Fan fiction:Compendium of the Orue Agea
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- 1 Compendium of the Orue Agea
- 1.1 Part I: The Path to Enlightenment
- 1.2 Part II: From Chaos Rises Order
- 1.3 Part III: Foundations of the Four
- 1.4 Part IV: Prophecy and Condemnation
- 1.5 Part V: Twins of Destiny
- 1.6 Part VI: Times of Trouble
- 1.7 Part VII: Fall of Nightmares
- 1.8 Part VIII: A Desperate Union
- 1.9 Part IX: Revelations
- 2 References
Compendium of the Orue Agea
Part I: The Path to Enlightenment
By the grace of higher powers I, Arlore Geid, High Librarian of Cedurnem, do set forth this chronicle to give insight to those who wish to know the purpose and history of the esteemed Orue Agea, known by most others as Alchemists, and of which I am honored to be part. As with all things, truth is in the mind of the beholder, and thus one must understand that this truth that I present is only truth in regards to what I have learned of before. In that way, the society of the Orue Agea is built upon the pursuit of truth and peace. Here and now, I intend to unravel the mystery of our history and the threads of the past that have woven together in our present.
The name Orue Agea that we bear derives from the Ancient Tongue, meaning “Seekers of the Self” and as such, those of our society seek to better the world around them by finding wisdom and enlightenment within themselves. I ask that you pardon my choice of words, as many of the scrolls of old are written in the Ancient Tongue, thus I shall attempt my best to accurately translate. Those beyond our society that remain unfamiliar with it refer to us as Alchemists, though this is somewhat of a misnomer as many of the Orue Agea study areas apart from alchemy. However, the art of alchemy is one of the necessary studies for any wishing to understand themselves and the world. The principles of our alchemical studies extend to encompass other fields as well, thus I can understand the generalization –which is a natural human tendency. Many refer to the proud warrior race of the north as Barbarians and the priests of Rathma as Necromancers, both with whom we have always had friendly associations, although neither term truly describes these honorable orders. It is due to these natural generalizations and fear of the unknown that I wish to make known the truth of our society, to cleave the shadow of rumors and lies that seem so prevalent in recent times.
No philosophy is more important to our order than perhaps “as above so below.” To understand this concept is to understand the relationship of the Orue Agea with their world. All things are a conflict of order and chaos in their own system, whether in reference to individual conflicts, the workings of the entire world, or the fight for balance found in a single drop of water. What meaning do the larger conflicts of man have for the world within the drop of water? And how they pale in comparison to the great procession of the greater universe around them. Therefore, it is said that just as all things occur above, so do they below –the worlds within the world. By this wisdom we believe our own minds and bodies to be universes within themselves. To balance the larger world beyond us, we must first learn to master the universe within us. Apart from many of clans of scholars and mages, this philosophy humbles us, as we realize we are only part of a larger world, whatever power to which we could hope to aspire is insignificant from such a viewpoint. The single mage who selfishly strives for power against the world is foolish; he is like a single raindrop trying to dominate the storm. Of course, like the honeycomb of the bee, the workings of the Orue Agea twist and split into a thousand directions, this great truth proving difficult for even the wisest ones to grasp. In order to know the true nature of the Orue Agea, one must understand the history that has shaped it. I intend to begin the work of revealing that history in my next writing.
Part II: From Chaos Rises Order
When most in general think of the Mage Clan Wars, they are reminded of the period of conflict between the Vizjerei mage brothers Horazon and Bartuc –better known as Bartuc the Bloody. While this conflict was certainly a most brutal one, the actual Mage Clan Wars had stretched millennia before when the first mage clans formed over the numerous magical nodes of Kehjistan. Consumed with power, the philosophically different clans began to war amongst each other for the right to supreme control over the magical energies. This marked the beginning of the long period of rivalry –sometimes violent, sometimes seething –in which the mage clans dominated one another for control. Their pride and thirst for power blinded the mages to the suffering they were causing, leading many to fear them nearly as much as the demons of the Burning Hells themselves. Among the atrocities committed by the mages was the perversion of the umbara clans of the Teganze into the unnatural Khazra, or goatmen, in order to fight for them. Such disregard for our fellow mortals is unfathomable to my mind, even if their beliefs are vastly different from our own. Blame was placed on demons such as Zagraal –but he only gave the Khazra greater strength, not origin –it was man that made these unfortunate beings. Their kind still roams these lands today, a reminder of the failure of the mage clans to uphold the ideals of wisdom and peace. Much of this was done in the name of defending the lands from the conflicts of the angels and demons, but the truth is far more obvious and terrible.
Parallel to the ongoing Mage Clan Wars was the even more nefarious and destruction Sin War, the conflict of the demons and angels of the mortal souls of our world. War is opportunity, with many mages seeing the otherworldly conflict as a motive to amass power and seize control. Entire cities were torn asunder by the awesome wrath of rival mages, heedless to the safety of those around, obsessed with only conquering a threat to their control. Though peace was made time and again between the clans, it was temporary, sufficing only until another mage hungered for power and found an excuse to ignite conflict once more. It is true that much of the corruption in the clans originated from demonic –and I dare say perhaps at times, angelic –influence; nonetheless, influence can only manipulate the dark desires already born in the hearts of mortal men. The forces beyond this world obviously sought to gain advantage over each other through the influence of man, and so many willingly acquiesced. Now please do not perceive my writings here as a condemnation of the entire mage order, as I am well aware that most of these esteemed scholars were peaceful in their pursuits. Rather I only wish to record the histories of the clans, especially how the greedy few were capable of tainting the greater whole.
