Nephilimic folklore tells us that this war between Heaven and the demons decimated Earth, and that the mythological objects of human religion—the Tower of Babel, the Garden of Eden, the World-Tree, the original pyramids—were wiped away by the destruction. So too were the supernatural animals of mythology, the unicorn and the dragon among them. We cannot know, of course, the truth of it. All we can say for sure is that the faeries survived.
Time passed. Stability came to Earth, and human history as we know it began. Demons were mostly kept out of our world, since they could not survive its poisonous effect on their bodies for long. Some of the more powerful demons could remain for a matter of hours or even days. Eventually, however, they would fall apart as their energies were snapped back to the Void. Humanity cursed what evil it found, not knowing the peace they luxuriated in.
WARLOCKS AND FEY: THE EARLIEST DOWNWORLDERS
The fey are the oldest race of Downworlders in existence; they are known, in fact, to precede humans by eons, although it is assumed that they were very different in those early days. Warlocks are almost as old a group. They were very few in number, but some individual demons were able to survive in our world long enough to create warlocks. Only through these warlocks did humans know anything of demonic magic.
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WARLOCKS BEFORE THE NEPHILIM
It was a warlock who was the first Downworlder that Jonathan Shadowhunter directly interacted with—Elphas the Unsteady. Elphas wrote the earliest known “Nephilim-approved” demonology, compiling data from his and the first-generation Shadowhunters’ personal experiences and offering extensive commentary on other earlier demonologies, since new Shadowhunters often would possess some “foreknowledge of Downworld” that turned out to be entirely false and based on popular, incorrect texts.
There are today eight warlocks living who claim to have been born earlier than Jonathan Shadowhunter. Of these, scholars believe that five are probably credible, and of those, two have enough corroborating evidence to indicate that they’re telling the truth. One of these, Baba Agnieszka, is known to be the elder sister of Elphas the Unsteady and has lived quietly in Idris since 1452, in a cottage built and maintained for her by the Nephilim in honor of her family connection. She is unfriendly to visitors and appears to prefer to be left alone. Recent reports from those who have visited her have described her as mad and doddering, which is not normally something that happens to warlocks. Agnieszka appears to have deteriorated mentally not as a result of physical aging but rather due to a slow decay caused by eccentricity and isolation. She is something of a relic, but to the Nephilim she is a holy relic.
The other verified ancient living warlock is far older than Agnieszka. Isaac Laquedem’s birth has been traced to what is now southwestern France, in the early part of the seventh century. He became known widely for his warlock mark, a large and impressive set of stag’s antlers. The legends of a man with antlers who rode on a hunt across France, never resting in one place, are likely to originate with him. Early French Shadowhunters, who were sure that the Wandering Hunter was a myth or at best a composite of a number of different figures, were astonished to meet Laquedem and discover not only that he was real but that the stories about him were almost entirely true.
Laquedem’s hunting days have come to an end, and he chooses to live out his eternity on a farm not far from Bergerac in France. Despite his age Laquedem is useless as a source of historical knowledge on any topic except the forests of France, about which he knows an enormous amount. The rest of history has largely passed Laquedem by.
We must go hang out with that guy!
He’s actually pretty boring. Also hope you like eating a lot of venison.
Always have to one-up me, don’t you. You magnificent bastard.
The demon Incursion, their large-scale invasion of our world, began shortly after the first Christian Millennium (that is, AD 1000) and has not yet ceased.
After what seemed like thousands of years of dormancy, Lilith and Sammael awoke and—so the story goes—performed a demonic ritual, of enormous power, that could be performed only once and never again. The ritual affected the whole of the demon city Pandemonium, and with this act they massively strengthened all of demonkind’s resistance to the toxicity of our world. After the ritual, demons were still poisoned by our world, but to a much lesser degree, and demons began to enter our world and remain here for long periods of time, drinking the life from it and bringing with them ruination and rot. They invaded, and humanity suffered.
