Millennia ago, in the wilds of Britain, there lived a small lost colony of Elder Worm, inhabiting deep caverns in the north of England. Their numbers were few but over time, even their infrequent forays to the surface were eventually noticed. The local tribes began to plot the demise of these demons and made incursions into the caverns to find them. The Elder Worm here did not have the ability to transform humans into Worm but did have other magics they could use. They took a specimen of legless lizard, called a slow worm, and experimented on it with both technology and magic. It grew and became fearsome and was set to guard the cave entrances against the invaders. As it fed on the bodies of those it killed, the magics used to create it also helped it consume some part of it's victims souls. Eventually it ceased to be an animal. It became crafty and malicious, now leaving the tunnels to hunt prey and make it's self stronger. It had grown far beyond what any mortal could combat, so the chieftains made a bargain with a great Red Dragon from the south to fight the white worm in return for virgin sacrifices each solstice. The two monsters did battle and the white worm was defeated but the magics of the Elder Worm had worked a miracle in the worm so that each time it died, it was reborn again, stronger and more fearsome than before. The chieftains declared the bargain unfulfilled as long as the worm was alive so the Red Dragon was forced to do battle each year with the alien worm. Finally the Red Dragon, Kalgikovor, called on the aid of the mighty serpent Nama it had met years before. He asked that Nama transform the white worm into something he could easily defeat, but Nama was feeling capricious that day and transformed both of them into pigs, which the king then caught and imprisoned in a cave in Wales. There they returned to their true forms and resumed their yearly conflict, though Kalgikovor, continued to win, the margin narrowed every year.
Eventually the legend of their imprisonment faded and in time, a new lord attempted to build a castle directly over the cavern in which the two beasts fought. The battle made the ground unstable and no tower would stay up. This continued for many weeks until the King was advised to seek the help of a boy not conceived by a mortal man. He sent his soldiers out across the land to find such a lad. The boy they found was called Myrddin Emrys whom some call Merlin. Following the advice of his councilors, the King was planning to sacrifice the boy in order to appease supernatural powers that prevented him from building a fortress here. The boy however was not Merlin, it was Nama in disguise. He informed the King about the Red Dragon and White Worm battling under the ground and offered to free one of them to stop the unrest. The King chose to set the Red Dragon free, deeming it at least able to be bargained with. The White Worm was cognizant enough to know what was going on, and to realize who it's tormentor really was. Left trapped in the caverns, the White Worm languished and vowed vengeance.
As time wore on, the White Worm would occasionally moan pitifully, disquieting those that dwelt above it. Finally the site was abandoned after an attempt to dig a well pierced the cave holding the worm, making it's protestations even more audible and disquieting. The legends of the White Worm spread, some of the more unhinged tribesmen sought out the well and began to worship the White Worm beneath the ground whom they named Dyonin. Some few of them were genuine mystics who sacrificed themselves to their god. In this way Dyonin began to aquire power for itself. It began to directly influence those that came to serve it, each sacrifice making it stronger and smarter. It's hatred for Nama never diminished, though it had not only come to accept it's imprisonment, it felt comfortable there, having grown so large now that nothing short of serious excavation could ever free it. It also knew that Nama's power still dwarfed it's own, it would need to bide it's time.
The Devil in the Dark
For centuries, the cult of Dyonin the White Worm, had grown in the north of Wales until Christianity had taken a firm hold over England and all of the pagan religions were forced to disband or hide themselves. Dyonin's increase in knowledge and power slowed as the sacrifices it had grown accustomed to, became few and far between. It began to slumber in it’s underground prison, sometimes for years at a time. Centuries passed as Dyonin's own cult had shrunk to a single family tradition, that of the Blackburns, who could no longer afford to give it enough to increase it's power, only enough for it to subsist. In the past, Dyonin had rewarded the Blackburns with some small bits of mystical knowledge and visions which had benefited them greatly. They were held in check only by the watchful eye of the Church. No longer daring to offer human sacrifices, the Blackburns’ fortunes began to wane as Dyonin was forced to slumber for longer and longer periods.
