The truth… that fragment of death… Sometimes I would prefer to live in the shadows… - Fedor Kavsow
Humanity, as well as supernatural beings, are not alone in this world. Without any of us knowing, we are the prisoners of some puppeteers who watch us in secret. Since a long time ago, Man is no longer owner of his own story.
There are three organizations that exist in Gaia that pull the strings of all the important events from the shadows. They call themselves Imperium, the Technocracy, and The Illuminati, and they possess a power that not even the immortals can imagine. It is not possible to say when they appeared exactly, although everything seems to indicate that they were born even before the War of Darkness. For these last few millenniums, their intervention in the world has been scarce, but even the most minute of their intrusions has changed the course of life for all the world’s inhabitants. Each one of the organizations is made up of members of the three dominating races on Gaia. Imperium, the first among them, belongs to Humans, The Technocracy is of the Sylvain, and the Illuminati from the Duk’zarist. They possess immense advances in every field, combining science and magic with other unknown forces. Their objective is not to dominate the world. If they wanted to conquer it, they would only need a few hours to do so. They watch over the events that happen on Gaia, and they channel the advance of each people towards whatever goal they desire.
There is a great tension between the three groups, but they find themselves obligated to coexist with each other. They are very aware that if any of them fought against the others, the conflict would tear apart the whole reality in a way that would be irreparable. Whoever emerged victorious would watch over absolutely nothing.
History from the ShadowsEdit
In an almost unperceivable way, The Powers in the Shadow have intervened in the history of Gaia practically since its beginnings. Although very few are aware of the repercussions that this has had in the evolution of the world, their actions explain many of the most important events that have happened over the length of these last centuries.
For millennia, they remained inactive. The first important intrusion that there is evidence of is during the Chaos Era. In that epoch, all of Gaia found itself in an anarchist state. Human beings had given birth to new civilizations, but they were still very far from reaching the level of development that any of the other races had. Also, they continually fought against each other. In less than a century, more than a hundred wars broke out that repeatedly plunged the world into darkness.
It was then that Imperium decided to interfere with the destiny of the world. Its first goal was to unify all of man under one flag and afterwards control the evolution of their development. To do this, they leaned towards a very risky social experiment with which they hoped to analyze the behavior of man. They created a very advanced civilization that could become a reference to follow by the others. They chose Solomon, a powerful empire of that epoch, and they bestowed upon it thirty fragments of black metal that contained great information about Technomagic, enough knowledge capable of putting them above any other race or power on Gaia. Those metal pieces were truly curious devices. They were almost living entities, artificial intelligences programmed to evolve on their own. They revealed, with the passing of time, more and more of the information that they contained. Solomon would progress over the course of the centuries in the form that Imperium designated, while they gathered the data of their experiment.
With the pieces under their control, the Empire prospered from one day to the next, and for more than fifty years, it reigned as the most powerful force that the world had ever seen. Lead by the Emperor Andromalius and his senate, Solomon began innumerable advances, like building mystical marionettes to take care of the manual labor, exterminating all diseases, and even developing supernatural machines that could magically control the weather.
But things did not turn out like Imperium had hoped. In their arrogance, the citizens of Solomon kept their knowledge only for themselves, submitting by force all those that did not bow down before them and turning them into little more than slaves. Although this contradicted slightly their benefactors, they also planned to start a similar offensive against the other races until they dominated all of Gaia. Fearing the consequences of what something like this could cause with the other Powers in the Shadow or what could be worse, the possibility of a confrontation against Ilakavir and Delkavir, the response of Imperium was swift. Like a divine punishment, they let loose the power of Jürgand, their elite forces, against Solomon, devastating the Empire in barely a few hours. They erased all the knowledge that they had bestowed upon them, and demolished their works straight to their foundations. The heavens had responded with severity, leaving behind it only pain, emptiness, and blood. Nonetheless, something happened that escaped the designs of Imperium – they were unable to recover the thirty pieces that Andromalius had hidden using the same arts that he had learned from them.
