The Fifth History
The Fifth History is a History within the realm of Fansus 1. Originally a History like any other, the History's narrative was overturned when a number of internal conflicts between the forces of numerous Hours all came to a head simultaneously, resulting in a massive occult war which eventually consumed the world.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Fifth Today
- 3 Full Description
- 4 Participants
The Fifth Before the War
Grounds of the Conflict
Historians agree that there were many factors that contributed to the collapse of the Fifth History, a series of compacts, conflicting oaths of fealty between Long, and internal divisions within occult organizations that all came to a head in quick succession, resulting in a massive breakdown of good faith that resulted in open hostilities far quicker than anyone at the time could have predicted.
Following the Ignition, many servants of the Anvil and the Maker were left bereft of both home and master. Their gods were gone, annihilated so thoroughly that there weren't even pieces left to go Nowhere. They were rendered aimless, lost, and in the case of the Maker's Long rapidly losing ground to the relentless advance of Old Tarnished. Both were in desperate need of places to go, and many Hours were eager to oblige them. The Architeuthian was ever envious of the Maker and its ability to effortlessly reshape itself and its followers, and was eager to take its followers into its ranks. The Apple-of-the-Eye also made use of the opportunity to persuade and poach several of the more 'interesting' servants of both Hours, as it had long yearned to possess the blazing Forge-principle, and long yearned for the obsessively-crafted masterworks of the Maker.
Some Long remained undecided during this time, and would either eke out a uncertain existence hiding out in the Province of Dust or would eventually yield to the temptations of the Honest's Long-Poachers.
The process of "adopting" Long did not sit well with some Hours, who remembered all too well how The Peacock had not long ago risen to prominence by enthralling and then swelling his ranks with the Long of other Hours. Questions arose of to whom these Long and Names would now owe their true loyalty to.
In addition, schisms had already slowly begun to form in the ranks of several prominent organizations. The cabal of the Liar had always been a loosely-knit group, torn between those who genuinely wanted to see The Great Serpent return and those that merely sought power. Many of the Serpent's true loyalists had already defected to the ranks of The Bright-Delver and The Anaconda, but some few still remained within the cabal's ranks. The Hours did not realize at that time that possessing within their ranks Hours that owed fealty to long-gone deities would have far-reaching consequences.
The Initial Conflict
The conflict that came to engulf the Fifth History started small by the standards of the Hours. Following the Ignition and the subsequent death of the Maker and Anvil, a great schism occurred between the mortal worshipers of both. Some occultists wholly welcomed the worship of The Engine of Cycles, seeing it as the next stage of their gods' principles of change and improvement. Other worshipers viewed it as an abomination, a murderer that lacked the soul needed to bring about proper change. This resulted in the formation of The Guild Reforged, an offshoot of the original church of the Anvil that eagerly fed themselves to the Engine.
Eventually, this infighting in its name drew the attention of the Engine itself, which emerged into the History in the form of advanced weaponry to devour the loyalists of the Old Gods. In their desperation to be saved, the worshipers of the Anvil and the Maker began summoning the last Names of the Anvil and the last vestiges of the Maker's once-vast forces of Long to defend them.
Those Long that had not yet joined the forces of a different Hour and answered the call quickly found themselves overwhelmed. Not only were the forces of the Engine more numerous, but they were far more advanced. While its detractors might have argued it lacked a soul or "spark" of ingenuity, its industriousness and ability to improve were indisputable and unparalleled. Where once the forces of the Old Gods were an insurmountable force, they now joined their mortal cults in fighting a losing battle of slow extermination.
The Attention of the Serpents
Eventually, this skirmish began to draw attention from the other Hours, who began to circle like sharks and eyed the fighting sides appraisingly. Seeing common cause in the Engine's goal to break open and go wherever it pleased, the Snake Tail with Appendages descended from the Mansus and pledged aid to the Engine. The Anaconda, ever eager to confront her rival, offered her aid to the loyalists. She was accompanied by the Vizier, who took charge of the busy-work of organising a war.
While the Engine was at first grateful for the aid, it quickly grew angry as it realized the truth of the situation. The elder Hours did not take it seriously, seeing it and its conflict as just another piece in their long game against each other. Enraged, the Engine suddenly turned on the Snake-Tail, devouring it while the serpent's guard was down. While the Snake-Tail proved more difficult to kill due to its unique abilities and its status as a Nowhere, the sudden defeat of one of the most powerful Keys drew the attention of numerous Hours, who sought to use the conflict to their own ends.
