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The Dark Descent
The flicker, the bluish light...
The darkness... Closing in...
You can never be too careful, Daniel.
There is no shame in using a parasol in the desert. As it happens, it's imperative to your survival!
Everything will be fine – I promise.
There is no telling what horrors await down there!
Why did he have to go in there? You don't go into burning houses. He should have known better.
He wanted to [join us], Daniel. But things don't always turn out the way we plan.
You did well, Daniel. Come, let's get going.
If I sleep – will I wake from this nightmare? If not, I pray my heavenly Father will take me in my sleep.
I don't doubt that [my life will be safe] – but will it be worth living?
I know this. I've been here already. I know this taste – the taste of Damascus Rose obfuscating the truth in a dim haze. They may sweep the traces from my memory, but my body remembers. These cuts speak volumes, even though my mind remains silent.
They will be back. Oh, they will be back.
It's like Orpheus descending into the Underworld!
I wish I could ask you how much you remember. I don't know if there will be anything left after I consume this drink.
Don't be afraid Daniel. I can't tell you why, but know this: I choose to forget. Try to find comfort and strength in that fact. There is a purpose. You are my final effort to put things right.
One last thing, a shadow is following you. It's a living nightmare – breaking down reality. I have tried everything and there is no way to fight back. You need to escape it as long as you can.
Redeem us both Daniel. Descend into the darkness where Alexander waits and murder him.
It is said that soldiers who abandoned their duty got lost in the cold dark woods and were forever damned to roam the grounds. Their bodies wrought by their tainted souls have left them disfigured and empty of essence.
Many have sighted them over the years and describe them as horrid revenants. They move silently through the woods, shying away from any beholder.Local Folklore[src]
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, the well known erudite, visited Altstadt at the start of the 16th century. [...] Heinrich is known to have passed away in Grenoble some ten years later. He dismissed the notion of ever visiting Altstadt, which makes you wonder what really happened.
Who was this mysterious man who visited the sleepy hamlet in the woods and what happened to him?Local Folklore[src]
So begins the punishment for our sins. The baron has locked us up and returned upstairs. Forgive me for what I have done. I was weak and fell into his diabolic ways.
My men are screaming, their skin has been pierced by their own tangled bones. I feel my insides revolt against their God given nature and I can no longer-
The orb was big enough to fill my cupped hands and the texture was smooth and jagged – its color washed while rich. Contrast is not enough to describe its nature. It was an impossibility, an artificial paradox captured within stone.
The guardian had taken the orb from me, but still until this day I fear its return. Sometimes I lay awake at night listening for the howling cry I heard in the forest.
The work I have put into this machine is unequaled by the reasoning of any man. The thought that generations of men have passed away since I first attempted to reconstruct the design is most tiring.
It shames me to think of what the inventor would have thought of my monster. Where he works with a magnifying glass to carefully fix all the parts, I push five men to erect a tower of wrought iron in the hope it will have even the tiniest hint of the power found in a Traveler's Locket.
Optimism is a most hopeless feeling, but I must retain it.
Centuries have passed in vain and I begin to wonder if I will ever be able to see my love again. How much longer can I sustain my life?
In my dreams, Alexander, I am king. In my dreams I best you and escape your clutches, and return with all the knights of the realm carrying pistols and sabers. In my dreams...
One day I will return. If it wasn't for the thought of you, my love, I wouldn't be able to go on. When I find myself doing terrible things, I take comfort in you.
As long as I am able to think of you and long for a life together, I know I'm better than the others. I weep for them, they lust for power without restraint, where I only crave fair judgment and a safe return.
When will it be my turn? Have I not shown restraint? My patience spans centuries. From where I came, mankind is not even wasted a breath, yet I bow to you.
I fear for Daniel, for he is reckless. He is tainted by the approaching shadow and will not be able to pass the gate. Will he be able to accept this in the end? My love, I've seen evil in him. How am I to trust him with the truth?
Is it you, my love, I miss the most, or is it perhaps myself? I know what I have become, I am not blind. I am a monster to them, a demonic sultan perched on a dark mountain top. There is little I can do to redeem myself.
In court, the order of the Black Eagle spew their politics at each other while I sit quietly in place, willfully forgotten. Once in a while someone will notice me and lose themselves in a silent cower before regaining their senses.
They all know I am the one and same Alexander who helped their fathers and grandfathers to found this great Order. I've seen them take their fathers' places, and they too will grow old and pass away. While I remain the same, aged not by time, but by anguish.
It was waiting for me. Enclosed in dark nothingness, I felt myself drawn to the mystic light. I reached out, closing it in my hands.
The faint glow escaped my fingers and began to spark brightly and spirit me away. Unlocking alien memories of spiralling towers, endless deserts, and impossible geometry.
I've read every book I can find on the subject. While rich in legend and hearsay, my knowledge is lack for the insight I crave.
As I write my thoughts are drawn to my nightmares in which a most disturbing sound calls to me. A sound defying description, a voice from the void. The last few weeks have been awful with so many sleepless nights dreading a repeat of those horrid dreams.
How has this escaped me? They're all dead. Limbs scattered, heads split down the middle, their skin flayed as if boiled. I feel like I'm falling into myself. What's happening?
I try to sleep, but as I close my eyes I see the men who fell victim in London. My fear and shame forces me to witness the same scenes over and over.
They are dead because of me.
As the sun sets on Brennenburg its fairy-tale varnish turns to an eerie gloom. Alexander's strange servants are never far away. They are a quiet lot and their behavior could only be described as skulking.
Alexander seems pleased by my presence. As he puts it, it seems like I got here just in time.
It is still early and Alexander is busy preparing for the ritual later today. Seeing him this worked up makes me question, why? What does he stand to gain? I realize he is curious about it all, but surely there must be more. Is he so foolish he will attempt to tame the power of the Orb?
What can make a man fall so far from the grace of a civilized existence? They are all wicked men and I remind myself of it constantly. Still, I am thankful for God sending these monsters our way, as they will serve as the instruments of my salvation.
Paint the man, cut the lines, cut the flesh, watch the blood spill – let it come!
What is a life worth? How many lives can I take before I surrender my own? Sure, I would kill a murderer to save an innocent. But to kill an innocent to save myself – a cold blooded murderer!
Alexander, I will kill you for what you have done. If only the shadow had caught me in London or Algeria, I wouldn’t have to suffer this humiliation. You made me a murderer, a monster!
The door slammed shut behind him and he knew he would never again see the old tailor at Berkeley Square. Another lone soul in London – seemed appropriate somehow.
The other children cheered him on. His name voiced in a steadily rising pace, urging him to do it. 'Am I really doing this?', the young boy thought, and struck his victim with a rock.
