Disclaimer: Nemeses owns Dreamscape, not me!
Author's notes: I often felt that Joachim was, at his core, a very sad man. It was sort of confirmed in one of the Another Nights, where he sits on top of a cliff and thinks about the past, sobbing. It often seemed that his choices came from a place of great sorrow, that he loathed everything, especially himself.
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Another Night: I Regret Everything
Flynn, Arlene, Mr. Kinderfresser, Baalberith, Adramelech, and Damballa were with Eerzuchtig, teaching her how to use various extra powers- shadow manipulation, Blood Sorcery, and imbuing a weapon with your own Lifeforce to make it a true partner.
Arlene had been the one to ask it. "What's it like to have the Big Guy for a father?"
"Most of the time, it's about like he is with you guys," Eerzuchtig had responded. She was having a lot of trouble raising the energy to control shadows, and took the implicit offer of a short break.
"'Most of the time' implies that there are some times when he's different," Baalberith spoke in a voice like squealing metal.
"Yeah, he's got a point, Big Tits," Flynn said, as laid back and crass as ever even with the apprentice of his Lord, who was already a far stronger Midian than the other six together. "You know a side of the Dark Lord that no one else has ever seen."
"Come on, one story would be enough," Damballa said with a voice like shifting sand.
"What's in it for me?" Eerzuchtig asked. The others had to think about it for a moment.
"A 10% discount at my store?" Arlene asked.
"I'll stop pointing out that your boobs are the size of beach balls," Flynn offered.
"Quit 'accidentally' groping me and it's a deal," Eerzuchtig said.
"Aw, do I get one more time?" Flynn asked. Eerzuchtig sighed and nodded. Flynn passionately, but tenderly fondled and squeezed her right breast and rubbed her butt. He went on for a long time, but eventually stopped.
"Okay, it's out of my system," Flynn said.
"There are rapists with more restraint than you, Nachtmerrie," Eerzuchtig said, and told the others one of the stories about her and her Master.
It started with an innocent question. The Dark Lord Joachim, Master of Eerzuchtig. The mightiest Vampire in existence. And yet, in those rare moments when he let his guard down with Eerzuchtig, he seemed so very sad, moreso than Eerie would have ever thought possible. She didn't want to just ask him about it. Joachim could hear her thoughts as easily and clearly as if Eerzuchtig was shouting them. If he had wanted to answer them, he would have.
So, Eerzuchtig, already a crafty Apprentice, thought of a question that would probably be able to fish for the information she wanted to know, while still giving her Master a way to avoid the real question with any degree of cleverness he wished to employ.
"What do you regret, Master?" she asked. The Dark Lord's answer, though spoken softly, was somber, and stunned Eerzuchtig.
"I regret everything." His expression became inscrutable, and Eerzuchtig deduced he was thinking about the past.
"What do you mean?" Eerzuchtig finally asked.
"My Apprentice," Joachim said softly, "I have been alive for nearly 3,000 years, and I have enjoyed, in all that time, perhaps as many as eleven or twelve that were happy, all told."
"But you're the greatest being in existence," Eerzuchtig said stubbornly. "Couldn't you just change things until you made yourself happy?"
"I tried it many times," Joachim admitted. "And each time I did so, I failed, often making things far worse than they had been before I made the attempt."
Eerzuchtig's thoughts raced at the speeds only a Vampire's mind could move at. What did Joachim think about? Was this why humans perceived his vision as being so ugly and monstrous? Had Joachim learned to harness self-loathing as a tool as well? Was that really the key to being so powerful?
And why hadn't Joachim's abilities, his strength, his overwhelming indestructibility, allowed him to reach the things he wanted?
All these thoughts occurred to and were processed by Eerzuchtig in less than one-one hundredth of a second. Naturally, Joachim was able to keep up as well.
"I have come to the idea that power gained through death and harm is not a path to joy, but a responsibility to bear," he said.
"Will I be like that too?" Eerzuchtig asked timidly.
"Maybe," Joachim said, unmoving. "Your life is yours to live, Eerzuchtig. If you want it, you could turn out exactly like me, my continuation rather than my successor. There was once a time, with my former apprentice, when that was what I sought…" He trailed off, but his eyes were haunted if you knew what to look for.
"You had an apprentice before me? What happened?" she asked.
Well, at the time, I thought I had lost him in Germany, but in retrospect, I realize that I lost him long before that. I lost him in Millennium City, when I let him think that a stupid plan to open an interworld gate meant more to me than he did. I hope you will never know for yourself how much I regret that mistake. It's enough that I'll never make it again. Eerzuchtig, every child must leave home, every apprentice must one day become a Master. But I want you to know, the door home is always open. You can always come back," Joachim said, hugging his apprentice, his daughter, tightly. "I love you very much, and I'm very proud of you, Eerzuchtig."
At a loss for words to express her feelings, her awe at such a rare moment with the Vampire who had become so much to her, Eerzuchtig could only hug him back and whisper, "I love you, Dad."