Anima - Into the Shadows
The Council of Gaia
The Council was formed as a loose association of individuals who saw a need to defend Creation against threats that would destroy it. While Abel and the Azure Alliance tore at each other’s throats, locked in a civil war with no end in sight, Creation itself was threatened by creatures from without reality – and that which the civilized powers fought over would be ash by the time anyone could respond to these threats.
Thus, the Council was born as a group of individuals fighting for a common cause. The Council is not about control of Gaia or domination of those who dwell within it; rather, it is dedicated to the preservation of the very soul of Creation. To this end, I have gathered information from across the states of this world and compiled it. This information cannot be lost with me, and I know I shall rejoin the river of souls sooner rather than later. Thus, the knowledge I have gathered is collected in this manuscript for the other founders of teh Council. Use it wisely. Add to it. Preserve.
Raphael du Basarac
The History of Gaia
First, there was humanity. Then, long ago, the powers that be created the other races of the world. Not bastardized hybrids, as I was when I was born, but full-fledged beings molded by the hands of the gods. Duk’zarist – beings of darkness, and sylvain – beings of light – were the first to step foot on Gaia. Following them were the others – the jayan, like myself – d’anjayni, ebudan…there are many now, and many that were. There were disagreements about this genesis, and the gods strove to eradicate both each other and their creations. Those that survived became what we know as the Beryl, the Angels of Light, and the Shajad, the Lords of Darkness. Above them were two beings of immense power – The Lady of Light and the Primeval Lord of Shadow.
The War in the Skies spared humanity and also paved the way for the true birth of Gaia. Every race began to flourish and prosper as things stabilized, and cities and kingdoms began to form. While most races were isolated, humans – already widespread – were able to interact with nearly all of the fledgling races. This time also saw the height of the supernatural – magical powers and otherworldy beings who could manifest easily within the realm of Creation. Unfortunately, this too came to an end. The Duk’zarist and Sylvain both advanced more rapidly than the other races, but in radically diverging directions. The Duk’zarist believed the strong should rule the meek, while the Sylvain maintained the idea that all living things have a right to live in complete equality. Eventually, these philosophies came into conflict, and the Duk’zarist attempted the conquer the sylvain and ultimately, all of Gaia. This sudden conflict – the War of Darkness – proceeded poorly for the other races, until they banded together and forced the Duk’zarist back within their own borders, utilizing their primary weakness as fuel for their counter offensive. This war devastated Gaia and reconstruction had to begin.
- The Elder Races of Creation by F. Simple
The Messiah was a simple man who had nothing; a bright figure, possessed of a light that dazzled beggars and kings. His message was simple: all Men were equal under God and all had a place within His home. He conveyed both messages of compassion and forgiveness, but also preached that Man should fear the Lord and his vengeance. Magic and supernatural had no place in this new covenant, nor did those who adhered to such concepts.
He was accompanied on his mission by twelve apostles, bearers of his creed, who went forth to spread his message to every corner of the world. Utilizing word and sword with equal zeal, they sought to unite mankind under a single flag – but such a fate was not to be for the man called Abel. At the gates of Solomon, he was betrayed by an apostle named Iscariot – paid for with thirty pieces of the cursed black metal. This sins of mankind rest upon this payment, for they paid for the crucifixion of Christ.
Following his death, the kingdom of Solomon was ripped asunder as its walls were torn down and a new history began. The apostles built a city along the tomb of the Messiah – a holy city named Archangel. Within three years of the Messiah’s death, the apostles split the realm into eleven kingdoms, and proclaimed themselves as spiritual leaders and holy kings.
It was during this period that magic and mysticism were truly stomped out within Gaia, as it was prohibited in the eleven kingdoms. Other races were expelled from their borders, or killed if they would not leave. The Inquisition was founded, with a mission to find and execute these demons who would pursue the impure arts.
Eventually, the apostles began to die, and their kingdoms fell to the hands of lesser men. The kingdoms began to separate and act independently from one another, which would ultimately prove to be a major downfall. Far away from the kingdoms, across the seas, sat a twelfth kingdom – a Holy Kingdom in its own right, for it too, was founded by one of the Apostles. This kingdom was known as Judas and was founded by Iscariot, the traitor of Christ. It was during this fractious time that its leader, Rah, decided the time of Judgement was at hand. As the Duk’zarist before him, Rah sought to conquer all of mankind. Rah had forged an unholy alliance with supernatural creatures who had been driven out of the Holy Kingdoms – primordial horrors and great beasts, walking alongside men, Duk’zarist, giants…they destroyed everything before them. While some believed he merely sought to conquer the lands, it was later realized his true mission was to eradicate the soul of God. As in the War of Darkness, only a final alliance of men and sylvain could stop the onslaught. Mankind, united under Zhorne Giovanni, drove Rah back to his island of Tol Rauko.
Rah, seeing defeat at his gates, enacted his final plan. Activating a machine powered by soulfire, his machine wracked the physical and spiritual world, causing damage whose full extent will likely only be known by our distant ancestors. Over one-hundred million died in the War of Rah. Afterwards, racial hatred, had reached outrageous levels, and supernatural beings withered as if they lacked some vital element. Zhorne Giovanni went on to unite the Empire of Abel, leading us into the modern era.
- The Last Descendant of Iscariot by M. Fabius
Three hidden societies, whose names I cannot write, for fear of reprisal, represent the three major races of the world – Man, Sylvain, and Duk’zarist. From the shadows, they have guided history according to their desires. To stand against them is folly, for they could destroy all of Creation within hours should they wish it. They have divided Gaia into three ruling worlds – and I violate The Agreement to even write this information. Still, there are those who believe we should have free will, and what free will can we have if we are not empowered with the information to make decisions for ourselves?