That experience was a thorn that Imperium would never be able to remove, and which even today continues to bother it. They became aware that controlling the evolution of man through knowledge would be a failure; therefore they decided to bind them with ignorance. But the intervention of the organization had not gone unnoticed by the Illuminati and The Technocracy. Bothered by that experiment, they warned Imperium that if they operated so openly in the world, the other groups would do what was needed. To alleviate that tense situation, the three Powers in the Shadow came to an agreement: They would never again meddle in the destiny of Gaia in a similar way.
But without the other powers being aware of it, Imperium continued to search for a method to obtain its goal. They needed something that would unite man and, at the same time, bind them to the ignorance of the truth. And in the end, they found a solution in a place that they could least imagine it – in the legends of that we had forgotten. To achieve their objective, they created a perfect human being and manipulated history, designing an adequate context for its development. Thus, playing God, they gave life to a child named Abel, who, with time, would be known as Christ.
Imperium planned to unify all of humanity using religion, and this time their experiment bore fruit the likes of which they would have never hoped. Christ, through whose veins ran each and every one of the divine principles that he represented, fulfilled his mission to perfection. Finally, to gain a martyr and avoid their creation from turning on them, they induced him to die by crucifixion on the walls of Solomon, an allegory which only Imperium understood.
But once again something happened that was not within their plans. Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, received as payment for his betrayal the thirty fragments of knowledge that Andromalius had hidden centuries ago. For the people of Solomon, they no longer represented anything of value. However, in the hands of Iscariot, one of the most powerful human beings of his era, they obtained a frightening meaning. He hid himself in The Wake, and for several years learned as much as he could from the pieces and its creators – until he became painfully aware of the existence of the Powers in the Shadow. Full of rage for having been used like a puppet, he used the Technomagic that he had assimilated to build a machine with which to control destiny and destroy Imperium, the Illuminati, and The Technocracy. However, he was not able to finish it, and ceded the work of his creation to his son.
Two hundred years later, Rah, his last descendent, manifested himself in the world and began the War of God. The instrument was almost finished, but to be able to use it correctly, it had to be charged with souls as a source of energy. Therefore, Rah initiated the war with two objectives – to liberate man from the chains in which they were bound, and to complete his creation. The Powers in the Shadow attended the events that were happening with great interest, although the pact they had made a century before stopped them from acting openly again. When Rah was beaten, he tried to activate the machine so as to aim a final mortal blow to all three organizations; whose instrumentals and powers became damaged. <p style="text-indent:.5in">Then, seeing what the world had become, Imperium, The Technocracy, and the Illuminati gathered together so as to avoid the cataclysm toward which all civilizations were nearing. Knowing that whatever decision they decided to make would be so monumental that it would attract the attention of the Delkavir and Ilakavir, they preferred to contact them and invite them to participate in their meeting. There they came to the conclusion that the only viable solution was to separate the world into three different existences, and each group would be responsible exclusively for its own.
From that moment on, Imperium watched over the Abel Empire, seeing that it functioned correctly. They were very satisfied with the good deeds of Aeolus. The Emperor had unified the world just like they had always wished, and now the only thing left for them to do was to assure its stability. But Imperium was conscious of the fact that human beings would never be at peace for very long under one flag, even if a common religion united us. To avoid the segregation, they developed a system called Auspice, which allowed them to influence the decisions of people in high positions and prevent large-scale conflicts from breaking out. For almost seven centuries, everything happened exactly as they had planned out; they manipulated history like puppeteers in the shadows. Even so, many people began to develop immunities against the Auspice, and the system became more and more unstable.
And then Eljared showed up. She was an outstanding member of the Inner Circle of Imperium who descended to earth and tried to take control of the organization for her own unknown objectives. For two years, she used her influence to hide her actions, trying to gain all the power that was possible before they became aware of her true identity. Being next to the Emperor, and as the head of the Church, she covered her bases against a direct intervention while she tricked a group of Jürgand into placing themselves in her service. Also, she subjugated powerful supernatural entities who wished that The Powers in the Shadow would disappear.
