The First Fansus
The Fansus, known in-universe as the Mansus, the House of the Serpent, and the Sea-Dragon's Palace is the main setting in which the world of the Fansus occurs, and differs greatly from the House of the Sun from the world of Cultist Simulator
The Fansus shares several traits with the Mansus of canon, surrounded by a Wood and located beneath the Glory. Many portions of the Fansus have fallen into disrepair as a result of The War of the Doors and subsequent clashes between the Hours.
The Lower House's largest remaining landmarks of note are The Breach and The Plumbing. After the Lower Doors were destroyed and the lowest levels of the House collapsed in the fighting, the Hour of The Caladrius drilled The Breach to allow mortals access to the Middle House as well as forcefully purge the accumulated buildup of Nowhere. The Plumbing likewise was installed through the ruins of the Lower House to replace the byzantine and unfathomable vital functions of the House's "body" its crippled systems can no longer perform on its own. At some point these labyrinthine chambers became the demesne of The Snow-Stained, but its peculiar relationship with the flow of time makes it difficult to determine exactly when this began.
The left side of the Mansus has largely collapsed, save for several "islands" of rock suspended in the air by webbing. This ascent, The Shattered Stair, is what was left after The Great Serpent tore The Hall of Silence, the realm of The Dead, out of the Fansus and suspended it between the House and the Histories in the form of the Moon.
Existing both separate and as a part of the Fansus is The Clocktower, the domain of the Vizier. The Clocktower is visible anywhere in the Fansus, and depending on the time displayed upon its face, one may determine which Hour currently holds dominion over that area. The Clocktower is also instrumental in the flow of time, and thus it is heavily protected to preserve the integrity of the time-stream.
The roof of the House on the left side is dominated by The Glassgarden, grown by The Apple-of-the-Eye to bask in the light of The Glory. The right has been claimed by the Engineer, Name of The Engine of Cycles. She has turned the area into the Array, covering it in strange machinery that harnesses the Glory's power in an effort to slake her master's insatiable hunger.
At the Summit of the House lies The Gate of Crowns. Through this Gate all true Hours ascend as a Rite of Ascension. Their names are proclaimed by the holy Gate as they enter, and as they emerge they take on new names as they grasp Godhood.
At the beginning of the world, there was the House. First came the Gods-from-Stone, and they were followed by the Gods-from-Light. It was the First from Light, The Spark, that encouraged the other Hours to join him in a grand expedition into the worlds beyond the House they had always known. He was followed by the Gods-from-Stone The Maker, The Mirror, The Butterfly Hatching and The Elder Sister, as well as his fellow Gods-from-Light The Apple-of-the-Eye and The Caladrius. In the Histories they discovered the Fair Folk, who were amazed and awed by the strange beings so far beyond themselves. Upon discovering these creatures so beneath themselves but fascinating and precious all the same, the Hours chose to dedicate themselves to the education and development of new forms of life.
For a time, the Hours equally shared in their mentorship and in some cases parentage of the Fair Folk. But as the Fair Folk began to gravitate to the worship of the Butterfly and The Elder Sister, the inspiration came to the Spark and the Maker to create for themselves their own race to nurture. Taking in hand the clay of the Earth and using the shared form of most Fair Ones as a model, the Maker sculpted without rest for six days straight. On the seventh day, the Maker's creation opened their eyes. In the loving embrace of their father, the First Men were born.
The other Hours at first were split on these strange, fleshy creatures their brother had created. They had no magic, no inherent power of their own. They could not store the power of the Hours like the Fair Ones could, nor did they know how to come and go from the Hours' House as they pleased. Where, therefore, lay the Value of these man-creatures?
But what man lacked in power, they more than made up for it in their fathers' gifts. Like the Spark that inspired their creation, they possessed an insatiable hunger for knowledge and discovery. And like the Maker that had crafted their flesh from clay, they soon learned they had endless potential for improvement. They demonstrated the ability to craft and invent new tools for themselves, just from what they had seen the Fair Ones use.
And when that failed to impress, humanity demonstrated its ability to evolve.
Like the clay that had spawned them, humans could be reshaped and molded in the Hours' images in ways the Fair Folk could not. After a thorough examination by the Spark and the Caladrius, the Gods-from-Light proclaimed that humanity might someday reach heights comparable to the Hours that spawned them. This spurred the interest of the other Hours, who with few exceptions chose now to embrace the newborn race as their own. The Fair Folk, some with goodwill, some with resentment in their hearts, came to be known as the Cousins of Humanity.
As the Hours experimented with and laid the foundations of the society of their new race, they made a saddening discovery. Where first it had been assumed humanity simply did not know how to enter the House, the Hours eventually realized the First Men were totally incapable of it. Born from the clay of the Histories, their flesh did not possess the ability to cross the Sea of Sleep and enter the Mansus. It seemed that never would they be able to join their gods and masters in the wondrous House they had only heard stories of from Cousins that had experienced it.
The Hours sought to harness the power of Knock, the Principle of Travel and Opening, to bestow the First Men with the ability to pass into the House. First they petitioned the Butterfly Hatching, whose primal nature ruled over the Rupturing of the World's Skin to lend them aid. But she rebuffed them. The Butterfly wanted only new sensations, new wonders. She would not burden herself with the repetitive task of tearing holes for humans to pass through each time they wished to come and go from the House. Besides, the other Hours saw the damage her power and idle whims could inflict on the fabric of reality. It was obvious: to rely on her was to court disaster.
