3,500,000,000 years ago:

As lightning struck the blasted plains of a continent that had no name yet, something stirred in the ground. Flames burst forth from the crater the lightning strike had created in the muddy soil. From that flame, heat melted the soil around it, roasted the rock from which it sprang and finally set fire to the air around it. In the center of the flame, the heat became so unbearable to all matter that it turned into an energy source unique to the newly formed planet. The energy absorbed all light, all heat and all burning matter into itself, and finally gained sentience.

As the newly born life form became aware of it’s surroundings, it realized it had been born of destruction. The destruction of primal matter had impossibly created energy and it wished to know how this was possible. It studied the source of its origins, the lightning that struck the tortured earth, and that all matter and energy was but a tool to make happen what it desired. It started its studies of every form of shaping reality to its will, and many years later, men would say that at this moment of primal realization, the God Chthon became the first Magician.

********

50,000,000 years ago:

On the planet Skrullos, the red Skrull female called Artt’le regarded its shape in a pool of water, and was repulsed by it. It lived in a region of the planet that had been settled by Green Skrulls, the dominant life form on what had become a deviant planet. The green Skrulls could change their shape as they saw fit, but were always dexterous and handsome, even in their most basic form. Not so Artt’le and her sisters. She was a squat, short legged, bloated creature with repulsive blubbery red skin. And while the green Skrulls had developed great feats of technology and science, the red Skrull’s misshapen forms were only of use as laborers that were quickly being replaced by machines of Green Skrull design.

In desperation over her faith, and that of her sisters, Artt’le had decided to end its existence. As it prepared to drown herself in the lake in which it saw its reflection, it called out one final time to the Gods that had never deigned to hear her pleas for guidance and purpose.

“Eternal Kly’bn, Infinite Sl’gur’t! Hear my plea! I offer you my life if you will but guide my sisters to a more fitting destiny. We are strong, we are of sound mind! Please, hear me!”

But of course, the gods remained as silent as always. After all, Artt’le was but a red Skrull, and even Infinite Sl’gur’t was in all her infinite shapes ever green. Artt’le looked down into the dark pool once again, and saw her face reflected once more in the pool sacred to the Gods. At that moment, Artt’le grew enraged, and spat in the pool.

“Curse you, Gods of the Green Skrulls. If you will not grant me my purpose, I will gladly offer up my soul to a darker god. One who is not fluid, like the waters, but one whose anger burns, like a fire. If he will but grant me the power to become what me and my sisters can be, not to shape ourselves but to shape the universe, I will serve him always!”

That was when a voice spoke in Artt’le’s ears, and started whispering the secrets of reality, if she would become a faithful and terrible Wraith.

*********

20,000 years ago:

The old wizard was lying in his bed. His legs had failed him a decade ago, and now his arms were starting to desert him. The man was ancient, even by wizard’s standards, but finally death would claim him. His life had been full and rich. He had known tragedy and triumph, happiness and despair. Now, it was all over, and his soul, what was left of it, would travel to the Lord he had served so faithfully over his long life.

His oldest servant had dressed him for his last journey. He wore a brown skirt, a necklace made of the teeth of the demons he had conquered and forced to do his will, and the hand bones of the first child he ever sacrificed adorned his elongated earlobes. After that, he ordered his servant to kill himself in sacrifice to the one Lord, so that he might inform the Lord of his master’s arrival. Of course, the old servant had done his duty without questioning. What greater glory is there then to die in the service of one’s master?

As the wizard lay there, recalling all he had done and all the things he would have done if he had but had a little more time. He had been born into the Order, had even lead the order for a time, and it pained him to know that the Order, although thriving, was still so far removed from claiming ultimate power in this greatest of civilizations he lived in, Atlantis. It would have been a fitting end to his life’s work to see a Darkholder sit on the throne of the Empire. Going over his life, the old wizard did not notice a younger wizard enter his bedroom until he stood over him.

“Great Varnae, it is I, Turuee, who calls on thee,” the younger wizard said.

“Why do you disturb me? Kill yourself in sacrifice, worm!” the old wizard said.

“Please, Great Varnae, hear me out first. If after you have heard me you still desire my death, it shall be so!” the younger wizard said.

“Speak then,” the old wizard ordered.

“Great Varnae, how would you like to become an immortal and powerful being, eternally strong and healthy, able to slay all your enemies in the name of the one we serve?” the younger wizard asked.