He fell to the kitchen floor. Tears were beginning to well in his eyes as he received the first kick in his stomach. Hazel remained hidden, in fear she too would be punished.
A fragrant taste of rose lingered his mouth. Turkish Delights, he thought, just like the ones at the consulate in Constantinople.
Traveling to Dover meant going through Canterbury. He made sure to pay a visit to avoid the sense of guilt connected with neglect of family.
Alexander became silent. He didn't know what to say. He could no longer recognize his friend sitting across the carriage.
The crying had stopped and he could hear a whisper coming from the cell. They were up to something and he would have to punish them.
It was done, the men said. The tomb had been revealed. Tin Hinan awaits, grinned the toothless foreman.
The statues were praying – gazing into the dark domed ceiling.
The desert dunes were like waves in a sluggish sea. While the caravan moved the land appeared motionless, but in camp the hills moved.
A handful of sand trickled from the crumbling stone ceiling and pushed down on the brim of his hat. He braced himself as the cavern suddenly shifted and settled.
The stone slab looked like a safety measure. It wasn't meant to be moved ever again.
The cloth smelled of desert and damp musk. The pieces lay scrambled on top. Too many of them, he thought, or perhaps too few.
It became impossible to avoid. The commotion in the streets begged for his attention. As he opened the shutters the French soldiers opened fire on the two young men fighting back. Their voices silenced in a haze of gun smoke.
Something large brushed against his leg and he felt himself being dragged along by the current of the beast. He pushed himself above the surface. 'Help!', he cried as the ocean swallowed him again.
Herbert's trunk was wrapped in rope. The lock had been broken, by thieves he assumed. He wondered if anything had been left considering all the hands it had passed.
He returned the tea cup to the saucer and picked up the orb as one would an apple, and pondered on the strange happenings.
The thin cold mist brushed his face as he stepped outside. London weather could be cruel, but it was the kind of cruelty he could handle.
He tried to fit the pieces together, but like the sand dunes, they shifted when you weren't looking.
Sir William Smith had been marked. There was no way for him to know that the young man from the other day cast such a terrible shadow.
Professor Taylor was the second death caused by his damned curiosity.
He panted heavily, trying his best to keep himself from screaming. The medicine cabinet had been overturned and lay collapsed on the floor. He reached through the broken glass door and grabbed all the sedatives he could find.
The strange letter frightened him, but it was the only one which offered him some comfort.
He flipped though the Book of Monarchs looking for etchings and counted. Nine different kings from all over Europe had been depicted with an orb resting in their hands.
The dark towers of Brennenburg rose above the forest and were silhouetted against the snow white moon. He couldn't help feeling sad for some reason.
The morning sun flickered between the pine trees as the carriage approached the castle. A faint memory of reflections in the window pane repeated itself over and over.
Moving that orb was like pushing a star in the night sky. It wasn't supposed to happen. The Shadow isn't some vengeful spirit, it is the universe catching up with itself.
Carefully treading the unknown land, he looked over his shoulder at his travel companions. The outrider touched the brim of his hat as a final farewell.
He unraveled the cloth protecting the orb. Alexander reached out, picked it up, and held it up against the light. 'Cover it', he said, 'Keep it covered at all times'.
The servants avoided him, yet he knew they were there. They all smelled of spiced wine, a mystic scent permeated by clove and sage.
The beautiful wild orchid seemed a testament to nature's strength, being able to grow inside Brennenburg. Alas, it was Alexander's studies and care which enabled the flower to blossom.
The purpose of the Inner Sanctum had always been to study the orbs and find a way to force them to yield their power. However, he was still unaware of this.
The blue light blinded him as it had done inside that murky tomb in Algeria. It was just as enchanting and he tried to approach it, but the baron's firm hand held him back.
The red taint burst from the walls as if they had begun to bleed. He cried out in fear as the spectacle began to consume the blue shimmer.
Alexander knew there must be a way to finish the ritual before it was too late. He had to teach his friend to harvest the vitae. That much was certain.
Henry Bedloe went to class carrying the anger of his bitter mother. He never cried, he made others cry instead.
Pain is like that, you either become sad or you become angry. Henry always chose the latter.
There is never any escape. Things like this live with you always. How could he know if Henry would show up down the road or even at his house? Is he that mad? Would he do that?
Hazel spent all summer in bed. He used to read to her after helping father with his work. In his mind he was like Scheherazade, and as long as he kept telling the story she would not die.
When Hazel turned fifteen she had lived three years longer than doctor Tate had foreseen. Her parents had given up from exhaustion and decided to have her committed for permanent treatment at Canterbury Hospice, but she was still alive. She had embraced him and wished him a grand adventure in Algeria.
He wasn't particularly afraid of the dark, but he had always disliked going into the basement. His father urged him on to fetch the red dye. As he stepped into the dark, he thought, 'I will never escape this'.
The blue colored tint came crashing down. His father heard the jar break and yelled from upstairs. There was no need for punishment. He could already feel the sting of his father's belt.
He cried like the little boy he was. All alone in the dark basement, broken glass tearing at the flesh of his naked feet, and blood mixed with blue tint.
Something died inside of him that day. Watching that man slip away was more than his mind was willing to handle.
Such filth, he thought. Good men can safely cheer departure as they are nothing but a burden to mankind. They shall not be missed.
The fear had begun to drown him again. He reached once more the empty bottle of Laudanum. In frustration he smashed it against the bedpost.
It had gone too far. The man was suffocating as he could no longer breathe properly between the lashes. Displeased, he started to look for the Damascus rose oil.
The thick liquid spread across his tongue. He swallowed excessively to consume every drop. He looked through the window at the widespread forest and the morning sun. 'Will this ever end?', he thought.
Carefully cutting the man open made him think. 'This is how father must feel about his craft. Being an artisan, relying on one's skill to perform something so delicate, grants a certain form of pride'.
He had turned angry. It was easy to take her insolence and make her the villain in this story. But she didn't deserve to die. Even he could see that.
The sight of her lifeless body crippled his psyche. He tried to remove himself from the scene, but he could not. Instead he fell to his knees and begged her for forgiveness.
All his life he had thought that he was a good man. Terrible deeds were only committed by terrible people, like Henry Bedloe, the bully in school, but now he had seen what he himself could do.
Is this guilt I'm witnessing, Daniel? If so, blame yourself. You started this. You sent me that letter asking for help and this is how you repay me? How dare you!
How do you justify your violence? Is it for the greater good? Are you doing the world a service? It is you who caused all this pain and death. If you had accepted your fate and submitted to the Orb when you first discovered it, none of this would have happened.
It is curiosity in league with your selfishness that is killing us both.
