Despite of who you are, I think I can start this story with the words: Once, long time ago.
Or then I just could say that this happened both before, after and during you were born. Time is a strange thing, you know. I personally think it has a crooked sense of humor and too much power for its own good.
Who am I, you might ask. I'm Nikola, an incubus, the self-appointed scribe of Lord Lucifer the how-many-has-there-been-before-him-again, our current Satan. I never informed him of this though. He is very understanding and truly a nice guy, but probably not too keen on having somebody jot down his deeds and (mis)adventures. Besides he is currently quite busy with his children and the wedding preparations.
Still, someday when I have got time – a lot of heavy, thick, delicious time – I will write down his whole biography and then the complete history of the Satans of Nine Hells. Nobody has yet succeeded in doing it, since those pompous peacocks become far too secretive when they spot a quill in your hand.
But. Now when the formalities are successfully over, to the beginning of the actual story:
Frozen in time
The First Scroll
In the beginning, there was a young boy with an attitude problem. He was overly persistent and saw the world only in black and white. He was so persistent that when he outsmarted his tutors at his father's home at very young age he decided that he would find himself a tutor so intelligent and magnificent that he would leave everybody in his shadow forever.
He read through the books in his father's library and talked with all the wise men he could find asking them who was the greatest tutor ever. When everybody named different persons he realized that there was no person titled as "the greatest tutor of them all". If the boy had been truly clever he would have got over his obsession at this point and gone back to his studies.
Well, he did not. He started reading fairy tales and books of myths. Why he thought there would be a map to a professional tutor that was still alive is a mystery. My guess is that he was a childish idiot.
From one of those accursed books he found a mention of a tall man with white feathery wings and hair that of the color of pure gold. He thought that of course he wouldn't turn down a possible step stone to fame and might just because the said stone happened to be good-looking. There was no mention of the man's intelligence in the books though, so the youth thought first that the man was just a beautiful decoration meant to attract readers.
Then he realized that he was reading an old, tattered book about mythical beasts as bearers of knowledge. The man was described there next to a unicorn and a sphinx. The boy wrote down the man's name – 'Myrrh' - just in case he was to need it later on.
The boy thought about getting himself a tutor from a different race than him altogether. Of course that would widen and prolong his search, but in the other hand it would also give him more chance to find the right, dazzling teacher figure that would give him the secrets of the universe. ...Naturally he was ready to work hard and be a dutiful and respective student.
The boy thought first to seek a dragon to be his tutor, as they were generally regarded as beings that gained wisdom during their exceptionally long lifespans. He dismissed the idea, since if the beasts were anything like his half dragon father who either slacked off or slept decades straight in that magical bubble of his, they were extremely unsuitable for teaching anything to anyone. At least to anyone who wasn't able to dream walk.
It would be difficult to call the boy's childhood 'uneventful' or 'hardly unexpected' without lying. With magical beings, however, unusual circumstances weren't that unusual at all, but the boy's childhood could hardly be considered ordinary. He had been taken care by his gentle mother, who had then later on run off with somebody else. The boy hadn't blamed her and still didn't, because even if she had been cheating on his father she had waited until their son was old enough to do the household chores himself.
And his father was no use. Years, most probably millenniums, ago utterly tired and suffering from a burnout due to work stress, he had conjured up a large transparent bubble. It was his sanctuary – mostly because nothing and no one could disturb him when he was inside it. And on top of it all the bubble seemed to have a will of its own. At least the fact that it shrank and grew and changed its location even when his father was in a deep sleep inside it indicated as much. Without anybody able to wake him up, his father had taken a habit of sleeping in – generally at least a few decades. How he managed to keep his job and position was beyond everybody.
I would like to say that can be explained by the fact that you can find the greatest wackos of the universe in Heaven. Though, ask any angel about that and they lie through their teeth to you.
So the boy was mostly left to his tutors. He had absorbed any information and knowledge on anything they had and, in a rather sort span of time, became more knowledgeable than them. He had been overjoyed when he had first realized that he could offer them bits of information they didn't know beforehand. First his teachers had thought he was making up the things he said, but later after checking some of the information they had admitted that their student was indeed talented and had a good memory.
