Part I: The Shades
Any history of the Domini must begin with the Malwer. Unfortunately, so little is known about the Malwer that every history of the Domini is, of necessity, incomplete. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to record what is known of our origins, and hope that someday the blanks may be filled.
Who, or what, the Malwer were is the great mystery of our origins. Today, the uninitiated refer to them as demons, but in the days of our enslavement we considered them gods. At a time before humans had any magic, every Malwer was gifted with it. It came to them as naturally as breathing, and they viewed their magic as the proof of their right to rule mankind.
Our tradition calls the first human to discover magic Saul. This is almost certainly not his name, and his identity is as much a mystery as how he discovered magic. Human magic only comes through training: to this date there is no verified case of any human developing this ability spontaneously or through his own meditation. It is as ludicrous as gnats forming spontaneously from dust or frogs from mud (a belief still held by many of the superstitious Novari). Many have speculated that Saul must have been taught, either by a renegade Malwer or, more plausibly, by one of the Amaranthine, although this was centuries before they revealed themselves to the rest of the human race.
Whatever the source of his power, Saul knew that magic might be the key to humanity’s freedom. However, he also knew that he did not have the ability to challenge the Malwer on his own, so he could not risk discovery by the Malwer. Saul was most likely a field slave, with little enough contact with the Malwer to avoid their suspicion. Even so, he proceeded with the greatest of caution. He found others with untrained magical ability and taught them, all the while keeping his identity hidden from his students as much as anyone else, wrapping himself in an encompassing robe every time he met with them. He knew that if any one of them were discovered, the only chance he and the rest of his students would have for survival was anonymity. His students did the same, perhaps hiding their identities even from one another. Eventually, his students grew knowledgeable enough to train students of their own, maintaining the practice of keeping their identities hidden from their own students.
The teaching spread throughout the Malwer lands, and somehow they avoided discovery for several generations, most likely because they confined themselves to teaching fellow field slaves, who had little Malwer supervision, and because they did nothing but teach and learn. While the masters continued to keep the students from learning their own identities, some cells allowed the students to know each others’ identities. This became the only means for cells to contact one another once age claimed the former master of the current cell leaders. Even so, after a few generations, the secrecy had taken its toll and most cells had no contact with anyone removed by a generation or two.
It is not clear whether the teachings were confined to men deliberately at first: it may simply have been that there were more men than women among the field slaves. It is certain that those learning magic were exclusively male by the time they took the next step, perhaps for the same reason that all soldiers are men.
It was unlikely a concerted decision, since, as I have already explained, most cells had contact with only a few others. But at some point the cells began acting against the Malwer. Rather than a head-to-head war, a cell would track down and kill an individual Malwer, generally one against whom they held some particular grudge. Other cells, hearing of the rumors, began to do the same, and soon the Malwer found themselves being hunted and killed by an elusive enemy they could not identify. When the human magic-users were spotted, hidden in their voluminous robes and no doubt further obscured by magical illusion, they appeared as shapeless black shadows. Thus they earned the name Shades.
New Post: The next part of the story can be found here.