A certain man once said that Earth and the world of men, were like an old tale that kept being told over and over again. Given countless repetitions and iterations.
Creating countless alternate versions of what was ultimately just the varying angles, of a single small snippet of a much greater, grander story.
Another tale too broad and too long for most to ever hear with any real completeness.
In one particular version of the tale of man, in one particular earth it would come to pass that men would look up at the stars earlier, than they might have done in other universes.
In this world early on a method for creating permanent near-indestructible data was made available.
The preservation of most cultural and scientific records meant that man’s understanding of the world would have fewer regressions, meaning that progress would be faster.
Industrialization would come two millennia earlier than in the other iterations. Ditto for computers. Ditto for flight, ditto for space exploration.
By the time the 18th century was coming to an end, this version of mankind would already have satellites up in orbit. Taking pictures of the blue green garden world that lay below.
By the time the 19th century was beginning, men would walk on the surface of the moon…And this is when things would truly begin to grow strange for this particular version of the world.
On the year of our lord 1903, Bosley Prospero and Arnault Solomon, would be the world’s first astronauts to reach the moon.
Their first words, to the earth, via satellite recording wouldn’t be, “It’s so beautiful”…Or “One small step for man, and one big step for mankind”…Or even a simple “We did it, everybody.”
Their first words would be no words at all, instead there would be just shocked gasps and silence. Bosley would collapse and Arnault would rush him back into the rocket.
They’d leave the moon earlier than scheduled, with Bosley nearly dying of cardiac arrest during the trip home.
When they landed back on earth, the North America Space Authority would ask for reports of what exactly went wrong. Bosley would be too catatonic to answer, but Arnault wouldn’t be.
After much questioning they’d get different iterations of the same answer. The same illogical, seemingly nonsensical answer.
“A cage…A big black and white cage. It’s not supposed to be there, but it is…Why? Why is it there?”
Shortly after his questioning Arnault would kill himself and Bosley would succumb to his failing health.
Alarmed by the results of this first foray into space, it would be decades till mankind took a second crack at exploring what lay beyond its world.
In the intervening time, two world wars would take place. With the second world war resulting in the bombing of both Japan and Germany, and the appearance of certain anomalous creatures in the aftermath.
Historians and war reporters would find more and more evidence that rumors of the axis’s use of supernatural weaponry and resources were worryingly credible.
While the various governments of the world were recovering and looking into exactly what happened, one small firm would continue man’s explorations into space. Working on the creation of space stations, and orbital habitats to assuage future fears of possible overpopulation.
Again man would enter space, and again there would be tales of a black and white cage.
A group of no less than sixty or seventy astronauts would describe a lattice structure of black and white pillars, all of them impossible high and impossibly long. All of them encircling the earth. Like a bird cage, or a rib cage surrounding the pulsating blue-green heart of some great celestial beast.
The pillars would be surrounded by thick black and white mist, thick enough that it was almost a surprise that the earth could be seen within it.
At first no one would believe the astronauts’ tales. All attempts to record what they’d seen would show nothing but a simple blue green marble, spinning alone in a dark beige sky. Accompanied only by the moon and the stars.
Most would try to discredit and deny the little company from Kansas, but as the founders of Oz Co. found themselves in near ruins, the story would leak out. Spreading.
Seventy something voices all telling the same tale was hard to ignore.
Eventually various bodies and personalities from the various governments would grow less wary and more curious. They’d seen cameras and satellites and men, and all would come back telling the same tale.
A tale that in combination with what was learned from the second world war, would make an eerie amount of sense.
It was either a black and white cage, or a white and black nest. A monochrome super-structure that surrounded the earth. A few thought it was perhaps some kind of super massive illusion, a trick of the light created by unknown particles that could only be picked up by human perception.
Bolder minds, more open minds, men and women who’d been on Normandy beach and saw mechanized, mesmerized trolls marching alongside the Nazi forces, thought differently.
A few of the more radical amongst them guessing that what the astronauts were seeing was possibly the consequence of another world trying to emerge in the same spot that earth occupied, leading to a partial merging of realities.
Such theories were scoffed at, at least in the beginning. Then a few intrepid fellows started to notice that there were points where the cage would intersect with earth, with its structures touching down with the worlds surface at several points.
They explored those points and at first found nothing. Continuing their research till suddenly research teams started disappearing.
Often leaving no traces of what happened at all, with only a few leaving blood spatters or bodies.
Then finally one exploratory team returned and two things were known to the world. The first, was that all the tales were true, the gods were real, so were the spirits, so were the monsters. There was a world beyond our own where all the things were possible, be it the greatest of miracles and the worst of horrors.
A complex of worlds that crisscrossed our own reality. Leading to cities of the living that were intermingled with grand necropolises. Leading to forests and jungles that grew gradually more anomalous the deeper in you went. Leading to areas where it simply just wasn’t safe to fly through because the skies would blend in with other skies, of realms where dragons, sea beasts and highly territorial living storms, were present.
The second, was that magic was real as well. Real and as the boom of the 1950s would show, highly profitable.
Interestingly enough, the two discoveries would get surprisingly little attention or fanfare. At least after the initial hubbub had quieted down.
