This file has been approved by the leadership of The Trust for Eternal and Ephemeral staff members visiting the databases of TETRA.
There is a vault beneath a mountain in Switzerland. Its location is known to many as one storage facility of an exclusive banking firm. The contents, on the other hand, are so restricted that they appear in the bank's official records only as 'safe deposit boxes, contents various'. One of these boxes is the size of a large shipping crate, and full of carefully organized notebooks. On top of them is a recently printed large sheet of paper, which carries no fingerprints or other biomarkers. On it is a statement written in an idiosyncratic dialect of Middelnederlands, modern French, and modern English, among others.
If you are reading these, know that you should have passed the test of me or my successors and are one of the Eternals.
I was born in Bois-le-Duc under Burgundian rule in the Year of Our Lord 1419. My name was Michaël Bosch. One of my cousins' sons had a somewhat successful career as a painter. For those of you who may have been there, that should be enough to identify me.
I discovered my immortality when I was in my early 20s. I had become a sailor for a Flemish merchant. There was a dispute between members of the crew and I ended up being tossed overboard with a ballast rock tied to my legs. Five hundred meters down into the Med, and I couldn't die. This may not be as bad as someone caught in a volcano, but you'll find the details in my first notebook.
When I made it to Barcelona in 1443, I spent several decades learning all I could and establishing a resource base for the Masquerade. At the beginning, I was worried about losing my memory and so I began to keep these diaries. They have been copied and stored in many locations, and now the electronic version is far better, but these are the originals in my own hand.
Here you will find the details of the Masquerade - how I established the cadre of mortals who help us, and gained influence with the government of this canton as they asserted their independence. The Jesuits and their world-wide search to help us is here too, along with my more recent work with various governments.
I have tried to collect the lineage and biography of every Eternal who is willing to talk, and many have entrusted stories to the Record, personal treasures to this and other vaults, and their money to my bank. Particularly since the advent of the electronic, our discretion has been essential.
The oldest journal in the box is a bulky volume of vellum and heavy papers, with cramped and initially very scratchy writing in late Latin and Middle Dutch. Their legibility improves with time. The binding itself dates from far later than the individual leaves. The journal itself has been preserved inside an archival cocoon and it is accompanied by typewritten translations in English and French from 1884 and a computer-scanned and multi-language annotated version on compact disk from 1989. This is a very free translation.
There is a canyon under the sea. I know this because I landed in it in June of 1443. We were on our way back from Venesia, with a good cargo, when the mutiny began. I had just started with the ship and was new to the sea. I tried to stop one of my friends from being executed, and found myself sentenced alongside him. The captain had a vicious streak I had not expected, and shackled my legs to a ballast stone before throwing me overboard. I tried to swim, but the weight was too much and I knew I was dead as I sank and my lungs filled with water.
But I did not die. My ears felt like they were being hammered into my head, and then water flooded into them. My eyes were shut, but that did not help as they too felt that terrible weight. I could not breath, and I felt many of my bones creak as they bent. All I could do was struggle in the cold pain-filled dark, trying to free myself from the chain. After an unguessable time, I hit the bottom. It was an oozy mass of mud, and yielded under me as I slid downhill.
I do not know where I got the strength, but somehow I broke my own ankle and freed myself. I started to rise to the surface, and could do nothing but scream in my head. When I finally broke the surface and could breath again, I could not see or hear and I drifted for two weeks before reaching the shore. After the first week, my ears healed and I could start to see areas of dark and light. When I pulled myself to my knees in the surf, my eyes could barely make out the lights of a city in the distance and the moon overhead.
I am not proud of the stealing I did that night, but I needed clothes and shoes, even if I had become immune to hunger. I have repaid the farmer with interest.
I knew little Catalan, but hobbling through the docks I found a porter who understood me and obtained work as a longshoreman. It was never more than a temporary solution, but I knew even then that my old life was gone. Even if I were to make it back to Flanders, my parents would know I had died at sea. I gave my confession to a very skeptical priest who thought that I had had a vision and assigned me a minor penance. I knew that hunger would not kill me, but found that without eating I became weaker and weaker and my ankle stopped healing. The same held for sleep. So I worked long shifts at the docks, eating and sleeping only somewhat less than my fellows.
