Wolves of the Calla
A dizzy spell seizes the Poet’s mind like madness, rocking him back on his heels. ‘Something isn’t right.’ His eyes close and he staggers backwards a step, then feels a thin hand place its long fingers on his shoulder, steadying him.
“Steady there, Poet. What ails you?”
“I’m fine,” he assures Iuqon, brushing off the hand like it was dirt. “Take point, will you?”
“I’d rather you speak your qualms,” says the Mage, breaking his hover.
“What’s going on?” Ram’rl asks in a whisper as he comes up from behind them. “Why have we stopped?”
Albey looks up the trail towards Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a. The ‘man in white doesn’t seem to notice the gap between himself and those he leads.
‘We shouldn’t be here, something isn’t right.’
He turns to face Ram’rl the Unfallen. “We haven’t; Iuqon is taking point, you follow him. I’ll ‘man the rear from here on out.”
Iuqon and Ram’rl trade glances of unease. Then, Iuqon’s feet leave the ground and he floats forward, closing the gap between The Triad and Gobon. Ram’rl follows behind him. Albey waits until he can hear his heartbeat over Ram’rl’s heavy footfalls, then unrolls his papyrus. The black ink he spread in the company of The Dirtbiker has long since faded; the blank sepia scroll awaits the stroke of the Poet’s quill.
“But what shall I write?” Albey wonders beneath his breath as he rests the tip of the Poet’s quill on the page. “I wish to scrawl but no words come through. My mind stays empty like the tormented souls of the Rotting Ents…”
He looks down the trail. His comrades are gone; Albey is alone amongst the trees, the twisted, knotty trees… and they’re closing in around him.
Branches crack like fierce bullwhips as they writhe and contort, growing to disgusting lengths and wrapping around Albey’s arms like ropes. He drops the scroll and tries to scream for his comrades, but it’s no good. The starving trees have gagged him with their leaves like an apple in the mouth of a spit-roasted pig. Roots rip soil from the ground as they tear themselves free, then crash like thunder as they stomp all around Albey, closing the game trail off from the front and behind. A particularly thin and wiry branch seizes the Poet’s quill and snaps it like it was a mere feather, spilling the bottomless black ink contained within like evil blood, like the very bile which surely flows beneath the wicked trees’ callous lumpy bark. He feels the ends of the branches searching him, exploring every inch of his face, popping his eyeballs, bursting his eardrums, ripping the flesh around his nostrils before piercing the cartilage and shattering it to dust like it was built of brittle bones. The roots wrap around his legs like bandages around a mummy and ingrain into him through each and every one of his pores, drinking up his sweat like it was sugar water, draining him dry. Though he should be dead he is not, his spirit is stubborn down to the very end and so Albey lives on through the pain, the horrific, skin-peeling pain, the utter nigh
“Steady there, Poet. What ails you?”
Albey opens his eyes. Iuqon the Mage grips him by the shoulder, steadying him back on his feet. The scroll and quill are still intact, held safely in his hands. Ram’rl approaches from the rear and Gobon is a tenth-trek ahead, oblivious to the halt of those he leads.
“I’m–… I had a vision, Mage,” he confides. “A living nightmare of sorts, but it seems to have passed.”
“What’s going on? Why have we stopped?”
Iuqon takes his hand off Albey’s shoulder and turns to Ram’rl. “The Poet slipped into that other world he resides in; his foot planted in The Commons lifted for a moment, but he’s back.”
“Indeed I am,” Albey says, settling the matter. He feels the scroll unrolling itself in his hand. “Iuqon, kindly take point. The quill means to speak.”
“What shall you scrawl?” asks Ram’rl as Iuqon hovers ahead.
“I know not yet, my Unfallen comrade. The papyrus still remains blank.”
Ram’rl shakes his bearded head with a toothy grin. “I shall never understand your cryptic ways, scrivener, but I commend your efforts. Shall I leave the rear to you?”
