The chorus of humanity is incomplete.
The Children of Eve have an ancient quest: to make Magi of every Mute. It is their firm-held belief that the Magi in Eden were hoarding magick. This lead to fighting between Mutes and Magi, and that fighting got everyone thrown out of Eden. The Children believe restoring Eden requires elevating all humans to be able to Speak to the universe.
Elder Barnstorm was the only truly elder Elder among the Children of Eve. No one else in 2014 was much passed middle age. At 230 years of age, he alone had survived the long Age of Silence, keeping vigil, hoping for his friends to return. But Reality only bends so far: all his Bio magick was no longer stemming the tide of time. His body was rapidly looking its age. It did not matter. Time could have his decrepit form. His task was complete: he had been on guard when the wave of Awakenings came. He had found those sparks in the night that were the Children of Eve reincarnated, brought them together, and taught them the faction’s secrets. They were strong once again… in many ways, stronger than they had ever been: this time, they were all alive and Awake at the same time. Of course, their opponents were equally reinforced, but that was a concern for another day. Today, they gathered to celebrate his “retirement.”
“Are you ready, old man?” A woman in her thirties, with bright red hair naturally streaked with a single lock of black, stood taller than he had before his hunch had developed. Elder Elisha Acronaut — born Elisha Smith — would take his place as leader of the Children globally. She had been elected by the body. She would hold no real power among the Children, but she would serve as the central clearing house for faction information and, as such, would be the best informed person whose advice would often be followed.
“I’m ready. Wish I could stay for your wedding.”
She laughed. “You’re worse than my mother! If I meet the right person, it’ll happen. Don’t worry about me.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine.” But he did worry. Leadership was a burden best carried by two. The Children were strongest when there was a well-balanced married couple at the helm. A good strong man, the yin to her yang. He had tried to set her up on any number of occasions in the last year, but she was disinterested. He had convinced these reborn Magi of the value of so many of the Children traditions, but not that one. They had their own ideas about “gender roles” and “orientations.” Ah, youth.
He toddled forward, leaning on her strong arm. The trouble was: he didn’t seem able to die. His body now aged at an ever accelerating rate, but he had sustained himself with magick for so long, and in this new world, he kept coalescing instead of passing on. It had happened before to other Children. They called it Sybil’s Curse. Luckily, preserved in the libraries of the Children, there was a ritual to cure it.
Elisha guided him out of the small alcove where he had been resting. They entered the vestibule and continued into the church proper. Was there really a church? Or was this just a shared dream that some of the younger ones had crafted? There was a time when Barnstorm could tell with certainty the line between reality and illusion. His senses were no longer so sharp. It didn’t matter.
His children sang. It was not a traditional song. It was something new, composed just for him, to mark the end of a unique vigil. But it had been written with an eye to the future, to become a standard ballad for anyone standing a long watch. This was his first time hearing it. He liked the tune — just the right blend of sadness and hope. He concentrated on it, hoped that it would stick with him into his next incarnation. As he walked up the aisle, the singers shifted from mortal tongue to the timeless words of Sehimu Thinara. His soul thrilled to hear other speakers of a tongue he had thought might die with him. The Words were ancient Words of the Nam-Shub, set to the new tune.
They reached the altar. No speeches were made, just the songs continuing. Everything that needed to be said was said. Only the doing remained. Two powerfully built men gingerly lifted him like paper and laid him on the altar, propped on pillows to support his hunched back. He looked up to the ceiling where motes of dust flickered through sunbeams. And he felt the gathered magick take hold. Slowly, softly, he lifted from his body. He felt himself dissolving — and it triggered a memory, an ancient memory: he had done this before. He remembered dying, surrounded by friends. He remembered the ceremony, this ceremony, but more than this ceremony. He remembered what came next, what hadn’t been preserved in the Children’s books because it was so secret they could not take the risk. With his last ounce of strength, he whispered a few Words and touched Elisah’s arm. He shared the memory with her. And then the bond holding him in this world snapped and his soul sailed out on the long journey of reincarnation.
The music faded out, voices went silent. They were supposed to stand still in respectful silence for five minutes after the passing, but Elisha was suddenly moving at full speed and shouting. “Hand me the ceremonial dagger! Now!” She took the dagger and cut her left wrist sideways, letting the blood pool beside his body on the altar. She opened her own Codex, and used the pinky finger of her right hand to write with blood on Barnstorm’s arm. She copied from her Codex one of her best spells, not trusting herself to do it from memory. As she wrote, she intoned each letter, and as she finished each word, she Spoke it, and when she finished the last word, she said, “Alum!” The blood sparked, almost caught fire and seemed to embed itself in the flesh. A single layer of skin peeled off, holding the words. The arm blackened in that place — it would take no further inscription there. “His most-cast spell was Regeneration Field. That inscription was scribed on Mount Ararat. Bring me every inscription you have that was inscribed on that summit! Hurry!” They moved.
Elder Elisha spent two days tracing without sleep. Once she started, the magick seemed attuned to her blood, her hand, her voice, alone, such that no one could substitute. Each inscription took longer than the previous. The other Children supported her with healing spells. But at last, she could write no more.
