The Body of Veled

This Week’s Prompt:90. Anencephalous or brainless monster who survives and attains prodigious size.

The Prior Research:Lose your Head!

Bodies lay strewn like scattered grains across Peridun’s field. The men who had thus far survived the fighting, the rebellious folk of the mountains and the riders of the Thunder King, waited on bated breath. The rebel, Veled, dressed in fine cotton clothes and with a serpent headed spear, dons his horse hair helm. Across, the King of Thunder, his meteor charms heavy on his head. A crown of thunderbolts crackled in the air. The King of Thunder holds his blade, that crackles as it cuts the air with each blow.

The two rush forward, and the melee is fierce. The blade slides off the clothes of Veled, the spear can find no hole in the meteor born metal. Rebel and loyalist watch, each holding breath as sparks and strikes fly. Later men tell of how the earth shook and the wind roared. And then the first crack—the spear of Veled, rent in two. In the pause, the blade found a gap—and off went Veled’s head, his horse haired helm clattering on the ground.

The King of Thunder told this tale many times as he returned, Veled’s head in his banner. Peridun’s people were scattered by the hurricane of steel—those that did not flee, watered the fields in blood. And all was silent on those fields for a time, as feasting and murals were made.

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Until Veled’s body stirred, abandoned and naked on the field of war. It was a lumberjack wandering the roads that saw the body first—hunched over and crawling. At first he thought, in it’s scarred and awful shape, that some strange tiger was feeding on the bodies of the dead. Yet as he drew close, he saw the furs were mere clothes—the hands not clawed, but with the long finger nails of a corpse. The body made no sign that it saw or heard him as he approached—but the horrid look of it’s neck stump caused the man to shriek in panic and flee.

It was from this fleeing woodsmen that the body of Veled acquired its first tool. The bodies that lay in Peridun still bare the marks of its first depradations—hunks of flesh and bone rent by tireless nails and arms. But axe in hand, the ghastly corpse began to butcher it’s fellows bodies. It would drop the chunks of meat down its throat. The lands around Peridun are sparsely inhabited, and such sights were deemed the work of a local exorcist or priest, unworthy of national concern for sometime. Its grim dances atop the boides, laughing madly with chortling hoots and screams from fractured vocal chords, were unnerving and unwholesome. But in such a land that resisted rightful law, it was of no note or surprise.

After some time, however, the sight grew tiresome—and indeed an exorcist was called to deal with the ghosts of rebellion. A woman of some skill, who knew many of the arts of casting back spirits and was attended always by the smell of divine incense, the exorists went out with her retinue in the night. She came with a wooden sword and carved silver bell, that would sing sweetly. Many dark creatures she had banished from the night, who at the sound of her bell fled the authority of the heavens.

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So she descended into the plains, where the beast held its dances. Oh how terrible the body of Veled was! It stood now eight fall tall, the woodsman’s great ax and a broken platform of shields trampled under foot. The exorcist’s retinue stood back with horror. But she presisted forward, sending them to their stations, with their implements. Here a brazen thunderbolt. There a lit candle. Pure water. The beast feels the heat and motions of the wind, the unsettled body of Veled turns and paws about—its dancing has stopped, for its throat tastes something living in the air. And then the exorcist drew her sword, and spoke her prayers.

She recounted not just the Thunder King’s triumph, but his fathers, and fathers fathers. She recounted the divisons of heaven and earth, that had assigned to her the authority over spirits. She, with the fire of a holy preacher, recounted the torment of the rebellious, and promised a swift and merciful dismissal if the body returned to the grave.

The body made no reply—as it lacked any sense of hearing, as a thing that stood outside the law. The exorcist then made to strike the body, her sword digging deep into it’s swollen stomach. The ministers of the depths sent a missive to summon the body down, as they had a hundred rebel spirits and ghosts before. This missive, however, was ignored—for the senseless corpse could not hear it. Instead, it felt the pain of the sword, and in a rage, slew the exorcist and her retinue.

The terror of this report was sent to the Thunder King and his authorities—as well as reports of a swollen, mishappen corpse marching towards his mountain castle. The body of Veled was now ten feet tall, and proofed immune to swords, spears, and slings. Worse still, the beast’s hunger continued—it consumed and devoured men and women without hesitation. Arrows and axe heads had been stuck in it’s sinew, but the flesh of it’s victims renewed it every year. Such outrages moved the Thunder King—he assembled his companions.

“This beast is unlike others we have seen—it defies sense and death, and will not yield to the demands of gods and men. We must overcome it’s strength, and hold it still. Then, we will affix a head to it, carefully made. Once it has regained a head and sense, the ministers below will lay their hands on him, and take this twice dead Veled down below.”

And his companions agreed with his wisidom, the ten of them armed with bolas and net, with tridents and harpoons. These, they believed, would fix themselves into it’s wounds. Even as the beast healed, the chains would wrap and bind its bones and muscle. The weight of imperial iron would hold it fast, with effort.

So they rode out, the eleven riders to meet with the great terror. Now it stood twenty feet tall—towering over hills as it crawled up the mountains. The body dimmly felt it’s old head, still hung from the banner of the Thunder King. It hurled stones as the riders appraoched, battering their path with boulders the size of men and horse sized clods of dirt. One struck a companions chest, smashing bones asunder. Another hit a companion’s steed, stumbling the horse over and killing both. Yet the nine remaining pursued the monster, who continued it’s howls of broken voices and danced as it had on a hundred fields of corpses.

They cut at the body. They drove nets of steel around its flesh. Whirling bolas wound around and around its limbs. The peakless mountain came tumbling down, limbs flayed and woven together. Yet still it pulled forward. It’s dance done, its hands climb the ground, its axe a great lever to heave it’s form. A companion drew close with a lance, but the hands of Veled caught it’s tip and pulled him screaming into his gapping maw. The remaining eight riders withdrew for a moment, content in having slowed the creature.

“We must move swiftly,” said Thun, wisest of the Thunder King’s riders. “I fear the nets are not as firm as it’s spirit. Mountain the head on a spear and drive it onto the neck—impose thought on the creature, before it turns its cage into armor.”

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So the Thunder King and his companions each took a spear. And each removed it’s tip, and replaced it instead with the head of a great statue, the stump facing forward. They made off without their horses—who were tired from the fighting and afraid of the great beast. So slowly, the four men and four women descended, each drawing closer to the clawing body of Veled.