For these reasons the general populace still fears practitioners of magic and –given their long history of corruption and greed –I cannot blame them. Alas, it is in our nature to desire…and to fear. Yet I can say with certainty that the wars have always been abated by the courage and determination of honest-hearted ones that stood against corruption. Many mages refused to fight one another and did their best to work towards peace. It has often been said that man finds the best of himself in the darkest times and it was in these dark times that a new society formed with the intent of seeking peace and knowledge for all mortals regardless of their origins. Truth became the call of this order to the world, a unity of a common interest against the corrupting influence of otherworldly forces. I speak of course of the founding of my order, the Orue Agea, which continues its purpose even today. For now, I gather more knowledge concerning the foundation, and shall write again when I have learned more.
Part III: Foundations of the Four
The origins of my society are quite difficult to ascertain, as fact and legend become indistinguishable the further back we look. There is no doubt that the beginnings of the Orue Agea rest on the shoulders of four individuals, whom have often been seen as either wise men or powerful deities –such exaggerations often occur. They are today known as Vulken the Forger, Enquirre the Artist, Hermothes the Traveler, and Agathaea the Healer. It is not my place to determine their nature or divinity, yet hereafter I shall assume them to be extraordinary men, no more or less, for the sake of historical narrative. From what I gather from our oldest records, these four were members of separate mage clans during the ancient Mage Wars, yet grew disillusioned by the incessant conflict for power and dominance. Each struck out on their own with the desire to seek truth alone as their only guide and eventually found each other. Uniting in their purpose, they ventured north to find a haven where they could study in peace and came upon a quiet valley in the northern mountains between Kehjistan and the Dry Steppes among the springs of one of the first tributaries of the Argentek River. There they established a village, which grew to a city as more came to them in search of truth. The first edifices were carved into the stone of the mountains, and remain in use even today as more seekers of truth visit with endless questions. None have been able to determine the original meaning of our city’s name, only that it was of great importance to the four: Melatras. The roles of the four vary from one source to another, however the character of each provides insight into their contributions.
Vulken the Forger is the alchemical patron of the fire element. He is presented as a chemist, an inventor, a natural leader, a master strategist and adept warrior. A man of fiery temperament, he was most likely a leader of soldiers for one of the ancient mage clans and came to despise to futile fighting among his fellow man. In Melatras, he gave leadership and law to the land –creating the governing system by which all inhabitants could live peacefully and in harmony with each other. It was he that saw the establishment of the Corpus Ducens, the Guiding Body that oversees the safety and upholding of order in the city. They remain separate from the studies of each Orue Ageum, serving as defenders and only ensuring that all living within Melatras follow the laws and do not bring harm to others or the city. Unlike other mage clans, the Guiding Body does not preside over the studies of sciences and are elected by the populace to make decisions in harmony with the good of the city. The Guiding Body always consists of seven members, most of whom have talents that assist in their duties, and govern from the Arx Arcana, the Secret Citadel. The members of the Body oversee all aspects of daily life for the city, often serving in other parts of it as well, and are responsible for any concerns are vital issues. Though a society of peace, many would wish to gain the support or secrets of the Orue Agea by force. The Citadel is the central defense of the city against any attack that may come, where those who decide to serve as peacekeepers train. As an inventor, Vulken forged and refined new creations to better the lives of others, and the Guiding Body collaborate to do the same in their decisions. The Citadel rests in the center of the valley, a splendid fortress with its grand spires reaching above the mountains and catching the sunlight in its crystal peaks, making it seem as though it is topped with glowing fire.
Enquirre the Artist is the patroness of the water element. She was always in thought, delving into the deeper studies as a mathematician, mystic, mentalist and even psychic. Yet she was a woman who also appreciated all beauty, as we know from her mysterious and evoking poetry. I suspect she was forever a student of the deep mysteries, yet would not abide the perversion of her noble studies by the clans for personal gain. She brought research and education to Melatras, where she established the Library of Cedurnem, housing information from across the world and from ages past. It sets in the edge of the valley, nestled in the spring-caverns that give birth to the valley’s river and winding deep underneath the mountain range. Like a hive, the chambers of the library divide and spread, with the main chambers devoted to studies in general and each subsequent chamber branching off to more specific fields. When an Orue Ageum reaches the point of beginning his own research, he creates his own lair to continue his work privately. That chamber will grow as more after him follow his work and increase the knowledge of that field. As such, the library originally was only one chamber, yet has grown to thousands and now continues to grow. Each scholar places protections and enchantments on his lair, so that only those who understand the studies before can proceed to his deeper truths. These enchantments are fortified over time by others, and test not only power but also understanding and control. Thus, there is no need for restrictions; scholars are restricted by their own knowledge and can only move forward when ready. The words on the portal to the library read “Nemo Sapientior nec Superior” meaning “None wiser nor higher.” While many originally assume this to mean that there are none better than the Orue Agea, they come to understand that it means that all are equal: no school of magic, no study, no order nor any man is superior to another. All merit their own worth and guide us to truth.
