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The subject of this article appears in Call of Duty: Vanguard The subject of this article appeared in Zombies mode

There are currently 37 radios in Der Anfang. They are split up into three groups - Professor Gabriel Krafft, Die Wahrheit (comprised of Wolfram Von List and Kortifex), and the other Dark Aether entities.

Der Anfang launched with 19 radio messages with 18 more added with Season One.

Krafft

Gabriel Krafft: (clears throat) Greetings. I am Professor Gabriel Krafft. I presume you came in response to my message? The one I radioed just before the containment spell went up? I... had hoped for a larger fighting force, but I already see you are no ordinary soldiers. Perhaps you will be enough, but we have quite a challenge ahead. You see, our mission is to stop the man responsible for the nightmare unfolding all around you. The commanding officer of the SS battalion Die Wahrheit. The murderer who has now bonded with an ancient evil. Oberführer Wolfram Von List. Left unchecked, he will single-handedly win the war for the Nazis. That may sound preposterous, but I assure you it is true. In any case, thanks to the containment spell we are cut off from the outside world, unable to summon reinforcements or further warn your superiors. Success or failure is solely up to us.

Krafft: Krafft here. As you well know, this area is swarming with revenants. I just want to reassure you that I myself am quite safe for the moment. Since the day the artifacts awoke, Von List kept me by his side. After all, I'm as close as there is to an expert on the entity dwelling within him. When we arrived here in Stalingrad it took the locals by surprise. The last thing they expected was the Nazis to return. But Von List had been here when the Germans surrendered. He wants to turn the site of their greatest loss into the source of Nazi victory. To do this, he will raise an army of revenants from the millions who perished on the Eastern Front. But to accomplish such a feat, Kortifex must first build up his strength. Von List locked me in this room with my books and a radio. I watched from my window as he called upon Kortifex to seal off this part of the city. And I knew I had to act. Once I radioed for help, I used what I learned from the Tome of Rituals. The rune magic in its pages sealed this room. Of course, I have no idea how to undo the spell. But, for now, neither Von List nor his revenants can touch me here. And now that you have responded to my cry for help, we must work together. We must stall their progress and gather information on Die Wahrheit's activities. I will continue to advise you while I formulate a plan to stop them once and for all. Until then, keep fighting, my champions. We must strengthen your demons if we have any hope of winning.

Krafft: This is Krafft, with some background on the artifacts you carry. They were used by ancient priests and sorcerers in places as far-flung as the Yucatan and the islands of Japan. They were said to commune with "angels" and summon "demons". But when we unearthed these artifacts, we were faced with a mystery. There were strange design details, marking and materials that simply did not fit the cultures that claimed them. These objects were anomalies. Anachronisms. They did not belong in those settings. They were... alien. I have since confirmed the artifacts were created in the Dark Aether dimension. They were cast by inhuman hands, in forms meant to appeal to human aesthetics. Small wonder they got the details wrong. They allowed beings who could not come here physically to visit as spirits and bond with mortal flesh. Some, like Kortifex, were cruel and controlling. Others, like Bellekar, were kind and benevolent. Alas, these relics became their prisons. Each demon is now trapped like the proverbial genie in a lamp. Safeguard your artifacts. Study them. Learn to unlock their powers. Just don't try to sell them. Any appraiser worth his salt would dismiss them as forgeries. And in a sense, they would be right.

Krafft: Krafft to Special Forces team. We should talk about the entities you bonded with. You must have so many questions. Fortunately, I taught demonology at the University of Leipzig. I have more than a passing familiarity with your otherworldly "partners". Since 1939, I was forced to work for Von List and his Die Wahrheit thugs. I helped them recover five ancient artifacts. As it turned out, these were conduits to supernatural beings from a place called the Dark Aether. The most powerful among them, Kortifex the Deathless, is in league with Oberführer Von List. The demons inhabiting you are his sworn enemies. I shall do all I can to help you take advantage of their gifts without being... corrupted by their influence. Then again, this is a time for uneasy alliances. Who would ever have imagined Churchill and Stalin joining forces? "Better the devil you know," as they say... So, for now, we work toward a common purpose with your "demons". They need to stop Kortifex, we need to stop Von List. Win or lose, we must do this together.