You never did finish what you set out to do. You talked about redemption. How you would face the Orb's Shadow and save our work – and me?
Tell me, is everything nice and clear now? Am I the villain?
Good and evil. Such comforting concepts – but hardly applicable.
I hoped you of all people could appreciate the grave nature of this situation. After all, it has always been your life we were fighting for. Isn't it worth a little... sacrifice?
Do you see, Daniel? A whole other world – isn't it beautiful? I can finally return... home.
I'm just like you, Daniel. A prisoner of circumstance. Trapped in a world I no longer recognise. As you gain your freedom, will you deny me mine?
Tell me – are you among the lions, Daniel? You want to stop Alexander? Oh, my... so Babylon shall fall, you say?
I was once quite important, you know. Baron Alexander has sustained my soul in this dead husk for years. Who knows how many... hundreds I presume.
Do you know of Mithraism? It's an old faith – building temples out of caverns. The dark walls being the universe and inside are its followers... humans watching the sky slowly turn.
But the followers do have one thing to allow them a real sense of connection to creation... the Orbs.
That thing is after me. It has been hunting me for days. But I keep out of its trail, so I will persevere.
Confined to myself, I see only death dressed in the Orb's darkest shadow.
Besides the more unsavory details, giving rise to the mythology of the bloodthirsty vampire Alexander, history records seems to favor the accused.
According to most sources, the baronage of Brennenburg is nothing less that a long line of shrewd treasurers and cunning statesmen.Excerpt from newspaper[src]
A Machine for Pigs
I held your hand and watched the blood pool between your legs. You lived long enough to see Edwin, but not Enoch. I will take care of them my love, I promise you this.
This dawning Epoch, this age of reason. An empire grown fat, ripe for the bleeding.
Hands are bleeding, raw. I scrub and scrub but the smell will not lift. How can I hold my children with these hands now? How can I kiss them goodnight with lips that have issued such instruction?
I am off to market. I will cry all the way home. I will have none, I will have none at all.
Bandaged feet and eyes. Small bones in the orchard. I have carried this world on my back, with its legs about me. Damn this wretched soul, I am given birth to nothing but machinery.
Water in his shoes... always the water and the sparks of the embers of the wheels. It's too bony! It's too damn bony!
Ahead the trickle to still waters. I dragged myself deeper into the temple, downward ever. Towards a wind that held the voices of my children, beckoning me to set them free.
I tried. I tried so hard. I will uphold my promise, I will always protect them for you. My eyes are your eyes, my heart is your heart, I will rip them loose from this rotten world and set them to burn, all to save them.
And, emerging, I raised my head to an uncaring sun and I cursed this world of pain and despair.
This civilization built on the ricketed bones of the unfortunate, on the greed and swell of Mammon and Empire.
Cradling a stone egg in my jacket, I kissed my children farewell and I crawled my way home.
A cleansing fire always burns little Mandus, but it purifies and it makes anew. Did it hurt to carve out the fevered flesh? Did it hurt to cut free the gangrenous foot? Ask instead this: Can we save them?
I am here again, at the foot of those stairs. Towards the red light of the nursery, sunset in the window like a bleeding sky, the horizon a slit throat, the seeping dark to drain a guilt from us.
I am the jaguar-faced man, I am the feathered serpent. This priesthood is mine.
We are the pig, Professor. We are all the pig.
I climb to the stillness now, blue water runs in my veins now I am clean. I carry the knife of this factory, the bowl of this mill.
I am come to collect you from your fields and your furnaces. I will gather you into the white clouds. I will gather you to me and I will take you home
He who makes a beast of himself removes himself from the pain of being human.Dr. Samuel Johnson[src]
Four glassy orbs fixed upon a point in heaven. Wipe down your trousers, man, there is blood in this sweat and it is most unseemly.
We will fasten that great mouth down over the chimney and inhale the world and suck the fairies and the nonsense from your dirty heart.
Send the Tramp Catcher, cosh the old man
Sink him in a barrel of gin
When he's all mixed and the bones turned to jam
We'll raise a glass kindly to him.
Planted the fingernails in flowerpots all along the river when it's dark, so the sun could hatch them. All the world is an egg, he reasoned. We will grow hands now.
From the window, he could see almost to the docks, where they were still pulling hair out of the gratings. God knows what it's about says the paperboy. The talk is of murder.
Higgeldy Piggeldy blue china eyes
My love comes to me in the fairest disguise
We skips and we totters
I seize her hind trotters
And enter her porcelain thighs.
The wires came up out of the ground whilst he lay on the grass asleep, like serpents, they were, and they burrowed into his ears and became his listening.
The fog will not lift, the ship is becalmed. Everyone lies in the half-light waiting to drown in the dry air. He is the paperweight that ballasts them.
The workers sing as they work. They sing as they eat, they sing as they make toilet.
They are always singing. If you place your ear to the ground you can hear them still.
The factory is quiet now. Stumbling the alley, a wrench hung loosely from his hand. Oil and grease dripping off it. Looking like blood in the half light.
It is cradled in his sweating hands, it sucks the fever loose from his body. He dreams of birds far above in the jungle canopy, a jaguar coughing at the dawn.
Thrupenny sixpence sparrows and doves
See all the angels a-weeping above
there's no more forgiving, there's no-one to save
for today darling Lily goes into her grave
The bottle of gin was empty. Sleep seemed impossible. Above the skyline of London, he could only see the temple rising into the smog.
And the rhododendrons seem to be taking over the garden by the wall, I could dig them for you? No, no, get out! Get out of this house! You leave them be!
He placed his head in the vice and spun the wheel until the skull cracked and the thoughts leaked onto his shoes. It relieved the pressure for a while, but it soon returned.
And who is that third, that shadow, that spirit child in the background? That barely formed, that changeling. That almost lived, that never missed.
A skin of a shroud
a stump of the bled
old Lily is flyblown
old Lily is dead
and dreams of the jungle
will flood through her head
and light up her head.
The stairs are steep, the sun beating on his neck as he pulls them up. Veins pop on his forearms, but he cannot deviate, he is a man driven by love, only love.
They pulled the child loose from the thresher, or at least what was left. More where that came from, said the foreman, apologising for the inconvenience.
Returning from Mexico, I was struck again by London´s filth. The squalor, the miasma, the rot. We should cut free the dead flesh, allow this wound to heal anew.
You can't come in, no you can't come in, you must sleep in the yard bad piggy dirty pig, stinking filthy animal you bad child you stinking child, you filth.
Burn away, burn away the remnants. The parts that will not process. The waste. The offal of your world. They grit the system and stick the wheels to the temple floor.
Of course, all the offal we cannot sell from our system is donated to the workhouse, making them perhaps the best-fattened unfortunates in the whole of London!
