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The basic eternal stuffs of the universe are four: Earth, Fire, Water and Air. These four together make up the Elements. The Elements have forever reigned supreme, and forever they will. Yet long, long ago, there came a time when the Elements created something unexpected that rivaled even themselves. This something was known as Human, and it forever changed the course of events in the universe.
The Elements had been around for so long a time as cannot even be comprehended, interacting with one another, creating and destroying at will. By far, their most amazing creation had always been a planet called Earth (named after the Element who had formulated the idea first). They had created many other planets and stars and moons in their past experimenting, and continued to even after the planet Earth was made, yet they were never able to fully recreate its perfection - the perfect unity that existed between the Elements when they shaped it.
Creation had always been accomplished by mixing the vast oceans of elemental stuffs together in different ways. Fire might call forth multitudes of blue and white flame that melted down the mountains of solid soil and rock called by Earth. Air would then call forth mighty blowing winds to shape and stretch the molten rock into the desired form, and finally Water would summon up seas of liquid to cool and harden the creation. In this way the Elements contrived planets and moons and stars, and on each of those creations in turn created different shapes and settings. Stars were laced with unimaginable amounts of flames called by Fire. Some planets were made to hold nothing but liquid or ice created by Water; others, to be made of nothing but gases spewed forth from Air; still others came to be made of nothing but hard, solid rock. Of all the creations, the best were those that most carefully mixed all the elements together in proper proportion. The planet Earth had accomplished this best, and so the Elements always held a deep love for that particular creation.
Yet one fateful moment in time, Earth and Water did something that had never been done before among the Elements. While playing together on the surface of planet Earth, shifting continental plates to and fro whimsically, they began to create something unconsciously. Whereas before, all creation had taken place by mixing various amounts of the different stuffs each Element controlled, this creation was unique. Rather than calling forth solid rocks or cool liquids to mix, Earth and Water began to actually mix themselves into each other. They combined and interweaved in ways they had never imagined before. To put it simply, they mated.
From this unprecedented and unexpected act came a new creation, a thing called Plant. Yet, Plant was unique from all previous creations. Somehow, it was similar to the Elements in a way that none of the planets or moons or stars had ever been. It was alive.
At first the Elements were unsure what to do. The always choleric Fire was quick to suggest destroying this new life before it had a chance to grow and rival them in power. The always temperate Water was appalled at Fire's suggestion, instead proposing that the Elements work to nourish this new creation, to help it thrive as they did. The always capricious and indecisive Air could not choose which action to take. And so the duty fell on Earth to make the final tie-breaking decision. Earth understood Fire's worries, and had no wish to see another life wrest away the powers the Elements had always possessed; but at the same time, Earth felt some sort of bond with his new creation Plant. In the end, Earth proposed a compromise. The Elements would not destroy Plant as Fire wished, yet they would also not actively help Plant as Water wished. Rather, they would go about their business as usual, and maintain a neutral position, all the while observing Plant closely without ever interfering.
This passive observation went on for quite some time, and it seemed to be working well. The Elements discovered that something of them had passed on to Plant. In order to continue and thrive, it needed the stuffs that they provided. It needed heat from Fire, gases from Air, nourishing liquid from Water and receptive soil to live in from Earth. The planet Earth seemed to be the perfect environment for Plant, as all of these stuffs existed in abundance, with no one stuff overpowering the others.
Plant was thriving in its home on the planet Earth, and it had taken on all sorts of sundry forms on all parts of the planet. In the oceans it grew, and on the land; on the tallest mountains, and the lowest peaks; in arid deserts, and moist wetlands. The only places Plant did not spread to were the farthest tips at the top and bottom of the planet Earth, where the environment was too cold for it. Where it did settle, Plant adapted its own form in order to suit its needs in that place. Where it was dry, as in the deserts, it learned to store and conserve what little nourishment it could. Where the air was thin, as in the mountains, it learned to more efficiently process the gases it needed.