Perhaps it was because, the existence of magic was something even children knew and our adult forefathers just learned to ignore it overtime. Wisely looking away from the shadows lest the shadows look back.
Or perhaps it was just the swift adaptive ability inherent in human nature.
As if to prove that people could get used to and bored off nearly anything, most of humanity adjusted to an accepted the anomalous parts of reality with relative ease.
After all besides a few exceptions despite everything changing, nothing much had changed.
There were new medicines yes, new breakthrough in technology, and man’s understanding of the physical and new metaphysical world.
The thing was that breakthroughs and discoveries were things that happened all the time.
Except for the scientists doing the researchers, the marketers and capitalists looking to exploit and make use of this research, the governments whose main interest was in making this change to the Status quo didn’t destabilize society, and few other interested parties, no one really cared on a real level about the direction of where and when progress came from, so long as it came.
For your average person the existence of discovery of magic would be no more significant than the discovery of computing machines and locomotive engines many years prior.
All they’d know was that the late 1990s saw the emergence and popularization of home computers, the internet, cellphones, and one day shipping.
Cosmetic-Wizardry would become a big thing as Hollywood movies grew more capable of greater and greater spectacles.
Racial tensions between people of earth would become some reduced as racial tensions between the few sentients of the monochrome that immigrated from the world of magic to live in a more grounded reality.
The skies would become dominated by mile high super towers that also served as grounding rounds to keep earth’s reality consistent and stable as the ambient M-particle or magic levels increased.
The zoo’s would gain a few new additions that everyone had either thought made up, or long extinct.
And the heads of various religions would be debriefed by messengers of their respective gods warning them of the dangers of being too cavalier with the anomalous world that lay in the midst.
The Catholic Church would be the first to speak on the confirmations of life after death that could be found in the monochrome and in the real world in the form of ghosts and spirits.
The Buddhists would be the first to talk of the demons and some of the more ambivalent god-like beings that could found in the Monochromes.
The Muslims and the theocratic Middle East would take a hard-line on policing the Wizards and Sorcerers of their part of the world.
In the end most of the world would end up wishing it had taken a slightly more hard-line approach on the practitioners of magic and users of anomalous power.
Their presence would make the world just little too anarchic and unpredictable. Unfortunately by the time such thought would come up, Wizards and Witches, Sages and Blessed Priests would have seized control of nearly every industry and government across the globe.
Taking the Earth while the rest of the world was still figuring out what exactly they should do with their new reality.
Things would come to a head by the end of the 21st century in the year 2099. When the rise of the various Wizarding Families, Witch Covens and Practitioner Clans, and a third world war headed by such groups, also lead to the rise of cults, coteries, and cabals.
The Biggest such group would be the infamous Cult of Dantalion. A group of hedonistic demon worshipers headed by a group three powerful magic users.
Their activities would be known on a global scale and they would be said to have ties to various terrorist groups, criminal organizations and dictatorships.
The cult’s name would be tied to all manner of crimes and atrocities.
Growing in power, till they were almost a nation in and of themselves.
Of course their high flight would come in hand with a heavy fall. The cult would try to swallow more than it could, attempting a military coup of a certain nation in South America.
This would be used as an excuse, by various world powers, who till then had only had rumors, and no grounded reasons to act against the powerful, secretive and well-ensconced group.
With the assistance of a new group called the Prospero Foundation, all but one of the three cult leaders would be killed by enforcers from the UN Council of Magi.
They would then go after every cell and every branch of the cult. Often finding that the truth was sometimes worse than the rumors.
Finding pits of corpses from human sacrifices. Finding cages with hollow-eyed half-men huddling within them. Finding brothels staffed with women and children, who’d been taken against their will from both this world and the monochrome.
In one branch of the cult, in North America, they’d find that the cult leader had already been killed, they’d find that everyone in the cult had been killed. Seemingly murdered by a pair of children, who’d taken advantage of a very delicate ritual that had been taking place.
The girl would go into foster care, seeming relatively normal. Later being returned to the custody of her father who was not a cult member and was in fact a member of the UN Council. Having sired the child with his estranged wife.
The boy would be sent to a facility for anomalous criminals kept in observation till it was discerned that he A) knew nothing, and B) wasn’t necessarily more dangerous than your average caster.
The authorities in charge of the issue might have still held onto him, had the girl his sister, not begun to press charges and call media attention to their actions.
A thing that the powers-that-be decided was less than ideal, due to the political climate at the time, and the fact that both siblings were still minors, barely ten and eleven years of age.
The public and the various small groups of Wizards and Witches already thought them becoming too oppressive in their policing of the magical world. And the last thing they wanted to do, was give any survivors of the cult that might have gone to ground a cause to rally around.
In the end the siblings were allowed to reunite. Naturally the Council would watch the two of them, just in case the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.
However, asides from both of them showing a certain level of proficiency in the magical arts, there seemed to be nothing special about the two.
They lived as quietly and normally as could be possible in a world that needed grounding towers to keep its reality fading away. The girl rarely left the house, and the boy held a job working as an agent of the Foundation.