Writer's Warning: Dudes, this is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, or occurrences are totally a product of my crazy imagination or are used fictitiously, whatever that means. Any resemblance to real events, places, or people, living, dead, or undead, is just a coincidence. Even if I mention actual events, places, or people. Confused yet? I sure am, but that's just what my lawyer tells me to say.

Prologue - Paradise

From the Writings of High Priest Ulysses of the Mortalist Church:

In an age long since passed, during a time of considerable prosperity for man, there existed a great civilization which encompassed nearly the entire Earth, in which every man's needs were met and his wants satisfied. All of the food, water, and shelter a human being could conceivably need were readily available, and man spent the majority of his time benefiting from a great excess of entertainment, the bulk of it verifiably purposeless. In such a utopia, one would suppose that man would be content. Sadly, this was not so.

Despite their enormous wealth and prosperity, the great nations of the world warred and squabbled over petty differences, overtaking smaller nations until a small number of enormous warring powers encompassed the globe. For integral to man's very nature is an inescapable sin, one that this prosperity only served to bring out in all its vileness. The greed and envy of the men who controlled these world powers, and which pervaded mankind in general, placed the world on the precipice of annihilation by nuclear war.

Quite ironically, it was not the conflict between men that would ultimately bring about the end of the world. The Supreme Being, whose existence had always existed beyond the consideration of man, for the first time had reason to be concerned for the fate of the world He had created. The creation of man, it appeared, had been a small decision that would now result in the ruin of all creation. The devil, seeking to accelerate humankind's destruction of itself, was acting to accelerate these developments to an even greater extent. The intervention of God, a truly rare occurrence, now proved necessary.

Precluding such divine intervention, the archfiend Mephistopheles discovered a method whereby he was able to escape his infernal prison, with the intention of preventing the Lord's interference with man's self-obliteration, and he led his armies against the angels in heaven. Men on the frontiers of the warring nations were astonished to witness, in the heavens above man's battlefield, a far more spectacular conflict between the very forces of good and evil, as the angels and fiends clashed in a confrontation that would decide the world's fate. The nonbelievers, at this point, undoubtedly seemed rather foolish.

Though the battle would likely have ended in the defeat of the fiends and their return to the fiery lake, an unexpected incident occurred in the midst of the conflict. At the very throne that sat above all creation, meant to house none but the Lord himself, Mephistopheles confronted his Creator. By some trickery, the insurgent devil misrepresented his intentions to God, by all accounts an omniscient and immortal being, and slew Him by cutting out his heart. The devastation of the world was finally wrought by the devil's hand, not by man's.

With the death of its Creator, heaven itself collapsed under its own weight. The wars of angel and man alike were brought to a halt as the sky caved in and great floating palaces fell through the clouds that had once suspended them in a supernatural plane. The great cities of man were leveled as the paradise in the sky fell and crushed the one beneath it. Mephistopheles, who sought to sit upon God's throne, was astonished as it crumbled beneath him and allowed him to plummet to the earth. The devil's prize, the extracted heart of God, fell from his grasp, as if a final ruling from the fallen God wished to punish the devil's pride. Mephistopheles, victorious and yet defeated, took flight with his monstrous wings and searched the devastated landscape in vain for his lost trophy, knowing that it was lost.

In the end, man saw perfect civilization reduced to rubble, his abundant resources lost, and his foolish avarice punished. Fortunately, the death of the Creator did not result in the complete dissolution of his creations, and the world did not truly come to an end. The devil, jealous of his Maker, had greedily sought His power, but in losing the heart, evidently the source of divine power he sought, the devil had failed to take the throne of God. In fact, no entity took up the enormous void left as the overlord of the world, and the crumbled throne in the distorted heavens sat unoccupied. But the devil continued his search for centuries, seeking the divine power that had once rested in his hands, as the surviving servants of God worked simultaneously to keep it from him. It was quite evident from the devil's frantic search that this article was that which he had sought from the very beginning, the one remnant of the Supreme Being which could give another the power to replace Him. This object became the fixation not only of the devil, but of man as well: the elusive Dead Heart.