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Contract of Shadows -- A Diary Long Forgotten


(NOTE: The following is inspired by the events of Crimson Echoes at the founding of Guardia. This is a couple of years old, as I intended it to be part of a great project, although I made 20% more changes on this to allow you to view it in all its glory. But kudos to those who can trace references to my last year's Dream Splash entry.

Each "line" separates pages and topics written each day or week. This is because, in Medina, Sermis loses track of time due as "Time" hardly exists for the Mystics. Meaning, beyond that line, every "page" is written in a new day or week, but the chronology is uncertain.)

Medina, 10 AG (After Guardia).

Having suffered the great losses in war against the Guardian Empire, we hoped that another tragedy was not for us to bare. Unfortunately, fate can be cruel for those without power, and Sermis grew to seek at as he gained more knowledge. He may have been an incredibly curious and passionate minds out there, but he was no genius; for in his pursuit, he accidentally set off a horrid curse that decimated the entirety of Medinan population by 20%. His decade-worth of research also perished in the fires he caused.

The name "Sermis" may not ring a bell to you, unfortunately, as he has indeed been long forgotten by the streams of time itself. He was one who worked under the tutelage of Anteus of Porre, when the leader opposed the conquest of the great Cedric of Guardia, and fled to Medina when Porre fell, never to be seen again.

This book diary is the only last remaining essence of his work past; though burned and mostly unreadable, it is crucial that it remains, for the Moon Goddess of Medina holds a prophecy that a time will come when the Knight of Vanity, he who arms himself in beauty, will change our very fates, holding this very book as the key. And until then, I hope you can guard this with your life!

-- Grieving the Curse of Fleabane,
Yours Truly, Homer.

The Contract of Shadows
~By Sermis of Porre        

I whole heartedly confess that I keep several diaries of my research, visions and life, but this one would be my prized possession.

As we know, our tribes have been striving greatly for survival over the ages of frost, but somehow I have a feeling these ages are coming to an end. For good or for worst, I do not know. But cultivation of crops below land could expand, provided the soil above being fertile for agriculture and thus putting an end to pastoral wanderings. Some creatures other than us have managed to adapt to their frozen environs and live peacefully without a threat other than famines, though their fears may come to an end eventually. Regrettably, due to famine alone we were ones to feed upon their meat.

We humans placed our arms together to protect the younger from cold so they may survive to see a better future, and a future has come. At the cost of my ancestors our hardships are rewarded and we shall pass the trial of the gods and prove that our existence is worth everything. Together we rose and together we shall create a utopia.

Apparently our leaders had different views of the so called "utopia".

When two men Cambyses and Cedric stumbled upon ancient ruins of a forgotten kingdom their ideals changed. For Cambyses, I am unsure what has changed much of him as people talk, but I can say he changed for the better. However, Cedric began to crave power and wealth above all else. Truly, he wished his wife to see an ocean of gold at her feet and all law at her will, but her highness Anne Guardia considered less of Cedric’s ambitions; all she wanted was to have her followers living peacefully in a kingdom of righteousness.

But Cedric forced the other tribes and Kingdoms to submit to him, going so far as to wage war against them. Our leader Annteus was fearless and stood a lion in battle for the sake of all mankind and fiendkind. Of course, for he could not hold Cedric on his own, I was appointed to gather help from the folks of Medina who were also threatened by Guardia, and they sent their troops for backup generously.

I have a grave news to confess that the outcome was inevitable: Porre was defeated and conquered.

Apparently Cedric was backed by Divine Retribution, or so they say, and whoever refused to follow him perished. Not even a bone or tooth was spared for a proper funeral of his enemies. They say it took form of a strange fire, frozen in time, and it burned Anteus away in a blink of an eye. However, I believe that such a power cannot be holy, especially at the hands of such a ruthless dictator. I refused to submit to his power, nor did I want to perish like many of my Porrean, and thus fled with some of my comrades to the safe haven of Medina, despite knowing that it shall not be haven for long.

How we survived in the strange, brittle rafts across the sea is anyone's guess... But we fared better than our leader, who perished against the Flame.

