Why do we fear the night? Is it that we cannot see what lies hidden within the darkness? Or is it that deep within, we know what it is we fear and we know it's out there... in the darkness... in the night... waiting!
There was a time in the world when men understood this fear, understood that within the night lay a darkness greater than a starless sky and blacker than the blackest hate. The ancients knew the story of how this came to be. They knew because it had been spoken from parent to child over countless generations so that it would never be forgotten for as long as the story would be told.
And so, it would be told and told again for all eternity....
There was a time in the world when the Elder Ones ruled the Earth, a time before gods and demons came to be... and a time before the birth of men. It was a time when endless Winter sought to murder the world (Gaia) and those who knew it's unforgiving embrace called it Ymir... for his was the name of death in a world where only the strong survived! As Ymirs frigid darkness fell upon the Earth, another Elder One raged within Gaia that had become imprisoned by his ancient enemy. This was the Elder One Surt, the Black One, and it was within the waters of the deep that he would forge a bright flaming sword called Ásmóðr (divine wrath). With this sword, Surt would strike Ymir in many places until finally breaking free and the skies became filled by the vengeful, fiery breath of the Black One.
Hearing the cries of their sister Gaia, the remaining Elder Ones sought to aid their sister Gaia and created a being of exceptional brilliance. They called him Dúbhshláine (dark defiance) and he would bear witness to this epic battle between the most powerful of the Elder Ones on Earth. As the war continued, Dúbhshláine would commune with the Elder Ones seeking a means to protect his world from destruction. From within the Otherworlds, Dúbhunan (the Dark One) would dispatch an avatar to cross between worlds and gift Dúbhshláine with a bleeding rose. In what would be the final battle between Ymir and Surt, Dúbhshláine crushed the rose within his grasp allowing him to open a doorway between worlds through which Surt would drag Ymir. Dúbhshláine then closed the doorway between this world and the Other, removing both the powerful Elder Ones from the Earth forevermore. With this being done, the remaining Elder Ones created followers for Dúbhshláine and then they too journeyed into the Otherworlds. But these followers were lesser than he and while he instructed them as best he could, he had reached the end of his life's work and knew the end of his life was near.
Dúbhshláine could sense that all was still not right in the world. The darkness yet remained in his world and as he sought a successor to replace him, he would be struck down by an unseen hand. As he lay dying, he sensed a new evil had been born into the world. It was an evil which made itself known to him as the one who had taken his life. Battling demons that had been sent to claim his soul, Dúbhshláine would name his destroyer and with his final breath... he would be the first to speak the name of Samhain! With their masters passing, his disciples could not choose any among them to take his place because each had their own reasons to be indecisive. Instead, they would consume the flesh of Dúbhshláine and drink his blood taking into themselves his power where they had already gained his knowledge. Breaking apart his bones to be preserved as holy relics, each took his name as their own and then separated to spread his word where it was not yet known.
From a lake of blood pooled together from Surt and Ymir as they made war with one another, Samhain had arisen formed from the flesh of Gaia herself. His existence would be both a duality and a contradiction within itself as his was a name meaning Summer but he would be the bringer of Winter to the world of the living. His name would thus come to represent the end of Summer, the time of slaughter and death for those not strong enough to survive the onset of Winter. During the dark half of the year, Samhain would dwell among the world of the living... but, during the light half of the year, he would dwell in the world of the dead where it is experiencing Summer.
Over thousands of years, most disciples of Dúbhshláine had died or lost their way. Those that survived became known as the Deruweids (meaning oak-seer, priest), or Druids, because where they were buried would spring forth enormous Oak trees which their own followers made holy places. But, where they buried the bones of Dúbhshláine, trees of Ash would grow instead. The descendents of the Druids would become a ruling class, being the most knowledgeable among the Gaelic peoples because of their priestly nature. They took their power from the sacred trees and runes known to the peoples into which the Druids became absorbed.