In the exact instant that Imperium became aware of what was happening, Eljared attacked all of their systems, completely destroying the Auspice. The confrontation between the insurrecting armada and the forces of Imperium was too much, and caused true natural catastrophes. In the end, the rebellion, and the entities that supported it, were completely exterminated. Imperium made sure it immediately erased any traces of what happened. As for Eljared, she had disappeared. Perhaps she escaped to Hell; although the possibility still exists that she died attempting to finish her true plans, which still remain a mystery. But this confrontation had several negative consequences for the organization. The Auspice system was totally worthless now that man had managed to become immune to it, and the Empire was crumbling. If that was not enough, the internal battle caused a considerable weakening of their powers, making Imperium vulnerable to an attack from the other Powers in the Shadow for the first time in its history.
During the separation, the three Powers in the Shadow reached an agreement to not intervene beyond the territories which each one was assigned to. They also committed themselves to maintaining the existence of the other worlds as a secret, and to not give their knowledge to the inhabitants of the surface. Within its own section, an organization is free to do whatever it wants, even executing members of the other organizations.
However, Gaira and C’iel asked that the free will of all the people of Gaia be maintained. Reticent, the Powers in the Shadow accepted, as long as the Delkavir as well as the Ilakavir kept themselves completely removed from mortal matters. To date, the Agreement has been totally maintained by all those who signed it. There was also a strange clause that was included on the insistence of the Delkavir and Ilakavir, in which Imperium commits itself to not harm the progeny of Aeolus Hawke. For one reason or another, the Daughters of Light (as well as the Lords of Darkness) follow the particulars of that lineage with special interest – perhaps due to the fact that Aeolus was able to change the course of events during the War of God.
Imperium is the most powerful of the three Powers in the Shadow. It is the organization of Mankind, watching over us without us knowing. Its principal goal is to care for the existence of human beings. They take care of us, orienting us in the way they feel is most appropriate. In some ways, they are our guardian angels, even though to do so they have become our jailers as well, keeping us in ignorance.
It was the first of the three Powers in the Shadow to appear. Its true origin is an enigma, although there are many theories about its creation. The most extended between those who know the organization is that it was made by a small group of human beings who had attained almost divine powers after the War of Darkness. However, some ancient entities have a hypothesis much more somber. They conjectured that the organization started from a small group of men to whom the creators returned part of their lost knowledge as an experiment, mixing these limited memories with vast supernatural abilities. Either way, they are only hypotheses, as the truth is only known by a few members of the Inner Circle.
Even now, weakened after the confrontation with Eljared, its power is slightly greater than those possessed by The Technocracy or the Illuminati. No creature, no matter how strong, can face Imperium – including those entities that human beings consider gods. Only the Delkavir or the Ilakavir represent a force that they are not able to face. Their base is found on a flying island called Jormungandr. It is located in the inferior area of the stratosphere and has the ability to move from one place to another. They also have some grand substations, the majority of which are flying citadels – although there are a few exceptions which are built under large cities.
The organization is divided into different strata, each with different attributes. The main body is its agents, those in charge of moving across the world and completing all the fieldwork. They are exceptionally complex individuals, and each one of them possesses a totally different ability perfectly adapted to the type of mission that has been entrusted to them. Their functions are very diverse, like infiltration, espionage, or covering up the truth. They always work alone, and they do not spend much time in the same place – although sometimes they can hold positions of importance next to powerful people so as to influence their decisions. The majority of them are recruited among individuals gifted with the abilities that Imperium needs, although sometimes they are created through a combination of genetic engineering and magic. The highest-ranking agents who find themselves under the direct orders of the managing group receive the title of “Supervisors.” They coordinate the actions of the other agents. No one ever leaves Imperium, but sometimes individuals are allowed to lose their memory and restart a normal life without their special capabilities.
