Interlude I: Preperation
Baron Valtrith watched over the courtyard as the ritual grounds were set. When all went well, he would unleash a terror upon this accursed land the likes of which had never been seen.
The terror he would let loose on Lore would dwarf everything Sepulchure had done in the past. The power of a God that would surpass the Orbs was within reach and growing ever closer.
The witches still needed time to fully grasp and understand the text from the eldritch tome.
Take all the time you need, he thought. He had other plans in need of attention.
Chapter XI: Spider Nest
The Soulweaver dispatched oncoming spiders swiftly, but it didn't seem to make a difference. With each one slain, smaller new born spiders would erupt from the remains of the slain and scatter.
The cultists closed in on them, chanting "Atlach-Nacha!"
Dispelling his weapon, the Soulweaver took Xalia's hand and took off towards the cultists a white honey comb-shaped barrier forming around them, pushing the cultists away as they tried to attack with their macabre weapons made of enormous petrified spider legs and other grisly weapons made from enormous mandibles.
He's moving so slowly, she thought assuming that's how she was able to keep up with him.
The forest the cultists originated from came into view and soon they were in it.
With each step they took, the could feel and hear things being crushed beneath their feet. Xalia gasped when she saw the forest floor covered in spiders rather than leaves.
The Soulweaver pushed webbing out of their way, shaking the spiders that called those webs home off of himself.
Xalia hung on tight to the Soulweaver, cringing with each step she took as countless spiders were crushed beneath her feet.
The Soulweaver did not seem to notice them at all. He did not seem phased by anything that went on around him since fleeing Innsmouth. Maybe living in that horrific place had desensitized him to the horrors beyond it.
A cave came into view, the entrance covered in web lined with strange runes on its outer edge. A trio purple spiders the size of wolves crawled around it.
"Atlach-Nacha!" the spiders hissed before descending the web the same speed the Soulweaver possessed in battle.
Xalia felt useless as she watched in horror as the Soulweaver confronted the things that frightened her the most.
The spiders were fast and the barrier would not hold for much longer. He slashed one spider illicting a screech and followed through with a series of slashes, finishing it off by jumping into the air and crashing down on the spider.
The pieces left of it dissolved into a purple muck which was absorbed into the ground.
Xalia was amazed by his power and speed. He appeared to be in multiple places at once, but they were only after images left behind between each strike.
The Soulweaver screamed as one of the remaining spiders sunk its fangs into him, its toxin beginning to intrude into his veins.
The second spider began to stalk towards Xalia, her frightened reflection visible to her through its cold, unfeeling eyes.
Xalia quivered and materialized her weapon. It was a scythe that appeared to have seen much use either by her or others. The edge of the blade gave off a bluish-green glow, the eyes of the wolf head adorning the top of the blade glowed the same.
The spider prepared to pounce while a ring of runes circled Xalia. She held up her weapon, the head beginning to radiate orange followed by another of runes.
The spider shrieked in pain as a light descended upon it like a divine being passing judgment. It staggered, its eyes burned.
It would be some time before she saw the irony in using the powers of the cosmos due do battle on her journey.
Poison coursing through his veins, the Soulweaver knew he would have to end this quickly. These monsters were not like ordinary spiders, their venom inflicted a great deal more pain and at a faster rate.
A white sigil appeared beneath him and around his head, he murmured a name under his breath asking for help.
Blasts of white energy descended upon the battlefield, vaporizing the spiders, leaving behind smoking craters where they stood, his close proximity to one resulted in one of his arms being burned, his sleeve being turned to ash instantly.
He tried to say something, to purge the poison from within him, but his mind was hazy. He couldn't concentrate.
The last thing he saw was Xalia coming towards him before the world turned to black.
Chapter XII: Dream Companion
The Soulweaver did not dream, or he did and never remembered doing so. This was a new experience for him.
He stood under the shadow of the lighthouse as it cast its black light over the lakes' black waters as he would do every night for as long as he could remember.
Staring at him from the water were multiple sets of yellow eyes like those the town's people shared regardless of how far gone their transformation was.
"Come to mommy," a female voice called out from the lake, echoing throughout the town. "Let me see what a fine young man you've grown into."