Assaulting such a creature, who could not see or here, was difficult with. But ambushing them was remarkably easy. The first spear, by Thun, struck between the limbs and hit the throat. But it was too small! The idol’s head was swallowed whole, and Thun gave away his presence with the spear tip. So there was only seven companions as the body slunk up towards the Thunder Kings halls. Each in turn made their assault—but the heads of gods were ill fitting something so lawless. Some too small, some too big, some swallowed and some ignored. At last, only the Thunder King remained—and to him came a novel idea.

He discarded the head of stone he had brought, hurling it with great force. It came down on the back of Veled, startling it. The Thunder King fetched Veled’s old head, with it’s long hair and embalmed flesh. He wove the hair around the spear tip—making something like a mace as he approached. He swung it slowly, letting it whirl in the air. The body had grown vast—it was fifteen feet tall now. The head had shrunk with rot.

Still, he bounded forward, and brought flesh to flesh—the body knew the head. And as they became one, the chorus of summons from the underworld. They laid there hands on the life of Veled’s body, and pulled it down. And so the terror was ended, and so execution by beheading prohibited in the land of Peridun.



 

This story is back to the more mythic structure–I’ll figure out one day how to write a story that moves between more grounded and more fantastic, but for this prompt the mythical seemed more accurate and fitting.

Next week, in the heat of summer, we venture to the forgotten and dread time of winter–of frozen bodies and trapped times. Come and see what’s stuck under all that ice.

 

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There is a Garden atop a Mountain

This Week’s Prompt: 51. Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye.

The Research:In The Garden I Saw A Shade

Let me tell you a story.

Once there was a mountain. The mountain was a wall of milky marble at the top of the world. It was said by wise men and sages that the core of this mountain was ice, giving it it’s hue, and that layers and layers of snow kept it so. The stones striking out of it, the dirt and dust forming a coating several feet thick, were the products of the great winds that whipped along it’s sides. These winds brought with them every storm of the world, that they might come to the summit of the world and there deposit themselves and die. So the top of this mountain was obscured from mortal sight.

It was said then and I say it now, there was a garden atop that most desolate place. How? Well, through the mountain of ice and stone ran a singluar capillary of warm water, a bubbling spring. And the winds, dreadful as they were, brought seeds from the world over. And the rains watered them as the storms sank dying, walls of clouds falling away. And such was the garden, that it was known the world over by those invisible things. Gods, demons, and magicians of the most subtle art came to the garden, blessing it with their own additions. They brought animals to hunt and run, they brought sweet companions to entertain, they brought houses and thrones, to enjoy the top of the world.

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It was said further that only one tree of worth was not planted by the gods. Priests and sages said that once, an acorn was taken on the wind. Now an acorn is a sturdy seed, and when planted gives birth to an insatiable and marvelous tree. And it must have been doubly so for this seed was whisked on the winds, through the feircest of storms. Lighting laced it, and refined it in the way that fire forges steel and purifies water. To an untrained eye, the seed was shrinking, growing thin and barely there at all. But to those with proper sight, it was a terror, glowing with vitality. It was something like a divine, waiting to be born.

And so it landed on the ground, and by it’s own will dug down.And they say, pilgrims and mystics, that a tree did grow. And from this tree a fruit, every ten thousand years, will sp ring. A fruit that holds that infinite vitality, which is invisible to the untrain eye, but casts a shadow in the full moon.

Three such pilgrims, the story goes, had made their way to the great mountain at the top of the world. The three had all grown old and foolish in their wisdom, as all do when they think themselves wise. They had traveled far from their warm homes among shifting sands, far from their monasteries and temples and scholarly halls. They knew much.

The first one, we’ll call him Ib, was the one with the notion to scale the impossible mountain, and see the garden of the gods. Ib had long desired, as a lost priest and slowly blind scholar, to see the gods before all was lost to him. It was presumed by learned men like Ib that the fruit of the tree born of thunder would given him that much, at least, if not more. Ib walked bent over with a crooked staff that at the top split in half, forming a Y shape. It was said by his companions that only things within the branches were visible to old Ib.

Nel was the second one. Nel was no fallen pilgrim. She wore a birght robe of scarlet, and a silver staff helped him up the mountain. Nel was a pilgrim who had supped all the wine of the world, and was glorious in her own time, having broken kingdoms and temples with swords and axes. She scaled the mountain after scouring the location from priests and fleeing wisemen and loyal sorcerers, who predicted to the last that atop the mountain was a power. That to surmount the world’s head would grant the conquering queen unlimtied power.

The third was a nameless one. They were neither beggar nor queen, but someone from the mass between. What was promised to the third traveler is not well remembered, and there is no small amount of disputation and disagreement on the matter. It was something of great worth to them, and to no other, yet their common nature obscures what could be of such worth. It is said, sometimes, that it was merely to taste the wonder, regradless of it’s properities, that impelled this pilgrim forward.

So the three walked up the mountain, to the top that was shrouded in whirling winds and perpetual clouds. The hike above was perilous, and lined with shrines that other, less successful voyagers had left. Frozen bodies were left, that the winds might carry them one day up to the top. The oldest were buried into the sides of the mountain or had fallen around the edge of the bottom of the great mountain. Few of the most ancient priests were no longer recognizable as men and women…of course it was possible that they were never human to begin with and were of some older and nobler sects. Their bodies were past over without much remark.

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At long last, the top came fully into veiw. And there was but a single gate, which was dimly visible beneath the thick and storm burdened fog, crackling with the dying streaks of lighting. There, at the great gate, was one of those things that are gods and demons, but niether. It stood as tall as a giant, they say, with a great sword that struck the four corners simeltaneously. The sword was cracked and broken into seven shards, but still stood in the guardians hand. For the gaurdian would not permit something as simple as age to end its weapon.

The guardian’s head was like a great golden bulls with a mask of an iron eagle. It had a robe of darkness about it, that blurred the line between it and the walls of clouds around it. With a single gleaming eye it gazed down upon the pilgrims, waiting for them to speak. For some come to the guardian for sage wisidom and leave, they say. For none have overpowered the guardian.

And old Ib approached, bowed and humble. He knelt as best he could, and muttered before the one eyed guardian the prayers for entry as known in a hundred temples. He rendered himself meek before the holy, that it might embrace him.

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And so the guardian with ease thrust him down the great mountain, to join his brother beggars and saints.

Nel stepped forward, hand upon her staff and a scarlet rob flying in the wind. Like a fire she stood, staring at the guardian defiant. It’s eye alighted on her, as she waited unmoved and unbowed. And the guardian moved aside that she might pass.