“Make it so!” the old wizard answered.

*******

Last week:

When Alexander of Macedon, the later Alexander the Great, first looked upon the Hindu Kush mountain range, he was convinced he had reached the end of the world. Dr. Stephen Strange, the world’s foremost magician and the acknowledged Sorcerer Supreme of the entire Earth-dimension, could understand why. He was sitting in a small inn, at the foot of a mountain range on a dark and cold night. The sight of the peaks was foreboding, as were the people in the inn, with their dark complexions, unfamiliar speech and suspicious glances cast at Stephen. His well-kept hair was a tangled mass, and his finely pruned goatee had grown into a thick unkempt beard. With his dark hair and tanned skin, the magician did not seem too different from the other men at the inn, except for his attire. While the rest of the guest wore clothes that were best described as thick layers of rags, Stephen wore clean and new boots, trousers, a blue sweater and a dark red winter cloak. His thin clean fingers clutched a cup of goat-milk, and he was waiting for the innkeeper to serve him his dinner.

Stephen Strange was very much a dandy in normal life, but here he had let himself go native, as much as a man of Stephen’s sensibilities was able too. For the past month he had been traveling the world, not by magic but by ordinary means of transportation. He had not used any magic at all since he left home in Greenwich Village, New York, behind, as he no longer trusted it. Magic as it was in the world was broken, and as Sorcerer Supreme, it was his task to set things right, and to find what had caused it. Ever dutiful, Stephen saw it as his task to preserve and defend not only his home-dimension but also magic itself. Over his long and illustrious career, Stephen had learned many truths, and he knew like no other that magic could not remain in this state for long without the world or reality itself suffering the consequences.

When a hooded man entered the Inn, bringing in a gust of cold along with him, all looked up to look at the stranger. All but Stephen Strange, who had already sensed who it was that visited the small inn this night. The stranger sat down opposite Stephen at his table, not removing his cloak or hood.

“So” the stranger said.

“Yes?” Stephen replied.

“So, here we are. As good a place as any, I guess” the stranger said.

“It would seem so,” Stephen answered.

“Do you know what this is?” the stranger said, as he put down a white colored six-shooter on the table.

“If I’m not mistaken, that is the spirit gun once used by Carter Slade” Stephen said.

“You’re right of course,” the stranger said.

“You do know that this will not harm me. Carter’s old guns fired light-bullets, harmless minor magics that cause paralysis. This cannot kill me,” Stephen said calmly.

“It can when, you load it with the right bullets!” the stranger said, and Stephen’s stare froze on the stranger. The stranger grabbed the gun from the table, and fired four shots in Stephen Strange’s chest, two bullets piercing the heart. Right away, Stephen’s red cloak vanished. The other guest at the Inn looked on in shock, holding their breath. The stranger got up, and pointed the gun at the head of Stephen Strange, who was still sitting upright, staring vacantly. The stranger then pulled the trigger two more times, firing two more bullets in Dr. Strange’s head. Stephen fell forward onto the table, his head shattering his cup of goat-milk. Blood poured forth from Stephen’s head, and mixed with the milk, spilling it over the table. The Stranger held two fingers to Stephen’s neck, checking for life signs.

“Yeah, you’re dead” the stranger said, and then walked out of the Inn, into the cold and dark night.

Today:

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-Crunch.

Megan Gwynn’s alarm clock went of for the fourth time, and this time her roommate Laura had had enough. She popped out one of her two claws, and stuck it through the device to stop it’s annoying beeping.

“Hey! Those things cost money, you know? As in, I’d rather spend it on something else, okay?” Megan said as she stuck her head over the edge of the bunk bed of which she had the top spot. Laura looked up and saw Megan’s elf-like face stare out at her. Even when Megan acted like she was angry, her pink hair, sparkling dark eyes and pointed ears made her look more impish then threatening. Not so Laura, also known as X-23. Her dark looks, thin face and long black hair made her look feral and dangerous even when she just had just woke up. From her knuckles a single long sharp claw extended into the alarm clock.

“I was sleeping and it woke me,” Laura said, staring at Megan.

“You were sleeping? I thought you never needed sleep? I thought you were so hardcore and dangerous and stuff that you didn’t sleep?” Megan asked.

“I like sleeping. It gives me peace,” Laura said.

