Waypoint LARP: King George City
Black Ash, Historian, Mythologist, Grandfather
Leighton Emmett is a Lich and as such always looks like he’s at death’s door. His skin is reminiscent of leather, both in color and texture, and is stretched tight across his bones. He is feeble, very little fat or muscle fills out his frame, and appears very unwell. Though he would be nearly six feet tall standing upright he weighs in at around 80 lbs. A discolored patch of skin, blistered with numerous mismatched eyes, spreads from his right cheek across his scalp in an ugly smear.
Turquoise eyes shine brightly, his only feature obviously full of life. Thin wisps of hair adorn his head, bone-white with age.
Leighton keeps most his body wrapped in linen in the fashion of the mummies he spent much of his mortal life studying, with modern clothes covering the wraps. He prefers practical garb that is rather unbecoming of his station as an accomplished sorcerer. A pith helmet is his hat of choice, especially now that it helps cover the conspicuous eyes dotting his head. He wears a suit of well-fitted plate armor into battle or physically risky situations. His tower shield, Shuad tu-Kalu Thwm “That Which Repels the Darkness,” shines like only Andvarentine can. He carries his staff at all times, a Sacred Heartwood pole topped with a gold and sapphire ankh.
Thaeonarus was born in Murias as a Termagant in Earth year 1680 CE to lowborn parents. He was a natural magician and deeply inquisitive, groomed from a very young age to join the Canon Order. When he came of age he was taken as an apprentice by the Cambion Azatharn the Lesser, son of Azatharn the Great, son of Azatharn the Eldest who served as an advisor to Lord Archimago. Young Thaeonarus devoured any and all information made available to him. As a Dominus he was recommended to work deep under the city deciphering the Image. The task scared him, but the promise of unthinkable secrets and forgotten magic was too much to resist.
His peers were every bit as curious and ambitious as he was. Friendships and rivalries sprouted in the cold mud amidst the ruins. One colleague in particular caught his eye, a pretty Oracle woman with eyes like glowing emeralds. Her name was Alysa, a fellow lowborn spared the usual Oracle fate of court work by her natural gift with languages, and the two were soon married. Together they made great progress translating the incomprehensible runes, earning commendations even among the much older scholars. Thaeonarus was happy and fulfilled and as obsessed with his wife as he was with the pursuit of knowledge. Until Earth year 1837 CE.
Alysa had been on the verge of a breakthrough and together they closed in on what should have been their Rosetta Stone. Thaeonarus woke one morning to find her slumped over her workbench, breathing but comatose. No healer in the city could find anything wrong with her. She had simply glimpsed something that no normal Fae was meant to see. Her mind was broken. Thaeonarus fled his home in horror, taking with him his notes on that accursed relic. Torn between the Image that haunted his dreams and the possibility of losing his senses like his beloved, he bartered passage across the Endless Sea with a family of Brownies. He took up residence in Demos Oneroi for a few months before meeting the dreaming Leighton Emmett.
Leighton Emmett was born on October 9th, 1776, in London. His parents were merchants and occasionally acquired toys or pieces of art from around the world. These fascinated the boy and, along with old mythological stories, fired a passion for discovery that would carry Leighton all the way through his education at the University of Cambridge. He remained at the school for years, working and studying, until the actions of Napoleon Bonaparte turned his eye to a different part of the world.
Napoleon set out to capture Egypt in 1798. Along with his army was a small group of intellectuals. Among these were a few contacts of Leighton’s, and they told him of all they saw. Art, architecture, ancient cities. Leighton, and many other intellectuals and nobles in the Western world, became very interested in what lay hidden in Egypt. So began modern Egyptology. A plaster cast of the Rosetta Stone came to Cambridge in 1802 and Leighton was one of the scholars working to translate the text. He also began to have very vivid dreams of Egypt despite having never been there. Unknown to him at the time, he dreamed his way into a dreamscape built to mirror Thebes in ~1200 BCE. He appeared there every night for years. The experience helped him become the forefront translator of Egyptian hieroglyphics by 1807. He moved to Cairo that year to continue his work and see the ruins first-hand.