He stood stone still. He knew that voice. It was indeed his mother. Maybe she finally came back for him.
"Come join mommy beneath the waters," the voice called out.
"Don't do it," another voice said, whispering in his ear. It was another familiar voice. One he rarely heard and during the few times he did hear it, he couldn't tell if it was a male's voice or female's.
The water's surface began to ripple, disturbed by whatever was coming ashore.
It was a woman. Tall and slender, her long black hair, seaweed and patches of scales giving her some form of covering.
He recognized the woman as his mother as she had looked so many years ago and quickly averted his gaze. He should not be seeing her in this state.
"That's not your mother," the gender neutral voice hissed.
"Of course I am, silly."
He tried to remember what his mother looked like. Her hair hadn't been black nor had her eyes been yellow. That lingering voice was right.
The thing posing as is mother grabbed him and pulled his head into her bosom. Its' skin was slimy and smelled of sea water, but somehow he was beginning to feel at peace.
"Do you want to become one with mommy? To be of one body and soul?"
The question confused him. "What do you me-"
"Fight it!" the other voice interrupted. "Do not let this creature deceive you."
The Soulweaver struggled and pushed the creature away. No longer was it the partial image of his mother, but a grotesque semi-amphibian terror that did not take kindly to rejection.
"You dare reject your own mother?!" the creature shouted, raising a massive arm to crash down on the Soulweaver.
The Soulweaver crosses his arms in front of him to defend, something else appearing in front of him in a flash of white light.
From behind, the Soulweaver could not tell what it was that stood before him. It appeared to be a specter of sorts in an all-concealing robe to hide any distinguishing features.
"Who are you?" the Soulweaver asked.
The monster brought its arm down, striking the mysterious androgyne, but it did not falter.
"It has been awhile, hasn't it?" the androgyne said fairly casually.
The Soulweaver nodded as he appeared behind the monster in a flash and made multiple cuts in the monster, the androgyne beside him the entire time.
The monster let out of pained shriek, like a woman's. The Soulweaver's eyes widened in horror.
"Ignore it! You must keep your heart and soul strong. Not only for our sake, but for Xalia's."
Xalia! The last person he saw before this ordeal happened. She was alone with all those spiders present.
"You know what to do."
"Synchronize!" they both shouted, a white light radiating from the Soulweaver's chest.
He delivered another flurry of slashes. He was moving so fast, the beast appeared to be standing still.
The androgyne appeared in front of him once more, its cloak flew open, releasing a torrent of white energy. The beast was vaporized and the sand beneath it burned to glass.
"Thank you...." the Soulweaver began unsure of what this beings name is.
"Mort," it said. "Try not to forget me again."
The Soulweaver awoke with a gasp. Still too weak to sit up, but he found he had the strength of will to purge the venom from his body.
Xalia watched as a viscous multicolored fluid oozed out of the bite mark on his leg.
Thank you, he said to his newly remembered ally.
Chapter XIII: Web of Shadows
He assured her he was fine, but that still wasn't enough to convince her. The poison may have been dealt with, but he still bared the bite marks and the burns from being too close to his attack.
The interior of the cave was illuminated by a strange moss that grew along the walls and ceilings. More spiders like the one's from outside scurried about moving deeper into the cave.
The light began to fade as they moved deeper into the cave, webs covering the walls, snuffing out the light.
The Soulweaver stopped, holding an arm out to keep Xalia from moving forward.
Fear kept her from being fully focused on the path ahead of her which ended in a shear drop. The gorge in front of them was so wide they couldn't tell if there was even another side.
They heard the chittering of the spiders as they descended deeper into the gorge either sliding down their threads or scampering along the walls.
"Where do we go from here?"
Jump, Mort said to the Soulweaver.
"We jump," he said.
Before she could protest, he had taken her hand and jumped.
The fall felt like eternity, but ended soon enough with them on a massive, incomplete spider web.
A sense of familiarity came over Xalia as she looked around at the web. It wasn't like an ordinary web. There were strange markings on the outside edge, just like the web in her dream.
The purple spiders passed them by, slipping through the gaps in the web.
The web shook as a monolithic spider's leg touched down on the web followed by another and another until the beast stood upon them.
Atlach-Nacha, Mort said.