During this peaceful time of growth and watching, not all were idle. Fire had never been happy with Earth's decision. Plant posed a threat - a threat that needed to be ended - and Fire plotted to do just that. One day, while Earth, Water and Air were off experimenting with some new concept or other, Fire visited the planet Earth and brutally attacked Plant. Fire sent forth juts of black and purple flames that engulfed Plant. He heated the soil itself until molten lava spewed forth from the previously fertile soil. Plant was slowly being wiped from the face of planet Earth. However, sensing such a heavy use of Fire's flames, Earth talked Water and Air into breaking off their experiment and returning to the planet Earth to find out what Fire was doing.
When they arrived, Plant was in terrible shape. Earth, Water and Air quickly put an end to Fire's rampage, but the destruction that had been wrought was immense. As Fire had been pouring searing flames upon the planet, Plant had worked and strained to adapt as quickly as possible in order to survive the attack. Somewhere in the process of the attack, Fire had let loose utterly, releasing not just summoned flames but his own essence, as Earth and Water had done so long ago. This essence of Fire mixed and intermingled with the quickly evolving Plant, and of it was born a new creation. This new thing they called Animal.
This new creature showed obvious signs of Fire's brutal attack. Rather than being as Plant had been, indeed as the Elements themselves had been, Animal had a very unique quality. It was sexed. Animal took on two different forms; one the Elements called Male, the other Female. There were obvious physical differences between these two new creations, yet they remained so very similar as to still be the same form of life.
This time, reactions were even stronger to the new presence. Fire, embarrassed by the foul-up, wished to make things right by quickly ridding the planet of Animals. Water once again supported an active and compassionate role in the life of this new creature. This time around, however, Air was strongly in support of Fire, for Fire had secretly been sharing some ideas with Air, slowly convincing Air of the threat new life posed. Air, never one to think things through, had been easily persuaded to see Fire's side, and now supported death for Animals. Earth was once again forced to mediate between the two factions. After the success Plant had become before the attack, Earth was convinced the new life was not a threat, but rather a valuable addition to the universe. Yet Earth never went so far as Water, and never supported any plans to actively help other life. And so, after much discussion and arguing, Earth once again convinced Fire (and Fire's ally Air) to forfeit their plans of murder for a new compromise. Once again, the Elements would not interfere with the new life, excepting one condition. If it ever grew so powerful as to pose a threat to the power of the Elements themselves, a three-forths vote between them would allow them to do what was necessary to stop the threat. Water was hesitant, but eventually agreed, seeing no other choice. Fire was content with the arrangement, and planned to keep a very close watch on this new creation for any sign of a threat. Air really didn't seem to care what happened.
Animals flourished very quickly on the planet Earth. They took on new forms of all sorts depending on their environment. Some forms prospered wonderfully in the watery oceans, while others did well on high peaks or hot deserts or marshy swamps. Each new form brought about more and more new forms in more and more drastic adaptations. Some of these new forms were ill-equiped for their environment, and quickly died off. Yet those that remained began to vary greatly. Some were large, others small; some had many legs, others had few or none; some were quick and agile, others slow and powerful.
The Elements were all fascinated by these interesting changes. Yet something else fascinated them even more. The Animals differed from Plant in more than the simple dichotomy of gender. A new ability was common to all forms that Animals took. This ability was called perception. Whereas Plant had lived by mere response to stimulus, Animals were able to perceive, to sense and to feel and to be aware of themselves, each other and their environment. This ability astounded the Elements, who had never expected anything of the sort with this new creation. It seemed that Animals were more similar to the Elements themselves than Plant had ever been. The Elements felt a certain empathy with Animals, and none of them knew what to make of it. Meanwhile, they simply continued to observed from afar, always wondering at this new creation.
Things went on like this for a long while. In time, the Elements tired of watching Animals, for Animals' adaptations had grown much slower and more infrequent. The Elements soon went back to their old habits of creating planets and moons and stars, experimenting with new procedures that they thought might surpass even the planet Earth; but try as they might, their new creations never did.
One day, Air was bored of making new satellites and planets. The Animals on planet Earth were always doing something new and interesting. Watching them never got boring, and so Air returned to planet Earth. The Element quietly observed an Animal that seemed new. Its name was Ape and it acted differently than most of the other Animals. The Male and Female Apes interacted in very complex ways, forming a sort of social structure as had never been seen on the planet before. They used their limited forms (namely their upper appendages) to change the form of their environment.
