Difference between revisions of "The Second History"

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Slowly, deliberately, so that the motion could in no way be interpreted as a threat, she reached up and offered the Dead to the Ferryman. Quickly, softly, she assured the spider she did not intend to betray his Bargain. She was merely acting in his absence to return his stolen property and restore the balance between life and death. She would not dream of taking what was clearly the spider's for her own, and would only ask leave to continue to assist the master of Winter in this way until the crisis had properly passed.
 
Slowly, deliberately, so that the motion could in no way be interpreted as a threat, she reached up and offered the Dead to the Ferryman. Quickly, softly, she assured the spider she did not intend to betray his Bargain. She was merely acting in his absence to return his stolen property and restore the balance between life and death. She would not dream of taking what was clearly the spider's for her own, and would only ask leave to continue to assist the master of Winter in this way until the crisis had properly passed.
  
For many long moments that to the Hours were like lifetimes, none dared move or draw breath. Then, at long last, the Dolomedes took the Dead from the Anaconda's hand. And with the abruptness of its appearance, was gone.
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For many long moments that to the Hours were like lifetimes, none dared move or draw breath. Then, at long last, the Dolomedes took the Dead from the Anaconda's grasp. And with the abruptness of its appearance, was gone.
  
  

Latest revision as of 14:08, 2 March 2019

The Second History is a History within the realm of Fansus 1. A history of empires and magical advancement. The History of Origin of The Architeuthian and blessed heavily by The Apple-of-the-Eye, the History has always been blessed and favored by the more "refined" Hours. However, with this blessing came hubris, and near the time of The Segmenting of the Serpent, a group of mortals conspired with the aviform Hours of The Keys to free the Dead from the Hall of Silence. A blasphemous undertaking that unleashed the Blight of Undeath upon the Second History, which has persisted to this day.

Summary

The Early Days

The Second History was smiled upon by the Hours, whom chose to be more involved in its development than the Third. So favored was it the occult was more powerful and more openly embraced than the Third, Fourth and most certainly the Sixth. Perhaps the Hours hoped that by taking a more direct approach in the development of humanity, the History would not fall into the self destructive chaos and anarchy as humans were not to when bereft of supervision. The Apple of the Eye gave the history blessing of beauty and knowledge. the FNORD blessed their FNORDS

The Rise of the King

Early in this History, a great Kingdom rose in the lands known as the Levant. Powerful and rich in natural resources, it quickly established itself as a mighty nation. From these people rose a king unlike any other, whose wisdom and justice was matched only by the wrath he visited upon his people's enemies, with a ferocity uncommon for inhabitants of the Second History. He established a mighty dynasty that saw the repulsion of all would-be foreign conquerors and catapulted the kingdom to the status of one of the greatest empires of the Second. The land became known as Bayal, a name still known and respected in both the Second History and The First City itself.

Studious and intuitive, the King was a scholar as well as a warrior, and took great care to learn the Higher Mysteries of the Invisible Arts. Just and fair, he did not give in to the temptations of the more ruinous powers that sought his service, but rather used what what he had learned to better the lives of his people. Wise men and brave youths traveled from far and wide to petition entry to his court, but only those of great might and wit were permitted to share in his knowledge, for he strongly believed that only the worthy were deserving of these blessings, lest they fall into gluttony and indolence.

But no king reigns forever. Eventually, the King, having grown mighty in the Invisible Arts, undertook a great journey westward towards what he thought was the location of the Realm of the Gods, taking with him a retinue of his closest followers. This journey would not end well, as the fleet would be lost at sea, taking the King and all his men with him.

But although he drowned, his story did not end there. Through his own indomitable will and the significant power in the occult he had amassed, he resisted the pull of The Ferryman and instead ascended to the Sea-Dragon's Palace. Not as a mere Dead, but something much, much greater. He rose stronger, forever changed. The King became the Architeuthian, the Dweller in Depths who rules over forbidden knowledge and survival of the fittest.

