That Person Who Said Age Is Just A Number Had No Idea How High That Number Had The Capacity To Rise

Far away from where Madame Victoria sat with the newly discovered godling Bertran in the sweetest and brightest parts of Montreal, there was an empty studio apartment in Old Prague a young lady sat and contemplated the infinite.

It was a past time she was very well versed in. She didn’t particularly care about the infinite, but a woman in her position was forced to look at the vastness of the picture instead of where the ink dribbled over the corner of the canvas. She had been sitting here, every night, doing this same thing for longer than she would like to admit. A little dinner, a few carefully smoked clove-stuffed cigarettes, maybe catch a movie or go dancing and then back here to this ridiculously overpriced shit hole apartment that was a magnet for her and she would sit until sleep, thinking of why the everything was the way it was.

Her mind drifted backward this evening, think back to when old One-Eye had given the “privilege” township to what would soon become the nearly mythical city of Prague. She had been old even then, remembering Sumer and the nights of chaos that had been the ending of it. No, tonight she thought about when the town was formed and how she was so very proud of it, and herself, because she had done a good thing for the first time in so very long. She had been in this very room, well the room that had been in the building that had been here then. The original one was hundreds of feet below her now. Progress they called it. She would be there again soon, a girl needed to sleep after all.

First, though, she would allow the embrace of memory to take her back to that which was……

—-

She was Charlotte then, or rather Karolina if you wanted to follow the Czech of the time. She had quite literally stumbled upon the city by mistake, having had no intention of being in a heavily peopled area again after the last time. However, like all things, temptation was there and she could hear the music, smell the food, feel the vibrancy of life pounding through the world and she could not help herself and settled down here, ostensibly a widow from the East, her husband having met an unfortunate fate in one of the dozen wars that were going on at the time.

She was wealthier than all of these young people. She had saved over the centuries and knew how to liquefy wealth in a hurry. Karolina had picked the best of what was available. Made sure to have a multitude of servants. She never could stand menial labor. As hard as it was, she was old enough to deny herself the instant gratification of the flesh. Sadly making the trek to the surrounding wilderness each night to find her sustenance…

—-

An explosive sound shook her from her revelry. From where it came from she knew it could only be the damnable Council. Calling all of them to the Temple to meet again.

She who was Karolina and was now Kalypso grabbed the corpse of the young lady. She had brought her home for dinner. A tasty young thing who had been looking for a hostel. Kalypso made sure to dispose of her in the incinerator. Then with a heavy heart and anticipating a long evening, Kalypso made her way to the Temple. All of this so she could listen to infants. Those who did not know what it meant to be of the Darkness. They had the audacity to tell her that she was too dark for their plans.

Children…

Forever Is Not So Long A Time If You Spend It With One Who You Desire Eternity With.

Bertran fell to his knees as he felt the wondrous heat wrap about him as his markings illuminated the room with Victoria’s. He threw his head backward, his eyes seeking and immediately finding hers and knowing that she was the answer, the answer to so many questions he had not even knew existed before this very second. He knew that she was the key to the door he had been bashing his face into for longer than he could even remember anymore. His voice was thick with emotion as he spoke to Victoria, her eyes moist with tears as she looked down at him.

“Goddess, I ask you, nay I beg you, please tell me what I am, why I am this.” He had said it, he had been waiting to ask that question his entire life. He had asked it before of course, just never to anyone that was not a charlatan, a snake-oil salesman, an ally of darkness and the demonic.

Victoria reached down with both hands and lifted him to his feet, slowly guiding him to divan where she sat him down, sending calm into him so that he would take this moment in for the immense thing that it was and not panic through it. Her voice was wistful, almost smiling as she began to speak, the words making the room, all there was to see was grass on a plain that extended beyond sight in all directions.

“I was born, aye. I was born to parents and had siblings by the dozen. The Fae were a population that outnumbered modern man five thousand to one. Hundreds of billions of us on a planet that has not existed in thousands and thousands of years. The Fae count time differently than mortal man, immortals do not need to keep such precise measurements. In the counting of the years of man however, I am hundreds of thousands of years old. I will live a hundred thousand times that and more beyond. Immortality is true. It is not the tale the Irish have told, not the Darkness that feeds on the essence, but it exists. It is a burden to some, a gift to others and, to you my lovely Bertran, it is a curse. Your mother was cursed by one who had a deep knowledge of things old and powerful.” She leaned forward and Bertran softly on the forehead, making him calmer and yet keeping him focused on her words as she wove the truth he had so long wanted and needed to hear.

