Codex: Four – The Great Schism

After the Guild’s construction it’s members further grew in number, more came to embrace the Dark Ones. The change in perceptions of a vast majority of Umbrianox’s population also changed their attitudes. Decades of the Shadowhunters’s presence saw the majority of citizens start to nurture the comradery and society cohesion that was once rare in a nation previously dominated by anarchy. Meanwhile, there were others, less inclined to act civil or with compassion, who found yet more reasons and excuses to commit evil acts upon one one another.

These conflicts between individuals became so frequent, and the need for retribution so strongly felt, that the Shadowhunters were in constant employ of people seeking their talents. Other lesser factions, that were comprised mainly by those who had become disaffected by the Shadowhunters methods, seized on the financial opportunities and rivalries broke out between newly established guilds.

Forever more, the Umbrian nation would be plagued with it’s own internal war, between those believing they were the most morally superior. Most altercations would fortunately be confined to the darkness, where the majority of the public would be totally ignorant of, yet no less unaffected. However, slowly word would spread of their influence. Over the decades, and tired of the increasing number of altercations that grew between the citizens, thousands cried out in protest at the perceived failure of the Shadowhunters. Criticism arose over their ability to control the chaos that persisted on the streets of Umbrianox and the surrounding villages. A dozen or so years of blood letting altercations and armed conflicts broke out, between those faithful to Unu’mia’s teachings and those who sought to undermine the Guild’s efforts, and thus this gave rise to The Great Schism. The internal Umbrian war was bloody, with parts of the city sectioned off in a multi-headed deadlock. Pestilence and disease broke out and supplies destined for each area were either intercepted or destroyed. The Great Schism almost saw the city of Umbrianox brought to the brink of destruction. The conflicts would eventually end, with the Guild’s combined efforts, prevailing ideology and, more importantly, their leadership under Una’mia were undoubtedly the cause of this. As a consequence, however, this would come at a heavy cost.

During a final desperate mass raid on the Shadowhunter Guild, by multiple aligned factions, a majority of the Shadowhunters were forced to defend their hallowed ground. The main force were preoccupied, while Unu’mia was left with but a handful of personal guards. This opportune moment, seized by a few traitorous Shadowhunters from within, eventually saw the assassination of Unu’mia. The killing blow would be delivered by none other than her most promising student, Carbor Fraus. Una’mia was left trapped in her chamber, through Carbor’s use of a rare Solis Orb; an artifact which renders a Shadowhunter unable to Shadowshift in darkness, and was finally killed with a Venon bomb. Upon exploding it released a cloud of one the most deadliest of toxins none across Hexterra. Una’mia unable to escape was caught within it’s deadly vapour and perished without defense. What had become of Carbor, after the Schism, is still yet unknown. Rumour has it that he died due to the bombs exposure too, in a form of self-motivated sacrifice, however his body was never recovered.

The loss of their patron, Una’mia’s remaining disciples were blinded with rage and confusion. Without leadership they found themselves temporarily unable to proceed and as a further consequence, without her guidance, the Shadowhunters became further divided.

This was argued, mostly by the few scholars that existed at the time, to have been the the plan of the Dark Ones all along; that Unu’mia was merely their puppet and everything that she accomplished was of their design. With the exasperated anarchic conflict of Umbrian citizens being their ultimate goal.

The remaining disciples of Unamia, in their ruthless attempt to rebuild the Guild anew, began to refine their recruitment and methods. The Guild, as it is today, is that which resulted in the Great Schism. Had it been left unscathed, it would have undoubtedly become much more power that it already is. This has been suggested, by many, to have been a good thing, not just for Umbrians but the entirety of Hexterra itself. However, there are others, justifiably it might be said, to be far worse. The Shadowhunters have become far more ruthless and secretive. The tragedy that beset them refined their efforts, to the point that none dare speak a word against them, less the shadows themselves convey their criticism to a bitter end. This may be true to some extent, but you can be assured, as a potential disciple of the Shadowhunter Guild, that our true motives, the real truth behind our aim, is far more complex than any of the ordinary citizens can discern. They will fear the Shadowshunters or die in our darkness.

