Almost every Magi depends upon the Ordo Principium. The organization helps us with our awakenings. Let me tell you a tale from long ago. The Ordo was already an old system in ancient Greece, but it still was a far cry from the robust organization of today…
“SuKra” he said, even though he knew it was useless. Magi Anakee was out of Resonance and bleeding fast. It would take something more potent than a meager Regeneration Form at this point to save him. He looked at his fallen opponent. “Good shot, bastard. You got me with your last gasp.” Anakee crawled across Nicholas’ corpse, fingers stretching for a rectangle shape just visible under the dead man’s arm. “Ah. My reward.” He pulled out a small book… Nicholas’ Codex. Anakee stacked it with his own Codex, holding both tight in his hands. “Apparently you didn’t have a chance to send your Codex away. They say it will be automated in the future, that the Ordo is working on a way to make it a spell you cast well ahead of time. That will make a Codex hard to steal in the future, but today, ah, today is my lucky day.” He chuckled, then winced in pain. “Not much time left before I join you.”
He sat silently, meditating, trying to limit his breathing. Finally he had collected a last pool of energy. He tore a fabric square sown into his toga and pulled out a sort of mini Codex, large enough for just one inscription. He opened to the lone page. “gayit imi’KeSri” he whispered. The mini Codex and the two full volumes and a ring on his finger all vanished. “There. It’s done.” Anakee looked around at the half-finished marble building that had been their battle arena. “I had wanted to see the Parthenon finished. But given the way the world runs, it’ll probably be ruins by the time I come back. Ah well…” He closed his eyes and breathed no more.
On the other side of Athens, in the back room of a small shop, one of several open chests on a shelf suddenly snapped shut and locked itself. The shop keeper jumped a bit at the sound. “Well well well… my first test.” He looked at the name on the chest and sighed. “Gods bear you well, Anakee. The Ordo will guard your treasure while you sleep.” The shop keeper took the chest off the shelf, hid it in a sack, and went to make an offering at the Temple of Helios, the secret base for the local Ordo Principium.
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The Macedonian king and his son had carried the day. Athens and Thebes fell before the conquerers. And in the fading daylight, soldiers reveled. “More wine!” they cried from every quarter.
King Philip had placed limits on his army and the amount of looting they were permitted to do in Athens, encouraging them to take women and not wealth as their reward. But some looting was expected, and one member of the army hurried along the darkening streets for a very particular bit of looting. Magi Nicholas moved in haste to the Temple of Helios.
The temple of the sun god had not yet shut its doors for the night — but it was close when Nicholas slipped inside. He grabbed an acolyte: “Your high priest. Fetch him to me. Now.” The boy tripped over himself running to complete the errand. Behind Nicholas, the doors closed. No matter. They would open them again, and gladly, when he chose to leave, confident that Helios would not object to his departure. Nicholas smiled at his imaginings… he was used to being hated by men and gods alike.
Footsteps approached. Nicholas turned to see the temple leader — a much younger man than Nicholas had expected. No matter. The man had the aura of a Magi about him, which marked him as the man Nicholas had come to see. “You are the high priest of this place?”
“I am High Priest Malachai. What business have you here?”
“I seek what is mine. One of my… ” he paused, taking in the acolytes all about him. “My aZatomsa.”
The priest looked surprised. “We have one of yours here? Normally we are quite adept at detecting when a Magi awakens and returning his KeSri to him.”
“You do not have my KeSri! What belongs to me is in Magi Anakee’s KeSri, and I will have it back now, or I and my army friends will burn this temple to the ground and take it!”
Malachai seemed unperturbed. “Sir, I am sorry. If you have a conflict with another Magi, you will have to take it up with that Magi when he or she next awakens. This is the Temple of Helios, god of oaths. I am sworn to the Ordo Principium to guard the chests in my care. Be you Keeper or Cain, we care not.”
Nicholas fumed. “You think I am powerless? That was not my only book, just my favorite book.” He pulled a Codex from a hidden pocket. “Take great care, priest. I prepared well for this meeting. Your next words will either be ‘let me get that for you’ or they will be your last words.”
