(now we’re just dicking around. I could write stream of consciousness stories about the Abbey for days.)
– in the 15th century, after the Templar administration had fallen into disarray, a small group of Sufis appeared at the Decadent Abbey. They had worked out its existence and were well aware of its purpose and dangers. They did not officially take over administrative duties but they did take over the language center which of course includes the all important prayer creation.
Abu Al-Nashapur, the group’s leader, was a rather short man whose father raised him on the Arabian caravan routes. Abu had a natural affinity for language and the family knew many tongues and dialects as part of the business of travelling and trading. Thus, by the time Abu was a teenager he was quite accomplished at not only speaking multiple languages but learning them. During a layover at the Siwa Oasis in Egypt he met a mysterious girl in the middle of the night, veiled, who spoke of atrocities that had recently occurred several days to the east. She had fled, but her entire town had been razed by horrors too disturbing to speak out loud. Despite escaping with her life, she was attempting to find a band of the fiercest warriors she could in order to take them back and drive out the abominations before they could spread further. Since the oasis was a meeting place for wanderers from all over, she offered to hire Abu to help her communicate with and hire men, as his reputation was well spoken of even at his young age.
Abu agreed. It was more difficult then he expected. The girl had some kind of mark he couldn’t make out, but which older women seemed to sense, and they scurried from her and kissed sacred objects as if to ward off evil spirits that hovered about her.
The girl wished to put together a band of marauders in three days, but two nights into their search, something horrible was unleashed upon the oasis. After the nightmarish bloodbath that followed, only 13 people were left alive. Abu was one of them. His entire family as well as the girl were not.
Most of the 13 were men they were trying to hire. Out of them however, all but two quite on the spot and fled. The other two however pledged to avenge the dead and the three of them vowed they would track down these unholy terrors and rid the earth of them.
The tales of Abu Al-Nashapur and his (what became) 6 companions have been told, retold, written and rewritten many times throughout the years. Some say they are the inspiration for the Seven Samurai, but given that there are few similarities other than there being a group 7 people, this is weak speculation. In this modern age, these tales are of course assumed to be fanciful, but centuries ago they were taken quite seriously.
As they should be. First of all, most of the tales are actually decently accurate, all things considered, although a few are fanciful additions. Secondly, when told properly, encoded carefully in the story is information on not only the true nature of the World, but directions to the Decadent Abbey as well as some of the “prayers” it is important to recite. Obviously, within Islam itself, as with most of the major religions, there are several key prayers which originate in the Abbey, but the stories contain a few more specialized ones and offer those who might wish to, those brave and not afraid of self sacrifice in the name of the greater good, the knowledge and means to make it to the Decadent Abbey where Abu Al-Nashapur did indeed end up and where he completely renovated the language and prayer programs to such an extent that his programs are still in use today with only minor adjustments.
– Araki Haruhisa was a decorated samurai when he accidentally made his way to the Decadent Abbey. He was meditating deeply by staring into a Mandala, (horribly dangerous things) and assumed that his walking into it was simply a vision. Alas it was not. He ended up travelling the corridor between worlds and ended up at the Abbey.
He had a difficult adjustment since his inability to get back to the “real” world meant he had abandoned his duties and his lord. This was utterly unacceptable and his honor would not permit him to continue living if it were indeed true that he stood no chance of returning to his post. The thing was, he was a spectacular warrior and the Abbey was in need of some martial training. The Caretaker at the time, Ebele Okadigbo, who was theoretically part of the Templar administration even though she had never heard of a Templar before arriving at the Abbey nor in fact had seen a European in her life previously, recognized that someone with Araki’s gift for war and patience for teaching was invaluable to the Abbey’s survival. She thus made the decision to lie to him. She told him it might indeed be possible to return in 7 years time and in the meantime begged his assistance.
A patience for teaching was indeed critical since many of the people he was training were in various states of descending sanity. Still, the program that Araki began lasted long after his departure, and the present day system derives directly from his methods.
Seven years passed. Araki was no fool. He knew there was no way back, but Ebele’s lie had allowed him to retain his honor while performing a duty that he grew to see was more and more useful. Even though the seven year deadline was ultimately meaningless, it had assumed a psychological importance. As the time neared, Araki watched Ebele slip. His respect for her and her abilities was boundless. But she was wearing down. Back in her tribe, the roots of a spicy radish like plant were chewed to help keep mental focus. Thus Ebele was constantly chewing horseradish root, her breath reaking, her greying hair disheveled, and a wild look in her eye spoke of impending dementia. It broke Araki’s heart. He could live with it perhaps, but he was seeing signs of his own slippage. He drank a bit too much. Muttered a bit too much. Made gutteral noises and then caught himself doing it. He would sometimes become just a little over obsessed with performing menial tasks an exact number of times in an exact rhythm and would have to start again and again to get it just right.
Thus at the seven year mark he went to the roof of the Abbey. He sat in meditation for 8 hours until the sky shifted and one of the abominations broke through, on its way back from Earth into the foggy Veil. Araki leapt up, ran across the roof and leaped off onto the thing. Sword in hand he rode it into the fog, into his last great battle.
– Ebele Okadigbo was born somewhere in the middle of Africa. She could not say for certain. her tribe was never concerned with their placement on the continent, if they ever even knew of the larger continent, and none of the Abbey residents were ever able to place her accent and dialect.
She could run like the wind and learned from her mother the skill of organization. It was her tribe’s custom to use resources to their fullest. A single slain animal could have literally a hundred uses and the tribe’s notion of respect and spirituality demanded every possible use be made. She inherited from her mother a talent for this. You could bring her 5 animals and allocate their resources dazzlingly. She could not only come up with 500 uses, but allocate them taking into factor the changes in resources given the other animals, time of year, upcoming weather, tribal population and usage from day of the week to month of the year all in a matter of minutes.
It was her tribe’s custom for each member to take a number of Spirit Quests throughout their lifetime. (This was not the word used, but she learned this term from another Abbey resident, rather liked it, and would use it herself when explaining her backstory to other residents.) Not everyone survived every spirit quest. The one she took on her 30th birthday was the one she did not survive.
Learning the truth about the world is not always a good thing, and Ebele was truly devoted that quest to discovering the truth behind the curtain of reality. She ended up falling through a crack. She did not end up at the Abbey right away. She stumbled across it a week later. By then she had lived through a nightmare that would break most, although for her efforts she had actually killed a Rake, which is no small feat. She wore its head around her neck along with the teeth already there and this did in fact make a few of the horrors who stumbled across her think twice before approaching.
Once at the Abbey it was obvious she could be enormously useful in administration, an often needed and rare find. Within a few years her mentors’ alcoholism had got the best of them and she assumed control, her tenure being noted and distinguished, although the word distinguished is not one you hear used often when discussing the Abbey.
She watched Araki fly into the Veil on the back of a horrible thing that night and cheered and cried. The next day she put on her old Rake’s head necklace and left out the front door through which she had come decades earlier, spear in hand.