CRUSADES AND CULTS
The Incursion was disastrous for humanity, in more ways than one. The most obvious consequence was the sheer physical damage, of course—demons wiped out whole villages, burned crops, turned brothers against one another.
But the more extensive damage lay in humanity’s response to the threat. The presence of demons gave rise to apocalyptic cults that disrupted the normal structures of life and religion. Some cults were demon-worshippers, hoping to be spared by their conquerors. Other cults tried to band together to fight the demons, usually bringing destruction upon themselves and anyone unlucky enough to be close by. These cults spread fear and chaos where they went.
Worse, perhaps, than isolated apocalyptic cults was the larger political response. Christian Europe decided that the demons were spreading over their lands because their Holy Land of Jerusalem was not in Christian hands, and declared the first Crusades in order to get it back. Thus, rather than turning their attention to the immediate demonic threat, the Islamic Near East and the Christian West entered a long series of bloody wars and recriminations that, if anything, only helped the demons spread mayhem and death.
The Crusades soon became a popular career path for young men of Europe seeking their fortune and name in battle. It was an opportunity for renown. Some, like Jonathan Shadowhunter, were younger sons of nobles and would not inherit their family’s fortune. Jonathan felt pulled to battle because of honor and duty, surely, but the Crusades also were one of the few avenues available to him.
Unfortunately, the man Jonathan is something of an enigma to us today. We know little of his life before the Nephilim and even less of his childhood or family of origin. (A medieval tradition tells us that he was the seventh son of a seventh son, but no evidence of this exists.) We know that his family were wealthy landowners but he would inherit nothing from them.
Of the fateful trip that changed his life and our whole world, we know that Jonathan was on his way to Constantinople to join the European forces mustering there. He traveled not alone but with two companions: David, his closest friend, who hoped to join the Crusade not as a soldier but as a medic; and Abigail, Jonathan’s elder sister, bound too for Constantinople, not to fight but to join the man to whom she was betrothed. (Of this doomed fiancé no knowledge remains, except that Jonathan was unhappy with the match and often spoke about his pleasure at Abigail remaining with him rather than wasting away “in some tiny hamlet on the Black Sea.”)
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A NOTE ON JONATHAN SHADOWHUNTER’S ORIGINS
While the story of the creation of the Nephilim is one that has been told and retold continually since that creation, there are several key details of Jonathan Shadowhunter himself that are, frustratingly, lost to history. His home prior to his encounter with Raziel is known only to be somewhere in central, northern, or western Europe, because at the time his journey was interrupted. David reports that their party was traveling east. Over the course of history almost every nation has made a claim as the home of Jonathan Shadowhunter; there was a powerful faction in the eighteenth century that believed him to have been a massive Icelandic warrior, for instance, though we now believe that theory is somewhat far-fetched.
A DREAM OF SHADOWS
Our only direct report from the group that beheld Raziel comes from translations of accounts supposedly written by David. It’s not known whether he wrote these accounts as they were happening or wrote them as memoirs later in his life. They are, however, the closest we can come to the truth.
In his notes David relates a conversation that, he says, took place the night before the creation of the Nephilim. The three travelers were camped in the forest. Several days before, they had met and fought a small lone demon on the road. They did manage to chase it off, but not without Jonathan suffering a deep, dangerous wound in his right arm. The wound was thickly bandaged, and Jonathan held his arm immobilized in a sling, but then, by the light of a small, almost smokeless fire, he unwrapped the bandages from his arm, and he said to his companions, “This cut is deep and long. The demons have put such a wound into the flesh of the world itself, which can be bandaged, but under the bandages it will not heal.”
Abigail agreed that this was true, but that the three of them, young and inexperienced, had little power to help. David remained silent, as was his preference, staring into the fire and considering.
Jonathan continued, “It does not work simply to kill demons. They damage the world by their very presence. They must be eliminated, the wound of the world bound and dressed so that it might begin to heal.”
