Hunting anomalies is quite tedious, here you can read all the stories (except for a single bugged line).
- The god of small wounds: papercuts, inch-long serrations, dug into the points of one’s joints. He is worshipped with bloody tears, shattered teeth.
- The god of cancers, tumerous, beset with green eyes, each of them delicate lashed, the hairs as fine as any king’s gold. Of all the little nameless gods, he alone requires no attention. He has all he needs.
- The god of lesions, dripping pus, red-mouthed and gasping. He is worshipped with increasing frequency these days in Nir.
- The god of rotted and rotting teeth; you find his shrines studded with molars and fangs trussed-up in strings of red vein. Pray to him for better ones.
- No one knows why people pray to him, only that he is there: a skeletal little figure, always sitting cross-legged, with a wide smile that eats most of his face.
- The god of drowning deaths. Kelp infests his shrines, as does the bodies of still-dying fish. He cannot find traction in Nir, for some reason..
- The god of slit throats and barbed-wire deaths. His cult is more violent than most. His shrines are strangled corpses.
- The god of wretched and dying beasts, of the mouse in a trap, of the fox with its septic leg. He requires no worship. He comes for all of us:
- The god of eaten fingers, of fingers chewed down to the knuckle, gnawed clean from the bone, crunched, swallowed, sucked down hungry gullets. His altars are a butcher’s floor. Don’t look.
- If you see his altar, it’s too late for you. The god of hiding-in the-dark has an arrangement with the others: his parish for their pleasures.
- “The first to come after my brother’s death was a thing of knots and knuckled bone; it did not walk, it seethed across the floor. And when it spoke, it was a voice that should not have been, and ragged as a mother’s voice. Please, it keened from all its mouths at once.”
- “The second to come after my brother’s death was a lie, a trick of air and light, fletched with eyes as myriad as the names of worlds. It saw my brother’s absence and it laughed a wet rattle like the dregs of an old man’s voice.”
- “The third to come after my brother’s death were wolves. They stood at the entrance to the Cavern of Flame, drowned in the half-light, shadows save for the gold of their eyes. As they came to me, their skulls broke and wept silver as antlers grew from the bone.”
- “The fourth to come after my brother’s death was a mere echo. Barely anything. It was not the sound of my voice, but something older and more desolate. It spoke of strange places and times where carnivorous plants wept bile into ichor lakes ruled by jeweled insects that fed on men’s dreams.”
- The fifth to come after my brother’s death had neither lungs nor limbs nor throat yet it screamed from somewhere amid the churning frills it named as body. It clacked as it moved and things twisted that should not and when it fell to silence, the cavern rose to shriek its grief in turn.
- The sixth to come was a girl. She said to me: In the house there was a child. In that child, bones have been set, bones that weren’t theirs. In those bones, there was a vow and it was the one that Nascht made me when the universe was new. In that vow, there is my grief for he is gone and it will not be fulfilled.
- The seventh to arrive after my brother’s death was a thing of thorns and lapping tongues, brindled with the iron barbs. It bade me to give him his bones that it might make candles of the calcium. When I did not, it left me books it said was stitched from the skin of my brother’s back.
- The eighth to arrive after my brother’s death was a man who looked as my brother did, who spoke as my brother once did, but when he knelt to offer his condolences, I saw he was but without dimension, like a painting of my brother pried from its canvas. He meant well, it said. That is all we can ask of our gods, sometimes.
- The ninth to arrive after my brother’s death was a child and she was nothing more than that, a little girl who sought direction from the gods who dwelled in the Caverns of Flame. She wanted to know what her life might be like, if it would hurt, and I told her gently that so long as she lives, there will always be agony and sweetness both.
- The tenth to arrive was my brother’s death and it was I who went to my knees before her. I begged his death to be mine as well and she said no. She kissed me upon my forehead, and her mouth, though it was bone and naught else, felt cool and welcomed upon my skin.
- The last to arrive was the beginning and our end.
- The Rent Mouth: A force animates this corpse; a force has split it from breast to groin, opened a smile along the spine. When it speaks, it weeps prophecies.
- Murmuring Corpses: Sometimes, they come back. When they do, they come back not only intact but gravid with dead voices.