Krafft: Professor Gabriel Krafft, Eleventh of March, 1944. I am creating a record of my involvement with the SS unit Die Wahrheit, as this may one day be called into question. And I probably won't be around to explain myself. In early September of 1939, I was in my office at the University of Leipzig with my assistant, Franz. We were translating an ancient Sumerian scroll when a man walked in unannounced. He said I must immediately tender my resignation, pack a suitcase, and depart for an overseas trip as an advisor to the SS battalion Die Wahrheit. That was the first time I met Oberführer Wolfram Von List. All I saw was a uniform and a perfect haircut. I had no idea what lay behind those icy blue eyes. I actually laughed. I had heard of his battalion, whose name perversely means "the Truth". They raided antiquities around the world, looking for evidence to support their belief in an Aryan "master race". I waved him away, saying I had no desire to help Reichsführer Himmler twist history to fit the Nazi narrative. Von List calmly drew his Luger and shot poor Franz in the head. His voice was perfectly calm. "Do I have your attention now, Herr Professor?"

Krafft: Gabriel Krafft, audio memoir, part two. After shooting my assistant, Von List had me dragged out of Leipzig University and thrown in an SS prison. There were a dozen other experts already there, "recruited" from museums and universities across the Reich to assist the SS unit, Die Wahrheit. They were explorers, historians, archaeologists, and so on. Many looked beaten. All looked frightened. Hung off the wall was a map of the world with notes and drawings next to different locations. Things like the Grail and Thor's hammer, Atlantis, and Shangri-La. We wondered if this was a joke. But when Von List arrived, he was dead serious. The Oberführer ordered us to help his troops find the places on that map and retrieve those relics. It made no difference that they did not exist. We would deliver them, or else. The others agreed and filed out to do his bidding. They were not stupid men. I alone defied Von List. I said, "I know what you Nazis are doing. I've seen friends and neighbors taken away. I've heard what happens at your camps. And I would rather die than help you." Von List showed a flash of anger... and then he smiled. He was amused I actually thought I had a say in my own fate.

Krafft: Krafft, entry number three. I was surprised Von List did not shoot me. I had refused to serve him. Twice. Instead, he sent his men to my home. They broke down the door and took my spouse to an SS interrogation chamber. I had put my values and dignity ahead of my own life. So Von List made someone else pay for my stubbornness. Should I refuse to help Die Wahrheit, or drag my feet in any way, the love of my life would be slowly tortured to death. Of course, I complied. How could I do otherwise? But I also made a silent promise to myself. I would learn of Die Wahrheit's secrets. If we found anything of real value, I would turn it against them. Somehow, I would destroy Von List and his Nazi thugs from within.

Krafft: Gabriel Krafft, audio memoir, part four. Once Von List forced my cooperation, my first assignment for Die Wahrheit was to decipher a document seized at the infamous Hotel Royal in Paris. Well, "infamous" to somone like me, who spent a career studying groups that dabbled in, for want of a better term, "the occult". I dislike that word. Practitioners of what some condemn as "witchcraft" are usually ordinary folk. They just approach the Divine in a different way than their neighbors at the cathedral. The Société Occulte on the other hand, had no such problem with the word. Their wealth and power protected them from your average pitchfork mob. And theu sought to use dark magic as a means of extending their influence. I knew at once the documents were pages from the Société's fabled Tome of Rituals. It was a so-called "spellbook" compiled over centuries. Only their inner circle had ever seen it. But something terrible happened back in the '20s -- some crisis that compelled the Société to take the book apart and hide the page in sacred places around the world. Because I recognized the pages, I was rewarded with the task of tracking more down and reconstituing the book. As he often reminded me, Von List had my beloved Sasha under arrest. Succeeding at my task was my only chance to keep us both alive.