“You shall,” Albey replies, “and I say thankya.”
A bop of the forehead with a closed fist signifies the transference of the rear. As Ram’rl walks on ahead, the quill guides Albey’s hand to the page. The ink begins to flow; the Poet closes his eyes once more, and only opens them when the feather bows from its dance. Written upon the papyrus:
~wandering and lost our hearts beat with fright/
/wolves of the Calla shall howl forth with might/
/when poisoned is the moon brings darkest night~
Hot air escapes Albey’s nose in a chuff, as if even for an instant behind his closed eyelids he may have entertained the thought of understanding his own mad scrawlings. The scroll then softens and begins to roll itself back up as the ink fades silently away.
“Not our best work,” as he replaces the scroll in its hard leather pouch on his hip, “but at least it rhymes.” He then sheathes the quill in its bright steel scabbard stitched into his leather tunic above his heart. He pats himself on the chest, more for the sake of his quill, then continues down the game trail. Not half a trek later he comes to Iuqon and Ram’rl standing with Gobon. All three are them are staring back at Albey, but only one does not blink.
“What happened, Great Poet?” demands Gobon as he squints his arid eyes. Veins have risen, shooting his whites with bloody webs. “I chanced a glance back and found two, not three; I feared The Triad was broken by the trees.”
Albey says nothing, his glare matching Gobon’s homely stare like clashing daggers. The In’Fluence smirks.
“Not bad, eh? Mayhap you’re not the only poet amongst our ranks, Albey.” The ‘man in white turns and resumes walking then, speaking not another word.
“Mayhap you misspoke, Gobon,” Albey says, standing his ground. “We’ll appreciate your aiding our good fight against the Rotting Ents once we’ve received that aid, and I shall say thankya. But make no mistake, you’ve no place in The Triad.”
Dust flies as Gobon spins ‘round and doubles back, shooting the gap between Iuqon and Ram’rl like The Dirtbiker riding betwixt the trees of the endless wood. He skids to a stop before Albey the Poet, allowing only mere inches between their faces. His breath stinks like hot compost, but Albey refuses to acknowledge it.
“And why might that be, Poet?” spat through brown teeth closed in a horrible sneer. “I said what I did in jest, but your words came off differently.”
“You were particularly abrasive towards me, Sai Sidney Blake.” A forked tongue flickers between his jaws. “I only mean to help.”
Breathing through his nose is no simple feat, but Albey refuses to falter. “I know not of this Blake you speak of, Gobon the In’Flu-Enz–”
“It’s pronounced In’Fluence,” the ‘man in white growls, then spins and begins to walk again. As he passes between the Mage and the Unfallen, both of which grip their weapons with more than one hand, he says, “Come now, we really must be going if you’re to make it to Jericho Tower in time. I know not that you hear their wails, but I do know the Rotting Ents approach.”
A moment later, under his breath so The Triad cannot hear, “And they do so with haste, a trait you’d do well to mimic.”
The Triad convenes for a few brief moments to exchange hushed words, then follow along, the Poet staying at the rear. No, something certainly isn’t right, Albey knows it better than he knows himself. He has memories of this fateful day – or at least they feel like memories. But… mayhap they are not. Mayhap The Triad simply planned to go straight to the Tower, perhaps they had every intention of ignoring Gobon the In’Fluence’s offers of aid and continuing on unabated to meet their destiny with faces bare… but plans so often change when the wheel of ka begins to spin.
Screeching like banshees, the hideous wails of the Rotting Ents terrorize the endless forest of The Hillside Commons, carried by an unwilling wind. They creep and writhe nearer and nearer to Jericho Tower, Albey knows as much to be true, as does Iuqon the Mage, as does Ram’rl the Unfallen, as does Gobon the In’Fluence, yet still The Triad marches in step through this diversion, through this detour which feels more and more sinister with each trek they travel along this narrow game trail woven through the endless wood.
