Strange that of all the places I would be wandering around it would be Gotham, but it plays a central part in my history, our history. It’s not something that can be ignored or denied, but it was something that my family thought I should do, even my grandfather which most would find surprising. He said it was something that I needed to know. Something that I should understand. Start at the beginning.
Though it’s not the true beginning not for our House, but it was the start of something different and new for the world. Everything that I needed to understand about our family I’ve been taught by my family. I have gone to the beginning there and tried to understand why everyone made the choices that they did. From my mother to my grandfather to my great-grandfather.
My grandmother encouraged me to explore all facets of my family, because they all bring something different to who I am. She said that that there were many things I could learn and understand by looking into the family history.
It’s one of the things that we did when I went to visit her in Egypt. Learning about the different branches of the family. There were things to understand about the Nelson side of the family that I could only learn through reading my grandfather’s journals and visiting that part of the family and one of the things that Grandmother and others wanted me to understand was that family did not always mean blood.
The people in the pictures were more than friends they were family. They shared a bond that few could understand, few that could try. Despite the difficult relationship that my grandfather had with who the person his father was there was no denying this was a part of his life. While he may have not accepted the station so to speak, he did accept that this was a part of his legacy.
Complicated. That is how it was described on more than one occasion. He had a complicated relationship with his father and the work they were both involved in. What Grandfather observed could not be unseen. That which he knew could not be unlearned. In short, he could not ignore all that was happening around him. He could not overlook situations that required someone to act, but he could do his way. He would not be guided unknowingly or unwillingly. He would decide how and when he would get involved and he would not do it alone or by trying to play puppet master.
“That is the way that your grandfather wished to engage the world he was a member of. He wanted to decide the man he was to become. He wanted a better life for me and for your mother and anyone that came after. He also wanted everyone to have a choice. He made his choice and he wanted your mother to have a choice. He made his position quite clear, but in the end, he understood that it would be her choice and her choice alone.”
As it would be mine, though there was something about the way she looked at me when she said it that made me feel that there was something more. It was like she knew what my choice was or perhaps the choice was already made. I won’t lie sometimes I feel like the choice was already made that it was already decided not by me or by him, but by something greater than us both, by the force our house was named after.
Regardless, it will not prevent me from continuing the journey. It just gives me more to think about. Turning the corner my eyes glance up along the building in front of me. Unlike the previous building this one was definitely different. People lived here. People trained here. For a period of time this was one of the most important buildings in Gotham, in the world, for a time.
I wonder if I closed my eyes if I could see it, if I could hear it. If I can imagine it as it was before. The building isn’t in bad shape. It’s actually in quite good shape. It was a museum for a while, but it was shuddered years ago. It hasn’t been utilized as a base of operations since before the dark times. There was a time when people wanted to see this building razed to the ground.
Superheroes were in vogue one moment and out the next. People saw them as dangerous. The government saw them as resources to be controlled. Despite his differences with his father Grandfather understood the need to protect what secrets he could. There were those that thought they knew better, but it usually led to situations that are graver than they should have been. Even worse awakening or gaining the notice of those that they should hope to avoid.
There were some that the government or others could be entrusted with secrets and artifacts, to keep them safe. Then there were those that believed they weren’t capable. It usually led to problems, conflicts and then you had those that were caught in the middle, those trying to do what they could to keep everyone safe and sometimes making the hard choices that others couldn’t even if it wasn’t someone’s desired outcome. Happily, ever after wasn’t always the goal and right now this building reminded me that there were a lot of grim endings for the heroes. Grim endings that some want to avoid repeating…if they can.
“Such a bright up the Justice Society of America was, until it wasn’t.”
Magic speaks to magic sometimes. It calls out to one another. My grandfather called out to my grandmother. My mother called out my father. It’s in his blood, deep in it, but it’s there my grandmother told me. So deep that sometimes it gets missed. Her way of saying that it skips a generation or two, still it yearns.
My parents met because of my grandfather. My father was a colleague of my grandfather. Someone he could consult from the world of academia. My mother met him because of that association and it was his death that brought them closer together.
I’ve only heard part of the story. My mother told me she would tell me the rest one day, but one day past, and she has gone on to the afterlife only to come when summoned. I think she chose that instead because that is where my grandfather is, but also because their both waiting for their other halves to join them, so they will be complete.
They are stronger together than apart. I am more than my mother’s father’s family my grandmother told me. I am made up her family and my grandfather’s family. My gift she told me would present itself when it was ready.
I cannot read minds, naturally I cannot move objects with unseen forces. Sure, I can accomplish those feats with a spell or use of an artifact or talisman, but not through sheer will. A burst of wild talent perhaps, but that would cause more problems than anything. Those are not my gifts. I wish I could have shared what my gifts are with my grandfather.
