Some of you may wonder where I found Vathek, my little imp (ok, Arlen’s little imp), and I’ll tell you something; I had no intention of having an imp in my story when I started off. In fact, there wasn’t even any magick when I began this tale. But then I added that and a while later I was perusing this book – call it research if you like – Three Eighteenth Century Romances. They were: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, and The Romance of the Forest. The book was from ‘the modern student’s library,’ published in 1931.
Vathek, an oriental romance, begins thus, “Vathek, ninth caliph of the race of the Abassides, was the son of Motassem, and the grandson of Haroun al Raschid.” When the story begins “his generosity was unbounded and his indulgences unrestrained.” A description follows of his table which was “continually covered with the most exquisite dainties,” his garden of rarities, a hall of music and a “Palace of Perfumes.”
Basically he’s a guy that has it all until a mysterious stranger shows up who is horrifically ugly but carries the most magical merchandise, like knives that cut by themselves, slippers with spontaneous springs, and sabres with gems arranged in something akin to letters. It is this item that Vathek desires, determined to decipher the 'uncouth' script and it all goes downhill from there when he is unable to do so. The tale end with this: “Thus the caliph Vathek, who for the sake of empty pomp and forbidden power had sullied himself with a thousand crimes, became a prey to grief without end and remorse without mitigation.”
And I thought after reading this, who better to be cursed into an imp and bound to a book that ends up in the hands of Arlen? All I had to do was give him a talent – in this case the ability to smell intent – and then wait for Arlen to Summon him.
That’s where Vathek came from.
But I think the most interesting thing about him is how he evolved from a half thought of creature to an actual being with his own agenda. Pretty, cool, eh?