The third one gave no pause and merely walked passed the guardian, who could not make out the third figures form or nature. Nothing was so subtle that the guardian of the garden could not see it. But rather, there was too much in the third one that they were a multitude as they walked for the guardian to rend judgement. And the third one did not care for the guardian in any matter.

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The garden within I have already spoken of, and yet it was more beutifiul then words could commune. A dim silver light, shone down, as if all of heaven was the moon. As Nel strode through the garden, she searched for the great and rarified tree of legend. She found many strange tees, with fruit like meat or limbs that had fire for sap. But no sight of the strange tree.

Nor, to Nel’s confusion, of any of the gods or spirits that frequented the garden. None, that was, until she saw dimmly on the walls a multitude of shadows of hunters riding beasts. And heard a sound all to familiar to her warrior ears, of a bowstring drawn and arrows flying. And so the queen fled the hunters in the garden. For the gods have no use for beggars, and the lords of the earth are their hunting game.

The Third One walked in ignorance, and found that legendary fruit as the gods chased the red deer. They supped on thunder and lighting, sitting beneath the tree, now a thing like it. And they faded from sight, a thing boundless like thunder and immovable like wind, descending down onto the realm of mortals on the occasion to delight in earthquakes and fires.

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In The Garden I Saw A Shade

This Week’s Prompt:51. Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye.

The Resulting Story: There is a Garden atop a Mountain

Now we begin a venture into two separate realms, both of shadow and of gardens, and what is in between. The central place in this story is something of an uncanny places, where the unseen is temporarily perceptible under the moon (who’s various shapes we recorded here). A moonlit walk in a garden is an almost romantic view of something unseen.

CarlLineaus

Look at this dork. Hey Carl.

The role of a garden is important however. Garden’s have long had a place in Western thought, as places of cultivated nature that appear wild. Carl Linnaeus, an advocate for the idea of a fixity of species, viewed the world as a well cultivated garden, with the Lord as it’s gardener. This connects to the presentation in Western mythos of the Garden of Eden, where the lord tends to all things. It is a symbol of cultivation, growth, and to a degree riches. YHVH is not the only god with gardens however. The Greeks had the Hesperedies and some sources point to Indra possessing a celestial garden. Peach trees were cultivated by the celestial bureaucracy of China, and fruits of immortality were also grown by the Norse gods.

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This is cropped from the Garden of Earthly Delights. It gets weirder. See the cover pic? Yeah…

The connection with gods and gardens is more than something exclusive. Temples and monasteries often maintained gardens, either for contemplation or meditative purposes. These are separate from the wild places of the world, sacred groves and mountains that are maintained as wild as opposed to cultivated, and separate from those agricultural lands devoted to a temple that would often be redistributed among the public.

The most famous of these gardens are the Zen gardens of Zen Buddhism and Mary gardens of christian practice. I would point, briefly, to a wonderful story concerning monastic grounds and the discovery of a statue there in. It’s either a horror or humor story,depending on your own take. For me it was both.

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The connection between gods and gardens is more than just a potential connection of cultivation of the earth and tameness. It is also one of riches and authority. Gardens in ancient Egypt were known for providing nobility shade. Assyrian gardens were vaster complexes, given over to hunting areas of leisure. Gardens often in later times provided vegetables for manor houses. The garden was, in many ways, a symbol of riches and cultivation.

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The most famous of this category, without a doubt, is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon…which there is no archaeological evidence for in Babylon, although Nineveh may be their true home. All the better, if we are to work in mythology then. The gardens, one of the Seven Ancient wonders of the World, were built according to multiple informants to replicate the green hills of a queen’s homeland that she dearly missed. They are often raised or tiered, hence “hanging”, and have marvelous aqueduct systems to supply water to the trees.

Gradens thus already have something of the uncanny in them. They are close to gods, and by extension kings, and could be arranged as something liminal between the wilderness and the civilized lands. Particularly in periods where a garden served as much as a hunting reserve as it is a place for the gathering of fruits. The shadow is just as much, if not more, of a liminal thing.

Shadows have been tied to the realm of the dead for a considerable amount of time. The word “shade” shares an origin with shadow, obviously, and many descriptions of the afterlife in the near east place it in shadow. The shadow or shade is where the dark and light intermingle in a way. There are also reports, in the last few decades, of mysterious shadow people who may be reiterations of this older mythology.

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The loss of a shadow is bemoaned in many stories, although I cannot find any particularly old folklore. We have works by Dunsany that involve selling one’s shadow, a darker tale by Hans Christen Anderson where one’s shadow leaves and becomes a rather wicked man, a story of being shunned by society for lack of a shadow. In older mythology, the shadow sometimes reveals a creatures true intentions, as a reflection might. For instance, the Kitsune’s shadow is that of a fox demon regardless of her form. The devil has some associations with the shadows as his role of prince of darkness, helped by the Jungian concept of the shadow (We will get to that shortly).

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I feel like linking to “She’s a Maneater” here would be tasteless

Not all creatures of shadow are wicked, however, as the Sun god Surya in Hindu myth has married the goddess of shadow, and biblical passages often refer to the Lord as providing shade from the harshness of the sun. Dark isn’t evil I suppose.

Which brings us to the psychological shadow. The shadow, as conceived by the pyschoanalysist Carl Gustav Jung, is the result of repressed emotions and thoughts from the self. It has something in common with the Id of Freudian analysis, but is less inherently antagonistic and sexual. The shadow is better thought of as the opposite in the mind, rather than the barely contained chaotic.

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Ha. Look at this other dork. Also named Carl. Hi Carl.

The shadow as the source of a true self, as hidden hold of the soul, actually works fairly well with the notion of the Garden to a point. The graden is a place of divinity and sacredness, and while the shadow may be something profane, it is also a signifer of something human and sacred.  The shadow, like the garden, is something of revelation of character. It is the place where perhaps truth about the self comes out.

Alternatively, it might be better to have the garden by a place of confrontation with some spiritual force. This could call on a Lovecraft theme of seeking forbidden knowledge (And oh, wouldn’t that have a western parralel in Christianity!), and the shadow is often an uncomfortable thing to confront.

Said gardens, especially those that have been trespassed before, have guardians. The Hesperedies have the great dragon, and the Garden of Eden has the four headed cherubim, an angel of truly terrible appearance and power with a flaming sword that strikes in every direction. The Lovecraftian equivalent is an embodiment of time, of Yog-Sothoth, who guards the sleeping ancient ones. In the story of Death’s Master, Tales of a Flat Earth points to another sacred garden guarded by many fierce beasts.  So too will our garden be guarded by dreadful things.

