Order of the Enlightened Path
Chester Barreman knew he was special from a very young age having been born on February 29th. It always seemed strange to him to be a child that only really had a birthday every four years.
As a young boy this caused him to be singled out chastised and bullied at the boarding schools his parents sent him to. Chester began to turn away from people; he withdrew more and more into himself. Without friends Chester turned to the library and its many books to help him through those early years. He became fascinated with the facts and fictions of history, striving to separate truth from myth within their tales.
What amazed him was that within these great empires of times gone by which had brought about things such as numeracy, literacy, invention and medicine, there was a core of mysticism and religion. Each of these great Empires had tales of Demi Gods and Gods, Devils and Demons, Legends and Monsters. Their descriptions fired his imagination and the consistencies between these far flung dynasties of old suggested a commonality of truth.
Often entire societies were built around worshipping or appeasing these powerful beings and deities and Chester began to wonder if there was more to these tales than people realised.
Years passed and Chester’s interest turned to obsession. By the time he had reached university Chester knew almost all the ancient lore English libraries had to offer. Needing funds and having achieved honours at the University of Oxford he moved home with his family for a brief time at his parents request but his appetite for knowledge soon found him bored and out of sorts.
Chester signed on as an understudy to an archaeology Professor. The University of Oxford funded expeditions to various dig sites around the world under the leadership of the professor and Chester with his ability to read ancient languages and see patterns in symbols gained a little fame amongst the historical community and led to other opportunities. It was at a benefit for another dig that Chester found a way to move out of the shadows of others and forge his own path. While at the Professor’s yearly banquet on All Hallows Eve and having finished their meal, those attending made their way to the main hall. The Patron and sponsor of their last dig approached him and took him to one side.
The patron requested that Chester entertain them with stories that would chill their blood and set the mood. Initially Chester refused as he was not comfortable with public speaking, the struggles of his youth having left him socially inept. But the patron persevered offering a tidy sum that would allow Chester to venture out on a dig of his own, so he agreed.
Moving to the front of those in attendance Chester turned to face the fire. Closing his eyes he sifted through the darker tales of monsters and worse. Settling on one of his favourites he picked the story of Chronozon, the Guardian of the Path. The room quieted to silence as he turned and began to spin his tale.
A shaman of old had sought a path to enlightenment. The shaman’s wish was to rise and meet his deity, to take on his animal form. For years he travelled through the many tribes listening to all their tales, their myths and their lore. Finally as an old man he had found out all he needed and began the ritual of summoning. In a cave deep within the Mountains of the Gods he sang the words of summoning, the circle and the triangle he had spent days preparing was perfect, for any flaw would mean failure and dire consequences. In the circles centre was inscribed the name of the summoned, Chronozon, an imprisoned Demon guarding the path to the plane of dreams.
Chester found the story infuse him like a man possessed, the knowledge burst out of him with all the flair and theatre of the actors of great renown. Moving through the crowd with whispered words and frightening shouts, his body acting out all the roles of the tale he held them all on the cusp of his honeyed words as the story unfolded. With the shamans final scream of madness and failure he collapsed out of breath with the exertion. Sheepishly he looked around at the eyes upon him feeling foolish in the extreme and was shocked when hands began to clap, the applause and cheering thunderous. The Patron rushed over to shake his hand as he pulled him to his feet promising even more than he had before if he would but tell another tale this eve.
That night Chester found the power of his words as he held sway over others. In the coming months he regularly returned to see his sponsor and when asked if he would be willing to travel to America with him Chester jumped at the chance. Over the next few months he regaled the rich and the important, travelling the country of opportunity, his stories drawing people from far and wide as his fame there grew.
But things were about to change for Chester as he found after a night much like any other. In a scholars lounge at the University of Providence Chester was approached by an American benefactor. In his hands was an ancient tome bound in animal skin, Chester had never seen anything like it before. Opening it he found symbols, images and a language scribed by a cultured hand. It seemed to document the shaman’s tale he had told so long ago. Chester praised the man for finding something so rare and thanked the benefactor for showing him this treasure.
Without a word but with a smile on his face the man beckoned for Chester to follow him. Down through the University they walked but where Chester expected them to turn left into the library; they turned right and continued to descend. Chester began to worry at their path as they passed the basement level and into some storage areas littered with old furniture the University no longer used. The man came to a stop at the rooms end his flickering lantern casting disturbing shadows.
Raising his hand the benefactor ran a finger along the mortar of the stones, the pattern Chester recognised as the unicursal hexagram.
With a final click the wall swung silently wide a gaping blackness within it. Chester felt both fear and curiosity war within him. Before him the vastness of the chamber echoed in emptiness and without thought he stepped forward into it. With a taper lit from the lantern, the benefactor moved around the room lighting torches within the wall sconces. The door slid silently shut behind them, amazing for something so large. Inside the immense chamber began to come to life with each torch lit.
Along one wall a bookcase filled from floor to ceiling containing scrolls and tomes of all shapes and sizes their age obvious caught Chester’s eye. Immediately he moved to it, the potential knowledge contained within exciting him like nothing else. Walking along its length his finger gently running across each spine Chester realised he recognised not one. As the final torches were brought to life Chester became aware of the huge symbol carved into the stone floor below his feet, an adaptation of the unicursal hexagram that had gained them entry.
“Welcome home Chester Barreman, welcome to the Order of the Enlightened Path!”