Humble trees below brooding mountains and cloudstorm sky. Carapaced wagons, improbable biped insects, black dots filtering through green forest. Particles of soot belching from the furnace of civilisation, the flame of consciousness dulled, blackened and burnt-out by disappointment. Human sludge seeping its way to my gates, filling the cesspit of unliving. The Black Pilgrimage, they call it.
This was not the plan. Exiled from my brethren, the mathematical procedure of intentional unrooting deemed unethical, or at least politically dangerous. When were the concerns of the royals of more prominance than garsu research? Such short-sighted fools! I’ve had to work in isolation, deprived of fine bright young minds which are exclusively drawn to their monasteries, while I have this human ditritus to pick through, like a monkey picking through excrement for seeds, searching for that rare core consciousness which has survived the soul-rot induced by the gut of civilisation. Agh, it sickens me!
And not only that, I assign too much of my collective mental processing to the building up of my army. An army, for Machsake! What a waste of resources. They are spiteful, the Meherim. They are not content with leaving me be. On more than one occasion their agents have come close to ending me. Assassins with garsu-studded blades, gigantic rax warriors, and now they turn to poisoned minds. For every hundred who take the black pilgrimage, there is one set to kill me. And so I must build my army, the legion of atarax which protect my halls. Such a waste of resources, this needless waste of unliving. But there is a chance I may yet bend this Black Pilgrimage to my purpose. Now that the unliving ranks have swollen with such unwanted intake, I see they may serve not only for defence against the Meherim, but for attack.
A quaint term, the Black Pilgrimage. They leave their underappreciated lives, the destitute, failed merchants, mutilated soldiers, the terminally sick, the aged, and seek an ending here with me, their nominated Dark Lord. Since the Black Pilgrimage has begun taking up the aged, the draw has spread quickly and widely beyond Bizapul. Tired of life, desolate widows, and those long steeped in loneliness, think this journey on the dark road their last. Most come with the thought of ending, but there are some who believe they come to be immortalised, and still others believe they will be rejuvinated. They are all correct, after a fashion, for their belief influences the character of their derooting. Those seeking ending make the best troops, as mentally solid as the flagstones of any stone keep. Those seeking immortality generate a more pliable servant: those edged with invective make diligent soldiers, those of placid manner useful daily minions. And those seeking transformation are the most promising for they possess the greatest potential to achieve third stage atarax, far in advance of what the Meherim can manufacture using their ethical procedures.
Such fools for ignoring my method! What is the loss to the world of a few high born princes? Such an antiquated sociology anyway, Royal Houses indeed, their days are surely numbered. And such hypocracy! Princes have been unrooted throughout their own development of fourth and fifth stage rax. Arrived by accident, those Meherim academics did not see what they had witlessly achieved: the separation of mind from body. Blind fools, even when I showed how the mind could survive the death of the original host — an undeniable route to atarax — and a legitimate path to Machus! I have made advances of me own since then. Retaining the atarax within the very same body, unrooted but locked to the same body, such is the generation of my own emobided rax, half atarax half golem. The Unliving, the called it. What they meant as slur I now take as compliment. My household of Unliving. They are an extension of me just as these walls are, this land, all mine…
Bah! What I miss is young, fresh mind, open and receptive, in the full bloom of growth, low conditionality of acceptance, naive, the processing of awareness raw and close to the surface. Especially those who are particularly bright, capable of operating the mathix required. These shall become my adjutants, my shadow meherim, my order of litchen. But they are rare, so rare. Such high quality minds do not come to me out of their own volition. I must seek them out. I must send out my emissaries and locate them in their native lands, before they are caught by the sparkle and tricks of the Meherim. I offer them lordship, a rank of mastery of mathix which puts them in charge of a powerful army. The procedure is painful, no doubt, and the fatality risk remains too high. Of the handful of hopefuls who happen to arrive at my door — a handful in the last decade! — none have survived. All die, except my faithful servant, but he is the exception. He is hardly young, who would have thought a Guise would take the Black Pilgrimage? Only the fiercest spirits can transcend the pain. It is unfortunate that the quality of sensitivity I seek is rarely matched by fierceness of spirit. Sensitive and puny, completely worthless. I am better off with the clods of meat manning the walls, dulled by life, they can endure fathomless levels of pain. Even a division of the Pharohim’s Imperial Guard will not break my defences. But a standing army is insufficient. I need wayfairing troops, and inspired lieutenants capable of leading them. I need bright young minds! If they are not drawn to me, then I must reach out and pluck them from the greedy grasp of the Meherim.
I curse the Meherim! Their noses pressed so close to the dirt, they can not draw their eyes from the mud of consciousness to the sun that is Machus! They hold up their paltry achievements, their pathetic golem, play with their puppets of living clay. They are but children! It will take years before golem reach the operational functionality of the unliving I have now. I will show them! I shall manifest Machus, and He shall adorn me with all the gifts of humanity, honour me as His herald, His gateway into being.