Medina was rich with culture and traditions, but certainly not of the humans. The population was high, yet it was not as prosperous as it should have been. Some traditions were horrifying in the eyes of any human being, yet in its own way it was so beautiful that words were not enough to describe it. There were several diverse tribes with differing views, religion and customs, and many feared and despised humans such as us. But the Raubian Elder and his followers weren’t so hostile and welcomed us with open arms.

The tribe of the Raubi were not entirely generous, but were not so cruel to their guests either. They were pale yellow in skin and grew wrinkles at an early age (which was considered as a sign of beauty to them). Their arms and legs were short, but their bodies being round and heavy compared to any human, as heavy as spheres of iron weighing tons. They certainly were selfish and greedy, always thinking of themselves, but their hospitality is remarkable, and they treat everyone, every specie, as a family. Alas, their numbers were declining compared to the rest, which was a shame as they held untold wisdom of the past.

After hearing the sad news of their brethren in war, it was obvious to know what their response was. At times I was filled with guilt and thought I should never have requested Medina's alliance. But could I have given up hope and left our leader to die on his own? Yet my overwhelming anger blamed one person entirely, that one man who was responsible for all this while the others lay helpless.

While our stay, me, Ronald, Owen and Homer repaid them for their hospitality by helping them in almost every way we could, though this was made difficult due to the language barriers between us and the Raubian (although I tend to think it was an "accent barrier", which correlates with their biological inability, in turn explaining why our "Earlobe" and "Adurab", along with grammar, are so similar; the Raubian were familiar with nearly every language existing). Perhaps that was why the Rabian folks were dedicated to animal farming and agriculture than dark tribal magic, for the fear of mispronunciation and lack of control when it came to dealing with contracts with the shadows. Eventually, I took interest in the way of life of the other tribes in Medina and stumbled upon the Shamans.

At first we did not believe in magic, for there have been mild fairytales of it which was never real in the first place. But I was not the one to judge that, because I have seen Cedric’s Divine Retribution with my own eyes. However, Owen took this too lightly and often brought the Shamans’ anger upon our necks. Somehow we managed to come to peaceful relations and I swore to Owen if he does it again I would personally see to it that he’d never be alive to eat the Medinan Special Frog and Stinkworm stew (which, admittedly, we weren't too fond of, yet had no choice if we wished to survive).

As it followed, Owen was not the only one who had problems with the Mystic customs.

Apparently the Naga had captured a woman, whom they called a Guardian Royalty, even though she looked more like a village commoner to me. It was clear that the Mystics could never see the differences between human beings much other than some. The poor woman was to be used as a sacrifice in order to summon a Demon from the other side, and her screams of mercy were ignored. My dear friend Ronald could not watch this go any further and stole her away. The Naga had assumed we were siding with Cedric. Then I tried to convince them that it wasn’t so and that I’d take responsibility of my friend and his chosen wife. Of course, Ronald was against this, but if he were to escape unharmed by the Naga he had to follow my lead.

Romilda was the name of the woman, and eventually she and Ronald fell in love. But alas that is another story.

Honestly speaking, I too was against the “body sacrificial” ceremony for certain traditions, but some Mystics were happy to volunteer as if it was a divine duty, even though their end was just as bad as a human’s. We were hardly in any position to judge, no matter how rational and civilized we thought our views were, and now matter how much we grieved over dying lifeforms. Sometimes it was difficult to understand how their minds operated, but not all Mystics were as fearsome. In fact, I began studying into the Mystic folklores and Magic to understand more and find a better solution to things.

I began my uncountable days in Medina by making use of my presence. This, I accomplished by studying under the Shamans to learn more of their culture.

Despite much evidence of existence to such lores, the Fiendkind believe in them with all their hearts. However, none of us has ever managed to find out if the stories were true or the origins were accurately described or manipulated. But among several Gods and Demons, an interesting figure that stands is Gladus, the Goddess of the Moon. There, it seems, all of fiend-kind's powers are drawn from.