Dyonin’s power had always given the Blackburns long and healthy lives. When Oliver’s grandfather William, came down with a terminal disease, they realized that Dyonin had slept for too long. The family prepared to make a real sacrifice in the bowels of their manor built above where Dyonin slumbered. Oliver’s father, Thomas, had been forced to kidnap a young orphan girl and prepare her to be fed to the great beast. Despite the gruesomeness of the ordeal, all of the family members were required to be there, including Oliver and his younger sister Elizabeth. In spite of the last minute revelation that the young woman about to be sacrificed was not a virgin, the rites were performed. Dyonin barely acknowledged the offering and William Blackburn felt no relief from his disease. In wild desperation he grabbed his granddaughter and flung her into the pit before anyone could act. Oliver lunged to grab her but was too late. Oliver’s screams of anguish were overwhelmed by the roar of Dyonin’s satisfaction, and William’s giddy laughter as his health was returned to him.
Oliver swore that day to end the evil that had a grip on his family once and for all. He was a strong young man but his grandfather’s renewed health and powers were more than a match for him, for now. Oliver was not hasty, he bided his time and continued with his studies. He had a natural aptitude for languages and studied any esoteric volume he could find. Searching for some weapon against Dyonin’s power. He only found one thing that gave him hope. Through his studies and contacts in various secret societies he learned of a supposed school of black magic deep in the Transylvanian mountains in Romania, the Solomanta. The rumors mentioned two extraordinary things; that the school kept a dragon hidden nearby, and that the chief demon of Hebrew lore, Satan himself, taught there. Oliver was primarily interested in the dragon. He had read various accounts of the great battles between a red dragon and a white worm and determined that Dyonin might have an enemy equal to it. Using the minor powers he had gleaned from his family’s own lore, he divined where the dragon slumbered, deep in a lake near Hermannstadt, Romania. When he believed he was ready, he convinced his father to allow him a years study abroad, in nearby Vienna. Oliver traveled from the University in Vienna by train to the Transylvanian alps and journeyed to the cold tarn. It was late at night when he arrived. Oliver spoke an ancient abjuration said to be pleasing to dragons and waited. The calm surface of the nearly frozen lake began to steam and then heave as a massive shape rose. Oliver was shocked beyond words. He had never imagined anything so terrible in this world. Despite its size, the dragon made very little noise as it rose above him. It lowered it’s head and peered at Oliver, the hot breath making him sweat in the winter air
Oliver knew that he was staring death in the face and closed his eyes waiting for that death to take him, but it did not. Before he could attempt to speak, he heard the crunch of footsteps in the snow behind him and opened his eyes. The dragon still stared at him, it’s leathern face almost seemed to be smiling as it’s eyes twinkled in the moonlight. The man behind him spoke, telling Oliver not to be afraid and that he was welcome here. The voice roused him and he was able turn away from that hot gaze. The figure behind him was clad in thick robes and hooded so that even in the light of the full moon, nothing could be seen. The man spoke in a voice that chilled Oliver as badly as the dragon breath had warmed him. He informed Oliver that the Solomonari had foreseen his coming and welcomed it. The man further said that they also foresaw a great destiny for Oliver in the mystic arts and that they would be honored to further his education. Oliver was overwhelmed and could only manage to ask that he be allowed to return to his lodging to consider their offer. The man acquiesced and handed Oliver a thick scroll to take with him.
When Oliver returned to his lodging and studied the parchment, he realized it was a key for translating an ancient tome he had found, written in a dialect long extinct and indecipherable. If these people had access to this kind of knowledge, he couldn’t afford to refuse their offer. He also still needed time to convince the dragon to once again strive against the white worm. Perhaps if the Solomonari could teach him the uses of power, he might face Dyonin on his own. He returned to the lake the next day but nothing and no one appeared to him. He could not feel the presence of the dragon in the placid lake. It had occurred to him that these people might prefer the cover of darkness to appear and so waited till nightfall. Nearing the end of his patience at midnight, Oliver saw a small procession of 6 men approach him through the dark. Nothing was said, the men stopped in front of him, then turned and went back the way they came, with Oliver following after. The journey lasted the rest of the night. Just as Oliver began to feel genuinely fatigued, the procession faced a shear rock face with a deep cleft in it which they entered. Oliver did not see the sun again for 4 years.