Ezekiel

Pop Quiz: Are these four-headed winged warriors from Lovecraft or Ezekiel?

But then we have a new problem. What is in the garden that is so valuable. We could do well with fruits, I think. Fruits of immortality are common, but something interesting might come of using the apples of an odder sort: the golden apples of Perun. These are not tools of eternal life but items of ultimate destruction. Of course, perhaps there is a connection between the two concepts. Lighting and diamonds are often connected as symbols of enlightenment, power and durability. But that is secondary to the goal.

So our story will be of an expedition. I think at least two maybe three individuals, climbing the mountains in some far off land, to find the garden. The second portion will be the confrontation with the guardian, perhaps at the cost of life for one or two members. And then in the garden, they will find the shadows of those unseen. Perhaps hidden masters who have already partaken of the fruit, perhaps new guardians and gods enraged at being disturbed by mortal hands.

Or, perhaps, hunters in their garden surprised at new prey. We shall see.

 
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The Fantastic Fae From Faraway!

This Week’s Prompt: 24. Dunsany—Go-By Street. Man stumbles on dream world—returns to earth—seeks to go back—succeeds, but finds dream world ancient and decayed as though by thousands of years.

This Week’s Story: Part 1, Part 2

This prompt brings many things to mind. For starters, we have Dunsany again! We talked at length about him here, for those uninformed. Great author, and all of his works are available online. Go-By Street included!

And Go-By Street is…interesting as an inspiration, since it is a sequel to the Idles of Yann. I will spare you the summation, since the basic premise is outlined in the rest of the prompt. And what a prompt. We have a reversal of a folkloric trope here: Fairyland.

Do not mistake the lands of the fae for kind ones, however. Distant though they are, the fae are a capricious lot. Even when they intend the best, they often do harm. The most famous harm, and one that this bears more than a passing resemblance to, is the habit of changelings. Fae will, for a variety of reasons, make off with a child who isn’t properly guarded by iron (or cold iron, to distinguish from steel). They replace the child with one of their own who is elderly, or a wooden doll.

Changeling

When Subtly Is Secondary To “Screw The Fae”

The replaced child dies soon, and the stolen mortal suffers whatever fate the fae has in mind. Sometimes it is noble, as Oberon and Titianna’s during Midsummer’s Night Dream. Of course other times it is sinister. Fae are always in need of servants, you see. Even in Arthurian tales, there are stories of fae making off with brides and cattle of mortal lands, and taking them into their misty home.

The other story, and the more direct parallel to our prompt, is that of the traveler who comes to the Fae unawares. He falls in love with the extravagance, partakes of its food and perhaps falls in love with a woman. And then, one day, for whatever reason he decides to leave. This…never goes well. Typically, a condition is placed. The most famous is he must never leave his horse. And if or when he does, he will find age and time lost catch him. He is then rendered to dust.

The fate of faerie gold is likewise dim, turning to leaves upon returning. Beautiful steeds become donkeys. The gifts of the fae are only valuable in their realm, and like dreams, they fade in the realm of mortals. The nature of the fae (immortal, naturalistic, romantic, and captivating but fleeting) has captured imaginations of British authors for a good deal of time, and many a case they have played the role of the dead for cases like Sir Orfeo (the name may ring a bell).

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The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, by Sir Joesph Noel Paton

On the positive end, the Queen of Elfland supposedly granted Thomas the Rhymer prophecy and other gifts. The Faeire Queene ( an epic poem of truly vast proportions) grants also the eponymous character status as a benevolent entity. The authorities in the fae realms tend to be more fickle, but these diamonds cannot be left out.
The mingling of medieval and pre-Christian thought have given the fae the odd place as “not demons, but not angels” in some literature. The origin sometimes given is angels unwilling to revolt or remain loyal (a characterizations perhaps rooted in dreams as paradise, but mortal. Or the fae’s own complex nature). Other times, the fae owe great debt to those below, and pay tithe of seven men and women to the Enemy yearly (again, yes, this is familiar to a certain Greek fable).
The dream world of the fae is therefore, to say the least, complicated. Other similar stories include Rip Van Winkle and the last knight of Charlemagne, who dose off only to find the world shifted centuries in their sleep. The existential dread, then, of one’s world changing while one ‘rests’ is old. Waking up to an unfamiliar place is perhaps, however, a good deal better than sleeping into one.
For dreams are often places of fantasy and desire. Dreams, dreams are escape from reality-as-prison. Even nightmares are escape for more mundane and decaying terrors. Dreams decaying into derelict and destitute ruins is …disheartening. What could so destroy the land of fancy?

TheWildHunt

Asgardseien by Peter Nicolai Arbo

This pursuit raises perhaps one last story of the fae. The hunt. Oh the Wild Hunt. Trumpeting they come, on the clouds and riding dark horses. Sometimes, they are fae. Sometimes they are the souls of the damned, doing the devils due. Sometimes they are spirits of storm, laughing in thunder. The Wild Hunt is always a terror, bearing pestilence and power. They make off with souls to the land of fae or the dead, and their leader is often the Grim One, the Allfather of the land (Odin to the Norse, Arthur in Brittany) or a particularly cursed man (Count Hackleburg, oddly enough).

The fae version has a unique touch, however. As they draw close, the footsteps sound more distant. As the victim escapes, they sound closer. Thus, the prey runs itself ragged, and rests in the time of emergency. The fae rider is often the color of storm clouds (Dark grey or pitch black). The force of chaos perhaps could be the source of the age and ruin in the dreamland.
Mention must be made of the more obvious notion (albeit after this prompt was written): Narnia. For those unfamiliar…go read Narnia. I don’t really have other advice. It likewise has time skips between visits to a fantastic realm by accident. Go read it. It’s no Dunsany, but Lewis is a decent writer for the most part, with bits of brilliance when he remembers he’s not writing theology.

CSLewis

I love pictures of old authors in black and white. Have you noticed yet?

Structure is heavily preset in the prompt, but I will suggest one theme/scene that occurs in a favorite modern show of mine. That is, the realization that this is a shifted time isn’t simply another land is the recognition by a small child who is now an old man. Otherwise, the structure works out as described above. I have an idea for this work, and with regards to that I will keep my own counsel.

The Siren Song

The prompt this week is: 22. Mermaid Legend—Encyc. Britt. XVI—40.

The Resulting Story: The Shack by the Shore

This was nearly a damnable story to find, as I do not own a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. And if I did, well, there’s been about one hundred years, and no doubt editions would change. Luckily, however, the glorious mind-web of the Internet has preserved the Encyclopedia and in it’s current form it does contain a legend or two.

