March 15, 2014 § 1 Comment
Bone charms rattle as she lifts her gnarled paw and silences the muttering of those rag-wrapped figures huddled around her. Her eyes glimmer despite the pearlescent sheen of aged decrepitude that blinds them and she spits once, twice into the sputtering fire before her.
“Ghrek hehg hehhg! Ghrek hahlg harrakh! Ghrek, ghrek heeehhhgg!“
That last, awful syllable stretches out, rising, and is picked up by the mewling group at her feet in splintered disharmony. Smoke puffs up from the flames, lingering briefly in the shallow cave until the cold wind rips it to tatters. She brings silence with a low growl and claw-show. She spits again and smoke rises once again, more persistent than before.
“Ghrek hehg harrakh! Ghrek hahlg hehg hehhg! Ghrek hehg hehhg Ghrek harrakh harrakhiin!“
And there it is. She read the moon well, the wind, the soft ripples in the earth and the grey-white lines of the sky. Smoke, more smoke than could be expected from such a meagre fire, billows up to the roof then slows, stiffens and slides back down the cave’s sweat-slicked sides. Grey smoke black now, black even against the jittering flame-cast shadows of the gloaming cave. She smiles, in her own way, as her brood are engulfed by the solidifying fumes and start to howl, deep and somehow slowed beyond any earthly voice. She hears the Pale Warders, the skull-stick totems out on the foothills, start their wail-song rolling out across the Fen. It sounds distant, fog-dulled. The smoke-mass touches her, flows around her, passes through her and for a moment she is a young leugha again, disobeying her mistress to skulk in the cavern-holes where she first found Him.
And there it is. In the slow-time drag of failing thought, a binding of consciousness given up to the voids and that ur-stuff between the voids. Some willing, some not. No division. A roiling mass of beingness borne forth.
And there it is. The Bubbling Foment. Moulder. The One Beneath. Well Dweller. Ghrek Harrakhiin, Shadow-Behind-Shadows.
And there it is. The Sleeping Cliffs sleep no more.
March 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
A blackbird howls out through the night and here I am, waiting. There’s a faint hissing, like rain on a fire, as a soft blanket of snow starts to fall. The soil hardens, cracking. Cold seeps down to the roots. Walls close in. I hear children cry out from their beds, feel parents prickle with worry. There’s a storm close by.
Somewhere in the Fen, on a low hill next to a brackish pool, there is a cluster of wooden staves driven deep into the earth. Each is crowned with a human skull, held tight by twine and leather. Snow collects in their eye sockets. Ice hangs down from their jaws. Tattered ribbons flutter and crack. When the wind blows cold and fierce, sharp with dust from the Sleeping Cliffs, they sing out their ancient lament.
Long, bass moans. High, keening wails. The hollow voice of the unquiet dead.
No living thing can suffer to hear them, it is said, and even the proudly fearless Grimmelkin mark warnings in their hunters’ language of scratches and scent. A few creatures stray here, unwise or unthinking, hoping to find shelter in the lee of the hill. Their bones lie scattered around, shifting sometimes into strange patterns. Even in the far-off City, barely visible but for a faint smudge of colour on the horizon, restless citizens mutter of dark dreams, hobgoblins lurk under children’s beds and a certain few take up their knives. Against themselves. Against others.
I know these things, when few others do.
I have been there.
I am there now.
I am singing.
Artist’s impression reproduced courtesy Mr P. Warwick Wilson,
Department of Anthrochology, Constant University