You profit my viscera. We make you escape forever, you slit the throat, bleed out the pig and it release into the curdle. That you set your species free.
A missing vein, I see this now. We must find them, those scrolls, those old words written upon metal rods that flow in the half-light, the dusk. This gloaming.
Let us not be coy. I will not let us drag this corpse of civilisation into a new century. Come new year's eve, I will fling the last switches and unshackle the full power of the machine.
I saw the detritus of this so-called progress. I saw starvation and disease, I saw rubbish floating in the harbour. We are ruiners, all of us, and we make the world unclean.
The man eats the pig and the pig is eaten by the machine and the man is eaten by the machine.
This is as it ever will be.
Round up some orphans and the world will thank you for it. Disappear a whore and a gentleman applauds you. Cull a beggar and a lady walks safely again.
And in that instance, cradling my children´s heads in my palms, I knew I had to unbuild what I had constructed.
This machine was ever mine, and it fell to me to redeem it, and myself.
Blood, Mandus. We are steeped in blood, you and I. You wear me like a mask, and we will tear the future loose from the ribcage of the present. We will save them, we will save them all.
The Aztecs believed they could avert the apocalypse through sacrifice.
History tells us they failed. Their tragedy was simply that they could not spill enough blood in time.
In my dreams, I see a man, dressed in jaguar skins and feathered like a blooded saint.
What came from the heart lubricated us, it crushed evil under its tread and liberated us all.
The fetid heat of the jungle, mirrored somewhere behind my forehead.
My temple pounds, the blood boils in my skull. It feels as if there is something alive there; a rat, a damn rat gnawing through my brains, eating its way out into the world.
Damn, damn it. Damn this wretched soul. If only it were clockwork.
Fear is what keeps us all in our places, and the fear of the flesh, the ruin of the flesh is the greatest of them all.
I am sickened, I am ruined, but I will build such machines to contain this plague and heal us all.
But here, in our temples of steel, I have witnessed the severed head of a man, recently trampled to death by a runaway carriage, immersed in a solution of the Brennenburg compound open his eyes, and cry 'Oh where are my legs Sir? Where is my body?'
We are breaking through the barriers of death itself.
At the centre of the planet, my architect tells me, there is a great iron ball. It is the egg of the world.
'Imagine', they say 'a machine one day that might think like a man!' As if this is to be desired. One might almost boast of creating a man who breeds like a pig. Men and women upon all fours, rutting carelessly, ejaculating their filthy little missives into the streets. [...] We have created a world where man is so utterly debased he will spray his seed over passers-by. And yet, this is the condition Babbage aspired to.
We shall not carve gods to bicker and fornicate, they will exist to clean the world and set us free.
Let the pigs copulate in the gutters whilst they can, we shall scoop them up and ease their ascension soon enough.
So it can be done. We can reshape the body into a tool, accelerate the processes of Mr Darwin's evolution. But here my great uncle and I part company.
He chose men as the subjects of his experiments, but men are difficult to control and rotten with sentimentality. No, we require a new creature for our chattels: loyal, clever, strong, easily sated.
We have removed all the mirrors. After the process, it is their reflections that trouble them the most. Afterwards, when they sleep, I walk amongst them.
My children, I whisper to their dreams, you are my children now. I have children once again, and your forms imperfect will be the engines to make my own blood flow again.
No, my darlings, they most certainly were not savages. You see, they believed that the sky could fall on their heads and they truly, truly believed that offering blood was the only way of stopping this from happening.
Perhaps, my darling. Perhaps they were mistaken altogether. Or perhaps their tragedy was they could simply not spill blood enough to prevent the sky from falling upon them.
We will build a new world from the ruins of the old. We will plant flowers in the rotten ribcage and let them grow to hold the sky from falling.
And then we came to London and I set it upon the mantelpiece, and went into the house and gathered the servants and set on re-crafting them, and then I went into the garden and buried those tiny shattered skulls under the weeping bulges of the rhododendrons.
Can a man construct himself anew? Can a man, on realising who he is, on what he has become, tear himself apart down to the bricks and begin again?
Are our souls just this, tiny cogwheels and clockwork, and intricate machines to serve a function that, upon reflection, we might set to a new task?
Can a man, defined by his actions, defined by that which he now finds abhorrent, set to sabotaging this body his machine, until those children of his soul turn in a new motion, and he may awake to a new sun, a new year, a new century with hope in his heart?
Then we will be sending their comrades in afterwards to scrape free the cooling mess. The survivors tell me you can reach all manner of places within the complex through the pipes.
I smile, tell them I am so proud. And then feed them to the pigs.
I hate them. I hate them more than any of the others. This privilege, this pretension. These so called leaders, these pillars of society, these rich and fanciful. They wear their filth on the inside, but they are no less dirty.
I have plans for them all. We will feed them and then we will feed from them.
I stand and look at myself in the mirror, penis in hand and my reflection grins at me and his mouth is full of the sulphur mustards.
'Vain fool', he sneers, 'Are you really so very different? Do you genuinely believe your works of evil are any greater than the rest of them? You are simply a weak man, a product of his age, the same as any other. This is Empire, cretin, this is the killing idiocy, the natural result of this social Darwinism'.
'If you are evil, then this world is evil. You just let the blood run in the street rather than hiding it in the poorhouse. You hold the blade and slide it home yourself, you do not pay a man to do this for you where you cannot see it. If you are evil, at least yours is an honest evil and that alone makes you Übermensch'.
And thus I wash my hands and take to bed.
Indeed, in Punch just last week, a cartoon showed Viscount Selwyn as a stuffed pig, laid upon a platter for his peers to dine upon. A vicious and cowardly slander, no doubt.
But he tasted delicious.
Then upstairs, to bed! To bed! To toss and turn on bloated stomachs, to copulate and puke upon chaise-longue, four-poster, or dressing table. Collapse at last into the engulfing mattress, drunk and drugged and fat and stupid and senseless.
And spring the trap, manpiggies, spring the trap!
Walking away from those temples, that small pile of stones under the rhododendrons. The skulls of innocence under the loose clod. Headless ribcages in the cool stone behind the altars, three thousand miles apart.
I trace back my life to this instance, rain channels eroded in ancient stone. The toxins are already in this damp, this falling water.
I hack and retch and vomit into the sink and grasp the bowl with both hands and stare. There in the plughole, as clear as day. A toy spine, clockwork intricate, like a child's spine, but clockwork.
How could that be? How could a child's spine be made like clockwork? I washed it carefully and placed it on the mantelpiece, by the egg I laid myself, under the garden where the children's skulls are buried. I call it my Mexico.