The monster began to resume working on its webs, unknown to the potential prey beneath it, no other spider in sight as if they all moved out of its way for reasons unknown to anyone but the spiders.
The monster caught sight of them. Moving in, bending down to their level, it eyed Xalia, a hint of familiarity in its eyes, its facial expression unchanged.
The Soulweaver took a swing when it began to flaunt its mandibles.
The Soulweaver may as well have been a flea on an Alpha Werewolf for the monster paid no heed to it.
Xalia summoned her scythe, several rune inscribed rings.circled around while an image of a hammer appeared above her.
The monster shrieked as she delivered a blow from her to its multi-expressioned face and followed through with a blast of cosmic energy.
The beast staggered, stunned by the attack that had actually managed to do harm to it. It had lived for millenias and not once had a mortal been able to harm it, even in the slightest.
The Soulweaver managed to cause the beast to falter a little with a concussive blast. Apparently the thing had a soul.
A multitude of symbols surrounded Xalia, an overwhelming force beginning to charge. The symbols disappeared inside her as her entire body glowed orange, like a sun.
The color left her as a bolt of energy struck down on the monster, threatening to bore its way through.
Both Xalia and the monster sagged. Xalia weakened from exerting so much power and the monster from the effort it took to withstand that power.
She possessed the power to harm if not destroy a god. Even a lesser god such as Atlach-Nacha should feel threatened.
The beast shook as it stood back up, pieces of its carapace falling off in sheets of grey, disintegrating as they drift through the holes in the web.
The Soulweaver attacked relentlessly with a flurry of slashes, trying in vain to stop the creature from approaching Xalia.
A white glow radiated from his chest. It was like in the dream when he and Mort defeated the thing posing as the Soulweaver's mother.
Xalia stood up, shaking. It would have been easier if she were on solid ground and she could use her scythe as a crutch.
The Soulweaver attacked the monster which viewed him the same way any lifeform would view a mosquito.
Xalia began to cast a spell. She hoped it would be effective in her current state.
A beam of light dropped down on the beast illicting a pained cry, its eyes burned.
It thrashed around, searching for the two striking the walls and damagaing the web in the process.
It is time, Mort said.
Mort appeared in front of the Soulweaver, its cloak flying open and unleashing a torrent of energy.
The Old One shrieked as its body disintegrated into scraps of grey which turned to ash.
The two slumped down on the web. It would be a hectic climb back up.
Chapter XIV: On Darker Tides
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kathool R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," the aquatic horrors chanted.
Standing along the shores was a mob of aquatic humanoids born from the relations between between man and Deep One. A sin Neso can not overlook, but could do nothing to stop.
There are forces at work even stronger than the Avatars and while they'd never admit it to anyone other than themseleves, they were frightened.
The crowd parted as humans walked into the waters, a Deep One waiting within to begin the unholy ritual to bear more Deep Ones.
Innsmouth was already taken over, the lesser deity Dagon watching as each human that enters the lakes' black waters begins to change.
They could destroy any coastel region if they desired, but like their god Kathool, they wait. Dreaming.
Haeos and Khazri could conjure up the perfect storm to wipe these blasphemous things off the planet and ensure they never step foot near the waters again, but fear strangled them.
It takes a lot to scare a god. Especially one's that are so boisturous and prideful as the gods of Lore. But what they fear is not of Lore.
What they fear was ancient when Lore was young.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kathool R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," the Deep Ones chanted.
"Ia! Ia! Ia!" the humans chanted back as they sunk into the water.
You cannot resist.
Chapter XV: Light & Dark
It had been a hectic climb to escape Atlach-Nacha's lair, slaying spiders along the way.
The town of Miskatonic had appeared to be abandoned, the webs covering the buildings being the only sign of recent life and likely the answer to what happened to the townsfolk.
They travelled through Doomwood until nightfall where they settled in another abandoned church much like the one they stayed in prior to arriving in Miskatonic.
Much like the previous one, this one also smelled of sea water and had a strange T-shaped sigil upon the alter.
"Who built these places," Xalia asked no one in particular.
"Adventurers much like he and yourself," Mort said appearing beside the Soulweaver. "Adventurers that sought sanctuary from the vampires and other beasts that lurk within these dark woods."