Hermothes the Traveler serves as the patron of the air element. A man of infinite curiosity with an adventuresome spirit, he was a scholar, a writer and an explorer, for he was always charting the unseen skies and unknown lands. Naturally a trader, He saw the greed and lust for power of the mages, and resolved to institute peaceful exchange and business. Indeed, he brought commerce and finance to Melatras, establishing the Mercatus Infinitus, the Endless Market, which encompasses the free trade of all the city and promotes honesty and fairness. He laid down the rules of trade, by which all trades must abide in order to conduct business in the Market. The massive stretch of stalls and shops is the first expanse of the city and makes up a generous portion of the city. With its troves of innumerable wares and services, it ensures undoubtedly that a person will find whatever they may be looking for –no matter how bizarre or rare. The unique hexagonal structure of the market and each of its subsections allows for an efficient use of space that is also easy to navigate. Hermothes was not a man to remain in one place too long, being a wanderer, and so he left Melatras after some time to continue adventuring in other lands –though he did return to visit from time to time. A traveling trader, diplomat and explorer, he journeyed to the most remote and far-flung edges of the world in search for new discoveries and establishing good relations between the Orue Agea and the peoples of all nations and orders. He always discovered during his travels new mysteries for the scholars of the Library to study and new individuals of talent to invite to Melatras. Likewise most Orue Agea travel in their youth to broaden their scope and bring new perspective back with them.
Agathaea the Healer, the patroness of earth, was a realistic and compassionate woman. She sought only to provide for others, and as such took on the role of physician, apothecary and cultivator. She was deeply upset by the suffering she saw in her fellow man, be they of her clan or any other, especially those who were experimented upon from the Torajan Jungles. She refused to allow her skills to be used to support war anymore, so she left her clan and gave herself to helping others. Upon founding Melatras, she established the Centrum Renovati, the Restoration Center, which cares for the health for the city and delves into the mysteries of medicine and anatomy. It still sits on the cliffsides of the northern wall, its many columns supporting the classically designed levels that surround the grand rotunda at its culmination. There was served as Chief Healer, and is said to even been able to remedy the deadliness of poisons and sicknesses with her skill. She was also an avid cultivator, and oversaw the immense fertile fields on the valley’s river to provide produce for the entire city. None in Melatras went without fresh food or healthcare, as she was ever diligent in her duty. So magnificent was her skill of studying and caring for life that a hundred breeds of flowers and trees always adorned the Restoration Center as a symbol for life and rebirth.
As the years passed beyond its founding, Melatras prospered from peace and a thirst for truth. A vast variety of individuals dwelled in harmony there, not only those who had traditional magical talent. Many studied metallurgy, potions, architecture, or a multitude of other areas that did not necessitate being able to touch magic –their power was their mind and will. So long as a person sought truth and peace, they were welcome to live and learn there. However, I will not deceive myself or others to believe that there were not difficulties over the centuries since. Like those of the mage clans before, time after time there has been those who have fallen astray to corruption and greed, with the parable of Tauch the Miser demonstrating the dangers of serving one’s own selfish desires. His story is intricate, and exemplifies a very important philosophy of my people, that of the two suns, which I will attempt to prepare for my next writing.
Part IV: Prophecy and Condemnation
A philosophical concept of great importance originated from a prophecy of an ancient Orue Agean seer: the two suns. Gold has long been hailed as a symbol of perfection –it never corrodes or rusts and only the most powerful solvents can dissolve it. The sun shares that perfection with its life-giving golden light. Yet alchemists believe in two suns, the physical one and the philosophical one. The physical sun that daily crosses our skies is the symbol of physical needs and desires, just as physical gold is the focus of greed. Those who study the Magnum Opus, the Great Work, understand that its perfection is temporary, illusionary. The true Golden Sun is within man, the potential of each one to establish his own divinity and transcend the bounds of physical reality. Although countless mages have sought to create the legendary Lapis Philosophorum, the Philosopher’s Stone, to transmute metals into gold and obtain immortality, they do not understand that true philosophical gold and perfection come from within nor that immortality is not escaping death but seeing beyond such worldly perceptions of life and death. To create physical gold is a work of the Black Sun, physical desire, which upon being conquered is only the first step towards enlightenment –not the last. It has taken centuries to understand this great truth and search for the Golden Sun above the Black Sun. It is perfection, oneness, order.
One such Orue Ageum who failed to seek the higher Golden Sun was Tauch, now known as Tauch the Miser. His pursuits were innocent and harmless enough…until he sought assistance from darker powers. He saw physical gold as the epitome of perfection and wished to gain its perfection for himself –to live on in a supposedly perfect state and gather its secrets for his use. To this end, he studied the ties of reality as well as how to control, change, or even loosen these bonds. He eventually succeeded in summoning an imp from the Burning Hells and bound it to his will. He kept his work secret, as this practice was forbidden unless under the direct supervision of the Guiding Body. Too often had enslaved demons turned to enslave their master and corrupt those around them; nevertheless, he brought the demon imp to his command, and studied its secrets in hopes of achieving his goal. He managed to bind the imp to the mortal realm with ancient and secretive spells, tying its spirit to a golden coin. So long as the binding spells of the coin kept its strength, the imp could remain in this world. However, he did not realize that the imp, seemingly so subservient and helpful, was actually corrupting his mind and exciting his greed to make him more easy to manipulate.