When news of the Engine's campaign to devour an entire history's worth of Forge Loyalists reached the Mansus, the numerous surviving Long now aligned with other Hours were distraught. They begged their new liege lords' permission to fight the Engine and rescue their faithful. Eager for a casus belli against the Engine, the Hours consented as they considered how best to take advantage of the situation.
For the first time since their Hours' glory days, the forces of the Maker and the Anvil fought side by side. The flames of progress seared the mortal forces of the Engine and fused and melted together its machines of war. The ground trembled with the thundering of metal, as the golems of the Maker marched inexorably against the tide of gears and whirring contraptions the Driver-Forth set against them. For the first time since the start of the conflict, the Engine's advance was halted. Not reversed, but it was at least given pause.
United in force and with their mortal congregations present for the first in a long time, certain dissenting elements among the Long began to consider and lament their situation, and how they would soon once again be divided between their "patrons" once again. It was at this time the Snake-Tail re-emerged from the depths of the Engine, shocking the Long and "proving" in their minds that which the machine has devoured could one day be restored.
It is unknown who exactly it was who began openly calling for independence. Some say The Spark itself planted the idea, yearning for the return of its friends. Some say it was the Anaconda-Deceived itself, taking advantage of an opportunity to force more Long to forsake their masters. What is known for certain are the arguments that were made in the camps of the Long. "Why did they need to be bound to other Hours?" some wondered. "Look how mighty we are", they said. "See how mighty we could be again. Why should we be bound to the will of those who do not truly care for us or our worshipers? Let us return our Lords to their rightful places, let us end these wasteful conflicts and set things right."
One of the first Long to break his oath was Saint Darwin the Improved, an Unfinished that had sworn himself to the Squid. With "proof" set before him that Hours could indeed return from the Engine's depths. In the sight of the gods he tore the flag of the Architeuthian down from above the camp and burned it before his men. His Master was the Maker, and to the Maker he would be true. All around the Fifth History, many quickly followed his example as Long and Names tore down the images of their surrogate patrons and restored marks of their Old Gods, resolving to find and reunite with them once more.
While many followed St. Darwin, there were many more still who did not. Many Long were grateful to the Hours who had taken them in, or were convinced that it was better that the Old Gods remained dead, lest more power be given to the unholy forces of Nowhere. Infighting quickly broke out over which set of oaths took precedence, and word slowly filtered back to the still squabbling Hours in the Mansus that their war efforts in the mortal world had stalled.
The Architeuthian was furious to learn that the power he had taken from the Maker was slipping from him again, and was among the first Hours to set forth against the secessionists. Additionally, Hours such as FNORD also came down in the name of FNORDing their FNORDS
Hours such as the Apple-of-the-Eye did not wish to be so hasty, however. The Maker had been a close ally of hers, a friend and a fellow pursuer of higher beauty. Many of her own Long had felt its touch and seen improvement through its craft. Watching the Forge-Long fight again had made her remember the old days, and she was intrigued and eager to see if it were true that the Maker could be revived. The Hour of the Spark likewise, curious and whimsical, wanted to see if its friends could be revived, and optimistically dared to hope that should they both be restored and unified once more, they could undo some of the damage done to the Mansus.
Meanwhile, the Forge-Long soon were engaged in open war on two fronts, the forces of their erstwhile patrons and their loyalists on one end, and the Engine of Cycles on the other. For the Engine had not been idle as its enemies fell into infighting. Encountering unexpected resistance, the Engine intensified its efforts to consume the Long and redoubled its forces in the Fifth History. To mitigate the damage, Hours such as the Anaconda and FNORD began to commit additional forces to counter the Engine's push. The Apple-of-the-Eye sent forces as well... to attack the forces sent against the secessionist, deepening the enmity between the sides.
This conflict had not gone unnoticed by the inhabitants of the History, who grew alarmed by the blatant divine intervention and witchcraft openly occurring in the countryside and in the streets of their cities themselves. Seeking to calm the panicked and frightened masses, knowledgeable groups and individuals revealed the existence of the Invisible Arts and the secret gods of the world.
