The Time of Dark

The beginning was our best time, and yet it was but the forebear to the end. In the beginning our town was strong, our people proud, and our well brought forth sweet water. True and then, we knew times were bad. Yet onward we felt was the path of hope. Onward and then some, and our pride in the strength of our selves carried us forth. Yes, the water was sweet, and we thought we could survive the dooms that had strode caressingly within the dim recesses of others' paths.

When we saw that which was coming and knew it by its name – and its name was death – we called ourselves together and conjoined in the center. There we fasted and prayed, and chanted long until our shadows were lost in the rush of night's blanket. Dawn came and the sun cracked the sky apart and severed night from light as ever it was so. Malek the Provider rose from the head of the conjoinment and spoke. He recounted how the neighboring towns had fallen one by misbegotten one, each in its turn falling to the forces of corruption and such. This was not the fate we should place before our sandaled feet. We should rise strong and be as one and then we alone of all the rest would draw the breath of the next day, and the next year, and on and on as long as our children came forth and worked the land as we worked our souls.

We cheered at his words. We would go on. We praised Malek, and danced gladly round the conjoining place. It was our finest moment, the last time we were as one.

Finally, Malek bade us stop, and our revels ceased. Corruption was already among us, he said. It had ushered inwards from the outer towns and now lay in our midst. Those who had come from outside most recently had brought the stink of the serpent with them and it was now poised to strike. So it was that those families who had fled to our town to escape the ravagement and awful ichor of the surrounding lands were rendered up and fed to our fields that their tortured souls could be one with the mother below and find appeasement in the life beyond.

In the fall we harvested the fruit of that season's planting and found it tainted. Our crops were bad, and scarce enough to feed us all could be mustered forth and half that was poorly-wrought. Malek the Provider stood before us again and declared the corruption not yet done with. We still had cleansing to do before our souls would be pure enough to withstand the onslaught of the dark times. So it was that those friends and traffickers of the ones rendered at the last conjoinment were brought forth and thereby accused and subsequently dealt with in a similar fashion, and their blood fed our fields.

The months passed and our folk grew thin. Our crops were spread wide among our town but laid in only shallow fashion for not enough remained of the good to keep all in planting shape. Our children were hollow-eyed and listless, and our best men could not plow and plant as they had the previous year. So it was that the elders, who could not work the fields anon, were rendered up to feed the crops for the next reaping. None beyond thirty summers could remain, for it was a dark time and we must meet adversity with austerity.

Another harvesting came, and the crops were yet sore tainted again. The council of the elders was missed, for they had the wit about them and could call the moon's passage with ease and advise as to the wisest times to plant the crops. Those who were injured by accident or misadventure rarely survived, as the knowledge of the mending of the form had mostly resided with the elders. Finally Malek the Provider rose up and said it was the doing of the women, who had been bitten by the serpent in their very soul and carried now only misfortune. So it was that all women of childbearing age and higher were rendered up and their poor sweet flesh cast into the fields to feed the crop.

The months passed, and the skies grew dark, and the moon was as blood. A great loneliness fell upon the town. The knowledge of the women was needed every day, and every day it was lacking. We grew quarrelsome and irritable. Fights broke out, and brother spilled the blood of brother over matters which would have merited a trifling laugh before the dark times came. Truly we were in the shadow of the house of doom.

Then one night Malek the Provider rose up with twenty of the trusted and slew all the children in the town, leaving only able men of at least twenty summers who could work the fields and provide for the town. So it was that the rest of us awoke to find our babes slain and their bodies rendered up to feed the crops. Malek gathered us and said it was necessary, for the women had passed the taint of the blood moon on to the children and that their hollow eyes were the mark of the moon, their hunger a sign of the day when they should devour us all.

We wept, and we worked, and when the plague came and took the life of Malek he died raving that the blood moon was upon his throat. More died in the days that followed.

Now we are but thirty and four men, without families or wives or children or elders or hope of any sort. We are without hope.

One by one, we now stride into the fields and open the flesh of our throats to feed the crops one last time. One by one, we now join all those we slew before. One by one, we shall become as one with the mother below. Our final conjoinment is at hand, and I am the last to go.

Now we are as dust.

This slight tome is one of the few writings that survive the period known as the Dark, that terrible and little-known age following the Brothers’ War on Terisiare that brought doom upon all of Dominaria. We know that the time of the Dark was a time when magic was mistrusted and magic- wielders of all sorts were persecuted.

Quaking before the climatic shifts rocking Dominaria, the peoples of every land fell under the control of zealots and despots. They were factionalized, and rose up against each other. It was a time of persecution and corruption, when it seemed as if the end of the world was at hand. In truth, the Ice Age that followed was almost the end of all Dominarian civilizations – but the world continued, and rebuilt, as my fellow sages can well attest.

This particular document was written perhaps two hundred years after the Brothers’ War, roughly concurrent with the downfall of the Sarpadian empires. Unfortunately, neither the author nor the location of the work's creation is known.

It has passed through innumerable hands, and it is only through the kindly foresight of the planeswalker and scholar Taysir of Rabiah that it has survived the ages. The writing is at times unclear, owing to the peculiar dialect of the author and the antiquated forms of expression he or she used – presumably the strange phraseology was but plain and common speech to the folk of the day.

May the tenor of the tome serve as a warning to all those who would plunge our world into darkness and despair.

—Janilake, Sage of Minorad, 115 by the Reckoning