[Excerpt from a handwritten letter sent to Alice Cadbury. The date and additional context of this letter have not been found or correlated yet.]
Immortality? That is not the blessing that the stories and myths make it out to be. Not by a long shot. Even with the caveat of so-called “Eternal Youth”, while a boon for a time, it soon becomes a curse and even sooner, a burden.
How is this possible you ask? Well, consider the life-span of your average human, at this day and age with modern technology of being easily over one hundred years. That is a fairly long time in respect to many other beings on this world. Hundreds of years ago, one was lucky to have reached the age of forty, so the comparable difference between thirty-five and one hundred and five as average ages is astounding. To someone fifteen hundred years ago, humans are immortal.
But are they? Not by the accepted definition, much less the spiritual one.
And yet, there is still that quest for it. Medicine, cybernetics, enhancements and enchantments everything seems to either be toned to either terminating human life or extending it. Yet these mortals do not even remotely comprehend the implications…the problems of accomplishing such a goal.
How do I pretend to know of such things? It is a fairly simple matter. I have discovered the secrets and I have unlocked them and concocted the fabled essence of the Universe. I have managed to attain immortality. I cannot be slain by time or ailment. Only by accident or violence can I meet my end. And while I posses that which hundreds of kings and countless scholars have sought, this so-called “Gift” of infinite life and youth, I curse it every single day; all five million five-hundred thousand of them. Yes, that is a great many days. Most people cannot even comprehend a fraction of that number…and I shall let you do the math to divine the approximate number of years I have been walking this earth, child.
So now the inevitable question is how did I end up in such a state? How is it that I have managed to survive all of these years defying both Death and Time? That alone is quite a tale. A tale that I am loath to remember and at the same time eager to discuss simply to ease the weight from my shoulders.
It began quite some time ago. Far longer than any manner of recording history would account for. All of those records have been destroyed, lost, fallen to myth and legend or utterly misinterpreted by so-called experts in paleontology and anthropology; take your pick. Regardless, I have remembered what history has forgotten, conveniently or otherwise. My story begins thousands of years ago, during the first and, in my opinion, greatest Golden Age of mankind. I was a citizen, a lowly scholar in fact, of that fabled city that was lost in a single day and night. But this begins well before that fateful day.
A particular member of the High Council, who carried a lot of weight and influence politically, recently announced that his wife was with child and that his district would soon have an heir or heiress. Please keep in mind that while I could divulge the names of these individuals, it is wholly unnecessary, for their names, deeds and entire histories have been lost to antiquity and are only remembered by myself and, perhaps, a scant handful of others. Also please remember that while I willingly tell you my story, this is still incredibly difficult for me to do so.
Despite the fanfare and acceptance of this announcement for this man and his wife, there would be unforeseen and terminal complications ahead. While the wife had given birth to a son, both the child and mother soon faced health complications. To this day, I do not know what the source of these complications were, but I knew the implications of them.
In desperation, the High Councilman requested the greatest and best scholars in the kingdoms and surrounding territories to examine both the wife and child. As each doctor, magician, cleric and scholar made their examinations and presented their hypothesis, each failed. In a further act of desperation, the Great Library and all of its resources both grand and terrible were suddenly made available to everyone. Secrets that were never meant to be known were opened to the world in this act. I should know. As a scholar, I delved into those mysteries and consumed vast quantities of knowledge.
During my own fevered research in an attempt to gain favor, I discovered many terrible secrets and forbidden knowledge. Lore that was written and hidden by those who taught us, those who returned to their place Beyond the stars. I thought that I had found a cure for the affliction. I thought I had found the solution. I followed those Damned formulae to the letter. I did everything that was asked and for a time, I had been able to claim success!
The councilman’s wife and child were saved. But the cost. Oh the cost was a heavy toll indeed. Nearly their entire fortune was spent in acquiring the experts as well as their supplies, space and other sundry requirements. The necessary requirements for my own rituals were not without their own measured costs as well. My costs were far more heinous however. For the ritual required the blood of innocents—so two score plus nine children of slaves were slain by my hand.
My tutors, masters and peers praised me, despite these losses. After all, they were but slaves! And barbarians at that from across the seas. Human, but barely sentient in our eyes. Oh, but if I knew then what I know now. I would not have committed such a terrible act of murder. If my peers, masters and tutors knew then, the implications of this ritual, I would have been cast out as an enemy of the state. If the High Council had known, I surely would have been executed. At the time, however, nobody knew. Nobody could have known. And even if they did, the immediate results were that the councilman’s wife and son were alive, healthy and well.
This would not last.
Twenty four years and six months (to the day) after the ritual, the wife and son immediately fell ill again. The symptoms were the exact same, only worse. It was as if whatever sickness held them was attempting to make up for lost time. Of course in this time of need, I was once more called forth to try and set things right. Why wouldn’t they call on me? I was the one who gave them that time in the first place.
But things would not go as they did before. After my success, I was immediately promoted to High Scholar and was given full, unlimited access to the Great Library. I had use that time wisely to research into the problem that granted my promotion, should it happen again of course, in addition to other curiosities and forbidden lore.
My assessment in this recurrent problem was grave. Death had, for some inexplicable reason marked the wife and boy and would not be denied. While the blood satisfied for a time, it would require more, exponentially more. Before, it took forty nine souls and their innocent blood to give both twenty four and a half years. This time it would take two thousand four hundred and one. How much time this would give them was even more disturbing, for despite the sacrifice, the time of life would be significantly less—a little over twelve years each for the wife and son.