Confused and frightened, the populace was divided on what to do. Some began to pray to these secret gods, asking deliverance, some openly joining a side in the growing conflict. Others prayed to the Hours of Healing and exploration for safety and guidance away from the fighting. And there were many who simply accepted their world was ending, and began to indulge themselves and drink and party like there was no tomorrow.
Each of these reactions drew new Hours to the Fifth History. The Hour of The Ferryman, in its own words, made a profit from the "rapid liquidation" of the Fifth History. Those who could pay traded their valuables, their memories, and sometimes their very lives and the lives of others for safety, and received it either by being hidden from the sight of the Hours or being allowed to cross the Moonlight Bridge into another History. Those who were not cautious in their wording accidentally traded themselves to the Ferryman, and were "rescued" from the History by being deposited within its domain within the Mansus.
The reckless and fatalists among the populace called upon the principles of the Grail to fulfill their worldly desires. This of course brought down upon the History the Hour of the Peacock, whose worship spread like wildfire before burning itself out, taking swathes of the local populace with it. An infamous incident occurred when the influential Prince of the land of FNORD was contacted by a strange, angelic woman in his dreams, who claimed could save his people from the History in return for all of the wealth in the land. But after confiscating the wealth of his people and trading away his fortune, he was never again contacted by the spirit. Much laughter was heard from the sunken place that day as the nation of FNORD was swallowed by a sea of the Engine's cogs and reduced to fuel.
As the fighting went on and became more and more intense, the Forge-Long began to consolidate their power and unite in earnest with sympathetic gods. The Spark and the Apple-of-the-Eye sent envoys to the forming organization, beginning to form the core of the confederacy that would watch over them and govern their movements.
But where some saw the secessionists as a nuisance to be destroyed or as allies to be protected, some gazed upon the secessionist movement and saw a means to further their power. The Long and Names who formerly made up the Deceiver were involved in both sides of this. Many of the old loyalists, seeing kindred souls in others trying to restore their gods, joined the Assemblage whole-heartedly, the sudden surge in experienced personnel with mysterious origins. But there, the opportunists, seeing a chance to usurp a god and increase their power, enacted a plot to usurp and subvert the secessionist movement from within. They joined the flood of old loyalists in, pretending merely to be more displaced Long and Names seeking a home. Upon infiltrating the movement, they started spreading rumors that the Apple-of-the-Eye was truly a God-from-Nowhere, reviving their old pamphlets from their subversion of Project Cassandra. The Apple was truly the enemy, and was trying to lead the faithful of the Maker and Anvil astray. This set off another round of infighting and division within the ranks, as the agents of the Liar worked to drive a wedge between the Long and the Hours that would be willing to patron them. Between the increasing pressure from the Hours and the Engine and the dissent in their own ranks, the crisis might well have ended there had fate not intervened.
The infighting between the Hours and their servants attracted the attention of the Peacock and his servants, who were eager to bring more Long to the "true path" of The Choir Unceasing. As his aviform Long began to infiltrate the hiding places of the Forge-Long and whisper their songs however, they soon overheard word of the designs of the Liar. Their lies of the nature of the Glorious Lie, and that the Long would be far better served joining with the Deceiver.
This situation struck a chord in the heart of the Broken-Bird, who was reminded uncomfortably of the deception The Cuckoo once carried out on the mortals that had come to comprise his being. This, along with the lengths the Long had already demonstrated they were willing to go to return their gods, convinced the Hour of Generosity to aid them. Working in tandem with the Agents of The Vizier, the Choirmen of the Honest Lyrebird sought out and subverted the subversives within the secessionist movement, convincing those that were loyal to the Great Serpent belonged with the gathering movement, who showed they were well and truly dedicated to the return of the old powers rather than the furtherance of mortal ambition. Few were left unswayed by the Peacock's seductions, and what was meant to be a move to subvert the Long ended up creating a schism in the ranks of the Liar's cabal.
As confusion blossomed as the converted Liar agents made themselves known, the Peacock and his agents made themselves known in a show of good faith. Convincing them that he had come not to corrupt or spirit the Long away, the loose union of Hours accepted him as one of their benefactors.
Bolstered by the Grail Principle's unnatural charisma, the Forge-Long's arguments to their fellows to defect became all the harder to resist. Having learned of the splitting of the Liar's cabal, the Great Serpent's faithful in the service of the Delver and Anaconda experienced their own schisms as well, some joining the growing secession movement while others remained steadfast, drawing even the serpents into the growing conflict.
