As Ghosts

We left Terra as ghosts.

Leaving our bodies behind, we were slung forth. We left not from fear, not to escape a tragedy, not because of any sudden desperation; we were pushed by the more careful, sneaking unease which has always grown under the skin of humankind: the curiosity to know more. There were those among us who fled their pasts, certainly; but the voyage was in the name of discovery. At least, that is what we hoped for. Unknown adventure, wild magics, and stories to tell our children and their children.

As all civilizations are drawn to the night sky, they eventually find there an ancient unseen magic in the waves of black. Terrans, once they wove the baskets to capture the dark energies, were entranced by the massive power required for such a strange and unknowable spell, pulsing out in strange birth cycles from the heart of the galaxy. And so, we were the ghosts sent to meet the caster. Danger catches up to any mortals who chase the Oldest magic: let this be a warning, of a kind, to you who catch a glimpse of the black powers at work. The quest for understanding may change you far more than you desire to be changed.

Enough with the foreboding warnings, ha! It is hard to suppress them. The storytelling instinct is strong in us humans; around the fire, we all just want to scare each other with tall tales. But our journey is not as scary as we are making it sound. Let us start over.

We left as ghosts, as I said. But a very few of us were true phantasms. We eradicated our bodies and previous selves in the process of transit. The truest voyagers, in full spirit. Our choice was looked upon as strange by most ghosts, and by those loved ones we left behind. But we simply left no roots behind us.

At the time of departure, through the tears and the hugs and the final farewells, we could not know that the choice would make us phantasms hunted, in a way. Or perhaps it’s better to say that the other ghosts with their hidden ties to far-gone bodies were ignored… while we phantasms were highly desired, targets of seduction, coerced into choices we did not understand. But, ahh, you must forgive me; we have slipped back into cliched threats. And that part of the story comes much, much later.

It is simple enough to say that there were twelve of us phantasms among the myriad ghosts who spun past the distant suns, towards the Sink. A dozen who chose the irreversible journey. And while each ghost might weave their tale of discovery a different way, this is how the phantasms who had nothing behind them remember it.

Frozen in our merry little tomb, only to awake when the spell unwound us near our destination, we flew sleeping through the sky between the stars. Asleep is perhaps too romantic a way to put it, for it was a spell of stone; we did not wake, we did not feel, we no longer dreamed. We were like bones waiting for flesh to make them dance. The others were frozen too, separated from their previous bodies, but somehow their stone-like trance seems different from the solitude of those who had no priors alive, back on Terra.

We did eventually reach the Sink, the source of that dark humming magic suffusing the galaxy. This is that story, of humanity meeting the Groundskeeper and the many strange civilizations who all warily explore the boundaries of the Oldest construction in the galaxy. Flesh would be back on our cold bones soon, but we had no idea how complex learning to dance the intricate politics of the Sink would be.

Now, we write this message anonymously, transmitting it in secret, hoping the stolen Vatul spell that speeds it on its way eludes the sight of the Groundskeeper and reaches the light cone of any readers. If anyone reads our fragmented tales, the danger of writing will be worthwhile. Truly, it will be worth it just to write it out for ourselves. We are weak. Frankly, I doubt our wizardly skills in the face of the Oldest Magic; this story may not leave the Sink at all, as with many other stories which have sank into this well, trapped since beyond time, dating back all the way to its original eldritch construction so long ago.

But only the Groundskeeper knows that particular tale of genesis any more, and perhaps not even He is allowed to remember. We do not wish to tell that story; we only know our own. We can only tell it in pieces. That’s all we have left, I’m afraid.

We left Terra as ghosts, but the Sink changed us all. We are fragmented. Scintillating in a thousand different crystalline directions, our minds have refracted into mad, prismatic colors. I only hope we can piece this together enough for someone else to understand our fate; we may be too far gone to understand it ourselves.