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There are stories that have been told over campfires for as long as Man has had language. Some say these stories were gifts from the gods who made Man, given to teach, given to warn, given to guide, like an ancient stone signpost set at the edge of the road with the word Danger inscribed on it in a thousand different languages.

The stores all begin like this:

Listen.

Listen, there are ancient places in the worlds. Old places, as old as the beginning of time, full of power and mystery and danger. The wise men know that such places are best left undisturbed but there are fools born every moment who do not listen to the wise men. This is as it should be, for what would the Great Crocodile have to eat if it were not for the fools who dared its River.

A wise man who was a fool or a fool who thought himself wise found a door in the heart of such an old place. And the door was opened.

A door was opened that should have remained closed. Sealed long ago, before the Age of Men, sealed in the last days of the War of the Gods, in those times when star systems and galaxies were merely pieces on a game-board so vast that only the greatest minds could encompass its depth and breadth.

A door was opened. Some say it was purposeful, the fools intent on freeing what lay behind it. Some say it was curiosity that opened that door, seeking to solve a mystery. Some say it was merely happenstance, an accident; Fate placing a hand in just the right place to break the last of the fragile and time riddled seals, thus waking the thing that slept inside.

A door was opened and something ineffably ancient walked through it. The fools did not have enough wisdom to fear for their lives, else they would have killed it then, when it was still vulnerable. But the demon took on the shape of a child, confusing them and staying their spears. No sane man can kill a child.

“Why?” asked the Child Out of Time, “Why have to disturbed my dreams?”

“You were entombed alive. You were imprisoned. We took pity on you and wished to set you free.”

“Truly?” the Child asked, shaking its head in wonder, “Why? Did you think I would be grateful?”

“Are you not pleased to be free?” the Fools asked.

“Where are my brethren? I cannot hear anyone, no kith nor kin, in all the reaches of the Universe.”

“You alone survived your prison,” the Fools replied.

“I am alone? Better that you had let me sleep. Better that I had faded into Nothingness as all who have gone before me.” The Child began to fade, its form turning to mist at its edges and blowing away upon the wind from the stars.

“Stay,” the Fools begged. “Join us. Help us. Take pity on us, for we have taken one too many steps down the path to self destruction. Teach us so that we might live. Protect us from our enemies and give us time to learn how to survive.”

“Do you ask this of me?” the Child asked curiously, its form once again solid. “I do not think you understand my nature.”

“You are Star Child. You are a remnant of the power of the One Source, cast out of the Great Caldera at the beginning of time.”

“Am I?”

“With you on our side, our power will become limitless,” the Fools said.

The Child fidgeted, as small children are wont to do who would rather be outside and not stuck in the dim teaching halls. It was a distraction, that, for they did not see the dark fire flash behind her eyes. It was the merest of flickers, a child testing the waters before wading into the shallows. They could have killed her then, should have killed her, but they did not see their danger.

Her keepers, their minds blurred and confused by the shift in the fabric of reality, hesitated. Something had fallen out of the world and something else had walked in to take its place, holding reality together in its stead. It was a small thing. Something unnoticeable. Something inconsequential, like giving the beetle five spots on its wings instead of three or adding an extra note to the song of the willow thrush.

“You should have left me to my slumber,” the Child said sadly. “I am awake out of my time and proper place. I need my Mother, that I might learn subtlety. I need my Father, that I might know compassion. Where are my brothers and husbands? Who will contain my fire when I burn too bright?”

The Fools began to understand their danger at last, but it was too late. The Child buried her fingers in the fabric of reality and shook it hard, as one might shake a cleaning rag to clean it of its accumulated dust. Unseen in the infinite reaches of space around them, the constructs of Man began to crumble.

High overhead, the light from the stars folded in upon itself and something bright and terrible was born, filling half the sky.

“What have you done?” the Fools cried, falling down in fear.

“You wanted to play,” said the little Maker. “Let’s play.”

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