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Under the waning tree

Under the waning tree

Horizon’s seam frayed and rent with the approaching dawn. Sunlight pierced the lingering night with prismatic shards of golden array. Casting forth from the east, drawing shadows across a still slumbering landscape that stretched and grew like ghosts disinterred from their graves. The light was brighter here, here in this world between worlds, where dreams were woven in ephemeral strands of time and being and the mouth that gives birth to all truths speaks eternal; with words of long lost prose uttered in ancient tongues only the winds can speak.

Above lay the firmament, in all its shimmering grandeur; where forefathers of generations manifested as a crown, beset by shimmering starfire adorning the night sky.

And below?

Below lay the world of men, in all its folly and turmoil. Unknowingly they lay under the sway of this land, owing to this ephemeral landscape all their dreams, visions and that cold fire of inspiration that flickered within their being.  The innate primal flame that fueled their machinations, alighted their ingenuity and wove the very fibers of their dreams.  For all that had been created by man had been granted to them by the beings of this land; and in their arrogance, they failed to acknowledge the gifts imparted to them as such.

As the sun rose in the east it swept back the curtain of night and revealed a landscape far removed from any other. At its center lay a glade, half obscured by morning fog that rolled and lolled about like spirits bereft of kin or hearth. Emerald grass, adorned in pinprick diamonds of dawn mist draped the ground like a fine cloth, accented here and there with swathes of deep indigo and light blue. Its edges were sheer and sudden, dropping down to an endless abyss that surpassed all sight or comprehension. The whole of the place was like an island of forest and fog, suspended above the skyline; hung, as if by invisible strands of spiders silk.

A serpentine path carved its self through the glade, circling around and about the land like a serpent. It wove and wound itself over hills and grassy knolls and all along the way still pools of pristine water could be found, adorning the path like mirrors catching the starlit sky in their glassen, opaque surface. A hill erected at the apex of the path, rose up and looked out onto the firmament. So close was it to the heavens that even in the unfettered morning sun stars and planets and brilliant, lolling gaseous clouds could still be seen in the distance, painting austere bourealic strokes of green and blue upon the dawn.

Upon the crest of the hill ziggurats and monolithic pillars rose up and bled the horizon with razor sharp tips filed and ground to spearheads by inhumane hands. Carved into the columns and pillars were circular windows that allowed the light of the heavens to peer through. They served to mark the passage of passed ancestors as they traversed the obsidian night and foretold the position of the stars better than any cartographer’s map.

The sunlight traveled away from the hill, away from the pillars and the glade until it reached a gate. Snow white and ancient it stood at the center of this land serving as a passageway between the land of waking and that of slumber. An archway formed at the top, adorned with ashen bones and the various horns and antlers of countless animals long decayed.

As the sunlight flitted across the path and over the gate it eventually reached a forest of countless, skeleton birch trees, rising up from the earth like the exposed ribcage of some long dead deity. Spindly ashen limbs stretching up and out to greet the dawn. Snowflake bits of ivory bark caught the wind and drifted about in swirling, kaleidoscope array.

As the first sunrays hit the birch trees they all at once began to split and rend at their center. A creaking and snapping echoed throughout the forest and silenced the birds greeting the dawn. The trees caught under the morning light split open as a womb and from within stepped out beings not of earthly make or design. Hermaphroditic naked forms walked out from within their living resting place. Snow white skin stretched over tall, gaunt frames. Eyes like frost peered from androgynous faces and upon their heads ivory antlers sprawled up and out like ornate crowns, surpassing the regality of any earthly king.

Lithely they stepped out and onto the path, in perfect alignment they walked two by two along the path as they had since the genesis of time itself. Up and along the path, around the still waters that beheld the sky in their opaque perfection and stillness. Onward they marched; wordless reverence hanging over them like a patchwork quilt. Along the path they had tread since the beginning of time, up and onward, to the hill and their sacred, special place.

They walked in utter silence, the silence of those that need not explain anything to one another. No words or greetings exchanged, just a silent acknowledgment of the other and a grim forbearance for the task ahead.