The Golden Age of Progress

The Empire was beyond distraught to learn that their beloved King had perished at sea. But for many this sorrow became rejoicing when the priests proclaimed that their King was not Dead, but merely ascended to the realm of the gods to take a seat among the pantheon. This news assuaged the fears of many, but not all. A land of scholars and intellectuals, many skeptics took this merely to mean that the King was simply dead, and was certainly never coming back. Debate raged in the high halls of learning as to the whereabouts and status of the King's soul, but at this point in time it was widely accepted that the King was still watching over them from above.

Fears that the Kingdom would fall to invaders or petty infighting as empires of the time were not to do when suddenly bereft of their charismatic ruler proved unfounded, for the King had been just and wise in his dealings and affairs of state. He had surrounded himself with men and magi of great character and wisdom, only those who had proven themselves in battle and possessing strong spirit had been permitted to attain office. He knew that those who had fought for their power and had personally sacrificed for the peace they all enjoyed would be able to appreciate the value of it, and would not allow their baser natures to get the better of them, no matter the whispers of certain Hours that wished to lead them astray.

These wise men ensured that the kingdom did not become weakened by enemies within and without. They established a ruling class of wizards and magi who would guide the Kingdom into a golden age of order and prosperity that would last for generations to come. They became known far and wide as the FNORD gang.

Empires rise and fall, but as the years passed, to the inhabitants of the Second the kingdom of FNORD appeared to be the exception to the rule. As would be conquerors smashed against its walls only to receded just as quickly like the waves, and as the inventions and innovations of the kingdom influenced other nations, it grew in renown and prestige by its neighbors. Some errant nations attempted to replicate the kingdom's success by making deals with the more duplicitous Hours, and subsequently collapsed inwards. Other kingdoms and city states saw the great kingdom's success and decided that they would be better off submitting and being subsumed into the nation peacefully. Over time, the kingdom grew and grew, until it came to encompass the Levant.

New spells and modes of thinking were invented there long before they were anywhere else in the world. Although the golden age had outlived the king that planted its seeds, the Architeuthian was pleased by what he saw as he looked down from above.

Degradation

For many years following the passing of the King and the establishment of the regime of magi, the Kingdom remained a bastion of progress and development in a growing world. The original followers of the King were wise, and passed on their secrets and offices to men of similar wisdom and character. These good men would be sure to share their gifts with their people, raising the quality of living for all.

The Kingdom became a melting pot of churches and schools of thought, all intermingling with each other and comparing their ideas peacefully. Schools of higher learning and spellcraft, rich with their own colorful histories and long legacies of successful masters became commonplace. It became difficult to find a citizen that had not received some form of learning. If the Sixth History was home to pioneers in the way of technological advancement, then the Second was the leader in higher learning and spirituality.

This was not to last forever, however. For while the magi and their successors, and even their successor's successors were decent men and women of exceptional character, they over time began to neglect one of the tenets of the King's philosophy: of survival of the fittest and helping only the worthy.

In their eagerness to help others and improve the lives of their countrymen, they gradually increased the generosity with which they shared the advanced knowledge they had accumulated over generations of deep thought and communion with the Hours. Perhaps too generous. It was the King's way that all should have to work and struggle for their power, so that only the worthy would possess it, and would not take it for granted. And as knowledge and power over the course of generations was freely shared more and more, that was what began to happen. What was once considered to be a luxury became a common convenience, an knowledge once treasured as sacred mysteries to be learned only by the greatest of sages became common knowledge.

The Great Heresy

As it is said, idle hands are the Devil's playthings. And as the kingdom grew ever more prosperous under the guidance of the magi and the abundant blessings of the Hour's, ever deeper did grow the people's own indolence. Ever deeper did they drink from the Grail, and ever more did they become addicted to its Redmost delights. Decadence, like a stain, began to seep into and spread through the bedrock of society. What started as just pride in their heritage and ancestral achievements became arrogance, and a inherent sense of superiority over the rest of the world.

