Hola, mi amigos! Como estes?
That’s two years of Spanish in college right there. I suck so hard at languages I could star in porn. I could be U.S. McCantrelate in Sucks in Translation.
Excuse me for a moment. My agent is turning a dangerous shade of red.
OK, I’m back. Apparently, I need to keep this clean (you know-for the children). So no porn references or indirect slams on American tourist tropes. I’m still keeping what I wrote, even if it isn’t comedy gold (you might think this is my blog or something).
Oh, and sorry if I seem a little loopy this morning. I’m fresh from dispatching a Lethe Monster, so I’m a little punch-drunk . Emphasis on the punch. Either that or I have a concussion.
Where was I?
Right. My ever so helpful agent has kindly reminded me that I’m supposed to be telling my origin story and to stop blathering about Lethe Monsters (and to stop whining about little things like my lack of language skills or seeking medical attention).
Well, this all started because of a girl. At least, that’s what my agent put in my press release. In reality I used to be a thief. Used to be. And this really started because my sticky fingers stuck to the wrong thing.
Anybody know anything about Sumerian mythology?
That right there is the symbol of Utu. Sumerian god of the sun, justice, law and truth. He is also the god of messing with my life.
See, back in the day the world was almost overrun by, for lack of a better word, monsters. Humanity was taking its first fumbling steps toward civilization. Utu, being the swell god that he is, decided to empower a mortal champion to protect humans against what goes bump in the night. He wasn’t the only one to do so, but the
victims champions of those gods can get their own blogs.
And it worked. The various empowered heroes pushed back the darkness. They bled and died to give humanity a chance to find its footing. For every one that fell, another was empowered to take his (or her) place. You may have heard of one: Gilgamesh. Everything went great. More gods came and influenced various civilizations, raising their own empowered champions. Some live on in myth, legend and folklore, while others faded into obscurity. There was continuity, however.
That is until the time we in the magical circles call The Great Suppression occurred. I’ll give you a guess as to the time period I’m talking about. Go ahead, guess.
That’s right…it was the Renaissance.
Of course, it was the Dark Ages. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Plus, I can imagine what your faces looked like when I pulled the rug out from your expectations. I’ve told this story to a couple of people already, face-to-face, and every time I say Renaissance a slack-jawed look of disbelief is my response.
Where was I?
That is what my weapon would have looked like had it not been one of those the Church attempted to destroy. Now only a handle is left, but more on that later.
The co-opting of the relics gave rise to saints and other heroes, but they were too few. The loss of so many relics, and thus the Empowered that wielded them, combined with the suppression of all but the most esoteric Theurgic magic, allowed the darkness to grow and start to creep back into humanity. The creatures had learned from the past; this time they blended in as best they could. Kept their predations to a minimum. Every so often one would break from the pack and go on a rampage, but they were quickly put down. Sometimes by their own kind. These creatures weren’t dumb; they were playing the long game. Literally, since many have lifespans that can measure centuries.
Sometimes I think the only reason we aren’t all subjects of dark overlords is cultural inertia. The paranoia and obsession with secrecy during the initial infiltration turned the creatures into hidebound conservatives…chances are not to be taken. That cultural imperative is changing as the older sect is being challenged by the younger, hungrier (literally), generation.
My agent tells me I’m getting off-track again, but forewarned is forearmed. You have been warned. What you do with it is up to you.
Back to me. When I was sixteen, I was apprenticed to one of the greatest thieves I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, Colton Crowly. He took me under his wing when I was just a young punk. A young punk so bad at reading marks that he tried to pick the pocket of one of the best thieves ever.
He caught me by my collar and glared at me.
I glared back.
He held out his hand for his wallet.
I gave him my best “you must be kidding me” look and crossed my arms. “Try and take it,” I told him.
Apparently, Colton likes audacity. He grinned and I’ll never forget what he said to me. “Kid, you got stones on you. How’d you like to learn the trade from a pro?”
I didn’t even think once. “Yes.”
Over the next several years, Colton turned an almost feral smart-ass kid into someone who could pick almost any lock, break into almost any secure area and read a mark from a mile away. I can float from the lowest street culture to the swankiest high rise and act like I belong. The only thing he never could get through my skull were different languages. Accents, yes. The actual language, no.
