I – Of A Time Past
“When the world was a dark place, where everywhere danger lurked, when the next meal was never guaranteed, where disease could claim the strongest overnight and the world was still to be explored, the unknown awaiting all those who dared venture out to meet it, this is when our history begins.
Humanity has a stubborn habit of surviving anything. No matter the circumstances we are dealt with and no matter how bleak the situation may seem, we have a habit of fighting to overcome any odds.
Ironically, when our very own survival is at stake, those seem to be the few occasions when people from all walks of life unite under a single banner to fight a common enemy and those men and women who would normally never give one another the light of day and who would normally look down at their own fellow human being, fight side by side against a common foe, class, wealth, the past, all mean nothing when the very thing we treasure, and abuse, the most is at stake.
And so it was that despite all odds, the flame of humanity grew strong and bright across the globe, as we started to claim our position as top of the food chain, started to discover the ways of the soil and the secrets of the plants to cure the flesh. It seemed nothing could stop us, for no matter the problem, through blood, sweat and tears, we’d always find that solution to keep going.
Yet nothing could prepare humanity for that day.
The darkest day of humanity.
The sky darkened as thousands of birds flooded the sky, rain poured down from the heavens flooding lands and valleys and the very Earth seemed to be shake, the legends say that the world felt as if it was about to split like an egg as a mighty roar echoed across the globe.
That’s when they came.
First by the dozens, then by the hundreds, then by the thousands. And finally, by the millions.
No one knew where they came from or what they wanted. The legends speak of the sky tearing open, beams of light shooting down from the darkness plummeting to Earth while others spoke of the beings materializing right before their very eyes.
Yet how they arrived doesn’t matter. What matters is what happened next.
For though humanity was scattered at that time, more so then today, the same fate awaited them all. Horrific creatures, warped beasts, titans of terror, flooded the world, relentlessly pursuing any living human or animal and they left in their path a landscape of ash and ruin behind them. The rivers turned red, the water toxic and poisoned and the world plunged into complete darkness, the sun blotted out and the rains and winds poured and howled every moment of the day.
Humanity tried to fight back.
Men, women, even children, fought to defend their homes and lands from these beings, beings with seemingly unending strength, brute force and merciless savagery.
It was no use.
Within a matter of hours of their first appearance, they had torn down homes, farms, temples, pyramids, villages and cities.
In a matter of days, entire civilisations were wiped off the face of the Earth.
The few that luckily, if such a word can be used after witnessing such horror and death, survived the initial onslaught, fled towards the mountains for refuge, the last safe havens of the world as Earth slowly started to transform under the reign of these beings, which were given the name Demons and the last few pockets of humanity stayed hidden, only delaying the inevitable.
Humanity’s brief time of existence in the river of time seemed to be at an end and soon the flame was to be forever blown out.
In a last desperate attempt to push back the Demons, a last army of six hundred and sixty six brave and desperate souls descended down the mountains and met the invaders head on, ready to meet their destiny.
Farmers, hunters, gatherers, soldiers, royalty, criminals, all united charged down in a roar that shook the mountains as humanity’s future hung in the balance.
They fought bravely, with honour and pride but it wasn’t enough and one by one they fell under the superior strength of the Demons and humanity’s end seemed to be close at hand.
Only seven stood standing and still the Demons kept coming strong and the end was close at hand.
Alius, once part of a people who had brought terror to the shores of countless cities and villages during his past life, arrived late to the scene, riding a black horse, he came to the aid of the seven and for a brief moment, they rallied their remaining strength and pushed back, only briefly, the strange invaders.
The master of combat was the first of the last eight to fall.
Then the scholar, who had never picked up anything over than a book in his entire life.
The fair maid fell shortly after the decapitation of the soldier followed by the farmer and next to fall was the baker.
Alius was thrown to the ground by a mighty blow, which cracked open his armour and he felt the red flow pouring down him and as he lay groggy on the floor, he spotted something. Amidst all the chaos and carnage of the battle, a white butterfly, fluttered around the battlefield and at that moment, he knew, they still stood a chance.
In his distraction, he left himself exposed and the last of the fighters sacrificed himself to save Alius’s life. As he held his dying comrade in his hands, blood seeping onto his sword, a rage filled Alius like none other before and he bellowed a curse at the enemy host and that is when hope arrived.
A woman shining as brightly as a hundred suns appeared before the enemy host and cut through the enemy lines like butter. Titans fell like sandcastles and the Demons fled under the combined strength of Alius and this mysterious woman.
Those high up the mountain tops peered down and dread turned to joy and they cheered as the battle had taken such an unexpected turn and victory seemed close at hand.
The sky shook once more and a monstrous figure emerged from the sky, bigger than any mountain and to the eyes of everyone their, his appearance was frightening, just to gaze upon the Demon brought fear to all those who witnessed his arrival. Some saw the head of a lion, a squid, a pig, a bear, a mix of animals and some saw a face too frightening too put into words.
It was then that the mysterious woman burst into a bright blue which was said to have flooded the entire globe and when the few remaining atop the mountain overlooking the battle regained their vision, they saw men, women and children rose from the dead, charging alongside Alius, who laughed as he swung his sapphire sword and so did the dead risen swing their attack, sending the monstrous Demon away from this world.
Against all odds, they had done it.
Demons still remained on Earth though their power had been weakened and those who still stood fled far and wide, now that they were few in number, they hide in the darkness from those mere hours before they had ruthlessly slaughtered with no hesitation.
Alius was elected by all those who remained as their leader and he reigned alongside his wife Cassellia and their newborn son, Alius II and for many years he was beloved, although he and his family were reclusive, seldom seen, only a small group of seven people were ever allowed to visit Alius and they relayed his words to the people, who now faced having to rebuild humanity.
Yet Peace had returned and the flame flickered.
It was many years later when disaster struck again, not on as big a scale as the Demon invasion but in the hearts of all those alive at the time, it was just as big. A small group of Demons infiltrated the home of Alius one winter night and Alius and Cassellia fell.
Their son was never found and humanity grieved once again. That same night, the seven people closest to Alius, who felt the greatest of all grief for they had failed to protect their leader started a new order, The Nephlin, a group dedicated to hunting down and finally wiping out all Demons and all they departed that very same night, never to be seen again to make up for, in their minds, their greatest failure.
The Nephlin order was created in inspiration of the seven who had promised to rid the world of the last of the Demons and in no time, there was not a man, woman or child who, in some way or another, was not connected to this most noble of orders.
It has been five thousand years since that day when humanity seemed to face certain extinction.
So what can we take from all of this?
That despite any darkness, there is always a light, so look into yourselves and find that light.
And now, in remembrance of all that transpired that fateful day, let us pray to the Gods…”
He closed the book shut, rubbing his eyes and taking a mental note of the page he had been reading.
He pushed himself up from the wooden desk and walked down the long aisle of the temple towards the altar.