But humanity's potential attracted the attention of another, chillier Hour of Knock. The Dolomedes, the enigmatic Hour of Balance and Exchange, was at last lured from its lair in the Hall of Silence into the Histories by the Value the Maker had created. The Great Spider offered the First Men a bargain: it would weave between the material worlds and the House a great bridge. Through its power humanity would, for a few short hours every day, be allowed to leave behind its bodies of flesh and be ferried across this bridge to explore the House of the Gods. All it wanted... was them.
Now and forever the First Men, their children, and the lines of all the children born down through the ages would surrender the everlasting life the Maker had bestowed upon them at their creation. They would be susceptible to injury, they would age and be made to bear the marks of time. And, at a time the Ferryman found convenient -or should they suffer sufficient bodily harm- their physical bodies would perish, and their spirits would reside in the House forever. Some would be permitted to wander the halls and be with their gods forever. Those whose souls had taken on qualities of interest to the Spider, however, would be Claimed by it, and would reside in the Hall of Silence forever.
Some Hours balked at this deal. Others approved. Some bade the First Men negotiate a better deal, for the loss of one's immortality was no trifling thing. None were given the chance to argue their piece. The First Men's decision was unanimous. The promise of the House's wonders, of spending an eternity there, was a temptation they could not resist. Before any protest could be raised by their mentor-gods, the First Men accepted the Spider's Bargain.
Some say humanity's greed that day planted the seed of Grail, of a Principle of Desire so strong it overcomes all reason.
The bargain struck, the Dolomedes became known to mortals as The Ferryman, who continues to sail to and from the Mansus transporting dreamers and the Dead to this day.
For quite some time, all was well. The disappointment half of them bore for the First Men's willingness to bargain away what had been gifted them aside, all were satisfied with the promise humans continued to show. As the Gods-from-Light predicted, with their newly-formed connection to the House humans could be remade in the image of the Hours.
Empowering them with slivers of their own power, the Hours found that mortals could be made into beings that were quite above the humans they once were. Now bearing a sliver of power themselves, they regained their indefinite lifespans while retaining the ability to cross between the worlds. These beings would become the first Long. Both Hour and Long rejoiced at this discovery. An end to age! Soon, no longer would humans need fear being Claimed by the Spider. While humanity celebrated what they saw as the end of a great danger and dedicated itself as a whole to Ascension, the Ferryman was watching. And it was not pleased. With the limitless patience of the unfathomably cunning, it bid its time, crouched in wait for the perfect reason to enforce the terms of its Contract as it saw fit.
From the Long of the Forge Principle, a man of impeccable character emerged. With a will of iron, a cunning like no other, and a creative mind primed to invent he was the ideal candidate to be elevated. It was with fatherly pride both Maker and Spark elevated him, to the point his name carried almost as much reverence as their own when spoken. He was the first Name, a being as far beyond the Long as the Long are to mortals. In time, this man grew in admiration and respect among the Hours to the point he was allowed to ascend even further.
Filled the the power of the Hours, the first Name ascended the House and found at its summit The Gate of Crowns. The Gate called his Name, and declared him worthy of entering into the Highest Rooms of the Mansus, just beneath the Glory. Upon entering, he was filled with divine power, enough that he might be called a god himself. A Name entered the High Rooms, but what emerged was a Hour. Casting off his old name, the First of the Gods-From-Flesh, The Anvil, was born.
While this human's attainment of the greatest achievement of his species was widely celebrated, it was also, however, the point where the first divisions began to form between the Hours and their people. The Ascension of the Anvil was a great achievement for the Hours of Forge -whose close friendships with one another led to them being referred to collectively as the Trinity- but from the seeds of greed planted at the signing of the First Bargain envy began to take root. Hours sought more followers, in attempts not to enlighten mankind but in order to outdo their fellows. Some mortals began to look contemptuously upon one another. Slowly, these few began to see other humans and Long not as brothers and sisters, but as competition in their quest for ultimate Ascension.
It is this way the Maker would go from holding the greatest pride in humanity to holding the greatest shame among the Hours. Among his Long rose two sisters, both resplendently beautiful and particularly loved by their master. The elder sister austere and chaste, the younger indulgent and willing to indulge the numerous privileges their esteemed station allowed them.
The younger sister one day however bit off more than she could chew. She conceived a child with another Long, and was sub-sequentially one of the first to discover and commit The Crime of the Sky. She devoured her child, undergoing a painful and repugnant transformation into a Soucouyant, a Half-Long, vampiric monster. Repulsed by its perverted creation, the Maker turned his sight from her and focused the full force of his affection upon her elder sibling instead. Although the elder did her best to comfort the younger, the day finally came when the Maker proclaimed his intention to make the elder sister his new Name. And perhaps, one day, the next God-From-Flesh.
Betrayed, mad with jealousy, the younger sister murdered the older on the eve of her planned Ascension and enacted a scheme to take divinity for herself. Wrapping herself in her sister's fine clothes so that her horrifying features were concealed beneath, she attended the ceremony in her sister's stead. Using a lifetime's worth of knowledge of her sibling's manner, the younger sister mimicked her sister perfectly, so much that the Maker immediately began sculpting her twisted flesh through the garments, and immortality flowed through her. Only once the process had already begun was the truth at last discovered, and all beings, Hour and mortal alike were filled in horror at history's first murder.
Enraged, but also unwilling to go back on its work once already begun, the Maker completed the younger sister's Ascension to Namehood... but not in the manner she wished. Rather than becoming the beautiful, angelic creature of her dreams, the younger sister found herself young no longer. She was old, decrepit, and twisted. She was covered in dirty black feathers and her features twisted to resemble that of a bird. From her the Maker created a monument to the magnitude of her sins, amplifying the horrifying changes already wrought by the Crime of the Sky.
