Many years earlier
The Foothills Near Λείβηθρα
Archon Heraclius Hero surveyed his army, his people. When he spoke, everyone heard, both mankind and God alike.
“The old Gods have ruled for too long. They have given us a hint, a taste of their power, and now we shall turn that power against them. For too long have they shackled the ambitions of mankind with their Magic. Man must rise of his own strength, and our strength is our mind. We, and those who come after us, must use this strength to build great things. We must not become bedridden, becoming reliant on an insidious crutch: this will-work that we do not understand, “gifted” to us by those who would use it to drive us into stagnation.
Magic, though it may be a blessing in some respects, makes us the play things of the Old Ones. If we rely on magic to build our empires, to grow our foundation, we build a house on sand. Our house must be built on rock, and that rock is our mind. A true curse is not one that brings nothing but misery. A true curse grants you power, a true curse is one whose pleasures are so intoxicating you do not wish to abandon it. Magic is that true curse.
Eperesto. Look at this. Sanguista. Is it not wondrous? Volesonorus. Is it not beautiful? That is the hallmark of its danger. Can you apply the principles of reason to these spells? Can you predict what words will cause what effect? If you cannot, you are a puppet. You are a plaything, stabbing in the dark, blindly grasping into places you know not with power that you know not. You are at the mercy of those who grant you this power.
Look around you. Do you see the glittering stone, the wondrous palaces, the plentiful houses, the water that courses through our city, the food that is bountiful upon your plate? That is the legacy of mankind. Look around you. What is the legacy of Atlantis? Do you live in a house that Atlantis built? Can you eat food that Atlantis has summoned? The old ones wish to keep us shackled, to keep us in their thrall, to damn us to millennia of darkness, subservient to them. I say “No!” We are subservient to no beings but ourselves.
Let us rise up! It is the start of a new dawn. No longer shall the world be ruled by muses and gods and fairies and Mystics. That is a world of stagnation, a world where we make no progress because no progress is necessary. You shall be the ushers of a glorious dawn, and history shall remember you brave souls as the true fathers of mankind!”
It took over thirty-six hours, but they succeeded. He lost slightly over one half of his men, but they succeeded. He took an arrow to the shoulder, and suffered an inch-deep slice across his leg, but they succeeded. They had broken the lines of the Titans, stormed through the mountain stronghold, and destroyed the Third Tower.
As a result, the Central ley line was lost. Creatures across the land blinked out of existence, those who relied on the ambient magic generated by the connection. More powerful creatures with their own nodes remained, but were diminished. The Muses and the Titans and the Fates and Furies narrowly escaped into another world.
The impact was felt as far as Egypt, where the priests of Ra and Anubis felt the power of their relics die in their hands. It was felt as far as the Arabian Peninsula, where Djinni died in their lamps. It was felt as far as Alto Alentejo, where the Falxian Priests could no longer feel the magic within their rock warrens. But they were free. Man was free to grow and develop a civilization.
Albion, however, was still imprisoned. It had the Eastern ley and the Northern ley, that lay in crux with each other, amplifying their power to the extent that no Tower was needed to anchor it to this world. The peoples in Albion would be held in thrall for generations.
But, Albion also had Ελαολογος, the master artificer. She had arrived centuries before, after having successfully reproduced the Rod of Ànkyras. The original was as large as a stave, with multiple cores of several creatures whose properties lay in synergy with each other, and could easily amplify the caster’s power. When miniaturized, however, it’s power was greatly reduced. When reduced to a single core, it became, at best, a useful little tool for small bits of hedge magick. At worst, however, it was a crutch, and could potentially limit the magical development of an entire region.
Deep Magic is difficult. It requires the proper state of mind, the ability to hold multiple realities in one’s thoughts, to manipulate both in synchrony with each other. When cast properly, it can yield awesome, yet dangerous results. Many people have the potential for Deep Magic. Fewer people have the resources to pursue and cultivate this talent. Even fewer have the required skill to do anything useful with this, without years of training.
When using a Rod of Ànkyras, even a fledgling wizard can violate the most fundamental laws of nature and produce water out of the aether. Why would anyone bother to pursue Deep Magic, when such miracles were within the grasp of mere children?
Yet, when wholly reliant upon a Rod of Ànkyras, even the most powerful of potential mages will likely do nothing greater than summon living flame, or temporarily change the Substance of a Form for a matter of minutes.
It was with this in mind that Ελαολογος, many years before, had left her lover and travelled to an unfamiliar continent and took a new name and made a new home, and eventually, started a new life.
The Archon strode to the camp, still feeling the glorious high of victory. He looked out among his people. He looked out among mankind. He smiled, because he knew that a new dawn was rising, a new dawn where a man would be free to exercise the fullest fruits of his mind; his capacity to reason. He looked out and he smiled for these were his people. He went by many names, one of them meant “protector of mankind”. Although he had long since discarded the name, he took the appellation seriously. These were his people and he was their protector, and they protected him.
He dwelled briefly on the hypocrisy of fighting magic with magic. He dwelled briefly on the pain of loving his people but not trusting them. He quickly moved on, for trust is a deeper bond then love. A parent loves their child, as Heraclius loves his people. But, a parent cannot fully trust the judgment of their children; a parent will afford themselves certain privileges, certain rights that they cannot afford their children. So too was Heraclius the shepherd of his people. At one point in the past, he was one of the chosen, picked (perhaps capriciously) by the Old Ones to help them shape their vision of the world dominated not by man but mages. He was gifted with great power and lore. But he did not turn that gift against men. He was the Protector of Mankind, and he took that honor seriously
As he strode through the camp, he looked upon his men, men who fought valiantly while many of their companions perished. It was, no doubt, a sacrifice, but importantly, they chose the sacrifice. He was not a ruler who would choose for his men. It was not his place to choose whether they should give their lives or not. He offered them the choice and they accepted, because they were men of honor, they were men of foresight, they were men of bravery.
One man had fought with such ferocity that even in the heat of battle, it had caught Heraclius’ attention. That man had now discarded his battle armor, and was standing in front of a small fire, gazing into its depths, alone. He was middle aged, with a body that was at one point in peak physical condition but now wore the hallmarks of age like a badge of honor. His face was deeply lined. It was a face that had seen much. Perhaps too much. His green eyes were warm, though. Heraclius spoke: “We have won a good battle here friend. You fought well.”
The man placed his hand on Archon Heraclius Hero’s shoulder and replied. “But there are still more to be fought. You are a worthy leader. But I fear you may not yet be strong enough for the battles to come. Egeustimentis.“