I have moved through the world, observing, for a long time. It would be easy (and it was easy when I tried it once, but I try not to talk about that period) to set myself up as a king or cult leader by exercising what I’ve learned about the way human nature really works. But I do not. I have learned to mask my nature, to use my skills to remain comfortable without becoming a target. In short, I have learned to be humble.
I wasn’t always that way.
Playing on emotions and taking advantage of investments made with a very long horizon made it so easy to set up that cult. But the whole time that I lived that role I felt like I was actually wearing a disguise and playing a part. After a few decades, it got old. But some things, once set in motion, are difficult to halt. We were never a huge cult, but we were wealthy. And just vanishing would have left that wealth in the hands of far less scrupulous people. So I told myself that remaining the leader was a sacrifice for the greater good. The groupies, the fine dining, the fine art, cars, yachts, planes and even a private train were just part of the sacrifice I had to make.
After some time, even the most fervent believers began to notice that their leader had not aged, and the rumors started. I was supernatural. I was undead. I was living off their very souls.
All true, not that it matters particularly.
Because it was all false too. My long life is supernatural by the very definition of the word. Undead is a strong term, I prefer undying as that seems more descriptive. I almost died once, but didn’t. That seems to be the trick, when given the choice, don’t choose to die. Was I living off the souls of my followers? In some sense, yes, of course I was. I was basking in their adoration and belief. Belief that was finally becoming a prison.
So I dared it all, arranged to implode the cult and fake my death. It took several years to plan, and required that a few in the innermost circle of the cult discover that there was a yet deeper circle. My cabal. Together, we hand picked a few people to unexpectedly receive the majority of our assets.
Of course, even my inner circle was not aware that most of those people were really just legal fictions. Of course, I salted in a healthy number of real recipients to provide distractions while carefully exposing a handful of my spare identities to the scrutiny of my cabal. I naturally allowed the cabal to include themselves, allowing them to buy themselves seemed prudent.
It went smoothly, the cult dissolved the way many such do by splintering into multiple sects that frittered away assets by wrangling over the rights to the names and literature while my cabal quietly retired and I arranged my very public death, and then the deaths of the various paper identities that had received the bulk of the wealth.
So today I remain humble. Humbled by the edifice I had created, and the effort it required to bring it down.