 

“Many folktales record marriages between mermaids (who might assume human form) and men. In most, the man steals the mermaid’s cap or belt, her comb or mirror. While the objects are hidden she lives with him; if she finds them she returns at once to the sea. In some variants the marriage lasts while certain agreed-upon conditions are fulfilled, and it ends when the conditions are broken.

Though sometimes kindly, mermaids and mermen were usually dangerous to man. Their gifts brought misfortune, and, if offended, the beings caused floods or other disasters. To see one on a voyage was an omen of shipwreck. They sometimes lured mortals to death by drowning, as did the Lorelei of the Rhine, or enticed young people to live with them underwater, as did the mermaid whose image is carved on a bench in the church of Zennor, Cornwall, Eng.” — Encyclopedia  Britannica

Siren

The horror in this legend is manifold, and might be illustrated by examining the mermaid’s kin in some regards. The most obvious is the Siren, who lures sailors to their death by songs.

The more immediate kin are the Swan Maidens and then Selkie, who shed skin and walk among men. And have their skins stolen to compel them to marriage. Like the mermaid, the marriage between man and selkie never goes well.

Weyland Smith

The idea of inhuman lovers being a…poor if attractive idea resonates farther north with the Valkyrie. As the story of Weyland Smith will tell you, Valkryies are beautiful warrior women, who occasionally are compelled into marriage. And then become enraged or leave, because they are spirits of death and battle, and such things are not suited to domesticity. The disconnect between human nature and the inhuman-but-beautiful was also highlighted by Lord Dunsany in The King of Elflands daughter. The horror of something so human being so alien is rife with paranoia worth fear and the effects of the uncanny valley.

The other horror is what damnable fool sees something so alien, a wonder of nature that desires him dead, and is as much beast as human…and strives to kidnap them for marriage and presumable copulation. There is deeply depraved about such a deed. Leaving aside the undertones of sexual violation, there is almost a sublime shallowness to someone who’s response to such an encounter is unbridled lust. A lust that is strong enough for one to try and violate the divine.

That sort of person is doubly unnerving, in how well they may blend with the rest of the world. The legends and tales never remark on the strange behavior of such men, despite the relatively juvenile goals of a an object of beauty. I would be a liar if I said such people don’t exist, and that they are easily recognized or somehow distinguish themselves. The element of “artistic inspiration” that may underlie these themes is given a great treatment in Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

The third aspect of this is captured, somewhat, by the story the Shadow over Innsmouth: what is the result of the inhuman coupling with mortals? Now, Mr. Lovecraft’s own point was, frankly, the fear of racial impurity and horribly insensitive and racist (as his Deep One descriptions sometimes give away). It is a simple fact. However! There is a bit more that can be taken from this, albeit from older sources.

Jersey Devil

Behold, my gathered brothers, the terror of the Gods! Their kin! The Nephilim of Apocyrhpa and Midrash stand as couplings between angel and man, and the results are terrors that prompt the flood as they ravage the earth. The heroes of Greek Myth, towering figures of might, also bear a sort of inhuman terror. The Jersey Devil reportedly has more-than-mortal stock, as a straight horror creation.

This mingling can be condemned for a variety of reasons (the violation of the profane and spiritual by the mortal, the breaking of the tradition of immortals being unable to breed, the might of immortal beings combined with the desires of mortals, sex is scary to some, etc), but such a fear persists to this day. Rosemary’s Baby plays the fear with a perverse power of generation and demonic ailments as well.

So with all the horrors in mind, how can we best exploit this? Well, for the paranoia to play out properly, we must have three characters: The mermaid, the kidnapper, and the protagonist. If we put the protagonist as the mermaid or the kidnapper, then the mystery of who is who is lost. The obvious tension in that regard is gone. The danger of generation and disturbed offspring can be worked in as a final act. The nature of such a creature is something that we will each have to determine.

Who would you throw into the disturbing house on the lake? How would you frame the terror of twin monsters, one mortal one divine? What corpse family have you found of the story?

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The Prophecy Of Tammuz

This Week’s Prompt:20. Man journeys into the past—or imaginative realm—leaving bodily shell behind.

The Research:Out of Body, Out of Time

Splendid was the city of Uri-Gaol, high in its prime. Its walls were strong, laid down such that even the seven sages could find no fault with it. Blessed where its people, greatest among the nations of the world, jewel of great Atlantis. Its temples were adorned by conquered idols, its men well versed in the tools of war, its sages knew the movement of the stars.

Yet the crown did not rest on an easy head. Long the Rah paced up and down his halls, wondering at the passing of shadows or the most minor of mumblings. He was tall even for that age, towering over thirty feet in height, his hall shaking every so slightly with every step. But still he stared out into the sea at night.

“Can it be this is all? What more do we have to strive for? And if this is zenith, high noon for the world, when will the descent come?” He would ask to the empty and cold stars. No reply came, not from them nor from the ones priests said set them in motion.

After many nights of worry, he sent his finest ship and his warriors with fiery arrows out once more, the first time in a century. Many recalled fathers who served in the wars before, when Hyperborea stood apart or when far flung colonies sought to rebel. But no, the Rah sent them forth with a simpler aim.

“A seer, a seer like the oracles of old. Find me the greatest who might peirce that final veil of time, and tell me when Uri Gaol may fall, and how such fate might change!” he proclaimed form his enameled throne.

So they set out, over steppe and sea, surveying the wild peoples and settled lands. The found men who saw the future in the order of the stars, women who understood the whispering of leaves and markings on trees, priests who produced portents in pigs stomachs, and prophets who saw it in the movement of birds. The captain of the ship was displeased with these, and asked what sage they all held in common.

The mob gathered in the great ship was silent for a time, then abuzz with murmuring. Great scrolls were drafted by each esteemed visionary, listing backward all the esteemed sages they knew, and how they had died or where they had gone to last. The compilation stretched from room to room, until at last, a common name was found. To the distress and grumbling of all.

“What has taken you now? Or did you not predict this? The captain said with a laugh as the quiet discussion dulled to angered faces.

“It is a man we have all heard of.” one of the astrologers said slowly.

“A man who knows many things, or claims to, about lands to be and kingdoms that will come.” One of the tea women said, biting her lip.

“But his methods, they are unteachable! His precepts go without reasons!” the first continued.

“One day he tells this future, the next day another, as if such things vary based on the wind and weather! Such a man is hardly wise.”

