The Sixth History

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“A House without walls, they say. A place of wonder and eldritch power, they say. A weapon against the Germanic Commonwealth, I say.” -Matilda XVII Angevin, Empress of the Empire of Albion

The Anarchy was a short one. In a series of brutal battles, the army of Stephen of Blois was obliterated and Matilda crowned Empress over a strengthened Angevin Empire. With an iron fist, she brought the French and English domains ever closer Frederick Barbarossa was a good emperor, but more importantly, he was a strong one. Under his reign, the feuding lords of the Empire were brought to heel and the throne of Charlemagne made whole once more.

Genghis Khan at Beijing met his match at the hands of the Jin Dynasty. Sinicized now, but they had forgotten none of their history as a horde themselves, and pushed the Khagan beyond the borders of China, where he rode in fury to continue his rampage to the west. But when he died, his children were fewer, too many slain in the bloody Siege of Beijing, and Ogedei assumed the crown of Great Khan with no trouble. Alexios Komnenos failed. Not to the Turks, although they took their pound of flesh, but to the Normans. When the smoke cleared, Rome was Greek no longer, but a curious cultural combination of Norman, Greek, and Turk. Reigning over it all, the bloodied barbarian, now Emperor of the Romans, Baselios Robert of House Guiscard.

And so the poles of the world, and the fate of the Sixth History, were set. War, war, endless war would be its fate, each imperium built upon constant conflict. It was not a History touched by the Mansus. Its abominable fate left it beyond the hands of most Hours. But the suffering it inflicted upon itself was beyond enough. From the first skirmishes on the Aslatine border between the Empire of Albion and the burgeoning German Commonwealth to the endless wars on the steppes as Ogedei, then Kublai Khan struggled to add to their expansive Khaganates the steadfast Jin Dynasty, enough blood was shed that a thousand gods of the Mansus would struggle to rival it, an endless charnel house of human suffering and despair. When the Ignition occurred it was not a mercy. But it almost could have been.

Since humanity had risen from its caves and tribes, and indeed likely before then, it had been embroiled in never-ending, brutal conflict. But in the 19th century, and the third decade of the North Sea Wars, a citizen of the Empire of Albion began a great work. His true name was lost… along with so much of the Sixth History, but his great work remains a legend, whispered surreptitiously by the Know and Long, as does his pseudonym, ‘John Smith’. While because of its eventual retroactive consumption, the Fansus and the Sixth History have perpetually had a distant relationship, the brief flashes through his dreams of a great forest and vast house of light sparked within him inspiration. He set to work on a Machine, one that could harness the power of the distant world he had seen to alleviate the miseries of his people. As he worked, he meticulously documented his process, producing a series of esoteric engineering manuals. But idealism is no protection from the Suppression Bureau, and eventually, they came knocking on ‘John’’s door, and he was forced to finish his work in hiding, paranoid and terrified. But his works had attracted disciples, first Elizabeth, then others, who joined him in his great work. Even as he descended into a slow madness, is disciples continued his work, eventually making the first of what could be construed as the Engine.

It was a pitiful thing as it began, a mere flickering vestige in the Fansus and a innocuous little device in the History, but as the little cabal upgraded it, it grew and it grew. Initially, it was a friend to mankind, doing that which ‘John’ had intended for it, providing power and resources to soothe the conflicts between the realms of man. Vindicated, ‘John’ and his cabal overthrew and destroyed the Suppression Bureau of their History and ushered in a new age of progress. But as they built the Engine greater and greater, it became more and more and more until it became a fledgeling Hour in its own right. With its birth-scream, it took from the History that had birthed it materials to build and upgrade itself, Ending so it might Change and Preserve in the future. With its birth, it devoured the Sixth History and all its souls, burning them for fuel in the heart of its structure. And with the Sixth History unravelling, the Hour called the Anvil descended from the Fansus to intervene and transform the upstart newcomer into a more complacent form. However, the Anvil could not bestow change without changing itself in turn, and what cannot change must cease. The Engine proved more resilient than the Anvil, shattering the older Hour and incorporating it into its own form, growing ever-more voracious and ever larger, even another Hour simply more fuel. The cabal that had birthed it anticipated not such a thing, but most were prepared enough to escape to the Fansus, becoming Names of the Engine. But ‘John’ was not among them, his mind too far gone. In its carelessness, the Engine devoured its very creator. Or perhaps it was the price the Anvil extracted, the change that it inflicted in vengeance for it being changed so vividly. So much has been lost of the Sixth History that perhaps not even the Engine knows. However, in the forge of its heart, a collective of souls cried out in fury at their abominable fate. They refused to submit to the Engine, and fought it in defiance, even as their forms and very identities were melted to slag, they remained defiant. From that fury and desire for liberty and independence, a new Hour arose, the Silver Owl, two Hours that day born from destruction of the Sixth History. The cataclysm of the Sixth History twisted time, casting the Silver Owl far into the past, while the Engine consumed the debris hungrily, seeking more power for its apotheosis. It was cast to the edge of the Wood, where now, it labors, devouring and ending parts of the Wood that it may change.

When they renounced their service to the Snake Tail with Appendages, it is said that the Anaconda-Deceived wandered here. Disillusioned and having sworn off service to any Hour, it sought to tour a History that would meet the ultimate fate at the hands of the great beings. It is said they left just before the last hours of the Ignition, but planted certain seeds and patterns that when Engine devoured them did nothing. Nothing, that is, yet.