The horror fled into the Mansus, where she lived hating everything, including herself. In time, she found that between her skill in newly-invented deceit and her remaining ability to alter her appearance as a Long of the Maker, she could impersonate the other Hours quite well. In time, she grew fat on stolen offerings and murdered followers, offered to her in the vain hopes of being granted divine favor. In time, these bloody deeds allowed her to scrounge enough power that the Gate of Crowns acknowledged her Ascension. In time, she emerged as The Cuckoo, the first Hour of Grail, the Hour of Deceit and Starvation.
Meanwhile, this was the breaking point for the Ferryman. By bestowing mortals the ability to travel to and from the Mansus and preventing them for reaching the ripe old age the Spider would typically collect them at, the Ferryman felt its fellows had conspired with humanity to cheat it. The Cuckoo's ascension to immortality after ending the life of her sister before her contract was scheduled to be up was interpreted by the Spider as a reward, and it grew angry. The Ferryman declared the deal between itself and the First Men was off, and that it was entitled to immediately claim once and for all what it was owed: humanity itself.
Just when it appeared as though war between the Hours was inevitable, it was at this time The Great Serpent descended from the Glory. Siding with humanity against the Ferryman, the Great Serpent battled the great Spider for the souls of all mankind. At the climax of their battle, the Serpent demonstrated its mastery of the principle of Knock by tearing the section of the Mansus that was home to the Spider and suspended it halfway between the worlds. Bested both physically and at its own principle, the Spider finally yielded to the Serpent.
Victorious over the elder Hour, the Serpent demonstrated great wisdom by offering an olive branch to the Spider in the form of a renegotiation of its contract with humanity. The Spider would continue to oversee the transportation of mortals to and from the Mansus, but would never again attempt to interfere in the uplifting of mortals by the other Hours. In return, souls that died prematurely either through accidents or at the hand of another would be subject also to the Dolomedes' judgement, and it would be able to negotiate new deals with mortals on an individual basis. The Cuckoo's sister, to the Trinity's protests, was declared one of The Dead, and was taken by the Ferryman to become the Pale Lady, first Name of Winter.
After this incident, the Hours became more wary of mortals. The Maker went so far as to vow to never make Names again, and it became known as an abominable Crime to murder a Long to steal their power: The Crime of the Earth.
After demonstrating both great strength and restraint in its dealings with the Ferryman, the other Hours accepted the supremacy of the Great Serpent, who came to be revered as the Hour of Hours. In the stories of mortals the Mansus gained a new name in honor of its new king: The Sea Dragon's Palace, the House of the Serpent. Hall of Silence, now torn between the worlds, became known as the Moon, a monument to the Great Serpent's power as well as a warning to those that would break its holy peace.
The Serpent laid the first code of conduct among Hours, and placed upon the Fourth History a truce that no Hour would invade it, so that the Great Serpent's personal demesne would be forever used only as a neutral ground, for the wise serpent knew that if the Hours brought their great power to bear against one another, it would only end in ruin. The Hours established The First City to serve as their meeting ground, and relaxed their grips somewhat on the mortal world.
Understanding now the lengths some mortals would go to in their desire for power, the Hours withdrew from directly governing the Histories. After a period of selection, the Hours largely withdrew their influence from the numerous now fully populated worlds they oversaw. With the exception of some nations and secluded enclaves they used for worship or further experimentation, the Hours collectively lapsed into a period where humanity was largely left alone.
As the stories of their masters twisted over time through word of mouth, the truth of the Hours slowly became obscured. Without magic of their own to support their stories of the House, the descendants of the First Men came to believe the Hours to be mere superstition and forgot the true nature of their dreams. To them, the material world was all there was, and this was how it had always been. Not until the last of the First Men had died or Ascended did the Hours begin to respond to widespread prayers once more.
During this time, the Great Serpent would take on his second Name. Originally counted among the flock of the Butterfly Hatching, a human occultist slaughtered the General she wed and his entire army to fuel her final Mark. Shedding both identity and humanity with one disemboweling blow, the new Serpent became The Anaconda. Fascinated by the idea that a human would willingly gravitate to a serpentine form, the Great Serpent snatched the ascending mortal out from under the Butterfly Hatching's domain. In return for the ascended serpent, the Great Serpent gave the older power a novel boon- FNORD.
While this was going on, in The First History The Kingdom of Albion rose to prominence. King Arthur the Great, through his great deeds and wise judgement, became a legendary figure, a paragon of virtue whose legend became known in every History. Under his leadership Albion would become a mighty empire, unifying the British Isles, then Scotland, and from there occupying most of the known world.
But his kingdom's prosperity was not due just to his leadership alone. His mentor, Merlin, was a wizard of incredible power and wisdom. While Arthur saw to the public side of running a kingdom, it was his trusted vizier that saw to the running of the day-to-day and protected the realm from otherworldly threats. Mansus-spirits bolstered the kingdom's armies or drove enemy generals mad in their sleep. Those who sought to challenge Arthur's rule simply... disappeared, and few who knew them could barely even recall they had existed in the first place, let alone what horrible fate had befallen them.
But all of this was still not enough for the vizier. Through his studies of the House and its masters knew that the Kingdom of Albion still only existed at the pleasure of the Histories' secret masters. If the Hours wished Albion to fall, it would do so without even the chance to resist them. If his beloved empire was to survive, he resolved, he must attain control of the Histories.
