In the Beginning...

-In the Beginning-

It began with the biblical prophet Daniel, who in a terrifying dream, saw four great beasts rising from a turbulent sea. Each was thought to have represented an empire that would hold temporary sway over the world, but finally God would be triumphant. In the year 776, Saxons storming a castle on Europe’s River Ruhr see flaming red shields in the sky. One man in particular, named ‘Artus’ wanted to know more about what he and the other soldiers saw. To put the extraordinary sight behind him was a futile effort, so he set out to find answers. He sought the guidance of self-proclaimed prophets, who in which gave Artus’ anxious fascination little relief. But one prophet in particular told Artus about the dream of the prophet Daniel long ago. He claimed to have had similar dreams, but also in his dreams, he saw the flaming red shields in the sky. Artus was reluctant to believe the old man, but he had nothing else to believe, and so his study became absorbed in the dreams of both prophets.

Artus immersed himself in his search for the meaning of it all, but there was more to his obsession than what he knew. Artus was being watched, followed and most of all, tempted. A year passed and Artus found himself being hunted by the Saxons; they declared him a traitor to the Saxon army for leaving. Artus fled and went to Egypt where he met a peculiar man who did not appear as any ordinary man. He was beautiful, soft and his movements were placid. His skin appeared as shiny as wax. His hair flowed long over his womanly shoulders, golden with a single streak of raven-black. His eyes were the rarest color of blue that Artus had ever seen. The man called himself ‘Mastema’. Artus did not know, but an angel; ‘the father of all evil, yet subservient to God’, was the one who had been following and tempting him. Mastema was the angel.

The Angel Mastema told Artus about five shields, that once discovered would tell Artus everything he wanted to know. Mastema explained that the flaming shields Artus had seen were a representation of real shields, in which hold the key to the origin of magic. Artus thought Mastema was a madman, and despite believing him on an instinctive level, he cast Mastema away and cursed him. A season later, Artus’ instincts proved stronger than his disbelief and he went in search of the Five Flaming Shields. Remembering what Mastema told him, Artus journeyed to Mesopotamia where he unearthed one shield found ‘in the hands of madness’, one was discovered by Artus ‘where the brothel gather to pray’. The third was found in the ‘mouth of the golden mount’. Another, Artus found in ‘the dark sands’, and the fifth he found further west near Antioch, on the Mediterranean Sea. The shield was located on the Partayian; a trade ship, nothing more. But the fifth was the most difficult to find, for Mastema said it was in ‘the under of Partayian’. Artus knew not what a ‘Partayian’ was, and all along, he thought that the shield would be in Mesopotamia just as the others were. Artus carried the Five Flaming Shields back to Europe, where he hid from the eyes in search of him, in a cave. For months, he studied the shields. All of them bore inscriptions in which he could not read. Each one bore a symbolic illustration, all of which were detailed in flames. The first shield was the Shield of the Mountain. The second was the Shield of the Serpent. The third was the Shield of the Locust. The fourth was the Shield of the Tree, and the fifth was the Shield of the Gate. Several more days passed and Artus’ frustration became an overwhelming seed of self-destruction. The very presence of the shields drove him to near death. His hair grew at a rapid rate. His teeth became as dust. His skin began to shrivel, even near his eyes that were left protruding sockets of worn flesh. Artus was being consumed by the unknown and he knew that death was near. His madness pulled his mind into the labyrinth of his nameless thoughts, those that he as a simple man could not conceive. And in the floor of the cave, Artus began to place the shields in various situations, as if trying desperately to piece together an enigmatic puzzle.

The Angel Mastema appeared to Artus in his angelic form, giving the fallen Artus the light unto which his demented eyes yearned. It was the first day of year 778. Mastema spoke to him, tempting him to press on so he can know the secrets of the unknown world. Artus could not deny himself the knowledge. He had power at his fingertips and nothing now was to stop him from obtaining it, not even knowing in his heart that it was a sin against his God. Then, his skeletal fingers finally found the right arrangement. The cave lit up with a glowing, flaming light that could be seen over the mountains and throughout the pitch-black sky. The shields became as fire and from each one, a figure appeared from its symbol. From the Shield of the Mountain, a dark-haired woman with black eyes took up her flaming shield and left the cave. From the Shield of the Serpent, a man with a forked tongue took up his flaming shield and left the cave. From the Shield of the Locust, a boy child with Locust wings took up his flaming shield and left the cave. From the Shield of the Tree, a young naked woman with a root-like tail took up her flaming shield and left the cave. And from the Shield of the Gate, a man with daemon horns who held the world in the palm of his hand, took up his flaming shield. The daemon touched Artus on the shoulder and Artus’ form was restored. “Does the fallen man take into him the knowledge of the truth?” said the daemon. Artus took to his feet and placed his hand on the daemon’s shoulder. “I take into me the knowledge of the truth,” he replied.

The world shook. The Earth broke apart entire continents and the sea consumed where land once was. And from the sea four great winged beasts rose from its turbulent waters. The beasts swallowed whole, hundreds of terrified people, into their bottomless bellies and then disappeared…and have not been seen since.

And so the gate into the unknown world was opened, revealing the Marakai.

(Read here about the Marakai)

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