Blood of Rome
Could it be so simple?
My readings continue and, for the most part, they lead in circles. The tales that our elders tell of our origins contradict one another and fall apart under my scrutiny.
A more paranoid mind might think, perhaps, that there is something in that, too. Some vast conspiracy of silence and meaningless noise, designed to keep the newly created from the truth. Personally I doubt it, though. It is giving our elders far too much credit to believe that they could coordinate such a ruse –particularly if what I have observed of the effects of torpor holds as true for the elders as it does for the new.
So, what then are we to make of our origins? Why are we confined to the darkness? Why do we need blood to live? And why do our fear and rage overwhelm all reason? These are the questions to which I have devoted myself.
And now, perhaps, I have an answer – or at least a clue pointing towards that answer. In the more mystical writings of Pythagoras, he references the “will-workers” mentioned in texts he had seen from ancient Babylon (once again, a reference that I can not find and which may no longer exist – more and more I see the wisdom of Servius’ sire’s admonitions). Pythagoras notes that these men and women could reshape reality itself to match their beliefs. Not much of a hook to hang so large a supposition on but, even now, in the centre of the world’s greatest city, surrounded by beings of such age and power as to beggar belief, I hear my elders whisper of these will-workers or magi with something approaching awe.
So I ask myself – if reality itself will bend to the will of man what is there to differentiate man from god? Or man from spirit? Or man from us?
And so I return to my musings and ask: are we as we are simply because we believe it to be so?
It may see strange to hear a man of reason espousing such a view but, then, reason does not explain us. In my practice, I have seen men and women whose minds are broken such that they believe things that all sane men know are false. That does not mean, however, that these beliefs are not real. Their bodies shake with the fevers they do not have. They bleed from wounds that do not exist. The body is only ever the servant of the mind. Both placebo and nocebo are potent tools in the hands of the medicus.
The elders tell us that we are creatures of darkness. At worst parasites, living off what we can steal from the living. At best, we are a scourge to test the humans. Regardless, we are, despite our powers and longevity, lesser. We exist beneath the feet of the humans, creeping out at night to take what we can before fleeing once more, seeking the comforting darkness like insects exposed by an overturned log.
Believing ourselves impure, is it surprising that we would fear that which purifies – sunlight and fire? Believing ourselves to be beasts, is it surprising that we react like beasts with rage or fear? Believing ourselves to be parasites, is it surprising that we must feed upon the humans?
Many argue that this is simply our nature and spout creation myths to explain each weakness. As I have already stated, however, these myths contradict one another. Some tell that we have always been creatures of shadow and darkness but others tell of our kind seated as gods in the palace of Knossus. Some claim that we have been cursed by the actions of one man but others of our elders claim to predate this man’s birth.
So, I cast aside the problem of our origin and concentrate instead on the problem of our being. Regardless of where we have come from, we are here and our weakness are known to all. Of course, when treating a symptom, it is better to know its root cause but, when such things elude us, we can still, through reason, trial and error, treat the symptoms and thereby eliminate the disease.
These, then, are our symptoms: fire, sunlight, fear, rage and blood.
These are not, however, set in stone. They can be treated. I have followed and expanded upon the work of the one whose writings the Librarian has lent me and I now know this to be true. Our need for blood can be abated. I now need feed only once every three days to maintain myself. Other clues exist as well. The Legio train their soldiers to stand firm in the face of fire and maintain control of the beast that lurks within all of us. I have spoken to Obayana and heard his tales of this training and now attempt it myself. As I write, a candle burns before my eyes and I will not shy away from it.
A beast may fear fire, but I will not be a beast. I will not cower in the darkness and long for that which is lost to me. I will make the most of the life I have been allotted and do as I have always done – try to make life better for my fellows. In time, I hope to see the dawn once more.
I am resolved: the strength of my belief, with knowledge and persistence, will break these shackles, these coils cast around us.
Sp. Veius Medicus.