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This post was originally published through Patreon on September 27, 2017.

I hear the cadence of their voices, the rise and fall in pitch as their mouths open to form words, followed by sentences. I attempt to reproduce their style, but it is only an affectation, a counterfeit exchange. My true self is beyond expression. Bound by a centuries-old rite, it is out of reach even to myself.

I have spent the past twelve hundred years in exile. During my unnaturally prolonged life, I’ve had a front row seat to the violent mood swings of history. I’ve witnessed the rise and fall of nations, conversed in foreign tongues with people of every color, nationality, and creed. But in the end, I am and will forever remain the outsider.

It is my punishment for a crime I’m not allowed to remember. I am dead to myself, dead to the world. Yet I wander the Earth still, little more than an animated corpse.

The guards told me that the key to unlock myself lies within, and I search the tattered remnants of my soul for it each and every day. But perhaps they lied. Perhaps they only told me this to torment me, to set me on a quest that has no end. Sometimes, I wonder if they watch me still, if they laugh from the shadows at my foolish attempt to reclaim my lost humanity.

Either way, I’ll never stop searching. My determination is an indelible part of my nature—the only part they couldn’t take away—and I choose to believe that it will someday set me free.

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