“Oh. Oh, I get that. Yeah, I get that. Sleep gives you peace… A respite from the world in which we live and the turmoil we face and the…” Megan answered when she was interrupted by a voice coming from under the covers of the third bed.

“Megan, I swear to God if you’re going to go off on one of your dark and brooding rants again, I swear I’m gone do to you what Laura did to your alarm-clock!” the voice belonging to the third occupant of the room said.

“Hell-oo! It’s called `projecting an image’, Hisako! We don’t all have your natural cool, you know? Some us have to work for it!” Megan called to the young Asian girl who raised her head above the covers.

“She knows” Laura stated flatly.

“Excuse me?” Hisako said.

“She said `she knows’…” Megan repeated.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Do you think I’m a snob or something because I made X-Man before you guys did?” Hisako asked, a little offended.

“No. I mean that you have to work for it as much as Megan does” Laura replied, finally sheeting her claw and dropping Megan’s ruined alarm clock.

“Oh” Hisako said, embarrassed by Laura’s all to true statement.

“Well, whatever. I’m taking a shower. Gotta look my best today!” Megan said and dashed of.

Once in the shower, Megan planned out her day. Ever since she learned a single teleportation spell and had her soul ripped apart, spurring on her reinvention of herself as a goth-girl, she had wanted to know more about magic. In fact, it was all she ever read about these days. As the world’s primary magician Dr. Strange had promised more or less to tutor her once she’s reach the age of 21, Megan was desperate to get a head start. She still had three years to go, but Megan figured those three years would be up before she knew it, being an X-Man and all. So, today Megan had planned a trip to Los Angeles. While San Francisco and Los Angeles were not that close together, from Megan’s Welsh perspective they were at least in the same state. Living in San Francisco as she did, Megan did not think too much about making a trip to Los Angeles.

A few days ago, a friend of Megan who she had met at a local club teenagers hung put at, had told her a story about a tiny Mosque in Los Angeles that used to be the home of a powerful wizard. For years, this wizard had lived there, but nobody ever saw him, although strange noises and weird lights often came from the mosque. The most unusual people seemed to visit the mosque, usually at night, but nobody ever talked about what went on there. One night, some eight years ago, a wolf-man was seen near the mosque, and strange creatures seemed to appear in the skies over the mosque. There was howling and screaming and flashing lights, but after that nobody ever visited the Mosque again. The building fell into disrepair, and a fence was built around the structure.

Of course, Megan had believed the story to be an urban legend at first, but just to be sure she looked up any information she could find about the place on the net. On several occult web sites, the mosque was mentioned as having been the dwelling and sanctum of the wizard Taboo, an obscure figure who was rumored to traffic with demons. Delighted with her discovery, Megan went on to find out about the exact address of the mosque, and then decided she would go and pay a visit. She dreamed about finding the place a magical treasure-trove and even about fighting and defeating a few smallish not too scary demons. After all, she had her nifty Souldagger that she had used to stab an N’Garai demon to death; so taking out an ugly hairy slobbering wolf man would be a nice follow-up! Now that would impress the holy hell out of Dr. Strange, and perhaps even persuade him to start tutoring her a little earlier.

When she came out of the shower and dried of, Megan tried on a black dress she had bought yesterday. She looked at herself in the mirror, and decided on two things. The first was that the dress absolutely fabulous, lined with lace and everything. The second was that she did not have the right body to properly fill out a dress like this, and that a skinny little girl like her looked more ridiculous than cool in it. Putting on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt (carefully fitting her translucent butterfly wings through the holes in the back), Megan decided on silver accessories to at least bring a little goth to the party. She then packed her backpack with her X-uniform, two cans of energy-drink, her phone and some irrelevant stuff, such as money and some ID. When Megan looked in the mirror now, she was a lot more satisfied. “Who needs a super-sexy dress with lace anyway? I’m an X-Man! That’s all the image I’ll ever need!” Megan said to herself, and stepped out of the bathroom. For a second, she considered saying goodbye to Hisako and Laura, but then decided against it. What did they know about magic, anyway?

Megan next went into the kitchen and emptied half a carton of milk and ate a bowl of cereal. Putting on a leather jacket over her folded wings, she then she stepped outside to go to Los Angeles. Why she had stepped outside she couldn’t say. After all, she was planning on teleporting to LA, and that could have been done just as easily from the kitchen. Deciding that it was a pointless question to be asking herself, Megan said the words of her teleportation spell: “Sihal Novarum Chinoth!”