In that time all was covered in darkness and ruin. Man spoke to man in grunts and carved crude images into the ground with sticks, craven symbols that were unintelligible to all but their maker.
And then, lo, there was a great cataclysm in the sky, and suddenly as if by miracle, everything was bathed in a harsh and unforgiving light, revealing the desolation to all who had eyes to see.
And with this rising of this first sun, there emerged from the belly of a crude altar a serpent, long, languorous and suspicious. And he felt upon his miserable scales the uncomfortable sensation of warmth and was perplexed as he slithered blindly westward, towards a large obelisk he could not see.
And after much travail he finally came to the obelisk, which rose like a cenotaph in the barren landscape. His tongue darted curiously, sullenly at it. His eyes regarded it unseeing. And then, as if having received instructions from an invisible master, he darted to the structure’s right, and began a steady, methodical, mindless circuit around it. And again. And a third time. And with each circuit, his path dug a deeper groove in the sandy soil beside the structure, beneath him, revealing lower levels of the obelisk, revealing to any who might have observed, that the portion of the monument that was visible was a mere fraction of the actual structure.
And eventually a hole was revealed in the obelisk. And yet still the serpent continued his circuit, unknowingly, without reason or logic, revolving about the obelisk like some queer planet drawn into its magical orbit. Hours passed, days passed, weeks passed, and the groove became so deep one could no longer see the serpent, could only hear the soft, sullen aspect of his progress.
Until, after untold turns about the structure, for reasons even he knew not, the serpent paused. He turned his feeble eyes towards the obelisk, and felt a cool, dank air faintly wafting out from the hole in the structure. A hole long and thin and narrow. Less a hole, now that it had been excavated, and more a sort of keyhole, an ancient unknown keyhole in an ancient unknown monument.
And in an instant the serpent was gone, disappeared into the keyhole, into the darkness, as if he’d never existed at all. Leaving neither trace nor trapping to mark his time in the godforsaken wasteland. And all was quiet. And nothing moved. No breeze shook no trees. No birds ruffled and called. No grasses waved, no creatures stirred. Nothing.
And then the second cataclysm began.
But this was not a disaster of light. This began with sound. A sound as terrible as ever one heard, as if the very gates of hell were being pried open by the screams and cries of ten thousand tortured souls. And there was no source to the noise, no location. It seemed to emanate from every grain of sand, every ray of light, every molecule of every atom.
And the ground began to move and tear apart. Great fissures opened up swallowing beast and man alike. Forests were consumed in a heartbeat as the wailing and cries grew louder. Birds struggled to fly away and were captured in a vortex of wind and dashed against the ground. Fires began and spread wildly, consuming what had not been swallowed by the land itself. And still the screams and cries grew louder.
And as if by some cosmic cue, the obelisk began to change. It began to grow. To rise up out of the soil. And lo, what had been though a column was intersected by a cross piece of equal size and heft – massive and terrifying. And still the structure kept rising, a mammoth and elephantine crucifix, literally growing out of the soil amidst the whirlwinds and screams and fires and death.
And as it grew, it began to transform. Something emerged from the side of it and began to coil as it rose one hundred, five hundred, a thousand feet into the air, shaking wildly amidst the terror and destruction all around it. Another cross piece? No, there was more to it, a parallel downstroke. Another downstroke? The symbol for the infinite? No, because it continued to writhe and thrash about the core of the column, the column which continued to rise from the ground, two thousand, three thousand feet high.
And then, in an instant, all was still again. All was silent. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. Nothing dared to. The obelisk stopped growing. And as whatever was living began to dare to come out from wherever it had been hiding during the terror, it became clear that this was no obelisk. This was a massive five thousand foot tall sword, a sword with a massive living snake wrapped around it. A snake which began to jerk and agonize and scream as it writhed around the sword. A snake whose cries echoed across the barren infinite landscape.
And thus was the Secret Panel born.