The Book of Dead Souls

By William J. Keith


If Yves has a book wherein the name of every being that comes into existence is recorded, then it stands to reason -- Kronos' reason, at any rate -- that the Archives should contain a book of the name of every being ever soul-killed.

Kronos not being given the freebies of the Symphony, his version is not automatic. Rather, it includes the painstaking efforts of multiple Servitors who have been taught the various Songs of Symphony. Each asks a single question, repeatedly: "What is the true name of the human, ethereal, or celestial soul which was the last one destroyed prior to (the last answer they got) in (the realm they are assigned to), if any?" Obviously, the biggest contingent focuses on Hell; however, the group is organized by time period and little by little has confirmed a comprehensive, nonoverlapping list.

The assigned demons have, through long and tedious questioning, pushed the tally of souls all the way back to the creation of Hell; very few soul deaths took place in the millions of years before the Fall, most having to do with non-reincarnating primitive humans. Heaven has even fewer; the Marches have many, almost rivaling Hell. The process is rapidly moving back in time now; soon, the error-checkers will get, to the question "Was any soul destroyed before (last name gained) in (this realm)?", the answer "No."

In addition, of course, one group keeps up-to-date with modern soul-deaths. Kronos' statistics on the population of humanity and their ultimate dispositions, coupled with occasional questions about the date of the last-checked death, keep the group relatively sure they're staying on pace. The Essence expenditure is enormous, of course, but for some reason Kronos has made this a longstanding project, and few in Hell would try to deny him this odd obsession.

Flunkies for the name-generating teams run about the Archives, collecting such information as they can on each. Limited by time rather than by the information available, even the best-known souls can only manage a paragraph or so before the next name must be researched. Such information as can be gathered is listed next to the name, along with the time, place, and manner of death.

The master copy of the result is The Book of Dead Souls. A reading of the Book, even without any special attempt at delving into its nature, can impose a deep sadness on anyone. It is a litany, a liturgy even, a paean to the irrevocable loss of uniquenesses and identities. Whole existences are reduced to a few lines of text no different from other lines of text, dozens upon dozens crowding the Book's pages. Raphael's and Legion's entries are casually separated by a single human of little consequence, dying at just a certain moment on the other side of the world. Raphael has five lines, Legion three. The mysterious Metatron has not even that much.

Naturally there is, by the nature of things, a copy in The Library.

As my contribution to Horror Month, I almost feel this to stand on its own. However, an adventure seed or two can be wrung out of it. The Book can have any number of horrific powers, especially concerning the reading of names and biographies from it -- final forgetting from the Symphony, knowledge of unfulfilled Fates and Destinies, access to memories echoing across Time, even the creation of hollow simulacra. Perhaps rumors fly about what would happen if all the names in the Book were read. Perhaps the master of the recording team, the ultimate supervisor of the project, has gone Renegade and taken the Book with him. Kronos is infuriated, and a massive manhunt on both Sides is underway. Does the Renegade plan to use some secret power of the Book? Does he seek Redemption, or even his own soul-death, after centuries of emotionally wrenching toil that no one but the Prince of Fate could have truly withstood? Use the Book as you will; just remember that it's in Yves' Special Collection for a reason.


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