Air found this ability to shape environment very perplexing, and decided an experiment was in order. The capricious Element went to visit the Apes on planet Earth's surface by hiding within a gust of wind. A staple food for Apes had always been fruit that fell from the trees when the wind blew through, yet Air halted the wind, ceasing the flow of fruit upon which the Apes had so long relied. Rather than leaving for a new environment where fruit still fell, the Apes molded their environment to solve the problem. They picked up rocks and threw them at the fruit in the trees, knocking food down without any need for wind. Air found this problem solving ability simply fascinating.
In a moment of pure whimsy, Air flew down among the Apes, and began to move in and out of their bodies. In this act, part of Air's flowing essence was released into the bodies of these Apes. Eventually Air tired of this playful exploring within the Apes and retired back to work with the other Elements on planets and moons and stars.
When the Elements finally returned after their work in a far off galaxy, they found something none of them had ever expected among the Animals. A new Animal had appeared, but it was obvious very quickly that this Animal was very unique. Knowing something was amiss, Earth inquired as to where the other three Elements had been lately. Fire and Water had both been hard at work trying to create a planet made up of nothing but extremely hot water. That left only Air, who failed to come up with an alibi. With only minimal questioning, Earth discovered what Air had done on the planet, and they all concluded that this new Animal (which was startlingly similar to the Apes) must be the product of Air's experiment. They named this new Animal Human.
At first, the Elements treated this new being simply as another new form of the Animals. However, it soon became obvious that they were different in a very startling way. Whereas Plant had lived by response to stimulus alone, Animals had owned the ability called perception. Humans, it seemed, had something new and different on top of these things. Humans had an ability called conception. More than just senses and instincts, by which the other Animals seemed to rely, this new ability allowed the Humans to think in abstract ways. They could conceive of complex conceptual things, and even more amazingly, they could communicate these things to each other through the use of symbols. The Elements felt an immediate empathy for these Humans, who seemed so much more similar to them than ever Plant or Animals had been. Yet they did not know how to react to this new life.
After much heated discussion and debate, Earth and Water together formulated a plan that was quickly agreed to by Fire and Air. These Humans were obviously very unique from all previous creations, and yet very similar to the Elements themselves. As was obvious from the past mistakes, interfering in life on planet Earth seemed only to bring more and more disaster, and so it was agreed that from then on no Elements would have direct contact with planet Earth or the life that resided thereon. They would completely and totally withdraw themselves from the affairs of planet Earth, and allow the life there to go about in its own way. Thus ends the Creation.
The early Humans lived collectively in communes void of any private property. Life was harsh for them, with almost no inter-commune communication or travel, but everyone worked for the good of each other (which they were quick to discover was good for each person alone as well). However, not all of the Humans were content with this communist society. One of the Humans, who was called Self, broke away from the communes, and went off on his own. He set up his own shelter in the woods, and taught himself to hunt the Animals that roamed those woods.
Yet, even Self could not stay alone forever. One day, he encountered another discontent Human who called herself Solo. They had one night of passion together before parting for their lone lives once again, but something unexpected happened. Soon Solo discovered that she was pregnant with Self's baby. Rather than return to Self to raise the babies together, she chose to stay alone and raise them herself.
Months later, when the baby came, a surprise came with it. Solo had twins! The female baby she named Reward and the male baby she named Punishment. The two twins were inseparable, and everything they did, they did together. Solo raised them herself in her home in the woods, and she loved them deeply. It was clear from the start that both twins were clever machiavellian manipulators. Reward learned quickly that to get pleasure, he simply had to do what was wanted of him. Punishment discovered that one finds pain when one does what is not wanted, and thus the best way to avoid pain is avoid doing such.