- The Risen Vine: Silver-green ivy winds around this corpse, its roots worked deep into its rotting meat. Those who think the woods innocent often regret such foolishness. Green is a hungry color.
- The Tongue That Crawls: It is not singular but organs in multitude, a torus of twitching muscle eager to taste, to experience.
- The Rotted Half: Love dies on its own schedule. It cannot be quickened, cannot be tempted, cannot be coerced from the flesh when it has rooted there, eager to be reunited
- The Wife-In-Glass: The dead who enter vengeful, who exit their lives with a scream like a fist or a drowning lodged still in their lungs: those do not pass on. They stay. They devour what they are denied.
- Clamorous Priest: The problem with the dead is not that they sometimes come back, but they do not forgive
- The Bathyal Womb: Its infestation is a gift. It is a promise. It is a wet vow as spoken from a grief-wounded mouth, an assurance that one day, this too will pass.
- The Antlered: It is nowhere it is uninvited, begins first as a prickling under the roof of one’s ribs. Then one day, it spears through the body of its birth: an offering eternal.
- That Which Gnaws: The tenement to which all souls crawl when heaven is rotted and hell inhospitable. Hers are the hands which grip and hers are the mouths who feast.
- It’s easy sometimes to forget that the ghouls have always been here, that they ‘ave always dwelled in the shadows outside of Nir. Sometimes I wonder if it were a symptom of our prosperity. Few enjoy discussing the darkness in summer; like a blasphemy, somehow.
- I spotted my first ghoul early in my teens, long afore I’d given a thought to joining the monasteries. She was a gangly thing with too-large eyes, still recognizably human. She whispered a wild riotous soliloquy, more festive in its cadences than I would have guessed. She orated a thousand observations, all of which led back to hunger.
- All of these stories are apocrypha, all of the anecdotes mythos. Immortality belongs to the gods. They are not for us. No one can live forever save for the ghouls. I am sure now.
- All of these stories are apocrypha, all of the anecdotes mythos. Immortality belongs to the gods. They are not for us. No one can live forever save for the ghouls. I am sure now.
- I envy the ghouls, at times. Despite their abominable diet, they lead better existences than us. They do not worry about death; they feed upon it instead.
- It’s a blasphemy that my sister is dying and not the old men of the clergy nor the hags of the forest. It is obscene. It is an error and it will not be so, even if I must gut the gods and feed their hearts-meat to her.
- “The first time is inevitably the hardest. Whether it involves a first foray into the languages of the dead or something more intimate, more profoundly close to the muscle than the resurrection of an old tongue. I hope she eats what I bring her.I hope it works.”
- “I’m fascinated, and sickened too, by the zeal which she exhibits when devouring prey. Her teeth, though blunt, made brisk work of his thews, his cabled shoulders, the thick trunk of his torso. By the end of it, there weren’t even bone.”
- Miraculously, she is beginning to recover. I’d thought, at best, the diversification of her palate would stabilize her condition, allow for a more elegant descent into the dark. But my sister may well survive her ailment. Unfortunately, I doubt my soul will.
- He was a vagrant; no one of importance, a leering drunk without any respect for hygiene and even less compassion for civilization. No one would miss him. I kept telling myself that as I dragged him home to her. I kept telling meself the same as she began to eat him.
- It’s too difficult. They’ll find out. I can’t bring her any more bodies to eat. But if I don’t, she may decline yet again. I have an alternative, one that may buy us some time. It won’t be pleasant. But I can try. I’ll try for her.
- Something is happening to me as well. I cannot be certain as to why. There is no active contact between my flesh and her teeth. Yet, I’ve developed an uncanny aptitude for regeneration. Every strip of muscle I feed her, it returns by the following dusk, ready to be flayed again.
- Some scholars postulate that without Zo-Kalar, there would be neither life nor death, nothing save for a purgatorial state: rot without ending, decay without check. Festering eternities, with maggot-gods growing fat on the newly damned.
- Zo-Kalar’s worship is less hungry than sceptics preach. The faithful offer their years the way another might make oblations of hearts, and their deaths with the fervor of a lover at the altar: nothing given without consent, nothing offered save in its entirety.
