The Traditions have seen much in their 500-year history. Nothing could have prepared them for the reality of the present. The dawn of the twenty-first century brought with it a wave of terror and defeat at the hands of not just the Technocracy but also of enemies never before realized and or even expected. It brought defeat at the hands of enemies within their own halls.
Doissetep destroyed itself, killing almost all of its members and many Masters, including the great and venerable Porthos Fitz-Empress. A being claiming to be Heylel Teomin laid siege to Concordia in Horizon with an army of Hollow Ones and Orphans, burning much of the Great Library and destroying all semblance of order in that Realm. The Digital Web rebooted itself, erasing almost all of the battle lines, which had been drawn over the past decades. Three thousand people, magi and sleepers alike, were killed in this random reboot, and the Digital Web was left a virgin, unformatted place.
Battles were waged in the Umbra, in the Void, in Cyberspace, and in the Shadowlands. The sages and seers of both sides saw an oncoming Storm rising, one which would forever sever the spirit world from the world of Man. Fearing the Paradox inherent in their very existence, the Masters fled to the depths of the Umbra, leaving their young allies to fend for themselves, waiting for the storm to pass, even if it did come.
The Storm did come. Spirit passage became difficult. Communications and travel ceased. Soon, the Earth had no contact with its Elders and the War seemed to stop momentarily, as everyone tried to determine what to do next. The storm never stopped and the War lost all direction, as it became clear that they were fighting for something that no longer existed.
Sheltering Sky is a place of learning and sanctuary. It is either the grave of an idea or its seed.
Morality has no bearing on the power of magick. Once you understand how to make something and have the will to cause it to happen, why you are doing it has no meaning. This has its advantages for a mage, but it also has a draw back. One of the the themes of Sheltering Sky is the terrible danger of apathy. Apathy means that you avoid that which is dangerous or difficult; that you retreat in the face of hostility or intransigence; that you see to your own private desires to the exclusion of the bigger picture. Apathy causes atrophy of the will; it causes the shrinking of perspective. When you stop caring, the world shrinks to your immediate vicinity.
Once you have the power, each mage must answer for himself or herself: "What shall I do with this power?" Hubris lies at one of end of the spectrum of answers; selfishness lies at the other. You cannot remain as you were before you were Awakened; being a wizard is not a job or even a career; it is a transformation.
There have been mages for most of humanity's existence. Through tragedy and vision, ancient traditions have been created and handed down from one generation to the next. There are those who fight against these traditions and there are those who fight to uphold them. Before a mage can choose how he or she wants to relate to these traditions, he or she must learn what they are.
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