The Delver, in her compassion, allowed those of her court which had joined her from the court of her progenitor to go free. She would brook no chains upon those she loved, and the Delver is all-loving. Had this been all that happened, the Serpents might have stayed reasonably aloof from the all-consuming conflict. Alas, it was not to be so. Pulling what remained of their conspiracy together, the opportunists concocted one final gambit to bring the Assemblage under their control: An attempted assassination of the Delver, by a 'member in good standing' of the Assemblage, isolating it from the rest of its support, while creating a thousand places for it to hide, and make the Assemblage more dependent upon them. Stealing a great weapon of the Engine, they brought it to bear against the Delver, harming the kindest Hour. An Hour, in fact, kind enough to forgive, but with a few Names that were not.
Unfortunately for everyone, the Delver has always been beloved by both of her siblings. The attempted assassination of that Hour resulted not only in the Tail bringing its full attention to bear on the conflict, but in both the Tail and the Anaconda working together- one of the few times they would ever be recorded as having done so. Those Long who had taken the new patron of the Anaconda had shed themselves and their skins already, but the Names had not done so. When certain new Names of the Anaconda wished to leave, they had been allowed to do so with some reservation. Now, in the aftermath of the Delver's assassination, these former Names found their skins peeling away, until like the Long which they now were, nothing remained but a serpent.
Their numbers bolstered and with a sizable backing of Hours and popular support behind them, the secessionists began to organize and solidify their beliefs and command structure. Their stated goal to be the re-assembly and reinstatement of the Old Gods, they came to place incredible value on those touched by the Hours' power. Powerful Long and Names came to form the core of their structure, being viewed as living "Saints" for containing some mote of their gods' power within them.
Experiencing firsthand the effectiveness and power they experienced when they were unified, the group became convinced that the secret to restoring their masters' power was to unify themselves once more, every Long and every artifact of their power still in existence. The name came quickly to them: as a loose group dedicated to re-assembling their gods by reuniting the remaining vessels of their power, it only made sense to be called The Assemblage of Holy Vessels.
The Apple-of-the-Eye, thanks to its close bond with the all-pervasive Glory, had been privy to the events that had ensued - the attempted assassination of the Delver, as well as parts of the greater conspiracy to control the Assemblage by followers of The-Liar-Most-High. These distant visions prompted it to call upon the other patron-Hours of the Assemblage of Holy Vessels, the Spark and the Peacock with its Vizier, to dismantle the growing conspiracy.
As far as he could feel such negative emotions, the Peacock felt his umbrage rise at the revelation the pretender-Hour's servants were working to undermine his collaboration with the other Hours. His winged Long scattered to the winds, keeping an eye open for seditious whispers and promising untold delights to any who could offer useful information. The Suitors and the Suitresses of the Lady in Red, with their seemingly human visages and charming countenances, slipped into the ranks of the Assemblage and the Liar. As both spies and "interrogators", the infiltrators they found parted with their secrets almost immediately.
The Vizier however, was focused on a different matter. The attack on the Delver had roused him to a cold fury. His Agents had already embedded themselves within the Assemblage, and now on their master's orders they began to seek out the assassin and whoever had supported them. Paranoia began to infect the weaker-willed around them, further hastening the Fifth History's collapse. While aid was still given to the Peacock's efforts, they had been relegated to a lower priority.
The Spark, wanderer and visionary, wandered now with a rare sense of purpose. It traversed the Histories and sought out the minds of those connected to the Deceiver, plumbing their depths for evidence of their wrongdoings and planting ideas for a change in religion, although it is unknown how many acted on the inspired notion.
The Glorious Lie, meanwhile, composed twin missives to the twin snakes. It was clear that neither Hour was willing to sit still after what had happened, so their efforts would need to be redirected towards a more helpful cause. The Wrong-Serpent would receive word on what had injured his sister - a fearsome war-module of the Engine of Cycles, still containing a part of the vast heat it was made within. The Anaconda, meanwhile, would be told of the would-be assassin, and his allegiance with the secret group of Deceiver-Long that sought to take control of the Assemblage by first leading it against the serpents.