Xalia shrieked, surprised by the sudden appearance of such a forboding individual.
"It's okay, Xalia. This is Mort, an Elemental Spirit of Light an my SoulAlly."
Xalia understood how a Soulweaver worked and the idea behind the SoulAlly.
"Yes, I'm sorry. You startled me."
"My apologies, Xalia," Mort said with a slight bow-courtsey.
"What do you mean they were built by people who feared the monsters in the woods?" Xalia asked.
"Not everyone is trained in any fighting style nor can everyone afford an escort. So to find sanctuary from the monsters lurking in the woods, these structures were built to offer refuge for those unfortunate enough to be travelling through this forsaken place.
They may have been able to keep the vampires at bay, but other such monsters are not concerned about holy ground such as werewolves.
And so those slain by the wolves were buried here which only invited the ghouls."
"Ghouls?" the Soulweaver asked, amazed by what Mort knew.
"Monsters that feed on corpses. And when none are available, they make new one's."
"How do you know all of this?" the Soulweaver asked.
"Before I became your ally, I spent a long time traversing the Light Plane. I saw many things. The rise and fall of tyrants, emperors, and empires. The deaths of many. I also learned things through this time such as the pointlessness of alignments."
"What do you mean?" Xalia asked, confused by Mort's words.
"Would you associate Darkness with evil?"
"Yes," Xalia said. "Darkovia is always under constant threat by the forces of Darkness."
"Indeed. Ranging from Zorbak unleashing an army on the town of Amityvale to the wolves hunting a girl for reasons I neither recall nor care for. But Zorbak's efforts were always quite ineffective and more often than not he aided the side of good.
Even the great Sephulchure fought to defend Lore for a brief moment even if only against a common enemy.
And it goes without saying you'd associate Light with good, correct?"
Xalia nodded. She understood Mort's words, but she couldn't find herself agreeing with them. There were far too many examples of Darkness being associated with evil to really convince her that dark is not inherently evil.
"Would you say I'm a good individual? I aid both he and you in battle while at one time I would watch petty squabbles escalate into bloodshed and not even consider intervening.
And of course there's little things like zealots within the Paladin Order, Sand Elves who have adopted a criminal lifestyle, or someting quite insignifigant like Minx Faeries or Elementals or such grand things like Sek-Duet's reign over the Sandsea or Celeritas having a bad day."
Xalia wasn't sure what to think of this. Artix was a shining example of a hero of light, known throughout Lore for his deeds and debilitating need to slay undead.
Even Ash Dragonblade from Falconreach became an example of a hero of light whose own story had spread throughout Lore.
But would those two individuals mean anything to someone so detached from the world around them?
"What do you consider yourself if Light is not inherently good?"
The Soulweaver looked back and forth between them. This was a lot to take in all at once and Mort's words frightened him for the first time since his parents descended into the black waters.
Does Mort see me as anything signifigant? he asked himself.
"I consider myself enlightened. I do not consider myself enlightened due to what element I am associated with, I do so because I see that there is no way to simply label someone or something as good or evil just because they shine brightly or not at all."
Xalia fell silent, letting Mort's words sink in. Maybe she had spent so long being told that a skeleton is evil because it attacks her relentlessly for no reason other than it's a monster of darkness to really think for herself.
The Soulweaver felt somewhat embarrassed by his lack of understanding of Mort's words. The Soulweaver that taught him had said Doomwood was crawling with evil that will continue to exist so long as Darkness exists.
But what about the rest of the world? Wasn't there evil there too?
Chapter XVI: Rot
The smell of sea water that normally pervaded the church was overpowered by the smell of rotting flesh.
As a spirit of death, Mort was familiar with all the sights, sounds, and smells that accompanied death. As inhabitants of Darkovia, Xalia and even the Soulweaver were familiar with them as well.
But this was the scent of something that had been dead for a long time and exposed to the elements.
"Ghouls," Mort said in a tone that disturbed Xalia.
Had the SoulAlly been so numbed to death that it could talk about the bringers of it in the same way the inhabitants of Amityvale talked about an undead invasion?
The smell grew stronger as four quasi-humanoid monstrosities entered the church, sniffing the air, searching for corpses to feed upon.