- Lords of Shadow by Saeed Al-Faziz
The Powers in Shadow
Much of this information has been deduced, and cannot be positively taken for truth, as details are difficult to find. It would appear there is an active conspiracy to hide the existence of three powers who lie behind the kingdoms of men, elf, and duk’zarist. Once we have had contact with directly – The Imperium – while the others, knows as the Technocracy and the Illuminati still lie in shadow. Or, as I have gathered, likely like across a veil in another world, separate from our own.
Each of these powers control technology unseen in the modern era – combinations of technology and magic that make a mechanical jaw or even a flying airship appear to be crude monkey tools. Each group controls its own world, and is bound not to interfere with the worlds of the other organizations. They do not reveal themselves lightly, nor do they reveal the existence of the other groups; however, within their own world, these organizations have absolute power and authority. These rules are simply known as The Agreement.
I wish to state again the power and technology it would appear these organization’s control, as I do not wish for the Council to either offend or engage agents of these organizations. They are capable of destroying Empires in hours and, if rumors are true, have done so before as they eradicated the Kingdom of Solomon in a day. The Imperium has taken note of our Council and, thus far, do not appear to wish us ill-will; however, should this change, I do not know what course of action could protect us.
The Imperium is the most powerful of the three, and is the one that watches our plane of existence. I’ve seen mentions that they are both the creator and destroyer of the Kingdom of Solomon, and also responsible for the payment to Iscariot. Likewise, they seem to have some tie to Abel, the Messiah, but the connection is unclear. They are both everywhere and nowhere and it is safe to assume that any action you take is observed by the organization. They are located on a mobile fortress of operations.
Their agents are highly skilled and well-equipped. They practice infiltration, espionage, erasure, and eradication. Rumor – once again, unconfirmed – has their agents standing to-to-toe against of dozens of creation-intruders – dancers. Above these agents, there is no information available on their command structure, or if there even is one.
The organization is extremely secretive. Even these vague accounts and descriptions I’ve tracked down have been nearly impossible to corroborate. Although we have some relationship with the Imperium, I do not know if this document will constitute a breach of their desires. Should they decide this document warrants erasure, I hope they merely take the documetn and knowledge of it and leave the Council intact; however, documenting this information is of paramount importance to the Council’s mission.
Based on what knowledge I’ve collected, I believe that we may have encountered a captured substation under the control of the Azure Alliance at the Iron Finger Tower; I cannot fathom how control was wrested away from the Imperium, but it is the closest we may have been to the organization, other than their blatant invitation they sent us aboard the Ghost. If they were truly able to capture a substation, then the extra-dimensional threat from the Dancers may be far more grave than we initially assessed.
Should we wish to ingratiate ourselves further with the Imperium, they appear to seek the shards of metal used to pay Iscariot’s treacherous fee.
The Illuminati and Technocracy
Very little is available on this group, as they reside in Hell – the realms outside of our fragment of creation.
Hell – the other fragments of creation separated from our own – protected from us by a Barrier. This Barrier is not a physical obstacle, but rather, alters a violator’s reality until they are unable to tell they have been transported to another point in the same fragment. Thus, the world appears perfectly round tho those of our kind who are adventurous enough to travel far overseas. The exception to this is in the Wake, where the barrier manifests as a physical barrier of souls and chains that block the passage of any who try to circumvent it. The barrier is designed to occasionally allow transit, however – small windows occasionally appear, following some unspecified pattern. It is also possible that the shadow organizations control keys which allow unrestricted transit.
The worlds beyond the barrier are populated by creatures we can only describe as demons or nightmares. They are unlike our own realm, and they would have no desire to come here just as we normally have little to no desire to cross over, if one is even aware of their existence. Additionally, there are ‘bubbles’ which exist within the barrier, some of which conceal entire islands and ecosystems which develop unsupervised. These islands within the eddies of the barrier could contain our greatest hope or the most terrifying monsters.
Yggdrasill, the world tree, exists at the confluence of the three barriers, where it provides a natural nexus to the sea of souls and also redirects them back into Creation. While some knowledge has been gathered on the existence of this nexus, truly detailed information is nonexistent. There are some accounts of individuals attempting to scout the World Tree (see The Nexus of Souls: An Exploration, unpublished, K. Kiser), but as no additional information from these exploits exist, I would recommend against attempting such a venture.
Almost no information exists on the realms that lie beyond the Barrier.
Source of Knowledge
This knowledge has been gathered from accounts all across our fragment of reality. While I may have occasionally vanished and been unable to aid in the Council’s endeavors, I have always been seeking information to aid in our mission. The Spirit of Vengeance has greatly aided me with rapid transit across Gaia, while my status as an inquisitor has opened many doors for me.
Despite these efforts, my search turned up rumors, hearsay, and precious little in the way of hard facts. While investigating the dancer threat, and the source of Matthew Gaul’s powers, I made a deal with Nozomi Kurayini of the Black Lantern. Half of my life in exchange for the knowledge we needed to defend creation; thus, I know the time before my soul returns to the sea is short. This was of my own will, and I hope this knowledge aids in the defense of the realm. You have been kind friends to one who life has not been kind to, and I wish that you live long, prosperous lives.
By the power of the Lady of Swords,
Transcribed from the original writings of Raphael du Basarac, as seen here