They say that the first Mystic Kabal was born at Gladus’ feet who gave them life, the ability to witness and speak of her beauty. She was as fair as the moon herself, and her garments were elegant, suitable for the gods. She wore a bright tiara that blinded many with its dazzling color, and her divine feet made the lands holy with each step. Those with faith towards the Goddess of the Moon would have everything they desired and all the happiness in the world at their disposal. She cared for all Mystics and would save them.

Though sometimes somethings happen that cannot be undone, and there are certain cruel things that must be done. It is hard to understand the complexity of this Goddess’s morals, neither has anyone been able to speak to her directly recently, other than Kabal which was known to exist thousands of years ago. But the faith towards this Goddess stands strong, and the Mystics worship her at every Full Moon, when most of their hidden powers and savagery within awaken. And only a fortunate Shaman is known to communicate with such a great spirit.

Another story depicts her uniting with the God of Destruction known as Lavos in order to smite the angels and the Garden of Heaven for endangering the Mystic kind where one of the betraying angels known as Mar threw them off the Paradise they were born in. Regrettably, there are many versions of this story, all differing between the several tribes of Medinan culture. Which one is true is hard to tell. But regardless, they have similar faith towards the Goddess altogether.

Learning about Lavos the past couple of days eventually made me want to pursue the deity next.

Lavos is either often praised or feared for one meaning alone – Destruction. Not much is known about this deity other than the fact that he is the destroyer of all civilization. Many different references are made of Lavos, such as in the Ogre tribe, where he punished a race of angels with annihilation for craving the power of the Gods. In another version of the story, he actually helped Gladus destroy the Kingdom of Heaven because the angels had wronged the Mystics. Rumors claim that one day he shall rise again and take away with him yet another race with destruction in his wake.

The appearance of Lavos seems odd in the Mystic culture. Paintings and stories depict him being a bald Cyclops with a large purple eye, and jaws so strong it could crunch its way through mountains. He wore odd jewelries that do not seem to exist in the world, and limbs that are perfect in almost every way. Some even claim that one wave of his hand alone can destroy time and kingdoms. Indeed, despite the enigma, there is no question why he should not be feared.

And yet plenty of doubt if he even exists.

Some Shamans believe that when we dream our soul, or conscience, fades into an eternal and timeless sea of dreams called Zurvan where our origins unite temporarily with the stream of life we were born from. It is said that when we die before we unite into the stream once more the animals inhabiting the planet purify our souls. To which, the Raubi Farmers enthusiastically had this to say:

“Adu dibu bajina bom Buu dand emb bom Buu!”

A kind Imp by the name Hez translated it as, “All life begins from Nu and ends from Nu.” I was curious to know who or what this Nu was and guessed it was another name for Zurvan in the Mystic, but ironically as I set my eyes upon the paintings and descriptions in the older texts, it was a creature the size of a human, and yet was not human, with hands falling as if boneless where its ears should be, eyes the size of a human face and mouth horrifyingly huge within which all souls of the universe are inhaled with one breath, and exhaled with another. Its neck or torso was nowhere to be found; yet it had small pair of legs, making me wonder how it carried such weight.

Till this day there hasn’t been any story about Nu that I am aware of, but despite that the folks of Medina believe in the myth wholeheartedly.

Majin/Asura – The God/Sea of Sins/Shadows

Similar to the Zurvan there is another sea of conscience known as the Shadow Realm, the Sea of Arcmyst where evil (or as some tribes put it, "conscious energy") spirits of death unite, moving freely and chaotically. Apparently, it is unknown what or how those spirits have come into being, but it is assumed that when a person dies with sin and hatred, or stronger love and vices, in its heart striving to live, that soul does not achieve purification in Purgatory and thus begins to haunt the living or joins the Sea of Arcmyst.

Unlike the Zurvan, all the spirits that enter this Realm retain their identity with the power of True Name, and at the same time, like the Zurvan, they unite into one powerful and sentient conscience called Majin, or Arcmysyt. The leader of the Mystic tribes collectively is called "Maoh", or Magus, meaning "Lord of the Fiends"; they Mystics believe that he always represents the conscious energies of Arcmyst, and hence possesses a divine right.