- Zo-Kalar’s priests are refineries, are wombs in which the monstrous gestate, death and life churning without cease within the bowl of their bellies; and mixed therein with their blood and their bowels: fresh phylums of futures.
- Zo-Kalar’s presence is marked by a smell not unlike petrichor, except instead of rain, it is a mineral scent as though of teeth made into an attar, calcium ground fine enough to breathe.
- Of all his pantheon, it is said that Zo-Kalar –pale as the grave-kissed, studded with votives- is most beloved among the Outer Gods, who dote upon them as a farmer might pamper his best lamb, fattening it for a harvest supper.
- While other religions practice excess, fecund with chapels and symbols, Zo-Kalar’s worship is served by lack. The faithful spend their lives pursuing their scriptures and those who find them, hoard them like youth.
- The bibles of Zo-Kalar are made of their body: its pages skin from the divots of Their elbows, its covers panes of fragile leather stripped from Their back, its words Their blood, blue as the blush of a bruise upon a corpse-priest’s throat.
- Let the living offer nothing that its corpse may wish to keep.
- – a Zokalarian aphorism.
- Those who turn their back on Zo-Kalar are, in turn, renounced by both life and death, forbidden from either and made to endure as shambolic husks, forced to rot perpetually without avenue for relief.
- The blessed of Zo-Kalar die as they live: with searing perspicacity, their senses inflamed, and they do not drowse through their dying and find no relief in palliative attention.
- Thad a different name once, plain as the rough dirt outside of Ulthar, churned to anonymity by the passing of a thousand lifetimes.
- Of all the offerings, it is honey I cannot abide. Like ichor on my tongue, like a memory seeped into my flesh. Who knew that godhood could be so bitter?
- It ached. All the knowledge in the world and not one scrap of it told me how much it would hurt to be devoured by them.
- I asked him once what it was like to have seen epochs wither into faded memory. I envy them, he said.
- I was bloodied by the stars, flayed of my ignorance, opened and emptied so that coils spilled from me, black as ichor, pure as hope. When all there was of me was skin, it began to whisper, and the worlds yielded at his voice. I was one of them, at last.
- What lies we are told of gods. We believe them absolute in their auspices, either cruel or compassionate, and what qualities have been assigned to them are immutable as death itself. But the truth is that divinity is as fickle as any animal, and will do anything to eat.
- It hurt. All the knowledge in the universe and all it told me was this: when all else has rotted away, pain will endure.
- My first offering was an old man of eighty, his face cicatrized by the years, marked as though he were a map lovingly cultivated over the breadth of a traveller’s life. I did not do anything to him. He performed the sacrifice himself. He cut his throat and bled himself at my feet and when I drank of his cooling skin, he tasted of wine.
- It was brutal. Worse still than the sacrifice of flesh, this flagellation of the spirit. But I could say nothing. As gods we have appetites, as gods we must eat. So, I could only bear witness as the boy hollowed himself of his name in honor of mine.
- It is strange to clutch a dead god in your chest, stranger still when he was your brother. They do not die, you know? Not fully. They linger in panicked gasps, fluttering as though a bird within a cat’s teeth.
- The man was melancholic in visage, pale but not attractively so, his skin less ceramic and more the bleached pallor of something forgotten in the dark. But his eyes bore the holy blaze of a man possessed by his search and where Randolph Carter walked through the Dreamlands, the earth churned in his stead.
- Randolph Carter was subsumed by his quest, so engulfed by it, in fact, that by the time I met him, there was little of the man left. What propelled his body, what moved him through the Dreamlands, was that certainty his search would eventually bear fruit. He did not live among us; he was elsewhere.
- He spoke of a man named Harley Warren with such excruciating fondness that I wondered often if Warren had been more than a friend. A lover, perhaps, though neither would admit to such. The season of history which they inhabited did not permit for such things. Whatever the case, Carter clearly regretted whatever the fear that kept him from Warren.
- Randolph Carter dwelled in constant paralysing terror. Yet he regarded the cosmos with such tenderness, unwilling to permit that fear to serve as his compass. I don’t know if he understood what a marvel his behaviour was. So many men would have wielded their insecurities as a weapon against the world but he did not.