Krafft: Grabriel Krafft, audio memoir, part five. My servitude to Die Wahrheit was almost over before it truly began. I was tasked with gathering the lost pages of the Tome of Rituals. But I had no idea where to start. All I had were few pages already in Von List's possession. One had notes scribbled in the margin. And just as Von List began threatening to execute my poor Sasha, I recognized that handwriting! One of the patrons of my University was an amateur demonologist. Heh, the hobbies of the idle rich. Anyhow, he must have once possessed the pages to have jotted down those notes. Von List has him arrested and tortured. He revealed he had been a member of the Société -- one entrusted with hiding Tome pages. He listed others who also possessed a few. With enough pages, I deduced the locations of various artifacts listed within them. For a time, I was Von List's most valuable helper. He rewarded me with a letter from Sasha. "Proof of life", he called it. I tried not to weep as I read it. Von List hated that. But things turned for the worse when none of the artifacts seemed to have any power. I had made a devil's bargain to keep my beloved alive. But my luck was running out.

Krafft: Krafft, entry number six. I had found Von List the artifacts in the Tome of Rituals. They proved as useless as the rest of the relics Die Wahrheit plundered. He looked at me with more dusgust than usual, losing faith in me. The moment I was no longer useful would be the end of me and my Sasha. Though we were never officially married, and we kept our union from prying eyes, Sasha was my spouse. I could not give up until we were reunited. But the saerch for a mystical wunderwaffe to save the Reich as based on the delusions of a Nazi death cult. I was beginning to despair. And then the indicent at Projekt Endstation punched a hole into the Dark Aether, awakening the artifacts. In the blink of an eye, my fear I was not producing results became abject terror that I had handed Wolfram Von List the ultimate weapon.

Krafft: Kraftt here. I have been thinking about something that happened when the artifacts "awakened" and Von List bonded with Kortifex. One of the first things he did was to gather all the pages from the Tome of Rituals that led us to the Scepter of Kortifex and lock them away in his office. I stayed out of his way. Frankly, I was terrified. The man was already dangerous, but now there was a light in those pale blue eyes that... well, you get the idea. But in hiding the origins of the Scepter, Von List raised some troubling questions. Was there a vulnerability mentioned in those pages? Some threat to his plans? I was not on the expedition that recovered the Scepter. All I know is it was found in Egypt's Eastern Desert, far from the great cities of antiquity. I heard there was a temple of Osiris there -- long forgotten and not mentioned in ancient records. I suspect those pages may provide a breakthrough for our little resistance movement. There must be some reason Von List hid them. Just something to keep in mind as we search for a way to stop Die Wahrheit before the worst can come to pass.

Krafft: This is Krafft. I want to talk about the Dark Aether runes -- those little symbols you see all around you. I first saw them on loose pages from the Tome of Rituals that I tracked down for Die Wahrheit. Then we found them inscribed at all the sites where we found the Dark Aether artifacts. I could see they fit no known human alphabet, but some of my colleagues attributed them to ancient Aryans. Their reasons were obvious. Von List answers to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, whose belief in German superiority is the core of the Nazis' poisonous ideaology. Himmler wanted Die Wahrheit to find evidence the Aryan race invented the hallmarks of civilization -- including written language. But kissing Himmler's backside would not change the facts: these runes were not Aryan. They were, however, used in mystical rites -- as far back as Egypt's Fourth Dynasty, and as recently as the 1920s. Bellekar has since explained to me they are the basis for the Dark Aether rune magic. She is endeavouring to teach me their use, but I fear I have been a poor pupil. Some runes are associated with specific demons, like Kortifex or Saraxis. Others...? Well, I suppose that remains to be seen.

Krafft: Gabriel Krafft to Special Forces. By now you know the Dark Aether entities dwelling within you have visited our world before. Those who could perceive them have mistaken them for ghosts, deities, even angels. My own description of them as "demons" owes more to my academis background than to any belief they are infernal in origin. But we all see the world though our own lens. One can hardly blame a Viking for seeing Norticus as a frost giant, or the ancient Greeks for thinking Inviktor was the war-god Ares. My point is that our own biases color how we see them. You hear "demon" and you think "evil". The truth is much more nuanced. These are immortal beings from another universe -- as capable of benevolence as they are of doing harm. In short, they do not share our sense of right and wrong. So never forget these are not demons in some biblical sense of the word. They are your partners. And their hatred of Kortifex assures that our goals are aligned.