The creatures themselves vaguley resembled shambling, decaying corpses, their most distinctive feature being their eyes that resembled pools of acid.
"Do we fight them?" the Soulweaver asked.
"If they prove to be hostile," Mort began. "If they find something dead to feed on they'll leave us be."
One Ghoul spotted them and approached, slowly as if hesitant about what it was doing. It got up close to Xalia who struggled to keep from gagging from the smell.
"Do not let it touch you. He may be able to purge any ailment that befalls him, but you cannot. And there's no telling what diseases that thing is carrying."
Xalia backed away as the creature moved on to the Soulweaver, locking eyes with him.
The Soulweaver stood petrified with fear. He had Mort and Xalia to help him if something happened, but it didn't give him the security to stave off the fear that came with staring what could be death in the face.
The Ghoul backed away from him, lowering itself in the process like it was cowering. Then it looked at Mort.
It let loose a noise that sounded like bones rattling, the other three stopped their searching and let loose the same sound.
The Ghoul pounced at Mort while the others began to rapidly cross the church, tripping over or breaking through the rows of peiu's in their various states of decomposition.
In what would be a feat of supernatural strength for a mortal, Mort caught the monster by its throat. It thrashed wildly with claws on its mishapen hands like rusty nails.
There was a flash of light and the monster fell apart, reduced to a pile of ash.
This did not deter the other mockeries of life as they stumbled about. The Soulweaver conjured up a series of chains to bind one of the monsters while Xalia began to cast a spell.
In another flash of light, there was nothing left of the monsters but ash.
Xalia and the Soulweaver stood in silence and awe.
"Why didn't you just do that to that giant spider?" Xalia asked.
Mort looked at her, exhaustian showing on its face.
"I'm old, Xalia. I have seen things that even Warlic would be discouraged to try fighting. What we encountered in that town was one of those things."
"What was it?" the Soulweaver asked.
"There are gods among us besides those represented by the Elemental Avatars," Mort began. "Gods that are so old they can recall the birth of the Avatars with the utmost clarity. To them Lore, is just one insignifigant planet in a universe barely out of its diapers."
More rattling came from outside the church as more Ghouls attempted to get inside through whatever means.
They fled. It would be awhile before they stopped running if they would ever stop.
Chapter XVII: A Rose By Any Other Name
Outside the walled town hung time and weather worn banners of a blue rose. A symbol for the impossible.
Blue roses did not occur naturally, having to be manufactured. It was an appropiate symbol for a group that sought the eradication of magic in a world fueled by magic.
Sentries stood along the wall, wielding discarded weapons of the organization that forged them long ago.
"This isn't Amityvale," Xalia stated.
"Amityvale was fortified due to it being home to a human that was targetted by the werewolves and vampires that inhabited the surrounding area," the Soulweaver said, Mort's words coming from his mouth. "Arkham has its own share of monsters haunting in the dark to require fortification. It was also an ideal location to house problematic prisoners."
The sentries permitted them entrance, the gates closing behind the pair. Arkham was not a particularly outstanding town, having all the houses and shops one would expect from any town.
What set it apart from any other town was the looming structure atop a distant hill, like a divine being overlooking all of creation.
Passing townspeople gave brief glances to Xalia then quickly carried on at the sight of the Soulweaver, some even crossing the street to avoid being near him.
Inside the tavern/inn, it was oddly quiet for such a place. There were people gathered around tables making holding conversations while an attractive black haired woman served drinks.
The pair received some glances as they passed by occupied tables, some people's voices dulling down to a whisper.
The Soulweaver could still hear bits and pieces of sentences as the patrons whispered, some of the less subtle still staring his way as they spoke.
He heard the word Innsmouth three times.
Had they known he was from there? If so, how? Who could have ever heard of such an obscure and out of the way town let alone know just by looking at him that he's from there?
The black haired woman approached them as they sat down. "What can I get for this charming couple?" she asked.
The Soulweaver blushed and averted his eyes. Xalia too blushed, but did her best to not avert her gaze although the woman's attire made her feel uneasy. Despite being marginally more covering than her own, it still had a certain allure to it and the woman's proportions emphasized what that allure is.
