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After the Storm

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I don't think you understand. Our worlds are fundamentally different. Whereas these—Outer Gods, as you call them, are but myths in your world, they are very real in mine. The Great Old Ones had been our rulers since the 12th century. They were our venerated Royalty who had liberated us from the dark ages and guided us into the civilised society we lived in. No one dared to say otherwise. It was a mad world that had become completely normal for us.

We were on different sides, Holmes and I. I was a private detective oft consulted by Scotland Yard and the Royalty, while Holmes, who went by Rache, led the Restorationists whose goal was to overthrow the Great Old Ones.

Oh? He was a consulting detective in your world, and I a criminal mastermind? You're not even sure if we existed? Interesting…very interesting! Is this fate…? A subject I would very much like to explore, but I digress.

We were on different sides because Holmes believed in human autonomy, while I needed legitimate standing to continue my research in astronomy. Why, I used to hold quite a respectable mathematics chair at the College of Byrgen—nngh…

…a-ah. I'm—I'm alright. The memories…are hard for me to recall. The, ah, events, at Byrgenwerth that lead to the resignation of my chair were some of the most traumatic moments of my life. The college was completely obliterated. I was one of the few survivors who still retained human form, eventually the only one fit to return to society. It was not known to me at the time, but that was when the Royalty took interest in me, because surviving Byrgenwerth had made me a potential candidate for a planned ritual some ten years later. Of course, I was none the wiser, as they had altered my memories partly to restore my mind, partly to keep me from going to the Restorationists with what happened at Byrgenwerth.

So, for some oblivious ten years, I worked as a bartender, then an army coach, then finally a private detective, which was when I found myself increasingly approached with cases concerning the Restorationists, eventually crossing paths with Holmes. Holmes, under the alias of Sigerson, had been keeping correspondence with me on a variety of intellectual topics since our first discussions about certain theoretical anomalies in my paper on the Dynamics of an Asteroid. We did not stop our correspondence after meeting face to face on opposite sides of the law. In fact, we were on friendlier terms than what our respective companions and the Royalty would have approved of, if they had known. He recognised I was not entirely on the side of the Royalists, and I somewhat admired his noble albeit rather hopeless goals. He did try to sway me to the Restorationists, but we were more preoccupied with the intellectual challenge we gave each other. It was probably the highlight of our senseless lives in a mad world. However, when he received word of a ritual that could potentially involve me, he redoubled his efforts to convert me.

I should have listened to him. I thought I carved myself quite an indispensable position in the eyes of the Royalty, but even I cannot fully comprehend how the Great Old Ones think.

It was late autumn of 1885 when I was taken. In the days I wasn't being prepared for the ritual, they kept me in a room with a girl of around six years. You see, aside from a host with enough mental fortitude to receive the consciousness of a Great Old One, the ritual required a child's innocence to lessen their maddening and oft destructive presence. For that reason, Emily was picked off the streets and imprisoned with me.

She was inconsolable and extremely loud at first, almost bothering on irritating. When she realised I wasn't one of her captors, she started clinging to me. And I let her, which was highly abnormal for me because I was not partial to children. At all. They had unnerved me for reasons that escaped me for years. Now I know why. Because, despite my suppressed memories, a subconscious part of me knew that what was going to happen to us was exactly what had happened to my younger siblings at Byrgenwerth. They had been living under my care in the college housings when—when it happened…When everyone in the college turned into…

It was most definitely deliberate. She was the same age as my sister had been. I even…I even unknowingly gave her my sister's name. The Royalty needed our bond to be strong for the ritual to be successful, though our bond was probably stronger than expected, for while Holmes, Watson and Moran could not stop the ritual in time, it did not produce the intended result anyway. The—ah…amalgamation, that Emily and I had become only received a portion of the Old One. Somehow, we escaped our captors and roamed the Continent until we crossed the Channel, drawn towards the familiarity of London, where Holmes and the others eventually caught up to us. It took me nearly a year to separate our bodies and restore a more human form for both of us.

