Prologue - A New Life
The man leaned over the sink and splashed his face with cool water. His reflection told a story not many knew. A scar above his lip so old he nearly forgot how he got it; a blemish here and there that if he'd earned them a year or two later would have healed without a trace, but as it was he was stuck with them forever. The ins and out of his immortality he learned over time. With his special medication, even mortal wounds would heal without a hint of a scar. Without it, he would scar, faint but visible. Old scars, scars from before, never disappeared.
He looked tired, worn down. He looked… fifty. Probably because he was, physically. Older, even. And that didn't even begin to take into account how many years he'd been alive. He hated thinking about it, hated every New Year's party he had to attend, every birthday he couldn't stop himself from mentally converting to his actual age. There was nothing he could do about it, though. He would have to live with the consequences of his naive pursuit of immortality forever.
There would be no more sleep tonight, not after the dream that woke him. It reminded him a lot of the dreams of yore, fever dreams that drove him to his ink and parchment. It never happened that way anymore, not in dreams. It was disconcerting. For so long he had been relying on the feeling in his gut to lead him in the right direction. He was still almost always right, even without the benefit of detailed visions.
He might as well check to see that everything was in order for the day to come. His new identity was flawless—all the documents, the background, the paper trail… Even if someone went through it with a fine toothed comb, they wouldn't find anything amiss. His dyed hair was a little too stark to look natural, but it would still do the trick; people usually saw what they wanted to see.
He was good at this, better than he was at just about anything else, and with his considerable talents, that was really saying something. He played to his strengths, wove in just the right amount of truth to make sure slip-ups were unlikely and even if they happened, no one would notice.
He liked the world as it was now. It had finally almost caught up with him—when he drove his car to work in the morning, or flicked on the light in his kitchen in the middle of the night, or settled in to watch Maxwell Smart get himself into trouble before bed, he was just like everyone else. He felt much more at home in the twentieth century than he ever had in the fifteenth. He fit better.
Five hundred years ago, he was looked upon as either a crazy person or a prophet or a danger to the status quo. Today, he was just a man. A man who could probably be a billionaire if he payed any attention to the stock market, or the CEO of a major technological corporation if he wanted, but a normal man just the same. Well, almost normal. There was that whole immortality thing, but he could count on one hand the people who knew about that. The fewer, the better.
Tomorrow he started a new life, again. He had a good feeling about this one. He wouldn't let a dream ruin it.