"Look at them, these lesser people. Those not favored by the Hours as we are. What divine blood do they trace their heritage back to? Why should we be bound to the same rules as they? Why shouldn't we carry ourselves as their inherent superiors, their rightful rulers? What could they possibly do to stop us?"

This perverse, selfish mindset like a cancer ate at the foundations of the Kingdom and wormed its way into the minds of even a number of members of the ruling class.

And with complacency and abundance, optimism and dreams of a brighter future faded, replaced with contentment with the present. And in their ideological stagnation, particularly heinous strains of cynical and misanthropic thinking began to spread.

"Did the King, the beloved pioneer of their glorious empire, truly ascend to godhood?" This question had existed on the fringes of society ever since the Dweller's untimely death and Ascension, but now it tricked its way into the empire's very heart. How could they know for sure, for most citizens while aware of higher powers' existence were not adept in the ways of the Invisible Arts, which were attained only through great fortitude of spirit and a relationship of mutual respect with the beings of the Mansus, and fortitude and respect were traits that became less and less common in the Kingdom as convenience continued to become more and more widespread.

Had the heretical wise men understood the volatility of what they were dealing with, perhaps the Blight they would bring upon them all could have been averted.

Heretical notions, of the King's mortality and powerlessness in the Mansus, of the Hours' impotence and the destiny of the magi to inherit the world and therefore need no longer be bound by the rules and boundaries considered sacred by their forbears gained traction in halls of government and higher learning. Where once these profane notions would have never been entertained, they now gained traction as the children of children who had never known hardship could find no reason as to why the power they had always remembered having should be treated with even the slightest degree of respect.

As more boundaries began to be pushed and more sacred rules broken, they at last came to the one rule that all men were bound by:

No man can live forever, and the Dead cannot return to life.

And in their hubris, the magi responded to this Truth with a question: "Why not?"

Led Astray

As these things had transpired, the blessedness and the skills of the people of the Second History shined like a Beacon to the Mansus. Many new Hours became acquainted with the people of the land of Bayal, and began to offer their services. Many first in ways benign, then increasingly less so as the irresponsible magi underestimated the passions of the Hours and their ability to withstand them.

The Hour of The Dolomedes rarely if ever turned its attention away from the Moon in those early days. But the people of the Second History were so lost in their greed and materialism they were even willing to invoke its name when they wanted something their affluence could not simply attain for them. Eager once invited in, it began to ply its services. The people of Bayal were rich and fat, and were practically dangling on the fishing spider's hook when it offered its bait of rare delights mere money could not buy. Many humans disappeared, or were found to be so thickly bound by oaths to the spider they couldn't be even said to have free will anymore. Even worse still, some of the History's brightest minds traded some of the Kingdom's unique findings in the schools of magic to the Spider, who plucked the knowledge straight from their heads, and has prevented people from learning them again, setting the advanced kingdom's development irrevocably backwards.

Not everyone forgot the old ways, however. There were still those that campaigned for a return for the way things were before the moral decay, who preached austerity and temperance. For a time it seemed like these groups might make some progress, until their subconscious enmity for their own countrymen unwittingly attracted the The Cuckoo. The spiteful old Crone fanned the embers of their resentment and polished their pride. From humble men and women of the people they became warped into zealots and narcissists who vaunted their supposed virtue and false modesty. Donations to their cause eventually dried up, and the public were driven away into the arms of the profane cults festering like tumors in the corpulent empire.

Perhaps the greatest sacrilege occurred when the Hour of The Maker took notice of the History. Not yet as twisted as it would eventually become, the Great Craftsman saw how Bayal's prosperity and advancement allowed its citizens to dedicate themselves to leisure and artistic pursuits. It offered its aid. Soon, Bayal was swept by many new artistic movements. Architects and craftsmen redecorated and reshaped the streets and great temples into new and fascinating shapes, giving new life and identity to old and tired buildings.