Trying to protect her "human" children from Samhain, Gaia would create a female consort for him using darkness gathered from the Earth left behind by her Elder One siblings. Calling her Preswa, Samhain would accept her into his life sensing the malevolence and duality within her. Preswa was an enigma much like himself and she was a child of the Elder Ones so that he also viewed her as a sister. For in the light half of the year, she spread her Mother's abundance across the world. But during the dark half, she journeyed to the Otherworld taking her place as Queen of the Underworld in her husbands place. Here, she would also rule over the shades and the Anemoi (wicked, violent wind daemons) while serving in the role of mother goddess to those her husband delivered unto her. It would be from her that myths and legends in other cultures would emerge such as that of the Greek goddess Persephone (Roman Proserpina).
The ancient Druids held that life emerged from death and the beginning of their day began at sunset rather than sunrise. Because of this, the end of Summer fell at sunset on October 31rst at sunset beginning the Festival of Oidhche Shamhna (Samhain Night / Eve) and November 1rst was the ]Festival of Làtha na Samhna (Samhain Day). It was only natural for them to to celebrate at this time of the year because the barriers between the world of the living and the world of the dead were at their thinnest. Both days were collectively known as Samfuin or "Summers End" and had always been a time to fear as those who were not prepared for Winter would not survive. Survival can be a harsh mistress and when the blood of the Druids became thinned by generations of breeding with humans, their powers began to wane. Many among them became corrupted and led into temptation by Samhains darkness. They had become arrogant in thinking that the powers and knowledge they possessed were theirs to do with as they willed. To regain their power, these druid priests became servants of the Otherworld becoming the Dark Hunters - the Fiacha Dúbh of the Dúbhsidhe (dark fae). They would create a system of laws where not even a king was beyond their reach. They began systematically murdering as many people as possible and using any seeming slight to justify sacrificing their victims. How they killed their victims ranged from strangling and smashing a victims skull to burning them alive by the dozens within a human shaped Wicker Man.
Those who remained true to the path they had chosen to follow, would do their best to preserve life during the Dark Half of the year. On April 30th, they began to celebrate the last day of Winter with the Festival of Dúbhshláine to honor the founder of their beliefs and they celebrated the Festival of Céad Shamhain on May 1rst as the first day of Summer. These would eventually evolve into the Festival of Bealtuinn representing the first day of the Light Half of the year and the deification of Dúbhshláine as Beltane. He too would have a female counterpart called Beltinijā, another name for Preswa, the goddess of death reborn through bonfires to offer her protection and fertility. In her guise as Beltinijā, Preswa began preparing the way for planting and protecting the survivors of Winters cruelties. It would also be she who was called upon for protection during the Festival of Samhain officially beginning around the fifteenth day of Samonios.
It would begin a period of preparation rather than veneration as they would gather in the last of their crops and bring in their livestock from their Summer fields. It was a time for slaughter and for sacrifice as they butchered the animals they did not think would survive the Winter to provide meat... and they sacrificed any humans they knew would not survive leaving more food for the rest. If they failed, or suffered a Summer of deprivation, they would sacrifice human lives eliminating up to a third of their children and any who had made themselves less valued to the communities survival over the coming Winter. Where people did not respect the coming of Samhain, entire civilizations became lost and darkness would consume the world that was known to them.
What remained of natures gifts at harvest time, the waste and ruin, would be gathered as fuel for the bonfires which would be lit during the night during their celebrations. They would toss the bones of the slaughtered animals into the flames so that the gods would smell the sweet aroma of the burning marrow within to know they were not forgotten. Any humans unfortunate enough to be branded as outcasts or a betrayer might be burned alive with them or, if they were already dead, cremated in hopes Preswa would not allow their Winter fires to harm them. In the great stone circles and barrows the druid priests created with their magics, they gathered people under their protection. This was a time when they yet remembered the elemental enchantments for moving massive stone to build with and to place above the cremated remains of the damned so they might never return.
These bonfires would, unfortunately, serve as beacons for the spirits of the dead and the creatures of the night. These would then find their way into the villages often assimilating unseen until their evil had been done. All manner of trickery would be developed to deceive these spirits or gifts prepared to placate them and welcome them so that they would do no harm. For the more malevolent spirits, people developed costuming and masks to disguise themselves as creatures of darkness which malevolent spirits lacked the ability to notice a difference where other living beings could. In other cases, they might wear a mask backwards upon their heads so that malevolent or trixster spirits would think they were being watched so they would leave these people at peace.