There were murmurs of agreement amongst the gathered diviners. Yes, they had heard of this man, this Tammuz, who claimed outrageous things as truth and obvious things as lies. He once proclaimed that there would be a time without kings from atop his great tower. That one day, Not even the great princes of the earth would still stand before might Time, hound of the Gods. That the wonders of the sevenfold light might be lost forever, that cities of black stone and vile intent would stand on the dust of mortal men.

None of the prophecy was pleasing to the captain of the guard. But it did not matter, this Tammuz was alone in any certainty. He brokered no debate and predicted no thing small enough that others had pressed their sight as far. And if he was charlatan or mad man, he would better entertain the Rah. Thus over the complaints of the crowd, he was sent for.

The men found Tammuz atop his tower of limestone, alone on an island in the great sea. He stared ahead, rising only one they landed. He was an emaciated man, his face long and his mouth too wide. His eyes were shrunken but clearly open, small dots of vision on his tanned face. All along his body were drawings, crude and childish, of people and places. They rambled into each other, some sprawling cites suddenly the roof of a house, who’s windows were man’s face and glimpses into poorly pictured woods.

“Who has come to hear my announcements? Men of battle? Your days are numbered always and forever. Abandon the stupid pieces of metal and become goodly statesman. Then you may at least have pride in your waste.” He said, jumping to his feet and grabbing one of the men by the shoulder.

The warriors with their shining metal armaments looked at each other in confusion, but eventually made it understood that the Rah of Uri-Gaol wished to see him and hear his sage words. Tammuz stared at them for a time, as if amused by some joke they didn’t hear, before suddenly snapping awake and laughing uproariously.

“Then why does he call for me! I am no sage, no. But I will come, and see Uri Gaol, like one visit’s his gardener before he dies.”

And so in darkness, the ship returned to the pacing Rah, who was certain something had gone amiss. Envoys abroad assured him until pressed that there were no enemies, and he was not yet certain if the paltry chieftains and princelings were really disgrunteld and jealous or if his ministers invented them to placate him and hide the real danger. But the arrival of his prized ship brought the sun kissed lord some comfort, or the closest thing a man such as he can bear, a feeling that certainty is coming. Either doom or delight, the die forever cast.

Needless to say he was shocked to behold Tammuz.

“And what is this?” he declared rising from his throne in uproar. The captain of the gurad step forward to speak.

“This is the single man all diviners gave recognition, if not respect. He alone gazes far into the abyss where only the gods might know, or at least he alone claims to.”

“I can speak for myself and my own counsel,” Tammuz said, standing tall and smiling wide, “please good Rah, I am no mute mumbler what must meander through the grains of sand and glass to find what is and is not true. I set my mind and body to the heavens, and toss my self hence, to see the worlds to come. Like a man on a ship monitoring the waves, I know what will be and how each shift moves them. Let me do my work and all shall be well.”

The Rah relented, and Tammuz sat then there on the stone floor, fixing his gaze forward into the throne of the Rah and between the seven lights. Tammuz sat and watched.

Days passed, and the Tammuz remained as still as stone. The courtiers of the Rah walked around the strange man, whom spiders slowly built webs upon. Messengers came forth with tidings, averting the line of his gaze. Eventually it was addressed.

Out Of Body Out Of Mind

“Majestic Rah, who the sun has set upon the earth,” the man from the west had said, robed in brilliant green and gold cloth, “why does this man stand here, unopposed?”

“Worry not, aspirant, he has set his mind to future things, that I may know we reign forever,” the Rah said with a wave of his hand.

“If you wish to be free of doubt, Rah of the Heavenly Mandate, I may supply answer. I know men who can grant you warriors who cannot be defeated, I myself have forged swords that never fail and who’s wound never heal, and other wonders that drive away the darkness of war.”

“What of plague?” the Rah asked, stroking his beard. “Have you wonders for these?”

“Not I, it is not my trade. But ask of the lands in the East, closer to mighty Meru where the Gods once lived and walked. They may have something.”

“Bring your works to my palace, and I shall send to the east.”

Unbeknownst to the Rah, their words disturbed Tammuz sleep, and for a moment he was nearly started awake and his mind nearly returned to the current day, but it was not to be. So the ships went out east, to find a man who could make similar wonders. One who might make elixirs granting wise men eternal life or who knew how to restore the dead with but a draught. And there they found a woman, dressed in blue and silver, who before the Rah said such things.

“Of plauge and age, worry not. I have beheld the most eternal things, the unchanging desert and the unbroken mountain. From them many things can be learned, that Uri-Gaol will stand forever more.”

And she brought peaches stole from the gardens of lost gods, and books written in blue that told the secrets of the heavens. And the man in green and gold returned, with blades of fire that fought by themselves, and a host of men with heads of lions and bears and tigers. So fierce where they that none, the man promised, would stand against the king, not even the gods who’s city was overhead.

And the clamour of alchemists running at the bidding of the woman, and the roars of the beastly soliders, and the clang of the mystic swords, and the out cry of the priests newly revitalized made the silent hall ring with noise. And in it’s midst sat Tammuz, buried in cobweb and dust, such that he resembled a hill of decay. But still he would not wake.

As the ships rose once more to war, that Uri Gaol not fear its neighbors by standing alone on the world, Tammuz did not wake. When the Rah’s court took bestial paramours, Tammuz did not rise. When the sorcererers in green and blue wove new creatures to fight for the king, scaley goats to provide for them, and great serpents to pull his barge through the heavens, Tammuz did not rise.

It was not until the Rah again was in his hall, his paranoia abated at last by pleasures and destruction,that Tammuz stirred from the pile. The moon moved before the sun, as the sages had said it would. A pair of brilliant lights shown out of the pile. And it stirred. Out came Tammuz, his drawings changed with time. His body was like a corpse, maggots crawling through his eyes and flies out his mouth. His forests were burned along his chest, and his skin stretched paler than the moon. His eyes were not the placid eyes of the dead but glowed with a brilliant light, blinding to those who did not burn brighter by the seven rays of heaven. And when he spoke, his joy was still there, though his voice sowed terror.

“Oh Rah, I have seen plentiful futures for Uri-Gaol, forgotten by later days. I watched as it shifted and shattered, as you sowed your own doom. But this you already knew. Who hopes to evade prophecy, without knowing he fulfills it? No, but I saw farther, past when the mountains sink, and when this ocean is a desert, and when the desert beyond is an ocean. Oh the terrors that will be wrought, the canals of blood as many struggles with man over the scraps of kingship you have not squandered. And the beasts will remain and feast upon the carrion, and alchemist will make dark wonders out of sight.