“You will never die. You will never be killed. You are one of perhaps twenty that walk the world forever that is not Fae or Darkness. You have never met the others because you actively avoid one another, as magnets do not touch one another. You have so much pain, so much sorrow from so long, it is a wave most cannot accept when they hear the truth, of which nearly none do. You will walk this world after it kills itself either by war or Siobhan returns to claim it as her own once more.” Victoria’s voice got much more serious as she spoke the next part, delicately as to not drive him from her.

“You have power, Bertran. You do not know how to use it and I humbly ask you to allow me to teach you to use it lest darker things find you and make you slave for them for all of time, feeding appetites you truly do not want to imagine. Stay with me here, in Montreal, and I will tell you everything you want to know, I will teach you all you desire to learn and, I will give you other things that one like yourself has abstained from.” Her voice took on a husky tone as she dropped the final line, his head snapping to hers in understanding. Immortals could not breed, they had no children, but they still desired the pleasures of the flesh as much as any other creature Siobhan created.

Bertran took a deep breath and nodded, he did not trust himself to use words to tell this Goddess that she had just given him more than he ever dared to have hoped for.

Truth and Love Are Oft Close Friends, But Not Until We Add The Sameness Of The Spirit Do We Find The Blossoming Of The Soulmate Emerge Into The World.

Victoria, a wonderful name that had served her for more years than she would care to admit. She would, in moments of humor, admit to stealing it from the Queen, she had loved the way it rolled off of her tongue the first time she had said it aloud and decided to simply become Victoria, and she had been doing that ever since. In time another name would take hold of her mind and she would become the person that name required her to be. Victoria lent itself to pomp, circumstance, elegance and wealth. All of those things were pleasant so the transition was an easy and quick one. Buying some properties here, having a fleet of horses there. It had bee decades before she had to use a little glamour to make people come back to the path she wanted them to walk on because it was a simpler time. There was no Internet and Television, hell radio wasn’t even a thing yet. So when she claimed her wealth and showed it, she was respected on that alone. It is when the communication became so blasted easy that she had had to modify a few things.

The knock upon her dressing room door made her shake herself from her cobwebbed mind and she made sure she used her voice to maximum effect as she answered the knock. “But a moment lovelies, I am putting my face back on, can’t let a Goddess be seen without her makeup now can we?” She waited for and smiled at the laughter she had expected and quickly moved her hands over her body and her clothes shifted into what she needed. No longer on stage, the regal bearing had to go, she needed intimate, approachable, so it was simple cloths, muted colors, showing off the marks just so that they would understand what she was and where she came from, to a point.

Standing, she walked to the door and prepared her best smile as she pulled it open. Before her was quite a dapper man, mid-fifties she suspected. His smile as real as any she had seen in some time and she looked over to Lou, who gave her a subtle nod and she opened the door wider and the man walked through the door.

Now is when the reasons these people came to see her would become crystal clear.

The man had sat down, his hands politely in his lap without showing nerves. His eyes followed her but not with the puppy dog-like adoration she sometimes saw in the men, and women, who came back to see her after the show. No, he wasn’t here to try and play Fuck the Fae, there was a deeper purpose to it and seeing as she knew precisely how much Lou charged people to even knock on the door, whatever he was here for was very important to him indeed.

—–

He looked up at the woman as she closed the door without noise and made her way to the very comfortable divan in the corner of the room. She looked at him with eyes that expected absolutely nothing. No rush or worry, nothing except patience he had never seen in anyone before. he had a feeling she could recline on that divan for years without moving a muscle and not be irritated with him at all if she so chooses. Sadly, the man had a limited amount of time to be here, so he took a chance and decided to get right to the point.

“Madame Victoria, I know that you must have a great many people come into your room and ask you for favors ranging from the rudimentary mundane to things laced with that which is phantasmagorical in all of its essences. I am here to ask of you a boon, yes, but I hope that you will hear me out before you decline.” His eyes looked to hers to see what her reaction thus far.

She smiled softly to him and sat up, her fingers steeples in her lap as she spoke. Her voice was not as honeyed as it had been on stage, but, of course, it wouldn’t be now, would it?

“Firstly, I haven’t heard someone utter the word phantasmagorical in over a hundred years. It is a word that has sadly fallen out of favor in the day and age of the text message and the acronyms for virtually everything. Secondly, I give you my word on the Darkness that Consumes that I will listen to your request and give it every bit of my attention before I judge it as a deed I am willing to do.”

He swallowed as he heard Victoria speak the oath on the Darkness. He was not an expert in such things, but he knew it was not words that her kind used lightly, the consequences of being an oathbreaker were dire if the memory served. Even he had heard of the Wild Hunt and their eternal mission to bring oathbreakers to justice who had sworn such an oath.