- Randolph aged in leaps. Each time I saw him, there was more silver to his hair, more lines upon his haggard face, as though a cartographer was intent on charting every tragedy he endured.
- I suspect that Carter understood death in a way few Dreamers did. He often seemed hurried, desperate even to scavenge what beauty the world permited him and fold the memory of such into his ribs so that he may be armored against his own end.
- By the time I met Randolph Carter, he was comprised almost entirely of regrets. The world had paled for him, floresceing only in those spaces where he understood he was no longer desired. He spoke often about what he shied from, the times he froze, his hesitations. What a different man he would be now if it were not for his fears.
- Carter confided in me that it was becoming harder to return to the Dreamlands. His imagination, which he believed was central in his ability to travel here, was being cannibalized by time. He was beginning to forget who he was, and the boy he had been was receeding into someone else.
- Carter despised Nascht. He believed that Nascht was a miser with his information, and that such knowledge should be given freely to the world. But I suspect mostly that he was jealous. Nascht was immortal and he was not.
- The last time that I saw Carter, I saw something in his gaze I had not witnessed before: Peace.
- This was not how I wanted it to go. Yet, what is life but a stumble of opportunities? We make do with what we are given.
- My first attempt was abortive. It screamed at me until it died. I suspect it might have to do with the coercion necessary to acquire the base material; something of the malice of its origin followed into the nub of primordial meat. Still, it wasn’t fruitless. Failure, after all, indicates the possibility of success.
- “I attempted my experiment again, this time within the vicinity of the arches. The nodule stayed quiescent; it purred as a cat might, full of a strange drowsing pleasure. I don’t yet know what to do with my creation, but I have a number of ideas.”
- “Nature is comprised of ecosystems. It possesses its own ratios, its own structures of checks and balances, a truth that seems universal throughout both here and the waking world. So, I abandoned my creation to the system. If it is to survive, it will do as it must. At the time, that decision seemed wise. Now? Not so much.”
- It cost a squirrel from the forest. Its corpus deliquesced to a taffy-like substance in my palm, tangling between my fingers. As it did, it lost its color: red-gold bleached to nacre before it necrotized, becoming black.
- Of all the things I thought to plan for, its playfulness was not among them. That snarl of ichorous basalt wove between my hands, a kitten elated to be alive. I considered naming it, but that seemed worse sacrilege than its creation.
- “I woke today to discover the thing is now spindled with legs, a halo of thorned extrusions that alter size whenever I look away. At least, so I think. I cannot be sure. Lately, little seems certain…”
- It is easier to delude ourselves into believing we, as a species, possess significance when we pretend the cosmos is burdened by wants similar to ours. Despite my best attempts, I’ve come to grow fond of my creation, and believe it looks to me like a child might gaze upon their parent.
- It woke me this morning, chittering, many-mouthed where it had been like smooth marble before, each aperture limned with a woman’s rose-lush lips, their insides fibrous with needle teeth. It said something as it paced my breastbone although I cannot recall what, but I know I am lessened by the absence of that memory.
- “Have you ever seen light shatter as it crashes into a still pond, snapped just so, a broken-backed mammal with its throat gutted by the rippling water? How easy it is to believe this is normal.But what if it’s not? What if all of ‘normal’ is the delusion of a brain diseased with terror? I think about that as I look upon my creation these days.”
- I found it late in the afternoon astride the body of a stag or a thing like a stag, at least, its antlers comprised of mummified hands clenched still in mute and unanswered prayer. The carcass hadn’t been flayed, flensed, or filleted, but had liquefied instead, puddling to darkly gleaming ichor.
- Is it bigger? I can’t tell. How can the allometry of its shape be determined when the variables have been so nebulous? The borders of the thing shift between dawn and the bloodied leadlight of dusk. It drips, it festers, its edges seethe. But I think it has grown. I’m almost sure.
- “I went to the brother-gods with the thing in tow, expecting not accolades but answers, at least, as the two have professed themselves lords over all there is to know and all that is worth knowing. What I had not expected was their fear, their trepidation at the sight of the thing. Or what happened thereafter.”
