The Archfiend Artifact

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Introduction

There is an ancient Lie still spoken in every language in every nation on earth:

“There are no such things as monsters.”

If you believe the Lie, here is a word of caution: Stop reading right now. Believing the Lie is your only camouflage. Your ignorance protects you from them—but the very moment you realize the creatures from your nightmares aren’t just stories but real, live monsters…well, that’s when they have you. That’s when the true terror begins.

Few Cowans realize there are beings in this world who predate the Roman Empire, the Pharaohs, the Mesopotamians…even humanity itself. They’ve gone by many names. Apparition. Fiend. Demon. Monster. Spook. There are some who are revered for their wisdom and benevolence, and we came to call them angels or gods. Others have a darker nature, and we were witness to their evil and malice and named them devils and demons.

But no matter what you choose to call them, the fact remains: these creatures exist. And they used to exist everywhere—dwelling in the darkest caves, roosting atop the highest mountains. Walking the vast plains and scorching deserts. Soaring the empty skies and lurking in the densest forests. Swimming the swiftest rivers and slumbering deep in the endless icy seas.

Of course, this was before mankind swept across the globe and claimed it for their own, before the rise of the Church, and its endless Holy Wars that threatened to destroy these ancient beings for good.

The Cowans almost succeeded.

In the beginning of the eighteenth century, a secret, world-wide partnership between man and monster was forged, and the power of the Lie was renewed. The next several decades saw a decline in public awareness of the realm of the paranormal. By the dawn of the twentieth century, almost every living human believed that monsters were merely the fruit of frightening stories told to scare children into good behavior. Eventually, these so-called stories evolved into the monsters of literature and the silver screen, fading from the collective unconscious almost entirely.

But the real monsters refused to fade away.

They persist. And they walk among you. A parathrope—for this is their true name—could be anybody. A neighbor. The barista behind the counter of your favorite coffee house. Your teacher. Your child’s imaginary friend. A lover—or a hated enemy.

I know this because I’m one of them.

Since you’ve read this far, I now present you with a Choice. Keep believing the Lie, or accept everything I have just told you and pretend not to notice the subtle tells that betray even the craftiest parathrope. A trick of the light, or a twitch of shadow. A sudden chill that shoots up your spine. A change in the air. The feeling of unseen eyes watching your every move. I promise: when it happens, you’ll know. And you’ll wish you didn’t.

But there is a third option, open only to a select and secret few. If you believe that you, yourself are a parathrope, one of us, I implore you to seek me out. Don’t hesitate—for the Cowans may already know of your existence. You can find me—and sanctuary—within a secret archive.

An archive called:

THE AEON FILES

I’ll be waiting.

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