Like a white serpent they coiled and circled around the path, white forms upon emerald grass, antlers piercing the horizon and bobbing up and down as they passed through the gate of bones.

They made their way to the glen and in perfect accordance all filed into place. They stood in a silent crescent around the hill in reverent, bowed, silence until one stepped into the center just below the hill. She had antlers larger than the others and a body far more feminine than the others, the slit between her legs hairless and velvet smooth.  Upon her slight neck a necklace of opal and sapphire was surmounted which caught  the morning sun and echoed its brilliance to all around in flashes and shimmers of pale sunlight. She stood in silence, waiting for the sun, her silver hair billowing out in the wind. She stood there until the sun passed through the ziggurat and shown through the hole carved to reveal her and her alone. She raised her arms above her head in salutation and gazed into the sun as an infant gazes into her mothers face. When the sun passed she abruptly dropped her arms to her sides and bowed her head in abject piety.

As if by command the beings retreated back and grouped in clusters around the various pools that adorned the glade. They sat around them hand in hand and bowed their heads in silent prayer as an attendant would circle around them. He placed one hand upon their heads as he made his way around the circle. Guided by some unknown voice he would stop behind the seer he was drawn towards and lovingly tilt back his head to expose his neck. He drew out a long, obsidian blade and ran it along his throat. In silent compliance he allowed the attendant to hold him by their hair above the still waters, letting crimson torrents of blood spill out into the opaque pools. The other would place their ivory hands into the pool, closing their eyes in silent, communal prayer. The offering let his life force flow out of him and into the pool until the life  left his eyes and he pitched forward, slipping into the waters. A reverence reserved for the presence of God(s) lay upon their faces as the waters churned and writhed, spilling out over the edges in viscous, frothing tides. Shimmering steam would rise up from the waters, as if the soul of the offering manifested as such and drifted up to the heavens. They opened their eyes as idle attendants rushed to the corpse floating in the churning waters and brought him back to the graveforest to be resurrected by the touch of dawn the following day. With the offering fulfilled the visions came, as they kept their hands in the silver waters they began to tremble and shake with great ecstasy and terror.

They all saw something different as they peered into the waters, different aspects of nature and life and the essence of man were revealed to them. Some were filled with euphoric ecstasy, tears of joy spilled forth from their faces as they reveled in the very essence of love or peace or belonging. Even embracing and entering one another in an orgy of ivory, antlered bodies as they celebrated the aspects of life and love revealed to them in the waters. Others shuddered and shook, trembling and crying out as if the waters scalded them and boiled the skin from their bones.  They tore the hair from their head and gnashed their teeth in agony and despair. These were the unfortunate bearers of the principalities of death and misery, of hate and disdain, of the slaughter and rape of infants. The waters revealed the nature of all to each of them, be it of joy or of despair, and though it imparted great wisdom to each of them for many it was far too much to bare. Their gift was both a blessing and a burden which hollowed their souls and shook their minds to its foundations. Fires were lit alongside the pools by those who did not receive visions, and the ashes were poured down the abyss to reach the world of man and pass along the essence and meaning of all contained. And in such a way, the inspirations, passions, and dreams of man are woven and passed along.

As the rituals ended the leader raised a peculiar instrument carved from a rams horn. She stood before the ziggurat and brayed forth a long, melancholy note. After the third blast they all rose up from their place around the pools and assembled in a semicircle as before. She waited there, for the moon to pass through the holes carved in the pillars before bowing to their deities and dismissing her congregation. They filed together, two by two behind her and made their slow, silent way back to the grave forest.

Then it came to pass that a tree appeared in the glen, it did not grow it did not take seed it just appeared. A sickly spindly oak tree that seemed to emanate a thickness and perverseness while at the same time seeming to hint at a strange catharsis hidden beneath its branches.

The beings awoke and walked along the path as they had always done. Birthed from the birch grave forest with the touch of the morning sun, passing under and through the gate of bones, up and around the hills and knolls until they reached the hill. They stood in silence, looking at the tree that had suddenly appeared to the right of their hill. For the whole of their existence their land had been locked in stasis, preserved in perfection for the task they had been appointed. There had not been anything new here since their genesis and the presence of this tree both frightened and intrigued them.

