With Witch Hunter: the dramatized audiobook in the making, we felt it would be a good idea to introduce the lore of the world with a weekly nugget of information that brings to life the universe inhabited by Ludlov and Samina, bit by bit. In this fifth and final installment, we learn about the rise of Sevenpeaks and how the stage was set for the story of Witch Hunter…
In the years that followed, Ivennenborgh was reorganised once more. The power of the Church grew while the mayor’s diminished. The Semicircle was destroyed and replaced by the headquarters of the Inquisition: an order that would make sure that no one would ever abuse magic again and that use of illegal spells would be punished by death.
The mayors who followed were mostly chosen by the Church and they were usually reluctant leaders who preferred to maintain things as they were.
While magic was still practiced freely, there was now a strange sense of guilt associated with it.
Several respected members of the clergy wrote books and preached on how magic was really a corruption of the world for which the Maiden had given her life. Despite the waning of Ivennenborgh’s greatest asset, the city thrived economically. The people worked hard and trade with Parslavena was better than ever. Perhaps the Parslavenians were more willing to trust the Ivennenborghians now that they didn’t rely on their magic so much, or perhaps the dent in the city’s confidence had stifled its blinding arrogance, but in any case the Ivennenborghians saw their soaring economy as a sign that the Goddess was pleased with their way of life now.
Under Cardinal Janov (one of the first Cardinals of Parslavenian descent) construction began of a building that was to mark Ivennenborgh as the greatest and most impressive city in the world: the stone Cathedral. Much more than a replacement for the wooden Cathedral that had stood since Welhalm’s day, this would become an obsessively ambitious project for the entire city. The construction of this masterpiece took two and a half centuries and on the complications surrounding it, many books could be written.
This was also a time when the veneration of the Blood of the Maiden suddenly returned.
Every Ivennenborghian knew that the old writings told of the murder of mankind’s Creator by the demon Lucchus, and how Her blood and tears mingled and landed on the earth to help guide its people. More and more people began to believe that this sacred blood had to be somewhere on the earth and that it could indeed be found.
It was only in the year 1260 HTC that Cardinal Woronitz suddenly appeared with the Seven Stones. The man had been missing for weeks and now suddenly he emerged out of the Ghost Streets.
There he had found the seven stones, glowing with an inner strength. These stones contained the Blood of the Maiden, so he maintained. The people were so overjoyed that those few who disbelieved him didn’t dare to protest, especially since it had been the Cardinal himself, the most important man in the city, who had found these stones.
Woronitz appeared on the balcony of the Cathedral to address the people of Sevenpeaks. He told them that a vision had led him to the chasm where he had found the Stones. Thanks to the Maiden’s protection, he had survived the journey. Dreams had told him of the meaning of those stones: each one contained a virtue of the Maiden. The seven virtues together protected humanity: honesty, gentleness, strength, devotion, humility, hope and sacrifice. Unfortunately, the power of the Stones was finite, and once they were empty, the people would no longer be protected from Lucchus, who was for now held prisoner in Hell, deep beneath the earth. Woronitz told this story with such passion and conviction that the entire city was hypnotised by him. His most important words arrived late in his speech: magic was what drew the power from the Stones. All magic. Any spell, no matter how small, took away a tiny little bit of the life force in one of the Seven Stones. “It would be best if magic were no longer practiced,” he said, “in order to protect mankind from the devil.”
Since so much magic had been used in the centuries that had passed, the danger was quite real that it would soon be too late.
This day would later be known as Remembrance Day, which was the day when Ivennenborgh ceased to be and became Sevenpeaks. Never before had an ambitious project of architecture been finished so quickly and so perfectly as the construction of those seven peaks. In the year 1277, their construction was complete. The Goddess’s Grand Cathedral was now surrounded by seven tall, thin spires, slightly leaning outward like pins pricked in a cushion. In the top of each of these spires, a ghostly orange light shone day and night: the light of the Seven Sacred Stones, those holy relics that now commanded the reverence of the entire city.
During this time, the importance of the Inquisition grew exponentially; the witch hunter order, as it was now called, was given the task to restrain magic as much as possible. At first this meant severe punishment for unwarranted use of magic, but more and more, magic began to be seen as evil and worse, as something inherent to a person. And so the first careful whispers of a “solution” began in the upper echelons, and those whispers turned to explicit words, and those words would later be turned into screams: the Magicide Act.
The Magicide was carried out in the year 1777. Near the end of the summer of that year, Cardinal Falkenburg’s health had quickly begun to fail and he had not appointed a successor. It was said that Falkenburg believed himself to be the last Cardinal of Sevenpeaks, a rumour that deeply concerned the clergy and the nobility. That concern only grew when a terrible fire struck the city. During this fire, Lord Adomir died, a high-ranking member of the witch hunter order. Rumour had it that a cult of dark magicians known as the Black Sickle had started the fire. To make matters worse, the high society of Sevenpeaks was visited by a dark apparition in the mayor’s mansion. This being announced that Lucchus would be returning before the coming of the winter to exact his vengeance on the Goddess, unless the Stones could be kept safe from the misuse of the magicians.
The appearance of this visitor was what ultimately prompted Lady Hoskiv, the Grand General of the witch hunter order, to put the Magicide Act in effect: every mage and every book of magic would be burned.
Only one man dared to protest: Ludlov, a man unanimously praised for his willpower. A man known as the greatest of all witch hunters.