Praise be to the Dark Divines.

from the Shadowhunter Codex of Vindictism: Codex Four – The Great Schism
– Circa 642 M.W.E. (Magikron Wars Era)

Laura Steel © 2016

Codex: Three – The Shadowhunter Rituals

After forming the Guild, it soon became apparent to Unu’mia that some Umbrians, who wanted to be taught the Shadow Arts, lacked even basic level of empathy and proficiency to even accept what she taught and had to be turned away. It was after many years of teaching that she and a few of her most promising and trusted disciples started to develop the Rituals. These Rituals were based on some of the ancient texts they had acquired from travelling merchants, ones that they could afford using the donated aurum that is, or from those (aptly named as Ruin Hunters) who had raided relics from some of the old forgotten dungeons, caves and keeps across Hexterra.

The collected texts Unu’mia was interested in described the darkside of the Patheon of Deusan and the influence they once had. It was the Dark Ones who saw through the hypocrisy of the Bright One’s plans, and their insincere influence over the ancient men and sumen races, and thus caused a divide among the Pantheon; some of the Divine even chose to remain impartial but not entirely without their own motives.

The Dark Ones were no longer being perceived as ‘evil’, as they once were, but those with a different form of benevolence that could be embraced by each individual Umbrian. Therefore, Unu’mia and her disciples started to pool their resources and share them with those that desired to embrace the Dark One’s blessing and who wished to pass the Rituals. Knowledge of the Shadow Arts and Unu’mia’s teachings had become a now desired commodity among many that merely wished to learn and better themselves.

The first Ritual was called: the Decerno Probitas. For Unu’mia knew that those who wished to possess the Dark Ones blessings could not do so with dishonest hearts. That her would-be disciples must be able to withstand the urge to use such power for their own nefarious ends, such as profound greed or the killing of innocent individuals. They too would have to fulfill the same criteria that Unu’mia was instructed to by the Dark Ones and to only kill in their name as acts of vengeance or mercy. Many would not even pass this first trial and were promptly turned away, never to be permitted another attempt.

Those who passed the first Ritual would have to pass a second, called: the Determinare Magika Potentia. For Unu’mia knew that only those who could possess the necessary saturation of Vis in an individual’s blood, that fueled ability to cast Magik, would be another requirement to fulfill the role of becoming a disciple. Those who failed this Ritual were permitted to continue to learn from what was taught but would have to live with the knowledge of never being able to cast Magik, in any form, as thus never be able to become a fully fledged Shadowhunter. Those who chose to remain, despite their inability to cast Magik, dedicated themselves to assisting the Shadowhunters in various other roles, such as porters, caretakers or armed guards.

The last Ritual was the most feared one to partake in, as many who passed the first two chose not to attempt the third Ritual, after learning about its rather demanding requirement. They would be permitted to continue with studies of the ancient texts but their lack of courage, their suseption to fear, as opposed to using it as a tool, would forever be a hindrance to becoming a Shadowhunter. The third Ritual was called: the Prorsus Imbuere Divina. This specific Ritual was the only one with the potential of not only harming the potential disciple but killing them; stripping them of their immortal soul from the very fabric of their fragile mortal body. Immense Magikcal stresses and pain would be placed on those potential few who partook in the third Ritual, those whom wished to be finally granted the Dark Divines blessing, in which barely half of those who attempted so died. Only after completing all three Rituals was a potential recruit permitted to become, like Unu’Mia, a Shadowhunter.

Training began in all forms, from sword fighting, Magik casting, to furthering the Shadowhunter’s research in many of the ancient texts within the library. Finally they would receive the Dark Divines blessing in order to become a fully fledged Shadowhunter initiate. Those who were family of those who died from the Rituals would rally against the Shadowhunters, believing them to be merely a deranged cult, entising their family and friends to their deaths. So on a regular occasion the guards of the warehouse were forced to defend the Guild.

These Rituals would be developed further, over the next thousand or so years, to filter out only the most promising potential recruits into joining the Shadowhunter Guild, and have been in use ever since.

from the Shadowhunter Codex of Vindictism: Codex Three – The Rituals
– Circa 638 M.W.E. (Magikron Wars Era)

Laura Steel ©2015

Codex: Two – Formation of the Guild

Upon her return to her home, Unu’mia Bristene was not greeted kindly. News from the battle of Ventrusarx, that everyone was killed when the floating-rocks fell had eventually reached the citizens of Umbranox. It was rumoured, unjustifiably, that because she was the only survivor, she must have fled the battle while her comrades died falling from the sky. They had not known exactly how she survived and more unlikely to believe her. Even if she were to explain freely what had happened, Divine intervention, let alone by the Dark Ones themselves, was not a widely accepted excuse. In the Umbrian Army desertion was a act punishable by death, so when she attempted to explain her side of the story, to her superiors and comrades, Unu’mia was met with scorn and threats of execution.