The sun begins to set and completes its journey. Jericho Tower is felled like uncut lumber. Yet still The Triad marches along.
Yet still The Triad follows the footfalls of Gobon the In’Fluence, decreed the In’Flu-Enz’a by not only The Dirtbiker, but by the Poet’s magick quill and scroll.
Yet still The Triad follows.
The endless wood of The Hillside Commons is a grand forest, but a dark forest to wander through even when the canopy is basked in bright sunlight – in some acres the local flora has evolved away from photosynthesis, instead relying on the ambient electricity in the air to fuel their autotrophic livelihood – but during the night it takes on a different form of darkness, one comparable to a deep cavern once the bend closest to the mouth is rounded, and when the lunar light retreats back into its hollow shell? When the moon becomes new and the blind wolves fill their bellies? The term darkness is too weak to describe it, even when used poetically.
“Iuqon,” Ram’rl asks, tapping the Mage’s shoulder blade with the playful end of his mighty sledge.
“Yes, Ram’rl?” Iuqon answers, more out of courtesy than anything else. To peer into the mind of one unfamiliar is tactical, nothing short of playing the cards as they’ve been dealt; to peruse the thoughts and intentions of one’s own kin is not just disrespectful, but a form of metaphysical perversion, a kind of telepathic deviance.
“You track the movements of the moon in your many studies of the natural world, do you not?”
Iuqon doesn’t need metaphysics to know where this is going; his intellect is enough. “Of course, but worry not; the Halla is behind us, the white wolves still sleep.”
“Thank the divine ones,” Ram’rl says with a bellowing sigh. “The grays are beastly enough.”
“Indeed they are, but we’ve no need to worry.”
“You say so?” catches the ear of the In’Fluence, but he makes no indication of this.
“I say true; the wolves of this wood know the Tower just as well as we do, and they give it only the widest berth.”
Ram’rl nods, but he’s not quite satisfied. The worry in his voice says as much. “What of the blacks?”
The Mage pauses, appearing to stand upon the air. Then, lofting forward, “We’ve at least a strate, perhaps one and a half. The sun has only risen a handful of times since the white wolves wreaked their bloody havoc, I have the number noted at The Lodge. When we return after concluding our trial at the Tower I can show you.”
“I say thankya, but there shan’t be the need,” as Ram’rl falls back into the gap between Albey and Iuqon. “I doubt such trivial matters shall still sail upon the river of my mind if we best the Rotting Ents…” Then, though he speaks loudly enough for the great Mage to hear him clearly, he says to himself, “Even if we’re granted the good fortune to escape…”
The weight of the mighty sledge is suddenly too heavy to carry on his shoulder. Ram’rl lets the handle slide through his hand so he may grip his familiar just below the anvil.
“We’ve plenty of good fortune, my comrade,” Iuqon whispers. “It’s the intention of ka which worries me…”
No more words are spoken until The Triad makes company with the ‘man in white. The forest grew denser as the game trail narrowed further; the three keepers of The Lodge could have walked side by side at the mouth of this demented spoor where no beasts of the wood dare tread, but now there’s hardly the room to walk facing forward. Rough bark rubs shoulders with Ram’rl, lending a touch of grunge to the metal plates encasing his shoulders. The threads of the arms of Iuqon’s white cloak have thinned near the point of translucency, and Albey’s holster now dangles over his groin as if he was compensating for that which he need not feel inadequate. Only Gobon, the spindly thing he is, went unscraped by the craggy bark of these peculiarly gnarled trunks. The trees of The Hillside Commons are often tall and obelesque, woodland growths worthy of admiration, the subjects of many’a painting and sculpture alike, yet these haggard lumpy things a’sprout around this game trail are anything but. Yes, lumpy is a good word. Ugly is even better.