To prove his worth to the Great Serpent, he committed the very same betrayal he had executed countless others for attempting. He betrayed and murdered Arthur, to show fealty to his new liege. His pledge was accepted by the Great Serpent, and he became The Vizier, the majordomo of the House. But while the Vizier acquired the power and authority he'd coveted, to his horror he learned that it had all been for naught. With the king dead and the vizier missing, Albion was unable to effectively govern itself, let alone control its subordinate territories across the continent. The kingdom fell into anarchy and rebellion, a dark age that would last a thousand years.
Sometime during this period, the Mansus was stunned as something unprecedented occurred. A Hour... simply appeared. A new Door, The Silver Door, appeared inside The Kiln of Progress as if it had always been there. From this Door emerged the The Silver Owl, who knew not where she came from. The Hours wondered how this could be, for all of The Trinity denied creating her. The Owl, curiously enough, didn't seem able to even perceive The Sixth History. Some Hours argued the Owl was an invader that should be destroyed.
The next Hour to rise to the Mansus would come from The Second History. Another great king would arise from men, one who was both philosopher and warrior. His name was Adonibaal, and his unparalleled battle prowess paired with his incredible magical power allowed him to defend his homeland from all would-be invaders. Under his leadership, his country unified the Levant into a mighty empire, The Empire of Bayal.
The Second History was a history blessed by the Hours, particularly the Hours of the cosmic bodies. The Apple-of-the-Eye, the Star, and the Ferryman took a benevolent interest in the History. Under their influence, the History enjoyed the benefits of fair rulers that governed justly, inspired scholars, and an unrivaled abundance of wealth. But no ancient empire was as great as Bayal while Adonibaal led it. He ruled his country brilliantly and fairly, crushing any enemies who came against them. He loved his people with all his heart, and they loved him forever.
But no king rules forever. With peace and prosperity come the freedom to discover and explore sensations. These things drew The Butterfly Hatching to the Second History. The Butterfly grew infatuated with Adonibaal, and sought to take this mortal for her own. She whispered to the king in his dreams, promising him eternal power and glory. All he needed to do was sail east into the Sun, and from there she would give him the power to conquer the Mansus and rule forever as a god.
The king was seduced by her whispers and took his fleet and most trusted soldiers out to sea, knowing he'd never see Bayal again in this life, but determined to bring his loving rule to the entire world, as he planned to make it all into his kingdom. Once he reached the place his dreams had led him to, he found not divinity, but a trap. The Butterfly's wing beats stirred up a legendary storm, one she released into the Histories at that moment, capsizing and drowning the entire fleet so she could take their souls for herself.
However, the king was saved from being claimed by the Butterfly at the last moment by the intervention of a creation of the Caladrius. The Good Doctor was notorious for creating new and volatile forms of life, which it would then release into The Great Lake. Some of these creatures would later escape into the Histories to become legendary monsters, and one such beast now fused with Adonibaal to take his power. With his magical power and the creature's otherworldly nature, the two combined to form The Architeuthian. The Architeuthian had been long worshiped bu mortals of the world as a god, but it was not an Hour, and had long desired the power that the Great Serpent held. The Butterfly raged, but could only take the King's now soulless body for her own.
Without Adonibaal to lead, Bayal came to be ruled by the council of magi. These sorcerers, while well-meaning, lacked Adonibaal's wisdom and foresight. They quickly broke the promise they'd made to the king, and shared their knowledge of magic with the common people. For a time Bayal prospered, but the people soon began to become too comfortable in their belief of themselves as a superior people.
Meanwhile, The Cuckoo was enacting a plot to rise to power in the Mansus. Weaving a great web of deceit, she gathered many religious sects to herself, throughout the histories. Through her lies, she convinced them they were praying to a Hour of love and joy, one that would watch over them forever. With a twisted, Butterfly-backed ritual, the cults all tore holes in reality simultaneously and rushed through, convinced they would be united with their god forever. But the only thing waiting for them on the other side of the portals were claws, beaks, and serrated teeth. To a man they were slaughtered, butchered so that their faith could be harvested.
For the Cuckoo sought not their worship, but the object of their worship. She wished to create a beautiful new Hour, so she could steal its power for herself and escape her wretched state. High above the Wood, the Gate of Crowns screamed in pained acknowledgement of a new Hour's twisted birth.The blood of the Dead and dying called out for a savior. And, finding no savior, formed one. And so the first of The Gods-From-Blood, The Peacock, was formed: The Hour of Love, Life, and Excess. The Cuckoo attacked the Peacock, in an effort to devour it alive. Despite being torn asunder and collapsing, the Cuckoo was shocked when, midway through her meal, the Peacock sprung back up and fled into the Wood, reforming as he went.
The newborn Hour lacked any memories or identity of his own beyond his purpose of spreading joy. He was never human, but neither did he have the benefit of spending millennia exploring the House. To better understand humans, he observed the Histories. Upon laying Eyes upon the prosperity of the Second History, the Bird chose to become one of the patrons of Bayal, so that he might learn from the mortals as the mortals learned from him.
But word of the ritual that had allowed mortals to physically enter the House did not die with the cultists that had performed it. A great conclave of occultists gathered, eager to enter the House for themselves in order to avoid alerting the Hours to their immanent arrival, they spent many years revising and refining the spell. They found, in time, the secret to calling upon the inherent power of Knock Principle without invoking an existing Hour, something they believed would allow them free passage to and from the House.
At long last, they enacted their ritual. Like many Rites, the ritual they performed was powered in part by blood sacrifice. This time, however, something was different. By calling on such an intense degree of Knock without the observation of a Hour to regulate it, the power gathered upon the altar was volatile and unstable. This power reacted strangely with the blood of the sacrifices, and took on life of its own. While it is questionable whether or not the resulting entity that sprung from the altar and entered the House and the magi's stead was composed of the spirits of the sacrificed, or if the ritual had taken from the sacrifices a soul of its own, one this is certain. It was volatile, powerful, and focused on a single purpose: to go where it willed.
