The Aspect excitedly stepped forward; he had found a way through these desolate lands. He began to walk forth dragging his bloodied sword behind him, it drew a crimson mark behind him that caused vegetation and life to sprout beneath it. From beneath his bloodied sword life sprouted forth, emerald shoots of tall grass and fern unraveling at unnatural speed as he stepped forward, keeping time with the pulsing beneath the dead earth. The going was slow and arduous, before long a veritable tapestry of gashes had formed on his right palm, slicking the sword in a sheen of blood that both burned his hand and made his hold on the handle slippery and unsure. He often strayed from the stream beneath him causing viscous, human remains and gelatinous blood to seep up from the ground, almost in mockery of his misstep. The earth would belch forth the sickly sweet stench of death accompanied by hordes of black flies that would set upon him, sucking his blood only to burst into flames and fall onto the earth as ashes. Yet still, he made his way, fixing his mind on this one glimmer of hope and for once, placing his faith unto the unfolding, trusting a power that was not his own after centuries of omnipotence. The lifestream beneath him surged stronger as he went, the heart beat beat harder and faster and soon made a home within his mind, reassuring him that all was not lost.
Sensing this small victory the wastes seemed to respond, bellowing out enraged screams and banshee shrieks. Any doubts he had that there was a sentience to these dying lands were cast aside as the earth beneath him tremored and shook, terrible howls and screams birthed from the various chasms forming in the shaking ground. It was if multitudes of animals or even children were set ablaze and roamed the lands in agony and rage, demanding that their anguish be transferred unto him instead.
He felt the first few drops of rain fall upon his face as he glanced all around his feet at the cracking earth. The rain carried a sickly sulpherous stench, as if there were the rotting carcass of some unfortunate beast suspended in the sky, spilling forth its festering ichor upon the land.
The earth split apart in front of him, forming deep chasms and holes across his path. the sky had darkened with the gathering clouds but he could still vaguely make out amorphous shadows forming above the chasms. He took several furtive steps closer and from within the splintered ground terrible creatures could be seen wriggling forth.
Their bottom halves were amphibious like that of a frog. Viscous legs webbed and rot green, festering and sinewy they slapped along the mud towards him, causing a horrid sucking sound to emerge from the mire.
He took several steps back as one approached him and in a flash of lightening he could see that from their torso up they took the form of dying children. Eye sockets hollowed out to black holes in their skulls, its hand outstretched in a clawing, clamoring beckon.
More poured and piled forth from the bowels of the earth. Wriggling about through a miasma of decay from their dirt wombs, crimson mud caking their bodies as they reached out in anguish, yearning the release of death yet compelled by some unknown force to hinder his progress; attempting to bring what harm their feeble attemps could to the God that could trample them underneath his feet.
He grimaced in horror at this mockery of his creation and tried stepping forward and harmlessly shoving them aside with the blunt face of his sword. He found that hordes of them would be swept aside as easily as cutting grass and they bundled together in wretched wriggling piles on either side as he continued onward. Yet as easily as they were cast off more came, hopping atop one another with squirming, viscous bodies slipping on one another while gnashing little teeth filed to points to rend the flesh from his body. They began to grasp a hold of his clothing as he waded past, the waters rising past his ankles. their tiny childs hands clutching at his raiment, baby teeth gnawing at his body and chewing through his clothes. As the waters rose higher and higher it became more difficult to see where they were. He would wade through the mire apprehensively and from the depths one would leap out upon him only to be cast aside. He quickly abandoned the path momentarily and sought a hillside or knoll where the floodwaters would recede.,
The Aspect reviled at the choice before him as he felt their teeth pierce his skin. He grimaced in disgust before grabbing one that made its way to his shoulders and breaking its tiny neck in one hand. He threw its body to the earth and the others set upon it. Feeble screams were soon drowned out by the wriggling mass over taking it. They began devouring their fallen kin and growing stronger as they consumed their brethren. He cried out in dismay, and drew his sword. He slashed out in front of him rending several of them atwain, their bodies were soft and pliant and his sword cleaved them as easy as cutting bread. Steaming blood spilled forth from the wound and mingled with the festering earth. They screamed out in pain and gratitude as their repugnant little lives ended. Their bodies began to pile about and litter the earth around him. More were birthed endlessly from the splintered earth, but as they hopped and slithered towards him they grew distracted by their dead kin and abandoned their attempts to harm him in favor of devouring their fallen brethren. Soon there was a profane feast taking place in this land barren of life. The only thing he could see all about was the sickening image of these unholy creatures devouring one another, the sound of their cries and feasting filled the air in a horrid cacophony that rose to a fever pitch.
They mobbed behind him in disorder, thrusting forth tiny little arms in sickening earnest. As they converged towards him one of the creatures wriggled upon the emerald path behind him. Instantly the creature was consumed in hot, white flames. So hot it burnt through its empty eye sockets and shined through them like lanterns bobbing to and fro along the valley. Its frog legs burst to ashes as its blazing body rose up above the aspects head and hung in the sky as a beacon. As more of the creatures neared to him many would share the same fate, bursting into flames atop the grass trail following behind him and float to the sky, wreathed in undying, white flame. Their souls released to the heavens, their bodies cast up as pale lanterns proclaiming his progress to the foul master of these lands. “May they at least find some peace” he prayed to himself, “may they find their place in the stars so I may form a constellation in their image, wretched as it may be”. He glanced down to the thin, emerald serpent trailing behind him. Its vegetation and life seeming to encourage him, grant him a calm assurance that he would make it through these lands. “The forest has always had its quiet wisdoms, he remembered, it was not I who gave them their silent language but I am thankful for it all the same.
His defense was a double edged sword, the more he drew his sword from the earth to combat them the more he strayed from the lifestream. He would have to endure the swarms of biting flies and horrid stench rising from the earth in order to find his way again. But if he did not cut them down they would slowly and surely weigh him down and doom him to a death both long and excruciating. Seeing no other option he continued rending them apart, their steaming blood spilling out and slicking the earth under his feet. He found himself slipping forward as he carved his path, almost slipping and falling under the sea of gnashing teeth and clutching hands beneath him. It was in this slow and taxing manner he made his way further through the wastes.
An eternity of this passed, he trudged along in this macabre way towards the only salvation he felt. Uncertainty was a distant stranger to he, and he did not like placing his faith in such vague manifestations. All the same he continued forth, praying that he had not already died and this was not some sort of purgatory for him to endure for aeons to come.
Just as was about to abandon hope he saw something in the horizon. It looked at first like a massive dome, skinny in the middle and branching up and out towards the top. Directly before it on either side were two large pillars of obvious intelligent design, cut from stone and piercing the skyline they rose up in the horizon.
As he stepped forward the thin emerald stream behind him suddenly split off in both directions. A ring of tall grass and pine shoots and unfurling ferns bloomed forth creating a wall between him and the creatures behind him.
They lept forth as if blind to this development and immediately burst into flame as before, rising up to the sky like lanterns. more and more lept forth and shared the same fate. The rain suddenly began to dwindle and disperse. the tremors began to dissipate as the cracks upon the surface began to close together and heal themselves. The creatures cries faded to silence as they stumbled and lurched their way back within the earth, crawling into the closing chasms as if by command.
The Aspect turned his eyes from them and towards the structures in the distance. He had found his way through the wastes and before him he could see a slate grey mountain pass, a clear path cut in stone winding towards the structures. He stopped to gather himself and once more gazed into the horizon, knowing he was one step closer to what he was looking for.
Once more, the Aspect had found his way.