The Glorious Lie had had that appellation for longer than the Anaconda had lived. Then again, the Deceiver had not taken its name in a fit of irony, and the Anaconda was not wholly unaware of what that Hour had truly been. After all, one of the Loyalists had sought her patronage in another History, where the Deceiver's lies were uncovered by a clueless Nowhere emanation. Finding the would-be assassin was a personal matter for the Anaconda. Damian Kildare would ferret out the truth of who had been behind it. Who better to find a liar than a better liar?
FNORD for the Tail.
The Architeuthian wrathed and raged, furious at the betrayal of St. Darwin. Darwin and many other Maker Long recruited after the Maker's consumption had turned against him, proving that the Squid was not as powerful as he seems, and that he was not considered the true bearer of Forge-power in the House of the Snake. The Squid devoted any and all power he had toward the destruction of these traitors, and to the eventual destruction of the Engine and all allied with it. Seawater, he said, will cause even the mightiest of machines to rust. These are the words of power that his followers used against the opposing forces.
The assassin who had struck the Delver was never seen again, in corpse or amongst the Dead. That did not stop the rumors, of course. Some claimed that the Anaconda and the Tail devoured the would-be Hour-killer, the first and last meal they would share together. Others thought that the Anaconda had gifted the assassin to the Architeuthian as yet another sign of their friendship, and even now the Architeuthian was using the assassin to enact the downfall of the Assemblage in microcosm. A burning piece of parchment, words written in ink made from insanity itself, suggested that the Anaconda had offered the assassin and a score each of Peacock- and Cuckoo-Long to the Ferryman in exchange for the Assemblage to be locked in the Fifth History until the Architeuthian chose otherwise. None in the Fifth History noticed the opening of memories, and the delicate excision of a face, a name, the details of a certain being who would now only be remembered for a single, abhorrent action.
The Apple and the Sneks FNORDED
While this had been going on, the Architeuthian had not been idle. Tiring of words and irritated by his agents' failures to destroy the Assemblage, the Squid directly emerged into the history in the form of the Kraken, becoming the first Hour to manifest in the mortal world in FNORD years. This signaled a total route of the Assemblage, who could not hope to stand against the raw, undiluted power of an Hour incarnate.
The Squid would have utterly destroyed the Assemblage then and there, had it not been distracted by the object of his wrath: St. Darwin himself. In a move that cemented his position in the eyes of the Assemblage as a living Saint, Darwin confronted the Squid alone in an effort to buy his people a chance to escape. Darwin was strong in the ways of the Maker, and had always been counted among the greatest of its servants. But as a mere Long he could have never hoped to match the Dweller in the Depths.
Nonetheless, although he was quickly felled by the great leviathan, he at least managed to last just long enough for the Assemblage's patron Hours to begin spiriting them away from the battle, hiding them from the Squid's wrath. Enraged, the Squid took his fury out upon Darwin, shattering his body and forcibly tearing from him the last embers of his gods essence, leaving him a broken old man.
With the evacuation still not fully complete and facing not just death but total oblivion at the tentacles of the Squid, Darwin did the unthinkable by calling upon the Hour of the Peacock, who permits no ending. As he lay dying under the moon, he vowed he would give himself to the Upstart, in exchange for the survival of himself and the Assemblage. In the sight of the Dolomedes the Peacock accepted, and the bargain was struck.
Immediately Darwin was filled with unnatural life, and the Squid was shocked to see he was unable to destroy Darwin, no matter what he tried. His focus however was quickly torn from Darwin when the Peacock intervened to rescue his new Long from the Hour of Survival.
Although incarcerated beyond The Gilded Gate, the Unceasing Hour was far from powerless. In addition to his command of life and unnatural vigor, his powerbase in the House of the Serpent had always been built upon the vast numbers of Dead and Long he was able to garner to his cause. And now, in his infinite generosity, he unleashed that power for the sake of a Long. Where some Hours grant their Long the power to destroy and remake or enthrall and inspire, the Merrymakers of the Peacock have a relatively straightforward blessing: their unnatural durability and endurance. Individually, they do not seem to pose a great threat. But to save Saint Darwin, the Peacock turned to the vast legions of the Choir Unceasing and uttered two simple words: "grab him."
