Welcome to the world of Crimson Soul. Crimson Soul is a story from the Iwaku Mythos, and takes place in a genre-blending urban fantasy realm where Iwaku City and its denizens are under attack from extradimensional beings known as the Crimson Cadre. It is also the story of the shift in power dynamics between male and female on the forum, and so it is heavily influenced by themes from classic magical girl stories. What is a "magical girl story"? Magical girl stories revolve around central female characters with great power that is given to them for some special purpose. These girls (or women) typically embody hope, justice, mercy, and other virtues, while still retaining the humanity, flaws, and non-magical aspects of their life that make them relatable. One major theme of a magical girl story is that being female- and being feminine- is not a weakness, but a strength.Some examples of magical girl stories include: Joan of Arc is the archetypal magical girl, and just about any work based on her story can be described via this genre. The classic witchy show Bewitched, or Charmed for a more modern example. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. Sailor Moon, Magic Knights Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura, and other classical shoujo anime. For contemporary examples, Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. What is the Mythos? The Mythos is simple: It is the collaborative legends and stories that are woven from the past and present of Iwaku. It started as a mass, site-wide roleplay where members of the forum could play a character that encapsulated their own identity. Mythos characters and events are fictionalized, metaphorical renditions of the real people and changes on the website. A new administrator comes in to bring the forum back from the brink of dissolution, and so the Goddess descends on Iwaku; an archive filled with old roleplay threads becomes a vast universe full of dead worlds to be conquered; a disagreement between friends is hashed out in a tale of betrayal and war. The Mythos has been written into many genres, plot lines, and settings over the years, and continues to this day.Some consider these stories of the Mythos to be parallel universes; some consider them to be a single universe that perpetually retells the same story in new ways. One of the joys of the Mythos is this room for interpretation and experimentation.The other is that it is the heart and soul of several hundred people, built on over half a decade of shared experiences and shared storytelling. This particular Mythos story is a spiritual successor to Mythos stories that have come before it, but is intended to stand alone and to introduce a new generation of Iwaku members into the story. If you have never played in a Mythos game before, don't worry! Everything you need to know about the setting will be outlined for you. If you're a returning Mythos player, make sure to read everything anyway, because things might not work quite the way that you're used to. It has been a decade since the Witch Wars. Ten years have passed since the day that the First Soulmate, Sakura, took up the Sword of Iwaku and became the city's Hero by striking down the Dark Witch Wendu and bringing an end to the struggle for the throne. Iwaku has flourished... Until now. We should have seen it coming. It was at the end of the War that Queen Diana of Luna Ashe and her people, the Moonwings, descended from the heavens in search of refuge. Their satellite kingdom had been ravaged by an insidious force, one which drove them to flee in their last ship to Iwaku. It was an infection of sorts, a creeping red energy that spread unchecked and invoked a madness in those it touched... all under the direction of an otherworldly army, a Crimson Cadre. And at the head of it all, their Mad King. And now, the legions of Insanity have come to us. And so, the Cycle calls us. Soulmates. Young women gifted with the power of goddesses by the Cycle. Women with phenomenal power, capable of harnessing the very essence of their souls to perform extraordinary feats. And with them, their protectors, the Knights of Iwaku. Each Soulmate has her Knight, and each Knight their Soulmate, inextricably linked. They alone are immune to the infection of Insanity... as long as their emotions are kept in check. As long as their hearts and minds remain strong. The First Soulmate is missing, and with her, the Sword. No one knows what happened to Sakura after the War, after Rory was crowned King at Gabriel's deathbed. King Rory has retreated within the confines of his castle, unseen since the War; some whisper that he has succumbed to Insanity himself. Administrative power over the city has been granted to the defunct Queen Diana, who struggles to care for the people of her second home as it faces the foe that destroyed her first. The Staff of Iwaku- the mystical artifact purported to grant its bearer authority over any creature- has been left in the care of the Knights. Now, in the face of the Insane Invasion, as a new wave of Soulmates and Knights are called, the Captain of the Knights grants the Staff to a promising new Soulmate named Iliana. She and those who stand with her- her sisters and brothers by the Cycle's gift- are the last bastion of Iwaku. We are Soulmates and Knights. We protect and guard our home. And, too, we search for the lost Sword... As does a mysterious winged man... A Brief History of Iwaku in the World of Crimson Soul Fifteen years ago, King Gabriel fell ill. It was at this time that his Heir Apparent, Rory Silverstein, left in search of a cure. While he was gone, the king's condition worsened... and as time went by, certain members of the court began to wonder if the heir would even return. A witch by the name of Wendu took notice of these seeds of doubt, and carefully cultivated them. By whispering words into the ears of men of power, she turned them against one another, setting them all toward the goal of the throne with the promise of her aid. The result was a five-year-long war that nearly tore Iwaku apart. In the face of this crisis, the Cycle- the mystical force that dictates fate, moves time forward, and intertwines lives- chose a young girl to be the agent of Iwaku's salvation. Her name was Sakura, and she was given the power of the Staff of Iwaku. Rising up from among the people, she and several others who received the Cycle's Calling were key in exposing That One Witch's lies and breaking her hold over the court... until at last Rory returned, too late to save Gabriel but not too late to help destroy Wendu. In the climactic battle, Sakura summoned the legendary Sword of Iwaku and dealt the final blow. The Dark Witch was cast out, never to return. Sakura was heralded as the Hero of Iwaku. Granting the crown and the Staff of Iwaku to Rory's care, she retreated from the public eye. The veteran Soulmates and Knights of the war were divided; some returned to their lives, but most chose to continue to guard their home, establishing the Knights' Hall as their base of operation. It was at this time that the satellite kingdom of Luna Ashe was destroyed, and the Moonwings fled to Iwaku, crashing their last remaining ship outside the city walls. The refugees spoke of invasion and an army of extradimensional horrors known as the Crimson Cadre- and of a mystical plague that infected their people, turning friends to foes and order to chaos. King Rory gave them shelter within the city, and soon appointed their queen as his most trusted adviser. The public soon came to know and love Diana for her involvement in the ruling of Iwaku, and as she rose to the forefront, the king showed his face less and less, apparently content to rule behind the scenes. It was a happy time, and peace seemed to have come to Iwaku at last. One year ago, the Insane Invasion reached Iwaku. The infection started slowly at first, but soon spread like wildfire. The city's gates were swiftly barred, and then the Crimson Cadre themselves began to appear. It was only when the full extent of the threat was realized that the Knights also learned that Sakura was nowhere to be found... nor was the Sword of Iwaku. Now, once again, new Soulmates and Knights are Called as Iwaku City is under siege.