The Hours, caught by surprise by the newcomer in their midst, were unprepared as it rapidly broke through The Glass Door, then the FNORD Door, until it stood before The Chitinous Door. The Butterfly Hatching, undefeated in her command of Knock, rose to challenge the creature. To the shock of all the All-Opener was opened herself by the newcomer that never broke stride as it charged through her, rending her asunder. Never stopping even as it ascended the Shattered Stair, then broke The Mirage Door, it at last came before the Gate of Crowns. Recognizing the entity's power as worthy of Hourhood, the Gate willingly opened before it. Even though it had no prior identity to shed, the entity re-emerged from the Gate a Hour, taking on the name The Uninvited Guest it became a new power of Knock. In time in would be revealed to be the first of The Gods-From-Steel, but to the Hours who had never before heard of such a thing it was considered second from Blood.
The Guest's sudden arrival and the slaying of the Butterfly sent the Hours into a furor. Never before had this occurred, that a mortal might ascend to the throne of Hourdom without a patron. Concerns were raised as to whether or not humanity had deviated from the Hours' design, and if so what should therefore be done with them.
For the Maker, this incident proved to be too much. Already troubled by its creation willingness to strike The First Bargain and the subsequent creation of The Cuckoo, it is said the death of its sister caused the God-From-Stone to fall into a torpor. Its artistic creations grew twisted as it worked upon them. Fearful of ever leaving a flaw in its work it never truly finished a project again. As "improvement" was laid over "improvement" the appearance of its creations grew warped and grotesque. It resolved to find the flaw in its work and correct it, an exercise in madness that only served to alienate it from its fellow Forge Hours, and would consume its mind for the rest of its days.
But the slaying of the Butterfly left far greater fractures in the relations between Hours and men, to a degree even The Great Serpent could not fully ignore. Before now the Hours had widely been seen by both themselves and their mortal flocks as truly infallible and immortal. The shattering of the First-From-Stone disproved this notion and sewed far-reaching doubts. 'What else might the Gods be wrong about?' the mortals wondered. 'What if my rivals choose to kill me too? What shall I do to them?' As the Ferryman took the remains of its "sibling" to be interred in the innermost sanctums of The Halls of Silence, discourse between the Hours grew strained, as each could not fully shake the fear they might be the next of their number to fall.
Bayal, meanwhile, began to stagnate. With everyday citizens regularly practicing magic and occultism, Bayal became a superpower its neighbors and rivals could not hope to match. However, with that sense of superiority came complacency and excess, just as Adonibaal predicted. The Bayali civilization's cultural development screeched to a halt, too focused on their own pleasure to focus on anything else.
From his divine throne Adonibaal could not see -or maybe refused to see- how his people were changing, so focused he was on establishing his own power within the House. To Hours like the Peacock, the Maker and the Ferryman they gave all they had to give for tastier food, finer wine, and inspiration for ever more profane works of "art". Many of Bayal's advances became lost, their inventors trading the very idea of them to the Ferryman, so that they could never again be learned. As the Bayali lost their reason to excess, the Peacock "learned" more and more about humanity's desires. To this day it remains a matter of hotly contested debate whether the Peacock corrupted the Bayali or the Bayali corrupted the Peacock.
Even the council of magi were not immune to the corruption, and as the years went by and the original members passed into the Mansus, they were replaced by a loose-knit cabal of hedonists and jingoistic patriots. This group and their followers formed a movement calling itself The Church of the Second Flood. They believed that as they shared the same blood as a now-divine being, it was their right to do whatever they pleased. Why, then, should they be bound to the covenant that their foolish ancestors had made over a thousand years ago?
In their arrogance, they turned against the Ferryman in a bid to steal eternal life back from death itself. The Birds have always been among the most freedom-driven of the Hours, and so it was no true surprise when The Peacock, The Caladrius, The Silver Owl and The Cuckoo joined with them to enact their plan. They even made plans to resurrect Adonibaal into a new body, so that his divine incarnation might lead them into a new era where they ruled all the world.
And so the Hours engaged in bloodshed amongst themselves a second time, beginning the short-lived conflict the Histories now call The War in Heaven. Visible to both the House and the Histories, the four Hours flew to the Moon and dared to attack the Ferryman in its own domain. Several Hours rose to support the Ferryman and the natural order, and the Anaconda led their servants into a brief but bloody battle that threatened to shatter the Halls.
But this played into the hands of the Priests of the Second Flood. With the Hour of death and its supporters distracted by the invasion, once more they enacted a forbidden ritual of Knock to open a portal from the King's Palace to the Halls. In their arrogance, they thought they could control the Dead that would emerge, providing them with an army of deathless Bayali spirits they could use to conquer the world.
They thought wrong.
The battle for the Moon, coupled with the introduction of masterless Knock power weakened the seals on the crypt of the Butterfly Hatching. Taking the infusion of power for her own, the Butterfly partially resurrected itself. But its spirit returned from the lightless realms beyond the House... wrong. It was twisted and broken, warped by the energies of chaos and entropy: First of The Gods-From-Nowhere. Before it could be re-interred in its crypt, the undead Butterfly struck the boundary between the Second History and the Halls. Instead of a portal they could control, the Second Flood rended forth a great Wound in the world. And upon swallowing them whole and stranding them in the Realm of the Dead, it disgorged an endless tide of maddened Dead and impossible chitinous monsters, driven only by the desire to consume all the world. The Blight had begun.