“For your pledge to even hear my plea I will gladly give you everything in my name.” He straightened his back as he sat as his mother had taught him so very long ago. “My name is Bertran, I was born in the year of our Lord eleven hundred thirty and five in the cathedral at Carlisle in Cumbria. My dear mother was an indigent who felt shame at having a son out of wedlock, her beau having left her after they had consummated their relationship, his promise of marriage a lie, and she was an outcast. her family disowned her and only the church would allow her sanctuary to give birth to me. We lived there until I came of age, helping in the maintenance of the church, my mother taking her vows when I left to seek my own life.” he stopped speaking and noticed that Madame Victoria looked at him with piercing eyes, seeking anything she could from him. She spoke, her voice not hiding the emotion welling up in her throat.

“You speak to truth to me Bertran of Carlisle. You are not of any Fae line, nor are you of the darkness that makes the immortal promise to the weak, tell me now why you have lived nearly nine centuries as a man of flesh and blood and no magic and have not died. Tell me this now and swear upon the Darkness your words will be true or I shall deliver to you the Hunt myself.” Her words sounded bloodied even to her own ears, but she needed to know how this man existed. She felt not afraid of him, to be with someone even a thousandth of her own age made her feel youth she had not felt since the glaciers still shaped the world.

Victoria swallowed hard, her eyes welling with tears as she read the man’s story in the same writing that adorned her body She learned everything he was at that moment. The magic of the writing told her more than simply words. She composed herself, dabbing at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.

“Forgive my emotion, I thought all of them had died long before you were born. No, you are of them, you are the descendants of those that gave me the godhead. So, as the Goddess you did not know your whole life, I swear on the Dark Goddess herself, may her wrath upon me be eternal if I break my oath, that I will do anything you ask of me if it is in my power to do.” She stood and quickly made her way to him and kissed him softly on the forehead. As she did the lines, on her and him glowed as the sun as like recognized like.

The Help – The Assemblage – Midas Begins

Some things in life just needed to be taken a single step at a time. Redesigning one’s life was definitely on the very top of that particular list. Everything had to be taken care of with exquisite care not to ruin all that had been built over so long.

That is what Edward felt now.

It had taken months to make sure that all of the staff were trained to the peak of their performance to make sure Madame and Monsieur’s needs were met with the exactness that they had come to expect over the decades of service of Edward and his family. While he could not leave his son in charge per Assemblage rules, he was allowed to leave his wife in charge as she was not of the bloodline. Edward had cried sweet tears over this as he had known the young lady, Delilah, her entire life and could absolutely trust her in all things. She was already privy to the secrets of the Family and the Estate, so that hurdle did not even need to be thought of, never mind overcome. Edward had taken her aside a few hours each day and made sure that she had memorized, never written down, all of the codes that she would need to be of service to the Family. Each time she assured him that all was well and each time she proved that statement correct with a perfect memory of all that which she needed to know.

In light of Edward’s elevation and the newness of it, his son was going to be granted a one-year extension to stay with his wife and to make sure that when he left, not divorcing her of course, that all would be well. They could never live together at the Estate again, but there was a house in the nearby village that had been purchased and would serve as the residence for them until such time as Edward Jr. took over his fathers affairs.

The longest part of this entire ordeal was finding somewhere to establish himself. There were rules and territories and forbidden areas and so many things that Edward had no idea about before rising as he did. In the end, much to his great satisfaction, he elected to take the cave where the vast wealth was found to be his new base of operations and residence. Further expeditions of the site had not only found more of the incalculable wealth but miles and miles of caves that were enormous and could be easily retrofit to what Edward would want, whatever that desire may be.

However, before anything could begin, a decision needed to be made about what to do about the parties that had been marked for elimination. As their names had been marked for death the very night Edward had taken his position, it had been decided among those present to make sure that there was time to make sure all affairs were handled before their eliminations began, and thus they were not only not eliminated, they were permanently kept in the dark about the fate of the Cossack and the creation of Midas. It was unsure at first if any of them would be suspicious, however after having been fed a story regarding a death in the Cossack’s family and the meeting abandoned, for the time being, they all went back home with a little groaning and moaning, but none the wiser as to what happened. They had maintained their communications as they always had and espionage efforts had successfully shown there was not a build-up of forces or hoarding of resources occurring.

Time would be the teller of that tale.

