Eclipse of Time
Immortality was loneliness, pure and simple. To live as an immortal meant watching untold family, friends and lovers age and pass on while you remained as unchanged as the flow of time. It meant watching places you once called home turn to dust and countries you serve or rule crumble into nothing more than ruins and memory.
It was a bitter truth, and the maelstrom of emotions that came with it was a sensation the eternal queen of Numara knew all to well. It was this truth that had forced Kaim Argonar to wander the land as little more than a specter of humanity, always there but simultaneously distant. It was this truth that led Seth Balmore to roam the seas as a pirate, desperately searching for any stimulation to block out the nagging reality that everybody she knew would vanish as if they had never even existed. It was this truth that drove the serene Sarah Sisulart into the depths of self-destructive despair following the apparent death of her very first child and husband. It was this truth that twisted the once honorable and analytical minded Gongora, into a crazed monster. And it was this truth, with all the knowledge and sensation that accompanied it that compelled Ming Numara to keep the recordings close to her.
They were humble things, tiny rose colored crystals that glowed dimly when they were inserted into the antique audio machine she kept in her private quarters. Recorded almost two centuries ago, they were one of the very few links she had to her long deceased husband, Jansen Friedh. Ming kept these records secret, she told herself, because she didn't wish to concern her subjects with any personal melancholy. But, if she was truthful to herself, she knew it was simply her desperately clinging to some remnant of her love.
The recordings had been made just prior and during the journey to stop their former compatriot Gongora, all from Jansen's point of view and in his spare time. They were not eloquent, as the man who recorded them was not. However they were honest, and painted a familiar picture of the man who created them, and it was this picture Ming found so difficult to let go of. Other than these battered old things, all Ming had were her memories and several royal paintings of those days dispersed in the palace and her quarters.
It was one of those paintings, placed just above the wilting relic which played the crystals that Ming was currently gazing at. The image of her, and her family gave the queen a simultaneous dose of nostalgia and old grief. It showed the newly minted 'king' standing next to his wife, looking uncomfortable and desperately trying to hide it. Ming sat in a chair, looking far courtlier than her husband, but nevertheless, happy as she cradled their first child. It brought a small smile to her face.
Jansen had never truly been comfortable under the scrutiny of palace life, even in his later days. While he never actually made any ruling decisions, something he always felt was more in Ming's territory, he remained the 'king' in title and that alone garnered a great deal of attention from the citizens of Numara. She had once tried to teach him about such things, she still couldn't fathom why, and he had chuckled and waved it off. "Ming, honey," he said, "I can barely lead the kids around, and even then I have to bribe them. Besides, I don't think we'd have enough cookies to bribe the whole country."
Shaking herself out of her thoughts, Ming sat in the comfortable old chair in front of the crystal player. The chair's color had long since faded from vibrant red to a dark garnet and it was adorned with hundreds of minor repairs. Still, it was a wonderful piece of familiarity and she treasured the feeling it gave her. Ming imagined that the feeling was similar to the sensation a family heirloom would give, though she couldn't know for sure. She had no parents here and would never truly know the emotion of having something that her family had kept for generations.
A dark colored wooden case was propped next to the machine and she opened it with gentle care. Inside were some two dozen tiny rose crystals, each with a different entry made by her husband. Briefly, she surveyed them, deciding which she would most like to listen too. After a moment of concentration, she plucked the first crystal on the top left corner of the case from its resting place and slid it into the machine. It felt only correct to start from the beginning. The familiar glow of Magic Energy crackled round the device, and Ming leaned back in her chair as a familiar, long lost voice began to echo through the room once more.
"Uh, yeah. My name is Jansen Friedh, and this is….I'm not really sure what this is. A diary? Nah, that sounds a little girly and I need to keep my man card. Ah, a memoir? Well, that sounds better but aren't those things for people about to, like, die? You know, old people who just want to write down everything they spent years covering up? Well, that's not me, cause I'm not dying. Well, yeah eventually I will but that's not what I meant. Aha! A chronicle! Yeah, that sounds good. The Chronicle of Jansen Friedh!
Ok, maybe that's a little over-the-top but, hey, who else is going to be listening to this? Actually, hell, will I even be listening to this? Agh, never mind, I'm thinking too much. Anyway, my name is Jansen Friedh. I'm, well, I'm kind of a wanderer. I just travel around and do odd jobs for people then coast on off to the next place.
God that sounds sorta pathetic when I actually say it. But it's a fun way to pass the time if nothing else. Well, when I'm not really hungry or can't find a decent bed. Alright, alright, it's a pretty crappy way to live actually, but hey, it's what I've been doing for years now and I don't see any real reason to stop. I'm just not the kind of guy who settles down with a comfy, regular job ya know? Besides, what would I do; magic tricks? No sir, that only pays in charity, and I don't want charity. I mean, yeah I like free stuff and all but damn, I just can't handle all the pity.
I'm getting off topic aren't I? Actually, did I even have a topic? Well, never mind, I have one now. It's been sort of a rough few months for me. Who am I kidding, it's been a really rough few months. That Uhra-Khent war has been making it hard to find a decent job around my old stomping grounds so I decided I should try my luck at Uhra itself. I mean, war going on, gotta be something a capable, talented, handsome guy like myself can do. Maybe I can keep the soldier wives company.
Honestly, things haven't been looking too hopeful on the way there either. I did a few random jobs, mostly dropping off messages or helping out around inns, the classic kinda stuff, but money is still pretty tight. The whole rumor about Ghotza being behind Khent going against Uhra hasn't exactly done good things for folks like me. Not that I'm a spy or anything, don't think I really have the formal stuff or weird gadgets for that, but almost everybody I meet in these towns are on edge. Paranoia isn't exactly a wanderer's best friend, well when it's being pointed at him at least.
So, that's the gist of things, I guess. And, ah, here's hoping for better things ahead.
Man….why do I get the feeling I just jinxed myself?"
Somewhere during the playback, the immortal queen of Numara had dozed off in her chair. Though, she had done so with a tiny, contented smile adorning her lips. True, it might not have been healthy the cling to something that would eventually disappear, but while these recordings still existed, she would always listen.
In some way, it kept him close. Even when that feeling passed, as all feelings did, they would give her some comfort, and for that brief time, the ever present loneliness would ebb. And for an immortal, even a slight reprieve from loneliness was precious.
AN: Funny thing about this, it started out as a humor piece. Even I have no idea how this happened. Oh well, R&R please.