And in that instant, cradling my children's heads in my palms, I knew that I had to unbind what I myself had constructed, though even then it was little more than a sickening dream. This machine is ever mine, and it falls to me to redeem it, and myself.
I looked at them, covered in the blood of their dead mother, little piglets squalling in their swaddling and my heart at once was filled with a great love and a consuming hate I could never have imagined.
At that point, did my soul split, creating him? Was this the egg of my soul, the moment the great clock began to tick?
I have stood before myself, reflected in the cracking mirror of my own life. What forms are these that swim in my dreams? What shadows cast by the lonely temples?
As I lay dying on the stone steps, all I saw was a great serpent wound around the pistons and pumps, wounded by the crush of the wheels.
This heart, this vast beating. Stilled now, time and jungle about me. I dreamt of underground, subterranean, an enterprise. To unlock the passion, the coming century.
Must we be crushed underfoot by metal feet not mine? Surely this machine can be better, it can serve us as we serve it; it can save us all. I will build to the core of the earth, invert Babel as I am a Midas chained.
I am halved, I am bisected. I placed my feet in the stirrups of childbirth and I hung upside down and the great blade of history cut me in two like a butchered pig and my guts fell onto my children and smothered them in my love. Each half of me still living, but the guts kept falling onto my children.
So we each went our separate ways and one half built a machine instead, to hold his hate in and to keep his heart beating. And the other fell into a sleep, to blunt the pain.
And then he had terrible dreams and when he awoke, the other had made ovens and killed and skinned and cooked all of those he held dear.
And thus, holding onto his guts, he strode forth to find himself and make himself whole again.
She told us she met two boys in the pipe, no older than us, but dressed like little gents proper they were, but already there in the pipes they was, like they'd always been there.
They told her to follow and then they could get all the children free, they knew the way to a secret door that would get us out, but then they sounded the steam bell, so she had to get out.
She never saw them again, but I heard others have seen them too. They said they'll always be here, waiting to help us all home.
Beneath me, I know there are splendid architectures hidden in the dark, if I can only find the entrances.
All the suggestions of a large workforce, yet no actual signs of life. It is every bit as if someone has attempted to carefully create the illusion of a working factory complex, yet this facade, when examined closely, is clearly just a fabrication.
We sat here, I remember, we sat in our black and we mourned and we prayed and we bowed our heads.
How I hated God then, how I spurned Him. If this is our Lord, this pig who robs me of my wife, then I refute his embrace. I will carve a new God for us all.
Such madness, such a fool I was. If such blasphemous ravings had remained within me, I would be damned. But even here, I feel the machine throb beneath the flags and I know my path awaits me.
Like Moses, I will cleave the waters and lift my little darlings clear of its vile cradle.
And yet... and yet, I watch them sleep and eat and play and they are so very human, so very childlike. And I will not think of what I have seen, of the chairs and the cages, and I will not think of how such monsters may be sculpted.
How this machine now throbs about me, sensing its rebirth is imminent. The final descent beckons me to enter, as Lily once lay on our wedding bed summoned me into manhood.
And when they first said 'Daddy' my heart was molten, as if blood frozen upon the ground were held to the sun to thaw and slop. And they were inseperable, always together, one soul in two bodies, and my love was all consuming.
I would die for you, I whispered to their sleeping faces, I would kill. I would set this world to ruin to protect you.
All I can grasp is a moment when the world split into two pieces and the innards of humanity fell from an orifice torn into my open, bifurcated heart.
I sense the machine snarl itself about me, its unholy, inhuman mind coil and slick and send its dark tendrils through its conduits to repair the damage.
I stand and smell the burning city. I see ash upon the wind. I hear the roars of the sickening beasts and the screams as they fall upon the city and drag its people below for the slaughter.
I walk tunnels where no human has trod before, I am sure of that. It is just me and him now. Frost forms on my coat sleeves, the deathly still and the freezing air tell me I am close.
I am the architect.
I am the saboteur.
I am the man who murdered his children. I am the man who stood in the duck pond with his dead wife in his arms, wishing the water would bring her back to him. I am the voice on the telephone, I am the butcher who skinned the Professor and beat God to death against the air loom.
Only one question remains now. Am I also The Machine?
I search for instructions, for advice, for help in my goals, but in return the system mocks me. Simpleton, it says, you must find your own answers now.
It is wonderful how tragedy focuses the mind. What else was I to do? Fall into grief, pine and fade in my hopelessness? Why not then simply die in that jungle amongst those dead temples.
Your faith shackles your vision Professor, it is an iron coffin that keeps you from grasping the future. We require a new deity, one of steam and the wheel, of magnetism and progress. The old God is nothing more than a lamed hog, spitting back offal at mankind.
These men, Professor, these so-called men of vision! They would shackle the masses to a wheel and turn it until their backs break. All for that opiate, the lure of profit.
These fools who lackey them, these priests, these officials, this... government. They make pigs of us all!
We do not need to wait! We can bring forth paradise now! We can speed the passion! With only a small sacrifice we can hold the apocalypse. With just a small sacrifice we can free our shackles and deliver them to paradise now.
I tell you Professor, a trail of greed brings rich men to your door, like pigs to truffles!
I saw the detritus of this so-called progress. I saw starvation and disease, rot and destruction polluting the waters of the Empire.
We are ruiners, you and I and all of us, and we make the world unclean.
Ask the beggar, Professor. Ask the orphan, ask the whore. Ask the starving, Professor, the weak, the sick, the filthy. Ask them to define your 'humane'!
I have such visions to share with thee if my jaw be unshackled and you harvest the crust from my eyes.
Make me clean Mandus, that my thoughts and words can unfouled be.
Oh men, how have I wronged you. Your filth is your humanity, to scrub you clean is to lose the very act of life itself.
I know you, machine. I know what you fear. I will rain excrement into your very soul. I will destroy you.
I lay there, and watched the god I had created die. At the end when we were cold as the stone we had hewn his body from; when the lights were nearly all extinguished, we heard in the silent distance, the Manpigs singing to one another.
Then, as the last lights were gone, and we lay together in the deep, they drifted away, and all was silent. Such a silence, I have never known.
And as the dust settled on my open eyes and we lay together embraced forever, I heard miles above us, the sounds of the city turning over in its sleep. A church bell ringing out.
And in that moment, the new century was born.
My dear Mr. Mandus, I admire your vision; I truly do. But there are surely not enough pigs in the whole of London to feed the appetite of such a machine.
That all rather depends, Professor, on what one considers to be a 'pig'
Hear me Mandus. My gears are adjust, my steam is built. Soon I will spill that blue water and split the egg, the atom, my soul and there will be a very great burning that we might make the world clean.
Be proud for this is your doing. Until you steeped me in the blood of your own I was nothing but rotten architecture. You have made me and I will make the world anew.