The second stratum is made up of research and development cells that deal with social experiments and the creation of Technomagic advances. In general, they work in the different substations – although there is a small elite body that puts together the equipment for Jürgand and Jormungandr. Sometimes, they go down to Gaia to take the data that they need first hand.
Lastly, the managing group of Imperium is known as the Inner Circle. They are the ones that make each and every one of the important decisions that are carried out. They move the strings and manipulate the destiny of the world. Their identities are unknown, since none of them are located on the face of Gaia. They always reside in Jormungandr, and they only descend to earth on very few occasions. They are mostly (or were) human – although they probably received supernatural implants or were birthed from the beginnings of Technomagic. <p style="text-indent:.5in">However, there is yet one other power above that of the Circle. A single man directs them, and his orders are always immediately followed. It is said that he was the founding member of Imperium and that, over the length of the thousands years of history of the organization, he has always been the one in charge. But the most surprising thing is the fact that he is simply human who has stopped aging, thanks to the means at his disposal. No one knows what goes through his inexplicable mind, not even the oldest members of the Inner Circle – and they have known him for several millennia now. The only thing known about him is that, when he presented himself in front of the Delkavir and the Ilakavir, he called himself “Barnabas”.
Over the course of the last seven centuries, the principal task of Imperium has been to keep its presence, as well as the existence of other worlds (which they call Hell), a secret. They control all the information, trying to make sure that no one gains even the slightest hint of the truth. They also prevent people from crossing the Barrier, hunting down those visitors who come from afar.
If in some cases information gets out, or someone makes inquiries that are exceptionally worrisome, they use some of their agents to erase the memories of the people or creatures implicated. It is even possible that they would alter the memories of towns or entire cities so as to maintain their secret. In general, Imperium try to avoid killing anyone, as they have sufficient power to do what they want without having to kill. In the situation where an especially powerful individual finds out too much, they put themselves in contact with him and they offer him a position within the organization. Only if he does not accept, and turns out to be a danger, do they order his destruction.
Imperium leaves any supernatural creature in peace, no matter how powerful it is, as long as it does not place the secret of Hell in danger. For as many massacres or as much destruction that it may cause, they completely ignore it, preferring instead to wait for Tol Rauko or the Inquisition to deal with it. They will only intervene if one or several beings of enormous power endanger the entire human race, in which case they would use agents of Jürgand to finish off the threat. Even so, during the first few years that followed the formation of the Barrier, Imperium hunted certain especially powerful entities that had become aware of the separation of the world. Many of them were absorbed by the organization, others ended up destroyed, while the eldest ones hid in The Wake to avoid the purge. Only in very specific cases were some beings granted permission to remain in this part of Gaïa (mainly because of their favored relations with Delkavir or Ilakavir). In today’s age, Imperium does not care at all if someone comes or goes from The Wake, as long as it is not a threat to their secret.
Sometimes, their research cells perform strange experiments – like moving entire towns from one place to another so as to analyze the social consequences, or setting free one of their new creations to measure the capabilities of the Inquisition and the Tol Rauko.
Imperium has many contacts in all the Principalities and organizations in Gaia, though they have the greatest influence among Tol Rauko. For the last few centuries, they have manipulated them to complete many of their ends – like recovering dangerous objects or recruiting new members for the organization. In fact, Marshall Malakias Grant collaborates openly with them, even though he has no idea of the true extent of their power.
The series of events caused by Eljared has partially diminished the capabilities of Imperium to subtly influence the world – especially because of the disappearance of the Auspice system. The Auspice consisted of a miniscule symbiotic parasite species which introduced itself through the nose or the ears of a person, fusing itself to the brain. Each one of them was connected to a psychic web under the control of the organization, which rendered people predisposed to do whatever Imperium wanted them to do without totally controlling them. This way, they avoided the more serious problems of the Empire without having to completely limit the free will of humans as they had agreed to do with C’iel and Gaira.