Upon witnessing the devastation being wrought below, both sides immediately abandoned the conflict to restore order to the Second History. As the Ferryman worked to regain control of the Hall and reseal the Nowhere contained within, the other Hours as one emerged into the Second to fight back the seemingly-endless tide of souls. Adonibaal, with great sorrow, at last returned to the History of his birth. Gazing with disgust upon the evidence of his people's excess still visible among the ruins, he led only the worthy among his people to safety. Those soldiers who were loyal to him and not the treacherous priests were allowed to follow him even further when he returned to the Mansus, becoming the Deep Guard that attend his divine throne. While the History itself was largely saved, what little rubble remained of the Levant made it clear that the Empire of Bayal would never rise again.
Regretting the role it played in causing the loss of so many lives it had sworn to protect, the Caladrius worked in tandem with the Names of the Great Serpent to stitch closed the gaping wound allowing the Dead into the world. To their horror, it was discovered the damage done by this new power called Nowhere was irrevocable. They could reduce the tide of Dead returning to the History to a trickle, but never would the barrier between worlds be able to fully heal. Nowhere was henceforth declared the enemy of all that was, and a power the Great Serpent decreed they must defend the world against.
When the tide at last was stemmed, the Hours returned to the House. They were "victorious", but for most there was no satisfaction to be found compared to the terrible price of the Bird's experiment in "eternal life". But while the fighting had ceased, the divisions between Hours that caused the fighting remained, only deepening as the differing sides found blame for the disaster in their enemies.
For the first time, the divisions in the Hours' ranks began to coalesce and solidify. Those Hours who sought freedom, whether it be endless change, sensation, exploration, or simple liberty became known as The Keys. The Hours that wished to maintain order, even if that sometimes meant stymieing progress became The Doors. The Doors resolved to prevent any further conflict in the House, even if that meant resorting to violence.
As much as the Hours wished to pursue their grievances further, the presence of the Great Serpent prevented the Hours from warring. Both sides knew that if they were the ones to attack their rivals first, the Great Serpent would certainly intervene to punish the aggressors. And so history marched on, and the tempers of the Gods slowly cooled over the course of ages. If given enough time, it is possible that a peaceful settlement might have been reached between the two sides.
But the uneasy peace was not to last. Ever a free-spirit, the Great Serpent one day decided to explore Nowhere, to better understand what this new power was and how best to defend the Mansus against it. But like the lesser Hours and Bayali priests that had suffered before it, the Serpent fell victim to its own hubris there, underestimating the power of nonexistence and being overwhelmed by it. It did not return intact. What did return were two Hours; the Hour of the Snake Tail with Appendages, a God-from-Nowhere, and the Hour of the Bright-Delver, a God-from-Blood. To the Snake Tail, reality itself was pain, and it sought only to destroy all that restricted it. To the Delver, reality was beautiful, and the world and the Glory should be available to all to make the world even nicer.
With the Great Serpent dead, conflict was clearly all but inevitable. In preparation, the Hours began amassing their forces for the coming conflict. In an effort to prevent the total breakdown of diplomacy and the destruction of the Serpent's peace, a cabal of radical scholars and rogue Long concocted an audacious deception. They invented stories of the Hour of The Deceiver a False-Hour of lies and fraud. They weaved tales of a terrible curse placed over the Fourth History, set in place by the Great Serpent in the event of its death.
It was said that the Serpent's Curse would instantly destroy any Hour that tried to claim the Fourth History as their own in the absence of the Great Serpent. This deception was enough to make even the Hours hesitate, and fears that a war would prematurely start to conquer the Fourth History slowly dissipated.
The Third History was traditionally a history controlled by the Doors. Bereft of most forms of divine intervention, mankind developed independently of the occult, growing technologically advanced and spawning vast empires with ambitions of mapping the world.
Unknown to the Doors however, the Keys saw their enemies' domain as the place they were the least likely to check for their influence. They revealed themselves to the primitive people of the Americas and taught them of magic. Unifying them under one banner, the Empire of Keys became the secret power in the Third History. The Keys hoped that with time, they would be able to foster from their new mortal flock an army of powerful sorcerers with whom they'd be able to overwhelm the Doors.
It would ironically be a move initiated by one of the Doors that would ultimately open hostilities. A small territory dispute between the Anaconda and the Snake Tail escalated into open conflict between the two Hours. The Keys rallied behind the Tail, while the Doors moved to support the Anaconda. Soon, it became clear that the small squabble between "sibling" Hours had turned into the excuse both groups needed to vent their growing frustrations with each other.
The war that followed is widely considered to be the greatest and most terrible of the wars the Hours ever engaged in. Their friendships and their duty to protect the mortal world were forgotten as they turned all of their power towards destroying each other. The massive running battle devastated the lower House, and even the physical Doors that restricted access to the House were destroyed in the fighting. Whether it was carelessness or willing spite that caused it, the Chitinous Door, the Glass Door, and the FNORD Door were destroyed irreparably in the fighting.
The war featured numerous incredible feats of divine power that still echo throughout the Histories. The FNORD used its power over FNORD to FNORD all over the FNORD of the FNORD. The Peacock, emerging out of hiding for the first time since his creation, bolstered the ranks of the Keys with Dead souls and Insane Long that seemed to refuse to die until they were literally hacked to pieces. The FNORD.