The boy hadn't first seen any reason to keep the tutors, since he knew more than them, but his neighbor who he had talked about his circumstances had pointed out that even if he possessed more knowledge than his tutors on certain areas it wasn't all the wisdom in the world. The boy had decided to find a new perfect tutor, who would know everything and would be able to answer every question one could think up. In the meantime he could very well continue listening to his old tutors, who were delighted to see that their charge had stopped bragging and started studying again.
In the same time, like told before, the boy had been trying to find a new tutor. He considered traveling around and making the finding of tutor into a quest fit for a good, old-fashioned knight, but knew that he would never be allowed to do such a thing. At least not on his own. And he had adamantly decided that he would appear before his knew tutor alone and mature and make a good first impression.
So he read the books and chatted with travelers in order to hear of rumors about any wise men and beasts. He heard somebody mention a winged man rumored to be highly sophisticated and intelligent. He asked more about the man, but was only told that the man was better known for massacring everybody coming near to the tower he lived in. More he didn't learn about this man of great wisdom and blooded hands. He didn't forget the man though, but just merely put him with all the pieces of information he had gathered.
The man would have probably been left there, if the boy only hadn't found another old, almost rotten book. There was a story about a great mage living in a tall tower in the middle of nowhere. There was said to be a large garden around the tower. A garden that had been designed to be both beautiful to eye and to prevent anybody not marked by the owner of the garden from reaching the tower. The book told that there were unsaid horrors brought from the worst of nightmares in the garden and also powerful beasts like dragons and manticores, and obstacles like sphinxes to discourage visitors.
The more the boy read the more he thought that it would be worth a shot. The man had to be powerful and knowledgeable to keep all the obstacles, beasts and traps practically around his doorstep without getting killed by them himself.
Well, I would personally like to know if the boy ever thought there was something odd in his sense of logic...
Next, the boy concentrated on finding and collecting as much information on the man, his tower, the garden of horrors and its location as possible. Now when he knew what to look for he noticed that there were implications and mentions of the tower in countless books, even when none of them was more elaborate. It was frustrating, realized the boy, to read through piles of books and old texts just to learn the exactly same things all over again.
In no book were told a sure way to get to the tower or to get an audience to its mysterious owner. The descriptions of his appearance varied from a strikingly beautiful young man to a red-eyed skeleton, which didn't make the estimating of the success any easier. It would be easier if the boy knew what he was supposed to ask to be his tutor.
I want to add that any sane person would have realized no later than at this point that it wasn't a good idea at all.
After months of investigating he thought he had learned enough of the location of the garden of horrors and the tower in the middle of it to attempt to find them. When he would decide to go to test his luck and try to find the place, his tutors would be less than thrilled – that was why he would have only one try.
He had studied the maps and gathered all the needed equipment and tried his best to keep it a secret. After spending another month fruitlessly searching for information he wasn't already familiar with, he decided to go and deal with everything when it was thrown in his face. He had no ultimate fool-proof plan how to ask the mysterious man, whose name seemed to be Myrrh when it wasn't something like 'the Evil Mage' or 'the Prince of Darkness', to be his tutor. He had first thought about bringing a valuable gift with him, but what would be valuable enough for a man who was so powerful?
Most probably nothing a simple son of the Metatron could offer. Pardon my sarcasm. He just was plain stupid as a child.
After lots of sulking and scheming the boy decided to bring a gift all right, but make clear that it was just meant as a polite gesture and not to impress his tutor-to-be.
After having everything he could possible need securely packed up the boy unceremoniously slipped away from his home after glueing a short, yet absolutely brilliantly worded note on his father's bubble of sanctuary saying: 'I'm off to an honorable quest, father. Take care of the house while I'm gone if you happen to wake up from your nap (which has already lasted nearly twelve years, by the way). I may not return, but what is the fun if there is no danger, right? After all, it's all about experience!'
From what I have heard the Heaven was paralyzed in a complete shock for over half a year after the Metatron found that note. Rumors say that he greatly disagreed with his son's point of view and made it known, too. Some say his furious death threats to his son (once the brat would return safely) were heard also in Hell, where the current Satan had great fun listening them and chuckling to himself.