Beneath Two Trees
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In the age after the great Yeren fell on the Day of Flowers, in the days before the Flood, there was a man who lived in the West of the world, in the region between two rivers, and his name was Adam. He was chief of his tribe, and was considered by all to be a fair and just ruler, wise in word and admirable in deed. His tribe was barefoot and dust-bitten, herding their humble flocks between the ancient monolith-cities of the West. They were a hardy people, withstanding many trials and hardships, defeating mighty monsters and working glorious deeds in the name of the All-Mighty.

When Adam was thirty-five years old, having reigned as chief of his tribe for fifteen years, he came upon a hidden valley, which was fertile and abundant with life. His people, tired of their wanderings, asked that they remain there in the valley and live then in peace and prosperity, and to this request Adam agreed.

Within the valley, amongst the many animals and fruiting plants that lived there, two trees stood in the center of the garden. These trees were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, and they were watched by their twin guardians, the brother and sister who had stood guard since the time of the First Children of Yesod, many ages before even the Yeren.

The guardian of the Tree of Knowledge was Nahash, the Serpent, who was later named the Adversary, who kept watch over its secret power. He spoke of all the wonders that might be accomplished with the Tree’s power, and would test man’s skill and spirit.

The guardian of the Tree of Life was Hakhama, the Great Voice, who was later named Sophia, kept watch over its gifts. She taught the proper use of knowledge, and methods by which life might be extended through copper and bronze, and would speak often the directives of the All-Mighty.

Here Adam now reigned as chief among the People of the Two Trees. He interpreted the edicts of the Voice for his people, and was gifted with the fruits of both, as was his wife, Hawwah. The two bore three sons, whose names were Hevel, Qayin, and Set.

Hevel became the protector and champion of the People of the Two Trees and carried with him the Tumbling Blade, which was both mercy and justice. He was a simple man who spoke little, but he was greatly skilled in combat and he defended the valley and the People from the beasts and demons that wandered the desert.

Qayin his brother was gifted in magic and storytelling, and became a great shaman. He would one day become chief of the tribe, and was held in high regard, equal to his brother Hevel.

Set was often forgotten by the passers of stories, for he was a humble man and never rose to the prominence of his brothers. He turned his mind away from martial glory and magical prowess, focusing instead upon the natural philosophies and the service of the poor.

Now the Serpent, who guarded the Tree of Knowledge and knew the secrets of deep magic, had looked to the East, and saw in those regions a brewing shadow. A new power was rising within an ancient kingdom, a power that swallowed all in its path. Old gods had been uncovered, and all their terrible rites now knew public practice. Most horrible of all, the Serpent saw the Scarlet King rising from the depths of the Abyss, rising to consume all of creation. The Serpent saw this, and, frightened at how the All-Mighty could permit such a thing to exist, then acted of his own will. He wished to strike first, to cut down the shadow of the Daevas before it could spread too far, to cut off the reaching hands of the Scarlet King before they could spread their foul influence further.

The Serpent approached Hawwah, for she was wiser than her husband, and spoke to her of the dangers to the east, and of the greatest gifts of the Tree of Knowledge that might be used against the Daevas. But she refused the gifts, for she could see the cost that would come of it.

The Serpent spoke then to Qayin, warning him of the shadow in the east and revealing the secret knowledge to him, teaching him the most powerful magics and potent spells. He was to lead the march against the shadow in the east.

This knowledge proved to be too great a burden for Qayin to bear: in truth, it would be too great a burden for many of the gods. Qayin’s mind frayed under the strain of his hidden knowledge, and he lost that which he had once possessed, the eyes of a child and an uncovered spirit. He became withdrawn, eating little and sleeping less, and was filled with despair at the torment he now knew. His brother Hevel, at the urging of their mother Hawwah, spoke to him on this. An argument broke out over innocent words, rising in intensity until, in a fit of rage, Qayin struck down his brother Hevel with a stone.

