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Long ago, at the dawn of recorded history, there lived a man referred to by those few people in the present time still aware of his existence as the last Great Shaman. He was, as the name suggests, a shaman; that is, he could communicate with spirits, and through this communication was able to heal a great many ailments and provide wisdom. Unlike most shamans, however, he was also a king.

The people who lived as his subjects were a vast tribe of nomads inhabiting what we now know as the Steppes of Central Asia. He was a good king, by all surviving accounts wise and kind. As they had for centuries, his people prospered, keeping livestock and trading with the great civilizations of the day, and from those places came many people to seek the Shaman's guidance. However, as the epithet suggests, the Great Shaman was no ordinary wise man. His ancestors, powerful sorcerers who lived at the very dawn of human civilization, had crafted seven great talismans: four rings, a staff, a medallion and a crown. Each ring granted the wearer power over one of the four classical elements; that is, earth, air, fire, and water. The staff, tall as a man, gave the wielder what we now know as telekinesis- the ability to move objects without touching them, and the medallion held trapped within it a powerful spirit that protected the wearer from all harm, whether inflicted by the natural or the occult. But it was the crown that the House of the Shamans prized most of all, for it gave the wearer the ability to read thoughts and to enter into the minds of men. For centuries these talismans, which together came to be known as the Regalia, were passed down from their creators to each successive descendant, each Great Shaman. The power they possessed kept the Shamans' people safe and prosperous- no one dared attack them, for fear of the Shamans and their skill with the Regalia.

In the time of the last Great Shaman, a great evil came to pass. A tribe of twisted men, rumored to carry the blood of devils in their veins, traveled east from their home on the shores of the Near East. Kings and farmers, rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike fled from their advance. Their name was only whispered, as if merely speaking it might summon them to one's doorstep: Nephilim, the children of the damned. They passed through Jericho, through the great cities between the Rivers, Ur and Uruk and Akkad, and finally their journey brought them to the home of the Shaman and his people.

By the time they reached the Steppes, this tribe of twisted men had amassed a great army, for many men saw false glory in serving their dark power. The moment the leaders of the dark tribe heard of the Regalia and its powers, they became set on taking it. For they were indeed Children of the Damned, descendants of fallen angels and human women, bestowed with otherworldly cunning and inhuman strength of body, and with the Regalia in their possession likely could have washed over the whole of humanity, in our infancy as we were, and subjected mankind to a darker future, forever living as their slaves.

They set their great army upon the plains, leaving destruction in their wake. Tribe after tribe, people after people fell to them until only the Shaman's folk remained whole, joined by a great many survivors of the slaughter. The dark tribe (for I shall not call them again by their true Name) gathered all their forces, the whole of their great Host, and marched on the last Great Shaman and his people, resolved to finally take the Regalia with a single, crippling assault.

A great battle ensued, of the like that none of the survivors would ever forget. The Children of the Damned assaulted time and time again, fighting with inhuman vigor, and many who faced them fell that day. Their army, possessed with the fervor of men who knew their treachery damned them beyond hope of salvation, ravaged the Great Shaman's host. But each advance, great and terrible as it was, was beaten back. The Shaman used all his skill, calling down fire and storm from the sky, reaving great pits into the earth before the charging attackers, entering the minds of the human soldiers and driving them mad. The battle raged for three days and three nights; the servants of the dark, time and time again, attacked and were driven back. Facing heavy losses, the Children of the Damned themselves were forced to the front lines, and many fell at the Great Shaman's hand. At sunrise on the fourth day, the Great Shaman saw that the terrible host of darkness had been broken. Many of the dark tribesmen lay dead, and the fields lay strewn with the bodies of their servants, numerous beyond count. But it was what else he saw in that dawning sun that caused him grief, for as he looked upon the field he saw that for every one of the dark and its servants, five more of his own people lay dead, and many more of the survivors of previous assaults that had sought refuge with his people besides. Grief at the scale of death before him came over him, and he gave out a cry of anguish so great it was said to be heard by every person living on the Earth. That day, surrounded by the ragged remnant of his proud people, he decided that he would be the Last of the Great Shamans, and that the seven talismans of the Regalia would never again be joined together for one man to wield or for evil men to desire, for their power was too great for mankind.

The Last Great Shaman ruled for many more years after that great battle, and in the faces of children and grandchildren he saw a future for a people once shattered by tragedy. When he died, kings and emperors came to pay their respects, and with them hundreds of thousands from distant lands who remembered the strife brought by the people he had destroyed. His kingship passed to his descendants, but they did not wear his Crown. Instead, they bore a new crown, one forged of gold and precious stones, as extraordinary as it was, still rendered mundane by the Crown of the Regalia. That crown, that crown that possessed the most terrible power, was laid to rest with its last owner. The last Great Shaman was buried with his Crown (and, it is said, a vast horde of treasure) deep beneath the ground, in a cave beneath a mountain that has no name. The other pieces of the Regalia of old were likewise scattered to the wind, interred in secret places and guarded, like the Shaman's tomb, by those of his closest advisors who were charged with ensuring that the power of the talismans never fell into human hands again.

It is said that, over time, much of the Regalia has passed back into human possession through the work of adventurers and thieves. The descendants of the original guardians of those talismans abandoned their resting places upon losing that which they were charged with watching, and gradually faded into the patchwork of humanity. So, too, did the Shaman's people; bereft of the Regalia, and the men who wielded it, they became just like any other people of the ancient world, and so faded altogether. Those who today bear the blood of that race do so unknowingly, possibly even living descendants of the Great Shamans themselves. But for those pieces of the Regalia that were never found, including the Crown in the Shaman's Tomb, it is whispered there persists the descendants of those charged with guarding them. They would have spent centuries living underground, never leaving their post, and are said to be horribly deformed, stooped, with faces pale as moonlight and eyes as large as a peacock's egg.

As for the tribe of dark men that sought to use the Regalia to subjugate the world, they live still. The Last Great Shaman defeated them and broke their power for a time, and the survivors of that great battle disappeared, hiding among humanity while disguising their true nature. Through their unnatural cunning, they quickly rose to positions of power over those too blind to see what they were, and soon were in positions of such power that none but the powerful saw them at all. Over the centuries, they washed their existence first from chronicles, then from legends, then from myths, and with it all human memory of the Great Shaman and his people, of that great battle on the plain, and of the Regalia for which so many lives were lost, until all of it was wholly forgotten save for those few who were dedicated to keeping the memory alive. But through it all, always, they searched for what had been lost. They may even have a few pieces of the Regalia as we speak now. They are everywhere; the man behind every door, the hand behind every throne, the power from which all power springs. Pray, child, that they do not finish their work. For those who guard what parts of the Regalia remain hidden have grown old and tired with years. So, too, has humanity; we have forgotten our past. We have deluded ourselves that there is nothing more powerful than we, and, should we be reminded of how wrong we are by the reawakening of things that should sleep, we may this time not find ourselves able to drive back the darkness at our door. For the Last Great Shaman sleeps now in eternal rest, and who but he could be our champion against the coming storm?