Die Wahrheit

Wolfram Von List: What else is there for you to do than sit at your radio and pray for salvation? I should have sent you to the camps when we first met. It makes my skin crawl to even breathe the same air as you. You were my greatest mistake -- but one I can still correct. So go on, play your games. Do your worst. Those soldiers who are helping you are braver, finer people than you could ever be. And still, they will die like dogs. One by one. And as they do, I shall savor the pain it brings to that soft, degenerate heart of yours. Yes, professor, I will make sure you die last. The world I usher in will have no place for your kind. Only the strong. The pure. A world cleansed by fire will suit me well. You are but the kindling.

Von List: This is Oberführer Wolfram Von List, commanding officer of SS Battalion Die Wahrheit. I am broadcasting on an open channel to the soldiers assisting Professor Gabriel Krafft. I am not sure why you answered his cry for help. Surely you know by now if you continue to oppose me I will eventually kill you all. But it does not have to end that way. I am asking you to reconsider your mission. It simply makes no sense. The man you are helping is... hardly a man at all. He is a traitor who cannot be trusted. He once served Die Wahrheit, do you know this? It was he who made possible my union with Kortifex the Deathless. There would be nothing for you to battle here, had that little demonologist not lent me his expertise. This is really all his fault, if you must point a finger. And now he expects you to risk your lives just to undo his mistakes? This is the very definition of a fool's errand. But you can still withdraw. Stop helping Krafft and I will allow your retreat. Continue aiding him, and you will all die horribly. And, after that, you will take your place in my army of the dead.

Von List: Oberführer Von List to all Die Wahrheit personnel across all theaters of special operations. As of now, I am altering our timetable, reducing the time allotted by half. Yes, I know this is drastic, but I have always asked much of you, and you have always delivered. We set out together to scour the globe. We sought objects of power no one believed existed, to turn the tide of a war no one believed could be won. And yet here we are, harnessing forces beyond mortal ken, perched on the precipice of the greatest advancement in the history of human warfare. Our enemy is now not that ragged band of soldiers delivering mere paper-cuts on the orders of the traitor, Krafft. No, our enemy is Time itself. Even now, the so-called Allies are gathering an invasion force to retake Europe. This we cannot allow. The army of the thousand-year Reich must rise completely to assure what is rightfully ours. Until then, redouble your efforts. And be careful. Krafft's commandos strike everywhere we work. Take appropriate precautions and stay on task. The future of the Reich depends on you.

Kortifex: Wolfram, you remind me of someone I knew long ago. He was a pharaoh in the land of the Nile. He saw himself as a god, and everyone around him as vermin. In fact, he was... delightfully cruel. But you, Oberführer Wolfram Von List, are a rare and special find. You have the blackest heart I have ever encountered in a human. You might have been royalty where I come from -- had you not been born on this pathetic ball of dust. I tell you this not to flatter you, but because I expect the world from you. And you will deliver it unto me. This power I grant you is not something I would share with just anyone. But I am willing to see your dreams fulfilled and your enemies crushed. For you are a worthy vessel. You are the instrument of my revenge.

Kortifex: You seem unsettled, Wolfram. I sense something weighing on your mind -- distracting you from our current efforts.
Von List: I am not distracted, Kortifex. I am simply under pressure to produce results.
Kortifex: I told you it would take time before I could raise your entire army. Why are mortals so impatient?
Von List: Perhaps because we do not have thousands of years to see plans to fruition. We are mortal, after all. But my concerns are specific. Right now, the Allies are amassing troops in the British Isles. I need to mobilize before they launch an invasion across the English Channel.
Kortifex: Then I suggest Die Wahrheit completes your instructions. Only then can I raise your army of millions.

Von List: I look forward to that day, Kortifex. When our enemies make landfall in Calais, I want the undead there to greet them on the beaches.