The Help – The Assemblage – The Choice – Finale

Reaching the top of the stairs in the Northern Hallway, Edward checked that his appearance was impeccable as he could make it and flicked an invisible mote of dust from his jacket and walked down the hallway. Pictures lined the walls, hundreds of them. All members of the Assemblage throughout history as far back as records went. Photos were replaced by daguerreotypes which in turn were replaced by paintings by masters of the time, and as he reached the third door at the end of the massive hallway, he saw the earliest depiction of the Assemblage together instead of corresponding by ship which could take months, even years, at a time. A wood-cut from old feudal Japan roughly the 14th century. There were 11 of them in it. Strangely similar to the people he knew were in the room before immediately behind where he stood. On a whim, he dipped his head and whispered a Buddhist proverb. “Bonbu mo satoréba hotoké nari.” Knowing he had done all he could do to prepare himself for his Fate, he turned and opened the door to the room.

—–

Monsieur and Madame were seated behind the wet bar just past the entrance and Edward stopped as he saw them and nodded low to them both as was his custom. Monsieur stood up and, after kissing his wife’s hand, walked around the front of the bar and extended his hand to Edward, who reflexively took the man he saw as a near brother in so many ways and listened as Monsieur walked slowly with him to the center of the room. “This part will be the worst of it, being shown off as a prize cattle at the county fair. I apologize for it. However, traditions are what they are, and I know you understand that more than most do.”

Monsieur led him to the middle of the room and bade him stand still as the others of the Assemblage stood in a rough circle about him, including Madame who had come and taken her place next to Monsieur directly in front of Edward. It was she that broke the silence with formality in her voice and more emotion than what she was known to show those outside of a tiny circle of people.

“Edward, for a dozen generations, more even, your family have served this family with absolute perfection. Not one error in hundreds of years, not a single flaw in character or deed performed by those that you choose to serve. You are both Family and more as you have saved, directly or indirectly, every single person in this room something vital tot hem. A loved one, a life, even the honor that each one of us holds in a secret place s that none may see our shame if it is lost.” Her eyes drifted to the people in the room, and each one of them nodded, all of them with some deep and genuine emotion on their faces as they did. “Tonight, unbeknownst to you until this very moment, you had carried out the endgame of a plan created before anyone in this room was born. The monster of the Cossack and all he is has been removed from the world. All his businesses destroyed, his lieutenants assassinated, everything in his world of darkness burnt and salted in a way that will assure it will never be able to creep its way through the cracks of the world and return as a weed does.”

She went to the front of the room and brought out the hundreds of pictures Edward had left at the bar and simply handed them over by the handful to the people she walked by. Her voice took on a tone of enormous pride as she continued, her pace never faltering at all.

“There is no way to calculate in total what the wealth you uncovered tonight is without years of study, but the first guess approximation brings the wealth in that room, purely in the value of the metal itself and not the historical and cultural wealth, in the trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars Edward. You have, in a moment, given a person in this room or outside of it the power to crush every economy, every market, every shop, and store and bring the world to chaos. You have done a service incalculable to us all and, in light of that and the decision you made, you are in a unique position.”

Stopping in front of the Sensei, she took a long saber from him. Magyar it appeared, the 12th century at the latest and yet in pristine condition. She turned with it balanced on outstretched arms and in a move that Edward had to restrain himself from weeping over, took a knee in front of him and offered the word to him as Monsieur spoke behind him, his voice deep and sonorous, his emotions no longer being held.

“The Cossack is dead and crushed, Midas has risen in his midst, and he is now and forever shall be a part of this Assemblage. He is to be given nothing the Cossack had for it is polluted and vile and will instead, with the help of us all, discover what it is in the world he desires to do and then do it in the way his family has been doing things for mine since before the Americas were discovered.” Monsieur swallowed the lump in his throat and began again. “Edward, when you take this sword offered, you are accepting responsibility for the safety of the world entire. You are accepting the responsibility for billions of lives, and you are accepting that these people beside you will be there for you when you need them and you will answer the call when they are in need. There is no retirement, there is no quitting. You will do this until you die or are removed as the Cossack was. Your son and his grandson’s grandson shall have this title and position. Take the sword and join in this honorable Assemblage or, if you are not a man of your word, you will have a single chance to leave this place and make yourself disappear into the world.”

Without a moment of delay, Edward reached forward and took the saber with one hand and offered his hand to Madame with the other. Seeing that he was expected to say things, Edward gave the carefully prepared remarks he had obsessed over since the decision had been made.

“I will, in honor and truth, do what must be done to preserve the way that things have been, the ways things are, and the way things must inevitably turn to. My Family, Midas as you name us, will take this and we will rise to the challenge and make sure that all of the world is a better place as all of you have done for all of these countless years. I will pay for all that cannot be paid for, shelter those who cannot be sheltered. From secrecy, from the shadows. Assemblage I tell you now that I will do this or I will kill myself and mine long before you have a chance to question the loyalty or the willingness of this office I with this assume.”

He bowed low and closed his eyes as the applause broke around him and took a deep breath.

So it begins.