You may hate me Mandus, but I have seen the future, your twentieth century and let me tell you this: a far greater slaughter awaits you there.
I seek to save the world by blood now, before millions fall beneath history, pushed under by blade, bullet and gas.
We sought the same thing, to save humanity, ridding them of their painful, stupid, pointless lives.
My time is come! More pig! More pig!
Redeem yourselves! Redemption is at hand! Enter the cleansing and set your souls free! For you are born into filth and will die as pigs.
Only through my redemption can you ascend to the skies and claim the heavens as your kingdom. Fall on your knees!
Ashes, ashes, bones and ashes. For the pile will reach critical and we can have such a burning that this city will shine as a beacon of redemption for the world!
This world is a machine! A Machine for Pigs! Fit only for the slaughtering of pigs!
Whores, beggars, orphans, filthy degenerates. Pigs all. But I will purify the streets, cleanse this city, set the great industry free. I will clean the world, make it pure!
The innocent, the innocent, Mandus, trod and bled and gassed and starved and beaten and murdered and enslaved! This is your coming century!
They will eat them Mandus, they will make pigs of you all and they will bury their snouts into your ribs and they will eat your hearts!
Drained and bled and freed from the prison of the flesh. Free to ascend as smoke to the stars.
The stories don't do this place justice. It is amazing! You've never seen anywhere as busy as the market in Algiers. The smells, the flavours, the colours and – oh – the noise!
So maybe this is it, maybe this is the last you'll hear. If it is – I'm sorry, my love. I suppose it's my fault for wanting a big adventure. I should have stayed home after all.
Please tell them both that I love them. Tell Susan that she's the best girl in the world, and tell Alfie to look after his sister.
My companions are dead now, and the radio is broken. I cannot wait alone – there is some sort of creature here.
Tasi, if I do not find you and by some chance you are reading this, know that you are my heart.
She is sleeping now, maybe dreaming, curling and uncurling tiny fingers. I sit here, looking at her, and I still can't believe this. How can I deserve it, any of it?
A letter came from Hank Mitchell. He offers her work, a journey to French Sudan. I pray that she will take it – it is what she needs, what both of us need, to be away from these memories and back into the world.
Nothing progresses. Time does not change things. Light does not move across the sky, nor does it grow dimmer or brighter. And yet time must pass. My mouth is dry and I feel the pangs of hunger.
I must explore, for I must find a way to return. But stepping into the fog is like stepping in deep water; I am lost in a sea of whispering confusion. I need something to shut them out. Are they the dead of this place? Or only my own paranoia?
There are shadows of the dead in the ruins. Those who lived here were human, or near it. So perhaps this was Zezura, after all, or Eden, or some other stronghold of humanity... but whatever this place once was, it is shattered.
These must have been the gate-builders. But what horror could cause such destruction? Surely even the Shadow cannot destroy a whole world?
I did not heed Brennenburg's warning. Yet what choice did I have? The Shadow sensed the Orb. I had to risk all and step through the portal.
I was the first to solve the mysteries of the gatebuilders. I was the first human to breach the boundaries between worlds. I, Professor Thurston Aloysius Herbert, of Cambridge, England, was the first.
God forgive me.
The Tuareg call her the Woman of the Tents, or the Mother of Us All. A local tribe related to the Tuareg, the Kel Hanan, call her the Great Queen. In legend she is Tin Hinan, a Berber princess, who found a source of food in the desert and founded a Tuareg tribe.
I have lost you, Tasi. It is only for a time. I know you will escape. You carry something so precious.
Live for us, Tasi. Live for the child. Live, and be free. And one bright day we will all be together again.
They were Touareg that refused the call to Islam, for their own ancestor, Tin Hinan, a bringer of healing and fertility, walked the sand, and how should they disbelieve the evidence of their own eyes?Excerpt from old book[src]
I beg of you. I beg of him. I will do everything, anything, to make amends. If he will not take pity, ask if he truly wants the family name to die out here in the dust?Mathieu's note[src]
Dust and desert, arid plain
I dream of you, I call your name
A flower blooms, the petals fall
Sandglass empties, still I call
Ten years gone, my time is done
I journey home, my battles won
There's no-one waiting, no-one there
Just echoes, and an empty chair.Soldier's poem[src]
The Kel Hanan talk of their guardian spirit, or perhaps the word is goddess, a woman all in gray, who haunts the desert and protects their people against the specter of death. They call her Tihanu, and leave her gifts of desert flowers.French soldier[src]
The ifrit is a djinni of fire and flame, a vengeance called upon a murderer, implacable, unstoppable, the death of cities. It rises from desolation, from broken lands, and its sign is a shining light.
It scents the vitality of its victim and seizes them with its burning eye until all life is drained, as a spider husks a fly.
The ghûl is a base djinni, a thing of fear, of trickery and shadow, dwelling in the deep places of the world. It is tricksy, speaking with the voice of men, leading its victims into the harsh places, there to slaughter, devour, and drink their blood.
The hatif is a djinni of calling, the voice alone in the desert; the cry of one bereft and in need of aid. Yet this voice is bodiless and unfleshed, spun of air and dreams; it assails the weary and the beleaguered, luring them from their path and into the wilderness.
There they may search in vain, lost and thirsty, until they are bone and dust.
The ashen mother is a djinni of healing, of succour in the wilderness. She is wild and capricious; she cannot be summoned, but if her sympathy is roused she may choose to bestow her favour, giving of her body to quench the thirst of the dying, and guiding those who wander in the soft places.
There is nothing but desolation outside, mountainous crags amidst endless waves of sand. Professor Herbert is certain he can find the route to the tomb, although I cannot see how, for the dunes shift and change.
I remember the stories Maxime told; they skinned two of Albert's troop, left them there to die, screaming, salt rubbed into the flesh, all in the name of this 'great mother' of theirs.Sgt. Fournier[src]
I have failed. We tried to die in defiance, but these devils will not allow it. The screaming does not stop. I cannot shut it out. I cannot bear it.
They treat my men as a cruel child treats a puppy, revelling in the joy of their pain, and they watch me all the while. Aldéric keeps crying my name. Gardinier has stopped breathing. He is the lucky one.Captain Lefévre's final words[src]
Suicide is a sin, but the Lord has deserted us, and I will not give these demons their satisfaction. So here I take my stand, and make my death on my own terms.Captain Lefévre's final words[src]
The Queen was sad because she wanted a child. She asked her wise people to help, but they said 'Why do you want a child? We are all your children!'
'I must have a baby because I cannot be queen forever, and someone must be queen after me!'
'Nonsense,' said the wise people. 'We will brew you a magic potion, and then you will live forever. You will always be our Queen.'