Von List: Kortifex, are you there?
Kortifex: Always, Wolfram.
Von List: I need you to be honest with me: how much support do you really have back in the Dark Aether? I do not expect them all to match your power -- or even come close. But more help is needed to reach our goals.
Kortifex: I still have supporters. More than enough, Wolfram. Just do your part here. I will ensure your success.
Von List: If only it were that easy. Krafft and his new allies are setting back Die Wahrheit's timetable.

Kortifex: And I shall help you eradicate those pests. But you need to have faith in our partnership. You are... my other half now. Only if you succeed do I get what I want. Remember that. Our goals are intertwined. Your success is my success. That is all the reassurance you should need.

Von List: This is Oberführer Wolfram Von List to all troops of Kampfgruppe Die Wahrheit. You have my congratulations and sincere appreciation for what you have accomplished so far in Stalingrad. Exhumation of corpses continues on schedule. Our unded army will soon rise in earnest. On that glorious day, our match across Europe begins. We are transforming the site of our greatest military humiliation into the source of our ultimate victory. For the Third Reich, Stalingrad was not das Ende -- not the end. It is der Anfang -- the beginning. From here, our Armee der Toten will awaken, marching from mass grave to mass grave, increasing their ranks. The Fatherland's honored dead will once again fight four our shared destiny. And if you see old friends and comrades among them, remember: they will not be the men they once were. But their service continues -- their previous sacrifice no longer in vain. Just salute them and get our of their way. Our fallen will combine with their own to drive all our enemies into the sea.

Von List: Oberführer Von List to all Die Wahrheit personnel operating in Merville, France, in Paris, and in the swamp known to locals as "Shi No Numa". First, your service is exemplary. The dimensional weak spot at the windmill site is already receiving vital support from the Dark Aether. The archeological dig at Shi No Numa is yielding important insights about the entities aiding the enemy. And preparations atop the Hotel Royal will ensure that all of Paris will soon experience... a very different sort of nightlife. Be advised that another area of operations is underway. You may hear radio traffic from our unit in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Theirs is a mission vital to protecting our most valuable ally, herr Kortifex. Requests from this task force get top priority. So far, Krafft's little band of guerillas have not targeted that operation, and I intend to keep it that way. Continue with your duties, my loyal soldiers. Soon the whole world will be at our feet.

Von List: This is Oberführer Wolfram Von List calling from Die Wahrheit mobiel headquarters, supporting Army Group North. Transcribe and forward the following to the office of Heinrich Himmler, Berlin.

Mein Reichsführer, we have experienced a rather dramatic development here in Leningrad. I will go into detail when next we meet. In brief: some artifacts we collected have yielded rather tangible results. I have experienced them personally. Suffice to say, I am a changed man. I must now take immediate action on behalf of the Reich. Be advised we are deploying immediately... to Stalingrad. I would wait for permission, but our situation is precarious and there is not a moment to lose. You know my devotion to the Reich is complete and unshakable. I do not take this action lightly. But I am now in possession of a military asset so radical in nature it will turn the tide of the entire war. Again, details to come when the time is right. Until then, keep faith in me. The the Führer this is no cause for alarm -- but rather for celebration. The Third Reich shall endure!

Von List: Tell me Kortifex, what do you remember of the men and women who used to summon you to the Hotel Royal.
Kortifex: Is that how they put it? They "summoned" me...? Such gall...
Von List: The members of the Société Occulte were the wealthiest, most powerful people in Europe. Pupper-masters of the Western world. They also dabbled in dark magic. Their seances and rituals at the Hotel Royal were the stuff of legend.
Kortifex: They were children playing with fire. And if I answered their call, it was only out of boredom. After all, I was trapped in my Scepter. If some red-blood fool contacted me with their cystal ball, at least it gave me a glimpse of how far humans had come. And for all the progress they though they made, for all their riches and influence, the Société Occulte were tampering with forces beyond their understanding. The one thing that impressed me was their spellbook -- the Tome of Rituals. Dark Aether rune magic, written by humans. But they could not have written it without help.