‘ Foreboding would be the best,’ thinks the Poet as he walks up behind Ram’rl the Unfallen. ‘Something isn’t right here, something has been off ever since Gobon dismounted from that tall tree.’ A sigh which sounds like a simple exhale of breath. ‘I suppose I should be grateful, though, for the vertigo has not returned.’ He looks back and forth between the bent and age’d trees and the shadows which swim amongst them. ‘Yes, I should certainly be grateful.’
A vicious clap booms from Gobon’s clasped hands, garnering the attention of The Triad. “We have arrived, my grandest friends, though it took the setting of the sun. I humbly offer my sentiments of ragret: Jericho Tower has surely fallen. If the Rotting Ents have yet not razed your hillside sanctuary, they will by the rise of the sun of ‘morrow.”
Not a single gaze leaves the face of Gobon the In’Fluence.
“I meant to bring you here to invigorate your spirits and fortify your bodies, but the journey stretched farther than the reward may be worth. If you wish to return from whence you came I shall take no offense. Though the crescent moon has yet to peak, the night is no longer young; there may not be many restful sleeps to be had in this wood.”
A moment of human silence is drowned out by the boisterous forest. Hearts beat like drums and minds race like whitetails fleeing a pack of starving grays. The breathing is heavier than the head of Ram’rl’s mighty sledge.
“We cannot be sure,” says Iuqon, sparking a light in Gobon’s eyes. “The walk was long, you say true enough, and the Rotting Ents are insatiable in their destruction of this sacred wood, but…” He shakes his head, swaying his frizzy beard. “We cannot know the Tower has fallen until we see it for ourselves.”
“Dam’ryte. Jericho Tower still stands in my mind, Gobon,” says Ram’rl, stamping the ground with the butt of his hammer’s handle. He stares fixedly into the eyes of the homely In’Flu-Enz’a. “Listen well and hear me true: there’s not a soul wandering The Commons who may be guided by chance to our hillside. Not a single soul.”
The tension between them could be forged into a sword with two blades.
“We are here,” says Albey from the back of the line, though the ice in his feet implore him to turn and dash away. Six eyes land on him, four more puzzled than the other two. “What I mean to say is we’ve followed you this far, Gobon. The night may be dark, as black as the Ents are rotting even, but as you said yourself, we’ve arrived. We have come to the forefront of your camp under the premise of consuming an elixir which shall aid us in our good fight.” He shrugs then. “What reason have we for not crossing the threshold?”
Another one of those terrible, hairline smiles, the curvature of the thing a grin carved into a neck by a dagger. A crack emerges in his lip beneath his lower left cuspid. “I can think of none, great Poet. I can think of none at all.” Gobon licks his chapped lips, the taste of his own blood rousing a tingle in his crotch. He turns and sidesteps through the crevice between the trees, beckoning The Triad with a bony hand. “Please, come’come! I think you may be impressed, my grand friends. You especially, Iuqon the Mage.”
“Go on, then,” doubts the Mage as the tree bark scuffs the toes of his moccasins.
Ram’rl shoots Albey a glance. Albey looks straight ahead.
“Ohh,” Iuqon the Mage marvels from the other side of the narrow trailhead. “Very well, Gobon. I cannot speak for the others, but you’ve certainly garnered my attention.”
Ram’rl takes plenty of time squeezing through the trees, plenty of time and then some, and still he gets stuck. Albey heaves him free and steps through the nook. The rutted bark digs into his back like a dull wooden spade. Inside, bottles of myriad shapes and sizes – some hanging from the branches, some tied to the trunks, some emerging from the ground like the hands of the undead – bask the campground in a brilliant green glow, the color of glass lampshades stained with algae and arsenic. The gnarled timber is so dense it acts as a wall; not a photon of the glimmer could be seen from outside the camp. Above them tree limbs weave together like a wooden basket. It would be no surprise to Albey if the entrance to this ethereal hollow had sealed itself the moment The Triad slinked blindly into its clutches, but it had not. These trees are alive, but no more so than the grass which carpets the camp, though camp drifts close to inaccuracy. This place is a shanty more than anything else, a crude arboreal shack with no proper walls or ceiling, yet it’s sealed off from the world regardless. It’s an unattractive place to make a home, plainly uncomfortable and bordering on disturbing. A fitting lair for Gobon, whether In’Fluence or ‘Flu-Enz’a. A most fitting lair indeed.