He told them of a dream: “On the night that I pledged my sword to the Crusades,” he said, “I dreamed I stood in blazing sunlight, golden like the light of heaven, and my sword shone so that I myself was blinded. On the night my arm suffered this scratch, I dreamed differently. I had realized that the demons I sought would not come to me, in the light. They remained safe in darkness, and their power lay in keeping their secrets.
“In this dream I still held my sword, but it did not shine. Instead I crept through the shadows, which embraced me like a child. The shadows became not the demons’ ally but mine. When I struck with my sword, it was with silence and speed, and none but myself and the demon knew what had transpired.”
We cannot know whether the events that led to the creation of the Nephilim were destined, or were manipulated into place by Heaven, or just arose by chance. Whether the world would have been destroyed without Jonathan Shadowhunter, or whether some other leader would have arisen, is a matter for speculation. The fact is that in the hour of greatest need, Jonathan Shadowhunter did rise up and become that leader.
The next day (according to David), the party’s travels took them to Lake Lyn, in the mountains of Central Europe. The lake was not the glittering blue of today but a black roiling tear in the fabric of the world through which demons passed back and forth freely. Jonathan, David, and Abigail were attacked there by a swarm of demons, of some species we can’t now identify. (There are a few possibilities supported by different scholars, but all we have is David’s description—“very large, like a bat and a shadow, an eagle and a serpent, that towered over us like a thunderstorm.” Idiots. Obviously it was a swarm of Serpent-eagle Thundershadowbats.
The party fought the demons back as best they could, but Jonathan was already wounded, and neither Abigail nor David possessed great physical strength. David tells us that Jonathan threw off his sling and bandages and fought valiantly through the pain. They held the demons off from killing them, but were overwhelmed. Finally the demons took all three into the lake, to drown them.
Fighting against his fate, Jonathan used what little breath he had to ask a blessing on the lake, to sanctify it as a place where things of evil, such as these demons, would not be welcome. He prayed, and his prayer was answered.
RAZIEL AND THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS
And Raziel rose from the lake, bearing with him the Mortal Instruments. All action ceased. Even the demonic energies of the tear in the world seemed to stop. In the forests surrounding them, birds quit their singing.
Raziel spoke, saying, Be not afraid.
I am an angel of the Lord come unto you, Jonathan. You have called me and I have come.
Jonathan said, “Please, save my friends.”
We cannot blame Jonathan for not asking Raziel for a greater gift; indeed it is admirable that in such a moment he would think first of the lives of his companions.
Raziel lifted Jonathan, David, and Abigail from the lake and placed them on the shore. The Angel’s figure was human, but so large that he could cradle the three mortals easily in his palms.
Then he lifted his arms, and with a single great motion he flung the remaining demons high into the air. Jonathan watched them rise and rise, eventually fading to pinpricks that vanished against the stars. Then Raziel turned his gaze back to Jonathan. I know your dream, he said. Raziel threw them INTO SPACE. Awesome.
Jonathan was struck silent. He looked to his friends, and saw that they were not conscious but were breathing.
On the banks of the lake, Raziel placed the Cup, the Sword, and the Mirror, and told Jonathan each of their functions. Beside them he placed his Book, and he told Jonathan the function of this as well. With his finger he gently inscribed across the wound in Jonathan’s arm the first iratze seen on Earth. Jonathan watched in awe as his flesh again became unbroken, as if the natural order of the world briefly moved backward, and the pain of the injury subsided. He bowed his head and gave thanks. Then Raziel lifted the Cup and in it he mixed his angelic blood and the blood of Jonathan, and he said: In your dream you saw a great truth—that to destroy the things of darkness, it is sometimes necessary to descend into the shadows to join them. You shall bring men and women into the darkness with you, and you will master the shadows, and you will hunt.
From now until the end of the world,
You shall be called Jonathan Shadowhunter
For you and your kin will drive the shadows of the world away
And you will make light in dark places
And you will be called Nephilim, as it says in the book of Genesis:
“The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”
For you will be of men and yet you will be of angels; both in one.