Look here. See this umbilical cord that connects Holmes and I? Emily and I also had a similar one after the ritual. I am not sure on which plane did the umbilical cord exist, but from I what understand, it joined my and Emily’s minds, preserving our individual sense of self when we received a portion of the Great Old One’s consciousness, allowing us to escape the fate that befell Byrgenwerth’s victims.

No—not escape. It was only delayed. Our umbilical cord was eventually severed. Under the weight of the Old One’s consciousness that our conjoined minds had previously held back, we instantly went mad. Think of it of unlocking the gates of a dam. The Royalists were seeding portals around the globe to link the physical world with the dimension where the Great Old Ones reside. Holmes weakened the Old One’s hold on me by linking our minds with a lesser form of the umbilical cord. In doing so he made himself a target. As for Emily…Her grasp on humanity had always been tenuous. The backlash from our cord’s severance altered me permanently, both physically and mentally, but at the time I had Holmes to rely on. Emily…There are fates worse than death.

In the last few years of my mortal life, I lost Emily, Moran and finally Holmes when I failed to stop the ritual planned for him by the Royalists. Only I, Watson, his wife and daughter, and a few clusters of survivors remained, scattered throughout the globe in colonies. By then, I had lost an umbilical cord for the second time, and my appearance was indistinguishable from the spawns of the Great Old Ones we were fighting against. What little humanity I still had compelled me to protect the colony housing Watson and his family.

Eventually, the Old One manifesting in Holmes turned its attention to our colony, and we met for the final time over what used to be the Reichenbach Falls. In your world, our counterparts also had their final meeting at Reichenbach, correct? Well, the Reichenbach in my world was completely submerged into the dimension where the Great Old Ones reside. I do not entirely recall the events, only flashes of extreme emotion. Fear. Desperation. Despair. And the dark waters where he consumed me…Our joining must have reconnected our umbilical cord. Without it, he couldn’t have broken out of the Old One's control.

To be honest, perhaps the ritual did indeed proceed as intended, because even in death, Holmes and I cannot escape their grasp. We have become irrevocably linked to the Great Old Ones we were possessed by, and it appears that our souls cannot enter the normal cycle of reincarnation. That is why Holmes fled from our world into yours, where the Greater History of Man resides. The Old Ones have yet to reach here. Our world may very well have been one of the first few Lostbelts taken by the Great Old Ones, but at the time concepts such as the Human Order Foundation, Lostbelts or the Throne of Heroes were unknown to us.

From what I glimpsed in Holmes' memories during the time when we were one, he hopped worlds, gathering knowledge and evading the Great Old Ones’ emissaries, until he reached a Singularity where he summoned and merged with a version of himself from the Throne of Heroes, thus becoming the Servant Holmes you know. The Servant container hid him from the Old Ones while he watched for any signs of their arrival in the Greater History of Man. I suppose along the way, Holmes found reason to help your Chaldea reverse the collapse of the Human Order Foundation.

As for how I became one with the Servant version of myself summoned by Chaldea… Do you remember that mission when he was grievously injured? The one when he was separated from your group and eventually brought back to you by Holmes? When he was found by Holmes, his spiritual core was critically damaged. I was merged with him to halt the disintegration of his spiritual core, but I did not fully awaken until the events of yesterday that forced Holmes to reveal his true nature to all of you…

I hope you do not blame him for deceiving you. He was honestly trying to make the best course of action in a difficult situation. And I am still the Servant you summoned, even with these additional memories. Yet this situation with the Crypters and the Seven Lostbelts is worrying. I cannot say for sure if this Alien God spoken of by the Crypters is related to the Great Old Ones of my world. You'd best ask Holmes about that when he regains consciousness. But I assure you, my girl, I will stay by your and Chaldea's side. Both Holmes and I will see this through with you.

I promise.