Arcmyst is regarded as a God of Demons and a darker side, an obvious counterpart, of Nu. Everything regarding it are either just as vague as Nu or more. He seems not to have an appearance. Yet it is said that Majin is responsible for everything evil and that he is the bringer of war, suffering, sins or plague if things go wrong, and supreme rebellious energy if things need to be right. Some say he has a throne within the Caverns of Skulls, and some others say that he possesses 666 Satanic Generals under his will, each controlling a legion of Demons.

Which is why the Shamans encourage the folks of Medina to have the doors and windows of their houses made with Rosewood, having Silver and Iron at many places, using Bellflower incense at dusk, paint their houses Blue and Green, and various other caution to ward off evil spirits. They cover their children’s belly button with cloth lest the Raigen, the Djinn of Thunder, harbor their essences, and keep stakes of Rosewood in case of an encounter with a Shadow Beast.

Ironically, substances such as Silver and Garlic that they use to ward off evil spirits are also substances that are injurious to some Mystics, the reasons to which are unknown. And yet the practices continue.

Days passed, and famine made us weak. Eventually, we took to hunting with the fellow Mystics. There, we learned of something interesting.

Afiorius, the Demon of Pride, is considered satanic, and yet a symbol of Pride for all fiend-kind. In the Great Bible of Gladus (a holy book written by Saint Kabal at the end of his life), it was said that a Tribe of the Tropics, once blessed by the great flames of the Sun and granted the means to live, were given one wish, to which they decided to live for the forests they grow beyond the glaciers and separating themselves from the world alone. Despite their love for their land they became weaker, but they remained loyal to the Sun.

But the divine Sun was forgiving, and was born among the tribe a noble prophet with the head of a fox. He preached and prayed, and taught his brethren the ways to survive. But unfortunately, as he prayed, Alfiorius sidetracked his prayers and tricked the Fox-headed priest. The demon, which boasted his might above all living things, taught his people to hunt, brought them meat, made them strong, but in return he wished to devour the divine forest.

But then came the Lord, the father or Gladus, with his angels of retribution, and sealed the evil within an enchanted ring, and blessed the Tribe once again. They may not have been granted their forests back, but the tribe was granted to keep the gift of the hunt. And ever since then, hunting became a divine act for the Mystics.

A quick addendum. Many seem to refer to a strange "Fury of Akasha", or "Cataclysm".

I have yet not figured out who or what this Akasha may be, but the origins of the word refer to sky. And as such, whenever the term Fury of Akasha is used in the Great Bible of Gladus, it always suggests divine retribution from the sky. Such as, the burning of the sky that set the Tropical Forest ablaze, or God Lavos’s retribution which rained destruction from the heavens upon the fallen angels.

As famines raged, the fiendkind grew to cower even more. Some say they have seen the shadow of a strange hunter. The shadow... of Dullahan – The Harbinger of Death.

Dullahan is a legendary demon of death, as recorded by the Ruabi Wisdom. He appears to travel in a headless dark horse and carries his own head in his arm, while holding a massive sword in another arm. Not all are able to see him, but when someone does his death is inevitably nigh. Apparently a winged deity with the face of a rabbit defeated him. But despite that, Dullahan was never killed.

He possesses a legion of demonic hounds that hunt for souls at midnight, and is known to bring rocks, gargoyles and statues to life, but that may merely be a myth.

Digging deeper into the roots of the Winged Deity who conquered death, he apparently was associated with one more vital character: Fleabane – The Angel of Wisdom

Fleabane, or Phadibun as they say in the Raubi dialect, had a kind heart who served to Gladus loyally. When she heard of the traitor Adamus, the demon of lies, she immediately sailed to find Lily, but to no avail. Upon that time, she met the Three Sages of Wisdom, Wind and Wish, who guided her to pray to the stars and call out Lilith. And pray she did for several nights till the Goddess, who blessed her by creating Death with which Fleabane could bring down the demons of Adamus as she danced, answered her prayers.

But she was despaired with such a power, for she was never meant to kill; her purpose was to protect her beloved and nothing else. But the lord claimed that without death there is no meaning or love to life, to whose words she obeyed loyally.