Although Tauch assumed it was his own idea, it was in fact the imp that planted the idea of using imps to gather gold for him so that he could continue his work. Slowly becoming consumed by greed, Tauch at last allowed the imp loose from his absolute command to begin his task of amassing gold and, in that moment, sealed his fate. The imp immediately used his newly gained free will to slaughter Tauch and carved his corpse into pieces. The pieces grew into homunculi that then emerged as newborn imps, but the golden imp went further to plant a golden coin in each newborn to share his bond with the rest. His offspring likewise were bonded to gold, and sought to gain as much of it as possible to increase their power and create more of their kind. Even thought a demon’s power greatly diminished after losing connection to great energy –such as their master’s –it can still hold shape on the mortal realm with far less power. Records show this to be true in recent decades, where imps wander dangerously free without control; luckily, they are far weaker without a master to feed their power. The golden imps used gold to store and amplify what power they had left, which made them stronger than their typical demon imp brothers. They were hunted by the Orue Agea upon being discovered, though some did escape destruction, and their species came to be designated the Avarifer Aureolus, the Gilded Greedbearers. Few know this name, which refers to the species in general, but rather refer to them by the name of their most common breed: the Gilded Miser, after greedy Tauch.
While small in appearance, the Gilded Miser is a sinister and fearsome foe for any adventurer –being far more vicious and power than the typical mischievous imp. Fortunately, this imp tends to remain close to its den; it fiercely guards its accumulated treasures and rarely strays from the general vicinity even to pursue attackers. One can tell the age and power of a Gilded Miser by the amount of gold staining its skin. Misers collect anything gold and store them in their dens, even going as far as consuming some of the gold to keep it safe. Over time, their powerful stomachs of hellfire acid dissolve this gold, which becomes imbedded in their bodies. When threatened, they viciously rake an attacker’s flesh with their razor claws or may even vomit molten gold upon them. The common Miser will usually seek only common gold and live for short times; however, the more powerful breeds of the Gilded Hoarder and exceedingly rare Gilded Mammon are hardier and seek gold with magical enchantments and properties. The more enchanted gold they absorb, they more likely they are able to call upon these magics to attack. Thus attacking a Mammon is pure folly, as the magical imbued gold in their bodies often provide them abilities such as elemental magic, enhanced prowess, teleporting, and even summoning other creatures to its aid.
I now return to the prophecy above mentioned. The seer spoke the words “Two suns, one black one golden; two souls, one to condemn one to redeem.” Curiously, this prophecy was spoken in Modern Tongue, which I write in now but was considered vulgar at said time, and contains double meanings. “Suns” could be heard as “Sons” while “Souls” could be “Sols” –Ancient Tongue for “Suns.” This double meaning is intended to tie to importance of the sun symbol of perfection to the inner philosophical sun within man’s soul –a child or “son” of truth. By my own belief, the Son of the Black Sun was Tauch, who by his greed unintentionally revealed our highest secrets to the Burning Hells and set their plans in motion. He condemned the Orue Agea and even the world with his actions, yet according to prophecy the Son of the Golden Sun would yet redeem us of our failure. This pivotal event involves much deception and tragedy –I hope to properly convey this story in my next writing.
Part V: Twins of Destiny
Some three-hundred years prior to my writing this, the longest peace of the Mage Clan Wars was consumed by the savage inferno of Horazon and Bartuc’s uprising. Empowered by demonic magic, these two Vizjerei mages desired to rise above all other mages and even bring the demons to their control. The violence escalated to complete war when the two turned on each other: Horazon only wished to control demons, while Bartuc wanted to become like one. Their disagreement resulted with Bartuc joining the forces of Hell and fighting against his brother. The war was more than one-sided as the mage clans also began to fight themselves as well as the demons, each seeking dominance just as in conflicts passed. The battles eventually encroached on Melatras, with some mages seeking to study from the Library of Cedurnem to learn new techniques to use against their enemies and others attempting to persuade the Orue Agea to align with them. The Guiding Body refused to take part in the war through any means, which led many of the clans to declare enmity against the society.
Allow me to take this time to detail the circumstances involved in the attacks on Melatras, first beginning with the Guiding Body of the time. My thoughts first turn to Niyma Nadeo. She was a tall, slender woman with skin dark as deepest night and a hard visage that belied her kind nature. She was naturally empathic; she could sense and understand the emotions, behaviors and thoughts of those around her. In the deepest debates, she served as a master mediator and bound the Guiding Body together. Eltus Debal was a pleasantly plump man with fair complexion and short, curly red hair. He understood the flow of life energy; thus, he oversaw the agriculture of the city and cared for the nature environment around. Tsul-queng-sha was an elder lady of greatest honor and finesse. The many years behind her had given her face the semblance of carved wood and her pure white hair arrayed behind her like a waterfall. None of her time knew more of the body’s form or function better than she, for she was a head healer of the Restoration Center.
Jabir ibn Khalid al-Sadiq was a dignified man with brown skin, a neatly trimmed goatee, and intricate robes that lied upon the various tools her always kept about him. Through his imagination and intuition, he guided the engineering and architecture of the city. A natural mathematician, he designed new astonishing buildings to replace those that had fallen into disuse and therefore to function more efficiently than before. Kusunoki Zhang was a warrior at heart, his muscled form the result of countless years of perfecting technique with the blade. He had black hair and fair brown flesh, and was a master of meditation and the art of focusing body and mind. Often he claimed his greatest weapon to be the mind and oversaw training in the martial arts and swordplay. Fen-rah Vost was a tall, gaunt man of flushed complexion and yellow hair that served as the High Librarian. His focus was on arcane magics and natural mysteries, having learned to even manipulate objects with his mind alone. He was always a distant man, even with his own family –such was the nature of his inward mind.
