Years have passed. The "Mage War" ravaged an entire city, but the people of that city survived. The four surviving Guardians and their immediate families are hidden. By Presidential Order backed by Congressional Resolution they are lost even to the federal government, hidden by witness protection then erased from its databases. The Guardian Order is no more, disbanded as it's members chose to give up, having "given too much and too freely of ourselves to continue."
Governments, suddenly aware of the power of magic and the danger it poses tirelessly seek ways to combat it. While the Mage War proved that soldiers are far from powerless against those who possess magic, without a solid core of mages to support them they will be at a tremendous disadvantage against any force who can field mages. Though with the Guardians gone, and the Arch destroyed, there seems no way to bring that force back, forewarned is forearmed. So governments seek, prepare, and plan, for what if someone, somewhere, does have mages?
Other things are not lost, however. Powers previously unknown in man have come forward, apparently brought out of years upon years of magic being stripped from man. Or, possibly, always there, just unseen and unrecognized. No one knows. But still, those few governments who know of them seek to control those powers.
Something is not right, and throughout the world, men of wisdom and power alike sense it. Ancient powers awaken. Defenses set in place millennia ago falter and fail. Soon, once again the ancient forces of Light and Dark may be free to ravage an unsuspecting world in their war against each other. But this time with humanity stripped of its heritage, its power. For magic is lost.
Cloaked in black, a man strode down the street careful to keep to the shadows. No one would recognize him, and nothing would incriminate him, but he'd rather not be seen anyways. Better safe than sorry, and it wasn't like he was keeping as low a profile as he really should be. His hand strayed down to his side, where his weapon hung. The axe was clearly handcrafted and spoke both of lethal power and hard use. The man didn't know why he had it with him, he never carried it anymore. There was no need, and it was hard to hide. But instinct prompted him, and after all these years he'd never unlearned the habit of listening to it. Even if the Guiding was lost to him now.
A strangling cough from off to the left startled him, and he spun to face the alley he was pacing as his hand grasped the axe strongly just below the head. "No need to worry youngster, I'm not here to cause trouble," an old man rasped out.
"Forgive me, sir, I didn't see you there," the younger man replied, shifting backwards a little. There was no reason to be perturbed, but instinct was screaming.
"Oh, I know you didn't. I wanted to talk you, young man," the older man rasped out before coughing again. "I have an offer for you. One that you should consider very, very carefully before rejecting."
"An offer?" the younger man asked warily.
"Yes. But first a little preliminary," the older man said. "This deal, should you take it, will be binding upon all of us. And by us, I mean those that stand with the Dark Eternal."
"The Dark Eternal?" the younger man asked, eyes widening. "I haven't heard that name since..." his shocked whisper trailed off, eyes staring into the past. "What is your deal?" he asked, stance shifting subtly.
"Step aside. Continue if you must these charitable side trips, we will not begrudge you them," the older man stepped a little into the light, standing taller and strong. "But when you feel our hand on a situation, just stand aside and let events occur as they will."
"And if I do?" the younger man asked warily.
"You and your family will be off limits and protected. No harm shall come to you and yours. There are limits on that -- your son has chosen his friends poorly, fallen in love with one who... we have plans for. And should another of our plans go awry, he shall meet and fall in love with another boy who we cannot allow to live."
The younger man's jaw clenched. "All this for the low, low price of my soul. Oh, and no warranties included, much less guarantees," he sneered.
"Hardly. Simply step aside and do not act. Keep to your supposed retirement, and the deal will be held. And I speak directly for the Dark Eternal, my word binds all of his minions."
"All of his minions, yeah ri- Wait... what did you say about my son?" the younger man asked. "He shall fall in love with... He's gay?!"
"A father does not know his own son, hrrrrm?" the older man laughed. "Consider our deal... And know that my word truly does bind all of the Dark Eternal's minions. The darkness shall not seek to bring harm to you and yours unless you seek to oppose us."
"Strangely enough," the younger man said with a sigh, "I do believe you. But I already have your answer for you."
"Oh?" the older man asked, curious. "So quickly have you decided! What is your answer?"
"Get thee behind me, Satan!" the younger man growled.
"A poor choice... remember, your acts shall protect your child, or doom him. Are you certain of your answer?"
"You threaten my child," the younger man roared angrily, drawing his weapon and raising it into the air. "I am Paul Koken! I am a master of the martial arts, adept of the mystic arts, and a survivor of the final battle with the Sentinels! You dare threaten me?!"
"Indeed," the older man hissed, drawing back into the shadows. "Attack me not, Child of Light, for I possess power you cannot counter! The Dark Eternal shall answer my call and you cannot strike me down!"
"I am a Guardian. And we know but one way to deal with scum like you." Roaring, Paul swung his axe with all his might as he charged forward, bringing it down on the defenseless head of the older man.
But a flash of red-orange fire erupted and tossed him back, rolling to regain his feet. As he rose, the old man held in his hands a sword crafted of dark orange fire and swept it at him. From inside instinct again prompted Paul, but this time he felt the difference. It was no longer instinct from inside him, but a veritable battering ram of external prompting. "Jesus Christ stand with me!" he roared, as his axe suddenly came aglow, a brilliant white light consuming the head as he swept it around in another strike, deflecting the old man's sword.
For the first time in millennia, the forces of Light and Dark dueled directly with each other upon the surface of the Earth. For those few with the senses to feel it, the entire planet shook with the force of that conflict.