“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
I am quite frustrated, and if I am honest with myself, then it isn't only because any discussion with this Mirai envoy seems pointless. Leaning forward, I place my forearms on my office desk and glare at the man who was brought in by my guards. “Would you stop answering my questions with questions of your own? I am not going to tell you any vital information about me or Illum.”
He keeps smiling and nods. “That's sad. I wanted to learn more about you. Not many living Mirai travel outside the state. Our art and our world-view are shunned by most of the world.”
“Good. Tell me something about the Mirai. How do you know that I am one? How does Mirai culture look like? I didn't grow up with my people and I know next to nothing about them.”
He opens his mouth, showing that he is beginning to understand. “You were a slave of the Empire? There were a few who got abducted in the last days of the war. I assumed that they are all dead by now. You are one of their descendants?”
I wait and refuse to answer. I invited this guy in order to get some answers, not to tell him my sob story. The worst thing is that he gave me no information which was worth my time. I got his name, Emil Fotenu, but everything else up until now was just small talk and introductions. My friends didn’t joke when they said that Mirai are a tight-lipped lot. The way he keeps looking at me is also creeping me out.
It takes a while for Emil to understand that he has to give me something to work with. He shrugs. “It’s not like it’s a secret and you are clearly new to being a ruler. I guess that you don’t have access to the intelligence network of other countries. Most people don’t want to hear about our way of life. They refuse to accept the facts, heretics altogether if you ask me. But nobody can be forced to be enlightened, so we stopped talking about it. It’s far too easy to be called a preaching fool, or worse, pirates.”
I raise both eyebrows. Please don’t tell me that the Mirai are religious cultists.
Emil raises his hand. “I know what you are thinking, but it isn’t a religion. All of us have seen the endless void, at least the undead. Mirai society is separated into three castes. Warriors, workers and mages. Each caste has subdivisions, but let’s not get into that. The most important group in Mirai culture are mages... Let’s simplify it to the bloodlines who spawn necromancers.”
He forms a fist with his hand. “Those who can’t just reanimate the dead, but pull their souls back into their bodies and bind them to this plane, giving them a second life. Creating a simple zombie is easy, but the necromancers are able to pull a soul back from the abyss with most of their memories intact. It’s the highest honour to become someone like me.”
Again, he emphasizes his words with his hands. “The members of this bloodline are the Dynasty and they are the rulers and priests of our people. It’s them who grant us a second chance at life. To protect our people, or to do the things which we didn’t accomplish while we were alive. The head of the Dynasty is called the Sovereign. Our current ruler is Janice Mirai.”
I purse my lips. They are able to ‘revive’ a dead person. That sounds very sophisticated. I can create zombies, but if Emil isn’t liying about himself, then he is also an undead. An undead who is fully aware of himself and not just a mad animal. I can’t do that. “So far, I haven’t heard anything which I find provocative.”
Emil nods. “The thing which offends the Sociocrathy, our eternal enemy, is that we believe in reincarnation. We have proof of it. The Murians don’t like that. It contradicts their idea of a perfect afterlife with their gods.”
“I understand. One other thing. Could you explain why your fleet is attacking the Empire?” I ask.
He shrugs. “I can’t talk about that. It’s a secret of the state. Rest assured that our enmity lies only with those who wish us harm.” He smiles.
I lean back in my chair. “You really want to say that I would be allowed to fly Illum to your Island? I wouldn’t be attacked and robbed?”
“Let’s not go that far. You would have to negotiate with the Sovereign, but I don’t see why you would be denied. You aren’t an enemy of our people. I have to warn you, there would be a lot of bureaucracy involved.” He shakes his head. “I already explained that everyone calls us pirates because it suits them.”
Emil leans back, preparing for a long speech. “Historically, only the Murians are our foe. But when they manipulated the Alliance and the Empire into joining their forces against us, they also became our enemies. There is no reason to allow people who wish us ill to cross our sea. We have no quarrels with the orks of Westfall, or with the island nations further north.”
He draws a breath. “The Consortium is a complicated matter. Our relationship with them can be called neutral at best. They aid other nations with magic, but they never joined an offensive action against us. We accept that they gain their wealth by selling their services. We simply couldn’t pay their price in those instances.”
I nod sagely. “That sounds reasonable. Rest assured that Illum doesn’t seek conflict with anyone.”
He smiles. “That’s a good thing. You created something remarkable. I haven’t seen a lot of this place, but the ways you use force magic and spacial spells... it’s wondrous. I could wander for months through Illum’s halls and wouldn’t stop being amazed.”
“Thanks, it was quite a breakthrough for me. You can see the spellwork. Can you also cast spells?” That would be interesting to know.
He makes a gesture to show that I am only partly correct. “My second life was given to me by the Sovereign herself. She is a remarkable necromancer, but even she can’t give what wasn’t there in life. I always had the ability to see magic, but I can't cast spells.”
“I see. The more I hear, the more I ask myself why you are even interested in having a living body. It makes rejuvenation treatments obsolete. You mentioned that the living Mirai mostly stay inside your nation?”
He nods. “That’s the crux. Being undead comes with downsides. That’s why we strive to live a good life while we can. The undead can’t reproduce. We can only protect our living descendants and care for them. Travelling outside the nation comes also with the risk of not having a necromancer at hand when it’s time to depart this world. The longer it takes a necromancer to reach the corpse, the more likely it is to end up being a soulless zombie without a mind.
“Souls are delicate things. Once they enter the void, they start forgetting their memories. There are rumours of exceptionally strong souls who can remember their past lives. But most souls are too weak to remember once the flesh is gone. Our necromancers tell us that there is a permanent flow of souls passing invisibly through our world.
“From where they come and where they go is a mystery. Some of our theologians are theorising that there must be other worlds and that souls are somehow constantly travelling between them. It would explain why there is a time limit on reviving someone. If the necromancer comes too late, the soul may already be on its way to another life.
“But it’s a fact that each newborn who is able to hold one, automatically becomes a container for such a soul. That’s the case for every intelligent race. Don’t tell anyone that I said that. The dwarves would freak and shit their pants at the suggestion that they have something in common with the elves.”
Holy shit! That comes incredibly close to the truth. “Thanks for the discussion. You gave me a lot to think about.”
He bows and gets to his feet, understanding that I am done with him. For now.