Overture: Visions of Death and Madness
In the years leading to the Era of Quietism, when the Holy Numbered could not hear DECEM’s Voice in their souls anymore and the Sattva departed to search for their god, Eltania Kivana Elis, youngest daughter of Lord Kronos himself, called the All Seeing One for her ability to perceive so much of the River of Time, wrote the Negatios, the Revelation of the Endtimes.
So horrific was the vision that Lady Eltania died writing its last words. Its truth was hidden by common assent by the senior leadership of the Holy Numbered, at the time being Kerion Ladenus, Alestar Edian, a distraught Kronos Elis, Achernar Sena, and Dominic Dorthandi. These decided to suppress the knowledge of the Negatios, lest it add to the tensions the Holy Numbered were going through with the loss of the Sattva and direct communion with DECEM.
The only copy, its final pages written in Eltania’s own blood after she ran out of ink (she locked herself in the Tower of the Sight, the highest bastion of the Elis Stronghold of Vantage Point), was commended to the keeping of Alestar Edian, to be hidden in his Library, that only the Sage could open.
The Primus Houses thought they could keep knowledge of this work hidden at least until (as they hoped) the Sattva returned. Alestar and Achernar both correctly surmised that such a… depressing vision of their future, by the Scion of a Great House unrivalled in its ability as Seers no less, might unravel the tenuous peace of the Era of Quietism.
The DECEM Vision, where the entirety of the Cora heard their god’s anguish as it fought the Herodians – and were thus introduced, rather unceremoniously, to the “Great Evil” – rendered the whole issue moot and academical, although it made the Negatios somewhat clearer for those who studied it since now they understood some of the references.
After the War of Color, possession of the Repository of Prometheus passed to the Ladenus. Among the first to enter the ruins of the greatest storehouse of knowledge in the Sector was Alestar’s grandnephew through his sister Aura’s marriage with Kerion: Kaitos, the son of then-Second Prince Karnath. The death of Alestar in the War of Color “reset” the locks of the Library, and it recognized the genetic and psionic patterns of Kaitos as being a Scion of the Edians. He was allowed entry, and there, to his Scholar’s mind’s delight, came upon a treasure trove.
Actually, his grandfather Kerion had asked his most bookish grandson to see if he could open the Library. Karnak Ladenus was Kerion’s brother who secured the Athenaeum, since he knew its ways and was well-regarded among the faculty of the Edian’s premier academy. Still, being trueblood Ladenus, he was unable to open the Library and secure the dangerous items Kerion knew were stored inside. Since all Edian heirs were considered dead, if not exiled (Kerion did not know at the time that Altair had not died at his birthing by Kyrie Aurora Ladenus-Edian), Angelos Sena correctly surmised that Aura’s “seed” might be recognized by the Library’s locks and defenses, and recommended such to Kerion. The new Pope King wanted to give the task to his youngest son, Valion, but the Third Prince was away dealing with a remnant of the Edians (read: he was letting them get away to Exile; these were mostly from House Kinath, a Minor House of the Edians). Vanderion wanted to stand in for his father, but his best friend strongly suggested that Kaitos, who was as much a protégé of Alestar as anyone alive, should do it. Kerion agreed with the recommendations of the Heir of Sena.
(An aside: some say that, in truth, Angelos was playing a dangerous game here. He had a bit of the gift of foreshadowing from an earlier union of the Elis with the Sena and saw something… odd with the son of Karnath. And he was never comfortable with Kaitos, although some say this was because the two, the premier scholar-princes of the Cora at the time, were rivals. Angelos also was said to be protecting Vanderion, since the Library was well defended, and his best friend was not powerful enough to survive confrontation with its guardians should the facility not recognize him)
True enough, Kaitos was able to bypass the extensive security of the Library, and managed to enter, securing the items his grandfather asked him most of all to ensure were there and inviolate. This included a tome in what seemed like dragon leather (there were dragon-like creatures in Cora Prime, but most were hunted to extinction by the Cora as the creatures were very dangerous predators). Kaitos actually was incommunicado for a while, prompting Kerion to send in a squad under Vanderion and Angelos (the latter because, as one of Alestar’s students, he was frequently a visitor to the outer areas of the Library and would know his way around it). The two found Kaitos with his hands on the halostone lid sealing the Negatios away. Angelos wanted to check the case for any intrusion – Alestar always warned his students away from the thing, without really explaining what it was, which was strange for the Sage to do – but Kaitos said he was feeling queasy from the energies inside the Library, forcing Vanderion to pull the whole team out.
Later on, Kaitos, who was the only Ladenus to frequent the Library of Alestar Edian, regularly read the Negatios. Kerion had noticed a change in his eldest grandson but given that Kaitos never spent much time in the Holy Royal Court, there was no time to question him. Arguably, the horrors spoken of in the book affected Kaitos, and made him more aloof and distant than he already was. If that time were early 21st century Earth, one could almost say that, from a geek, Kaitos was slowly switching to Goth, adopting white clothing and motifs (white being the color of death among the post-War of Color Cora).
In the chaos of the First Novus War and the Bellato Occupation, Kaitos was worried about what would happen to the Library if, somehow, the midget Infidels managed to land and capture Cora Prime itself. So, asking for a short break from his duties as First Prince (this was after the death of Kerion, prior to the Reconquista), Kaitos went to the Library.
And found the Negatios, among other things, missing.
Someone had managed to bypass the security of the Sealed Library of Alestar Edian.
That someone, as all would find out much later, was Hybroer.
(to be continued)