The Seven Seals of Armageddon

The following is a chronicle regarding the nature of Terra, the world of Archmage.  However, Terra is an immense realm where two different accounts can be entirely contradictory, yet both may still be entirely correct.  As vast a world as it is, it cannot contain anything as great as a single, absolute truthful account.

In my recent wealth of free time I have invested several hours in the perusal of Quaestio Fides’ "Prophecies of the Seven Seals." Most fascinating of my discoveries in browsing this marvelous anthology was the constancy with which men and women of different sociopolitical and educational backgrounds, geographic locations, and even time periods have described the mythological event known as "the breaking of the Seven Seals." For example, five hundred years of time and five hundred leagues of earth separate two particular scholars – yet their visions of a frightful end to Terra (as oft termed "Armageddon" or "Apocalypse" as "the breaking of the Seven Seals") are nearly identical in content. To illustrate this point I shall briefly refer to excerpts taken from the respective texts of each scholar.

The author of the elder document is, unfortunately, not known. However, despite some tampering by a later redactor, the language and style of the treatise permitted me to determine its composition as occurring around the 46th year of the Dark Era in a small northern village then known as Atlan (the modern village being the aptly named New Atlan). I have taken the liberty of editing the fragmented sections with what, as nearly as I can guess, the original content was:

…much talk of the breaking of the Seals. Indeed strange events have come to pass, brave men wear fearful faces, and my dreams whisper of events yet to come. Already have I stood witness as the sages clutched their scrolls and tore at their eyes when the rent sky bled hail and fire, stripping the flesh from Terra. "The Heavens bear down upon the iniquitous," they cried. "This is the First. Woe should great Moon hide Her face!" Already have I witnessed their prophecy fulfilled, for the next evening a great shape descended, and the face of Moon was hidden by its bulk, and the great shape was a mountain alight with flame. Into the sea did the fiery mountain descend, and the seawater was transmuted, and from coast to horizon the sea was become blood. Then did the sages proclaim the second Seal broken, and there was great lamentation among the people, and the people cried to their gods, but I of all men knew that they had already forsaken the gods and that their final punishment was at hand…

Much more is known of the second document. It was composed in 580 DE by Tsukimi Eiki, an ardent follower of the great goddess Moon. Eiki lived alone in a small cave near the Cliffs of Jonas, which are found on the Eastern Sea nearly 550 leagues from New Atlan. He lived as a hermit, his one indulgence that of fancying himself a poet. Though his style is somewhat dubious, his message is quite clear:

Lo, there do I see the distant siblings
Of great Sun and great Moon burning, fallen
From the void. Hail and fire and hallowed blood
Has Man’s pride called and the First Seal broken.
The hard night passes with strong men baying
Like sheep in the slaughter. Scent of pollen,
But burned and not fragrant, pointless arbor.
Death peaks its head, for Sin’s womb is swollen.
Soft, Moon hides Her face behind a mountain
Ablaze with glory, a diving falcon
Is Her rage. A tear bled from Her eye falls
To the sea sanguine, the Second broken.
The hard night passes… etc.

The conspicuous similarities between these excerpts may be extrapolated to the entirety of both texts. Likewise, the content found in these documents is nearly identical to every treatise contained within Quaestio’s "Prophecies." The chief value of this collection is generally held to be the insight they grant to those studying the ancient societies in which the texts were composed.

However, a far different proposition regarding the value of Quaestio’s "Prophecies" was recently raised. During a consultation with an esteemed colleague the topic of the Seven Seals arose. I termed the Seals "mythology," to which he took offence (he has devoted much of his life to study of the Seals and, the Gods bless him, he is quite convinced that they do in fact exist). So aroused by my completely innocent comment did he become that I spent more than an hour listening to an impassioned speech on the historical validity of the Seven Seals. Though I am loath to do so, I will briefly summarize the chief arguments delineated in his exposition.

He began with several lengthy disclaimers and acknowledgements which we shall forego in interest of settling upon the heart of his argument. Thus reads his tale: the Seven Seals are seven magical wards that hold fast the gates of the first, and deepest, level of the Nine Hells. Each Seal has a sort of bond to a specific god. When a mage of Terra casts the spell so camply referred to as "Armageddon," a sort of message is sent directly to the god who holds the Seal that is in line to be broken. Said deity then directs an immense amount of His or Her power directly into the Seal, effectively shattering it and unleashing a portion of the Hell held within. When the "Armageddon" spell is cast seven times in the proper procession all seven of the Seals are broken, and all the vileness of Hell is unleashed upon Terra, destroying every living thing. When my old friend divulged this information, I was forced to ask (while attempting to hide my smile behind a look of wonder) why any mage would want to do such a thing. The response to my question was typical – that some ancient prophecy told of how the "Armageddon" casters would be immortalized while all others perished. It was the usual melodramatic and apocalyptic rubbish that accompanies tales of destruction, and it left me believing (hoping?) that my comrade’s dissertation had at last come to an end. I was mistaken however, as he plunged into a theory on how the gods are also capable of breaking the Seventh Seal without the "Armageddon" spell being cast. In such a case the seven gods acting in unison focus their power directly upon the Seventh Seal, shattering it. Because the Seventh Seal is by far the strongest of the Seals, when it is broken the remaining six are unable to contain the malignant force behind the gate, which spills forth and effectively ends life on Terra. Why the gods would do such a thing, my friend admits, is known only to them, though various scholars of the Seals through the ages have promulgated myriad theories.

With that his own theorizing was come to an end. He sat staring thoughtfully into nothing, chewing the end of his long pipe (which contained, I now believe, rather dubious contents). He did not stir as I quietly made my escape from his study.

So, a summary of the Seven Seals: an interesting mythology, exceptional in its consistency and persistence through the ages. However, such tales are of little use but to those who are interested in the ancient cultures and the way the human psyche functions. In my humble opinion there is little fear of the end of days being initiated by the Ninth Hell bursting forth like the belly of some corpulent fellow in a too-tight button down. However, the fact remains - I have been putting on a bit of weight lately…

Ever Yours,

Augustine
Scholar of Terra
Hand of the Renaissance
Composed in the third year of the Enlightened Era.