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The Days Have Darkened.

The sun glares down on cracked mud flats that extend to the horizon. Your road has faded into the dust and stone of the surrounding countryside. An ancient green sign reads EL PASO – 95 MILES. A handpainted signpost stands beneath the older sign with a warning in orange paint: TURN BACKFUNGUS.

You know full well what this sign is telling you. You have reached the edge of the civilized world. Of course, you don’t realize that your definition of “civilized” is a faint shadow of what it used to mean. But, it’s worked for hundreds of years, back into the darkened mists of time that cloud history.

Everyone knows that things used to be better, but no one can really agree on how things became the way they are. Some people say that the weapons of the Old Ones became too powerful to control. Some people say that God poured out the bowls of His righteous wrath on the kingdoms of men. Some even say that nature herself rose up and punished man for his arrogance. Whatever happened, it was sudden. So sudden that no record exists of the event, at least no record can be found.

You’ve seen in books what the world used to look like, it defies your imagination. Towers reaching into the clouds, lights that defy night, giant aeroplanes that carried enough people to fill a village, weapons that could turn entire cities into burning dust, doctors that could put machines in your head that heal your body of illness and even make you stronger and smarter.

Sure, there are remnants of that time. Guns are rare, but many relics from the older days still exist. There are even rumors of decrepit vehicles roaring into life and casting golden light from their always open eyes. You have seen the ruins of ancient cities clawing at the sky, although no one would dare venture into those death traps. For man is no longer the king of this world. Strange reptilian creatures lurk in the darkness, while creatures in the shape of man but lacking a soul drag their feet into villages and towns seeking the warmth of living flesh. Monstrous gods stalk the rotting cities, daring any foolish enough to enter their domain to try to steal from their vast hordes of ancient artifacts. Then there are threats more mundane, yet just as evil, such as blood cults and raiders from the mountains of the north.

Oddly enough, in all of your studies of the ancient books, you never see any mention of Prometheans. It seems like they didnt exist before the Fall. These people seem to be an answer from heaven for man’s struggle to resume his place in this world. Like old Prometheus bringing fire down from Olympus for man to use to build his kingdoms, somehow these gifted individuals carry the fires of the universe in their mind. Capable of creating the elements from apparently nothing, as well as moving things without touching them and even entering the minds of others and meddling about in there like a thief enters the home of his victim, silently and without notice.

Yet, there is another world that even the greatest Prometheans cannot enter. The borders of your worlds are defined by massive forests of deadly fungus that can strike a man down with vicious burning tumors and painful infections that roar through the body, bringing a swift, painful, and unavoidable death. No one knows where the fungus came from, but according to some attempts to chart the surrounding countryside, you know that these forests have cut you off from the ocean on the east, west and south. The north seems to be open, but the mountains and savages prevent any expansion in that direction.

You live in a town called Pleasant Hill on the border between Texas and New Mexico. There are a number of towns around you, and many farming villages, but you know of nothing west beyond Albuquerque and east beyond Amarillo. Rumors exist of people travelling to a few dozen miles north of El Paso, but the city is a ruin of fungus.

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Dark Days anthonyayers