After months, I came to an understanding. If it was my fate to live when I should be dead, I needed to find the reason for it. I needed to learn. I had started to pick up the language, but now I applied myself strictly to the task, and to learning how to read and write. The other dockworkers joked about me having found religion when I left them to study here with the monks at Sant Pau del Camp. But I have a job as a scribe as I learn Latin, and access to all of the monastery's books.
If it is my fate to not die, it may not be to remember. So I will write what has happened as I can find vellum and ink.
There was an error in my previous interviews: I was thrown overboard in 1443 and wrote the above Barcelona entry in 1445.
The next major entry in the journals.
I am thirty-four years old as of a few months ago. Yet I look no different than when I dragged myself out of the sea. My present confessor does not believe my story, but he does acknowledge that I seem to be remarkably sound of body. If it is also part of my fate to have been granted a span much more than that of normal man, then that must be to gain more understanding.
That's part of the reason I took an assignment with the missionaries to Granada. I have learned enough Arabic to understand that the Islamic scholars are knowledgeable in the arts of the world and, at least some fraction of them, no more sinners than some of the so-called Christians in Barcelona.
That is the rest of the reason I came here. The Church I have seen in Iberia is different from what I knew as a boy. The priests order conversion for Jew and Muslim, and the nobility enforces it. This I understand. But I have seen innocent and very devout conversos accused of 'crypto-Judaism' and forced out of positions of authority and wealth that they well merit. If a noble is well-connected, they escape this, whatever their sins may be. If it becomes worse, this will not be simply a matter of good men being run out of their homes. I have heard of a new bishop, with a connection to the House of Mendoza as the only thing preventing his excommunication, who would argue that heretics be burned alive. I will have no part of that.
I had thought that I could escape from this by moving here, where we are a minority and tolerated only for the serious threat that this land be returned to Christendom. But since I am not growing old, I must leave the order and my vows. If they start to burn men for the faith of their fathers, what will they do to me, who may not be a man at all?
I had some limited means of my own, cash that I had been issued as allowance and never spent. An opportunity came after the death of the emir, Muhammad IX. I had this notebook and my coins with me as I was walking back from meeting with a prospective convert, and was cut off by a gang in the street. Rocks flying and people being struck by spearbutts - all I had to do was swap my cassock for a turban and I was gone.
Now I am the clerk and assistant to a merchant from Florentia. Perhaps when I make it there I will find a Church that actually remembers its own commandments.
The man had had many names; the searchers had traced his motions back for the last six years. He had been found washed up on the coast of Portugal, in the ruined tatters of what the people who had found him called 'barbaric clothes'. Over about twelve months, he had worked his way to Rome - knowing the way and all the languages en route, never ill and largely uncaring of weather. He had rare skill in many things, but was not aware of things that had happened in the past few decades, not even Luther and the religious upheaval that had caused. And for about five years, he had been working for Michelangelo, slowly gaining respect as his skills became more apparent. He looked no older now than he did then. The artist called him “Luca di Greco”. Timothy and Jesci had waited for Bosch's return to talk to him; they had only confirmed he was most likely immortal two months ago when a searcher had seen him rip open his palm on a nail and brush away the initial spurt of blood to reveal already-healed skin.
The Greek left the Chapel after nightfall, and walked out past a section of the new wall around the Vatican Hill. Bosch was waiting on top of an empty scaffold, and jumped down into the street in front of the other man, deliberately landing so that he would break his own left forearm.
Standing up, Bosch re-set the fracture with his right hand and moved his fingers around to show that it was healing. Speaking in heavily-accented Greek “I am sorry for intruding, but we have something in common, and should talk. I am Michael Bosch, born 1419 at Bois-le-Duc. My friends are eighty years older than I. How old are you, Greek-who-swam-the-ocean?”
Timothy, Jesci, and three of the searchers show up in front and behind, signaling that nobody else seems to have noticed Bosch's performance.
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