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Marcus could not understand what he was just told. Confessions? Sins? What was Aurelius talking about? Was it magic that made things disappear? Marcus figured that for all these unanswered questions he would have to sneak into the basement and find out for himself.

As soon as midnight came Marcus made his move. He snuck into Aurelius' room and stole the keys to the basement while he seemed to be in deep sleep. He lit a lantern and unlocked the door to the basement, descended down the stairs in the faint light of the lantern and stopped at what seemed like a library. The room had three bookshelves that covered the entire wall. In the center was a table with a book on it. On closer inspection, Marcus noticed that all the books looked the same. The books were bound by tanned leather and shut tight with string. One single book was placed on the edge of the table and Marcus picked it up. He slowly began unraveling the looped string. The book was thick and heavy in his hand and it made a thump when he kept it back. He flipped through the pages and started reading.

Nothing in the whole world could have prepared Marcus for what he was about to witness.

There were two columns in the book—one had a name and the other the confession. Marcus slowly read through the confessions. "I murdered my parents for their land.", "I sold my wife to a brothel", "I killed my wife and her lover". As Marcus flipped through the pages his despair increased. The world that he was living in was a lie—it was full of deceit, hate, greed, lust and adversity. Aurelius was right. People did unspeakable things for selfish motives.. Marcus could feel these things poisoning his thoughts. As he kept on reading he read a familiar name. Samael Thorne. His father.

Marcus' fingers trembled as he saw his father's name. The pit in his stomach deepened and he could hear his heart throbbing. He read the confession and then he reread it. He couldn't understand what it meant. For a moment it was silent. In this dusty room, all Marcus could hear was his breathing and the flickering light of the lantern. "I sold my daughter as a slave" is what the confession read. The person Marcus believed would come to save him was the same man who had sold off his daughter. The memories came back to Marcus like needles pricking his brain. The dreams about a girl, the games they had played, afternoons they had spent in the forest. Tears streamed down his face and his ears burned. How could his father do this? He was consumed with disgust and misery. His hopes of being saved and going back to feeling homely, sheltered and loved all came crashing down as his worst fears were confirmed. His father had sold him as well. For what? Money? Was that all that mattered to him? Marcus glared around the room. Thousands of identical books filled the shelves. Was this the real side of humanity? The darkness that man had. Sins that the smiles hid.

Marcus felt a hollow numbing pain. Soon this void was filled with a deep seethed resentment. He resented the slave owners. His father. Aurelius. Everyone. He picked up the lantern and in a surge of anger threw it at the bookshelf. The lantern crashed against the hardwood and the entire place caught fire, encompassing the books which began smoldering and burning. Marcus fell back as a flame burst up in his face. Soon all of the bookshelves were on fire and all Marcus could do was stare at them. He was frozen in place but realized that if he did not move now he would die in this basement. The basement and the house shared a common wooden floor and when Marcus reached upstairs the house was on fire as well. He wanted to wake up Aurelius but the debris was blocking his way. He quickly ran outside in the hope to get some villagers to help extinguish the fire.

Soon people gathered but no one helped. The fire burned so strong and bright that no one dared to step in its way. "That old geezer of yours is probably dead, kid. We have sent a message to Lord Raspen. He will help settle all of this mess." said a villager to Marcus. Marcus could not fathom what his actions had done. He still couldn't believe the fire in front of his eyes. By dawn, the house had burned itself to the ground. A few people stayed but soon left when there was nothing left to witness. Realization soon hit Marcus. His actions had cost Aurelius his life. Someone who had been there for him. Someone who had saved him. Provided for him, was gone because of Marcus. With guilt eating him from the inside he started sifting through the burned debris in hopes of finding something to remember Aurelius by.

He knew that the slave owner would be here soon. When he realized that Marcus was here he would retrieve him. Marcus did not want to run away anymore. He knew no one was going to save him and that there was no point in running from his destiny. All he wished for was to make it better. To go back in time and fix his mistake. But alas that is something that cannot be done. As he reached the center of the mess he saw something under a burned plank of wood. It was the burned book. Tears rolled down his eyes as he opened the book. The whole thing was charred except for one slip of paper. Marcus stared at that empty piece of paper. It was part of a burnt page but it had somehow survived the entire fire. He could never live his life the same again. He knew that he would be a slave now. Someone only looked at, as an asset and not as a person. Perhaps the inhuman treatment was something that he deserved. He remembered the laughs he had shared with Aurelius. The mistakes he had made and the scolding he had gotten. Amidst these thoughts, his eye caught a shiny piece of broken lead in the mess. Marcus knew what he had to do. With tears in his eyes and guilt in his heart, he wrote down his name.


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