Scoewyn Hethra was well built with chestnut hair, skin like snow and a smile that ease the hottest tempers; his emerald eyes missed nothing and gave off even less to others. He saw the connections between things: action and consequence, past and future, one person and another. This ability made him an excellent swordsman, being able to glimpse moves to come, and even make important choices that would greatly affect the future. A deep sense of morality instilled in him the need to insure the fairness and justice of the Guiding Body’s actions. During his younger, traveling days, Master Hethra had discovered twins that he foresaw would have great importance to the events of the world –though he was not sure how. He brought them to Melatras to train their talents and to allow them to reach for a greater destiny.
The boy, Sri-Kurah, had jet-black hair and hardened tanned skin that showed the years of honest labor in fields. He was a natural leader: charismatic, strong-will, brave, and of a simplistic mindset. He always watched over his sister with loving diligence, comforting and protecting her during the months after they left their home when she had trouble adjusting to their new life. As he grew into a young man he became the apprentice of master Hethra, learning to hone his bladework and to be a leader of men. His sister, Sri-Ajota, had equally illustrious black hair and beautifully supple skin. Her inquisitive mind led her to study the arcane arts under master Vost, her own studies eventually surpassing his own in certain areas. She soon fell in love with his son, Ilseun Vost, who was an expert metallurgist and studied with Sri-Kurah under master Hethra. A light-hearted young man of sandy-blond hair and quick wit, he quickly became Sri-Kurah’s best friend; the two treated each other as brothers even as they crossed blades in intense –yet always amicable –competition. The brother and sister were natural prodigies in their areas and along with Ilseun were expected to eventually take places on the governing body. Allow me rest and time to compose my thoughts before continuing, even now my joints ache from writing.
Part VI: Times of Trouble
Their peaceful lives were shattered when Bartuc sent his armies to occupy Melatras and forcibly take the Orue Agea’s knowledge for his own use. Whatever remained human in Bartuc had slowly perished under the demon power that enveloped him –leaving him a truly loyal leader of demon armies and twisted cultists. Their soldiers marched on the city: vicious demons, mad cult followers and possessed wild beasts. With a savagery the city had never known, the army layed siege to its defenses through blade, machine and magic. Catapults launched from afar flaming amalgamations of corpses and festering feral demons to spread chaos. Swarms of vile creations spewed through the streets while wicked spellcasters unleashed unspeakably evil incantations upon the inhabitants. To the horizon there was only bloodied weapons, ravenous maws, and the look over murderous anticipation in the eyes of thousands. Yet they were met with fierce, unyielding resistance by those that would not give in to their terror. Though much death and pain was wrought on the city, the invaders finally withdrew after much loss to both sides. Perhaps most grievous of these losses was that of Ilseun who bravely stood with his warriors against the invaders to keep them from the Citadel –his sacrifice rallied the peacekeepers to fully repel the invaders from their beloved lands. Bartuc went on to ravage the world with his insatiable bloodthirst, eventually falling by the hand of his own brother. Although saved from invasion, a spirit of unease and despair fell upon Melatras, the scars of war ever fresh in the minds of the people. Many had lost their lives in the chaos and more families had been sundered by maddening slaughter.
Sri-Ajota never fully recovered from the lost of her love, and lost herself in grief and her studies of the arcane ties of reality. Meanwhile, her brother took a more active role in the protection of the city, determined to ensure that such an invasion never took place again. He attempted to comfort her in her pain, but she grew detached and became almost obsessed with her research. It appears she pushed the boundaries of the soul and mortal energies further than anyone before –perhaps hoping to somehow regain the love she had lost in death. To do so, she would have to learn how to lastingly bind a spirit from another realm to our world, for Ilseun was truly no longer of this world. But the one who felt the loss most of all was Fen-rah, his mind seemingly deranged by the death of his son. He became more and more secluded and ill tempered, disappearing for days at a time within the library and always refusing to say what he sought there. Over a few years Sri-Ajota could not fail to see something deeply wrong with her old master –beyond grief –thus she began to secretly study his behavior. I cannot yet say how it was exposed, but Sri-Ajota made a startling discovered: Fen-rah, in his grief and desperation, had been slowly corrupted and possessed by a demon.
Maybe it was her studies of reality or her closeness to her master that allowed Sri-Ajota to perceive the wicked spirit that had clouded his mind –of this I shall reveal later. Regardless, she revealed to her brother the true nature of the city’s despair: the demon was a Nightmare, a first-hand creation of Diablo, the Lord of Terror, himself. The Nightmares, a deadly breed of what is known in the Western lands as the Hidden, were formless demons that preyed on the fears of mortals and twisted their minds. Sri-Kurah stormed into the Citadel and confronted Fen-rah in the council chambers before the entire Guiding Body. Enraged at being discovered prematurely, the demon revealed himself as Run Azar and charged Sri-Kurah. Run Azar was the leader of the Nightmares and one of Diablo’s most trusted lieutenants; his name alone brought fear to the minds of mortals. The two enraged in a fierce duel, with the Guiding Body barely able to protect themselves, much less assist. The demon lashed out with the mystic powers of his host body and the hell-fury spells of his true nature –all the while demonstrating masterful swordplay. The damage to the Citadel was extensive, Sri-Kurah doing all he could to protect the others as well as attack the demon. Yet he was unwilling to murder the father of his best friend, withdrawing from a killing blow several times and trying to reason with Fen-rah. His hesitation at last took its toll, as Run Azar disarmed and prepared to kill him. Ignoring his own safety, he pleaded with Fen-rah to remember his son and to fight the demon’s control. Sri-Kurah reached Fen-rah at last, who resisted Run Azar’s control just long enough to apologize to Sri-Kurah and whisper his son’s name…then plunge the sword into his own heart. Run Azar, suddenly bereft of body, attacked Sri-Kurah’s mind and attempted to possess him; but the man’s indomitable will would not yield to his control and forced him out. Determined to succeed in his mission, he rallied the other Nightmares that had infiltrated the city and attacked the Orue Agea from within –cloaked in incorporeal shadow.