Before she could mount an adequate defense, it was swiftly and collectively decided, by many Umbrians, who were totally ignorant of the facts, that she must pay for her transgression against her fellow comrades. Many Umbrians, including those from the Umbrian Army, attempted to surround the young soldier while pointing their swords and pitchforks at her, with frothing anger on their lips and a red glare in their eyes. It was only then she was forced to reveal her new power. Desperate to flee, she disappeared as a puff of dark purple smoke in front of everyone and into the shadows protection. Those that had cursed her with blind anger were now cowering with fear; some steeled their defenses ready, while other’s dropped their weapons and fled.

A few trusted friends, who had harbored Unu’mia safely, while she was in temporary exile, attempted to spread her account of what happened and just how she escaped the impact by materializing into thin air and back again without so much as a scratch. Reluctant at first, the people of Umbrianox eventurally came to accept Unu’mia’s version of the events. In time many slowly began to seek her out in order to understand what it was she went through. Those who already worshiped the Divine Dark Twins, as it was for old Umbrian tradition, thought they might seek this power out for themselves too; the reasons for their ambition would known only to them but Unu’mia would eventually devise a method of combating this.

It was then Unu’mia began to teach the way that the Dark Ones had imbued her with, to explain the art of Shadow Phasing and the other knowledge of Dark Magik, that had slowly unraveled inside her mind. Praise of the Dark Twins Umbria and Noxia subsequently increased, along with Vindictus, Mortusus and even Timorus, as more and more began people started to lose their atheistic attitudes towards the existence of the Dark Divines. Over time the city was slowly flooded with new statues and iconography, in particular of the these five Dark Ones, and the belief in the power they all had hold over their mortal subjects.

Before their numbers reached the hundreds, Unu’mia began to realise that the warehouse in the merchant district they were using was too small and that teaching a hand full of people at a time had become vastly inefficient. She was also aware that many recruits had already wished to donate their possessions and aurum, as compensation, in order to them to trained by Unu’mia in the first place. It was then that she and her disciples conceived an ambitious expansion plan and sought to purchasing land and buildings to be demolished and replaced with a new gigantic structure that could house their needs. Many citizens, especially those who had began to embrace the Dark Ones, thought that the prospect of a singular point of interest would be beneficial to the rest of the city and promoted what Unu’mia was teaching. Other’s radically contested the idea, yet was of no use.

Despite the objections, along with the reported threats of bullying, extortion of shop keepers and home owners, Unu’mia and her disciples managed to purchase enough land to begin construction. The next decade slowly saw the rise of Guild’s monastery-like structure. It had finally become the Shadowhunter’s central point of focus in which anyone who past the initiation could assemble, with its vast library of ancient tomes and texts, halls for sword training, Magik casting, equipment and meditation rooms. Ever since it was completed it has became a world wide iconic symbol of Shadowhunter authority and Umbrian liberation.

from the Shadowhunter Codex of Vindictism: Codex Two – The Guild
– Circa 634 M.W.E. (Magikron Wars Era)

Laura Steel ©2015

Codex: One – The First Shadowhunter

The first ever individual to embrace the darkside of the Pantheon of Deusan’s benevolence was that of a young woman, Unu’mia Bristene. It was during the latter years, in 506 M.W.E., that this young eager warrior of the Umbrian Army, became one of the most powerful individuals Hexterra has ever known.

During an attempt to capture a Magikcron from the winged avian Nubani, the Umbrian Army assaulted the floating-rock keep of Ventrusarx, in their air ships. Each one clasped on to the keep and rock faces with metal hooks and Magik tethers. By the hundreds Umbrian soldiers leap forth and rushed the Nubani troops, who defended themselves the with ballasts and spells; Ventus ‘wind’ Magik was their specialty. Hundreds of Umbrians fell through the clouds to their deaths but too many would still overwhelm the Nubani and they were matched sword to spear, spell for spell.

