Last night, I read "The Last Incantation," a short story that tells the tale of Malygris of Poseidonis, a necromancer of the last surviving colony of Atlantis. Filled with ennui, he recalls a beautiful girl of his youth, whom he loved and whom he now wishes to recall from the abode of the dead. He consults his familiar, a viper, to see if such a feat is within his powers and whether it be a wise thing to do. The viper tells him that it is of course within his power to recall Nylissa, the girl from his youth, back from the dead, but whether doing so be good or ill can only be decided by Malygris himself.
So, the necromancer calls back the girl's shade and cannot believe, upon seeing her, that she is the same girl he once loved, for she is nothing like what he believed she would be. Disappointed, he ceases his necromancy before restoring her to life and returns to the viper to bitterly complain. He asks:
"Why did you not warn me?"
"Would the warning have availed?" was the counter-question. "All knowledge was yours, Malygris, excepting this one thing; and in no other way could you have learned it."
"What thing?" queried the magician. "I have learned nothing except the vanity of wisdom, the impotence of magic, the nullity of love, and the delusiveness of memory ... Tell me, why could I not recall to life the same Nylissa whom I knew, or thought I knew?"
"It was indeed Nylissa whom you summoned and saw," replied the viper. "Your necromancy was potent up to this point: but no necromantic spell could recall for you your own lost youth or the fervent and guileless heart that loved Nylissa, or the ardent eyes that beheld her then. This, my master, was the thing that you had to learn."