"We're....we're not a couple," Xalia said trying to avoid stammering.
"Oh? So this cutie is up for grabs then?"
The Soulweaver sunk in his seat.
"A shy one, huh? I know a thing or two that can remedy that."
"We....we just want to know where to find the Plateau of Leng," Xalia said her voice than it really needed to be.
The tavern went silent, the woman taking a step back.
"Why the hell would you want to go there?" the woman asked, fear creeping into her voice.
"I can't really explain it. I just heard it would be within my best interest to go there."
"What kind of loon told you that?" a male voice from elsewhere in the tavern called out.
Now it was Xalia's turn to feel embarrassed.
"I don't know or care why you'd want to go to that godless place, but while you're here don't even let me catch you thinking about it."
She walked away, the tavern filling up with silence.
Later when the darkness that signified it was night crept in, the Soulweaver wandered the tavern halls. The implications that the people of this town feared him because of his home bothered him, keeping him awake.
"Hey there, cutie," the black haired woman who turned out to be the owner of the establishment began. "Decided to take me up on that remedy?"
The Soulweaver stammered. She was the same woman from before, but there was something different about her. Her attire had been changed to something he was unsure was even some form of clothing.
He averted his eyes, reminded of the thing in his dream that claimed to be his mother.
But it wasn't just her attire or lack of that was different. It was something on a scale he was unfamiliar with. Mort would know, but apparently even elemental spirits must sleep.
"Wha-what do you know about Innsmouth?"
"I know you're not one of the fishy inhabitants," she began slowly walking towards him, almost stalking. "At least not that I can see."
Pain, shame, fear, and guilt ran through his body as the woman breathed heavily into his ears, almost panting.
Xalia awoke to find the Soulweaver sitting in a corner of the room, almost catatonic. He didn't look like he slept at all. He just stared at a far wall, the word ASYLUM written on it in a reddish-black substance resembling dried blood.
"Are you okay?" she asked reaching out to him.
He shrunk back from her hand, his expression turning to one of fear and shame.
He could hear the woman's breathing in his ear and feel her breath on his neck as if his nightmare was still occuring.
Chapter XVIII: Black Goat
The woman seemed disappointed the sight of Xalia being the only one to descend the stairs leading from the rooms.
"Is that little cutie still asleep? I didn't think he'd be that worn out, but," she shrugs. "It was his first time."
She smiled and licked her lips.
"You know, if you prefer a woman's touch, I don't discriminate."
The Soulweaver remained unresponsive as Mort appeared.
"What happened? You're hurt."
The Soulweaver did not respond. Mort grabbed the Soulweaver who paniced and tried to break free, Mort letting go when they caught sight of the dried blood on the Soulweaver's exposed arm.
These weren't from the burns, they were claw marks.
A strange feeling came over Mort as they left the room. It was one that Mort had not felt for some time.
"What are you?" Xalia asked.
"Just the friendly owner of Arkham's inn & tavern, Pandora, but most people call me Pan."
Black smoke filled the room, none of the taverns patrons seeming to notice while Pan approached Xalia, lifting her up by the neck.
"But you can call me master."
The smoke began to take the shape of various monsters, drifting around the room. Some of the monsters seemed to lash out or jump at something within the smoke.
"I am your new god. Profess your love unto me or be destroyed."
"You are the same as any other supposed god," Mort said. "Just another monster."
The smoke monsters swarmed Mort, a shield repelling them. Xalia cast her own shielding spell, the spikes produced by it forcing Pan to drop her.
"I had hoped to enjoy a warm meal, but at least I got to enjoy the boy before he becomes another victim of Innsmouth's curse."
Pan's body grew exponentially, her clothing turning to shreds as her body transformed into a great goat-like creature, its body almost blending in with the smoke, its enormous bat-like blending in with the smoke.
Mort would find him. Mort was a part of him. It was impossible to hide from someone who has been with you for so many years, but he still tried to hide under the bed from Mort and the rest of the world.
His body felt disgusting to him. His heart and soul felt tainted and stained black with sin.
He didn't know what had happened, it had occured so quickly yet at the same time so slowly that he could recall every painful and horrifying moment.