- What does one do with the harvest of a god’s corpse? A cadaver swallowed and subliminated by the child they had created? I had not expected this to happen, had not wanted Nascht to be the price of this nascent science? I had not asked for this. But here we are, and it would be callous to let his suffering amount to naught.
- With every death comes a debauchery of fresh life, worms and crows, beetles as bright as the jewels which might adorn a viscount’s tresses. Such too is the case here. From the carcass of extinguished divinity, something else has arisen, and I think it is speaking to me.
- The ichor is inconsistent, a fugitive substance that seeks to evade my manipulations, oozing between my fingers, twisting from where it has been pinned. I am beginning to suspect some aspect of the god remains, embedded within the glistening mass, and he longs to flee.
- Description evades what has followed in the last things: the thing I made, that spined and grinning orb of nacre, it spends its days now herding the detritus of its kill for me, a collie and its solitary sheep. We are a peculiar household, but I won’t complain. There is work to be done here.
- “Not enough, not enough at all. The ichor from the god has become watery, like something the dying might expectorate: bloodied with darker hues, useless for my purpose. Every day, there is less of it, though I’ve taken to using every species of container to hold it. I need more.”
- “Desperate, I, in a delirium, returned to the Cavern of Flame, certain that Kaman-Thah might be more pliable now having seen what transpired when Nascht was unwilling. Surely, a negotiation would be possible and surely, with all parties amenable, there might be a route where we all profit.But the Cavern of Flame would not permit me inside.”
- The thing brought me another of those strange stags, this one crowned with arachnid eyes, pharyngeal jaws that chattered and snapped even though its spirit has long since fled. Together, we decocted more of the ichor, but the unguent was again too thin.
- I woke to bodies upon bodies stacked like a pyre, bones runneling to black and muscles to a lurid wash, as though a painter had tripped and lost hold of his pigments. Over this grisly diorama squatted the thing I’d made, belimbed like a lizard, complete with proud frills.
- It’s right. Nascht provided so much raw material, and he was only a small god. If I can find another, if I can find one of better stature, I might be able to resume the experiment. There is a harvest to be found in godmeat. It only requires its butcher to be bold.
- It needs to be one of the Earth Gods. Mortal enough to be slaughtered — no, not slaughtered, why had I elected that word? Not slaughtered. I am not here to butcher pantheons. Taken, perhaps? I don’t know. But I know it must be one of them and then, perhaps…
- The Guide to The Staring Eye: The somnambulists have written beastiaries for what they encounter in sleep. In Nir, dreams are illegal.
- Eaters-Of-Self: Mycology is invaluable in the forests where there is nothing to eat but the self and what grows upon that self.
- The Book of the Hundred Mouths: That Which Gnaws possesses an illicit priesthood. Though cautioned to halt their evangelism, they continue to spread the word of their Mother Maw.
- An Account of the Last Days of Slein: There was a city once where Nir stood. There were people here where we slept. There was music. There was hope. Their blood still pleads.
- The Drowning of the Thrice-Born: The rites with which the elders of Nir once murdered a god whose name is no longer spoken, whose bones are no longer eaten.
- The Iron Tome: A compendium of flagellations expected of those who would feed the cursed thing at the crossroads of the Nir.
- The Devoured Codex: Apologia for the Outer Gods, written by hermits and cats who have eaten of the numinous nerve.
- An Almanac of Those Returned: The Eaten Saints keep close tabs on the dead who come back. They scrimshaw the corpse-prophecies on their own bones.
- Eurydice’s Feast: A libretto of a now-forgotten opera, once popular among youth. It tells the truth of Orpheus’ ascent and what came after. Love is devouring. Love has always been.
- The Salt, the Stone: The scriptures of a god since drowned and eaten by its myriad siblings, nursed there still in their nightmares, waiting for rebirth.
The World Without
- “Hey, its @KT with another episode of Carion Town. Scholars have long argued whether The Red Crow rules in isolation or is attended by a pantheon. One academic postulates that the answer is neither, and that The Red Crow presides over a court of ennobled worms and jewelled flies.”