Von List: True. Over the centuries, they summoned others of your kind. And one of them -- most likely Bellekar -- gave those "children" all the matches they needed to burn their world to cinders.

Von List: Kortifex, do you know why I chose Stalingrad as the epicenter of my operations? I mean, beyond all the coprses, the mass graves. Do you know why this choice is personal for me?
Kortifex: We share much now, Wolfram, but I cannot read your thoughts. Nor can I search your memories.
Von List: Nor would I allow you to. This arrangement of ours is... intimate enough as it is.
Kortifex: Agreed. But as long as we serve each other's purposes, you may as well tell me what happened here.
Von List: What happened is the German 6th Army took the city and was then surrounded and trapped for five months.
Kortifex: And you were part of this... 6th Army?
Von List: No. I led an SS rescue mission here. We... we all knew we could not afford to lose those men. The death toll was already horrific by the time we arrived. I spent the rest of that brutal winter adding to the Russian casualties. We tried to resupply our men. We tried to break the seige. All in vain. At the end General Paulus surrendered. Most of his men were never seen again. I had witnessed a deathblow against the Wehrmacht. I could see the war was lost. But when I made my way back to headquarters, no one wanted to hear my report, or face the awful truth.
Kortifex: So this place, it scarred you? And victory here will make you whole?

Von List: Nein, Kortifex. Such scars do not fade. If I have learned anything, it is that war changes everything. There is no going back. But I will still savor my ultimate revenge...

Von List: That farm with the windmill -- the one in Mervill, France. Doesn't look very important, does it, Kortifex?
Kortifex: To me, Wolfram, nothing about your world looks particularlt "important". Earth is just a stapping stone to my eventual triumph back in the Dark Aether. I help you here, you help me get back. The rest is just... details.
Von List: Fair enough. But do you know what transpired near that windmill during our last global conflict? "The Great War", we called it. "The War To End All Wars". Heh. Such optimism...
Kortifex: Is there a point to this, Wolfram?
Von List: Indeed there is. The First World War pitted outmoded tactics against unprecedented weaponry. In just one day at that farm, ten thousand men fell as they marched in ranks directly into maching gun fire.
Kortifex: Ahh. That explains it. So much blood spilled all at once. It left its mark on the veil that separates us from the Dark Aether.
Von List: Precisely! The "weak spot" we are trying to exploit.
Kortifex: And the dead who fell that day? All those thousands of corpses?
Von List: Oh, they are buried nearby.

Kortifex: Not for long...

Dark Aether Entities

Norticus: We are new to you, human. But your kind is not new to us. Nothing has been... "new" in eons. Since time began, we of the Dark Aether have been at war. And none know the ways of warfare better than I. For this reason, the mightiest lord of the Dark Aether, Kortifex the Deathless, placed me in command of his armies. We launched the Netherwars upon his rivals, and for a time it seemed we would crush them. But Kortifex is a cruel master. Loyalty is something he neither feels nor inspires. As I watched his enemies unify into a joint resistance, I knew he could never truly succeed. When I joined them and we toppled his throne, Kortifex swore vengeance. He sees the human Von List as the means to that end. There are those in the Dark Aether who would still support his return. But most would do anything to help us stop him here.

Norticus: How did it come to this? I was once General Norticus -- supreme commander of Night Legions, Norticus the Conqueror. Your tiny mind cannot comprehend what that means, but my adversaries in the Dark Aether would throw down their weapons and beg for mercy at the mere mention of my name. Heh. Mercy. I had no mercy. Just a string of victories that stretched back to the dawn of time. And now? Now I am shackled to a pathetic bag of blood whose lifespan is as brief as it is meaningless. Oh, how I have fallen. But I have fought my way out of bleaker circumstance. And you are currently the weapon at my disposal. So you will have to do. I will hone your skills, human. I will make you unstoppable. But only if you heed my commands. I save your world, you get me back to mine.

