The Magas Codex was a secret codex circulating among the acolytes of the Hidden Ones bureaus. Named after Magas, a member of the Egyptian branch, it was written to keep a record of the Hidden Ones' final synod presided over by Amunet around 30 BCE as they discussed the Creed and its ironies before formally retreating into the shadows to continue their mission.
In the 9th century, the Viking shieldmaiden Eivor Varinsdottir was tasked by the Hidden One Hytham with collecting all of its loose sheets that had been scattered throughout England in abandoned bureaus which once belonged to the British Hidden Ones.
On a typical day of study and training, as a departure from our usual routine, Master Hakor welcomed a guest to our Alexandrian Bureau. A taut woman with a stoic expression, she seemed to be in the later years of her fifth decade. She entered the hall with feathered steps and sat at the head of the room in silence for quite some time as Master Hakor delivered a vague introduction of this unknown figure. Throughout his speech, the woman never once glanced upon him, but swept her eyes across the acolytes seated before her, among who I counted myself.
When at last Master Hakor stepped aside, the woman stood and opened with a blunt statement.
"If nothing is true" she said, "this statement must also be false."
The woman left her words hanging in the air. After a long and puzzled silence, a keen acolyte named Magas offered a reply.
"The Creed itself is an irony. It suggests that the world cannot be broken into truths and falsehoods, facts and fictions."
"Yes," the woman replied. "The world merely is. It exists, and we are but a small part of its wholeness."
"But to exist is to be true, no? A thing that exists is a thing we call a fact."
"To exist is to exist," the woman countered. "Truths and facts are valuations. Acts, not objects."
Magas fell silent, and the woman continued.
"If everything is permitted, who gives this permission?"
Another silence. Magas opened his mouth, inhaled, and shut it without speaking.
"We gift this permission to ourselves," the woman said. "We are the source of our own purpose."
None said a word in reply as the woman looked us over. It seemed that she was neither pleased not dissatisfied with our silence. Then she began pacing the room, slowly, turning about and looking around our hidden hall with an expression that verged on nostalgia or satisfaction.
"With this knowledge," she continued, "with this understanding comes a great and terrible freedom. The freedom to rise or fall, to live or die, by your own volition. This is why our Creed cuts cleanly as a double-edged sword. You must take this paradox to heart. The success or failure of our Brotherhood depends on your willingness to live in the unfeeling emptiness of this world, as if lost in Tartarus, alone and hoping against hope that a door will one day open and let in the light. And that you shall exit, not alone, but with all your brothers and sisters at your side."
The woman stopped for a moment to run her hand over a dilapidated stony pillar. She seemed to be reliving or half-forgotten memory. Catching herself, she stepped away and continued.
"Because they were with you all along, your brothers and sisters, beside you in the shadows, you walked the dark in silence but you were never alone."
"Yet to see the last light, you must first feel the loss, the emptiness, the pain. And you must act with the belief that you have failed, that you will fail again, that you must always fail. This is the way of the Hidden Ones. To fail better than you have before. We wander in the dark ever searching for the light."
She then paused and drew a great breath.
"But here I must contradict myself. For although the nature of reality is empty and unknowable, the nature of our work is not. And for this Brotherhood to succeed, we must have tenets by which we may judge our success. Hard, cold rules. Truths by which we must swear."
A faint murmur rushed through the gathered acolytes at the realization of what was happening. The Final Codification, long rumored, was now upon us. The woman spoke again, with more gravity than before.
Since the Twilight of the Ptolemies, the Hidden Ones have served to break the unnatural shackles that man puts upon man. And we have done so in a manner consistent with our Creed, yet this has often led to confusion and chaos. This have we devised a set of three tenets, borne from rigorous practice and application, to lead us to greater success."
"One," she began, "Hide in plain sight, that your success may come in the view of all, yet swiftly and without forewarning."
"Two, never compromise the Brotherhood. Be thoughtful in act and speech, for it is the only sure way to protect ourselves from outside influence and keep our motives uncorrupted."
"And three, stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent. Only those with an active malice in their hearts need answer for their cruelty. The unwilling pawns of evil and the bystanders caught in their wake do not deserve the sting of our steel."
"This is the decree of the Hidden Ones. Three tenets, together with the Creed, to define our path forward. Only these and nothing more. To encumber ourselves further would only dilute our resolve."
Here Magas spoke again, most ardently now. "Yet, if nothing is true, how can we justify such strictures? Should we not be free to pursue our goal in whatever fashion we see fit?"
"You find this is a fatal irony?" the woman asked.
"I only wonder at the contradiction," Magas replied. "From what authority do these tenets derive?"
"We are the Hidden Ones, a title we gave ourselves. And we gave ourselves a goal, the physical and spiritual liberation of man. These are self-made ambitions. To achieve them, therefore, we need laws to guide us. There is no magic in these words, no appeal to a higher authority. We follow them only because they help us achieve what we ourselves have defined. These laws, they allow us to persist. The effectiveness of any tenet must be judged on the outcome of its practice."
She grew silent for a moment, looked at Master Hakor, then back at us.
"Let it be known and recorded; these are the conclusions of the final Synod of the Hidden Ones. There will not be another. Today the shadow falls, now and for all time, to obscure us forevermore. Let our work continue only in the dark."
"Work in silence from this day forward. Speak not your name, nor the names of your family and friends. For to do so would be a deadly compromise and a useless gesture. Seek not recognition, nor glory, nor compensation for your duty. Seek only the light, however dimly it may flicker upon the horizon."
Pausing, the woman smiled slightly. For the first time since her arrival she seemed content.
"We are Hidden Ones, all of us, forever together in our solitude. May it ever be so."
She stopped there, gave a slight nod, and turned and strode towards the exit at the back of the hall, making no sound as she went. The room stayed silent for a time, until Master Hakor broke the peace by urging us to our afternoon studies. Euclid was the subject this day, and amid a rustle of scrolls, the acolytes set to work.
Some hours later, I found myself in the garden outside the tomb of Alexander Rex, enjoying a bowl of dates and thinking of the lessons of the day, and of the woman who had given us so much to ponder. So deep in thought was I, that i did not notice the arrival of Magas, who startled me with a touch on the shoulder.
"Quite a day, was it not?" he said, excitedly, "To be visited by such a one?"
Mistaking my inquiring expression for censure, Magas waved his hands before him.
"I know, I know," he said. "Glory and recognition are frowned upon. Our anonymity is our weapon. But allow me this one moment of glee. For to meet one of our founders, the woman who ended the Ptolemies, no less... it is not a chance we shall have again."
"A founder," I repeated. "Of the Hidden Ones? Her?"
"Yes, O, yes," Magas said. "Her true name is lost to the living, as are the names of all our first Hidden Ones. A testament to their devotion, I suppose! But this woman colored and stained by history cannot live invisible in her own time. She has seen the blood of Caesar, the tears of Cleopatra, and the wrath of Imperator Augustus no less!"
Magas leaned in close so that only amid the drifting bees and butterflies would hear.
"She would kill me for speaking her name, but I'll say it! Amunet they called her a long time ago. And today, for a moment, she lived not in memory but in flesh. As for the rest, they are gone... and happier for it, I think."
- Magas' question on why the Hidden Ones did not chase their goals by whatever means if nothing is true almost exactly echoes Edward Kenway's similar query to Ah Tabai before helping defend the Caribbean Brotherhood in Tulum from an attack by the Spanish army.