In Albrecht's Laboratories, his grimoire can sometimes manifest in out-of-the-way places. If a Tenno happens to gaze into it, and defeats the Mocking or Scathing Whisper that emerges, they may be rewarded with a fragment of Albrecht's notes. These notes are narrated by Albrecht Entrati, and they may be viewed in the Codex.
I wanted nothing but the ease of oblivion, at first. I floated ignorant in baths of nepenthe, a second gestation. Unseeing, unspeaking. Only rarely did my brain flicker errant light across the cave-paintings still smeared on the interior of my skull.
At sensation's edge, I knew a vague silhouette of Loid crooning motherly across the watery distances, the poetry my tongue was too blackened to recite.
Too craven to chase death, I awaited it. The father of fears, and yet I was still afraid.
The currents whispered, 'Coward'. I clenched my body into a fist as a foetus must and blinded myself afresh.
Stark pain smoked the juice of my living tomb. Why did the saga not end by itself? Why must I still act?
Steeped in solitude, I found I could no longer endure my own company.
Disgust did the work of courage. I tore the mundane membrane, slid weak and mucosal into Loid's embrace.
Loid nursed me then, tending first to the uprooted ruin of my eyes, then to the mouth whose grin no longer hid behind flesh.
The agony bit deep, but it was clean. Blameless love bled up from me.
I had decided to live.
I felt no certainty as I donned clothes rough and strange to the touch of newgrown skin. I had none of the selfless zeal of the soldier.
The same cursed question still pursued me as it had before: was I, even now, trapped in the rictus of the Wall?
The apparatus of logic would never yield an answer. Only resolute action remained. If I must be a demon, let me be an honest one. Let me prove my nature by what I do next.
Purpose. Let me leave such blazing footprints behind me as no unclean thing would dare to walk in.
I employed a variety of Cavia in an attempt to unmake the enemy.
The principle was straightforward enough, though in hindsight I abhor my naïveté. My humanity had been unscrolled by the caustic Void and now smirked back at me across the divide, privy to all my unfettered malice and pettiness. In answer, I resolved to hurl into the Void minds that were not human. Let it parody them. The proximity of the bestial would force a humbling devolution, or so I thought.
The majority of the Cavia merely died. I gave the Void living beings and it sent me back bedraggled cadavers. The dead lay stacked in pyramids around my deserted lab. I was nothing but a failed priest.
But a glass splinter of stubbornness still stuck in me. And so, I persisted. The correct combination of creatures would work.
I realised my error as I sweated by visionary nestawood cinders, beside Loid who curled pale and sick from chewing too much of the root. The catalyst was uniqueness. That attribute was what caught the interest of the bland and undifferentiated Void.
It was not necessary to explore queasy debates about the Oro; animal minds simply lacked the full distinction of a singular persona. My Kalymos, I was sure, was an exception, but I would not sacrifice that loyal being.
Perhaps I should have. The sin I was to commit was worse.
The very last breeding pair of Cervulites was smuggled to me, causing Loid no small inconvenience. A species on the brink of extinction. Here was the uniqueness the Void sought. I was certain to the pit of my entrails.
I loaded the pair onto their Seriglass bridal barge, along with an expendable avian and a Norg for mental ballast. Fish, fowl, and beast. A facile equilibrium.
They did not die, save one. They came back changed. Witnesses. Pilgrims, even, chanting freakish praise to the one beyond the wall.
I knew, then, that my gambit had lost. So long as I worked through scapegoats, my guilt would only deepen. I must atone for what I had done through my own blood.
Standard laboratory hygiene would have been to dispose of them. But some instinct stayed my hand. The Voidtongue was an enigma to me, but another – more habituated to the Void than I – might one day unravel it. Through the imposition of form upon the formless, they could, perhaps, glean some meaning.
I assigned the Cavia to Loid, for I could not bear to look upon them. Not yet.
