I had known from the moment I saw it that I was destined to heed its call. The man came to our village when I was but a young boy. The elders called what he did mere tricks, but I had known better. I could tell that there was more to the man and his ‘tricks’. But like every other visitor to our small village, his time with us eventually came to an end. Leaving me with nothing but a fading memory and a deep yearning to follow in the man’s footsteps.
That yearning remained with me, and when I came of age I was given the right to leave the village behind and carve a new life for myself. I traveled the world for years in search of the man and others like him. In time my perseverance bore fruit, and I was taken into the brotherhood. It was here that I found my true calling, and I threw myself into acquiring the knowledge that would grant me that which I sought.
I discovered an ancient tome locked deep within the catacombs of the order. I could feel it calling to me, and I knew that this was where my yearning had brought me. This tome was my path. I inquired with the order as to why the tome did not reside with the others in the great library. Their response was that the tome had been deemed too dangerous to explore and as such had been put under lock and key. I begged and pleaded with them to allow me the opportunity to study it, and that I willingly accepted the consequences that it might bring. Still they denied me, telling me to leave it be.
Weeks passed, and with them my hunger to learn the tome’s secrets only intensified until it was all that resided within my mind. I could feel my sanity slipping, if I did not act I would lose it. I stole into the catacombs one night and using what I had learned released the tome from its shackles. I held the aged black leather bindings in my hands and my mind felt at peace. I returned to my chamber and began to study the tome. What I found within its pages transcended our meager existence. It was the key to the cosmos and the ancients that resided beyond our mortal realm. Upon finishing the tome, I went into isolation so that I might meditate and come to better understand that which I had discovered.
I sat in complete silence for what seemed like an eternity. Cut off from the outside world and left in complete and utter darkness. It was not forced upon me, it had been something that I had chosen to do. It was something I had to do. The rest of the brotherhood had found it strange but thought nothing more of it as we each had our own methods of contemplation and as such left me to my own devices.
When I removed myself from my isolation, I felt changed in ways I could not comprehend. Something had taken root within me, had stolen a part of me, and in exchange given me immeasurable power. I could feel its lightning coursing through my veins. I tried to control it, to harness it, and was surprised to find I was able to do so with ease. A spark danced from one finger to another, as I watched in euphoric bliss, indulging in the sweet nectar of accomplishment.
I paused in my jubilation, noticing that my brothers did not share my mirth but rather gazed at me with eyes filled with terror and disgust. I felt the heat of my anger bubble to the surface, why did they look upon me with such disdain, was I not the perfect student? The only one who had managed to control the power. All those before me had failed, succumb to those ancient beings we sought to touch beyond the veil of the very fabric of our reality.
It was my turn to watch in horror as my sworn brothers closed in on me, brandishing the crude ceremonial blades of our order. Did they mean to strike me down, cut me open, examine me? The thought outraged me. I sent my hands skyward as if beseeching the omnipotent to come to my aid. It started with a rush, a breaking of a seal deep inside the essence of my being. An unfettering from that which anchored my soul. I allowed my mind to be swept along with the current, going where it wished me to go.
I brought my hands down and held them out, warning my brothers to come no closer. They did not heed my call. My hand was forced. I struck out with all that I could muster, becoming a true vessel for the power that flowed through me. I watched as my brothers fell to the floor one by one. Their bodies withered and leeched of life like the dead husks of insects. Red tendrils of blood crossed the empty space between me and those that still drew breath, like a spider’s webbing, converging on my open palms.
And then I was alone, surrounded by corpses. I felt a shifting in my mind, an alien thought that was not my own. It cooed and caressed my psyche, saying that I was the one it had been waiting for, all that was left to do was to give myself over to it unconditionally.
I did not hesitate.