The Scrolls of Azzrak (Voxels Metaverse Lore 1st installment)
My name is Azzrak. It has been so long since I have seen my home that I have lost count of the years. It maybe hundreds, thousands of years, but I wouldn’t know. Why I have decided to stay alive and alone for so long is a long and complicated story. But I feel if I do not tell it, that I shall die before it is told. I have yet to make it back to Scarcity and I’m told I would barely recognize it anymore. I believe what I’ve heard, every word of it. It’s too wild and fantastical to be made up. They say the new name, Scarcity, is much more suitable than the old name, Abundance. Again, I know it is hard to believe. But I have some unbelievable tales of my own, so who am I to question the stories told by others.
Everyone is a stranger to me, it’s likely everyone I ever cared about is dead. It was a small list of gnomes, but I hope they lived full and happy lives. When I found the fountain my plan was to somehow bring it’s power to my loved ones. I quickly discovered that the water from the fountain melted any container I attempted to keep it within. I found the water would evaporate once brought outside of the cave I found the fountain inside of. And I had heard that once I found the fountain, if I left I would not be able to find it again. It is a mystery I have not felt is worth risking, the afterlife is a mystery I have felt is not worth finding out about, but I’ve become so desperately lonely. And all of my plans were foiled long long ago. My mentor who sent me on my quest is now long since dead, it is time to go home. But first I must record my story as I barely believe it myself and I may die before I can prove it to be true.
The fountain doesn’t make one death proof, just immortal. If someone were to murder me I would die like any average gnome. But natural causes will never remove me from this Earth and though suicide has always been an option, I’m not keen on it. Bringing immortality to gnomes is my task and is still my task and will forever be my task until it is fulfilled. I will fulfill my promise to Necro. I wonder if Necro is still alive or if immortality had somehow been discovered elsewhere. Maybe it was created instead of discovered. I was not the only gnome tasked to explore and there were others tasked to create. Maybe some sort of sorcery or alchemy had paid off by now, but if so, then why all of the strange tales from the occasional stranger. As long as I don’t reveal the entrance to the cave, it seems to me that the strangers are blind to it. It doesn’t seem to matter what sort of creature comes to visit, they never see the door. Not even when I failed on my efforts to keep it concealed, it was as if the door had a mind of its own. After all of this time, I still don’t fully understand the door, the cave or the fountain. In fact, I’d very accidentally found out the location of the fountain.
The former guardian of the fountain had inadvertently given away the secret of finding the door to the cave. Maybe it was on purpose, the former guardian of the fountain had seemed eager to leave it behind. The fountain was not a gift, it was a curse and I hadn’t even bothered to ask why the former guardian left me. I didn’t even ask for his name or for his purpose because I was so wrapped up in my own problems. If only I had truly known what eternity was back then, my problems likely wouldn’t have seemed so important. All I had been concentrated on at the time was my own glory and future fame. That desire for validation was my downfall.
None of that matters now, I’ve gained some perspective and I’m going home. I’m empty handed, but I have a mind full of many years of knowledge and experience. I can hear the fountain calling to me to stay and guard the location of it’s secret, but I’m done serving the fountain. I will now do what is best for myself. All manner of creature have searched for the fountain over the years and it will be found once again, someone else can heed the call, I’m going home.
In the time it took me to think these thoughts I have traveled quite far away from the fountain. I no longer hear it calling to me and am now quite certain I wouldn’t be able to locate it again. Never again will gnomes need wonder nor search for The Fountain of Youth. Good riddance.
What will they think when I arrive in Abundance? So much time has passed. I can’t stop thinking of the rumors of war and factions of gnomes. I can’t help but believe in them because the schism had begun before I left, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself back then. We had such wonderful machines and technology in abundance. It was a flying machine that brought me to the mountains, further than any gnome had ever traveled. That’s a record I never wanted to hold, but I guess I never really had a choice. It wasn’t just Necro… She was my mother.
I hadn’t thought of any of this beforehand, the most important of all being the only other immortal being I know of. Klava could easily be waiting for me. I have no idea how Klava will react to another immortal having come into existence. I could also be harboring knowledge that Klava hasn’t yet divulged to the other gnomes. Maybe I will simply be banished to the underworld and that will be that.
I guess there is no point in thinking of it as that won’t be an issue until I get back home. If I ever get back home… Nonetheless I will likely have to explain myself to Klava as it is likely the Druid will be the only one left who knows who I am. On the bright side, the air is becoming thicker. I must be climbing lower and the altitude level must be changing as I hike further down the mountainsides. I never had to climb these mountains, I flew, so I guess I’m only doing the easy part. But it has become dark and it’s getting hard to see. There are plenty of small caves for shelter and I can gather firewood for a small fire. It’s warmer now that I’m not so high up on the mountain.