Currently, they only count on their agents to maintain the stability on both continents, but their control is not as absolute as it has been before. Either way, the Inner Circle does not worry too much about it. It is aware that an epoch of change is nearing, and it intends to observe the events thoroughly before making the decision to intervene again.
One of its main concerns is that of recovering the thirty black metal fragments of Solomon, which hold a knowledge that is too dangerous. They are also lightly worried about the discovery of the Book of the Dead by part of the faction of the Black Sun. For now, however, they are following their policy of nonintervention; they intend to leave them in peace. But these are not the only goals of Imperium. The Inner Circle plots a much more complex plan, one that has been germinating for millennia now: They intend to destroy C’iel and Gaira, freeing themselves definitively from their presence. Barnabas knows that this plan currently exceeds their capabilities, but over the length of his hundreds of thousands of years, he has learned to wait for the perfect moment.
All the Powers in the Shadow have mastery over sciences that escape our understanding. In an incredible fashion, they have been able to combine supernatural powers with technology and biology, creating an art which they call Technomagic. Each one of them is slightly more specialized in a field, and their constructs differ slightly from that of the others. Even so, the three have similar knowledge, though its application is very different.
The technology that Imperium uses does not seem like anything we have in today’s day and age. The machines use magic or spiritual energy as generators and, though they might appear strange, the results that they achieve are incredibly effective. Their creations have all kinds of uses, from controlling natural phenomena to erasing people’s memories. They also possess an extensive database saved on very small psychic crystals.
Machinery is not the only field that they combine with magic. Their knowledge of biology, incorporated with their mastery of the supernatural, is also extraordinary. They have created various chemical substances capable of curing diseases and healing almost any type of wound. Where they truly stand out, however, is in genetic engineering. Through the manipulation and combination of DNA, they can alter the physical and mental capabilities of any living being. Their most incredible creation in this field has been The Ladies. They are truly living computers used to coordinate and control the substations, and to keep the world under surveillance. These creatures have the appearance of women who are tied up, physically linked via connections and cables to the central station of each base. Originally human, The Ladies have been reconfigured during their embryonic state to have a supernatural intellect and capacity of reason, and they receive dozens of implants so as to connect themselves to Imperium’s systems.
Almost all the advances are very oriented to warfare. The organization has come up with all kinds of instruments for their agents – like living weapons that can alter their appearance at will or project devastating discharges of energy from a distance. In the same way, there are numerous implants that allow them to increase their abilities, like metamorphic limbs, for example.
Another of their greatest advances is the fabrication of golems. These creations are almost alive, and they can perform various tasks – depending on the objective of its construction. The Dolls are the most basic creation, whose common tasks tend to be manual labor and the maintenance of the substations. They can take on various forms and sizes depending on the nature of their assignments, though in general they are humanoid in shape. The second category is called The Marionettes. These golems possess intelligence and even have personalities sometimes. Imperium saves them for the more complex assignments – though generally they are War Marionettes, heavily armed and prepared for any contingency. Some can have a human aspect, and no one would be able to distinguish them from a true living being.
Even today, Imperium continues to investigate all these fields so as to achieve new advances – just like the other Powers in the Shadow do.
Jürgand is the executor arm of Imperium, the secret army in which their true power resides. Each one of its components is a living weapon that has no equal, capable of exterminating entire armies in mere minutes. The organization is structured into several squads of agents that are governed by a military system. The basic unit is made up of groups of four, and each member has diverse abilities. The different squads are led by Patriarchs who receive their orders directly from the Inner Circle or from Barnabas.
Unlike the other agents of Imperium, they never move freely across Gaia. Like angels of death, the members of Jürgand only descend to earth to carry out search and destroy missions, and in general, their stay is exceptionally short. Imperium tries to make sure that they have the most minimal contact as possible with the world, so as to avoid establishing emotional ties with its inhabitants. For this reason, the agents of Jürgand consider themselves the only true human beings and consider the settlers of Gaia almost like animals. Commonly, they refer to those that live on the surface with the nickname “sheep” or “worms.” They believe in what they do with all of their heart, and their totally loyal to their ideals. In fact, they do not know anything else.
