Short story: Ad Vitam Aeternam (To Eternal Life)

I decided to take part in the Short Story Challenge on the official forum. The prompt was A Different Kind of Love, the wordcount limit was 2000, and the picture limit was 15. My story comes in at 1992 words, and 15 images (although you actually see 16 on the page, one of them is repeated with some text added to form the banner image).

The one I speak of was so feared that all spoke only of He and Him. To voice his name might be to bring a curse upon crops or babes, but speak his name I did, and will now, for I am not afraid.

He was Athanase Fulcanelli. Evil incarnate, some said, and true enough his soul was blacker than soot. But soot cometh from wood burned on fires, and so did Athanase’s soul begin: warm, soft wood with a tender heart, ’til it was burned on the fire of time and grief and age.

Read the story here, then please return to this post if you have feedback.

12 responses

  1. I never would have guessed Athanase Fulcanelli (this comment is probably cursed now) would have such a sweet side to him. He appeared so heartbroken in that picture with his son. Valois holds such animosity towards him, for good reason due to the whole cheating death thing, but it seems like before that he was just a super powered witch living a happy life with his wife and child until they passed away. I thought He was suppose to be pure evil.

    Also, was Valois’ mother always named Sarah or did you just recently name her? I feel like her name wasn’t given until today. Unless it was given and I just forgot.

    • I felt that there had to be a reason why he was so evil, as opposed to simply being born that way. It’s a concept that I’ve seen explored a few times (the most recent example being the film Maleficent) and I just knew that heartbreak was behind it. Athanase lost so much, so quickly, and he simply couldn’t cope with it. The crosses above the beds were a deliberate choice; even though he was a witch, he – along with most people in those times – had faith in God. But he lost even that after losing his wife and child. The three previous children were, sadly, typical of the day. Large families were the norm, because many children would not survive into adulthood, therefore the more you had, the more chance you stood of producing a surviving heir.

      Sarah wasn’t named in the story, from what I recall, but I did name her on Tumblr, specifically when I posted the old manuscript entry of the birth in the church records after installing all of those gorgeous old medieval fonts!

  2. Ooh, lovely tale. Can Valois be the reincarnation? And even if he is, he grew up at a different time, in different circumstances. I love this kind of story where it’s left up to us to determine the truth.

    • Thank you! He is indeed the reincarnation… after a fashion! While he is his own person, he holds the spirit and ‘essence’ of his father – Athanase – within him. That’s why he is so powerful, and also why he’s immortal. The fact that the Lords detest him and call him “beast” is all down to his father. Poor Valois never had a choice! He has had to work tirelessly to bury the evil of his father within him, and even then it sometimes manifests in his own little cruelties and twisted behaviours (eg: how he creates the multiple versions of himself to confuse Gunther and tie him even close to him).

    • Thank you! I’m very fond of Esmeralda Payne, and – since she’s a witch herself – she lived far longer than a mortal would (which is why she could be still alive and telling the tale of a man who lived for more than 100 years). She will also have a home in the Veil (the supernatural world of my main story) so her presence is still felt there in some way. I might be able to get her to tell a few more tales beside her fireplace ;)

  3. Oh man, all those period costumes and set building! I will forever be floored at your use of cc and building skills, Valois.

    This was such a nice little prelude! It manages to be spoiler-free (for *coughs* those of us that still haven’t found the time to start reading yet) while really drawing one in to turn that next page… and I too really loved the midwife narrator! I immediately had a very distinct voice for her in my head as I started reading. ^_^

    • Thank you so much! I get just as caught up in building the sets as I do in the writing itself XD

      Esmeralda has a very distinctive voice in my head, too. I won’t say what it is for me, in case it’s not the same voice that you hear (accent-wise) but it’s a wonderful feeling when you can actually hear your characters speak.

  4. This was really well written and I loved your screenshots! I always think it’s really cool to explore a character’s backstory as well, so I like that you did that as well!

    • Thank you so much :) I’ve been wanting to delve into Athanase’s backstory for a while now, since in the main story he’s viewed as a simply evil character with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The reason for this is that the mark he left on the Veil is so dark that Valois cannot penetrate it – even with his advanced level of skill in searching the Veil’s records – to see beyond it to the family man he once was. It’ll take Valois’s good friend, the fae Elsanine, to discover the truth.

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