The concept of a hanger-on has already been mentioned on this blog by Oxadrenals, and, before that, intuited by Kate, but here we learn a great deal more about the threat they pose, in a passage that is a fine example of Saul’s language: vivid, intense, and yet tinged with consistent humor. Here’s what Saul has to say about them:
There is nothing more dangerous than a man or woman who has discovered your immortality. Mortals may in time resign themselves to aging and death, but this is a resignation forced by circumstance rather than embraced by will. Once he glimpses in your person, the possibility of escape from age and death, even the most respectable of men will become rapacious, his humanity overwhelmed by lust for what he believes you can give him. He will grasp at you with a strength that surpasses sanity, grip you like the old man in the fable who sits on the Brahmin’s shoulders. These tragic and dangerous creatures have been called Peiniea—The Hungry Ones, Rasmeosi—Those who Grip, and Luefelloto Lofelli—Seekers of Lifeblood. In English, they are often simply referred to as hangers-on.
By no means will such a being accept the bare truth: that immortality is an irreducible fact of nature, incapable of being gifted or conveyed. Rather, he will know to a certainty that you possess an herb, a spell, a sacred spring, a mysterious power in the blood that once consumed, will provide the gift of eternity. He will demand access to this gift and will credit no denial.
For example, an alchemical gentleman once came to believe I possessed the Philosopher’s Stone, lodged, peculiarly, within my liver. He wished, therefore, to possess my liver. My flight encompassed three continents before I at last escaped his voracious grip.
No, he is a terribly dangerous thing, your hanger-on, far more dangerous than war, famine, or weather. You must at all times do your utmost never to acquire such a being; and if, by ill chance, the disaster occurs, you must flee upon the instant, letting nothing dear delay you.
There’s much more besides, and a great deal of material to think about. –Stephen