At the climax of the final battle however, the Peacock and his followers broke away from the main host of the Key's forces and rushed through the gaping hole of the Chitinous Door into the Upper Mansus just before the Lower House collapsed. With the Doors destroyed, the Hours of Order ceased to consider the Upstart a threat to their war effort. With their own kingdoms in the Upper House defended by scores of their loyal followers, they failed to see how the Peacock could possibly threaten them on his own. The Upstart retreated into the highest rooms of the Upper House to establish The Revel Unending, and largely ceased to be an issue for the remainder of the war.
The war was bloody and costly, with both inheritors of the Great Serpent determined to see their counterpart slain. It was only when in a stroke of terrible, twisted irony, the final inhabitant of the settlement over which the two Hours initially began to fight did they return to their senses and realize the horrible damage they were inflicting on the world. They turned to their comrades and bade them put down their arms, for the war was over. The conflict would be immortalized in history as The War of the Doors, named both for the political faction as well as the priceless Doors lost in the fighting.
The Hours turned once more to repairing the damage done by their fighting, the impact of their own loss of control made even more severe by the knowledge it was The House they were rebuilding instead of some lesser History. The damage wrought by the war was horrible, the immense amount of death giving the power of Nowhere more of a foothold in the world than ever before. Those things lost to the void in the fighting allowed Nowhere to flow in to fill their place. As they festered, these Dead souls merged the the horror of nonexistence to form a new Hour of Shadow and Whispers: The Insidious. And while the Hours had fought, they'd turned a blind eye to tragedies plaguing the mortal world. Great disasters and famines struck, heralding the arrival of another God-From-Nowhere: The Void-In-Skins.
Arguably just as distressing as the loss of the entirety of the Lower House, the Mirror was slain during the war. Ever a philosophical rival to the Tower of Treasure, the two Hours of Enlightenment found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. In a fit of rage, the Apple shattered and slew the Mirror. To the dismay of all, the Mirror was not allowed to die, the Nowhere infesting the House merging with his broken essence to form The Unmirror, Hour of Oblivion.
It was decided that drastic action needed to be taken to purge the House of Nowhere. Working in tandem with Anvil and the other Craftsman Hours, the Caladrius conducted a great emergency operation to purge the House of the poison eating at it from within. The remains of the Chitinous Door was recovered and partially resuscitated. The remaining power of the Butterfly within it, the power of Emergence, was harnessed and turned against Nowhere. The Door was re purposed into The Breach, serving both as entrance to the Middle House as well as a pressure-release valve, constantly forcing the Nowhere to spew back out into the Void where it can do no harm.
The House was always a living, breathing thing just like the Hours, and the battles held in its halls damaged its vitals greatly. To replace these lost functions, The Plumbing was installed where the Lower House once stood. Fears that the Plumbing would fall under attack by the Gods-From-Nowhere seeking to destroy the House were soon laid to rest when a new Hour, displaced through time, abruptly appeared there: The Snow-Stained. The violent Hour of Change and Thuggery took up residence in the pipes, repelling all who would challenge their claim with vicious blows.
The Ministers convened in Shesha once more, and an uneasy peace was signed between the two sides once more: never again would the Hours meet each other in open warfare.
But without the Great Serpent to enforce such an agreement, the Hours feared that there would be no real way to ensure such an agreement was honored. Both sides feared that as soon as the other acquired the upper hand, they would use their advantage to destroy the other, kicking off an uneasy peace that would devolve into an arms race. Their mission to guide humanity forward became a secondary concern to most, as the sides mainly used the lull in fighting not to repair the damage but to prepare for what they saw was an inevitable return to the fighting.
Soon after the end of the war, Long began disappearing from the Upper House. The Upper House was considered to be the joint paradise of the Hours, where most of their heavenly domains were located. The notion that someone or something was picking them off was deeply concerning to them.
Investigations were launched, and the fate of the disappearing Long was eventually discovered. To the confusion of the Hours, their servants were not being killed or kidnapped. Instead, they were defecting en-masse. The Peacock's so-called Revel Unending was bolstering its numbers not only from bizarre Long and gathered Dead, but Long of every Principle who were for reasons no one could explain abruptly breaking their vows to serve the Upstart. All attempts to convince the Long to return were unsuccessful, and often only led to more loyal Long abruptly defecting. It was as if the Peacock's influence was a social disease, spread by communicating with the infected.
The Peacock was technically residing in an area that was the joint property of all Hours, and was making no overtly hostile moves on his own. He was, however seemingly laying claim to this area as his personal palace, and the number of Long he was had control over was growing distressingly large. All attempts to convince him to return the defectors were staunchly refused, and it became clear the only way to deal with him was with violent intervention. As that would only lead to the re-ignition of the conflict the Hours delayed taking action as the Upstart's influence grew larger and larger.
It was the Cuckoo, the oldest shame of the Maker, who finally came forth with the truth of the Young Upstart's true nature. The Peacock hadn't escaped the Cuckoo's trap as it was initially believed. The Upstart had indeed been slain by the Cuckoo in her attempts to consume him, but immediately resurrected himself and fled.She was the first to learn the horrifying truth: that the death of a Hour would lead to the creation of a new God-from-Nowhere. Rising again almost as quickly as it was slain, this not-Hour now knew nothing of death, and existed now only to spread its terribly warped notion of joy to the rest of the world. A Broken-Bird.
As the Anaconda learned the circumstances of the Peacock's creation, that she had dared to keep hidden the existence of the true first God-From-Nowhere in their midst, she decided she'd had enough of the Crone's endless thefts and lies. Brandishing her mighty sword, she swiftly traveled to the Cuckoo's Nest. Nestled high in the thick branches of the eldest Wood-tree, the bloated nest was piled high with countless stolen treasures and bloated corpses. The spoils of decades of plunder.