Loid is, at head, a good and kind man – better than I deserve. And completely oblivious to his own true worth.
In Duviri, I woke every day to the voice of my daughter. I recoiled from this at first, feeling the sting of conscience. I could not confront, even in semblance, the woman I had abandoned. Instead, I reinvented myself as a teacher, advising the child-king of the menace beyond his borders.
But as the days melted away, I came to recognise the strange cast of characters Euleria had created, and their purpose. I heard voices I had myself first conjured in the darkness of her childhood chambers, for no other reward than her delight. She had not only preserved this gift I had thought so trivial, she had made it an instrument of healing. More: a stronghold.
Despite my legacy of neglect, despite my shoddy example, my needs, my demands, my daughter had triumphed in my absence. Her confidence, her warmth, shamed me. I had fled from the horror, but she? She had stood alongside the most vulnerable, those with the most to lose, and told them a different story.
I did not perceive the significance of Euleria's stance at first. Her concern for the children was not merely pastoral attentiveness. It was a direct strike against the Indifference. She was teaching the weak to be strong in the very place where those cold fingers would reach, and through her act of compassion, spitting in the face of alienation and despair.
Could I do less?
Shame is an inert state, but fertile. It primes the mind, bolstering it for repentance.
I had thought to make a difference in Duviri. But Duviri had made a difference in me. My own daughter's creations, reverberating and growing in the womb of the Void, had shown me another path than that of the indulgent coward. I was neither hapless nor irredeemable. Like she had, I could fight.
I took inspiration from Euleria's example. To the people of Duviri, I bequeathed a legacy of cautionary stories. In them I spoke of fears that an infinity of spirals would not, could not, erase.
I slipped away from those lands, silent and unnoticed. From their joys, their sadnesses. From the celebration in my honour. In her, they already had all they needed. My work, I now understood, must proceed from a different point.
I would confront the phantom of myself, and deny it to the teeth.
I went among the denizens of the plague year like a saviour, my hands filled with healing. To those who volunteered, I brought more than mere health. Their bodies were primed; it needed only the Helminth infusions, brought from my own time, to work the alchemy of transformation. They have become partial warframes, still in possession of their free will, yet enhanced, Void-attuned, capable.
Their humanity may not last. My deliverance may yet consume them, the human swallowed up in the sacred beast. And if my wayward disciples turn on me, what words of comfort shall I have beyond: this is the bargain we have made. Through our sacrifice, history will be saved.
As their loyal doctor, I have taken repeated samples from them. The sight of their Technocyte-riddled cells mutating gave me fresh visions. I could take this material, work with it, forge new creations. Eagerly I brought the samples back to Deimos and began to cultivate them.
It was Loid who pointed out the singular attributes of the Gray Strain. How it stimulates growth to monstrous dimensions. Many thoughts converged on me then. What if, through precise biochemical engineering, I could create the equivalents of warframes, yet built to a titanic scale? Surely such a legion could stand against the Adversary… assuming, of course, that an Operator could be found.
Not long after, the first of my Vessels took form. A giant to battle giants, merging the humanity of the man Arthur, the anatomical perfection of Ballas' warframes, and the titanic potency of the Gray Strain. My saviours.
We End As We Began
All is in readiness. Loid will do as he is bid, though his eyes silently plead with me to choose another path.
As I await my final crossing to the past, I ponder what role a scientist may play in so spiritual a matter as 'absolution'. How in the alchemy of the soul, even repentance must necessarily be a calculated task.
I will repair what I have broken, no more and no less. The scales must balance. And in such a monstrous penitence as this, I shall take no heed of the dust that may fall upon them on either side, the dust of petty lives.
The builders of old tempered their mortar with blood, to appease the most ancient of land-spirits. We should have been so wise. Yet it is not too late to learn.
The sands fall. The circuit completes. I return to the place of the beginning.
Let witless hordes bleat their disdain for every fervent plan;
The deal is done, the die is cast. I end as I began.