“Oh Rah, I have seen multitudes of dooms upon Uri-Gaol and the heavens above. I have seen how darkness will wrap itself in splendor, how plague will come with trade, how war will come from within, how nature herself abhors you. I speak for the oldest house, the house I saw at the edge of time and who’s owner command rings from all edges. By his might was I held down, by the terror of his house did I survive.

“Oh Rah, thrice on three times will the world rise and die. Know that no generation hence will recall Uri-Gaol, for it will be less than a ruin, less than even a myth or legend, but rather only a place dreamed of in the distance. Know that the nightmares made flesh will be your legacy, who once may have been wise. Know that I and those who follow me, who bear the sigil of death and are born of decay, will linger alone in this place when it is buried beneath the waves.”

And each word Tammuz spoke bore plauge and storm out into the world. Each syllable an aeon of past and present misery washed over the Rah and his court, a lotus unfolding to show a darkened core. There was no weeping, for tears trembled. The court merely stood, all other speech render moot by the litany from beyond. And so they remained, until Uri-Gaol sunk beneath the sands and seas.

I will not deny, my fellow writers and gravediggers, this prompt took many attempts and I am still not entirely pleased with the result. It has some touches, in this latest form, with my attempts on Dunsany and eternity from a time back, and the letter to the commander of the faithful. It strikes me as worse than either of those however. Still, this stiching will have to do. Some day later I might expand this, dive deeper and pull together a better work. But for now, we must move on to the next prompt, the next corpse, the next untold terror.

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Out of Body, Out of Time

This Week’s Prompt:20. Man journeys into the past—or imaginative realm—leaving bodily shell behind.

The Resulting Story:The Prophecy Of Tammuz

Welcome back brothers and sisters of the Undead Author Society. We have quite a bit to discuss in this little prompt, so please bare with me. We have to go to strange and odd places, as there’s a great deal to talk about with time, space, and the mind.

Firstly, the basics. The idea of out-of-body experiences was common and accepted in certain circles by the time of Mr. Lovecraft. Astral projection, as it is commonly called, has a rich tradition dating back millenia. Famous works such as The Divine Comedy are found the world over, detailing adventures into the underworld or strange locations, fairy realms and spirit lands.

In particular, in certain sects of shamanism and the like, astral projection is a means not only to see wonders, but to correct wrongs. The spirits must be battled or confronted, but This is still a somewhat common trope in fantasy, as the successful Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar the Last Airbender and Cartoon Networks Gravity Falls to a lesser extent show.

However, what is less common was it as a means of travel. A common idea in the early days of science fiction was the use of astral projection instead of other more mundane means of interstellar or temporal travel. Examples include the seminal John Carter of Mars and Mr. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy . The notion has mostly by now been abandoned in favor of spaceships, with actual real world success resulting in the dismissal of more fantastic or pseudo scientific ideas.

Thus the imaginative realm Lovecraft refers has the great potential to be a dream scape, such as the wondrous Dreamlands we have already discussed, or a foreign world. Or even the past. But the past seems more banal, with our modern minds knowledge, then either of those places. How could these be mistaken for one another?

It must be remembered that the past, in Lovecrafts time, was still being uncovered. The age of the world was growing, but how old say, humans, were was less set in stone. Lovecraft and his fellows thus populated the past with human and inhuman nations on a multitude of lost continents, a trait that sadly dates them somewhat. As tectonic plates were just being discovered, to Lovecraft the sudden sinking of Ryleh or Atlantis in a few thousand years seemed totally reasonable. Today, baring the supernatural in the case of both, we also have observation of the ocean that derails the horror somewhat.

This notion of prehuman ancestors also owes it self to one of the…unsettling influences on fantasy, horror, and science fiction of the day, particularly weird fiction. The occult, in particular, the Theosophical society. An oddity of occultism, part of the Theosophical societies doctrine included the notion of ‘root races’ who were increasingly involved in the operation of the world and built large scale civilizations that eventually fell. The society aimed to manipulate or guide human evolution according to heavenly precepts, to better receive a world teacher.

Blatavsky

The reason this is appealing to weird fiction authors ought to be obvious. Even at a superficial level, it invokes conspiracy, strange alien masters, ancient relics and technology, and the expansion of humanity into the unknown. The problematic part occurs when considering the ‘root races’, particularly the assertions regarding Aryan superiority over semetic peoples. The inherent racist overtones of Theosphony’s pseudo scientific eugenics make it a poor choice at times, except in the broadest of strokes. Still, some of the fantastic material may be mined (reading the wikipedia page on root races alone, you can see the outlines of Numenor et al. With dark magics and human hybrids)

That in mind, what sort of story presents itself from the prompt? We might begin with the notion of time travel instead of spatial travel. While time travel is a dangerous plot utenzil, it allows for immediate effects and raises some unsettling stakes. There is a paranoia to the idea that, at any moment, the past might be rewritten and we would know nothing of it.

It is best then that we have about five characters, it seems. We have one who travels between worlds, two who dwell in modernity, two who dwell in the past. It is probably best that the travelerer not know he is in the past, but rather believe he is in some new fantastic locale. We want a careless protagnoist, who will unwitting cause damage or change. Such is the Lovecraft way.

That said, we must have a conflict with his new and alien surroundings. This seems easy enough, given that our mystery magnificent culture can certainly provide clash. It would do well to think on what sort of conflicts however. It would be in poor taste to insist that modern virtues are superior in every way to past ones. The past was not a savage hell that only needed modern reason to solve its problems, nor is the present a logical utopia.

On the other hand, the past was not a rosy innocent time where the only problems were solved with simple discussion, nor is the present a cold emotionless hell from which we cannot escape. Some work must be done, then, on this past culutre and determining the present of the story. We might do a present a bit off from ours if we want to make things easier (the sins of two pasts are easier to see then the sins of the present and past, and are less likely to cause uproar).

But that is exactly why we should not do that. This is horror after all, and what’s the point if you don’t leave someone unsettled? Now back to our tales outline. First, we must arrange the present. The when, where, and who. After this, we send our traveler tumbling backward into the past, through some accident (probably of a head injury, though a simple sleep could do in a pinch.Either is random enough). We present the past, and the lead makes choices, causing some change. He returns to the present, only to find it altered.

Now, the alteration itself is tricky. How grand an operation should it be? A great deal of short story work has been done with small changes, linguistic differences or the like. Grander changes have some stereotype to them (how many times will Nazis win WW2? Or the Soviets the Cold War?), so they may have more room to explore.I think a medium is need. Not one small change, but hundreds. Noticeable, but not insurmountable differences reflecting the characters choice.