Solo wished to keep the twin babies secret from their father Self, but her hopes failed. One day, when out hunting in the woods, Self came upon the two children playing together - a game in which Reward was granted extra dinner if he found his hiding sister, who's dinner was taken away if she was found - and asked who their parents were. The children, in awe of finding another Human (for Solo had never returned to the Human communes and thus her children had never been exposed to other Humans), immediately gave up their game to investigate this new discovery. The twins took Self back to their place in the woods, and there he found Solo, as surprised as he. The two of them went inside and talked at length - Solo about the twins and Self about his adventures hunting. Before they knew it, it was dark outside, and Solo offered Self to share their shelter for the night (for it is dangerous to wander the woods at night). Self accepted, and that night as he lay once again with Solo, they conceived another child. The next morning, when Self left, it was for good. Instead of returning to his woodland home, he headed straight for the tall peaks of the nearby mountains called Hermitage, and there he spent the rest of his days without ever encountering another Human.
Months came and went, and soon Solo gave birth to this newest child, whom she named Individuality. Solo had never wanted a third child, and so as Individuality grew up, she was shunned by both her mother (who had an obsessed love for the twins) and the twins (who were always inseparable and cared not for other people). Individuality learned to value herself more than her family; and as such, she was always greedy, taking more than her share at all the meals. The three children grew up in this fashion under their protective mother, never meeting any other Humans during their childhood.
One day when the children had grown up, although they still lived with their mother Solo, Individuality wandered farther than usual from home, and found herself entering one of the Human communes from which her parents had migrated. As she wandered through the settlement, she found that none of the people seemed to care about protecting their goods from each other - that none of them seemed intent on watching the others very carefully. She could not believe her eyes.
Rather than return to her despised home, she decided to join the settlement. She was ostracized by the other Humans because of her strange views on suspicion, greed and care for herself above all others. However, she still managed to develop some followers who were intrigued by her teachings. Before long, a group of people who began calling themselves Individualists set off in small groups to spread these ideals to the other communes. Before long, the entirety of Human civilization was affected by these people. The people of the property-free communes began to hoard unneeded things for their own benefit at the expense of others. In a matter of only a few years, Individualist teachings had completely transformed Human society from a communist state into a primitive capitalist state. Meanwhile, Individual found a man among the Humans whom she wanted for her own. That man's name was Propaganda, and he was known among all the Humans as a man whose alliances shifted often and easily, but who made the strongest of companions. Individual took him for her own and they soon begat a son named Freedom. Freedom grew up under his mother's teachings, but he always looked to his father as a figure of inspiration (even though he knew his father only used his to further his own goals).
Many of the Humans clung to the old ways, and fought tooth and nail against the Individualists. The most well known of them were named Security, Selflessness and Sharing. Freedom soon developed a strong enmity for these three, despite the fact they were all old enough to be his grandparents. A battle raged on throughout Human society between those who wished a return to the old ways of communistic living, and those who wished to celebrate and further the new ways of individualist society. Propaganda was a master manipulator, and he used his son Freedom (whom most people adored, as he seemed a very noble and virtuous boy) to trick people into following the new ways. Before long, the vast majority of Humans were convinced by Propaganda that the new system was much better than the old. Before long, the old ways were simply forgotten, and Propaganda easily kept the few followers of the old ways under control by telling the people that the old ways had been wicked and had created a time of desperate famine. Before long, even those who had lived in the old ways most of their lives began to forget the truth. Freedom was soon elected ruler over the communes, kicking Security out of that office in the process. He was well loved by the people and no one ever dared question their noble and majestic ruler.
Meanwhile, Reward and Punishment had grown up as well, and one day they approached their mother with a question she had never expected. They had encountered a stranger in the woods who relayed a tale about the new communes and they asked their mother if they might leave her abode to join the Human settlements. Knowing she was getting old herself, and wanting the best for her two favorites, she allowed them to go. As for herself, Solo set out for a faraway desert to live out the short bit of life that remained.
