A Watchful Eye
Falling Tears Poet
The Unrequited Lover
Quote: I speak for the dead in these matters.
Once, Falling Tears Poet, sometimes also known as Wisdom’s Cracked Vase or the Sorrowful Calligrapher, had another name, but that is unimportant. Once, he lived in Nexus, enjoying a modest but comfortable lifestyle as a poet of significant renown. He still remembers the events that brought him to that situation, but they are also unimportant.
His lover remains important. She blew into his life one day, a chance meeting easily and expertly spun into a whirlwind romance, and soon enough, she shared his apartments. She gave him a name, but since it was as much a lie as everything else about her, he has since discarded it as unimportant. He sometimes remembers her in one way, sometimes another. He feels she would appreciate this.
Shortly after meeting his lover, the poet, always frail, grew gravely ill. That was also unimportant. Even as the cancer ravaged his body, his lover up-lifted his spirit, driving him on to greater and more impassioned works of prose. What need had he of a body, or a future? He had his muse, and she filled his days with the sort of blazing white-hot inspiration that lesser artists feel once in a lifetime, if at all. He saw the world through the cracked lens of his lover’s eyes, and lovingly detailed its imperfections. His words shamed those who read them or incensed them, even filling some with a great and towering sense of injustice. Nexus briefly descended into the throes of abortive social reform all too quickly choked by the mighty, but that was unimportant, too. The primary actors had left the stage.
As muscle melted away, and the hollows in his cheeks grew gaunter, the poet’s eyes blazed brighter and brighter, love and inspiration feeding the fire that consumed him. He was happy to burn. But one morning he dragged himself from his sickbed and realized that his love, his muse, had not replaced his ink or paper in three days. He hobbled through his—their—apartments, calling her name. She was gone.
He sat for a day in a drift of papers covered in his own extruded brilliance, thinking, rolling together little mannerisms, things she had said, people with whom she had associated. He unraveled her lies then, and saw the way they had used one another.
The poet’s heart broke even as he stood in awe of his lover’s art, her talent eclipsing his own, all unsuspected this whole time.
A fortnight later, the poet lay in his bed, too weak to move, his limbs slow struggling twigs splayed around him, surrounded by his own acrid death-stink. A part of him enjoyed the parallelism—to enter the world in tortured, helpless indignity and leave it the same way. The rest was too heartsick and empty to even anticipate the great dark journey ahead.
As his vision failed, a mighty voice shook the room and reverberated in his chest, jolting the faltering, papery engine of his heart. It spoke of another, bleaker land, one with need of a visionary and his words. It promised a black grandeur to beggar worlds and put any mere mortal thespian to shame. The poet’s curiosity got the better of him. He would soldier on, despite the pain and emptiness, to see this grand vision.
The Mask of Winters did not disappoint. Falling Tears Poet looked into Oblivion and instantly understood that it had no need to look back into him. Standing on the edge of his Neverborn master’s tomb, he knew he had found a new muse, one that would never abandon him, but only coil him tighter and tighter in her arms until it consumed him utterly. He awaits that day eagerly.
The Abyssal Exaltation did not mend the Sorrowful Calligrapher’s body or limbs, and he hides them beneath funereal shrouds and a beautifully worked death mask. For all that his hands are withered claws and his legs trembling sticks, there is still a great and deceptive strength in him, and even greater strength in his mind and voice. He has studied sorcery and applied magic to his poems and is faintly satisfied to see them move the world. But he is also discontent—he grows to hate the fake and tawdry passion plays of ghosts, a pale and pathetic imitation of his old lover’s art. He hates the Mask of Winters, an absurd caricatured villain unworthy of the power uplifting him. He even disdains the Neverborn, vast confused ghosts that they are, unappreciative and uncomprehending of the majestic nullity that awaits them if only they could bring themselves to truly embrace it.
Most of all, Falling Tears Poet hates the tiny voice of conscience that critically evaluates his every atrocity. It speaks in the voice of his old lover.