PROLOGUE

-a black hand through time-

The city itself seemed dark somehow. Oppressive. Even the new moon seemed only to accentuate the blackness, laying shadows like fingers across the wet London streets, the lifeless buildings, and the man's face.

He had no idea what it was he had been carrying with him these last few blocks, only that he was to deliver it to the address he had been made to memorise. He was still an underling in the group. A relative newcomer when compared to those who had been born into it. He was just beginning to wonder if they new he existed at all when he had been contacted by his master and given his current assignment. The statue he had concealed in his greatcoat was, to him, just that, a statue. More accurately it was a totem of the god Set. To his masters however, it seemed to have a great deal of importance, and what was important to them was important to him.

When he arrived at the temple, really just a warehouse owned by one of the elder members, he found that they had already gathered and were awaiting his arrival. Dressed in dark blue robes emblazoned with the mark of their society, they had formed a circle around a large wooden alter in the centre of the room. All High Priests of Set, they were the eldest members of the Order. The centre of worldly power for everything he believed in.

"I'm sorry for my lateness master," he said, bowing to the priest who now approached him. The man ignored his apology and motioned for him to hand over the totem. The remaining priests began chanting softly in a language he didn't understand as his master placed the totem on the altar.

"You may leave now," his master said without turning around.

He did what he was told, bowing again and slipping quietly out of the same door through which he'd entered. If he had known the shadow he had seen move out of the corner of his eye was a man, he still wouldn't have been able to avoid the single, killing blow delivered to the back of his neck by the ceremonial blade. As it was, the last thing he ever saw was the underworld creeping in from the edges of his vision as he choked to death of his own blood. He never knew the meaning of the ritual being performed inside the warehouse but he had been killed to keep it secret from the enemies of his masters. The followers of Set were too close to the end for anything to be revealed by one of their servants. One of their tools. Too close to the end.

All they needed now was The Hand.