One being stepped toward the tree and examined it quizzically, he ran its hands along its branches, scanning it for any sign of its origin until he paused and stopped. His hand had grasped something cold and hard underneath the branches. He plucked what seemed to be a glass orb from the branch. It was the size of an apple and made of a translucent glass that opened up at the top. Within the orb, brown smoke lolled and rolled about, giving off a sickly sweet smell like a honey smeared carcass left in the sun to rot. He put the opening to his nose and inhaled the smoke rolling about within the sphere.

The others gazed in curiosity as an immense calm overtook him, immediately all sorrows, pain and sadness left him. Numbed and dulled to his surroundings he slowly dropped to his feet and sat there, eyes half lidded mouth slightly ajar.

Silently they stared back for a while before returning to their task. As before the waters foamed and churned about them and the creatures were gripped in ecstatic throes of enlightenment and despair in equal parts. All save for the one who had partaken of the fruit from the tree, he sat there, vacant and expressionless in a world bereft of emotion of expression within his antlered skull.

As the day went on, more found their way to the tree and sat down by his side. The visions imparted to them became too much to bear and they abandoned their task. Preferring instead to spend the day under the boughs of the tree where they would descend into a slack jawed stupor, blissfully unaware of anything other than the sunlight peering through the branches above their heads. When the day came to an end and it was time to return to the grave forest the others had to prod them awake to join them for the trek back.

The next day they walked back along the path, the others noticed that the ones who had eaten of the tree appeared different this morning. Their ivory skin had become sallow and covered in a slick sheen of sweat which seemed out of place in the cold winter dawn.  A listless manner and expressionless gaze filled their faces as they shambled out of sync with the others back to the glade and the hill beyond. Rather than joining the others however, they headed straight for the tree and reclined beneath its branches. Reaching up to take more of the fruit that granted them solace from the weight of the wisdoms imparted to them. They did not receive any wisdoms or visions from the still pools dotting the landscape, instead they spent all day sitting beneath the tree, partaking of its fruit and surrendering to an oppressive, comforting null.

As the days went on more and more found their way under tree. The fruit of which had transformed them slowly and surely the more they partook of the noxious smoke. Their skin had grown sallow and stretched, eyes grew more and more listless and the antlers of some had began to shrink and wither, flaking off like rotting tree branches. If they noticed they did not seem to care, instead taking comfort and solace in the numb vacancy that had been imposed on them by the tree. They traded their gifts for a welcome nothingness that permeated throughout each of them and grew heavier and more oppressive. When it came time to return to the grave forest for the night they instead chose to remain under the tree, sleeping beneath its branches so when the morning came they would not have to wait to breathe from its fruit.

Eventually only five seers remained. They began to grow more and more concerned for the others and for the sake and welfare of mankind below. For without them, how would man find inspiration and meaning in their existence? They were the keepers of such aspects, scribes and recorders of aspects and without the help of their comrades their task became heavier and more arduous, forced to take on the burden their kin had abandoned in exchanged for the fruit of the tree.

As they sat down by the pools their leader walked up to the multitude reclining beneath the tree, the sun catching her necklace causing it to shimmer as if aflame with every step. She looked around at them and noticed with horror that some of them had been transformed beyond recognition. Their skin shriveled and drawn, bones protruding out below their vacant eyes and along their ribcages, some of their antlers had shriveled and withered to crooked stumps, even breaking and sifting aloft as ash in the morning breeze. She begged and pleaded with them to forsake the tree, to return to the task at hand. They ignored her in silence and her concern turned to fury she stepped forth and slapped away the hand of one who reached up to the tree to pluck one of the spheres from its branches, the sphere fell and shattered on the ground, sickly orange smoke mingled with the breeze and floated off and away. Immediately a cry came to his lips and he leaped up with unexpected vigor. He sprung towards her and snapped an antler off from one laying beneath the tree, he cried out in agony, snapped into the present from his waking sleep. With his kinsman’s antler in his hand he swung at her, she stepped back and raised her hands in shock, a terrible, pleading cry of shock and fear escaping her lips. He set upon her and in his rage, thrust the sharp antler between her breast.