While the regular ground forces assaulted the front of the keep, Unu’mia, along with a handful of skilled infiltrators, proceeded to enter through a cave at the rear of the floating-rock face. It was guarded but not so much as to prevent them access. Their airship plowed into the side and was caught and severally damaged; they now knew they were on a suicide mission; but one that was necessary one for them to succeed.

Unu’mia, was desperate to prove her worth in combat, just as any Umbrian soldier would, but was considered by her squad to be inferior for such a mission due to her lack of experience. Despite her proficient use of Magik and infiltration techniques, the rest of her squad reluctantly proceeded through the caves with her with her in tow.

However, heavy fighting, cannon fire and the assortment of Magik being cast outside had weakened the cave’s structure. A cave-in trapped her inside alone, separated away from her squad. She called out to her comrades, fearing that she would be buried alive; yet they callously bid her farewell; believing that her fate was already sealed and wanted to be rid of their perceived weaker member. More and more she screamed, trying to dig her way out but the rocks were to heavy. Her hands and fingers become bloodied from the sharp course stones. Angry, confused and left feeling betrayed she continued down the path as her only option.

It was here Unu’mia happened upon a lost shrines to various Dark Patheon members:  Umbria and Noxia (the Twin Goddesses of Shadows and Darkness, Vindictus (the God of Vengence), Mortusus (the God of Death) and Timourus (the God of Fear). All sat separately inside of a circle, each at five separate points of a pentangle, in the dark and damp; shrines forgotten to even the Nubani, who fortified the keep above. She knelt down in the center and cried bitter tears and prayed to the shrines, hoping that her pleas of intervention would be answered by the Dark Ones, that her transgression of being left alone to die would be avenged; her prayers would be heard.

It was here the Dark Ones spoke to Unu’mia in her mind, and issued her the profound ability to embrace the darkness within. To take control of her fear, the darkness and shadows around her, and weld them to strike death in the form of vengeance to her enemies. It was here she would become the first Shadowhunter; ‘Umbra Venator ‘ in the old tongue; a hunter among darkness and shadows. But there was a cost. She would have to pay a toll for such a power. The Dark Ones made but one request of the desperate Umbrian: to kill in their name, it was after all in Umbrian blood to kill, but it was not to kill just anyone. No blood must be spilled unnecessarily, as innocent blood was of no interest to the Dark Ones. Only the blood of the wicked, the callous and of those responsible committing evil acts upon others. Those of blackened souls would only be suitable to sate their bloodlust. So on this Unu’mia made an oath to the Dark Ones as she sat no longer alone: that only the blood of the deserving must be spilled, no more no less.

Now in control of the shadows around her, she could disappear and form at will. She retreated back to the cave-in, embraced the darkness within and reemerged on the other side like black smoke poured forth from a burning building. She continued up through the caves where she came across her remaining squad, of those who left her for dead. In their bewilderment, she cut them down fearlessly, one after another; while their pleas would fall on her deaf ears. Mercy would not be given, and so to would her vengeance would be sated.

As the war raged on she contemplated her role in the fighting. Unu’mia knew she could help win the battle with her knew power but this would also go against her oath. Her decision to remaining within the caves was hard, as the sound of many of her fellow Umbrian friends being skewered by Nubani spears could be heard. Many would have considered their deaths justification for her intervention but they were the aggressors, by her oath they could not be saved. The rumble of the floating-rocks could be felt and eventually the battle was won, but with an unsuspecting consequence.

As the Magikcron was seized by the Umbrian forces, the power that once flowed forth from it collapsed. The floating-rocks would no longer float at all and began to fall. Panik ensued. The remaining forces attempted to retreat back to their airships but too many were damaged to fly again. The tethers and hooks that once held them were ripped away as the rocks fell and so the Umbrian Army was stranded to fall with them.

After the impact nothing remained. No airships were left undamaged, no forces of either side to be found, the Magikcron was no where to be seen either. Yet, one person did remain however, Unu’mia. She emerged, from the colossal pile of bodies, ships, rocks and dust, completely unscathed. She looked around to see nothing but chaos and destruction and wept at the death that befell her. It was then she started the long journey home.

Born anew from anger and empowered by the Dark One’s hand, she had become an agent of fear, darkness, death; become an agent of vengeance; she became the First Shadowhunter.

from the Shadowhunter Codex of Vindictism: Codex One – The First Shadowhunter
Circa: 616 M.W.E (Magikcron Wars Era)

Laura Steel ©2015