The Fourth History

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The Fourth History was -- before the Segmenting of the Snake -- the demesne of the Great Serpent which, in the Serpent’s magnanimity, was donated as neutral ground for the Hours to meet under the flag of truce. It seeded its cults there, but other than that, the peace held, even past the Segmenting of the Snake. But held does not mean remained whole. The occult backdrop of the 20th century has been one of brutal suppression and desperate resistance, and even the People’s Committee for Openings has been forced underground.

Long before man walked upright, the Hours of the Mansus made an agreement under the watchful eye of the Great Serpent. No Hours would rule over this History, no Hours would enact their schemes within, and no Hours would fight over it. Even after the Serpent left, and was Segmented, this agreement held. The Deceiver was instrumental in the upkeep of this truce, for it had utilized it to spread a fantastic untruth. When the Great Serpent left, and the first Hours began to circle like sharks around the Fourth History, the Deceiver spread rumors of a great curse, one that was neither broken nor diminished by the death of the Great Serpent. Any Hour which broke the truce would be wracked by this curse, and suffer greatly from it. The Hours which were uninterested in staying away out of respect for their former ruler were frightened by the curse, and so the Fourth History remained safe.

In the year 1723 the Mendicant Without made its entrance into the Fourth History, wholly unaware of the millennia-long truce that had preserved it from greater influence until then. With no Names, no followers and little power of its own, it sought to establish a power base that would cement its presence among the older Hours, intervening much more personally than most Hours usually did. Donning a form that was passably human, it drew to itself the hungry, the destitute and the skeptics, asking the right questions but providing few answers. Instead, it urged its followers to spread the questioning, instilling a sense of longing and unrest for which there no earthly remedies. In exchange, it offered greater glimpses of the skin beneath the world than any in this History had yet witnessed, further fueling the hunger and drive of occultists throughout the world.

In Europe especially this coincidentally tied in over time with the Enlightenment movement, diverting some of its proponents away from a quest for scientific and philosophical answers to solutions of a more unusual nature. Towards the second half of the century, this precipitated several crises from both the top and the bottom of society. Events quickly began to spiral out of the Mendicant's control as it repeatedly failed to gain influence over royals, who hungered for little, and revolutions proliferated throughout Europe in quick succession.

This finally drew the attention of the other Hours to the Mendicant itself, who had managed to remain in the shadows until then, but whose name was now loudly proclaimed in the streets as the people marched. The Deceiver's lie was uncovered, as no curse had befallen the Mendicant, but this did not spare it from the Hours' judgement, and so it was cast out from the Mansus. Seething at the injustice and its own ignorance, the Mendicant redoubled its efforts in the Fourth History, determined to do everything it could to claim it as its own. It succeeded in very little other than furthering unrest until older, more experienced Hours stepped in over the ensuing decades with defter hands to snatch what it had accomplished from under its nose, leaving it with little power to speak of. Still, even as the Hours slowly began to further extend into the Fourth History, the Mendicant was never quite displaced from its position.

The Cuckoo was the second to break the agreement, by all accounts. Manipulating the hearts and minds of the British government, she incited a mass transport of convicts from overflowing debtor’s prisons to a new colony across the sea. Once the ships had arrived and left, the colonists mysteriously fell ill; wracked by severe pains and horrible swelling that left them unable to move, the majority of them perished. Those few who survived despite it vanished into the wilds, never to cede to British authority again. Six times again the ships were sent, and six times again the plague fell upon them. Some adepts have claimed that this event was one of the few instances where the Cuckoo’s plans were not foiled by the Peacock; instead, the cause for the Crone’s failure has been claimed to be either the Anaconda or the Squid, or perhaps both working in unison. In 1799, backed by both the native population uninterested in British squabbling and those survivors of the plagues, the former colony of Australia declared its independence from all masters. Although the Peacock had nothing to do with those events, in 1806, a Maori in a russet-feathered cloak visited England and planted the flag of his people in their soil. Descendants of the survivors of the original Australian colony ships founded a secret society, referring to themselves as Platypodes, and revering both the Snow-Stained and the Architeuthian.

The Ouroborines, that cult which foolishly revered both the Snake Tail with Appendages and the Anaconda, were quashed swiftly in most histories. In the Fourth History, however, they amassed more than a modicum of power. The Ouroborines viewed the Wrong-Serpent and the Rib-Key as manifestations of endless cycles, and indeed the very cyclical nature of the universe, and believed that a union of the two was the secret to a utopian universe. This viewpoint came to a head in 1888, when the Ouroborines managed to capture one Name of each of their “patron” Hours, and attempted to join them together in a microcosm of what they hoped to achieve with the Hours themselves. The actual nature of what occurred afterwards is unclear; the effects, however, were all too clear. A severe snowstorm bloomed from the middle of the Atlantic, covering all it encountered in an unseasonable layer of snow for two months straight before it finally ended. While the Americas were hit hardest, and recovered slowest, all across the globe crops failed and people starved to death due to the cataclysmic event. Worse yet, those who survived the snowstorms claimed to have heard voices in the wind, and many times people went out to rescue fellow humans only to be frozen to death without any trace of the source of the voices. The two Names, surviving what had been forced upon them and no longer able to die or be killed, became known as the Joined. Whether they returned to the Mansus by their own power, or were forced back by others, only when they left did the great storm subside. In the wake of the event, the Global Federation of Sanctuary Against the Occult was formed in 1889, and provided an inordinate amount of power to hunt down and persecute potential practitioners of the occult arts.

It has been said that the Joined can be seen in the deepest areas of the Aquarium, where the Architeuthian’s tentacles hold countless items of forbidden lores. Perhaps this is the proper place for them, for if they could have possibly survived what happened, little could destroy them. Even if this is a lie, the denizens of the Aquarium which pledge allegiance to the Architeuthian have been known to take interest in Federation members who wander into those waters. A certain adept of the Platypodes synthesised the original plague from her own blood, and gave it to the Architeuthian’s library upon her ascension to Long. In the 20th century, the acquisition of Platypode Plague is not impossible for the clever or foolhardy adept, but its presence alone can be grounds for trial and execution by the Federation.