If there is one thing that I want from you, it is for you to be better to me. To embrace what you are capable of. Not to shy away from it. Twice has the question been asked twice it has been denied. Once by me and again by your mother. I asked her too. Why did she answer as I had? Perhaps I terrified her? The stories I shared. The things I said. The picture that I painted with the wild strokes of an angered fill brush.
It may have not been fair, but she was my little girl. Even now I can’t lie. When asked the question I want you to deny him, but I’m afraid that I have no say in the matter, no matter how much I want to. Perhaps this is my role to play. Perhaps this is my failing as a father and a grandfather. I wish I could do more for you, but I’ve only been told that I can prepare you.
She used those words, my grandmother.
”I can only prepare you. Prepare your mind. Your body is as strong as your mind. Curse me if you wish, Khalid, but I rather you be cross with me, hate me even than you be unprepared for what’s to come.”
He asked her to prepare me.
My parents instructed me in many things as I grew up, but it was my grandmother who gave me intense instruction in the ways of magic and the area of mental discipline. She was the one that recognized my innate talents for what they were. My mother only suspected. Reaching up I touch the ankh I wear around my neck for a moment.
So, what exactly am I trying to tell you? I told your mother that I wasn’t good at this type of thing. I told your grandmother I was terrible, but she encouraged me to write what I know. Write about the things that you might want to know.
Things about the family.
Where to start? I guess it starts with who we are. Seekers of truth. Though someone might debate that we were focused on fact more than truth. Truth depends on someone’s perspective. Truth can be shaped by facts, but facts are not always shaped by truth. I guess that is how your great, great grandfather, got involved with Archaeology.
I don’t know if he was looking for adventure, fact, or truth or simply knowledge. Knowledge of the deep and recent pasts. It got into our blood and for a time it was in the blood of my father, your great, grandfather. However, things changed when they found a hidden tomb. It changed the course of our family’s destiny for years to come.
To the outsider it would appear to be the greatest of all adventures. To my father it was his path. To me it was the never-ending horror that stole everything that could or would be. It revealed to me the best and worst the world, no, the universe had to offer. This is the world I grew to know. To say that I had a difficult childhood would be an understatement.
Now, don’t misunderstand, my father was a great man, a flawed man. one who tried to do the best that he could with the tools that he had been given. It’s safe to say we have a complicated relationship. One with far too many individuals involved for my liking.
Far too many individuals involved? More like one person that was involved that he didn’t want to have involved. I had heard the story enough, and I had heard his side more than once.
Unlike Kent Nelson, my great-grandfather, I would not walk into this being guided by the hand of someone that wanted to hold all the cards. My mother would not allow it. My father would not allow it. My grandparents forbade it. Step into the light with your eyes wide open. Do not turn your heard. Do no bow your head. Stare into the sun.
I know that is counter intuitive, but in this situation bowing your head, looking away was not an act of reverence, it was an act of contrition, that you would allow your will to be subjugated to the will of another. My grandmother within me she sensed something that that no other possessed. Something that set me apart. What it was, she could not say. That was strange. She couldn’t put her finger upon it. However, it did not prevent my grandmother from being any less determined when it came to my training.
She told me that any time we could stop, but that meant that I would have to make other choices, chose a different path than continue to have several paths open to me. Otherwise I would do a disservice to myself, and I could find myself being more of a servant than I probably wanted to be, more than my grandfather would have every wanted me to be. She said I could assume the role that my grandfather had, which would not be a bad thing in her eyes, but she did feel that I was capable of more. I don’t know if it was an allure or not, but it was something that kept me moving forward. I felt engaged.
Still, when she felt that I had learned all that I could, all I could be. Truth be told there were days where I resented my parents and my grandmother, even my father’s parents, because of the things I felt that I was missing out on, things that I wanted to do. Things kids that weren’t born into my family did.
Everyone has friction with their family, it’s a part of being a family, it’s not something that can be avoided, but there were days when I wanted to be not me. I can’t say that my family was disappointed or upset. It was only natural to want to carve your own path, to figure out who you wanted to be.
There was only so much that your family and mentors could show you and though my grandmother was my main instructor there were other people who came in and out of my life to help teach me the craft. When we settled in Michigan most of the year was spent in Detroit, being instructed by my grandmother and parents.
Summers me took all over the world even after my grandmother decided was time for her to return to Egypt. Even after my mother past, it did not stop. My father understood how important it was for me to continue my instruction. I visit my grandmother. I visit father’s parents. I visit him, given that he has been avoiding Michigan since my mother’s death.
He’s keeping busy and he’s working, it’s his way of working through her passing. Still, I know that I am at a crossroads, I can feel it I can sense it, it’s why I decided to carry my grandfather’s journals with me. I know that choice will need to be made. In many ways it’s already been made. Still it helps to have context. Which means I should be moving in to my next destination.