But the Maker was never known for being able to tell when the time had come to stop. The improvements continued until eventually there was precious little left to renovate, or at least nothing that the true loyalists would allow the Maker-touched to lay their shaping hands upon. They turned inwards upon themselves, "improving" again what they had already touched. Temples twisted into bizarre spirals and spheres that eventually rendered many rooms inaccessible. Holy idols and sculptures that dated back to the King's time were twisted perversely, taking one new limbs, features, and shapes until they were unrecognizable in their horrific grotesqueness, but somehow managed to be captivating all the same. Over many years the blessing came to drive many of the Histories' brightest minds to madness and mutation in pursuit of the Perfect Shape. Perhaps this perverse, wide-scale demonstration of the Maker's power was what brought it to the Dweller in Depths' attention, and sewed the seeds of both his enmity and his jealousy.

And through it all the sect of Architeuthian "worshipers" that asserted he was not a Hour at all continued to gain traction. Organizing themselves and amassing new followers, they grew so powerful as to possess a ruling majority in the kingdom's government. If the Architeuthian was not a Hour, they argued, then it was their duty to return him to live so that he could make their kingdom great again, but leading them in asserting their dominance over lesser people. Death, they promised, would soon be a fear known only by lesser peoples, as the people of the kingdom lived forever in an empire that would last over a thousand years. They came to be called The Church of the Second Flood for their promises of a return of their watery liege to power and the spread of fnordian rule over all the world like a great flood swallowing all in its path.

There was great unrest in both Bayal and the Mansus as to what such an undertaking would mean. FNORD

Eventually, The Rider was summoned to tell the Hours and the Flood what such an undertaking would mean. Should they be allowed to continue? The Rider in Histories was always as enigmatic as it was powerful, and warned that the roads of the future were always shifting and changing, the meanings of what it had seen on its journey not always immediately clear. Nonetheless it showed them. It showed them visions of Dead men walking with the living. Of a kingdom united once more. And most importantly, a tentacled figure, sitting triumphantly upon the FNORD Throne.

The Flood rejoiced, now utterly convinced that their mission was destined to succeed, that they were the Chosen Ones to bring back their god and king and rule by his side. The people were convinced as well, and began to eagerly await the time that the tyranny of Death would end.

These desires, of immortality and the fear of death, were reflected in the people's dreams and prayers to the Hours. These subconscious whispers of mankind over time reached the ears of Hours sympathetic to their fears, or their perverse desires, and/or were by nature anathema to the concept of death.

The Silver Owl, that enigmatic Hour of freedom and the amassing of secrets, lent its aid to the Flood to see innocent humans free of the shacking. To her the way the Ferryman shacked all humans to itself due to their foolish ancestors' deal was a gross tyranny. The Caladrius, that Hour of Life and Healing, was ecstatic at the notion of a world free of death and the chance to once more save those whom it at once already lost to the Ferryman's grasp. The Peacock, that perverted, broken Hour of Generosity, acted to abolish death in accordance with the twisted wishes of mankind, which it "loved" dearly. And last and least, the Cuckoo, that Hour of deceit and selfishness acted for selfish notions. Compared to the altruism or complex schemes that motivated the other Hours to act, she sought to steal relatively little from the Hall of Silence. She sought the victims and witnesses of a certain Crime that occurred long ago in a Mansus long gone, so that she could make it as if it had never existed.

Regardless of their motives, they were all salivating at the prospect of uncovering the forgotten knowledge and no doubt potential eager followers that awaited in the mysterious Hall of Silence, where those Taken by the Spider are left to languish forever.

Crime of the Sky

After many years of preparation, the Bayali finally finished the ritual that they believed would allow them to summon the Dead from the Hall of Silence successfully. Under any other circumstances, attempting to call upon something that was already Dead would immediately draw the attention of the Dolomedes and result in the swift death of the transgressor. However, the High Magi of the Second Flood were confident they would not be interrupted by the Spider this time.

