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them to endeavor a new project: the construction of a
tower atop the hollow mountain. It took decades to
complete, but when the soaring tower was as tall as men
dared build, the magician climbed to the top and felt
nearer the sun than ever before, amplifying the latent
power that seeped through the marrow of his black
bones. He raised his arms to the sky as if praying to the
source of all heavenly fire. The sunlight condensed
around his body and the magician, like a living conduit,
redirected the power from above into a blazing red
beam that he swept back and forth across the far
horizon, setting fire to all it touched.
The magician banished his broken-spirited tower-
builders back below the earth to replenish the dwindling
number of tunnel-minnows. The slaves lived out their
days confined in the dark. There were even those who
bore children in the godless labyrinth. Entire
generations of their sons and daughters were delivered,
endured, and died without ever seeing the world beyond
the walls of their cave.
When their numbers had fallen to a handful, the
magician selected the smallest and weakest one among
them to come up to his lair, a child too small to fight
back. He said he needed a beating heart close at hand.
From that day on the child would live in fear of unholy
As the years rolled on, a rumor spread over sea and
land claiming the resurrection of the Son of the Sun.