The costs and returns were deemed wholly unacceptable by the High Council and, pretty much everyone else. So I had to seek out another solution.
I had full, unlimited access to the Great Library now, like I had mentioned before. I also had a research staff. Between the lot of us, we were not able to find very much that could be helpful. So in desperation I began to delve into the darker tomes; scrambling around in areas that had not seen human eyes for hundreds of thousands of years. While I had brought out a Black ritual those twenty four years ago, I had not delved this deeply into this dark lore. In my research, I learned how to listen to those that exist beyond the stars. I learned how to speak with them.
And they listened.
They told me what I needed to know. They told me what to do to save the councilman’s wife and son. They told me far more than what I could possibly comprehend. I learned so much in those scant few days from those Things that whisper in the dark, those Things that reside beyond the stars and human comprehension. I learned.
With another, more powerful, yet bloodless, ritual I was able to expunge the sickness from both parties. But not without great cost. For although the sickness was cast out, so was a portion of their immortal essence. Their life force. While they would live, they would be forever weakened and always upon Death’s doorstep. They would live, this was for certain, but they would not live as they had. They had to forever be mindful of the hazards of day-to-day life. Not a particularly enticing life, but most parties were satisfied.
It would not be until much, much later that I would learn what had actually happened that day. While I had thought that the ritual was one to expunge this sickness, this taint from the living, in all actuality, I had slain both of those whom I had been trying to save. They never were quite right after that day, but these subtle differences were acceptable. Had I known then what I know now, it would have been the exact opposite!
I learned that instead of casting out a portion of their essence, I had in fact cast it out all but entirely. What was left was a mere memory. A memory devoured and used by those from beyond the stars. Those that have always sought more to satisfy their endless hunger. They were possessed by these creatures, these Things that cannot bear a name.
By now, you may wonder what had happened to those two unfortunate souls, now that they had been displaced from their shells. Rather than be devoured by the Dark, they were infused into me. A “gift” from those whispers. I granted them access to this plane, so they granted me immortality. A trade that they felt was more than sufficiently equitable. Of course, I had no inclining to this until I realized that after another twenty years I had not aged a day while my comrades, coworkers, friends and family began to age and whither. I could offer little explanation for this, but I was bothered (and my compatriots moreso). I inquired the voices, I asked the Dark and they informed me that which I had already told you. They refused to tell me of their machinations—only that I was no longer necessary for them. I found this unacceptable, of course, and sought to stop whatever plans they had set.
From that day forward, I ensconced myself within the Great Library, delving into its darkest secrets seeking to learn and absorb the knowledge that it held. Many things I learned that would try my sanity. Many more would cast me so far beyond the brink of madness that I was instead, rendered sane. Through forced rituals I was able to divine their plans and create my own to stop them.
I know not how long I locked myself away. What I do know, is why those ancient secrets were locked away but not destroyed. I know that no human eyes should ever be set upon them ever again. Using my knowledge I sealed away much of the Black Library—the name I dubbed the darkest partitions of the Great Library. What I deemed unsafe was locked away. When I emerged from the Black Library, I found that the world had changed drastically. The island-state of peace and prosperity that I knew was gone. It was replaced by tyranny, hate and war.
I quickly discovered that the last great king had fallen ill and perished of normal, natural causes (the truth of which I still question). The high council took over, as was tradition, but this did not seem to last long as the very son I had saved, and was now corrupted by the Dark had risen to power forcibly and was using his power, the power of the nation to spread hate, discord and war.
I did what I could. I truly did. But there was little that I could do other than inform the High Magi and our own military forces who were not squandered away during this false-ruler’s futile wars. An immediate call for those who could not, or would not fight, to flee the island was released. I did not depart at first. There was much to do, much to salvage and try to set right. While the vast ships fled the island-city, fat with the retreating citizenry, the creatures struck out at everything, toppling buildings, destroying the landscape and sinking the fleeing vessels.
While our armies and guards fought these vile creatures from beyond, while the city burned and ships were consumed within the conflagration, I went to the Black Library to salvage what I could. To find one last hint of how I could stop this. I failed.
While I did succeed in protecting the Great Library as well as the Black Library by scattering them across the world, I failed to stop the fighting. I was able, however, to formulate a way to lock the creatures away, but at great cost. The High Magi were desperate, so committed themselves to this final ritual that cast these dread creatures from this world. I watched that day, as I sailed towards the East, as my home sank beneath the waves. In a single day and night my home, my family, everything I had known was gone forever.
My time since then has been spent in public seclusion, attempting to find what I had scattered for safe-keeping. Lemuria, Mu and Thule all had either copies or what I had sent to them in my hurry to keep them from destruction. I was able to recover these founts of knowledge and establish a new Library. Even now, I seek to recover the last of these books. Many of the most dangerous ones have been recovered and hidden away.
But there is so much more that has been lost. So many more books, tomes, scrolls and scriptures that have eluded my grasp. Many of these are dark, corrupted books that could only offer false hopes and damnation at best, death or insanity at worst to those that look upon them. Even those that are fit for the human mind and body do not belong roaming free.
That is my quest. That is why I have taken this quest and this is why I ask for your help.