Knowledge is Power
Oliver learned many secrets and forbidden knowledge there. He learned the story of the origins of Dyonin and it’s battles with Kalgikovor the dragon. Most importantly, he learned how to learn. Texts and tomes that had baffled him in the past became child’s play. The instructors of the Solomonari were learned in dark powers and rituals, but none of them turned out to be the devil. The normal term of instruction was 7 years but Oliver mastered everything they had to teach him in 4. He was disheartened to discover that neither they, nor the dragon had the knowledge or power to destroy Dyonin. However, they also told him that his instruction was not complete and that he would find new masters far to the southwest, waiting for him.
Oliver returned home to northern Wales, concocting a tale of misadventure that had made him a prisoner of bandits deep in the mountains he had been exploring. Ostensibly, he had been held in hopes of ransom, but Oliver had refused to reveal who would pay for him. The minor powers of his grandfather and father could discern that something in Oliver had changed but they couldn’t tell what. Oliver now recognized that the little bits of power and influence the Blackburns had gained from Dyonin, were petty indeed. He was now a match for his grandfather and took care of that bit of business promptly and quietly upon his return. This made his father, Thomas, now head of the household. However, Oliver now had the strength to overcome Dyonin’s influence on his family and convinced his father to move the entire family back to their ancient lands in Lancashire. Abandoning Dyonin to return to it’s pitiful moaning, alone. Dyonin, for it’s part, would go on to pursue it’s own vendettas with a new agent.
Oliver’s father feared that the years in captivity would have made Oliver unfit for society or business for some time, but Oliver quickly demonstrated his ability in both. Over the course of another three years, Oliver continued to secretly purge Dyonin’s influence from his family while he also searched for clues to the whereabouts of his supposed new teachers. With the wealth and power they had wielded for so long, the Blackburns had been one of the original major share holders in the East India Company. The time had come for the family to send a representative to direct their holdings there personally. Oliver seized on the opportunity of the trip to India to pursue his craft.
Oliver’s research had finally given him a name, Domdaniel. A place rumored to be a stronghold of sorcerers somewhere in the Mediterranean. The trip to India would be the perfect cover to search for it. A partial map came into his possession that he believed would place him close enough to sense the place. They set sail in the early autumn and made their way south with a strong wind. Oliver had learned how to affect the weather from the Solomonari and sped them on their journey. As they neared Gibraltar, he stirred up a storm strong enough to push them east into the Mediterranean Sea. Oliver had not planned to harm anyone, but several of the crew were lost at sea. He pushed the ship onto a barren stretch of the north African coast and made ready to go overland, supposedly to find help. During the first night, he slipped away from his porters and followed his senses till they lead him to that which he sought. On a rocky cliff overlooking the rough sea, he met a solitary figure dressed in blue silken robes. It was a woman. Again, he was informed that they had been waiting for him and that they were honored by his presence. The woman made a small gesture and the two of them floated off the cliff and into the warm sea.
This time, 7 years did pass, though it did not feel so long. Oliver was awakened to concepts and ideas that had once seemed completely foreign to him. He learned that Domdaniel had originally been an outpost of Atlantis and that since the time of the battle with Sharna-Gorak, the few Atlantean survivors here had worked to preserve, protect and pass on what little of the ancient knowledge of the first men that they possessed. In Solomanta, Oliver had learned of the Earth and it’s hidden powers and spirits. In Domdaniel, he learned of the heavens and the hells and the dread powers from both that still dwelt among men. He learned of the great enemy of all creation and how it craved our destruction. Oliver’s awareness expanded. He learned to look beyond his grief and lust for revenge and see the real threats. Dyonin was but a mere by-product of the greater evil. His revenge gave way to compassion, hate gave way to trepidation. The world had almost met it’s end in those ancient days, and someday, it would face it again. The people of Domdaniel felt that fear also, and revealed to him that the power to oppose that fate, lie elsewhere. The amount of knowledge Oliver now possessed was considerable by any human standard. Being still young, he could not now conceive of any man teaching him more.