When Reward and Punishment came to the new Human civilization, they found it a simple matter to manipulate the people within. Together they traveled throughout the settlements, spreading their teachings (which came to be called 'the system of Reward and Punishment'). During one of their trips together, the two twins, who had always been closer than normal for brother and sister, made love, and of their affair was soon born a child whom they named Moral Status Quo. Moral Status Quo grew up following his parents' teachings, and himself was the most adamant believer in 'the system of Reward and Punishment'. Upon reaching adulthood, he became a sort of priest/shaman for the Human peoples, and taught to them of 'the system of Reward and Punishment', converting about large numbers of followers. He soon abandoned his parents altogether for his belief, and he shortened the lengthy name of his teachings, 'the system of Reward and Punishment', for one simple word - Religion. Moral Status Quo went about proselytizing to the people, converting them to his Religion, and before long the majority of people followed his path (which he taught was the one and only right path).
Meanwhile, Moral Status Quo's parents, Reward and Punishment, had continued to wander the settlements together. They gave up spreading their beliefs altogether (after all, their successful and illustrious son had taken over that job) and settled down to find mates and live out their lives together in one of the settlements (which was called by the people there 'The Town').
Reward soon found a husband named Pleasure, and they gave birth to three children - a girl named Sex, another girl named Power, and a boy named Entertainment.
Sex was a flirtatious and alluring beauty who seductively enticed the males in The Town. The other women of The Town, jealous and wanting their husbands back, soon followed suit, and began mimicking Sex. The men found themselves also adopting Sex's behavior. Sex began to hold meetings with the people of The Town, in which she would teach them what she called 'The Ways of Love'. Relations between male and female Humans became an art form, and those best at it had their choice of mates, while those that failed to excel found themselves alone. Before long, many of the newly matched couples began to migrate to other settlements and soon 'The Ways of Love' were known all throughout Human civilization.
Power was an interesting girl from the beginning. She was always interested in having things her way, even if the result carried little or no benefit with it. It became her principal goal in life merely to always get her way, and to have the ability to get her way whenever she wanted. She married the old man named Security (who had been forced by Freedom to retire from his post as ruler of the Human communes). He was much older than her, but she managed to manipulate him deftly, and he was unable to combat her charms with his old ways. They soon gave birth to a son named Control, yet Security died early on in the boy's life. Control grew up spoiled by his protective mother, and he shared in her desire for ability to get what he wanted as an end unto itself. Yet his father's early death left him with an emptiness inside him for Security which he could never fill. He tried his best to fill this gap, sometimes obsessively, by assuming more and more power over other people. Control eventually got into a feud with his mother Power, and they both spent the rest of their days fighting to overpower the other.
Entertainment was a playful child, if at times a slow one. He never bothered to listen to the people who came through town speaking of this new teaching or that one. Rather, he preferred to spend all his time at games. When he grew up, he wed a woman named Playfulness, and together they spent their days lazily relaxing, shirking their duties in order to spend more time at games. The closest they ever got to caring about any of the teachings that came through the settlement was their adoption of 'The Ways of Love', although they molded 'The Ways of Love' into a game rather than an art. It became just another pastime, if one of the best they had discovered yet, and they never really bothered to share their teachings. They gave birth to a daughter named Tele who, upon reaching womanhood, departed from her parents' house and wandered about prophecying of things to come which would allow people to experience life without ever having to get up and do anything (she spoke vaguely of things called Televisions and Telephones). However, few people ascribed to her vague teachings until much later on when the prophecies began to fulfill themselves. Entertainment and Playfulness also gave birth to a son named Sport. Sport was an active, eager and energetic little boy, but he was also a very arrogant and egotistical child. He wandered about from settlement to settlement coming up with new games everywhere he went. Some settlements adopted running games, others games with balls, and still others games which involved all sorts of odd contraptions and superfluous rules. He quickly became a very popular figure among Human civilization, and his games continued to be played for ages after he was gone.
Meanwhile, Punishment had married a woman known as Pain, and together they had two boys named Fear and Guilt. Fear and Guilt were mischievous and downright mean children, always playing tricks on people. Fear would use threats to force people into doing what they should not, and then his brother Guilt would make them feel shameful for their actions. The two boys continued playing these pranks for the rest of their lives, whenever a person did something out of fear and later regretted it, everyone knew it was the mischievous Fear and Guilt up to their usual tricks.
These are the generations of Self and Solo, and their children have laid down the way of Human life ever since.