Thursday 27th October 2016
Beras closed the book, it’s heavy leather binding thudding down on to the old vellum pages. He felt old, older than the ancient dusty volume in his hands. Frustrated by his frailty him, Beras was forced to take yet another break from his work. His mind was still keen, bright and agile, almost child-like, alas not so his body. At first he hadn’t minded growing old, but as his health began to fail he was forced to waste more and more of his precious seconds resting.
Beras looked down at the book with tired eyes, he had read this particular volume many times, he was fascinated by the Author’s assertion that the Gods were beholden to men and that true power lay with men not the gods as one would expect. Beras was not nor would he ever be a religious man, he had always suspected that the Gods had an agenda and he was no-one's puppet, no matter if they were man or god.
His thoughts were abruptly dragged back to earth as coughing wracked his frame, he could taste blood in his mouth and he could feel the constant pressure of it growing inside of him, a tumour was sapping his strength, slowly killing him, he had used his Magick to arrest it’s development, but he could not heal himself entirely, that was something only one of the gods could grant and Beras was not about to hand over the eternal rights to his soul few more years of pain in this world. The damp in his laboratory did little to help with his cough. So with a wistful glance at his work, he shuffled out of his lab, through his study and into his sleeping chamber where he cast himself fully clothed onto the bed and fell into a fitful sleep.
The cold woke him, his chambers where like a tomb, “the fire” he thought, “I didn’t light it”. Beras was still fully clothed, lying on top of his bed, his hands and face like ice. He lifted himself from the bed and made his way over to the fireplace, he yawned and muttered some words of Magick, a small flame leapt from his palm to the fireplace and ignited the wood and kindling. Yawning again, he winced at the pain in his chest as his left lung was restricted by the malignancy within it. He made his way over to the window and gazed out into the darkness, his breath labouring by the time his palms rested on the window ledge. The stars were bright, the moon, high in the sky, “it’s late” he thought, “not much time left”.
Beras had been wrestling with his conscience for some time, he thought there may be a way to continue his work, but he knew it was wrong. His gazed swept over to the place on the floor where the chest rested. Inside there was knowledge both terrible and great. He knew that it was forbidden knowledge, he knew better than any one. Beras had taken the chest into his care some thirty years earlier so that a lesser mage would not be tempted into trying to master the power within. Beras had always resisted the corrupting air of temptation that the books within the chest emanated, always that is until now...
Cold silvery runes shimmered under his touch as he caressed the books leather binding, he thrust aside his revulsion as he briefly considered the origin of this particular leather. The book was a powerful grimoire, it contained the secrets of the dark art of necromancy. Beras had taken the book from a captured cache for safe keeping some thirty years earlier, taken it to prevent a lesser Wizard from doing what he himself was about to do.
Opening the cover he gazed with longing at the fine vellum pages, the scribes hand was fluid, the runes, script and illuminations were truly beautiful to behold. How could so much beauty be part of something so vile? Beras stepped back from the tome, he feared ensorcelment or a glamour of some sort. He checked his Magickal defences, re-checked, checked again, every spell was intact, a tight web of protections around him, his defences stood. Truly this thing of terror and disgust was also a thing of honest beauty, a work of art, hidden from the eyes of the world in Beras' vault. The knowledge within the tome had a siren song of it's own, the forbidden secrets, a magick unknown to Beras, it had been years since he'd known the joy of fresh learning. Like an old man with a new young mistress, Beras hurled himself into his study of the forbidden.
Every spell, every secret, he took all his new mistress could offer. Over the next few days Beras began to animate small dead animals to do his bidding, dead flies from the window ledge were among his first minions, then a dead mouse he took from the cooks disgruntled cat. Beras mastered reanimation and moved on to capturing souls to inhabit his reanimated creations. Beras felt like a god, he could breath true life into a dead corpse, his creations could think and move by themselves without him serving as a puppet master controlling their every action. He would adapt this knowledge to preserve his friend and master from leaving this world for the next. The kings son would have to wait a little longer before the throne would be his, the slow poison he had fed to his father would not be the silent assassin he intended, the king would live, Beras would make sure of it.