The wizard-king of Domdaniel, Linroflin, told Oliver that there was only one place left for him to go, Aghartha. There he said, divine powers still walked the Earth, guarding against the return of the avatar of destruction. Oliver ventured forth, traveling east gradually, and learning about the people and places he now felt compelled to protect. He had decided before he left that he would not reveal himself to his family. They no doubt believed him dead by now and his wards should continue to protect them off from Dyonin's machinations. They were now only a small part of what he perceived as his larger responsibility. Oliver spent the better part of a year traveling, going over-land the entire way. Across ancient Egypt, Persia, northern India and finally into the Kun Lun mountains. His sharpened mystic senses lead him unerringly to the first Guardian of the Way, who let him pass unchallenged into the temple grounds of Yeng Tao. This was the training ground of the novices and martialists. He was bidden to rest here and to cleanse himself before proceeding.
The next day he approached the second Guardian of the Way and passed his test, granting him access to the spiral path leading to the deeper mysteries. Though now under ground, the caverns sparkled with bright reflected light. The descent took another day and at the bottom he rested again. He could feel a presence here unlike anything he had felt before. The third Guardian of the Way did not have a test, but instructions for rituals to be performed along the way to meet his final masters. The instruction, including practice and rest, lasted another entire day. Oliver was feeling a sense of calm seep into him that almost drove away all other cares. The next day he began his series of rituals and progressed along the long bright tunnel to meet his destiny. The air was becoming heavier as if pressure against him was building. Sounds came from everywhere and ahead, a bright light glowed from beyond the edge of the hall. As he neared the end, the sensations were becoming too much to bear. Oliver opened his eyes against the light and beheld grandeur.
A massive cavern opened before him, certainly miles across. Below him lay a city of wondrous design, surrounded by soft fields. In the center of it all, the light emanated from three gigantic beings suspended in the air slowly revolving around a central point. The figure just coming around to face him was roughly man shaped, as if crudely chiseled from stone. It held no details except for the eyes, one on each side of it’s head. Those four eyes burned with divine light and no secret could be hidden from them. Their vision penetrated the deepest corners of his soul. In each of the figure’s four hands rested a lens of purest diamond. Next came the form of a woman, or possibly a slender man. It was perfectly detailed except for the ears which were large and long, the lobes hanging down to the chin. Oliver knew instinctively that those ears heard the tiniest cry of the tiniest insect anywhere in the world and that if he spoke, the merest whisper would suffice to cross the great distance between them. In the palm of each hand was a glowing white lotus flower. Finally, the third figure was a robust man seemingly chiseled from the finest marble. Strength radiated from this form, strength enough to shift the planet off its axis. In the palm of each hand a bright flame burned.
Oliver understood now that he was in the presence of true divinity, his new masters. As he began to become accustomed to the majesty of it all, he noticed a large flat topped pyramid rising to the point around which his masters revolved. Atop that platform was some sort of triskelion, a three-sided archway with closed double doors on each side. Despite the awesome power and serenity before him, Oliver could feel the dread creeping from it into his heart. He continued with the rituals as he made his way to the central temple. The great size of the beings made the distance seem shorter than it was. It still took him most of a day to reach the steps. There he was met by three wizened masters who led him to his new home.
A Life of Service
Oliver strove through months and then years of strenuous training and intensive study. There was no curriculum to follow, he simply studied and trained as he saw fit. If he had questions, he asked the monks and they answered. When the day came that he asked a question they could not answer, they told him he was ready to speak to the masters. His initial instruction had told him who they were. Bezaliel, the watcher that is not seen. Guan Yin, the listener who is not heard, and Prometheus, the bearer who is not touched. They were all far more, and less, than their respective legends made them out to be. Their one unifying trait was a love of man and his world and their desire to protect it. They showed him all the wondrous things that were connected to the Earth, and all the things that desired to devour it. Chief among them, were the Kings of Edom.
The triskelion archway that had been present when Oliver had first arrived, disappeared 3 days later, and then reappeared 24 days after. Oliver learned that this was a cycle, and that the object was a gateway to a place of unimaginable horror that was guarded most strongly here in Aghartha, and that there were others who guarded it when it was else where. He also learned that there were some few who sought to open the gate, when and where it was most vulnerable. This he discovered, was the crux of his destiny. Those that served the Kings of Edom in the most ancient antiquity, the Elder Worm, had also been responsible for the creation of Dyonin. The evil of Dyonin had created it’s own opposing force, in Oliver. The more Oliver learned about the nature of the world, the more he loved it. His path had started in darkness and revenge but now he knew nothing but care and compassion.