In the rare times that a mission is entrusted to the Jürgand, they send only one of its agents – unless the task is so complex that it requires a full group. All of the substations have on hand a limited number of them as a means of protection, in addition to its other security systems. Not only are they already gifted with godly-like abilities, but they also carry with them the most highly advanced Technomagic equipment. Normally, they wear some very sophisticated symbiotic exo-armor, called Jürgeneth, which increases their capabilities and bestows upon them mystical powers.
The origin of the members of Jürgand can be very varied. Generally, they are boys and girls less than two or three years old, who possess exceptional superhuman abilities from birth. If two agents are allowed to have a child, the little one will also automatically become a part of the organization. Nevertheless, the majority of them are test-tube babies created through Technomagic, in which their human DNA is combined with the essence of various divinities, the Protodeus. They will not, under any circumstances, admit an adult to the Jürgand, no matter what abilities he or she may possess: they will join directly the “normal” agents of Imperium.
The members of Jürgand reside in Jormungandr, where they are taught since they were little. The entire island is a huge academy in which the young ones learn all that they need to know – history, science, and whatever type of combat style. There are seven courses that depend on the level of ability that the students possess. How much time they spend in each one is not dependent on their age but on the capabilities they possess. Their teachers are high-ranking agents, powerful mystical entities, or even members of the Inner Circle. They try and stimulate competitiveness between students to encourage his learning.
To start off with, they are divided into thirteen Houses governed by members of the Inner Circle, who are called Patriarchs or Demiurges. Each student competes against the rival Houses and his companions to obtain the best scores. These points are used as a form of currency to acquire any type of equipment or clothes that the young ones need. This way, their own instincts push them to do better. Naturally, they try to match the student to the field in which they stand out. Once they find themselves in their last course, they are practically agents and can be sent on jobs under the supervision of a professor. To graduate, they must pass a final exam, which can consist of a field mission or a test prepared for such a contingency. Those who achieve the best grades become group leaders.
The total number of Jürgand agents is unknown.
The two remaining powers in the shadow have much less influence in our world, particularly because in light of the agreement of separation they cannot act without the permission of Imperium. Even so, it is possible that on occasion they would send one of their agents in secret with a specific goal, like espionage or the persecution of a fugitive.
The Illuminati are a mystery among The Powers in the Shadow. It is the secret society that keeps an eye on the Duk’zarist, and it is also the most enigmatic of the three organizations. They practically never intervene in the affairs of their people, even though they have always established ties with the governors of their empires. The technology of the Illuminati is very similar to that of Imperium, though they mainly use Gesthal wood for their creations. Their implants are full of runes that grant them power. Even their bases are controlled by the Noah, huge computer trees that are the equivalent to The Ladies.
Little more is known about them other than the fact that they are closely tied to strange traditions and rites, even though their customs and beliefs differ completely.
The Technocracy is the organization that gathers in its bosom the greatest amount of supernatural races. In spite of its diversity, its main leaders come from the Sylvain race and hold the true power within The Technocracy. The society is organized by racial castes, though the attributions of the agents are assigned by their capabilities and not because of their species. Given that their people generally control magic, the Technocrats have centered their knowledge on mechanical engineering and on control of the psychic matrices, where they have the greatest advances. Their Technomagic is based on metal and crystals, preferring to leave biology on a second plane. Their control systems are made up of large crystals (similar to the ones used by Imperium in which they store the minds of several individuals. The completely eliminate their feelings and the increase their rational and logical capacity, that way they are capable of always finding the most appropriate solution to each situation.
While the Imperium may never see the light of day in the proper world of Shafador, look forward to interesting stories involving them in the possible near future when we launch “Chronicles of Shafador – Tales of the Imperium.” Until then enjoy the read and keep seeking the truth, friends!