Aside from the bottles there’s not much by way of furnishings. In the lair’s center is a firepit above which dangles a black iron cauldron hung from a metal spit. Both are covered with rust, dusty and orange-brown. There are no paintings, no sculptures, no tables to sit around nor chairs to sit upon. A blanket woven of what appears to be straw lies crumpled at the foot of the treewall opposite the entrance. Gobon must sleep there, if the whelp sleeps at all; the bags beneath his eyes, surely where he stores all his misery, lend no evidence to such.
“Welcome,” says the ‘man in white, spreading his arms skyward with pride, “to my hostel.”
“It is certainly a hostile environment,” states Iuqon, peering into the rusted cauldron. A shudder moves him back three steps. “But we appreciate your hospitality nonetheless, Gobon.”
“Agreed,” agrees Albey. “I mean no offense when I say this, Gobon, but I’d like to spend as little time here as possible. Whether Jericho Tower has fallen or not, we would do well to make our way there with haste. Please, serve us your elixir so we may be on our way.”
“Here’here,” as Ram’rl the Unfallen sits before the firepit, crossing his legs beneath him. Iuqon does the same. Albey sits between them. Gobon remains standing, looking down at this grand Triad he’s so fortunate to make company with. So very fortunate indeed.
“Very well, my new friends,” Gobon says with a smirk, clasping his hands together. He spins like a falling maple tree seed and tromps over to the straw blanket, throwing it over his shoulder and making it glide as if it were a paper streamer. It nestles beneath the hanging cauldron and lands squarely in the firepit. Gobon, holding three green bottles full of a foamy, opaque liquid (though liquid may be too kind of a word), joins The Triad at the firepit. He places the bottles into the cauldron one at a time, explaining how they could be drank raw but taste much better when cooked to a simmer, then buries his hand in the straw blanket. The sound of snapping fingers gives The Triad cause to ocularly doubt the ‘man in white with one another, and then the smell of smoke snags them like a hook into a fish’s mouth. Gobon draws his hands away, the fingertips black like soot, as a juvenile flame grows past adolescence. “I’ve learned quite a few tricks, great Mage Iuqon. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“I would,” Iuqon agrees slowly. “Have you always dabbled in the ways of the arcane, Gobon?”
Grinning that dastardly grin, Gobon shakes his head negatorily. “Only recently, truth be told. You three have always inspired me; you most of all, Mage. I will not attempt to deceive you, part of my reason for bringing you lot here was to get your approval of my progress.”
Eyebrows all around. Albey and Ram’rl aren’t quite sure what’s going on, the glances they share make that perfectly obvious. Iuqon only watches the flame.
“Where did you start?”
“The same place as any mortal, I’m afraid,” Gobon fears, hugging his legs to his chest. “I doubted the existence of magick, or rather the capacity for it in those born outside of a certain bloodline.”
“A foolish belief,” Iuqon says as Gobon draws breath. The scent of the elixir is sulfuric at best, fecal at median. At worst, it is the stench dripping from the decayed wood of the Rotting Ents themselves, of any misfortuned being to be smitten with the Plague of Decay. “Many warlocks have no kin, myself included. We are born of stardust, our existence manifested by our will alone. Magick is not a genetic trait, Gobon, it–”
“It is to be in touch with the energy of the Universe,” growls Gobon as he peers into his cauldron. Albey isn’t sure what’s worse, the olid reek of the bubbling elixirs or the twist in Gobon’s mug suggesting he enjoys the smell. No, not just enjoys – revels in it. The ‘man in white sits back and smirks, seeming to gaze into all of their eyes at once. “To manipulate it, to wield it like Ram’rl wields his mighty hammer, like Iuqon wields his mystic staff, like the Poet wields his quill and scroll.” His shattered gaze hones on Iuqon. “Wouldn’t you agree, great Mage?”
