Featured image art by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)
Greetings, unfamiliar reader.
If you’ve discovered this final testament of mine, I’ve passed from this world of futility and frustration. I sensed my end coming quite some time ago, and have just finished penning this as a sort of bittersweet witness… perhaps, a kind of revenge.
Please, if your eyes fall upon this testament, don’t look away.
I’ve spent my life waging wars across Europe for a dream… a mirage. For although that immortal bastard invited me to join that most august circle – the Exalted – he discarded me like a piece of refuse once it became clear that his other hangers-on, in particular those Romanovs, were better placed than me to hunt down a mysterious substance called the elixir of life.
You read right. The elixir of life. You might call it ambrosia. Others, the Holy Grail or the cosmic milk of immortality.
Whatever you name it, it exists. I swear upon my honour and my career as Europe’s greatest conqueror. I was so close.
It should have been me that found it and delivered it to him. I would have been allowed to partake in it. To become godlike. To be closer to the Moonborn than anyone else. I made the critical mistake of invading Russia in the winter years ago, and I’ve paid for that folly ever since. Now, after Nelson’s besting of me at Waterloo, I’m a spent force, languishing here on the barren rock of Saint Helena.
I’ve been expelled from the Exalted. I, Napoleon. I was cast out. Unworthy.
But it wasn’t always like this. At one time, I was emperor of the French and on the verge of uniting Europe under one great empire. I took on almost every single country, either head-on or in an alliance that they’d formed in desperation against me… and I trounced them all.
Even Arendelle, that small but unconquered and geopolitically critical kingdom in the far north, wasn’t far from my grasp.
All that power and glory had been mine to enjoy and to dispense. But to what end, you ask? How could one man – me – destroy the old aristocracy of his country of France, put the ancient Holy Roman Empire that had limped on for centuries out of its misery at last, and place multiple royal houses in Europe under my direct oversight?
Trust me, I couldn’t have done it alone. Ah, surprised you there, didn’t I? Well, even I know that I had help. Chalk it up to a certain promise, one that men of greatness like myself almost dare not refuse. The promise of my aforementioned elixir of life. Who would ever turn down the promise of eternal life – of everlasting dominion over the nations of men?
Now… I must speak his name. Lord Yixin promised exactly that. Only the worthiest among the worthy, granted rule over the world. Forever. All of our members’ war machines were directed to realizing this grand, cosmic dream – only that our archenemy wasn’t against some nation state. Oh, we knew so little about the true nature of the world.
No, our true foe was his foe. The one with whom he’s been fighting over the elixir of life for thousands upon thousands of years. The one that bestowed immortality in the first place; the one that reflects the moon itself. The mother of the very Moonborn –
She’s Lord Yixin’s true objective. The elixir of life is their prize. That’s all I know, that’s all I could find out before my missteps over the years and ultimately, my exile here.
I don’t intend for my lifelong secret to accompany me to my grave. I might die soon, but I have an axe to grind with Yixin. Do what you will with this knowledge, discoverer. Perhaps you’ll find little practical use for it. Perhaps you’ll sell it to a newspaper hungry for a bit of supernatural drama and historical conjecture. Or perhaps you might be a sovereign leader, one that knows about the Exalted, among whom I was once counted as a member.
But I doubt you knew about the group’s true purpose, or what lurks behind its founder’s sinister face. Now you do.
I hope your search for the elixir of life goes more smoothly than mine.
Napoleon Bonaparte, 4 May 1821