While the entirety of Bayal worked towards gathering the massive amount of resources required to bridge the Hall of Silence and the living world, the Hours prepared for an attack on the Moon. FNORD

A massive, week-long festival was held in anticipation for the ritual, for soon the people of Bayal believed they would become an immortal people. Depraved rituals were practiced freely, and many people are said to have either gambled away their souls or murdered each other freely, believing it of no consequence considering they'd live forever. This debauchery and yearning for eternal life was sensed by the Peacock in the Mansus, and is believed to have been a great influence of the Young Hour's worldview. Conversely, enemies of the Peacock blame the Broken-Bird for corrupting the people of the Second.

At the culmination of the festival, the magi of the Second Flood gathered in the heart of the grand palace and performed their ritual. The release of a great deal of Knock power served as the signal to the Hours, whom commenced their assault.

War in Heaven

The Birds assaulted the Hall of Silence in grand fashion, in a manner never before seen before or since. The flow of Dead to the Mansus was temporarily universally disrupted as the Spider's attention was focused on defending its realm from invaders. The Spider had long avoided becoming involved in the politics of the Mansus and Histories below, and that was now coming back to haunt it. It stood largely alone against the onslaught of four united Hours. As rightfully feared as the Ferryman was, the spider found itself overrun with many enemies at once.

Some Hours however stood against the invasion. The Anaconda, then a Name of the Great Serpent, brought its sword down in defense of the Ferryman. Even a Name such as the Anaconda was no match for an Hour, much less several, but it was well aware of what a breach of the bargain its patron made with the eldest spider might mean. Teeth bared and sword drawn, it battled the servants of the invading Hours with all its might until the Erinyes pulled the sentry from the Moon itself, servants and Name falling to the Mansus below.

As the Hours' servants made landfall on the Moon and entered the Hour of Finality's domain, they broke through many barriers and seals, heedless of their purpose in their mission to free the Dead. The Moon was engulfed in Knock energy as the Flood maintained a bridge between the Moon and the Second History. At first, it seemed as if the Second Flood would succeed in their goal of raising the Dead and seceding from Death on their own terms.

IMAGO

However, disaster struck. Not all of the seals and bindings placed upon the moon were there simply for the purpose of keeping the Dead trapped. A number of these kept dark, long forgotten powers contained harmlessly in the heart of the Hall of Silence. But now, their bindings loosened, infused with new Knock power unknowingly provided by the Flood, they stirred once more... and Lashed Out.

The Second Flood were caught totally off guard as the Knock power in their chamber skyrocketed. The rate of Dead arriving from the Moon changed from a manageable trickle to an unstoppable tide. Finally, with the sound of a mountain crumbling and a thousand chattering insects, the portal to the Moon tore and ruptured outward, growing to unmanageable proportions. Only a handful of members of the Second Flood managed to escape, using all their knowledge and command of Knock to feel before the tide utterly engulfed them with their fellows.

The Revels around the city all stopped at once as a buildup of power was sensed from the Palace at the center of their city. Every eye in the city watched as the Palace of Adonibaal, their Lord, their Master, swelled and burst outwards, disgorging a tide of Dead that was without end.

Simultaneously, the air above the capital city seemed to bulge and crack before splitting open. Nothing could be discerned of the other side of the Breach, but an unholy light and a rain of damned souls.

The Blight had begun.

White Tide

Historical texts cannot do justice to the damage the beginning of the blight did to the empire. The Dead were endless. Relentless. As mighty as the Bayali were still in their magic, especially those whom had damned themselves to the service of dark powers, they were simply overwhelmed by the tide of foes that spilled forth from the breaches in reality.

The Dead were a terrifying sight to behold. Clad in sticky shrouds of silk that concealed most features from view, their movements unnatural and hazy as they glided through the material world, most Bayali chose to flee rather than fight. Worse yet, most Dead were addled from their time in the Hall. Whether it was from being denied life's pleasures for so long, or from horrifying sights and experiences suffered in the Ferryman's domain, the Dead were lost to reason. Some grabbed for mortals in a desperate plea for aid, while others destroyed everything in a blind rage for injustices that went unanswered in life.