Part VII: Fall of Nightmares
For several weeks the Orue Agea fought a losing battle –the formless Nightmares attacked their minds and were nearly invincible to conventional combat. I read now from the record of Rihn Thadius, the explorer and astrologer, who returned to Melatras from his world travels during these dark times to defend his city. He was a renown traveler along with his partner Ozucchiba, who himself was a master cataloguer of lifeforms. The young man and the wizened elder with his long, bushy white beard made an interesting pair. He wrote, “My heart is wrought and pierced at the sight of my beloved city. Though I heard of its siege by the wicked demons, I never imagined what I would behold upon returning. The Secret Citadel was in ruins, though it somehow remained standing. The Market was pillaged, merchants slaughtered. The fields were consumed with fire, its flames clouding the skies with smoke. Even now I feel assaulted by shadows I cannot fight; I rush to join the defenders. Ozucchiba, who loved this city as much as I, felt sick to his core upon seeing the death about him. We had traveled long together, and I had never seen him so distraught. We caught sight of master Txucoatl, who was alive in battle hurling concoctions and casting his ritualistic hexes on the invaders and looked as fierce in his ceremonial paint as any demon. He said we must retreat to the library, where the defenders are in need of every fighter. Here we make our last stand, though I fear I will not be able to do much; yet my life I give to my city if I must.” From this we know that the damage to the city was extensive, yet the Orue Agea remained determined. The demons pushed towards the Library, their true goal, while the defenders desperately tried to keep them held back. Sri-Kurah refused to surrender to the oncoming horde, and vowed to fight them to his very last breath. Just when the city seemed lost, his sister advanced from the Library and, resolutely and composedly, began a rite of ancient power. She had learned more about the nature of the mortal realm than any before her, and knew what she had to do.
She undid the binding forces of reality and channeled pure arcane energies through herself. In the midst of the battle she called on the elements of the world to fall upon the demons: lightning struck, tornadoes descended, fire rushed forth, water raged, the earth itself opened and swallowed the invaders. Then, she spoke to her brother. She told him that she loved him, and that he must be strong and finish what she would begin…for Ilseun. She entrusted him with her greatest work, giving him a scroll that she said was the secret to manipulating the ties of the world itself and to bind a demon and seal it away. It was the very secrets that Run Azar had sought all along. Though he screamed for her not to leave him, she rose up and, finally letting go of her grief and accepting her potential, reached an existence that few mortals could ever hope to achieve. She let go of her fears, desires, her very self and touched truly divine power, with the potential to do whatever she could will and imagine. She fulfilled that ancient prophecy, and became a “Son of the Golden Sun, Soul of the Golden Sol,” (Sons in the Ancient Tongue could refer to just males or male and female) in attaining true philosophical perfection. She became the height of human potential, above angel and demon, having attained oneness with the universe around her –As above, so below. Then, she surrendered her life and released the infinite power of mortal energy, vanishing into a burst of white light that consumed the city. The pure, incorruptible power robbed the demons of their shadowy guises and forced them to take fleshly form or completely dissipate. In doing this, she saved her people, and redeemed that mistake made so long ago.
The empowered Orue Agea charged forward to the demons, not only defenders but also healers, scholars, farmers, merchants, and workers. United in their devotion, they used every talent they had to valiantly repel the suddenly vulnerable demonic force. Run Azar fled in rage and found a wild beast nearby, possessing and shaping it into a crude resemblance to his natural shape. His skull grew voracious fangs and tusks beneath, while twin barbed horns curved wickedly upward from his temples and fleshy tendrils sprouted behind in the semblance of hair. Eyes glowed as though they were embers brought forth directly from the fire-pits of Hell itself. His demonic power shaped and twisted the flesh as much as possible to his true form –appendages grew into taloned hands and others emerged beneath his shoulders to shape themselves as he willed. The Nightmares likewise found crude forms in the rodents, serpents, and insects of the mountains and desert –now themselves knowing the fear of being weak and hunted. They gathered with their leader and fled north in desperation, hoping to gather their strength and acquire reinforcements. Sri-Kurah led the Orue Agea and pursued, resolving to end the demons forever.