So that is what they did. But, sometimes, when she was alone, the Queen cried, because although she was mother to the world, it was not enough.Ancient Fairytale[src]
On that day, the people thronged the byways of the city. When the doors of the tower opened, the name of their new Empress rippled through the crowd before her like dye into water. 'Tihana, Blessed Tihana.'
She stepped down, bare-headed and bare-handed, dressed in a simple robe, and she walked amongst the people. Some cried out with joy, some wept openly.
'Now you are eternal,' says Temaku. 'Now you need no heir.'
None of them understand. This is not about politics, or securing a future. This is not for the Empire. This is for me. Just for me.
There was a white sun at the Great Gate. It tore the air and the land. A corruption of living flesh crawls from the hole in the world, and it turns all to ash and rust. The control stones have turned against my kindred, shaping them into floating wraiths of nightmare. The City falls.
I am to blame.
We were right. Zerzura is real. I have an orb, but the Shadow pursues, and I am trapped. I will attempt the crossing – it is my only way out.
Record my name. Tell all. It was Herbert who gave us new worlds to explore.
What great beauties, what bounteous Paradises, may lie beyond the gate? Surely, it will lead to the Arctic deeps, to the megalithic structures in Brazil, to anywhere within our realm. Yet we may go further.
Perhaps there was once a real person called Tin Hinan, a leader of her people. If so, she is likely buried in the Tuareg tomb far above us. There are other, much older stories that have been conflated with hers. Legends of the grey lady, a goddess who walks the desert. Legends of a healer, legends of an Empress.
I think these are ancient memories of what truly happened in this place.
She took that day her new name, and that was the first day of the endless rule of resplendent Tihana, who is no mother, and yet is mother of us all.
There is no word. Attempts to open the portal unleash uncontrolled bursts of energy, and the Shadow wakes and gathers. Fractures dance on the edges of the soft places, breaking through from there to here. Something terrible has happened. I am abandoned. What has happened on the other side? Why do they not answer me?
Crashed in the desert. Bunch of upper class pielkops. Fuckin crazy shit. There was a ghost. I think there was a ghost. Maybe dreaming it. A broken face, split in two. Vines, vines everywhere.
Shit-scared, heart pounding. Stuff around my eyes, inside my head, like wires or tentacles. Grows when I'm afraid, or when I think about what she did. Skin is fuckin awful. Changing. Seen this before. The change. HE changed, right in front of us.
I know them now. Not monsters. Just sleeping, waiting. Hunters. Like me. Just like me. Changed. Stronger. So much stronger. Hungry like you wouldn't know.
It is time. I hold her down, stroking her neck. She is oblivious, nuzzling at me. I thank her for her company, for her comfort, for her nourishment. I cut her throat swiftly. She complains, but it does not take long. I catch the blood in a clay pot. She will save us this winter.
Phile, little face serious, tongue stuck out, as she draws in the earth with a stick. Hermia catches the boy up in her arms and flashes me a tired smile. I, too, am tired. But I am grateful for this day.
Direct stimulation of the nerves, followed by a dose of elixir of Emmerysh, followed by an application of the subject's own best memories. Or, to view it another way, fear, oblivion, hope.
Fear, oblivion, hope. It is so simple. Without fear there is not vitae. Without hope there is no fear.Atharu, alchemist[src]
It is the first time I have seen him in a week and it is as if ten years have bent his spine, sapping the flesh and the color from his cheeks. His eyes are red-rimmed; they will not meet mine. Fear grips my heart and starts to squeeze.
'Son,' he says. 'She is with the gods now.'
The Empress still lives, crouching atop the tower like some vast spider, draining life and pain from the factories. It was our task to bring her reign to an end, and I failed.
But perhaps, if the true ancestors deem that we have atoned for this great sin, we may yet meet again in another place. All my hopes go with you.
In all our names, eternal.
Corporal Khadir said that these sort of objects turn up in the market at Abalessa. He says there's a legend of a city here, but the people in it committed some great sin, and it sank into the sand like Sodom. These things are said to come from there.Note on Artefacts[src]
A pathway of light glitters out across the waves, from the boat's prow to the red-orange sun, as it sinks below the world's edge. The clouds are coral-pink in a darkening sky. Water ripples gently, and that is the only sound.
I am floating in infinity, and I am at peace.
One day you will ask me
Which is more important?
My life or yours?
I will say mine
And you will walk away
That you are my life
There is an itching behind my eyes. As if a beetle burrows there, in the folds of my brain, boring its way in, mandibles tearing at grey matter. As if a gnarled finger has been pushed into my skull, a broken fingernail working into my thoughts.
I want to reach in with a needle to scratch it. Or perhaps a piece of wire. Through the tear-duct, threading through the lacrimal canal.
Thread-like black worms swim in my eyes. When I think about them they are agitated and start to thrash around. They know I am scared. And it makes them worse.
If I hold myself still, If I ease my mind, if I empty my head and try not to be afraid of... Then the itching fades to the tickling of a feather. I've tried filling myself with the notes of a song, or the colours of a beautiful picture, but it doesn't work.
I know I am not as talented as Malo or as strong as Basile, but I am certain my love is truer. Do not my scars tell you so?
I will continue to cut myself as long as it pleases you.
Today father came for me in my room. I still couldn’t look him in the eyes. He said I shouldn’t feel ashamed and that I only tried to fill the void left by mother. When he wasn’t looking, I took the star stone from his collection.
Today I was the one with the sword.
Bienvenue, you are now listening to the sound of my disembodied voice. It will serve you no purpose to look for me, for this is a voice from the past.
What do you see? Is the man begging for mercy or is he being blessed? Perhaps both! Father used to say, there were no right answers. Have the light guide you.
We can't all be saved. Some don't even want to be saved. Yes, That is a comforting thought. Saves us from trying!
Laws are made for cretins. The aristocracy doesn't need to know right from wrong. We are always right.
Father never knew me. He thought he did, but then he was frightened and nothing was ever the same again. I can still see him, lying there on the floor, he looked so surprised.
—The star-shaped soapstone stained by his blood, fell to the floor with a sonorous thud. Blame me not, for I was but a child; with careful ambition, I dared a smile–
Rest in peace, papa.
And so it comes to an end. Now that you have seen what you truly are, you are able to go on and face eternity without fear – without doubt.
I just thought they should know... I'm still alive.
The gloomy place downstairs became a playground – a mysterious place for Justine to discover with her friends.
The downstairs library still reminded her of father. All those hours spent there had fostered a sense of shelter.
Justine was not a person who would go about planning. The Cabinet came about as her whimsy collided with other people's misfortune.
Could it be that she was not herself anymore, she thought. It was time to find out.