All were silent as they watched her cough and heave at the crest of the hill. A torrent of blood flowed from the wound beneath her breast, her hands trembled and shook as they grasped the antler protruding from her body. He stared into her eyes in fear and disbelief, the rage had left his addled mind and he stood in shock as the reality of what he had done dawned on him. She uttered a soft cry, the wind catching her blood and sending drops into the air. Then she fell and tumbled down the hill, blood flowed forth and stained the grass in crimson pools as she rolled down, finally stopping at the pool where the remaining seers sat in shock and disbelief.

The beings beneath the tree with drew within its branches, huddled together to escape the gaze of their kin huddled around the pool. The murderer stood and threatened the others, warning them to stay away from him and to take her body back to the graveforest to be resurrected with the coming dawn.

They got up and dragged her body to the grave forest, placing her within the birch tree as twilight swept over the land. They solemnly regarded each other with heavy stares, tears flowing from their sapphire eyes then placed themselves within the trees to await the morning and whatever it may bring.

That night the starry bodies of heaven shifted and changed in their place in the firmament. Constellations swirled around and about in the obsidian sky, something was happening this night, something that had not happened in many, many years. The moon spun and traversed the night sky, following its trajectory to the appointed place for this special night that would last far longer than any others. It made its way in front of the sun, blotting it from their glen and from the hill. There would be no dawn this morning, no sun to light the way and awaken the slumbering seers from within their birch trunks. And there would be no fruit under the boughs of the tree.

The following morning did not come, instead an unbroken midnight reigned over the land that day. When the beings beneath the tree arose they found to their dismay that there was no fruit for them this morning, nothing to shield them from the visions and wisdoms they had blocked out for so long. The unlit night was filled with a symphony of lamentations and dismay, of gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair. All they had blotted out did not simply go away as hoped, rather lay in wait for acknowledgement and all at once the visions and aspects of life crashed down on them with unbearable weight and pain.

The seer awoke and stepped out from the birch, greeting the others, they were wholly unaware that a whole day had passed left him to tend to their leader. He immediately went to her resting place to invite her resurrected form into the world. When he found his way in front of it, he cried out in dismay. From within the womb a corpse tumbled out, the wound still fresh between her naked breasts. He tried to rouse her but she did not stir instead her vacant body just laid there among the bark and twigs, lifeless and cold as winter’s breath. He cried out in pained confusion and despair. He ran his hands through her hair and wiped the blood from her ivory face, realizing in that instant that he had loved her the whole millennia he had spent under her care and tutelage.

After a while he got up and cradled her body in his arms. He walked along the path to show to the others what they had done, what the tree had compelled them to do. When he reached the gate he realized in horror that something was amiss. The bones had been broken off in parts and it lay in shambles, half collapsed and tilted on its axis. He walked along the path, his steps more and more apprehensive as a growing dread filled his mind.

Suddenly he heard screams In the distance, a pleading, tortured scream and then many at once. He hurried as best he could, his love still draped in his arms. And when he passed over a knoll he stood in shock and horror. All about the glade ivory bodies were strewn, stained with blood and bearing the marks of extreme violence. Snapped bones lay littered about, the pools were stained a sickly brown with blood. He recoiled in fear as he strived to take in what lay about. The bodies of his kinsman, the ones he had shared an eternity with in this sacred place lay dead all around him. Piles of broken bodies and vacant, dead eyes littered the landscape like discarded piles of lumber. Blood flowed down from the hill in rivers that conjoined at the base and stood as a stagnant, sickly pool.

He looked up and saw that two were still alive, the one who had murdered their leader stood, soaked with blood, a maddened, feral expression on his face. Another knelt before him, arms raised in a pleading gesture, blood flowing forth from a still fresh wound in his side. He screamed and cried out as the other plunged a sharp bone into his neck and kicked his body down the hill.

He stood there for a while, staring at him with a lost, bewildered look in his eyes. They stood in silence, acknowledging one another with a heavy gaze that recognized  the finality of all that occurred. He raised the bone and plunged it into his throat, killing himself to escape the madness within his mind.