Worse yet came when the Dead began to learn to Feed. Many of the Dead that fled the Hall in those early days were thankfully weak, taking advantage of a preexisting Breach to enter the world where they would be powerless to do so otherwise. Without the blessing of a Hour or sufficient strength, some Dead dissipated and faded back to the Hall in short order after arriving. This changed for the worst when some Dead came to understand that and started devouring the living or even possessing them in an effort to stave off the reaper.

Cities fell into discord as the Dead walked the streets killing, only for their victims to either rise back up or descend from the breach to join their killers. Small communities disappeared. In one night an empire was sent backwards in progress by a generation.

The Magi that either escaped the orgy of madness in the capital or were still loyal enough to the King's memory they did not attend did their best to contain the damage on their own. They mustered their personal forces and each did their best to stem the tide of monsters raining down from above, while steering clear of the white tide pouring forth from the very heart of the empire. But with so many now dead the chain of command was in tatters, with no one sure who was to be their new leader to unify them.

They looked for leadership, but the Church of the Second Flood was nowhere to be found. A handful of their sorcerers had teleported out of the ritual chamber at the last moment, but they were all but insensate. They talked nonsense, of not Dead but insects spilling from the portal to engulf the Church-members, before withdrawing and allowing the Dead to flow through. No more could be gleaned from them, and they remained in that fugue until they were executed and their bodies burned to prevent their return. Whether it was out of pity, vengeance for their sin, or a mixture of both, no one knows.

Return of the King

FNORD

Conclave of Gods

The Blight of the Second History did not escape the notice of the other Hours, and each found the tragedy having dire effects on their domains. The Hours waited for the Great Serpent to step in and set right the disaster, as it had always before in circumstances less grave. To their shock, the Serpent did not hurry to act, and did not seem to be all that moved by the unfolding cataclysm. The Hours bickered to one another as to what to do in this situation, but oftentimes got in each other's way.

Finally, it was the Anaconda, Name of the Great Serpent, that summoned the Ministers to The First City to discuss the situation. Assuming therefore that the Great Serpent had a plan, the other Hours departed at once, to see what was to be done. The Ministers were told by the cunning snake that she was acting on the behest of her progenitor, and that it would be up to each Hour to contribute to the crisis, in a show of both solidarity, and in the case of the Moonbreakers in contrition for the consequences of their actions.

The Ministers were surprised. Until now the First City had always been their capital, but never before they been called upon to govern or officiate in any grand capacity. The Ministers' master would often make deals between themselves, or would take their disputes to the Great Serpent, who held authority over all others, and listened as it passed down judgement. Now, it fell to them to coordinate the effort to save the Second History, and the effectiveness of which they accomplished this task would determine the fate of countless souls.

Some were more hesitant than others, but one by one, each Hour and subsequently each Minister acquiesced. If it was the Great Serpent's will, then surely it must have been fine.


Come Again in Glory

With the Architeurian having already evacuated many of those he deemed to be worthy, the other Hours descended as one to rescue the mortals of the Second History from their folly. The Spark's light guided refugees away from danger, and made sure the warriors of the Second always found their mark. The Cuckoo blinded with illusions the rampaging hordes, and lured them into clusters where mages and Hours could safely eliminate them from a distance.

FNORD

The Caladrius, the Good Doctor, looked firsthand upon the damaged it had wrought upon the Second History. It saw the countless innocents whose homes had been stolen from them, and the innumerable Dead whom had returned, but were in a constant state of pain. Never before had it realized in its attempts to help it could do more harm than good. It wept for Bayal, and it and all of its Long descended to repair the wounded and comfort the dying. Under the watchful eyes of the other Hours it restored those who could be saved to the state they were in before their injuries, no more no less.

