©1999 White Wolf Publishing Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Submitted by Matthew Janus
....when heaven's hosts were still one, and humanity was but a lump of unformed clay. It was then the Lord - or Allah, or El, or Yahweh, or whatever else you wish to call "It" - proclaimed "Let there be light," and there was. The darkness had spawned its own children, however, and they suffered terribly beneath the brand of the inquisitor God. In those ancient days, the sky was ablaze with his wrath. His luminance scoured the world like Greek fire and struck the foundations of existence like a battering ram.
The Children, the offspring of Night, fell from their heavenly moorings and plummeted to the ground like falling stars wreathed in flame. Most of the Children were blackened husks by the time they struck the earth, but some few survived long enough to seek refuge. As the Children's fall had split the earth, great chasms opened into the lightless depths. The survivors of the Fall crawled into the fractured ground. There, slumber overtook them, and they allowed time to seal them in their dirt wombs. Humanity, formed to satisfy the narcissist God, never knew of the hallowed ground they trod upon. Ignorantly, they built cities over the graves of the Children, all unknowing of the power that attracted them to these places. Like flies drawn to the sweet aroma of decay, they raised their temples and altars to the heavens, even as they were moved by the dark dreams of what lay buried beneath their monuments.
A band of mortals we call the first tribe were the first living creatures to come across one of the night's offspring. While digging a well just outside the fledgling city of Ashur, the first tribe uncovered one of the Children. It writhed and screamed beneath God's eye, the sun, and cursed His name. Each of the beast's words carried power and the ground shook when the dying sleeper called out its true name. The beast could not save itself with words, however. Its flesh bubbled like wax and melted away, revealing bone, muscle and burning flesh. It called out to its brethren, crying for rescue and for succor, but its cries went unattended. The Child perished within a few minutes, its flesh climbing to the skies as poisoned smoke. This brief revelation, however, was enough to change the first tribe forever. The Child's words carried with them seeds of darkness that infected those responsible for uncovering the dread beast.
The first tribe had heard the names of the other Children when the first one had cried out, and touched by the power in those names, could now hear their murmurs through the wind. The dark sleepers whispered to them through the moans of the dying as the first tribe learned to murder, and sang of untold power in the screams of those they raped and killed. In turn, the first tribe
saw the power that the dead Children possessed and coveted these gifts for themselves. They sought out the chthonic sleepers, whispered to them while they lumbered and prostituted their souls to them.
In exchange for sponsorship from the Children, the first tribe became their acolytes. The mortals accepted the burden of remembering their masters' existence when They vanquished them from mortal memory. The first tribe accepted the bargain in bad faith, however, believing that by knowing the true names of these malignant creatures they would have true power over them. Such is the ignorance of primitive people. Knowing something's true name gives it sway over you as well. Power is never free for the taking, or for the giving.
You may have noticed that I am vague with the terms I use, that I neither name the first tribe nor its patrons. Such omission is deliberate. Certain names have the power to echo across the worlds when intoned, and there are always things listening for those names to be spoken. Even knowing these names is akin to catching a disease, a kind of leprous affliction that atrophies the soul. Speaking those names spreads the contagion.
The first tribe grew strong in the flesh, but withered in spirit as they passed this ailment on to their children and grandchildren. Worse yet, by playing with these cursed names, the first tribe made the Children more aware of the world outside of their dreams. The only thing that tethered the Children to reality was their names, and each time a name was called, that tether pulled a Child closer to wakefulness.
Eventually, the first tribe realized that their servitude was worthless. Because of their actions, soon the ancient masters would awaken and stride the world like colossi. Plagues would spread in the wake of each titan step, and the tribe's service would not protect them from death and darkness. Belatedly, the acolytes of the Children did the only thing they could: They hid the accursed names within their thoughts, never daring to speak them, to breathe power into them, to tempt the Children closer to consciousness. This act served its purpose, barely; deprived of a steady stream of sustenance, the Children remained teetering on the border between dream and waking. Fortunately, the sleepers did not know they still slept; they lived in their dreams, ruling a shadow world that existed only in their fevered imaginations.
