On the Whispering Way (a fragment of a book of shadows) by Israel Reyes

The young teen flipped through the pages of the leather-bound tome. Despite its age, the book was still in remarkable condition… almost like a grimoire. “So you’re a necromancer dad, no wonder you keep to yourself like you do” the girl said to herself as she ran fingers through her short, raven tresses. Her big, emerald eyes of elven half-blood went through the paragraphs in spite of the most insufficient light she used to read, skipping pages at random, stopping on paragraphs that called her:

***

Almost every scholar of the black arts is familiar to some degree with The Whispering Way, a philosophy which seeks perfection in stasis, and claims the world must die in order for it to forever live. That, at least, is the assumed philosophical justification for the actual whispering way, necromancy’s most prized secret, the immortality formula.

I won’t claim to have in my possession the complete secret, but my travels from Avistan to Osirion have taught me enough. While I already have the base algorithm in my possession, the algorithm is not in itself the formula. The algorithm only works once formatted to the necromancer’s True Name, and even then, the True Name as-is may not be enough.

***

While she had never seen her father cast a single spell, she had long suspected he was a wizard, the look in his eyes, the unnatural calm with which he carries himself and, more importantly, the way others look at him. The spark of fear in their eyes, however, often made her wonder what kind of man he was, for not even wizards are often looked at that way.

“Does mother know this side of you?” she thought as she kept reading. The small, worn desk rather close to the cabinets that lined up most of the small room’s walls and contained all sorts of strange implements: bone saws, scalpels, forceps, and other implements that temple healers use to aid the wounded rested behind glass panes with a cold, almost eerie atmosphere. Jars of formaldehyde solution housed tissue samples of things that should not be, things that were once human. Flasks, lighters, and other implements required for alchemy having a place in a long table at the center of the room; a test-tube rack half full with samples, vile fluids and foul-smelling ichors in test-tubes, labeled and tightly sealed with cork.

***

On True Names:

Along with Conjurers, Necromancers are particularly aware of the full power of True Names. Every sentient being in creation has a numeric name, which tells his essence apart from that of everyone else. By incorporating these numeric names in a formula, a wizard can gain direct access to a being’s very core and affect him in a number of ways, this is why scholars who do research on their True Names guard them so zealously.

A mortal’s True Name is prone to change with every important choice he makes and the things he experiences, and for keeping track of how a True Name changes I found my tool of choice in osirian numerology, particularly the works of the Ascension Pharaoh of Numbers.

For the immortality formula to work, the necromancer must perfect his True Name, a process that is translated in a journey of self-discovery as per the notes of the failed lich, Vorel Foxglove. This journey can last from years to several decades and only ends when the necromancer finally knows his place in the world. By incorporating the numeric translation of his journey, the necromancer can finally disavow his place in the great scheme of things.

***

“So this is why you travel so much… what kind of places have you seen? How many more secrets do you keep?” There was something more about her father’s eyes, something that intrigued her as it mirrored her own soul, and it was the sensation he, just like herself, didn’t quite belong, not here, perhaps not anywhere. Her curiosity only grew with time, and eventually she made it a purpose of finding out what was the mystery her father hides from her. It took perseverance, but eventually she managed to follow him to the secret entrance to his lab, the place where she, taking advantage of her father’s absence, was now reading his book of shadows, his journal as a mage:

***

On Immortals and Creation:

Being the most widely spread version of the formula, most necromancers that search for its basis come across Tar Baphon’s version, which states that only by severing his ties to creation can the necromancer break the cycle, attaining immortality. Matter is recycled by the world while spirit is an ever-flowing stream that keeps going from the positive plane of existence to the great beyond; nothing ever remains static, and that is the reason why an immortal is anathema to all of creation and a challenge to the gods themselves. What is wizardry, however, if not defiance? By walking the path of self-empowerment, a wizard steps above his own destiny by tampering with the formulas that dictate the way creation works, every magic spell allows the wizard to impose his will on the world itself, if only briefly. Tar Baphon’s school of the whispering way sees the transition to immortality as taking the path of the wizard to its logical conclusion, becoming your own god, the ultimate act of defiance.

***

“You’re so going to hell… or are you?”

***

My journey, however, has taken me in directions I never expected. I got married, my twin daughters were born today, and now I can see how angry I used to be at the world and the gods. My True Name has changed in ways I’m still trying to figure out, but my life’s work is still the formula, it’s my journey, and regardless of what I do with my formula once I come to perfect it, I plan on finishing my research. I respect my wife’s deity, and I pay her homage, but I know I’ll never truly worship her, not in the way my wife does, which might as well become my reason for eventually drinking the potion and binding myself to the phylactery; I’m aware that otherwise, there’ll be no afterlife for us once death do us part. As a lich, however, there’ll be no death, and I’ll be free to go anywhere, even to her eventual home in the great beyond if I wish.

Irik Belial Fenix.

***

Was she confronting her father about this? Was she even angry? She herself didn’t know. What she felt now, however, was a growing curiosity regarding the secrets contained within every book, every vial, and every arcane implement surrounding her in this room. The young lady’s hand closed the book as her eyes slowly turned to the bookshelf not far from her…