Malachai shrugged. He pointed at Nicholas and simply said, “Thief.” A booming voice filled the temple. “DEPART NOW, THIEF, OR BURN IN THE LIGHT OF HELIOS.” A spotlight of light shown from above the altar onto Nicholas’ face.
“What is this? Am I to be afraid of light?” He laughed. But the light grew brighter and soon it had heat with it. Nicholas began backing toward the door. “I will not be driven off by mere sunlight!” He held his Codex before his eyes and tried to make out the serpent’s key well enough to cast. But the light grew brighter. Nicholas turned to the door to get out — but the doors were barred. He clawed and clawed and screamed and burned. His clothes and skin and organs reduced to ash in the scathing light. And then it turned off.
Malachai turned to one of his acolytes. “See that the Sun’s Wrath Artifact is recharged in the morning.” He walked over and pulled the dead man’s Codex out of the ashes, along with some sort of ink bottle — clearly an Artifact to have escaped damage. He also took the skull. He carried them deep into the catacombs under the temple and into a room where many chests sat closed on shelves, undisturbed. A new chest stood open on a sort of workbench in the middle of the room. “You’re in luck,” he said, addressing the skull. “I have a newly built chest. Normally we charge for these up front, but I’ll leave a note to charge you for it later.” He broke a tooth out of the skull and dropped it into the chest — a bit of the Magi that would react when that Magi incarnated again. Then Malachai placed the book and inkwell into the box and closed the lid. “Even though you threatened us, the Ordo will keep these for you until you return. We will keep our oath to serve all Magi, even the angry ones.”
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Magi Kythos, the most recent head of the order of Helios, surveyed the remains of his home, Athens, from the steps of his untouched temple. Smoke still filled the air, the result of the vented anger of the Roman general, Sulla. Kythos wept over the bodies visible from his doorway, knowing there were far more across the city.
“Sir… I’m sorry to disturb you…”
He looked behind himself to see another Magi-priest. “What is it, Demetrius?”
“One of the boxes. It is signaling.”
Kythos smiled softly. “Even among all this death there is life. Let’s go have a look.”
The two went down to the crypt. On the shelf of sealed chests, one of them glowed gently, fading on and then off again. Kythos looked at the name cut into the wood. “Ah. A very old chest — 352 years it has been in our care. Magi Anakee returns to the world at last. Somewhere in the world a child has been born. And we must find where and take the chest to the newborn.”
“And I just go where ever that is?” Demetrius’ eyes widened.
“Yes. And then you return. That will be the first of three chests you must deliver during your service to the Ordo. Give me some time to research the signs. I will tell you where it must be taken.”
Demetrius wandered for three years, following the arcane signs, until at last they lead him to a far foreign land where horses had tusks and the gods wore blue skins. He could not speak the language of the mutes here, but Magi have a common tongue in any land. He sought out the local cabal of the Ordo Principium and offered the chest to a black skinned Magi.
He said: “Sen’mehama hurna imi’adavaizu. tyanigi va’SufeK el.”
“This belongs to one who lives in your city. Please keep it until she comes of age.”
She replied: “Tail iwesa.”
Demetrius did not linger in that strange land and took a more direct route home, returning to Athens in less than a year. He delivered two more chests to awakening Magi over the next three years, thereby fulfilling his dues to the Ordo Principium for his next two incarnations.
Amala was eighteen and pregnant with her second child when the headaches and hallucinations started. She kept them to herself, though she marveled at the strange lands that her imagination conjured up. The headaches got worse, and just when she felt she could not take it any more and would tell someone, a priestess of Kali came to her home. The priestess offered her a princely gift: a box, wrapped in iron, wrought with runes and glowing slightly. The priestess handed Amala the box saying, “ahames, Anakee.” Amala touched the box. It’s lid sprang open. As her eyes caught on the two books in the chest, memories poured into her. She staggered, shocked to recall the man she had once been, but the priestess caught her arm.
“The Ordo has kept the faith. I will be your mentor for the next six months. Welcome back, Magi Anakee.”
The Ordo Principium kept the faith even through the Age of Silence. Every Magi depends upon them, and every Magi is called in his or her turn to do a period of service, to spend a decade or two carrying for the chests of other Magi. Woe betide the Magi who breaks the faith, for it is said that the only thing Cain and Keepers ever agreed upon was to hunt down any who violated that trust.