Chapter XIX: The Ritual
Baron Valtrith overlooked the ritual grounds, the witches and many of his followers gathered around an alien symbol carved into the earth. The symbol of The Crawling Chaos.
A smile appeared on his face as his followers screamed in pain, insanity overcoming them, the witches chanting in a language he could not understand and what quite impressed at their ability to even speak it.
With the completition of this ritual, he would assure his stranglehold over Darkovia and later Lore in its entirety.
Corpses littered the ritual ground, the madness overtaking his followers to the point it killed them and in the center of the symbol, a being clad entirely in black almost invisible under the darkness that blanketed Darkovia.
He left to greet his new guest, planning on how to dispose of the witches now that their purpose had been served. He thought of Pan.
The figure cloaked in all black looked around the courtyard, eyeing the many corpses of those sacrificed in its summoning.
The witches saw white underneath its hood, presumably the Outer God's teeth. What unholy creature have they unleashed on the world, they thought.
"Good evening, ladies," the dark one said in a jovial tone.
The pressumed leader of the three attempted to speak, but words died in her throat. The other two cowered behind her.
They had summoned monsters before, not once had they even considered summoning anything remotely god-like. If they were to receive some form of payment for this task, it would not be enough. It would never be enough.
The dark one approached and for the first time in many years, the witches were afraid.
"Not the talkative type, eh?" the dark one asked, its tone never faltering. "That's quite all right. Will the Baron be coming to greet me?"
As if on cue, Baron Valtrith entered the courtyard, an expression of joy spread across his face. The mask concealed it, but the dark one saw it.
"Greetings, Outer God."
"No need for formalities, Valtrith. Please call me...." the dark one trailed off as it considered a name that the Baron would be able to pronounce without the need of a second tounge or was more than a mere title. "Samael."
"Okay, Samael. If you would follow me into my castle, we have much to discuss."
Samael smiled, it's supernaturally white teeth shining in the lack of light. "I'm sure we do."
None of the witches spoke until the door closed behind them.
"Did we do the right thing?" the youngest of the three asked.
"We have never done the right thing," the other redhead said, sternly. "This was just more deplorable than our usual summonings."
Chapter XX: A Serious House on Serious Lore
Pan sensed a great disturbance and fled the battle. The smoke and the creatures created by it, dispelled with the disappearance of the alleged god.
The tavern was empty showing no signs of inhabitance during the day. Maybe it had never been inhabitated in the first place.
Mort vanished to return to its ally leaving Xalia to try and recover by herself. The monster in the caves of Miskatonic was quite easy compared to Pan which she felt didn't flee out of self-preservation.
The Soulweaver had no issue entering the asylum. There was apparently only one guard outside and only outside.
He had known nothing of Arkham Asylum except for the vague statements Mort made about the town the day before, but he felt something calling to him. Something that could make the pain go away.
The hallways were barely lit by a combination of candle light and oil lamps, but in the darkest night, the faintest light is blinding so he snuffed them out. He could see better in the dark anyways due to his own innate abilities brought on by living in Darkovia.
The halls were decorated with strange statues of jackal-headed humanoids and symbols of insect-like creatures he did not recognize were scattered about the walls and doors of the building.
He passed numerous cells, mostly empty, but some held prisoners that seemed strange even when compared to the quasi-amphibious creatures from Innsmouth.
You shouldn't be here, Mort said, their voice somehow different than usual. Almost sounding concerned.
I need to be, the Soulweaver said.
In one cell he passed was a vaguely humanoid-like creature with the wings and facial structure of an insect. Its mandibles clicked as it jittered something illegible and flew at the cell door which was made of simple iron bars.
There was a flash of blue-green light and the creature recoiled, hissing. Carved into the bars were a number of runes, glowing the same color as the light.
In another cell was an amorphous blob of a creature, yellow eyes covering the majority of its body that simply stared at nothing and everything. The only thing keeping it contained appeared to be a pane of glass with runes and other symbols drawn on it.
One cell in particular stood out to him. It was empty except for a series of runes and symbols carved into a circle on the floor inside the cell. Had there been more light, he would've seen the dried blood dotting the arcane circle.
What is this place?
A place many fear to tread, Mort began. The Rose brought high risk and high profile prisoners here to either keep them contained or to extract vital information to their crusade from captives away from the rest of the world. Now the only things it houses are creatures forgotten by time.