When she first imagined the cabinet, it was for her amusement, but since it had grown into something more important – an opportunity to reveal her most suppressed desires.
I still have doubts about the cabinet and what it may come to reveal. I feel like I am trying to rationalize something truly perverted, yet I would only be lying to myself if I didn’t admit feeling excited about the possibilities.
I shall remind myself that this is an unmatched opportunity and that if I pass, I will forever wonder how it would turn out.
There is very little time and getting lost in the details will not serve me at all. There are too many uncertainties. As Malo would phrase it; I will have to perform this a piacere.
I could never find the words to describe you. My tongue fails me as I try to deliver. You are gone, forever. The most painful of truths I have ever had to endure. You were my home, my fulcrum.
All that remains is my work, and it has never felt so unfulfilling.
Justine scares me. How shall I raise her all by myself? Our daughter is a shadow. I can no longer see her. I can only see you and me, together. It hurts. She is an image of us, she is us.
When she is sad, it makes me mourn us. When she is happy it's like you are gone, like you never existed.
Fair to fare on white foamed waves
Little feather on the rise
My steady hand, it carefully saves
A quill most cherished by the wise.
I’m not a sheriff, I’m a historian.
He took a deep breath, trying to control his discomfort. His eyes jumped across the scene, the laughing young women carrying bags of lour to the bakery, the boy bringing out one of the horses in front of the Inn, the priest waving to an elderly woman.
Wilhelm knew Emil was up to no good. He had one of his men follow Emil that night and caught him as he torched the barn. After alerting the family, Wilhelm’s man had fetched his master to arrest Emil.The Statement of Dorothea Stoss[src]
Sometimes Emil had to sleep alone inside the barn. He was twenty years of age, but still afraid of the dark, so I would sneak him some lamp oil he could burn in a tin bowl.
He fell asleep with the fire still burning. Later he woke up screaming his lungs out. The barn was on fire.Anna Koch, formerly Stoss[src]
Careful with the rose flavored ones, they are said to ease your mind, but also make you forget things.
You realize what this means? They could all be travelers. Even God could be a concept from the beyond, brought to us by missionaries, like it was brought to the natives in the Americas. Maybe they are speaking to him, like an ordinary man.
Wouldn’t you like to speak to – no, with, the Almighty!
Herbert, you are... unhurt. Saved by the color of your skin.
Know this, this stone has been in my family for something like three centuries, ever since the siege of Calais. It has fueled the men in my family with great spirit, but also madness. You know, inspiration to the point of obsession.
I never really bought into the whole thing, but I must admit seeing you with this fills me with a sense of purpose and closure.
I’m not doing you a favor Englishman. This is for my father and my father’s father and so on. It is on you now. Good luck.
The map constantly reminding him of the sacrifices made, and the stone – determination lasting centuries.
Many men with various esoteric knowledges have claimed that Weyer was responsible for the successful occupation, but little evidence has ever been presented to support such high claims.
For all we know his presence during this important period in Calais’ history is nothing but circumstantial.
So it seems – but not in the way you think.
No matter how many strange things Weyer witnessed, he never found anything so abhorrent as the acts of a common man. The spontaneous cruelty and the indifference when making life altering decisions for others was incomprehensible to him.
Weyer knew what the captain would do – so he did what so many others do when faced with cruelty – he closed his eyes and walked away.
Sokal studied the peculiar stone in his hand. He felt a tremendous link to history, imagining himself standing on the same spot, thousands of years ago, without a trace of civilization to be found.
The room exploded in blue light and a torrent of sound. Sokal saw the captain holding an orb in his hands, it pulsated violently with light.
They were all smiling, except for the stranger.
The orb forced a tempest of light and sound inside the chamber. The light was rich burgundy and the sound was like the lament of an old forgotten god. They all cried out in a maddening chant.
The light took form of a bloating and pulsating mass which dug into their flesh.
Sokal fell to his knees exhausted. He looked at Weyer, pleading with his tear drenched eyes. Why would you show us this?
Weyer picked up the legendary orb lying next to the star-shaped soapstone, headed up the stairs, and stepped out into the recovering city of Calais.
Watching her brother die, had made her realize that she was miserable. Not because of this particular tragedy, it was her life and the people she shared it with, which made it so.
I’m planting an apple tree next to mother. It’s going to rain soon, you know? Best time to sow – before rain. I don’t remember much about my mother, but I know she loved apples.
Maybe God doesn’t see anything worth crying about.
Sometimes she was the soldier helping a young maiden from a burning house. Sometimes she was the one being saved.
It didn’t matter anymore. She didn’t need to live her life through an event which had happened years before even her grandfather was born. She was going to have her own life now.
With a violent crack followed by the rolling rumble of thunder, the sky opened and the rain began to drain the land. Elise struggled to get to her feet, while heavy drops of rain smothered her. Gustaf, her father, pushed his foot down on her throat.
She looked back at her father, he had stopped further up the road. He was staring in her direction, but beyond her. She looked back at the road and in the distance she could see a carriage coming this way. A great sense of hope filled her. Someone is coming – someone is coming to help me. I just know it.
Gabriel knew it was unlikely he would ever get around to it, but he wanted to have it repaired. It was a nice watch even though he couldn’t figure out why it had the name 'Herbert' engraved. He was fairly sure the Englishman said his name was Daniel.
The thing rose and stretched its limbs. Its face remained hidden behind the cloak, but its moldering hands were revealed in the silver moonlight. They looked twisted and unnatural. As if the bones had grown past what nature intended.
It’s that thing, isn’t it? It only comes at night. It’s one of them lost souls. They come for the animals. They collect them.Herr Zell[src]
Gabriel ran through the forest. He was already regretting his decision. He was tracing the footsteps of his father, and he knew it. It was he who had brought the lantern that night and watched him step into the darkness – never to return.
He glanced at Tinker perched on a branch above him. The black cat seemed to peer into his soul, urging him to take vengeance.
I can end it all, he thought. If I stay like this, it will all go away. Is this what father had done? Maybe he wasn’t killed by that thing. Maybe he witnessed the horror, ran away, and killed himself.
He turned himself over and continued to float on his back. Orion, the Hunter, ruled the starry sky above him.
Today I planted an apple tree by mother’s grave. It was a nice day, but it started to rain in the afternoon. I met Elise, she was there with her family burying that mean brother of hers. Hopefully things will be better for her now.
Gabriel got the watch going, but it still doesn’t work very well. He calls the watch Herbert, since it says so on the lid.
It makes me sad to think that Gabriel will be leaving soon. He said he will wait for the Englishman to come down from Brennenburg and then take him back west. I hope the Englishman enjoys himself so much that he never leaves the castle.