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The Journal of Jonah Magnus

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Why is it so hard to capture the sharpness of a human mind as the body aged? As each moment becomes a smaller fraction of a life lived far beyond the destined path a man was meant to walk, should it just be accepted as consequence that important moments would be lost to time along with the mundane?

Elias Bouchard, or rather more appropriately Jonah Magnus, had never been one to allow himself to be so blindly tossed about by fate. By all rights, his story would forever be the most important one these archives would ever hold, and despite his mind's failure to contain that story, paper had not yet failed him. He thanked his master each time he opened the tomes of his long-kept diary, for the clarity he had been gifted in his youth, for what his mother had described as delusions of grandeur, flights of fancy. Though he had always known he would rise to greatness, now that it had finally come to pass, he felt a deep sense of vindication. This was his domain now, as the Watcher, Keeper of All Knowledge, Profound and Arcane. The crown had been destined to rest upon his head from the moment he had first laid innocent eyes upon the world.

Jonah retrieved the books he was searching for, hidden in plain sight in his own private library within the archives. There were five of them, each with an intricately detailed cover in varying styles. He would have plenty of time to peruse them all, as well as add one more entry to the final journal, as he watched Jon and his little pet approach the panopticon. He knew there was every chance this may be his only opportunity to finish the biography at last.

His fingers rested lightly upon the first volume. It had been quite some time since he had opened its pages, but the gouged hole in the front where the nameplate used to be still felt as fresh as the day the cut had been made. He could not now recall what the original name had been, but written beneath it in a tidy cursive, upon the paper that had been revealed, was the name "Jonah Magnus."

He flipped past that first page to the entries, unsure of whether he felt excited or apprehensive to revisit all those years ago, or whether he could feel anything at all anymore.

 

13 May 1809

 

I imagine, from what I have seen portrayed, that most would begin their private musings with some greeting to a being who does not exist and will never read these words, but I am not, nor have I ever been one to stand upon useless ceremony.

I know the reason Mother gave me this "present" after learning of my exploits in town. She believes me to be grieving in a way that is unacceptable for a lady to behave, but she could not be further from the truth. My mind was not broken in sorrow by the news of my father's passing, but instead made free. 

Yet, I know also that she is planning to use me, use my "purity", to regain the honor that had been bestowed with Father's title, and this book for my thoughts is her last hope of appeasement before the forced ceremony.

Sixteen years. Was that all my life was meant to last in her eyes? All of my freedom gone before I have yet seen anything beyond this wicked country?

The idea is laughable, but I do hope she goes through with the preparations. It will make my disappearance all the more salacious. Just as I create a new name for myself, the one I now bear will be dragged through the common mud, and Mother will be left alone to bear the shame in the eyes of those who used to revere her as near a queen.

Soon I will begin writing my own history, and if it must be written with the blood of my family line, then so be it.

-JM

 

Jonah chuckled to himself as he touched the ink on the signature. He had been quite a melodramatic teenager, but his flair for spectacle had never really left him over the years. The shifting blues and greens and purples of the now timeless sky fell from the window behind his back onto his words, and he knew that the eye of his master was upon him as he turned the page once more.

 

17 July 1810

 

It has been made clear to me that rumors abound of my history. I find them to be amusing, most especially the puritanical ramblings that I am possessed with the spirit of Jezebel, sent by the devil to tempt the men of the countryside to sinful homosexual escapades. I suppose they are not entirely wrong in this assumption, but I do try not to mix business with pleasure. I often fail. 

However, there should exist at least one truthful account of my most humble beginnings, as the truth is what I have been called to collect these many months since forging into the unknown.

To begin, I make the claim, as of yet unproven, that there is never in a person's life solely one climactic moment upon which the rest hinges. I have always felt the power of secrets and rumors, for I was a beautiful young child from a rich and powerful home.

There was never a moment at which I did not have several eyes upon me, many lecherous in their affectation, and despite my disdain for these pathetic grown men who lusted after a child who had not yet even been presented to court, I learned very quickly how easily they could be manipulated. I spent many of my formative years being doted upon by my parents, tutors, servants, any who fell to my charms.

But that changed when my body began to. Mother claimed all young ladies felt this way upon receiving their first blood, but it was not the physical pain which vexed me so. It was the lustful stares of those who would look at me as a potential bride. The hands that would settle upon my back in the guise of helping me from my carriage. The eyes that would follow whenever I would leave my home in a tightly corseted gown. I could feel them staring, and it was no longer merely annoying. It had become an itch deep within my breast, a growing, unavoidable irritation anytime I was forced into the public.

The final straw, at least in the eyes of my parents, was when I took the kitchen knife to my long blonde curls, the pride of my mother, whose hair had always been so dreadfully thin. 

I was sent away to a nunnery as punishment, but it had proven to be much more agreeable to me than I could have hoped.

The convent had been nearby to a small fishing village that traded with the sisters for produce from the gardens. It was in this village, where no one knew my previous identity, that I was first Jonah. 

I looked ridiculous, of course, a slender thirteen-year-old girl in trousers sewn for an adult man, but I had never felt more delighted.

I was lucky that the first man I met in my haphazard disguise was dear Richard. He had laughed at me. But he wanted some fun in the boring little town he called home, and so he had dressed me more properly in the clothes his own son had gotten too big for.

When I first looked into the glass and saw a young, cherubic faced boy looking back, I will admit there was a small amount of tears. 

Richard offered to keep my secret for the small price of my company, but those terms were hardly something I could trust. My secret would at most have me sent back to my parents in shame, possibly excommunicated. The secrets I learned of him could have him killed. And, as I am trying to be truthful in this account, I will share that they did, in the end.

But for a time, I did rely upon his feigned generosity as he showed me ways to better my illusion.

When the news of my father's death in battle reached my mother, she immediately called for my return home, and thus after three years of portraying young Jonah (during which there were a few small scandals of helping some older boys "practice" kissing), I was forced to return to a persona that I despised. In the time that I was away, I had found Jonah to be the real me, the person who I felt most comfortable being, even beneath a spotlight. At home, I would be expected to wear a costume, a facade. 

But Father was dead, and Mother couldn't do anything to stop me, so I refused to play the part laid out for me. It was time for the young men of my hometown to meet the dashing, seductive Jonah Magnus, and I would never be another again. 

There is my true story, written upon a page in stark ink. No demonic influence or supernatural incubus resides within me. Simply the heart of a young man who yearns to be seen as such, who desires more and more with each passing day the embrace of another man. 

Some may say that in itself is cause for alarm, but I refuse to apologise. I am Jonah.

-JM

 

Two hundred years and he could still recall every detail of the first time he saw himself in men's clothing. He had been so small back then, but that had been the style, a slight, becoming figure.

It had been foolish of him to ever think that he would not need to wear a mask again. But it had been somewhat true, as he would never deign to wear the ill-sized mask that was handed to him. He had always chosen one that fit him well.

He reached up to touch his face, smiling softly. Before continuing, he paused to check on Jon. He would not be arriving for some time, not that time had any real meaning in his new kingdom. He was surprised to find he was happy to see his Dread Archive, but he would arrive in his own time. At least he had some reading material whilst he waited.