Deacon Marino sat in the corner of the room near the curtain, the room was dark, only the neon light from the motel sign found it’s way slightly onto the ceiling in the form of a red slither. His eyes stayed fixed on a small opening in the curtain gazing into the darkness of the outside. He would sleep in a bit, but he knew that the Shroud hunted more aggressively at night, he felt secure in knowing that if he just stayed up at least for a little while he could guard Tarik. He knew that he wouldn’t get much sleep on the trip, the only consolation was that he could catch up on his sleep once they were at sanctuary. The electric hum of the sign was gentle but constant, the Deacon wondered how anyone could get any sleep hearing it. Deacon Marino glanced over at Tarik as he slept, he observed the rise and fall of the boys chest. Tarik was very troubled, he had many issues that he would have to face. The loss of both of his parents, and seeing his father killed by a Shroud agent along with now understanding and having to grasp that he was gifted and not a human, that was a lot to digest for a kid. Not to mention now he would have will have to learn a new way of life and leave the human way behind him. Deacon Marino was upset that Tarik’s father never told him that he was one of the gifted, the transition would have been much easier. More than likely his mother might have been gifted as well. Tarik never knew his mother, and from what he told the Deacon he though she was killed by the Shroud as well. Why keep such a secret? Maybe Tarik’s father was hoping that his son wouldn’t be gifted, that can happen. Not every child of the gifted has abilities. In fact two humans could have a child that is gifted, or two gifted parents could have a child that is human. Deacon Marino softly laughed lowering his head thinking about the words gifted and human. He was taught by Judge Moses that humans and the gifted are of the same race, that’s why they can mate and bear children together. But if they were all the same then why call humans, humans? Why label the gifted as such? Sometimes Deacon Marino felt that these titles only helped to separate them even more. Thousands of years ago the two lived in harmony as brothers until a great king of the early Persian empire saw the gifted as a threat to his kingdom. He felt that the gifted had power that he did not, and that meant any of them could overthrow him. The King was cunning, he went out across his land preaching mistrust among the humans against the gifted. He went to other lands gaining alliances that shared his same views. Within a short time Kings from the ancient lands of India, the Middle East, and other various parts of Asia and Africa rose up against the gifted and began to massacre them without just cause. This was known to the gifted as The Great Persecution. Through lies human Kings gained the trust of their gifted brothers, and while they slept they were killed. By the time it was realized the momentum had already shifted. In those days humans outnumbered the gifted, and even in modern times they still do. For over a thousand years the gifted hid among the humans during The Great Persecution, their numbers being slowly wiped out. And then came Yeshua, his power was the greatest of any that had come before and it is said no one would have such power after. Yeshua went out preaching harmony between the gifted and the humans. And his words of peace began to work, some humans started to listen, this was a problem to the kings who saw the gifted as a threat. Yeshua was taken into custody, with all of his power he never fought against his human captors, even in captivity he showed peace. He proclaimed that upon his death peace would come, but it never did. Yeshua claimed to be the son of God, none of the Gifted knew for sure if he truly was, but he did have immense power like no other. After the death of Yeshua the Great Persecution intensified . Some felt that Yeshua had only made the situation worse for the gifted. One man went out recruiting other gifted, he became tired of what was happening so he amassed a small army and began to go out destroying one kingdom after another. The gifted were victims separately but together they were an unstoppable army. Their leader was Vrang Illusate, a powerful elemental. Vrang Illusate had become tired of hiding in fear, he saw it as foolish. The gifted were superior, why should they hide in fear? King after King fell to Vrang, being put to a horrible slow death. Not all among the gifted saw Vrang as a hero though, because the humans began to fear the gifted rather than mistrust. Fear can drive a man to do whatever it takes to survive, Shongu the first Judge felt this to be true. Shongu felt that the humans could one day retaliate, they outnumbered the gifted and their numbers continued to grow. From their fear surely another Great Persecution would arise if Vrang was not stopped. Shongu went out from his homeland of Somalia preaching as Yeshua did spreading his message of peace, but unlike Yeshua he came as a warrior. He would single handedly fell troops that Vrang Illusate sent against him. None of the gifted had ever encountered a Judge, they were all fools for thinking their power was enough when it wasn’t. He was the first Judge, and it is even said that from his bloodline came all of the gifted, and that his father and mother were the first of the gifted. Who knows now for it was so long ago. In time Shongu was able to gather followers and they went to meet Vrang Illusate’s army in battle. The battle was short, for none not even Vrang himself had the power to rise up against Shongu. Upon his victory Shongu’s heart became heavy with guilt for his own war caused much bloodshed of his brethren. So he took whoever would follow him and went deep into the mountains of his homeland never to be seen again. He did however send his disciples who would go out preaching to the gifted only, warning them not to show their gifts to the humans or another war would be imminent. There were several laws that Shongu handed down that he recommended all gifted should follow, the scroll which is now deemed holy by the gifted reads as follows:
The Great Persecution came about because humans fear what is different. My brothers and my dearest of sisters this is truth for I Shongu have judged man according to his sins. Not all humans are untrusting but view them all as this for your own safety. I have seen what destruction my own actions have caused therefore I must only help my brothers and sisters with knowledge. No longer will I involve myself in the affairs of men, gifted or human. I will not tip the scales with the use of my power, I will not shed blood for an agenda. But to all who seek sanctuary seek me out and I will protect, feed, and give you wisdom that you may seek. For my knowledge is limitless for that what is inside of you, let me guide you into the understanding of yourself. If you do not choose to seek me out heed my warnings and follow these laws that I have set upon any who choose to follow my wisdom.
1. Do not bring attention to yourself. Blend in with your human brothers so as to not attract their attention.
2. Do not use your gift in the presence of humans. For if you do they shall surely fear you, or become envious just as the Persian King who brought upon us The Great Persecution.
2. Do not use your gift to attain riches. This will only lead to greed, and it will devour you.
3. Do not use your gift to help aid Kings of the human world. Never forget, the Persian King had several gifted who were his aides, yet he still sought out to slaughter our kind.
4. Do not stay in one area for too long. The more time spent among humans might bring discovery that you are not one of them.
5. Treat all of your brothers and sisters as equals. For we all came from the same seed.
6. Do not kill needlessly
7. Keep from your mind the ambition to lead or rule over the humans.
Let these laws be received, may they aid you in life.”

The laws of Shongu became embedded into all gifted who sought to live an honest life, they in affect became commandments that were memorized and passed down from generation, to generation. So revered by the gifted they were given the title The Seven Spirtual Laws. No one dare break them if they were good at heart. Deacon Marino sighed deeply his eyes still upon Tarik. “So much to learn…” He said softly under his breath.

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