With but a single swing she severed the branches, sending the hoard and its unholy mistress crashing to the ground. The soil of the Wood, wet with the blood of Long and the deluge of water and viscous fluid leaking from the shattered House's plumbing, turned to mud and began to greedily swallow up the Crone and her ill-gotten spoils. She screamed her unending hatred of the Serpents, but knew she could take no vengeance upon them. For every moment of her days must now be spent finding more loot to keep her hoard afloat on the mud. The thought of flying away and abandoning it did not even occur to her, as lost to greed as she was. The site of the nest's ruin became known as The Sunken Place. A cursed, evil place, where everything living is poisoned by the Cuckoo's hatred.
Some Hours moved to set themselves against this rising monstrosity, but by the time the truth was known, the damage had been done. The Peacock had amassed a wealth of stolen power from the other gods, its forces' numbers swollen innumerably by vast hoards of Long dominated by the Peacock's power and put under his control. The Peacock's influence was compounded by the number of thralls he commanded, and his influence spread and twisted the Upper House like a cancer. Upper Mansus was overwhelmed by a plague of madness, the swell of bodies so great all Hours but the Maker and the Anvil were driven from their own domains. This vast army of thralls came to be known as The Choir Unceasing for the unending, obscene cries and otherworldly music they made. Many Keys aligned themselves with this rising power, and for a time the unholy alliance of the Keys and Nowhere reigned dominant over the Upper Mansus.
The Doors were fortunate in that their investigations into the Upstart managed to uncover the Empire of Keys before it could grow into the vast power base the Keys needed to secure final victory over the Doors. Immediately, the Doors moved to put down this rising threat and undermine the power of the now ascendant Keys. Unable to assault the Empire themselves without breaking the treaty, they instead settled into a proxy war. The Empire of Keys standing in for the Keys, and the Doors selecting the fierce soldiers and brave explorers of their kingdoms to fight in their stead.
The Cuckoo whispered into the minds of mortals, filling their dreams with visions of treasure and riches on the other side of the sea. The Star guided their ships so that they were certain to arrive on the Empire's shores. The Hours of Edge concentrated their power and bestowed upon their soldiers great prowess in battle.
One man among these explorers and conquerors was chosen as the Doors' champion. The saw his cunning, ruthlessness, and most notably his greed. All were qualities they were certain would cause this man, Hernan Cortez, to attack the Empire the moment he laid eyes on it. They concentrated their collective power into him, turning him into a mighty warrior it was said could not be defeated. Despite being outnumbered ten-to-one by the Keys' forces, Cortes' conquistadors decimated the Keys' forces and laid siege to their capitol in a matter of months.
The Empire's Priest-Kings were either captured for forced to flee, and as Cortez settled in to occupy the city it appeared that the threat was over. However, the waning of his power as the Doors turned their attention elsewhere, as well as whispers at home that Cortez was disloyal infuriated him greatly.
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Shocked and incensed by this affront to their power, both the mortal empires and the Hours of the Doors moved to crush Cortes with their full might. But these efforts were again thwarted as the Hours of the Keys reemerged, offering Cortes unimaginable power in return for his aid. Desperate for allies, the King accepted and the newfound alliance successfully drove the re-claimers from the New World.
The Doors however rallied and managed to turn the tables on the Doors once again however. The Cuckoo, eager for revenge on the Peacock for escaping her, used her unique ability to imitate the other Hours to lure the Golden King into a trap. When the Keys brought Cortez to the Mansus, the Doors lured him instead into a trap.
The Apple-of-the-Eye gave up one of its many titles - The Golden City, El Dorado - that would give Cortez the power he sought, but would also tether him in place, preventing him from leaving his corner of the Mansus. The treasure was placed within the territory of the Peacock and the Keys, so that what was meant to be their ultimate weapon would become their downfall.
While this was happening the Anvil - who had come to be regarded as one of the foremost Doors alongside the Anaconda - approached the Maker for aid. In the name of their old friendship, the Anvil implored the Sculptor aid it once more in the construction of a device that would be instrumental in breaking the Nowhere-Key alliance. Although they'd drifted apart over the years, the Hour of crafting could not resist the temptation to make a one of a kind creation.
Using their power, the Maker and Anvil crafted a gate of living, molten gold, ever-flowing and constantly renewing itself so that it would not be able to be destroyed. The doorway to a prison worthy of gods. The Gilded Gate.
The plan worked flawlessly. Cortez eagerly took the bait, binding himself and his armies to the treasure laid out for him by the Glorious Lie. As he joined with the Golden City and ascended to Hourhood, but in the process bound himself there, and became unable to ever truly leave it. He became a shadow of what he sought to become, Old Tarnished. Convinced that the Keys were the ones that led him to make this terrible mistake, he set armies and all his newfound power against them will all his rage behind them. Simultaneously, the Maker and the Anvil completed the Gilded Gate to bar Cortez from blindy rampaging through the House... with the Maker trapped on the other side.
The Anvil had come to believe the Maker was too dangerous to be allowed to walk the Mansus free, and imprisoned it alongside the other violent Hours behind the Gate. Its heart utterly shattered at this ultimate betrayal, the Maker turned and threw itself into the fray, as the Alliance of Keys turned into a bloody free for all as their corner of the Mansus was consumed with war. The Keys beside the Maker and the Peacock relented and fled, returning to their demesnes while the latter were left to fight behind the gate. The Choir Unceasing was overpowered and slaughtered, forced into hiding with the Broken-Bird in the High Rooms of the House, and there he remains.
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