- “It’s @KT here, thanks for tuning in. The Red Crow brands her chosen with pustules like mouths. They often manifest in clusters, teethed and fronded with tongues. The faithful rank themselves by how multitudinousness are their abscesses, and how readily they spill prophecies.”
- “Hey, its @KT.There are always roads writhing into Carriontown and despite rumor, always ways to crawl from its borders. But those who come to Carriontown tend to stay. Here, where death makes its bed, it is quiet. Here, it is almost safe.”
- Is Carriontown real? This question has been asked for ages. But as any of its ash-priests will tell you, the answer is, ‘Yes, yes, and yes again. Real as the quiver of one’s breath at the brink of death. Real as rot. Real as worms. Real as want. @KT sigining off for the night.
- “@KT here. Thank you to all the new followers for joining us on this adventure. Carriontown is my tribute to Hookland, which is this amazing Twitter account chronicling lore from a place that almost exists. Carriontown’s my take on that, just… a bit darker. Anyway, hope you enjoy the ride.”
- “Hey @KT here. No one in Carriontown dreams. The Wife-In-Glass forbade such sacrilegeous acts after The Red Crow became ascendant. There are several theories of this but the most prevalent, if the one least spoken of, is that dreams attract the wrong gods.”
- “@KT here. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button folks.Death in Carriontown occurs by consensus, and it is always a celebration. The residents hold bacchanals that last seven days and seventeen nights. Wine is poured. Sweetmeats are carved from the newly anointed dead’s throat: laminated in honey and then fried. The first bite is always saved for The Red Crow.”
- Hey,@KT again. A few people asked about Carriontown and where I’d gotten my inspiration, so I’m going to piggyback off something I heard: Carriontown is a place imperfectly remembered. It’s real as worms, real as rot. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. We’ve all dreamt it. This is simply a different frame for the picture.
- “Its @KT here with a message from Carriontown: May you meet The Red Crow in her war rags. May she visit you clad as That Which Gnaws.”
- “@KT with another Carriontown nursery rhyme:
From wells, through tunnels
We creep out at night
And bite and bite and bite and bite!
Round around the circle we go
Pulling you down, way down below
Through cities of bone
Our teeth are so bright
To light your way through endless night”
- A woman illuminated by the fatty glow of candle, delicately amputating her fingers at the knuckle. She suckles the meat from each node of bone.
- “Hooks dangle from a dark-soaked ceiling. Plastic-wrapped haunches of meat swing from each gleaming curve, writhing, mouths pressing against the transparent film.”
- The room is barren of anything save for a vernix of dust and a pale mottled figure standing in one corner, its head pressed to the wall.
- Two children sit atop a vermillion rug, faces obscured by the animal heads they wear. Between them: a body, unbuttoned at the breast bone, its entrails spread like portents.
- Strings of wet pink muscle web the room, like an old woman’s knitting project laid out and forgotten. Something is singing inside.
- An opulent room, stuffed to bursting with red velvet. There is a man atop a luxurous loveseat, reading calmly, despite the intestines puddled by his feet.
- A woman sits knees-to-chest on the floor at the very center of this room, haloed by a circle of flickering candles. As she sobs, her bare skin fruits tendrilled clumps of flesh, which fall and skitter into the dark.
- The room is occupied by what appears to be a massive worm, pink as burnt muscle, coiled onto itself. Through its crennellated skin, it is possible to see silhouettes moving, clawing for release.
- The room is empty save for a seething mass of purplish-blue cilia. From time to time, eyes become apparent amid the writhing villi.
- Moss papers the walls and floor of this room, infests the ceiling. It has swallowed the furnishing too, and the sprawl of bodies upon the floor. There is a stag in here with headlight eyes, horns like grasping arms, and too many legs.
- The room is crowded with spiral staircases, growing at all angles, grown of a hundred different materials: granite, obsidian, teakwood, muscle.
- Two men sit slumped on opposite ends of the room, marionettes with their strings slashed loose. Their heads are crescent moons, bordered with molars, bloodied and boiling over with brain.
- No surprise that it was Nasht who first learned what it means to be lonely.