The Nightmares were pursued out into the Dry Steppes of the north, the Orue Agea relentlessly confronting them. The warriors were joined by other mages and even angels that had come to their assistance from afar. After two weeks, they channeled the demons into a narrow section of canyon known as the Aspera Sussuranta, the Whispering Drylands. The broken, sharp crags of the canyon sides caught the wind, the turbulence creating faint harsh noise much like whispers. Here, the demons lost all advantage and were finally surrounded. As a master leader and strategist, Sri-Kurah had maneuvered them to a sacred spot, a natural magical node beneath a large stone. The Orue Agea began the rites similar to that of Sri-Ajota’s that would contain the demons, while Sri-Kurah and his defenders held back the Run Azar and his Nightmares. The stone glowed as its magical energies were activated, and it began to pull the essences of the demons into it. Run Azar fought to the last, again dueling Sri-Kurah; however, Sri-Kurah used all his training to subdue the demon beast and run his blade through him. Cursing the name of the Orue Agea and calling to his master Diablo for help, he was at last sealed with the stone, bound for eternity by their spells. They remain there even today. Weary but victorious, the Orue Agea left the stone, which they named the Monolithus Insomni, the Dreamless Monolith, and returned to Melatras to rebuild their homeland. The nightmare was over, the war carried on –as I will explain.
Part VIII: A Desperate Union
The Orue Agea saw no reprieve from the war, for soon they received a visit from an archangel who asked for their assistance. The Orue Agea never sought allegiances with otherwordly forces –Hell or Heaven –as they felt that man’s potential lay within himself…the arrival of the angel was met with skepticism. Although initially very distrustful, the Guiding Body –now including Sri-Kurah –agreed to hear Tyrael, who told them of the current affairs of the rest of the world. Bartuc the Bloody had been defeated and Horazon had gone into reclusion from the world while the Mage clans had reached a temporary truce. The High Heavens had witnessed the works of the Orue Agea as they bravely bound Run Azar, and Tyrael gave an offer the them. Civil had erupted in Hell, and the Prime Evils had been banished to the mortal realm. Tyrael was assembling an order of wise ones from all clans and orders to hunt down the three Brothers. He had seen the binding spells they had used, and asked them to join this order of Horadrim to seal away the Prime Evils in special stones of great power using these spells. Determined to do everything possible to protect his people from demonic forces, Sri-Kurah volunteered himself and any willing to join to Horadrim’s quest after much debate and discussion. Those who chose to set out on this crusade brought with them their binding spells and, as a sign of goodwill, a special device that could transmute any objects placed within it. After this, the story is well known.
A group of Orue Agea joined the Horadrim, who pursued the three Prime Evils in their dark exile. Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred, was first captured and imprisoned in a Soulstone, a mystic stone that contained the power of the mortal soul and used it to power the binding spells. He was buried beneath Kurast and came under the guard of the Zakarum. Diablo and Baal fled to the west across the ocean into Aranoch. Baal fell in the deserts beyond Lut Gholein, although he shattered the Soulstone meant for him. A courageous mage named Tal Rasha offered to bind himself to the Soulstone shard and use his mortal energy to complete the binding. Thus, Baal, the Lord of Destruction, was too sealed, forgotten in an ancient tomb. It took several more years of pursuit to defeat Diablo, and finally he was subdued in Khanduras, where he was ensconced beneath a Horadrim monastery. Their task completed, the Horadrim faded into legend and, most unfortunately, eventually forgot their duty to watch the soulstones. The Orue Agea, however, never forgot to watch over the Dreamless Monolith and ensured that the evil Nightmares within it would remain sealed. If only the Horadrim had heeded to the cautions of their Orue Agean brothers and remained diligent.
Mephisto, first captured, was also the first to corrupt his soulstone and reestablish his power. After bringing the Zakarum council under his influence, he sent the Archbishop Lazarus to Khanduras to secretly release his younger brother. Diablo awakened beneath the monastery of Tristram, now a Zakarum church, and regained form as he terrorized the town. Brave souls ventured into the catacombs and slayed him, yet he in truth succeeded to possess the hero would seek to slay him. In his new body, he traveled to Lut Gholein and freed Baal, and then the two to Kurast to reunite with Mephisto. Together they open a portal to Hell, to which Diablo returned to take back command of the armies of Hell. Mephisto remained in Kurast to consolidate power of the Zakarum and prepare for the arrival of the armies. Baal journeyed to the northwest, preparing for an invasion on the Barbarian homeland. Once more, a group of heroes arose and defeated the three: Mephisto as he guarded the portal, Diablo in Hell itself, and Baal in the midst of his siege. The soulstones were destroyed, as was the treasure of the Barbarians: Mount Arreat. Whatever lay within that mountain (an object called the Worldstone according to Deckard Cain) was of great importance, and apparently had been corrupted –necessitating that Tyrael destroy it. Many feared the apocalypse following the destruction of Arreat, as if Hell itself would flood the world. Yet twenty years have passed, and life continues. Only now, after years of research, have I pieced together what I believe to be the truth behind the invasion of Melatras and the dark exile of the three Prime Evils. I will soon reveal my studies when I write again. My eyes are weary from the flickering candlelight, I must rest and collect my thoughts.
Part IX: Revelations
Though examining the writings of scholars ancient and recent, too many to record here, I believe I understand to underlying motives behind recent events. Perhaps the most useful of all was what I learned from speaking with the self-proclaimed last of the Horadrim –Deckard Cain. He claims to have conversed lengthily with the archangel Tyrael during the war against the three Prime Evils, thus I greatly value his knowledge. I am quite certain of the veracity of my findings, although I wish I were mistaken –as the underlying truth is far more terrible than its outward appearance. Let me begin with the great conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells.
