body would be fed to his ability to connect the Simalucrum to the Demi-realm. Chloe had been the love of Cain's life when he was something closer to human. Now, whatever was left of the Cain that loved her resided in the Shadow. Half of her would go to the Shadow in the Demi-realm, half of her to Alignak on Valucre. And so, the Cain that walked Valucre would be with her by virtue of his power but nothing else. After the ritual was complete, she would be to him as a memory.

On his knees before her in a moment of respect, Cain felt a droplet of sorrow fall into the endless well within him. He watched as it fell into the void, and as he had infinite times since watching her fall wholly in, he fought away the thought of diving in after. Any tears he had to shed were already down there. All he had left for the void was bitterness and defiance.

"Fine," he said to nobody, wiping his nose with his forearm. "You wanted her, you can have her."

Standing as the ice wind broke against his immovable mountaintop promontory, Cain rose his glyph-covered arms. In unison, a face of rock as perfect as the clay figurine that was Chloe lifted her form between him and the frightening statue of Alignak.

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Valucre's endless, ominous, hungry ocean lapped at the shores of Amalia restlessly. In the West the sun set, spraying bloody rays of light across the sky. Clawing against the crimson light was an incredible storm front that filled the East with grumpy greys and blues. A knife of lightning plunged into the sea somewhere near the horizon. The wind was picking up. His whipping hair calmed, if momentarily,  as one of many massive slabs of steel orbited past the veranda cutting off the storm winds.

In that second he closed his eyes, a crinkle of sadness and focus wrinkling his brow as he reached deep into Chloe. Her heart, her soul, it was the last time he would plunge into them. This imparted no intrinsic sensation on the Puppet Master, but upon a decidedly separate Cain, sentiment laid its hand heavily. Had it really been so long since he had revisited their walks together? So long since he'd had the simple indulgence of her presence, even as a dead remnant? Looking at her pale face, he knew the answer and he knew why that was the answer. She was the very reason he had left himself in the ashes. Losing her was the last thing that had separated him from the true pursuit of power.

Looking at his risen hands, then, he saw that he had pursued power so far into the wilds that he was now forever lost. He had made homes and destroyed them times over. What, then, was this?

It was, in his twisted way, vengeance against the world for taking from him what he had, in reality, only taken from himself. To be content was to admit that he had been wrong in keeping her body like a store mannequin; in killing what was undoubtedly millions now; in finding away to betray and defile his human self. He had become an eldritch and awesome evil in his denial of these wrongs, storing simultaneous eons into his repertoire through thousands of lives lived at the same time. This sick shepherd did not send his sheep to a restful afterlife— he sheered them of their very souls to create a patchwork of ethereal magic for his own use. Now Chloe's soul, too, would be fed to the beast he had become. 

Alignak's fearsome structure was depicted in obsidian marble emerging from the breaking waves. The detail of his eyes to the very pupae was striking. Though there was no life but Cain's upon that mountaintop, there were a million spirits. In them there grew a palpable red hunger. In Chloe, there grew a red glow that longed to connect with the many others torn asunder for Cain's purpose.

Come, they said, join us in our desolation.

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God's strength may come from the mouths of babes, but his imminent sadness exudes from their eyes. Swirling around the lone one and his lost muse, there slowly illuminated hundreds of thousands of ghostly red teardrops. all of them hanging in requiem to yet another gut-wrenching sacrifice from the Earthbreaker. His physique was of indomitable stature; his mind of impenetrable decisiveness. These decisions were made in the most personal of moments, the most singular lonelinesses.

This decision was another death for another ability; he would lose Chloe so that, using a connective interface, Cain could wield two puppet powers simultaneously.

As the ghostly red drops grew brighter, illuminating an impressive 1km radius around the fresh greatness of Tech Mountain, so too grew the red glow in Chloe's dead chest. Cain's last tears, his last inklings of panic fell upon the figure raised on the pedestal before him as crimson strands traced themselves from the multitude of spirits— even his very own— pulling away pieces of her. Her skin shriveled like a time lapse, her color then eyes and hair dissolving before his very eyes upon the pillar.

Tears, endless natural tears streamed from the decidedly Unnatural Cain's eyes, as the last being that ever loved the man this indelible zombie originally was dissipated at the behest of his warped greed. Suddenly swooping down, scooping her into his arms, Cain shouted.


Tsunamis of his voice's vibration rocked the sacrilegious citadel, blowing away the red spirits and one of the immense metallic panels away from the mountain— but unlike the spirits, the panel returned to its magnetic orbit around the mountain. What was left, though, Cain knew was nothing of the original Chloe. Her lovely bones sat in his arms, her arm having been blown so that it settled upon his shoulder.

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