“I would…” He clears his throat. Albey’s suspicions of malintent spread like a plague, like the Plague of Decay, betwixt the minds of The Triad, yet none make any move to leave. Ram’rl, more afraid of the mystical than inclined towards it, isn’t sure they could leave, even if they wanted to. “You seem to have come a long way with your craft, Gobon. I co–”
“I have indeed,” Gobon beams. His putrid teeth are brown like dirt, riddled with holes like dead wood. “A ‘man who once doubted magick now lights a fire with the tips of his fingers. Now blooms light in the wilt of dark. Now mixes elixirs with the skill of a master apothecary. The arcane seems to be my calling, great Mage.” He pauses, staring furiously into the white eyes of Iuqon. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“I commend you for that which you’ve achieved, Gobon,” Iuqon says as though he was never interrupted, “but to call oneself a master apothecary is a bit braggadocios. I have practiced my craft since the moment my current incarnation began to spiral forever forward, and even I hesitate to refer to myself as master. Adept, perhaps, but I am no master.”
“Perhaps your flaws are not mine, Mage.”
“Perhaps not… well, we shall see. Are the elixirs ready for us yet?”
“They are,” says Gobon. He twirls the pointer finger of his right hand and the three bottles rise from the cauldron, each lowering into the grass before the guests in Gobon’s hollow. Nobody picks them up. “The brews may be hot, but the glasses are cool to the touch. Another trick I’ve learned.” Gobon winks at Iuqon then. “Perhaps you’d like to sample it first, Mage? After all, you are an adept apothecary. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Very well,” says Iuqon, taking the bottle into his twiggish hand. “I say thankya, Gobon, for this brew and the palaver which has come along with it. I do not know you well, but mayhap that shall change.”
Gobon the In’Fluence doesn’t say a word, only looks at Iuqon with a most expectant of glares.
“Yes, well,” Iuqon says. “Bottoms up.”
Iuqon the Mage sips slowly at first, then glugs the remainder of the elixir as his eyes widen to the size of a full moon. “Delicious!” he cries, then dangles the bottle above his head to savor every last drop. “Albey, Ram’rl, drink up! I feel the effects already, I’m overwhelmed with vigor! The energy burns within me like…” He looks to Gobon, so stricken with awe he cannot manage even a smile. “Mayhap I was wrong about you, Gobon. Mayhap you are a master.”
At this, Albey and Ram’rl chug down their elixirs. Albey studies his empty bottle, as if searching for a brand. Ram’rl tosses his across the hollow, shattering it against the tumored trees.
“Incredible!” the Unfallen shouts, leaping to his feet. He wields his mighty sledge with one hand and spins it like a bo staff, then halts its motion without breaking his wrist in the process. “Gobon, how can we ever thank you?!”
“Gobon,” Albey says, looking slowly up to him. “This is… we are forever in your debt. I plead you, what can we do for you to show our gratitude?”
Gobon the In’flu-Enz’a looks slowly from Ram’rl the Unfallen to Albey the Poet to Iuqon the Mage. His lips, chapped and bloody, curl into a smile which would scare the life out of a child.
“It’s simple, really,” he tells them. “Grant me control of your wills.”
Iuqon’s white irises spoil a vomitous green, the same color as the elixir. The eyes of his comrades do the same.
“Good,” Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a says, tapping his fingers together at the warty tips. “Now, give the Poet his perceptions back, Mage.”
Iuqon waves his staff. Suddenly Albey is back in his body. He can hear, see, smell – curse the divine ones, he can taste; the true pallet of Gobon’s elixir burns blisters on his tongue, tears lesions in the roof of his mouth. He’s a passenger now, strapped into Gobon’s strange ride.