Mostly we planned our own heists, but every so often we would take a commission. That is why I was at the museum that night. The Vatican, having lost the knowledge of magic, had released a batch of relics from its archives on a world-wide museum tour. The client wanted an ancient Greek urn and offered us an absurd amount of money for it.
We should have said no.
The break-in went off like clockwork. We took out the guards (stun guns and plastic cuffs), shut down the security system, and basically strolled to our target. The urn itself didn’t seem like much. I say urn, but it was a Corinthian amphora from around 600 BCE. Valuable, but not worth the money we were supposed to get on delivery.
We had planned for every eventuality, except for one.
The Legendary, the premiere superteam in the world, picked that moment to get into a knockdown drag-out with Reverend Jones and his Cleansers. For those that haven’t been near a super-fight, here is a fun fact. When a nigh-invulnerable aerial combatant is punched out of the sky and into the ground, the foundations of nearby buildings are shaken.
As are the artifacts two schmucks are trying to steal.
The urn toppled from its perch onto the ground; breaking on impact. That was when we learned that magic and the supernatural were very real.
A blood-red mist oozed up from the shattered pieces of ceramic. The mist formed and tightened itself into a humanoid shape as we watched in astonishment, while still being rocked by the battle raging outside. The lights flickered out as the block lost power. The emergency lights kicked on, casting deep shadows around the Vatican exhibit room, but still giving us enough light to see feminine features form in the mist.
The shouts and thunderclaps of supers battling faded as we watched the mist solidfy and disappear. In its place stood a statuesque woman, with the olive skin and dark hair common in the Mediterranean, clad in only a thin white shift. She breathed deeply, as if she hadn’t done it for centuries.
Which she hadn’t.
Her head snapped down as she caught our scent and her eyes flashed gold. They flashed when she looked at me.
A playful grin crossed her features, but her eyes remained dead and cold. She took a few hesitant steps, but with each one her confidence grew and her stride lengthened. Her mouth opened and I could see jagged needle-like teeth extend from her gums.
Her eyes never left me. Unlike Colton.
Colton, realizing that the scary lady, actually a mormo, was ignoring him, took the opportunity to run away. Again, I’ll never forget what he said.
“Good luck, kid.”
My heart broke at the betrayal, and for a moment I remember thinking that I shouldn’t fight what was about to happen. I had just been betrayed by the best father figure I’d ever had. Not the only, just the best, up until that moment.
Luckily for me and you, my side that doesn’t know when to quit took over. I started grabbing various artifacts, rubble and what-have-you to throw at the monster coming at me. I was screaming something, and to this day I couldn’t tell you what it was. The thrown objects and screaming tirade just served to amuse her. I mean it; she actually laughed out loud. Either I was just ridiculous to her or she was happy that her meal wasn’t running away.
Actually, doing the opposite. I’m convinced that the fact I was advancing toward her and not running is why the handle came alive when I grabbed it as one of my impromptu weapons.
I mentioned that it was a handle that I picked up, but here is the cool part. Remember when I said Utu is a sun god?
Yeah, you know where this is going.
A blade of solid sunlight shimmered into existence, lighting up the exhibit hall brighter than when the electric lights were on. I had to shield my eyes until the glow died down. When I could see again, I looked at the monster who had stopped in her tracks. We stared at each other in identical slack-jawed disbelief, although now I could see hunger war with fear in her golden eyes.
I recovered first.
I grabbed my new weapon in both hands and charged at her with a wordless scream. She didn’t, couldn’t, react in time.
I cleaved her in two.
I remember the look of shock on her face and the way her ruby red lips formed an O as the pieces of her separated. Her form blurred and desolidified on the way down, leaving nothing but ephemera as her only legacy that she existed.
So there you have it. My origin. I’m not a “chosen one” or some other prophetic saviour of mankind. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to prove myself worthy to become a bearer. Mostly by sheer stupidity, but still…worthy.
I’m sure I’ve bored you enough for today.
Until next time,
Next Time: Powers and abilities