Dimensional Descent - Chapter 2319
Leonel looked at the various souls floating around him and felt a hint of excitement that was doused quickly. How could he remain excited? While it was true a burden that had been weighing him down for so long was finally off of his shoulders, there was another matter that was harder to accept...
After a bit of hesitation, he reached forward toward Rollan's soul.
Rollan was someone that Leonel had met long after his falling out with James. After what happened between him and his longtime best friend, Leonel truly didn't think that he would ever connect with a person on that level again. He and James might have been complete polar opposites, but they worked in a way that Leonel simply couldn't describe.
That wasn't to say that Leonel thought more of James than his other brothers, that wasn't the case at all. Some parents might lie when they said they loved all of their children equally, but Leonel wasn't lying at all when he said that he loved all his brothers the same.
What differentiated his best friend from his buddies wasn't how much he liked James, but rather how well they clicked, how well they played off of one another, how well James seemed to compliment him.
Now that he understood a bit more about himself, Leonel knew exactly why this was too. Would it even be him if it wasn't for a selfish motive?
James was a simple minded brute and he was all too willing to deal with Leonel's manipulation. But at the same time, he was sharp and intuitive in a way he himself probably didn't understand. He could pick out Leonel's flaws in a way that others simply couldn't.
In a lot of ways, James was like Leonel's litmus test. If he could pull one over on James, then his actions would go unnoticed.
In truth, Leonel knew he had probably tipped the scales a bit too far out of his favor. Yet, he was a selfish person, but he didn't believe that he had crossed the line to evil, villain, mastermind just yet, treating James like some sort of science experiment.
Even so, he knew that there was some truth to this for certain, because although Rollan was also a polar opposite of James, he reflected those very same core traits.
He could see through Leonel's nonsense, he could cut right to the core of whatever was ailing them, and if anything, he was a bit sharper than James was, at least when it came to actually articulating his thoughts.
He actually reminded Leonel a lot of Joel, their personalities were nearly identical. And it was amusing because if Leonel had to choose which friend he was the second closest to outside of James, it would be Joel. Their drunk escapades and night of cuddling painted that picture quite well.
The difference was just one thing: Joel didn't tolerate Leonel's nonsense at all, once again proven by that drunken night.
It was Joel that had brought the liquor that day, and it was Joel who forced Leonel to see that he was less okay than he tried to pretend to be.
Leonel didn't want that kind of best friend. Joel wouldn't just call him out like Rollan, or tolerate him like James, he would try to force Leonel to change, and it made sense. Joel was a captain in his own right.
While on the football field Leonel had been the captain of the offense, it could be said that when the defense was on the field, the leader wasn't Leonel at all. After all, he was on the sidelines. It was Joel who took control of their defense... he was the quarterback of the defense.
When he put it that way, it was almost sad. Maybe if Joel had been his best friend instead, or rather if he had allowed that to happen, he could have saved himself a lot of pain.
But why would he? Why would he allow someone to change him? Did a person as selfish as himself even have that sort of capacity?
Leonel grasped Rollan's soul and it shuddered. He undid the restrictions and allowed Rollan to break the final barrier to life.
Rollan practically popped into existence, looking around in confusion for a moment. When he noticed Leonel, he immediately bowed deeply, and it was precisely this that made Leonel sigh.
How could this Rollan be the same as the other? Of course, no matter how quickly he had completed the Zone, he and Rollan were still slated to be best friends. After all, it had to be remembered that it was Rollan that had given Leonel the first clues on what his role in that Zone world would be.
But that was "The General" and Leonel was Leonel. Rollan hadn't had any time to acclimate to them being the same person, and the Leonel that had entered was so far and beyond the best friend he had known that they easily became two separate existences in his mind.
To Rollan, his best friend had long since died and the Leonel before him was a completely different person, a person that had crushed King Alexandre, the tyrant that had ruled them all for so long with absolute ease. If for no other reason than to ensure his wife remained safe, he couldn't afford to neglect showing proper due respect.
Any camaraderie the two had had seemed to have gone up in a puff of smoke. Leonel knew that even if he explained things clearly, it wouldn't change a single thing. The Rollan of now and the Rollan that he fondly remembered would never be the same person.
Leonel stoically resurrected them all one by one, the familiar burden that he thought he had left far beyond weighing him down once more.
Goggles' previous gusto was nowhere to be seen as he looked around shifty-eyed. Gertrude didn't have that familiar infatuation in her eyes when she looked at him. And Elise... her stomach was decidedly and glaringly flat. Their baby was dead. Or rather...
It had never existed in the first place.