While living in Cairo he was introduced to a Greek woman called Sophia. She was fascinated by his stories from around the world, and he in turn was stricken by her beauty and by her insatiable curiosity. They were soon inseparable, and when Leighton eventually left Egypt to return to London he took Sophia with him. They married and had two boys, and when his work took him out of the country he was always sure to bring back toys and other gifts. The boys grew up and took wives of their own, and Sophia was free to travel with Leighton. Through all of this he still dreamed of ancient Thebes on occasion.
Leighton contracted a severe case of typhus while in Philadelphia in the year 1837. He knew very well that his time was short but was grieved by how much there was still to see and experience in the world. Feverish and weak, he spent more and more time asleep. A name and a strange, sad face lurked in the back of his waking memory, but he couldn’t remember ever reading about a Thaeonarus.
His mind was slipping. Dreaming, however, he was his old self and depressingly aware of his fate. The strange face appeared before him again in Thebes and introduced himself as Thaeonarus. He was a faerie, he said, one of the fae folk from the stories. The Termagant explained that he knew of a way to save Leighton’s life, and to return purpose to his own. Their fates, he said, could be tied together. But he did not know the trick. He had always been too busy with his secret work in Tir Na Nog. Sadness crept over his features once again before Leighton spoke up. The mortal had heard something very similar from a Roma woman in France. There was a ritual in a book of old folk spells that he had picked up as a novelty. Alas, it was back in London. He did not know if he had enough time to send for it but he would surely die otherwise and could never survive the ten day voyage in his condition.
Sophia later described her husband as, “waking with a lunatic expression, more alert than he had been in weeks.” He immediately sent word to his sons to collect the necessary items and ingredients and to ship them back as quickly as could be managed. Though Leighton’s mind was no longer clouded by the fever, a small blessing from Thaeonarus, his strength diminished by the day. A fortnight passed before a small crate was delivered to his doorstep. Leighton banished Sophia from his sickbed and locked the door before unpacking the crate. She would have certainly stopped whatever he tried to do if she had seen some of the instruments he sent for. He was dismayed to discover that the fatebinding ritual in the book was not complete. A page had gone missing long ago. He committed what was there to memory and slept one last time in his mortal life. He and Thaeonarus worked together to complete the spell, combining the written instructions with their knowledge of Ancient Egyptian rituals and fae magic. He awoke in the evening to find Thaeonarus beside him, chanting.
The ancient Egyptians, or at least the Godfae they worshiped, had been onto something with their ideas of the afterlife. The embalming process they used to send their pharaohs to be judged by Anubis could be, with some modification, used to ward off annihilation forever. Thaeonarus’ magic was needed to prepare the phylactery that would house their joined soul, leaving Leighton to prepare his body. Four canopic jars were used by the Egyptians, each containing a different organ. One for the intestines, one for the liver, another for the stomach, and a final jar for the lungs. Already dying, Leighton felt little pain while carving into himself. With desperate resolve and a magic charm he managed to place the lid on the final jar before collapsing into a growing puddle of his own blood on the circle he had carved into the wooden floor.
Leighton awoke in extreme pain, bloodstained and nauseous. Only he was not himself. He was neither human nor Termagant, he was a Lich. Thaeonarus was now as much a part of Leighton as the original man was. He curled into a ball, gasping and trying not to vomit. Gasping. Vomit. He had lungs and a stomach again. It had worked. Triumphantly, he pulled himself into a chair and examined his body. It was whole again, if a bit stiff and waxy. Lurching to his feet he made his way to door and unlocked it, letting in his wife who had been pounding at it for several hours. He explained everything as best he could over the succeeding weeks, not really expecting her to understand. She didn’t understand, not all of it, though she accepted that she had her husband back. And though she lived another 23 years she always refused to follow him in his immortality. That much she could not accept. Filled with bitter remorse, Leighton buried his wife on May 28th of 1860.
His sons also chose a natural death, as did their children and their children’s children. Leighton Emmett has watched six generations of his progeny pass into the realm of the dead and he will likely watch the three living generations do the same. Despite the pain and loss every time another of his grandchildren die he has pledged to protect and provide for his bloodline to the best of his abilities. Currently that means living in King George City to keep an eye on his 9th-great granddaughter Elonna while she attends college. His role as Black Ash provides him with many resources to accomplish this goal, everything he does to enhance his own power is done with the primary goal of fulfilling his duty to them.