However, the blessing often came with a curse, the curse of Death upon blessed them. But Fleabane was special, and she was protected from death due to her kind, compassionate, heroic and caring heart. And for her courage and love towards her kingdom, she was rewarded with riches and happiness, which she shared with everyone she met, for everyone deserved a piece of happiness.

The more I know, the darker everything seems to get around me. And, for the first time, I sense a strange light of hope in our direction, no matter how fearsome it may seem.

An important figure emerges in the Mystic folklore: Lilith, the Goddess of Death. As much as Gladus was a beloved one that created Life, then Lilith was the darker counterpart who created Death, one that was most feared by the Mystics. When enquired about the ancient legend from the Raubi tribe, their pronunciation confused me with the words such as Didai (Lilly) and Didit (Lilith), but I managed to catch on with the help of the other tribes, and am most grateful towards Diablo Tribe for further information since much of the accuracy were lost in the past. Another word that was not familiar to the Diablo Tribe but appeared in the Rabi was Phadibun (pronounced Fa-di-ba-nn in the Rabi dialect). I had no choice but to assume it was actually called Fleabane.

Apparently, there were many Gods (about 14, I can imagine) in different kingdoms of Heaven deciding who would rule the world with the Fire of the Star. Some Gods generously elected on another, but some were selfish and wanted the Fire for their own gain, and this brought out war.

They say that this fire of the star bestows untold upon the wielder. Some say it assumes the form of a flame, frozen in time. Could that be.... what Emperor Cedric possessed?

From the Garden of Adamus, the wife of the God Notre-daam, the great foreseer, the God of Future, named Lilly bore a son and wished he’d him to unite the Gods to glory one day. But Adamus, the Prince of Lies, asked Lilly to speak one lie which would make them rule the world below. Lilly chose not to speak of such lie that would make others suffer. And because of her denial, she was sent beyond the farthest reaches of the sky, away from her beloved child. But even then, she swore for vengeance, and Notre-daam prophesied that so long is there hatred and sin, and the hunger for power, the Goddess of Death shall rise.

But that is not to say that Lilly was weak, but rather she believed in the future of her son. Nevertheless, hatred took over her and she wanted nothing but suffering to her traitors.

Eventually, an angel by the name Fleabane (or Phadibun) approached the Goddess Lilly and felt her sorrow. She wished to avenge her and bring havoc upon her enemies. The Goddess had transformed into Lilith and granted Fleabane the power of Curse of Death, the creation of the end. Fleabane was a woman of elegant style, and she danced to her victory throughout. Each swoop of her leg or swinging of her arms brought death to the Gods of Adamus. Soon, Fleabane was granted victory and Gladus ascended the throne to spread light to the world.

Could it be... that the Flame Cedric carries has a weakness? That light could be extinguished by a greater shadow?

Years passed as I learned of the strange sigils and macrocosms, and the many words of enchantments. I've studied under the Shamans to learn of the various methods of Shadow Summoning, and the divine prayer of the Moon. So far, my efforts have yielded nothing but minute smokes (although many Naga seemed to insist that these are hidden Dream Creatures that simple eyes like mine cannot see).

I was told to read further, and only practice on summoning and binding shadows of lesser levels. But I cannot live so long already... If this Lilith is the answer, then I must seek her by all means necessary. If I fail, I could at least prove that she does not exist.

So I spend time creating elemental barriers, lighting incenses. The conjuncts and syntax of spells are ready for the ------------- perfect replica of -------------- the darker summoning. I only fear that ----------------------------- still may remain lethal. If I were to survive, I hope someone does find this. This is all I -----------------------------------

*The rest of the text is blackened and burned*
Quick note to Homer:

Writing this as fast as I can. If you find this, be sure to send it back to the Raubi clan, and insist on not having it touched by anyone else. At all. Human beings are not worthy of such knowledge, at least for now. And I'm not sure what doohickey Sermis has been on to, but he's... dead.

