“Come, child. Sit next to me.”
The little girl looked up from her dolls to see the old woman sitting in the bench in her playroom. She knew the old woman simply as “Nanny”. She had always marvelled at how the old woman’s skin seemed so thin and tight on her face, and had noticed that she always wore the same faded, blue dress.
She quickly scrambled to obey, clambering up onto the bench next to Nanny as she had been told. She smoothed down her plain homespun dress and adjusted the tiny white kapp bonnet that held back her hair.
“Your father has trusted me to raise his daughters for a very, very long time. I know your father is a distant man, and doesn’t spend much time with you. I had hoped you might want to know more about him.”
The girl child wiggled in her seat and nodded. Nanny always told the best stories.
“Your father, Erasmus, is not crazy. You must remember that. When you get older a lot of people will say he his, but he’s not. Those people just can’t understand the depth of what a grieving father will do.
“When you were younger,” Nanny paused and scrunched her brow, as if trying to count the years, “…much younger, your older brother, Charles, was lost at sea. Your father didn’t react well. The clerics said that because there was no body, there was no way to bring him back from the dead. It was a dark time, and your father spent a lot of time and money trying to rescue your brother from death.
“In the end, he couldn’t find a solution. In his grief and rage he cursed the gods that wouldn’t help him, and vowed not to lose any of his other children… ever.
“Many men have made similar vows, but Erasmus had the money and skill to try and actually make it work. You see, magic is a pathway to many abilities some would consider… unnatural.
“He studied life, death, undeath, and the true nature of the soul. It was to protect you, you understand. He found a way to keep you from ever leaving him.
“To do this he started two projects. The first would give you a new body if something ever happened to you. The second would make you live forever and never grow old.
“But something amazing happened. When you…your older sister, I mean, went through the ritual to make …her… live forever, the copy body woke up.
“Erasmus was pleased, and surprised. He loves you very much, and has enough love for you and all of your sisters, no matter how many sisters you have.”
The little girl scrunched up her face. “That does ‘viable’ mean? Daddy said I was viable.”
“Oh, that means he loves you,” the old nanny continued, her neck creaking quietly as she nodded, “That means you’re really his daughter.”
The child pondered, “Nanny? Where do babies come from?”
Nanny laughed, a sound like a dry cough, “Babies come from the workshop. You know the big metal door with the red X on it? You must never go in there. You must never see where the babies come from.”
The child’s face brightened, “But I want to see, Nanny! Can you sneak me in there, maybe? I so very much want to see.”
Nanny shook her head, and for a moment looked off into space, “I can’t do that, little one. Erasmus forbids it.” She paused for a moment, “I cannot disobey Erasmus. You’ll understand when you’re older.
“And when you are older, if you stick to your training and your schooling, your father will put you through the ritual too, and you will become immortal.
Nanny frowned, “It will hurt… a lot, little one, but you will be ready. Your father will prepare you.
“When you get old enough you will come of age, and on that day you will get a new everlasting life, and a new sister too.”
The child nodded her head, not entirely understanding, and scratched at the bandage on her abdomen. Earlier that day she had had a procedure done, when her father had called her ‘viable’. She had lost one square inch of flesh, a bit of intestines that she would never miss.
She was so excited to grow up!
(This is a bit of worldbuilding for my Aoela player. They didn’t give me much to work with, just something about an insular family with a Necropolitain tradition. I hope they like it!)