Finally, the day came when his masters told him that the time for studying was over and the time of striving was to begin. He had been prepared to face the darkest powers threatening this world and now each master gave him a gift. Bezaliel touched his right eye and gave him the power to see truth. Guan Yin touched his heart and left the white lotus of compassion upon his chest so that he might never know hatred again. Prometheus touched his hand, the fire of knowledge burned through him to give him the strength to bear what must be born. They then instructed him to seek those others that also guarded the Triskelion Gate and to join them in their mission but warned him not to reveal anything about Aghartha to them. That knowledge was for him alone.
Time had had little meaning for Oliver in Aghartha. When he left to rejoin the world, he discovered that 30 more years had passed, though he had aged no more than 5. It was now the 20th century and he was off to travel the outer planes to meet his destiny. In time he met and joined the Rune Lords. Those wizards and sorcerers who dedicated their lives to protecting the Triskelion Gate from the Hex Lords and all servants of the Kings of Edom. Though he was away from Earth for decades, Dyonin was never far from his mind. Oliver had realized he could not simply destroy the vile creature. It needed to be unmade. All the souls it had consumed had become a part it and would need to be disentangled from the monstrosity so that they might pass on peacefully. Nothing less would satisfy him. The day he had the intricate spell of unmaking perfected, he would return home.
More decades passed and the struggle for the gate never diminished. One of the Hex Lords, Karactacus, stumbled upon lore that hinted that one of the lost locations for the Triskelion Gate was on a small blue-green planet known as Earth. At first, only the Rune Lord Xanadu followed in pursuit until it became clear that he was on to something. Lord Blackburn then answered the call to return home. He understood right away that it was Aghartha that Karactacus was searching for. The one lost location of the gate that only he and his masters knew about.
'Powers and Equipment
Oliver is a moderately athletic human being with normal strength and agility. His hands are quite dexterous and he is exceptionally bright. Through years of study and practice, Oliver has become adept at many forms and types of magic. Through his magical spells and feats he is able to fly at moderate speeds and levitate for indefinite periods or time. He is able to communicate over great distances, manipulate objects without touching them and control the minds of various people or creatures. Given enough time, preparation and mystical knowledge, there are very few things Oliver is not able to do. In emergency situations he can quickly stun adversaries, heal the injured and cast bolts of celestial energy.
Oliver has collected a variety of mystical objects and talismans over the years but his most powerful and most frequently used are the gifts of his masters and his wand. The Eye of Bezaliel is embedded where his right eye once was and allows Oliver to see virtually anything he puts his mind to, provided he knows what he is looking for. The Heart of Quan Yin, is a source of pure life giving energies and greatly enhances any and all of his healing spells. The Ring of Prometheus provides strength and protection from harm. The ring will automatically protect Oliver from moderate abuse such as fisticuffs and melee weapons. It will protect him from greater threats only if he applies his will to it.
Oliver created his first wand at Solomanta, where he received his first instruction in wand making. It was a crude device made from Black Locust and Dryad leaves. It had a dark bent to it and Oliver discarded it when he arrived at Domdaniel. The Atlanteans were more inclined to use staves or rods but Oliver adapted their lore to a new wand made from orichalcum, prehistoric redwood and naiad scales, freely given. It was a potent device made with more advanced lore and no violence involved. When Oliver reached Aghartha the monks encouraged him to abandon the use of what they considered a crutch to his true power. Oliver did indeed learn to do well without a wand but for him it was a tie to his heritage that he was not willing to give up. The Triune Masters allowed him to make a new wand from the thorn of an ancient Fu Sang tree, which sheds them every 101 years. They are naturally hollow which is the only way to combine them with other components since the thorn itself is nearly impervious to tools of any kind. The core is made of a phoenix feather and dragon eggshell. The pommel is the same Atlantean orichalcum piece made for his previous wand. This device has served him faithfully for the past 117 years