The details are vague and the cause unknown, but the Ogre Chief says that some "Great Curse of Fleabane" was unleashed, a plague so catastrophic, a storm so endangering, that it destroyed the lives of nearly every Fiend in the vicinity, as well as destroying houses as if a hurricane hit. Sermis was one of the casualties, though the details of his death are strange -- instead of sickness, his body has decayed, flesh bitten and slashed by a scythe, and head lying several feet away from its body.
In any case, I always thought this ordeal was idiotic. It's about time we return to Porre and surrender to Guardia. But heed me carefully: not a word must be spoken about Sermis. Remember, he never existed, and you never knew him.

Also, talk to the Chief about more details. Apparently their fictional Goddess has a prophecy (yeah, right).

-- Yours sincerely, Owen.

Tushant's Notes

1) The "Garden of Heaven" is actually the "Kingdom of Zeal".

2) The Zealian "Mar" is actually "Marius Bendar". It's been so long since I've written this that I actually forgot who "Marius" is, although I vaguely remember it being from FaustWolf's "Fata Morgana" series.

3) Regarding the "Tribe of the Tropics": They are actually the Shikari Clan from ZeaLitY's "Alphard and Demeria", and FaustWolf's "Fata Morgana", and played moderate role in Pre-Zeal Wars (Atash Kedah).

Fox was an artist who convinced the clan leaders that defense was essential nevertheless, lest they watch their own annihilation helplessly. Together with six hunters, Fox was able to summon an Ifrit named Alfiorius and charged him for the protection of their clan. The Ifrit, who was born of Pride, was a perfect being, perfect spiritually, physically and mentally, and thus became a symbol of Perfection and Pride to the Shikari. However, King Zeal sealed the vicious demon within his ring, used it for the Atash Kedah and burned the forests of the Shikari, later beheading Fox. Eventually, the Shikari reformed their culture of being at the top of the food chain by becoming the perfect hunters of Earth and Shadows alike.

4) As familiar as Dullahan is to the Western world, in Medina apparently it was referenced to something else, as I began to plot Atash Kedah further.

Dal-Hun was the Grandfather of Dalton who was one of the most feared soldiers of Zeal in the Pre-Zeal wars. He created the ability to craft and bring Golems to life and to be used in battle. He carried a massive sword known as the Executioner, and controlled an army of demonic beasts, upon which he rode (he chose new ones on each battle). Whenever he was appeared in the battlefield, the deaths of all his enemies were considered inevitable, and thus he became a cursed sight. However, he was later slain by a hero named Grahm from the El-Grande family, the rider of a Pegasus, but unfortunately had teeth that resembled a rabbit’s. Grahm slashed apart the heads of both Dal-Hun and his horse Nightmare, but despite that, Dal-Hun did not die, and simply carried his head in his arm and fought Grahm. Though, with the help of re-enforcements, Dal-Hun was defeated.

5) Other than her loyalty towards the King of Zeal, all the theories about Phoebe (Fleabane) in Mystic Wisdom are entirely untrue. She was indeed one of the more knowledgeable magicians (Atash Kedah, which you can read in last year's Dream Splash), earning her the title “Angel of Wisdom”, but she was ruthless and power hungry at heart, only seeking the rich pleasures of High Class. She abhorred the commoners and Earthbounds, taking every opportunity to skip away from anything dealing with them. Of course, with her abilities the King favored her, and with her rise to Seneschal she forced the Zeal historians to rewrite the history of the wars, making her an avatar of justice and heroism. Ironically, CT's Queen Zeal didn’t exist in Phoebe’s time.

6) The Three Sages of Wisdom, Wind and Wish are actually the Three Gurus: Reason, Time and Life. Norstein Bekkler's own great grandfather was the Guru of Life who researched into the improvement of magical ability among the Royal Families who possess the capabilities, and also the ways to interact with four of the ten Lights of the universe (including the "Shadow Realms", from which the Shadow Beasts and Dream Creatures could be invoked, and hence the creation of Masa and Mune).

7) Fleabane's Prayer is actually the Zealian art of Shadow Summoning, which the Mystics go on to use in the Mystic Wars of 600 AG, where Ozzie resurrects Zombor.

Very impressive.

I would feel it like a piece of Cthulhu Mythos if not all those Chorno references.


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