Conan

Onto the character, I have noticed we haven’t done a non-white person. Perhaps that will be worth a swing, to better diversify our cast. I wonder also about the genre. Mr. Lovecraft was not just a horror author. He wrote fantastic tales, such as the Dream Quest for Unknown Kadath and was good friends with the seminal creator of Conan the Barbarian , Robert E. Howard. takes place in the same world as the Mythos. Perhaps we will simply stick to fantasy for this one.

The fullness of that development is more than one of these posts has time for. Needless to say, I will endeavor to make it surprising. What clear paths do you see? What changes would you make? What worlds would explore?

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Eternity Falls

Clockwork

This Week’s Prompt:6. In Ld Dunsany’s “Idle Days on the Yann.” The inhabitants of the antient Astahan, on the Yann, do all things according to antient ceremony. Nothing new is found. “Here we have fetter’d and manacled Time, who wou’d otherwise slay the Gods.”

The Research:The Lord Dunsany, Time, and Hegel

Who can say how many High Priests Oldowan there have been? How many men, with lanky arms outstretched bearing torches overhead, in tattered vestments have stood at dawn and recited ancient prayers to gods forgotten? To Molech, To Baal, to the Gods of Harappa, to the little gods of long dead villages, to the gods of Greece, to the bestial and regal gods of Egypt, to the bloody gods of the Aztecs, to their northern neighbors, to the Inca’s many fold divinities, to China’s bureaucracy, and so on. No god here is forgotten, no god goes unmentioned in prayer. Who can say how long that roll of ceaseless divinity is?
The High Priest will stand at this point, reciting prayer and receiving offerings for the gods, his only sustenance, until the end of days. He, in many bodies, has done this act for centuries. The first Oldowan stood waiting the gods arrival, enumerating them as they emerged from the foggy vestments of Time. Around him was the city unchanging, the city unbroken. No god could speak for its invention. Houses and altars to those not yet born were already built. A mosque stood before there had been a Mohammed, a Cathedral before a Christ. Temples with many columns, with towering tops, mighty and splendid ziggurats stood. Such was the city that bound time.
For Time was what drove the gods hence from their mighty aether. Time, ravager and many clawed beast, gaping and vast gyre, wound its way across the sea of Chaos. Time hounded the gods, in their multitudes, from hold to hold. Until in Astahan they trapped it. For the High Priest would not bow to time. Nor would the acolytes or adepts, the lesser priests or the stone workers. Here no change would pass. Here eternity would reign.
And every rite was preformed then, along the river Yann. Ever moment remembered, and repeated ad infitium. Who can say how long after, for in Eternity a moment is a millennial? But in time, a ship came down the river Yann. And strange men came, from distant deserts and red clay cities. They came and landed.
And one, one spoke with an acolyte by the harbor.

“Hello,” the stranger said, in a long coat, a face pale and thin.
“Good morrow,” the acolyte said, returning to his labor.
“Tell me what city is this?”
“This is Astahan,” the acolyte responded, not ceasing in his work.
“And what are the gods of Astahan?”
“Why, all the gods are. Here we worship all the gods, that Time would otherwise ravage.”
The stranger paused here, staring out at the calm and blissful river Yann. With a clicking sound he turned to the acoylte again, who was still sweeping the port.
“What of Time himself? Is he paid tribute here?”
And the acolyte paused. His broom hoveredv over the pile of dust, the same pile that had stood there since the dawn of creation. He paused and wondered at the question.
“Time himself? Why, no. Of course not,” he said, and the traveler was appeased at the novel words.

The question still stung in the acolytes brain, however, and like a tumor grew. Did time consume itself? Was time too preserved, destroyer consuming forever? Or was it dead? But if dead, why needed it more chains? And he asked another acolyte. And that one asked another, which delayed his construction and deconstruction of the vessels.
And so the nightly procession saw and paused to admire the well constructed vessels, and so was delayed in observance of the rites of the god Timur. And the delayed observance of one led to chastisement and delay for another. Until at long last, the seconds added up to minutes to hours of delay and failing ritual. And Oldowan rose late that day.
And there was a great groaning noise in creation. The city seemed to sink a little. For as Oldowan rose to speak the many names, he saw a great shape. A many toothed shape, with outstretched arms from a vast precipitous maw.
And how the Gods of Olympus wept. Hera’s gowns is stained with tears as her sire returns. Ares stares with pale skin, his spear clattering as his children Phobos and Deimos seize him. Athena hides behind the aegis and whimpers at dread Time’s approach. Hades, long neglected Hades, awaits time, sitting on his throne with his wife. He is no stranger to the dread passage,and fears not what is to come. Apollo sings a dirge as a great claw grasps his arms. Posideon rages, rages against the coming night, but before all of Astrabdh the great hound Time devours him whole. Zeus, mighty thundering Jove, hurls a multitude of his dreaded bolts, that power which would bow the cosmos. And they barely scorch its mighty form.
Odin and his kin have seen this day, but not this day. They behold not dread Surtr, not the host of Jotunhiem, and not the great trickster, who stands by their side. No, though Time like a wolf does crawl, like Jomundur is vast, it is inconstant and fickle in shape. In one moment as it seizes dutiful Hemidall, it is like a giant, in the next it is an avalanche to bury the All Father. Flames rises to eat their father, holes fall like great mouths to consume the young god Baldr.
The host of Egypt do not weep but try not to flee. Time is a vanguard and this day they knew would come. And so they train helplessly into the inescapable. One by one they are devoured, by earth, plant, tree, and flower. Great reckoner crushes their barges and scatters their bodies among its whirlwind of a form. Osiris feels death again claim him, erase him from the great books. Isis watches as son and husband and father are rent asunder by the unending broil. And when it comes she casts herself onto the fire.
And so on for all the many hosts. The oracles go silent. The nymphs lay weeping before they too are seized and rent. Astahan, its people now bear witness to a terror. Horror of devastation, long for told. And all of man with them that day, saw as Time laid waste to its multitude of enemies. Great fickle power, entropy made manifest, and agent of eldest King Chaos from which all things come, Time now surveys the ruined lands. Who can stand before it? Eternity is now once again silenced. And time, Time waits to devour all it can.
Some hope, some how, that a new wheel might be wrought. Perhaps this victory is for but a moment, and a new refuge from the unthinking ravager can be found. Perhaps, perhaps this is but a piece of the great wheel. But those who saw Time, bedecked in the hides of the dead and forgotten, devouring memory and name and glory, think not such things. The great predator is free now.

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