The streets were busy during the evening in New York. Many people were coming and going, many were walking with a forward-facing gaze. Tunnel-visioned into their destinations.
No one paid any mind to an old man sitting by the road, seemingly a normal beggar, missing both legs, near him was a wooden sign that asked for just a bit of kindness.
No one paid him any mind. In the sea of faces, his was the only one that was avoided. Even the occasional kind soul didn't look in his direction. Maybe it was because of his grotesque appearance?
A face mangled, scarred over already, looked like a pack of rabid dogs had once eaten it.
Even then, some would still find pity in such a tragic existence, still, no one paid him any attention... All but one person, Alexander Nikolia.
That old man had stood there for many years.
Alexander had seen the old man on numerous occasions sitting, waiting. Many times in different places even.
It was as if the old man was searching for something. Despite his appearance and obvious disability, he wasn't unable to move...
No, if one was to track down the old man, they could find him in numerous places... On numerous continents, dozens of countries all around the world.
But how could such a thing make sense? How could something like this even be possible? Well...
Alexander tried to tell all of his friends about it. All of the people that he knew just looked at him weirdly... Asking him 'What old man are you even talking about?' or saying things like 'Has all of that reading finally turned you insane?'
In truth, Alexander had somewhat considered the second a few times. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him.
But that also simply didn't make any sense at all. Sure Alexander was not a bright-eyed young man, but he was no old decrepit man either. He was merely 49 years old currently.
If any one of his friends were to describe him, they would all call him adventurous and curious, a great conversationalist and an amazing sommelier.
A black-haired man with a trimmed beard and green eyes, always clean-cut and presentable, most of the time wearing formal clothing. His muscles were well-defined and his face was what one would consider conventionally handsome.
A man that had seen many walks of life and one with a name that sent waves through quite a few fields. Especially his main field of study, archaeology.
He was known to be the man to have discovered an even older civilisation than that of the Sumerians.
He unearthed something in the place where one would least expect to find anything, but also in the place where such a civilisation could be expected to have existed.
The deserts of Egypt, and it was because of the discovery of that civilisation, that his name had become renowned worldwide in the field of archaeology.
He was the one to discover the civilization that preceded the Ancient Egyptians, after a few years of research, he also managed to reverse engineer the language that the ancient civilisation used.
He had found great help in the form of Jean-François Champollion's research into the decipherment of ancient Egyptian scripts. The languages were different, but he had managed to find some similarities between them.
And from those slight similarities, he managed to unravel an entirely new language. If anyone else was to describe it, then it would be simply called the work of a genius.
So, how could such a genius have simply gone insane like this? Alexander could feel the paranoia creeping in with each day that passed.
Each time he tried to point his acquaintances in the direction he had clearly seen the old man, the old man was never there. Seemingly a figment of his overacting imagination.
But he knew, he knew that the old man was real...
The old man had only started appearing after he had unravelled that civilization... Rather, that was when Alexander took notice of him.
With all of his curiosity, an unnerving feeling still prevented him from approaching the old beggar... Each time he took a step toward the old man, he could feel his bones shaking as his back filled with cold sweat. That was when he stopped and turned around usually.
But this night things were different... Why?
Well, it all had to do with his last excursion to the site of the ancient civilisation that he had found. More and more relics were being discovered by the teams he was leading.
Being the only person with a perfect grasp of that language, he was called to the scene to investigate a few new relics and to help decipher a few tablets.
Amongst those antiques, dusted and destroyed by time, Alexander's eyes caught something that made him curious. A very large and thick stone tablet, about as tall as he was, and he was exactly 1.95 meters.
A portrait, or rather, the ancient version of one, a stone engraving depicting a very familiar figure...
An old man with a long white beard, two missing legs, hands hidden by clothing, face mangled beyond the limits of brutality...
Alexander could only gulp as he looked down at the text underneath that depiction.
He could make out the words rather quickly, having already spent years deciphering texts of that nature... 'Always be wary of the wanderer. He doesn't repay kindness with kindness.'
Alexander could only gulp, he called one of his many students there to confirm that he wasn't truly delirious.
The student was a bit confused at why his teacher was so stressed out about that stone engraving, but he did confirm being able to see it. Even managed to explain to his teacher the circumstances in which they had found it.
"It was simply sitting up straight in the middle of the desert... We assume that the recent sand storms uncovered it, otherwise it's hard to believe that this was missed completely until now..." The student seemed to ponder for a moment.
Then he also saw the text that his teacher had already translated.
"How interesting! Such an ancient civilisation had its own version of folklore... The wanderer must be some kind of boogie man for them, maybe a tale they used to tell to their children, to make them a bit more distrustful of strangers..."
The student did give an extremely great explanation with the evidence provided, after all, Alexander's students were all geniuses in their own right.
But Alexander just nodded a bit. "Thank you, I just wanted a bit of confirmation..." He knew better... This was no child's tale...
And now, there stood Alexander, face to face with the old man that had haunted him for so many years. The wanderer.
He gazed down, he powered through the unnerving feeling seeping into his bones, his curiosity had finally been able to overcome whatever that feeling was.
As Alexander had expected, the old man did finally notice his presence, looking up at his face with a pair of cold and dead black eyes.
"Spare a coin for an unfortunate one?" That was all that the old man said.
Alexander looked down at the enigma in front of him, only one question on his tongue: "What are you?"
Alexander simply tilted his head when asking that question, not adverting his gaze or blinking even once, afraid that the old man was just going to disappear on him again.
"Spare a coin for an unfortunate one?" The old man simply repeated, his eyes didn't even seem to register Alexander's question, it was as if Alexander was not even there... Yet the old man was staring right at him.
Alexander at this point simply didn't know what to do... With a sigh, he took out a stack of bills from his pocket, something he had prepared beforehand.
To him, money was more of a concept, a means to an end, it didn't mean anything in his eyes. So he had no qualms giving the old man a bit more than a coin.
Alexander crouched down and placed the money right into the old man's lap. The money seemed to be swallowed up in the old man's clothing.
Then, something else happened, Alexander could see a light glint into the wanderer's eye, a toothy grin spreading on the old man's disfigured face.
"Kindness never goes unrewarded~" It was a creepier voice than before, but a lot less robotic at the very least.
Alexander almost took a step back when hearing the tone, but he wasn't fast enough.
That ancient thing, whatever it was, opened its mouth completely, revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth. Its mouth then expanded, towering over the tall Alexander in less than a second.
In that split second, Alexander froze, because he saw something even stranger inside that being's mouth... He saw stars, he saw... Another pair of eyes.
In that instant, Alexander was shocked, it took only a half-second of hesitation. His entire body was swallowed up in an instant.
And just like that... The greatest archaeologist of that century had disappeared completely...
Hi there, VeganMaster here.
Hope you liked this first chapter! I started writing this around two weeks ago, figured I'd start uploading now.
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