Long ago, before man came into being, these two forces forever fought an unending war for the destruction of each other. In those times, angels and demons waged direct war with each other. After our world was formed, the Archangels and the Prime Evils realized the potential presented by mortal man. The mortal realm contained its own energies that kept angels and demons from holding their form there; they would quickly dissipate if they stayed for long. This energy flowed through the mortals and if either side gained the support of these souls they would have a great advantage over the other side. Thus, the direct war between Heaven and Hell ended a war of subtle influence took its place –with each side trying to gain more followers. The Prime Evils were masters of manipulating the mortals, yet the lesser Evils became dissatisfied with the lack of direct conflict and viewed this as a sign of weakness in their masters. Little did they know that the Prime Evils were aware of their thoughts of revolt, and used it to their advantage.
Heaven can count no greater loss than that of Izual, a headstrong angel that led an ill-advised assault on the Burning Hells and came to be a prisoner. The Prime Evils twisted his mind and forced him to reveal all that he knew in regards to the secrets of Heaven. In this way the Prime Evils learned of the existence of soulstones. The source of the life-giving energy of the mortal realm rested within mount Arreat since the creation of it, and these soulstones originated from the object in that mountain. They each contained a small but powerful amount of the object’s energies…and presented an amazing opportunity for the Prime Evils. From Izual they learned that Heaven hoped to use these stones to trap the Prime Evils by restricting them the mortal realm. If their bodies were destroyed, their spirits could be trapped within the stones with the right spells. Though this seemed detrimental, the Prime Evils saw a possible advantage to being trapped in the stones: they would be tied to the mortal realm and could move about it without fear of their energy dissipating. Demons could be bound to a mortal to draw strength from his energy, but be slaves to his will, or exist on their own at the cost losing the majority of their power. To be bound to a soulstone would mean that, in essence, they could bring their demonic powers with them to our world by tapping into the mortal energy without having to obey a human master. The last key information came from their own kind; the creation of the Gilded Misers proved that a mortal had learned how to bind a demon to a particular object other than a mortal–something that had never been accomplished before. If the brothers could bind themselves to particularly a soulstone, then they could retain their power and amplify it with the energy of mortals. Thus Diablo, Mephisto and Baal set forth a master plan.
The Mage Clan Wars erupted in the mortal realm. Through careful manipulation the Prime Evils corrupted Horazon and Bartuc and manipulated them into beginning their war as a distraction. At the same time, Prime Evils stirred the discontent of the lesser Evils and ensured that they rose up against them in civil war. In the midst of these wars, Diablo learned of the binding spells of the Orue Agea from the Gilded Misers. He tasked his lieutenant, Run Azar, with a most important mission: he was to take his Nightmares to Melatras and steal the secret art of binding for Hell –using Bartuc’s ravaging invasion to create despair and grief and thus gain a foothold in the minds of the scholars. As we know, the mission failed and the Nightmares were sealed within the Dreamless Monolith. This, however, I now believe that this was Diablo’s plan: he betrayed one of his closest followers. I also believe the Prime Evils somehow surreptitiously informed Sri-Ajota of Fen-rah Vost’s possession and allowed the angels to know of the battle that ensued. They never planned to have the secrets for themselves –they wanted the angels to have the binding spells so that they would use the binding spells against the three. Only an angel could acquire the soulstones, thus the binding spells alone would be far less useful for Hell. Deception would be their greatest strength in the events to come. We were all manipulated into serving the interests of the Prime Evils.
The civil war of Hell supposedly resulted in the “success” of the lesser Evils in which they defeated and exiled the Prime Evils onto the mortal realm. Using the biding spells of the Orue Agea, the Horadrim did exactly what was wanted and imprisoned them in the soulstones. Though weakened, they had access to the well of mortal energy and a connection to this realm. Now tapping into the stones’ vast energies, they slowly corrupted the stones and influenced the mortals close to them. Through their exertions, they had expended vast amounts of their energy; thus they were unable to escape the soulstones alone. By placing the soulstones in the bodies of mortals, the three could possess people and take fleshly form. Manipulating their connection to mortal energy, they hoped to bring their armies onto our world and establish dominion by corrupting the very source of the soulstones and our mortal energy. Imagine, our world as an outpost of hell: a supply of vast power, a breeding ground for demons, a bastion of darkness in which angels could not enter. The wicked cunning of this plan was masterfully executed. However, by the grace of courageous mortals, they failed and –with the destruction of the soulstones –they lost all connection to the mortal realm and were banished powerlessly into darkness.
I imagine the civil wars of Hell still continue, as Diablo did not have enough time to reconsolidate his authority over all of the lesser Evils. The destruction of mount Arreat has unleashed great energy on our world. I remember those twenty years ago when every mortal that touched magic in some way felt the raw power flood our world and forever change it. Now I understand the reason why: this Worldstone –as it is said to be –that lay resting in Arreat both gave us our mortal energy and kept it in check. Now it flows free in its entirety, and even I cannot be certain what the end result of this will be. Yet my greatest fear is this: The brothers planned the failed assault on Melatras, their exile to the mortal realm, their capture by the Horadrim. I wonder, deeply fearful, of what it would mean if they had planned even their defeat here on our world. Above all reasons –historical truth, dispelling misconceptions, education –I have recorded what I have learned to prepare for the future. I believe that the machinations of the Prime Evils have not ended and only by understanding the past can mankind hope to be ready for what may come upon us soon. A shadow creeps across the world even now, who can say what lies ahead of us?
-Arlore Geid, High Librarian of Cedurnem
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