But to keep the Children trapped in these fever dreams took power, as much power as had been wasted over the centuries in calling the Children closer to wakefulness. To keep the Children asleep, the First Tribe tortured their brethren, raped their own children, mutilated themselves, devoured the weak in cannibalistic orgies and wallowed in filth and degradation. Sacrificing what shreds of morality remained to them, they filled the dreams of these monsters with the sounds of anguish and misery, keeping them asleep with the murderer's lullaby. As long as there was sufficient rapine in the monsters' dream-worlds, they would not stir to seek it elsewhere.
The true names of these creatures still carried power, however, and the first tribe was not stupid enough to turn their backs on this magic completely. Human acolytes formed cults around the various entities and learned to dilute the names of the Children. Taking the root of a name and changing it, or masking it behind foreign mortal languages enabled a sufficiently cunning priest to draw upon a fraction of a sleeping entity's might without rousing it. The power thus gained was less than it might have been, but the risk was also proportionally lessened, and for these priests that was good enough.
It is ironic that the creatures you know now as demons were once revered as Mesopotamian deities - who were in turn distilled from muddled representations of the sleeping, demoniac Children. You may sleep well knowing that the names assigned to the Children these days hold little power - centuries and generations of conquering languages have diluted their strength to almost nothing. Occasionally, however, some fool stumbles across a correct string of letters and intones some fool stumbles across a correct string of letters and intones it well enough to capture...unwanted attention. The Children slumber fitfully yet, and their dreams are less pleasing to them than once they were.
WELLS OF SACRIFICE
The first tribe, under the guise of various mystery cults, served the faceless entities for many generations. They played a careful game of taking power without compromising their survival. As other tribes waxed powerful, members of the first tribe came to them as priests and holy women, bringing them learning, rites and rituals. They also brought with them the worship and abuse of the power of the Children, but masked it well, so that entire cities turned their strength to serving the Children without knowing that they were doing so.
The strongest cult dwelt in the city of Ashur, tending to a now-hidden well and protecting the remains of the first Child uncovered generations earlier. The well was a marvel and a terror to the people of Ashur, but they never wavered in their reverence. Over the centuries, the cult of Ashur made constant sacrifice into the great well. When Ashur made war on other cities, they sacrificed prisoners and slaves; when Ashur was at peace, they stole livestock and children with which to make offering. Victims were eviscerated and their blood collected in stone jars; organs were carefully removed, read for augury and tossed in the well to rest on top of previous victims' corpses. When no augury was needed, cultists tore sacrifices limb from limb with their hands and teeth, then threw the broken bodies into the well. Come nightfall, the collected blood would be poured over the still-warm corpses, brewing a draught of corruption and rotting flesh in which great swarms of flies buzzed and bred.
This ritual of murder and dismemberment, however, could not go unnoticed forever. Other powers of death walked the world even in those days, and knew when reverence was done unto them.
Is it any surprise, then, that a Cainite of great power and majesty found the well one night? The priests of the first tribe raised their voices against him, using even the forbidden incantations, but they were as wheat before the storm. The power of his voice struck the priests dumb and silenced their cries; his gaze struck down the weak and feeble. Those who were strong in body but not in mind he ripped limb from limb, then tossed aside as long shreds of flesh. Those who were strong of mind but not of body, he commanded to rend their own bodies with long knives, and they did so. Those who were comely he forced to couple, then he melted the flesh of their bodies and their bones together. He drew forth their ribs from their bodies so that each thrust was an impalement, and watched as they died. For they had witnessed their rites, and found them wanting. He had seen their rituals, and wished to show them that their depravities and atrocities were as nothing, that they were children playing at evil. And lest none remain to learn his lesson, he tossed the bodies of his playthings into their own pit, and let flow his own vitae into the well. Three mortals survived to lap up the blood that he gave unto them; only three, from the hundreds who had worshipped at the well.
The following evening, these three victims clawed their way out of the organ pit. They were filthy with gore, caked in blood and howling with unquenched fury and madness. Their creator had abandoned them; their patrons had deserted them. They were mad and hateful and thirsty for death.
The Baali had been born.
©1999 White Wolf Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved
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