- I wonder sometimes if there is still the debris of mortality inside me, strewn among my ribs. But I doubt this. My bones burn these days, wicking embers; I sweat light. If there was anything human about me, it is gone: ashes on Nasht’s pyre.
- “What a strange thing it is to be envious of the dead, aggrieved by their slumber, by the roots worked into their ribs, and how the soil and the worms hold them close, contained within the dark and safe from forever. Sometimes, I think I’d murder him for taking that from me.”
- Give him back. I repent everything I said. I regret this, regret every misplaced wish. Return him. Give back my brother. I did not ask for this. Eternity is too immense to endure alone.
- “A spindled, many-eyed thing –limber despite the disobedient arithmetics of its skeleton, its spine flowering in places, vertebrae like thick knots of mineral cancer- came seeking audience today. It was dying, but desperate still for answers. Why does this hurt, Nasht, oh, Lord? Oh, God of mine. And why cannot I yet die?”
- We spoke once, my brother and I, and we spoke long on the subject of gods and eternities. Struck by a perverse curiousity, Tasked if he was as I was: a mortal, raised from the rot. Nascht had nodded and apologized for giving me as well the burden of another’s heart.
- We stood in its presence and listened as it sang its idiot dirge. In its maddening keening, I heard the canticle which gave birth to worlds and slaughtered universes. It was an impartial music, creation and destruction, both without bias. And I wept to know none of us mattered to it at all.
- “It came again. Still dying, still unable to die.What worth are you, Lord, if you cannot end this for me? If you cannot, at least, tell me why I must suffer. And Nasht, my brother, wept as he turned the thing into ichor.
- I awoke and he was gone, and the world still turns, and Azathoth still croons his idiot paens, and my brother is gone. Nasht is gone and I am alone.
- As a boy, I was told to question all things: the sky, the earth, the habits of men, but especially the scriptures that ligamented such concepts. My father abhored divinity. He thought it as spurious as the men who demand you play chess with them in the square. When one is asked for obedience, the correct thing to do is ask, ‘Why?’
- But what if there is a god?’ I asked him once, when I was young and still innocent enough to be afraid of such ideas. He’d laughed. If there was a god, he said, he would not be a vengeful one, not after all he’s done, not after the prayers he’d heard. If a god exists, he must surely be afraid of his creation’s rage.
- “Rarely have I regretted my father’s death. He was not a good man, prone towards whimsies of violence; he drank too much, earned too little, and traded too heavily on the accolades of his youth.But how I wished he could have seen what I saw today.”
- “I sat at the feet of the brother-gods and they bade me to ask them all the questions I’d longed answered. So, I did. They told me everything.About the cosmos, about entropy, about what came before and would come after, the civilizations that would rise long after the world has withered to ash. But they would not speak to me of gods.”
- “I returned to them after millenia of travel, certain I finally understood the place and its tenebrous rules.Eagerly, I sought them to be my colleagues in a grand experiment to bridge the divine and the grasping ape. But it horrified them. They demanded I leave. I refused. I had not travelled so far to be turned away like an unwanted dog.”
- This was not how I wanted it to go. Yet, what is life but a stumble of opportunities? We make do with what we are given.
- “For all that the English language might pride itself on its expansiveness, there is nothing in it which can correctly author my understanding of what I discovered. Still, I will try. Divinity is a trick, easy as breath or worship. The gods are feverish with life and want, are as malleable as any mortal.”
- Your dreams have always had such shine to them. The other children, their fantasies were so frangible: like glass improperly set, already frothing with cracks. Their dreams sloughed from them like old skin. But yours lingered, worlds in-potentia.
- Do you remember, Morgan? You were very young when he would come into your bedroom and whisper of the lands he’d seen; in the dark, still damp with your mother’s tears. She was close to being like you, her pupils pinhole doors. But she wasn’t you. Of all his line, you are the only one as he was: a key turning in the eye of the world.
- What a thing, Morgan. What a grand relief it must be to know you’ll never be burdened by immortality. Stories are better when they end.
- He understood very early that what he did was a mistake. To be deathless is to be without means to forget and how the memories grow then, a febrile kind of life; how they feather into a thousand hungry mouths, how they shrill. A body rotting from forever becomes a womb for worse things.