Bellekar: I never get tired of watching you. Humans, I mean, Humanity. Always exploring, always building, always finding new and interesting ways to kill each other. My name is Bellekar the Warlock. I wrote the histories of the Netherwars. I was right there, on the battlefields of the Dark Aether. I've seen so many armies clash -- the outcome decided by speed, deception, firepower, magic, the weather... But you humans find the most... poetic ways to win, and stalemate, and completely lose the day. I cannot get enough of it. So if you and I are a chart to path victory, don't be shy. Share your insights. Let me know what you're thinking. The more I understand your ways of war, the more I can help you. Secrets have their place in combat, but keep nothing from me. You would only be hurting yourself.

Bellekar: It was curiosity that led me to your kind. I see something new and I want to know more. And you humans are never not intriguing. I've had many friends and hosts among your kind. The ones who understood me best were the Maya of the Yucatán. They wrote. They studied. They sacrificed. All with a clarity of purpose that drew me to them irresistibly. I was there throughout their rise and fall. I tried in vain to teach them rune magic. Alas, none was prepared for everything I offered. I have watched your nations and cultures come and go ever since, I always look for signs that they are heading for collapse. But I have never seen anything like this current conflict. This second World War is the most consequential event in the brief history of Humanity. The outcome of this war will be decided by you, my pupils. Right here. And if you accept my council, I can help you avoid disaster.

Saraxis: Listen closely, plaything. I know your kind better than the others. Better, even, than Bellekar. I've played with you clever monkeys since you raised your first cities. And you never cease to surprise me. There are so many ways to have fun with you -- so many paths to lead you down. I hope that doesn't scare you. It shouldn't. When someone who's older than time says you're special, pick up your chin and do what they say. My playthings only meet bad ends when they dig in their heels. They have notions of "right and wrong", "good and bad" -- made-up nonsense that just gets in the way. The ones who played well with me became emperors and conquerors... and some were even peacemakers. You're lucky you met me, little mortal. Loosen up and everything will turn out just fine.

Inviktor: "Special Forces." Is that what you call yourselves? I don't see anything special about you. I am Inviktor the Destroyer. I am a veteran of a thousand battles on the wastelands of the Dark Aether. I have witnessed the best trained soldiers fall on the field of battle. And I have seen half-starved mothers kill warriors twice their size to protect their young. You never know who is... special until blood is spilled and backs are to the wall. It is said all combat is based on deception, but nothing reveals the truth like a fight to the death. So don't tell me who you are, human. Show me. Bathe in the blood of your enemies. Only then will I know you are not wasting my time.

Inviktor: Bellekar. These messages you've been sending to the Dark Aether. The orbs. Who, exactly, do you expect to answer your call? Because I doubt anyone back home can be bothered to join our struggle here.
Bellekar: With respect, Inviktor, we were not the only ones who took an interest in this world.
Inviktor: Perhaps, but when the others realized they could not come here in the flesh -- that there was nothing material to be gained -- they took interest in other things.
Bellekar: Well, now there is something here they can have: vengeance. Kortifex the Deathless made a lot of enemies.
Inviktor: Yes, Warlock, and they were once united against Kortifex, but by now they are surely back to battling each other.

Bellekar: This will not happen all at once, Destroyer. First they must make contact. Then we must help them fashion artifacts to bind them to this plane... Perhaps the Nether Wars rage once more in the Dark Aether. But the head of Kortifex is too great a prize to resist. Someone will answer my calls. I know it.

Norticus: I have consorted with many humans over the centuries, but few left a lasting impression. It is difficult to remember their faces, much less their names. But one in particular stands out. Lucien Poiret. An architect. "Freemason", he called himself. Quite clever, for someone so short-lived. He was a senior member of the Société Occulte -- a group in contact with my kind since your Middle Ages. They understood us well enough to write their own spellbook on Dark Aether rune magic. You know it as the Tome of Rituals. They always changed their meeting sites to maintain secrecy... until Lucien designed what would become their mystic fortress. He erected the Hotel Royal above the catacombs that run beneath Paris. Underground tunnels lined with bodies, laid out in a rune magic pattern to create a dimensional nexus. Is is no mistake that Kortifex sealed off the hotel's rooftop to further Von List's plans. If we cannot stop his undead army from rising in earnest, the Hotel Royal will become a rallying point... a place of power to ensure our enemy prevails.

