Five years ago, there were three of us.
I swear my everlasting loyalty to the Order of Hermes and its members.
We were young, naïve and eager. We took on much larger odds, and for twist of fate or dumb luck, we somehow always managed to come out victorious. We were brothers in arms. Fellow young mages, who had to uphold the greatest tradition of our Order -- we were the last Quaesitors of London. We were judges, juries and executioners.
After the Great Betrayal, where all our fellow Quaesitors were slain by an unknownn party, we found ourselves carrying the weight of the law in a world about to collapse. Sides were being formed, as mages rebelled against the secrecy that involved our order and demanded their rightful place at the head of Creation, rulling over man and beast. Others upheld the old ways.
I will not interfere with the affairs of mundanes.
We were the long arm of the law. The heartless blade of justice. We were so young, so fierce.
I will abide by the decisions made by the Tribunal.
But Fate is a harsh master. It has no pity. It cares not for love or friendship. And it certainly has an irksome sense of humour. The Great Betrayer was among us -- a wolf guarding the flock until just the right moment for the slaughter.
Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.
I was his first target. He had once failed to kill me, thanks to the untimely intervention of my insane mentor -- and my mother's life, freely given to save mine. Once again, my mentor interfered -- but this time... he paid one life with an unwilling one. A friend's life.
I can still hear the horrible screams, as Jason was dragged out of this dimension by a spirit storm -- a trap meant for me. He was lost to us forever. If he was lucky, he wound up on the Twilight or the Ghost Realms. If he wasn't... it is said that Hell is somewhere in the Spirit Lands.
I will not deal with devils, lest I imperil my soul and the souls of my peers.
Five years ago, I thought there were three of us. It was a lie. One us was never there. Filipe was not the Great Betrayer.
He was his lover.
I request that, should I break this oath, I be cast out of the Order. If I am cast out, I ask my peers to find me and slay me that my life may not continue in degradation and infamy.
We all make choices -- it is never easy and things can never be the same. Filipe made his choice -- he could not live without his lover. He would rather betray friends and oaths than to live life without love. He chose his side -- and we found ourselves in opposing sides of the battlefield.
The enemies of the Order are my enemies. The friends of the Order are my friends. The allies of the Order are my allies.
For love, he was ready to kill me. All my rituals were shattered, my familiars poisoned, my artefacts defiled -- I was helpless as I saw him move against me. His lover could not do it -- he explained -- because the Old Masters would be wary of him. I wondered iddly, as blood flowed of my wounds and I tasted death in my mouth, what kind of perverse emotion would cause you to betray all you once believed and cherished. What sort of feeling could lead you to forget allegiance and loyalties - and make evil justifiable?
I will not use magic to scry upon members of the Order of Hermes, nor shall I use it to peer into their affairs.
But Fate has indeed an irksome sense of humon. And Fate will NOT be denied. It was Fate that one of us would live and one would die that day. It was Fate, perhaps, that my former best friend underestimated what human fear and primal desire for survival can accomplish.
I did what no-one else dared doing in centuries.
I rode the Dragon.
As my friend stole my life away, I managed to crawl onto a ley line, primal rivers of purest energy - the stuff dreams are made of; the stuff planets and stars are made off. The Dragon Veins.
It was like sticking your fingers into a socket. The energy was so pure and unfiltered I could feel my blood boil in my veins. No mage ever dares attempt such direct contact -- the power is too much, too soon. I had no longer a mind to consider strategies or remember spells. I did the only thing my body could remember -- how to do no matter what to survive.
I remember faintly grabbing Filipe's arm. I remember the pain as I became a living conduit between him and the mighty wave of universal energy that poured into me.
I remember the sound his heart made as it exploded inside his chest.
I will not slay nor attempt to slay any member of the Order, except in justly executed and formally declared Wizard's War.
I killed my best friend.
I would kill him again if I had the chance.
Death is a too small punishment for traitors.
The Great Betrayer escaped, leaving me and our House behind -- frail, broken things. The Dragon left its mark on me. Like my mentor, I now sometimes got lost in time -- I was constantly assaulted by visions of the past. Whatever my hands touched, I would see, hear, taste its past -- as frightful and ugly as might be.
Every night, when I lay down to sleep, instead of pretty dreams about the future... I have nightmares about the past.
And when I wake up...
... I remember every single moment.
I will find the Betrayer again. And I will kill him. It is my Fate.
Death is a too small punishment for traitors!
The War of Mages has begun. And we are no longer warriors of the light. We are assassins in the shadows. We will kill the wolves in our midst... as we shed our own fleece and pretension of humanity, and became wolves as well.
"He who wrestles with monsters will also become a monster" - Nietzsche
We are the long arm of the law. The heartless blade of justice. We are no longer innocent.
"There is no time for innocence, not in this lifetime" - Sun Tzu
The first casualty in every war is innocence. Mine died with my best friend.
This oath I swear. Woe to they who try to tempt me to break this oath, and woe to me if I succumb to the temptation.
Now, we are three again. We have no mercy, no pity. We are the last Quaesitors of London. We are the Law.
We are always watching you.