I do not need to eat or drink, though these are still enjoyable acts to me. I simply won’t ever die of starvation, thirst or the symptoms thereof. But I can freeze to death, or at least that has been something I felt it was not necessary to test out. And even an immortal such as myself becomes tired after hiking all day even if I can’t technically die of exhaustion. Sleep still feels good and dreaming is one of my favorite pastimes.
I awoke with a start as well as with a feeling of disappointment. I had been having the most wonderful dream of the old days. The days before I left on my quest. Those days are always the best in my dreams, the reality was not all the amazing. I was never exactly well liked by the other gnomes. I wasn’t a social pariah, but I don’t possess the ability to exchange meaningless pleasantries and small talk. This made me socially awkward amongst the others and even among those of other species.
As I’ve grown older and wiser, I learned to mask my social awkwardness. But many still found my theories and my blunt honesty off putting. It seems to me that gnomes would rather listen to themselves talk than actually be heard by another gnome. Gnomes can be easily aggravated and I like to solve problems. The concept of venting has always been lost upon me, I understand that the expression of one’s feelings is important. But if there is a solution to feeling bad then why not try to feel good? When I point those types of things out to other gnomes it makes them not want to be around me. In fact, I know my father sent me away to find the Fountain in order to rid himself of a minor annoyance. But I also know that he sees me as competent enough to complete such a task. Anyway, I didn’t mind leaving.
I guess I must sound somewhat nostalgic to someone who doesn’t know me, but I’m not that sentimental. Sometimes I miss certain aspects of being young and sometimes I don’t think about it much at all. I find it much more interesting to dwell upon my theories. I have seen many things in my years and some of them are quite inexplicable. For instance, nobody I know of has flown as far or high as I have. And I swear I could see the end of the world in the distance sometimes. I know that there are many stories of the edge of our world and the creators of our world, but none can be sure. Death is a mystery and thus life is a mystery as well. A gnome is not born with an inherent sense of purpose, but I believe that all sentient life desires a reason for existing. I think it is a way to reassure oneself that one exists at all…
I know I exist, because I feel real and I have real experiences. But what makes my dreams any less real than my reality? My dreams of home are much more enjoyable than my reality, so then why couldn’t I simply rearrange the two in my mind? In my opinion, I have done this. I have changed my perception and so I am always disappointed to wake up from a good dream. In a sense, I die everyday even though I’m an immortal. It is these thoughts, coupled with the strange things I’ve seen in the sky and on my travels, that make me somewhat strange. I don’t need the same reassurances as the average gnome and so I forget to provide others with the assurance they need to emotionally survive in this world.
Whatever this world may be and whoever created it, I don’t think something so complex comes into existence by coincidence. Some gnomes are superstitious or religious, but I am something else. I’ve seen many beings with many purposes and they all fulfill their part in the larger circle of life. None of them sure of what they were doing or where they were going. The only gnome he had known to be certain about anything was Necro and Klava always seemed to have a vague notion of a higher state of being. At this point I have more in common with the Druid than I have in common with my own flesh and blood. Maybe I have had too much time alone to think about life and maybe I have lost my mind. But there is no way to be sure of anything until I make it home. I need to return to my roots, I need a reference point for my new found perspective on existence.
I’m enjoying the change of scenery. This is quite unexpected. I should be out of the mountains within a few days time. I like to avoid the beaten trail so as to avoid other travelers, but it is quite impossible to avoid every living thing in the world.
Fortunately for me, dealing with other gnomes is still a long ways off. I’m speaking in time and in distance, I’m still far from home and there is an entire ocean to cross. The coastal dwellers will likely be the first organized colonies I will encounter. I like to avoid the big cities, but smaller villages and colonies are ok. I could always see myself growing old and dying in a small village somewhere out of the way. I have experienced this peaceful death in my dreams even though in reality, I will have to be killed to die. I’m guaranteed a painful death, but I don’t want to live eternally.
Eternity is a hard concept to grasp and thus it is a hard concept to explain to non immortals. I’m not going to make an attempt, but I see time in a different way than the average gnome would see it. Because I experience time from a completely different disposition than the average gnome. Immortality, as I’ve said, is a gift and a curse. Klava said this and Necro did not agree, but I agree. But my father is blinded by love, ambition and bitterness. I am not my father, though his ambition seems to have rubbed off on me.