Inviktor: General Norticus. Once known as the Conqueror. Now forced to rub shoulders with a lowly grunt like me.
Norticus: Inviktor, I have nothing against... "grunts". I was always well liked by my soldiers.
Inviktor: Oh, General, you most certainly were not. Respected? Yes. But liked? Norticus: Fair point. You, they liked. The Destroyer -- always in the thick of the fight. Me, they followed. Byt the thousands, yet fighting as one. Because with me in command, they knew they would win. The Norsemen over here sensed this about me. They looked up to me. Revered me, in fact. Father of the Frost Giants. That is what they called me. Mighty warriors, the Norse. You would have liked them.
Inviktor: Perhaps. The way one is fond of a war-hound. But, yes, I have enjoyed the company of human soldiers in the past. The Greeks in particular. I helped them lay siege to a city called Troy. Bonded with one of their warriors named Achilles. He used to call me "Ares". Heh. The lad was a decent enough warrior to begin with, but after I was through with him... he was a legend.
Norticus: Do you see an Achilles in our current cohort? Because I am not so sure.

Inviktor: They will do, Norticus.

Inviktor: Saraxis likes to claim she discovered your world, but there were many of us who took an interest. She saw you merely as new toys. Kortifex, I have never fully fathomed. But I assume he saw new lands to plunder. He ordered Norticus to study you for conquest. Norticus ordered me to learn your ways of war. And Bellekar? Curiosity is her lifeblood. We each had our favorite mortals to visite. For me, the Greeks. For Kortifex, the Egyptians. We were seen as patron spirits... angels... demons... gods... Saraxis did have the idea to make artifacts that could bond us to mortals. But it took Bellekar's cunning to actually make it work. Even then, we each had to craft our own. We tried to make them fit the cultures we wanted to visit. Heh. None of us got it quite right. I was probably closest with my sword, but swords I understand. Kortifex... Kortifex just didn't care. Hrrr... Two pyramids on a stick. How long did that take him? We cast our artifacts through the veil, our friends picked them up, and suddenly we were truly with them. We had such aventures in those days. But those are tales for another time. If only we had realized sooner that in creating the artifacts, we had made a rod for our own backs...

Saraxis: I don't know how many of your centuries ago it happened, but I remember when we first became aware of your world. Before that, we though the Dark Aether was, well, everything. Then one day strange items began to appear in my realm. I speak of things like that "Pack-a-Punch" device, and the box that spits out guns. They caused quite an uproar among my kind. How did they work? Where did they come from? And what kind of trouble could I stir up over there? I spent several of your lifetimes just catching glimpses through the dimensional veil. I watched you silly things discover agriculture and start up trade routes. All the basics. So the mechanisms that landed in the Dark Aether must have come from your future. Don't ask me how. I was too busy playing with your ancestors to care. At first I got them to see me in campfires. Then in pools of water. Later it was mirrors, and then crystal balls. The more civilized you became, the more refined the "lens" through which we spoke. But there was no crossing over. No visiting in the flesh. So I looked for a way to deepen my contact -- and my control. I needed an "anchor" in your reality. A transdimensional link, so we could really connect. And that's when it hit me. That's when I had the idea... for what you now call the "artifacts".

Saraxis: "Kitsune". Do you know that word? I picked it up a few centuries back, when I spent time in Japan. It means "fox", but it also referred to a sort of trickster spirit. They were said to bond with humans -- inhabit them, possess them. This was called Kitsunetsuki. Such a lovely language. It meant the "fox" was within you, controlling you, affecting your mind. So guess what more than a few humans used to call me? Some even offered themselves for my... kitsunetsuki. I salute the Japanese for their fearlessness. Because that's what you have to be to bond with me. Fearless. Soldiers, servants, holy men, lords and ladies. I hooked up with anyone who was willing to take me for a ride. And what a time we had! The party lasted from the Heian period well into the Edo period, but it all came to an unpleasant end when... well... the less said about that, the better.

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