Adam could not bear to see his second son killed. Qayin was banished from the valley, cursed, and left to wander in the desert.

Hevel’s spirit returned to his body after five days, for in those days the perilous Ways between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead could still be walked by the heroes of men. But his return was not met with rejoicing; he remained distant from his family and friends, and was of dark demeanor. The entire People, seeing that their future chief banished and their champion now trapped by despair, and hearing rumors to the east of the Daevas growing ever stronger and reaching ever further west, cried out in pain.

When the shadow of the Daevas could no longer be ignored, Hevel took up his sword, and went east. There he fought the Daevas for three and thirty years, until he was heard of no more. Set too made actions of his own, building mighty bulwarks and defenses around the valley out of Hahkama’s copper servants, and raising from the People an army to defend their home.

Years passed, and news of a great army from the east emerged, a final army, sent out to conquer the entire west, and at its head was the Butcher, Ab-Leshal, fiercest of the Daevite generals, endowed with frightening strength and terrifying sorceries. Many of the People fled, scattering themselves to the wind and the mercy of the outside,

Qayin, hearing of the doom that was to come to the People, returned to his home, and was met there by the Butcher. Here, Qayin saw with horror that Ab-Leshal was in truth his brother Hevel, who in vanity had sworn himself to the dark gods of the Daevas and drunk deep of their black magics. Qayin once more took up a stone to slay his brother, and for this Ab-Leshal tore off his arms, first the right, and then the left.

Ab-Leshal then set upon the valley and the People with his legions and sorceries and war-beasts, and all the might of the Daevas was shown. The People were slaughtered, even the elder Adam and Hawwah. Hakhana, the Voice Who Spoke For God, was shattered, her body broken and looted. The Tree of Life stolen away, and the Tree of Knowledge set to flame. Nahash the Serpent fled, first to the space-tower at Babel, and later on to the Library, where he remained in penance for his part in these things. The garden in the desert was reduced to ash, and those who were not killed were placed in chains, led back to the slave pits of the Daevas.

Set, forgotten by all, remained, protected by the last of his shattered defenses, and watched the ashes cool. He saw ahead the destruction of the world, and the victory of the Scarlet King, looming as if clouds on the horizon. And he was greatly afraid.

Set prayed for hope, and he was answered. He was shown the path the future would take. There was to be a Flood, until such a time when the Scarlet King might truly be destroyed. A period of safety within Yesod, where magic was hidden, and the King was trapped in his hellish realms. The war would be fought in secret, until such secrecy was no longer needed.

By the instructions set before him, Set gathered thirty-six men and women to him, and established of them an order, forever hidden. In absolute humility would they serve the world, passing their mantles from one generation to the next in secret, unknown even to themselves, until the end of all things. They would be the ones to set the world right.

The Thirty-Six scattered to distant nations, and there they waited, as doom came to Daevon in the east.

Ab-Leshal had returned in triumph, but it was not to last. That part of him which was Hevel, who had played in the shadow of the Trees, who had loved his brothers and protected the People, still lived in his blackened soul, and this drove him mad. He struck back against the Daevas whom had enslaved him, and with rage and fury cut down their idols, and slaughtered their priest-kings, and brought ruin to their city. The god Moloch, the Horned King Crowned in Shame, stood to face Hevel-Ab-Leshal, and he too was defeated, rendered a sickly shade of his own power. Elsewhere, the subjugated peoples of the world, who saw the end that was at hand, struck back at the Daevas, to sow the world with Daevite blood.

Hevel, son of Adam, who had cast down the gods of Daevon, raised his voice in challenge to the Scarlet King.

And the Scarlet King answered him.

Hevel, son of Adam, took up his sword, and the floodgates of the sky opened up with a Flood that would wipe time itself clean.

And in doing so, the All-Mighty called upon the world, for the first time since the Word was spoken.

And the world was called upon to witness.

This is the history of mankind, fourth and final child-race of Earth, from the Finding of the Two Trees to the Flood.

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