Xalia found the room empty. The only clues to the whereabouts of the Soulweaver was an open window and the word ASYLUM written on the wall.
Was he trying to tell her where he was going or had something else been responsible for that message?
She felt nauseous and guilty. She said she'd protect him, but even now the reminder of the previous night made her doubt she'd be able to protect anyone but herself.
We must go, Mort said.
Not until I know why I'm here. Not until....not until the pain goes away.
The only thing you'll find here is greater pain. Whatever is calling to you only wants to hurt you.
The Soulweaver ignored Mort's words and pressed on, pushing through a heavy set of iron doors, flanked by a pair of statues of the jackal-headed figure and stepped out into a courtyard.
Overlooking the courtyard was a great, dark tower. If Arkham Asylum looked over the town of Arkham, the tower looked over everything beyond it.
He felt that was where he had to go. A place of trial and tribulation likely marked by beings of judgment.
The asylum was deep beyond the town, surrounded by nothing. No signs of life plant or otherwise existed once the houses and other structures of the town were out of view. It was as if the asylum had no connection to the town, but the walls that surrounded the town expanded out and beyond towards the asylum which was walled in itself.
Why would he go so far out here? she wondered.
It seemed like a long time between when she began to head to the asylum and now, the distance not appearing to get any smaller.
The Soulweaver could see the outlines of monsters along the battlemants of the courtyards' walls. Outside of their winged humanoid structure there was very little that stood out about them from what he could see.
The courtyard appeared as if it were a playground at one point in time, slides, swingsets, and see-saws in various states of disrepair were scattered about. These were devices he was unfamiliar with.
At the center of the courtyard was a bronze statue of a winged human wielding a lance triumphing over a serpentine dragon. A weapon of reason besting a savage beast. It too meant nothing to the Soulweaver.
What's wrong with me? he asked. Why am I always surrounded by people and things I don't understand?
We are similar in that way, Mort said.
How? You seem to know everything.
No one can know everything. I know a great many things, but there is plenty I do not know. Things I can l learn from you and Xalia.
Like how to be human.
The Soulweaver carried on, heading for the door that lied straight ahead from where he came in, but something compelled him to go into the only other door in the courtyard.
The handles were wet and despite the thickness of the iron used to make the doors, he could hear water running on the other side.
The hallway the door led to was a shrine dedicated to the sea and madness. Macabre symbols and depictions of the sea's wrath as it wiped out cities and empires were carved into the stone walls of the hall.
At the end of the hall where it split off into two paths was a glass cylinder housing a pair of mutated fish that swam around, forming the symbol of Pisces and at the bottom of the tank was a model of a great city that defied all geometric laws.
The word R'lyeh came to mind. It was something he never heard before nor could he say it out loud, but when he said it in his mind it seemed so natural.
What is R'lyeh?
Through his peripheral, he caught a glimpse of something moving to his left and pursued, not hearing Mort's words.
The smell of sea water began to invade his nostrils until it was all he could smell and taste. It was so overpowering his eyes began to sting.
The world around him turned to glass as he appeared to enter an aquarium of sorts. The water illuminated by strange glowing rocks allowing him to see everything that was in there.
He recognized the quasi-amphibious creatures of Innsmouth and stepped back.
That woman knew of though those things, he thought. She knew where I came from.
"It was no woman, but a monster," Mort said standing beside the Soulweaver. "What it did to you is unforgivable."
I will ensure it suffers for its crime.
The Soulweaver came face to face with himself, the other him standing on the otherside of a sheet of glass that may or may not have been the door to a cell.
The other him was gravely pale even compared to the Soulweaver himself and appeared to be quite ill. A look of pure rage appeared on its face as multiple appendages belonging to aquatic creatures erupted from its body and broke through the glass.
The Soulweaver shouted and began to flail around, panicing as if he was being attacked by the terrifying beast, Mort nowhere in sight.
He fell to his hands and knees in the glass, bright blue-green beetles crawling around the glass and his hands. He picked up a large shard of glass, staring intently at it, he drove it through his palm.
< Message edited by NagisaXIkari -- 10/10/2014 10:13:18 >