Immediately, the ground shook as the Peacock's armies forced themselves into the History en-masse and rushed the Squid without hesitation or fear of death. Where the Architeuthian rode into battle on the ocean and its tides, the Peacock responded with a sea of laughing, dancing flesh that trampled its own fallen in its efforts to seize the Squid. The utter disregard for self-preservation and sheer vastness of the horde the Peacock fielded was a grim reminder of why the Choir had once engulfed the Upper Mansus, and why the Golden King -whose power destroyed his foes utterly and left not a trace- was needed to keep the Upstart contained.
The Squid fought back fiercely, crushing and drowning countless Long. But for every one that fell a dozen seemed to take their place, and even the "fallen" refused to stay down. Rather than die, a disturbingly large number of the Peacock-Long crushed under the Squid continued crawling or simply oozing across their ground towards their target. Their god fully pouring himself into them as conduits of his will, and with concept of death totally foreign to them now, they single-mindedly threw themselves into the Squid's blows, grabbing a hold of his vast form wherever they could.
Eventually, even as he thrashed and raged, the Squid was engulfed in a sea of clawing, biting, crushing bodies that bound several of his limbs. Even to a Hour, it was an irritation that could not simply be ignored, and Saint Darwin was momentarily forgotten as the Dweller struggled to free himself. That moment of distraction was all it took for a rescue to take place. While the Squid was preoccupied with the red mass seeking to engulf him on the ground, the winged Choirmen of the Lyrebird swooped down from above, grasping Darwin in their claws and lifting him up, out of the Hour's reach. The Squid let out a roar of rage so ear-spitting it could be heard even over the shrieks of the Choir Unceasing. The Hour attempted to pursue, but still partially pinned under the sheer bulk of the Peacock's mindless Long, he could only watch as Darwin and the Names of the Peacock rose out of sight and into his domain high up in the Upper Mansus, far from his reach.
To the Architeuthian, there was no greater insult than what the Peacock had done. He had no stake in this war, he was not involved! He did not even covet the Forge-power, as did many other of the Architeuthan's rivals. But for this Nowhere-born wretch to steal his prize at the hour of his true victory. If the Delver and the Anaconda hadn't soothed the great Squid's rage, he would have done something terrible and inadvisable, perhaps this war would still be continued to this day. To soothe his rage, at least somewhat, he took to hunting down any remnants of the Assemblage and traitor Long who hadn't not been 'rescued' by other Hours.
With the remains of the Assemblage gone, the war gradually stalled out as Hours lost their reason to remain involved. The Squidward FNORDED back to bikini bottom. The Anaconda and the Snake-Tail FNORd
The Assemblage ironically left the war almost as fractured as it entered it. Though now united in purpose, many powerful artifacts and Long were killed in the battle. Long and artifacts that could never be replaced. The Assemblage from then on avoided direct conflict with the forces of the other Hours unless totally necessary.
Many of its Long retreated to Glassgarden, where they found sanctuary with the Apple-of-the-Eye. Their mortal forces as well as their more conspicuous Long commanders scattered into the Histories, where they continue to seek out long-lost relics and servants of the Maker and Anvil, regathering strength for their long-awaited "Day of Reassembly". St. Darwin, however, was forced into the Revel Unending, where he is unable to leave.
His body so utterly mangled by the Squid's wrath and stripped of the last embers of his god's power, the only thing keeping him alive was the blessing of the Peacock, to whom he was now bound to in the sight of the Dolomedes, whose bargains are Absolute and Final. Amidst the delights and debaucheries of the Revel Unceasing he sits, his body being slowly re-assembled and "improved" by The Caladrius.
And while the Glorious Lie no longer had any use for the man, Peacock's bond with the old man gave him considerable clout with the Assemblage. Darwin's self-sacrifice cemented the loyalty and religious reverence his followers held towards him, and they were grateful to the Broken Bird for keeping him alive. Additionally, it is only through the Choirmen of the Honest that Darwin can issue orders to the Assemblage, making the patronage of the Bird invaluable for its survival.
After the Architeuthian had returned to the Aquarium and turned his focus to other pursuits, the Bright-Delver manifested herself within the Fifth History, traveling the world to provide what aid and comfort she could. Her court fretted and worried, for their patron was still injured from the attempted assassination, and was using more power than was wise in order to aid those mortals who had been caught up in events beyond their control. It was when the Delver attempted to make contact with Martin Chang, a former member of the Assemblage, and offer him her aid, that certain servants of the Delver petitioned both the Vizier and the Anaconda to return her to the Mansus before she was injured once again.