- It is best you learn this place like a habit, Morgan. Practice ruinously, dream with the abandon of a smoker nauseous with yearning. Until it becomes easy as an addiction, as heartbeat, as sinking under ice.
- Of all the worlds that exist, only one has ever demanded consistency, insisted upon temporal continuity and order above all else. Structure so that reality might be reduced into arithmetics, slave to laws it had not consented to: a wild thing fettered to an audience’s amusement. But life finds a way. You’ll learn this.
- It will fade, as all things do and all things must, that sense of wrongness which knuckles under your skin, like a body shaved of its appendages, unable to move save by peristalsis. Pretend it is birth. Pretend it is like giving birth. Pretend it is pain for the sake of a lifetime of pleasure. Pretend you’ll survive. It becomes easier like that.
- You are taught the trick of it within hours of your birth, and you spend a lifetime rehearsing for its coming. Such rigorous practice has its benefits. With every year, it becomes easier to pass into that place; with every night, it becomes more inviting.
- “You can feel it now, can’t you? In the long bones of your thighs, the hollow of your hips. In the roof of your mouth, held there like a secret. In your fingers, in the flute of your spine, like a song you’d forgotten but will sing regardless because you are full, full full, you are an aching nest of sounds.”
- “Hold it.Hold all of it. A little longer, and it will be done, and you will be as the drowning finally surrendered to the water. Quiet instead. At peace.”
- The reputation of Zo-Kalar’s faithful is well-earned. All in Nir knew of His worship, the festivals which arc between equinoxes, His blessings, His wretched curses. But no one would confess to immediate allegiance. Always, it was a story inherited from a separate generation. Always a parable, always someone else’s wisdom borrowed for personal use.
- I am beginning to suspect I may find my answers among the ghouls in the forests. A widow, faintly translucent in her old age, informed me of a local superstition: that the ghouls were apostates of Zo-Kalar’s faith, braggarts and brash youth who thought to contract immortalty by way of the god’s disfavor.
- It troubles me to see how human those ghouls are. Though their proportions are distorted, their bodies warped, limbs stretched and bent at uncanny angles, they seem to retain some lode of sapient thought. But then again, perhaps, it’s mimicry, a tool which they employ to dissuade attackers.
- I had worried this would be fruitless, a grim business septic with corpses and no answer to be sifted from the carnage. Even my initial delusions, the thought this culling would benefit Nir, were beginning to falter in the wake of so much death. I think, however, we’ve at last made headway. Zo-Kalar, I will find you soon.
- We found him face-down in a puddle, burbling as the life twitched from rainwater lungs, his extremities blued in that garish cold. I wish now we’d taken steps to ease his pain, but at the time, all I could think about was calling Zo-Kalar from his solitude. Perhaps, that’s why it did not work. Death is not cruel for all that life might be.
- Seven dead because Zo-Kalar procrastinates on his prayers. I’ve been an atheist for as long as I’ve been old, unwilling to bend my head to such truculent divinities. But if I wasn’t already, Zo-Kalar’s indifference would have flayed the faith from me. How can he hide when his flock suffers? What is the point of gods if they provide no succor?
- I’m told a tomb-prophet lives somewhere in Nir, and that they keep their domicile subterranean so they can sleep close to the beloved dead. It seems they take audience occasionally, but only by recommendation and very rarely. Still, these are parameters I can work with.
- Zo-Kalar, she told me, is a frightened animal, one less favored by the Outer Gods than most would claim. Yes, they dote upon him but they take turns to devour him, and the process, she informed me with a delicate shudder, would last millenia. For that reason, Zo-Kalar rarely makes an appearance, always healing or in the process of being eaten.
- “Morgan is alive. I know this because she still bucks against the thing’s confinement and struggles with the myriad filaments holding her in place. It is an uncomfortable sight, nonetheless, and I have taken to ignoring the two. We will take her to the Cavern of Flame for the next step. Though the edifice forbids my entry, it cannot deny me its borders.”
- We will make her scream until the heavens break and ZoKalar, excised of his cowardice, staggers here to kneel and pay tribute to the music of her pain.