As I have said, I was treated with indifference for most of my life. I took up my quest partially out of duty to my parents, but also to further my own agenda. I am afraid of failure and it has taken me a very long time to face that fear. All I desire is to be remembered throughout history for the rest of time. But now…
Time has become irrelevant to me, all I have is time. I faced that fact long ago, but to come back home with and without the gift of immortality is true failure. I am immortal and yet I will likely never see the fountain again nor will I be able to share my immortality with Necro. I am going to be a walking failure, a constant reminder of how close I came to saving mother. But that’s also assuming there is anyone left at home. If the rumors are true, everyone I hope to remember me is likely dead.
I’m going to put it out of my mind until I make it to the coast. There is no point in dwelling upon all of the years of rumors, when truth is a few days away.
Allegedly the coastal cities and villages have long been overrun by outsiders, but it is hard to believe the stories. I think I may have met one of these outsiders in the mountains and I saw more of them from a distance. It was a male, just like me, the outsider. But he was not a gnome and had readily admitted to being from another dimension. I think he was a bit touched in the mind, but Klava sometimes seemed crazy too. This being was not of a species I’ve ever seen, but it definitely doesn’t mean it was from another dimension. A world within another world was hard even for an immortal to believe. A parallel universe maybe, there is some scientific evidence for such a thing, but a world within a world that could possibly even be within another world? That had to be the ramblings of the totally insane.
Gnomes have access to technology, magic and all kinds of tools, but to create a world within our own had never occurred to me. It was a thought nobody has ever expressed to me amongst my people either. It was absurd at the time and it is still an absurdity as I think of it today.
There was something more absurd too, I noticed that it seemed to think it was in possession of a vessel rather than living in it’s own body. It is hard for me to explain, but when I looked into it’s eyes there was a vacancy. And as I further studied it’s eyes, I saw what I thought was a second set of eyes watching me from a far off distance. I think I may have spent too many years alone with only my thoughts and the fountain and the echos of the cave. I do not feel as if I have lost my mind, but then again, I’ve never seen a crazy person who knew they were crazy. All of the gnomes in the mental health wards would tell you themselves that they are perfectly sane. Only to introduce you to their imaginary friend in the next sentence. I’ve always been eccentric, another few quirks couldn’t possibly hurt me could they?
I’m in the foothills now and will soon enter the forest. I’ve made camp under an outcropping of rocks on a hill that oversees the coast. I have yet to see any living things other than various plants and animals. Nothing dangerous and that is the way I would like to keep it, but as it is getting darker I’m seeing a lot more lights along the coast. It seems there has been a population boom in the coastal villages and I can no longer count on finding a quiet harbor. However the upside to being down out of the mountains and closer to the coast was the food. My menu has been mainly whatever I could forage in the mountains. Mainly berries and shrubs and small rodents. I have become very adept at trapping mountain mice.
I found that I could entice the mountain mice with some berries and a small encantation I learned from Klava. I am not well practiced in magic, but I know this spell particularly well now that I’ve used it so many times. It is akin to hypnotic sorcery, but much more mild and easy to control. Enough to guide a creature with such a small brain and therefore small will to the berries without noticing the deadfall trap. I hope that the encantations kept them hypnotized as the rock crushed them, but there is no way to know for sure. I’ve made mouse jerky, mouse stew, mouse kebabs and grilled mouse. I’ve cooked the mountain mice every which way a gnome knows how and I’m tired of the limited diet.
Today, however, I found a creek and the creek had a few different types of fish and shelled creatures like snails. Tonight I’m cooking snails and fish! I found some allspice growing now that I’m in a warmer climate and I still have some hazelnut butter I made in the mountains. I can smell the spices mixing with the sweet smell of the hazelnut butter and the bittersweet odor of grilled meat. It’s a lot better than the gamey smell of cooked mountain mice and berry paste. I have some small guppies that dried in the sun throughout the afternoon which I will season and bury under the coals of my cooking fire. That will make a good snack for my travels. Tonight however, I’m dining on rainbow trout, nice big ones too.
A fishing rod is much safer and easier to control than a magic spell. Fishing rods are simple to make and they last as long as you want or as long as one doesn’t catch a fish so big that it snaps the wood of the rod. That only happens in deeper waters though. I have plenty of cordage woven over years of boredom. There was no shortage of raw materials like sage bark to weave into cordage and thus all I had to do was break off a solid branch of a tree for my fishing pole. I’m sheltered, warm and full of good food now.
I will have a deep sleep tonight and thus I will have the best kinds of dreams. The dreams that are most similar to waking life are my favorite. I can control what happens in that world and seldomly make mistakes. I’m truly alive when in a deep slumber. Irony is not lost on the immortal…