There is a line, oft misquoted, from Heraclitus – “πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει” or, roughly translated, “Everything changes and nothing stands still”. An odd snippet to remember from my school days, but one that is entirely appropriate to my life. Or, perhaps I should say, lives, for I feel sometimes that I have been living several. One was a relatively ordinary life as a gentleman of the 19th century; the mild-mannered accountant who went to sea as a ship’s purser. And then, everything changed. Katarina, my friend and my lover, who, by unfortunate circumstance, became my sire and took me from that world into a far stranger one, a world of darkness, filled with strange creatures that I had previously believed to be myth, and now, I was one of them.
And that took me, by and by, to the Isle of Legacies, in a London at once strange and familiar, where I led a somewhat less ordinary life, to some extent anyway. Yes, I was still an accountant, but I extended my skills to managing night clubs and bars and becoming city treasurer. In that sense, it was still ordinary, but, I consorted with faeries, dragons, werewolves and other vampires, and I was confidant and friend to the Prince of the Vampires even. So, in many ways, it was definitely a life less ordinary.
But then, everything changed again. That London I knew slipped away, lost in some unfathomable dimension deep in the Nexus. I escaped, and circumstance brought me to Jasper Cove, and from there, to the Wylds, and the town of Mysthaven. Many changes happened in those years. I changed in many ways, and those changes have been documented in these very pages, in this neglected diary I have otherwise kept for most of my life, and so I need not relate them further.
But change is never done with me, or with the world. I have neglected this diary for some months now, while I adjusted to a new life, dividing my time between Mysthaven and the 21st century. And now, I am doubting my own memory. More so, since I have not yet recorded the happenings of those months as has been my habit for so many years. And so, I doubt my own recollection, for something else has changed. In the time that my pen has been absent from these pages, my memory tells me I lived in the 21st century. That I lived in a place called White Owl Island, a sanctuary in Puget Sound, where beings like me could be open about what they are, instead of concealing themselves as they have to do in the rest of the world, a concealment that was achieved in collusion with the mundane authorities. That is how I remember the world being. I remember troubled times. Despite our best efforts to conceal our existence, we had to deal with threats from hate groups who had learned of our existence and resented that. I remember having to deal with the way they threatened to expose those of us who dwelled among the ordinary people, and some of those who took refuge on the island. I remember that the threats escalated, to arson and murder, even attacks on the island itself. These things are distinctly there, in my memory.
But something changed. The world has changed, and I don’t know how. I am still in the 21st century, but White Owl Island no longer exists, and somehow, in this changed world, it has never existed. Some of us, me, Gwyn, Skeleton, Dyisi and a few others, somehow managed to flee to Faerie and we remember, but most others do not. To others, there was never a White Owl Island. Nor was there a need for such a place. Somehow, in this changed world, there was never any need to hide. Vampires, faeries, werewolves, satyrs and such like are a normal part of the world, no more unusual than a Frenchman or an Arab or an Eskimo. I do not know how this can be, for I remember the world otherwise.
Perhaps reality has altered, or I have walked, somehow into some alternative history. That old sorcerer, John Dee, the man once known to me as Grayson and then as the demon, Alex, for I cannot not now consider him as anything other, speculated on such things in the journal he gave me. Is it possible that somewhere, perhaps in my travels between the realm of Mysthaven and here, I took a wrong turning, into some different timeline? I do not know. All I know is that there is a difference between what I remember as my reality, and what I now experience as reality. This is not like the other changes I have related. When I became a vampire, the past I knew up until that point still existed. As did the pasts I remember from the Isle of Legacies, from Jasper Cove, and the various phases of the Wylds and Mysthaven. Some of those places are now lost, but at no point has “reality” denied that they once existed. Only this change seems to have changed the past, erased that which only a few of us now remember, and made a new present that is both strange to us, and, at the same time, a past we have always known. It is a dichotomy that I can not yet understand.
Some things however, despite Heraclitus’ assertion, do stand still. This faerie realm that Gwyn named Awenia, which was, in our memory, adjacent to White Owl Island, is, so far as I can tell, still the same faerie I knew. It, at least, is constant, or as constant as anything can be, given my beloved wife’s habit of changing the landscape and homes as often as she changes her clothes or hairstyle. And she, my beloved Gwyneth, although she has grown from the pint-sized, potty-mouthed polymath barmaid I once fell in love with, to the regal queen she is now, is still, at the core, the same beautiful person she always was. She is still my life, my love, my guiding star. Some might find our love strange, with our other lovers, our separate travels, our often very different lives. It may seem odd, I’ll grant, to those who only see us from the outside, but they are not us. Whatever else passes, we always have each other, and always will. That much, at least, is constant, and something I can rely upon, no matter what else changes. One gift that Alex gave us was the ability to be our own anchors, but we also have another anchor, each other. Perhaps, some day, we will come to understand how and why the reality we knew changed; or perhaps we may never know. As long as we have each other, that will be enough.