The Engine continued to nip away at the Fifth History, but with most of its resources already devoured or destroyed in the war, devoted minimal resources to it, few enough for the little societies organized by Martin Chang and the remaining stragglers in the war to check their advances. It continues to consume and push forth, but slowly as to avoid the new cold-war situation from turning hot again.
The Fifth Today
Very little of note remains of the Fifth History today. While not destroyed utterly like The Sixth History, the Fifth's entire society had collapsed utterly in the wake of the War. Martin Chang, who led the Deceiver's independent loyalists to help the Assemblage, deserted it in fury, and now works with what remain of his followers who survived the war to reorganize society and save people from the encroachment of the Engine.
The Noble and Ancient Guild, devotees of the Anvil, who were among the first to feel the impact of the Hour's demise (aside from the unfortunate souls in the Sixth History, of course). The tragedy caused a deep schism in the society, splitting it into two factions. The Guild Reforged has pledged its allegiance to the Engine of Cycles, seeing the events of the Sixth History (or as much as they could glean of them from second-hand accounts) as a natural course of things, the new supplanting the old. Their devotion borders on fanatical - where the old Guild prioritized the well-being of its members first and foremost, along with steady progress towards ascension, the Reforged have no qualms about feeding themselves to the Engine, trusting it to transform them into either something new and greater or perhaps a part of itself.
The split between the Guild Reforged and the old guard drew in the attention of the Hours. The Engine was young, but that also made it vital and ambitious. Eager to stake its place among the greatest of Hours, it was quick to intervene on behalf of the Guild Reforged. And it was an Hour of many things, but subtlety was not among them. The Engine’s gifts come in different forms, no conjurings, no summonings, but inspiration, unusual tools unearthed and built. As the last of the old Guild conjured their master’s old Names in a desperate struggle, the Engine came up with a host of new weapons and creations to mop up the final loyalists of its victim. Intrigued by the young upstart who had broken, opened so much, the Snake Tail with Appendages descended from its lairs in the dark corners and shattered doors and walls of the Mansus and devoted its aid to the Engine’s cause. This drew in the attention of the Anaconda, who continuing its war with the Tail, offered its aid to the old-guard of the Guild. Two Hours against one meant that initially, the Engine made great strides forward in the war, but soon, it became angry. The war it had begun to make its name as a great power and elevate the people of the Fifth History had become just another skirmish in the proxy war between the Tail and the Anaconda. It turned suddenly on its nominal ally, devouring it as it had two other Hours. But the Tail is a curious entity. Its ending was far less final than that of the Maker and Anvil. It emerged from Nowhere mere minutes later, furious at its former ally, and cracking, veritably emanating fissures in reality itself. This sudden defeat of one of the Mansus’s foremost Hours accomplished what the Engine hoped its war would have. It established its position as a powerful Hour. It also elicited the interest of many Hours, and they descended, to stake their interest.
Here, the Harvester saw its first conflict, in the Engine’s great betrayal of its erstwhile ally. It was not a careless Hour, and when going against one of the oldest Hours of the Mansus, it took every step possible to ensure victory. In the small manufactory that in the future would become the Factory Devouring, the greatest blight upon the face of the Wood, it went to work on a weapon, one it put a part of itself into. With a laugh, a cackle like the roar of a consuming fire, it burst into life. The Engine invited the Tail to its seat of power to marvel at its latest creation, and trapped and devoured it with flame and steel. While it consumed most of the Tail, it tossed scraps to the Harvester. Fatefully so, the Engineer and Tinker believed. Perhaps, here, even at its initial construction, the seeds of its betrayal were sown as it feasted on flesh drenched with the highest of natures.
The Apple-of-the-Eye, the Hour that lives on the footsteps of the Glory, had always feared both the Tail and the Engine. Soon, the emissaries of the Tail were joined by the Lie’s crystalline servants, who pushed them to rail against their treacherous, mechanical ally and to join with the old Guild and their Anaconda-patron, who still held at least a semblance of honour. The Tail was held in check by the Anaconda, always, but the Engine had never known restraint. If the serpent-Hours were to unite against it, then maybe it could be devoured. The Anaconda itself had all but tied itself in furious knots to hear of the Tail’s defeat. While the Anaconda wished the Tail defeated and gone, it demanded that it alone be the one to strike the killing blow, not some upstart machine that did not know its place.