Judged on High

Looking down over her work, the Anaconda was pleased. The Hours had united, and the worst of the damage was rapidly being reversed. The progression of the White Tide had been halted, and the mortals were organizing well enough among themselves to dispatch the occasional freshly risen corpse or stray spirit that had broken off from the main mass. All of the True Hours were present in some form... Save one. She looked to the sky, where the Moon was still visible behind the tear in reality. The Dolomedes had so far been silent in its Hall, and had made no move to attempt to mitigate the damage. The Spider was a power of utmost Winter, once the foremost power of stealth before the Serpent descended. She was certain what had happened to the Second had not escaped its notice. But in order to begin to repair the damage, as an Hour of Winter she would need to begin gathering these souls in preparation for return to the Hall. It skirted dangerously close to how the Great Serpent had interposed itself in the First Men's Bargain, but there was no choice.

She descended down, down to where a lone Dead wandered aimlessly. As she approached the pitiful creature, for a brief moment dared to wonder if the Spider was paying attention. That lasted until the moment she made contact with the Dead.

Immediately, she was driven down into the dirt as something massive landed on her back. She moved to strike back, only to realize her sword had been removed from her mouth and driven square into her back, pinning her in place. And sitting atop her was the Ferryman, bathed in baleful light. None, be they Long, Name or Hour dared move. With one withered hand the spider grasped the hilt of the sword, and proffered the empty other to the Anaconda. Beneath the folds of its hood, its eyes were locked tight with those of the Shedder-of-Skins.

Slowly, deliberately, so that the motion could in no way be interpreted as a threat, she reached up and offered the Dead to the Ferryman. Quickly, softly, she assured the spider she did not intend to betray his Bargain. She was merely acting in his absence to return his stolen property and restore the balance between life and death. She would not dream of taking what was clearly the spider's for her own, and would only ask leave to continue to assist the master of Winter in this way until the crisis had properly passed.

For many long moments that to the Hours were like lifetimes, none dared move or draw breath. Then, at long last, the Dolomedes took the Dead from the Anaconda's grasp. And with the abruptness of its appearance, was gone.



FNORD

Summary

While the other Hours fought for ever greater influence over the rest of histories the second was left mostly untouched by the great wars for power that waged between The Anaconda and the Snake Tail with Appendages. There was some otherworldly pressure, however, as sometime in the 15th century there arose a great statesman in the Italian provinces of the Holy Roman Empire. He soon outshone his patrons in popularity with the people, inciting uprising and taking their place as prince. As ruler he exerted his authority over all Italy, hastening the secession of the northern principalities from their imperial overlord, and the southern from their Iberian one. The Prince then formed the Italian Confederation under his shadowy and beguiling rule.

Buddhist beliefs had quickly spread through Japan, outpacing both Taoism and Shintoism in popularity. In particular, Bishamonten had received extraordinary reverence from the populace, both as a guardian and as a generous and gilded god. Behind the mask of Bishamon, as always, hides an Hour - the Apple-of-the-Eye, the vain God-from-Light, the Hour of distance and beauty. Veneration of the god Bishamonten was cited by the Japanese government at several points as the reason for: The construction of several public sculptures of incomparable intricacy, undeniable beauty and intimidating costs; The complete closure of Japan’s borders; The beginning and continuation of the Russo-Japanese War; The establishment of a great many Buddhist temples; A series of increases of taxes upon all the industries.

The Stargazing Society, that loosely-tied company of ambitious astronomers dedicated to the distant and enthralling Hours: The Glorious Lie, the Watcher in the Window, the Ferryman, the Star. In the Third History, they suffered a schism and eventual division as Edward Pierce, one of their more outspoken members, began to espouse worship of the Elder Sister, with whom he believed the company shared a common goal. Only one Stargazing Society remains today, but they acknowledge their dead twin with idolless shrines and thorough records of their theories.

Due to the incident in the First Blight, where the Ferryman ambushed the Anaconda while the latter Hour rounded up the Dead, the mineral known in most Histories as "viridine" is known as "serpent's blood" in the Second History. While the appellation is purely metaphorical, Second History viridine can be utilized in certain occult ways that typical viridine cannot be. If the Anaconda cares about the appellation, it has not deigned to reveal so.