And there’s nothing he can do.
“Excellent,” as Gobon stands and claps the dust off his hands in thick white clouds. “Now, pay very close attention, Sidney. This is all for you.” He turns to Iuqon then and clasps his hands behind his back. “Mage, fell the Unfallen one.”
Iuqon, slackjawed and deapan, twitches his staff. Ram’rl grips his mighty sledge at the bottom of the handle with both of his gauntleted hands, straightens his arms, and swings the anvil into the crown of his head. His skull shatters, sprays blood and gore; matter gray and white splatters against the walls, the grass, the two living members of The Triad. A drop of it lands on Gobon’s lip. He cleans it with his tongue as Ram’rl’s headless corpse crumples in a heap.
“Now, you said you were born of stardust, Mage. Prove it.”
The Mage’s form shimmers, then becomes dim, then collapses in a heap of glittering dust. What was once Iuqon the Mage piles up in the grass next to Albey like mere ashes. Albey wishes to scream, to fight, to draw his quill and scroll, but he cannot. He cannot even cry; the Poet sits numbly as Gobon approaches him, phasing through the firepit and the cauldron a’dangle from the spit above it as if they were not really there. He kneels down and places his mouth so close to Albey’s ear the Poet can feel the acidic breath burning the hairs down to nubs.
“I tried to tell you, Sidney. I run this town.” Gobon then stretches his jaws far past the bounds of their hinges and bites down on Albey’s neck, tearing away a grisly chunk of flesh. Unspeakable horror grips Albey when he sees his own blood has spoiled a sick, putrid black. Gobon swallows the chunk of flesh without chewing and falls back on his ass, laughing maniacally without breathing. Without the need to breathe. He then stops and snaps his fingers, and the branches making up the ceiling of the hollow part to reveal a blackened sky, one without its shining stars, one without a waning moon. “Don’t you see, Sidney Blake? I run this town! Logger’s Pond and all those who toil within it are mine! You should have never returned, Albey!”
A rustling emerges from the endless wood, the falling of clawed paws on brown, deaded leaves.
“You should have never flunked out of college, you stupid waste of human seed!”
The snarls of blind wolves, their fur blacker than night, their eyes whiter than snow, fill the air with dread.
“You are a failure, Sidney Blake! You shall never accomplish a single thing! You returned, lost and damned to the belly of the beast! Do you hear me?! My town will swallow you whole!”
Howls and roars from all around the hollow. The wolves of the Calla, roused early from their sacred slumber, tear through the walls of Gobon’s lair with tooth and claw.
“You shall be trapped here forever, Albey the Mad Poet, strapped to the wheel of ka as it spirals forever forward with the rest of this tortured Existence, and you shall never escape!”
The black hounds, five feet tall and twice as long, burst into the hollow and begin ripping Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a limb from limb. He only continues to taunt, only continues to shriek his sick laughter.
“You shall fight and squirm like the insect you are, Sidney Blake, but you shall always find yourself plopped in The Waiting Room, just begging to be allowed into The Hillside Commons! You shall never escape, Sidney Blake! You shall never fuck again!!”
Black blood spills on blacker fur as the Poet’s stanza is fulfilled. Albey, his spirit drained like the elixir bottles, his body withered like Iuqon’s, his mind shattered like the skull of Ram’rl, fades quickly into darkness. The snarls of the black lunar hounds follow him into death, shaking him to his core.
They’re on him now, claws dug in, ripping him to pieces.
“…lives… in danger…”
He hears a rustling, footsteps on fallen leaves. Shaking. He won’t stop shaking.
“Albey… life is…”
The rustling moves ever closer, within half a trek now.
Hello Commons, this has been the fifth subchapter of the second chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project, a novel about a writer who writes a novel about bigfoot.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
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Be well Commons~