As the final inscription peeled off of the corpse, the corpse itself collapsed to dust. She looked with bleary eyes upon the gathered Children. “His final memory that he shared with me. It was this. This ceremony, long ago. When a Magi became so old that magick would not let him or her go, it was a sign that they were so well attuned to their magick that the spells they had cast were now as much a part of the Magi as of the place the spells were first inscribed.” She looked at her blood encrusted hand. “It is very rare, but it happens, and it allowed the Children to inscribe spells even when we had such limited access to the Sacred Sites. The Keepers locked up almost everything. Cain’s Brood was sustained by his personal vast library. We have often mused about how we ever competed with those great powers. It was this. Today, all I did was copy existing inscriptions, but, with preparation, new spells can be crafted, just like at Sacred Sites, albeit with more limited parchment.”
One of the men standing at the altar, Kalen, potentially the latest incarnation of that name, spoke, “We are all centuries away from naturally getting Sybil’s Curse, but, I wonder… modern technology has made it possible to replicate so many magickal effects. I wonder if we could somehow induce that state in someone who was dying younger?”
“That is an interesting thought.” Elisha counted through the finished inscriptions that she had made. “Remarkable. Twenty seven. A full Codex.”
And then they were all silent for five minutes, contemplating.
— Transcribed by Stephen “Archivist Lond” Loftus-Mercer
Children of Eve Key Points:
- One of the ancient factions, formally organized in 3250 BCE.
- The Children and the TechnoWeavers are the only two factions whose members regularly capitalize the word “Mute,” giving it the same status as “Magi.”
- Mind and Bio specialists. They often have members who live the longest in Magi society, reaching toward 230 years, with the longest ever (documented) known to be 239.
- The Children are an Illuminator faction. They tend to specialize in the harder-to-quantify sciences of psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics, and anthropology. Far from ivory tower pursuits, these fields are key weapons in the Children’s survival strategy against the more dominant factions.
- The communal Children nominate a Hub, usually a married couple, to serve as the faction’s central clearing house for information. The Hub is nominally the leader of the faction, with people generally following the Hub’s suggestions simply because the Hub is generally the best informed on faction topics. Historically the couple has been a husband and wife team, but the 21st century faction is very comfortable with same-sex pairings with a variety of gender-models.
- Any Magi of sufficient skill and experience is given the title “Elder” and becomes a de facto general of the Children. The organization among Elders is fluid. Elders may assign structure to the rest of the membership, especially military ranks when it comes to attacking the Keeper strongholds.
The Children of Eve have seen it all. They may not control many Sacred Sites, but they have records at least as extensive as The Archives. Of all the non-Keeper factions, they agree most with the Keeper goal of recreating Eden, but they disagree vehemently with the Keeper tactics. For the Children, the return to Eden must include both Mute and Magi, not Magi alone, and it will have to be in a way that lets us operate with a high degree of trust in each other, not controlled from a central planning office. The Children have many uncommon spells and artifacts that just don’t seem that useful. An ever-blooming rose? What use is that in battle? For the Children, it is a reminder that magick was not intended to fight wars. The magick of combat is a corruption of the harmony from which magick first sprung.
Cain was Eve’s favored son, but the Children of Even and the Disciples of Cain have long split over how to oppose the Keepers. The Disciples claim to know what must be done, and they are the terrorist cells that attack the Keepers at all weak points. The Children claim to have no idea what must be done. They offer a more passive-aggressive defense against the Keepers, stalling the Keeper pogroms without opposing them outright. The Children are an Illuminator faction — they believe there is a lot to learn before we will have enough of a plan to really start the road back to Eden. They study human psychology, economics, and sociology, all of which they use to keep the Keepers off-balance.
The Children are particularly strong in two Spheres: Mind and Bio. Weaponized plants, calling in local fauna to aid in defense, passing messages through birds: these are all tactics of the Children. Their research labs are like those of Audubon or Darwin: watching nature unfold and listening to the chimes of magick that play around the little events. The Children hide their research from the prying eyes of the Keepers, preferring to appear much less savvy than they actually are. You will not find large libraries of Children manuscripts. They do not trust writing — too many times in the past, they have had their secrets betrayed by a book left open casually. Instead, they share their ideas face-to-face through a strong oral tradition, backed by Mind magick that makes sharing memories from one member to another fairly easy. They do most of their research in dreamscapes where they can run simulations without fear of repercussions.
Several of the Children claim that the faction has indeed unlocked the voices of a handful of Mutes over the thousands of years, but none of the other factions have seen evidence of this.
The Children are very communal. Any hierarchies they form are very flat and are more likely to form from a functional aspect than from a decision aspect. Their global leader, chosen by acclimation on an infrequent schedule, is simply the Magi (or married couple of Magi, preferred) chosen to be the central clearing house for information. The so-called Hub doesn’t make decisions, but having so much information to route tends to make them good at offering useful advice, advice that is often taken as direction by the remaining Children. Smaller Hubs may exist in local communities.
This newly re-discovered ability to create Inscriptions from the bodies of their deceased is certainly a potential game changer in the stranglehold that the Keepers maintain over Magi society.