I need more.
My successes with Second Winter have run their course. It has been years since I have made any headway on anything novel or revelatory. Though they say the respect my work, I see how the wizards look at me—they wish for me to fail.
Of course, my work is enough to keep me in room and board. My treatises on the use of salt as metaphor or demonological societal structures have garnered some faint praise, but it isn’t enough.
I need more.
To that end, I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into the Biblios Arcanum. It’s winding passages and oblique systems of arrangement are beautiful in their own way—a whisper of the Sorcerer’s lair I visited those many years ago.
As time has gone on, I question if the lair ever existed out of my own mind.
But, in any case, I have found a clue to something lost. There is a hidden pattern in stacks. I will follow it until I find its key.
I have found the key, and the pattern has been laid bare.
Ironically, what the pattern hid was itself a literal key: pearlescent, like my hand. Upon its discovery, however, a most vexing encounter took place.
You see, the key is some manner of artifact, flush with latent power. I know that, were I to use it, it would unlock the next path to success and the next step in my journey to true freedom. It…spoke to me. It speaks to me still.
Before I could, though, a stranger was before me. So deep within the Arcanum, they must have been a wizard, but their face was unrecognizable.
Beware, foolish wizard, lest this key be your undoing. It unlocks more within your soul than without, and once opened, cannot again be locked away
They grabbed my hand, and in my haste to recoil from them, I was found out. My right hand glowed in the dim light for the world to see.
Ah. That door is already open. Your corruption is there for the world to see. I can’t let you walk further down this road.
I was terrified. My mind screamed as I feared my end. But then…another voice whispered to me.
This one would use you like the one before. Save yourself. Plunge me into his breast and open wide the door to your true freedom.
It was the key. Or, perhaps, it was my own quick thinking framing itself in the moment. It matters not. I did what I had to do.
The stranger began to scream, but i was able to muffle his cries by wrapping his cloak around his head. It took….too long. I thought there would have been more blood, but the key’s magic kept my secret for me.
Disposing of a body is hard work.
It has been seven days. I have not been found out.
There has been gossip around the disappearance of one of the state’s questors—those charged with ferreting out sorcery within the academy—but nothing connects to me.
The sewer rats will do the rest for me.
But, more importantly, I have made a discovery! The key has opened me to a whole new level of revelation. I have been writing day and night, stopping only to eat and sleep when exhaustion bests me. The depths are open: I have discovered The Sanctity of Punishment.
Access to such knowledge would be overwhelming, if not for the soothing voice from the key. Clearly, my own abilities have surprised me, as I’ve constructed a whole separate personality to inhabit the key, so that I can converse with myself as needs be. The key’s answers are comforting in a way I would not have thought myself capable. Truly, I am a marvel.
Oh, yes—and I’ve given this other a name: Apep.
And I am Leviathan.
But, for now, I will keep us both to the depths.