The arrival of a new god brought with it wars to not just conquer people, but to destroy their beliefs. Those who followed this new God would tolerate no other god or beliefs but their own and where they might, there would be purges to remove their "pagan" influences to follow. Hate and suffering had always been the way of the common people who were always subject to their masters bidding. How was this any different? To the ancients, all that mattered was survival and death was just the price they paid for living.Death to the ancients was the great equalizer and what was desired most was a death of ones choosing, to control how one journeyed to the world of the dead. Through Samhain, many believed a new beginning was possible where they would be reborn and where the scales of justice might be balanced. For many, the old ways proved too strong to be completely abandoned so that they would practice their beliefs in secret until their time came again. Then came the Burning Times and the Inquisitions so that the ancient ways would be almost completely forgotten. Only with the Age of Enlightenment would the old ways find a renaissance and in the quest for knowledge, the Sidhe Society would be born.
As the modern world came into being, believers in the old faiths began to invest into the fields of science and archaeology. They sought out the knowledge of the ancients which might have survived or that could be recreated. For those who proved successful, great power and knowledge might be achieved which the Sidhe Society proved exceptionally adept at. When they finally opened a doorway into the Otherworld, many lives would be lost before it could be closed again. Into our world would come a spirit, a child of darkness who infected a woman with it's seed allowing her to survive the massacre to conceal itself among the living. When the woman gave birth, the child would prey upon humans as it quickly matured in form until reaching adult stature. Assuming the identity of Alyssa Dunwich, she discovered elements of the old beliefs had survived within the faith of the one God. Marrying a priest, Alyssa learned from him the ways of a false prophet and how to make others believe her even when they sensed deception. Discovering the Sidhe Society, she began her rise to power within the order during the Great War. During the Great Depression that followed, many people had become convinced that the end of the world was upon them. This left them vulnerable to the influence of a false prophet such as Alyssa Dunwich was becoming.
Alyssa would also seize upon the growing popularity of Lovecraftian ideals finding them similar to her own. She would also be drawn to Nazism and the occult before learning of the madness behind it. While she exploited what the Nazi's could provide to her, the Sidhe Society had already fully dissolved itself back into into society by 1943. Having set in motion a curse upon the world flowing in the veins of her followers, and their offspring, Alyssa Dunwich would disappear as if her work were done. When the new millennium began, members of the Sidhe Society made themselves known and revealed their sinister intentions. Over the following years, it was as if a new evil had been unleashed into the world and as the worlds human populations continued to grow, Gaia would again know suffering. They would be behind an ever increasing level of violence in the world and where one religion was no longer vulnerable, adherents within another faith were more than willing to bring true horror back into the world. As the masses now made themselves like lambs to the slaughter, Alyssa Dunwich would return. She had allowed herself to be sacrificed so that her followers could drink in her life essence through her blood and her soul could return to the Otherworld. As with so many claiming to have some supernatural power over death, Alyssa would be resurrected as proof of her power to those within the Sidhe Society. Within her breast now beat the heart of a powerful Dúbhsidhe sorceress, the daughter of Samhain and his avatar upon the Earth. As the thirteenth year of the century arrived, it was as if the worst of all evil had been unleashed into the world... and it would only get worse in the following year.
As All Hallows Eve fast approached in the fourteenth year, the doorways between the world of the living and the world of the dead again grew narrow. Doorways would be opened as the end of Summer again approached., doorways which would not be so easily closed as the spirits of the dead began rising forth from their graves. Creatures of darkness, monstrosities of unimaginable size would emerge from the depths where they had long been hidden and the most vile of inhuman atrocities would become commonplace. Where humanity believed that the end of the world was nearing, whether from religious beliefs or beliefs based in science, Alyssa Dunwich was prepared to fulfill the worlds greatest fear. As the world of the dead began merging with the world of the living, the final Summer would pass and eternal darkness would be the beginning of the end for all life on Earth...