The seer stood there for a while, sobbing softly in disbelief, Clutching at the dead body in his arms as if it could bring some sort of comfort. He looked around in helpless disbelief at the miasma of blood and broken bodies about him. Finally he looked up at the hill and made his way forward, a lone survivor amongst a bloodstreaked landscape of death. He whispered to the corpse in his arms that it would all be ok soon, that everything would be alright. His steps slowed as he made his way to the hill and taking one more look around him before finally sitting down.

He sat there alone with his dead love, the drawing firmament cascading about his head in splendid array as he awaited the dawn there, in that special, sacred place. There, underneath the Waning Tree.

Dreamscapes of the Aspect Lied IV

The path sprawled before him, hewn into the rock with obvious deliberation. There was no sign of tool or maker’s mark upon its surface, carved so smooth it was as if he was walking upon a sheet of glass. He marveled at the architecture beneath his feet, How could one cut through the mountain with such precision? Such masterful perfection?  He remembered the clumsy structures of his creation and doubted the path he was about to tread could be of their design.

He gazed down at the path, and for some reason, was filled with a dread more profound then what he felt in the wastes. The path before him should fill him with hope, it was, after all, his salvation. But as he looked down at the uncannily smooth surface carved upon the shale, at the absence of a single blemish or dent upon its face, he felt a crack form within him. Anger and confusion began to chip away at his foundations. A flaw in his perfect omnipotent psyche had formed, left untended the whole house was sure to fall.

“No”, the Aspect murmured to himself, “whoever created this path is not of my creation, this must the remnants of my forefathers, long discarded before my birth”. He did not want to address the nagging thoughts within his skull, that lingering doubt that tugged at the threads of his rationality. He knew, if he did, it would unravel, like a well worn tunic frayed from a millennia of over use.

Shoving the prying thoughts aside he continued onward. In the distance were two pillars, spires of slate grey piercing the bleak skyline. Their tips disappeared into clouds that swirled around them in a swirling vortex. He could not see how tall they rose up but he knew they must be taller than any building or construct he had knowledge of. More importantly, they must be ancient, far older than his creation, perhaps older than the God himself.

Again the tugging came, the pulling at the back of his mind. He realized that he hated those towers, hated how they rose up to defy him with their perfection and obscurity in these uncharted lands. The more he looked up at them the more the clouds swirling about seemed to oscillate faster and faster. Spinning like a spinster’s loom weaving a tapestry that would reveal the  truth of his very nature. The Aspect centered himself as best he could but he could feel his world teetering and spinning on its axis and he was forced to avert his gaze from the towers.

Along the sides of the path lay discarded structures, crumbled remnants of monolithic cathedrals and places of worship. Midnight was drawing near, and in the darkness that hung in the air like an obsidian fabric he could make out the shapes of blocks and bricks carved with perfect symmetry. Dilapidated monoliths and cyclopean shrines erected to beings long before his time lay strewn about. Abandoned to crumble in the elements by a people he would never know. He stepped closer to one and gazed upon it. All along its surface were concentric circles and lines, they seemed to comprise some sort of language. Only rather than written from left to right, the words were inscribed in an elliptical fashion starting from the center and working their way outwards. In the very center was a blank space, for some reason he felt compelled to place his palm upon it. He felt the cold granite beneath his hand, its rough surface filed and ground velvet smooth. All at once the structure seemed to pulse, a warmth spread through it and the lines were set ablaze with an ice blue light that traced from his palm to the edges, setting alight the unknown language carved beneath his hand.

The Aspect cried out in shock, he tried to pull his hand back but found it was stuck fast. Panic filled him but before too long he was filled with an immense calm, a serenity he had not known since the moment of his conception within the womb of the firmament. He gazed at the structure in wonder and watched as the surface of the structure rippled, like still waters disturbed by the first drop of coming rains it seemed to undulate and pulse in and out from the realm between dimensions. He gazed at it for a while and suddenly felt a voice within his head. All at once the writing upon the block made sense and he could feel words being spoken to him from within his skull.

“Fear not, for even the eternal must find rebirth someday”

Humbled and shaken the Aspect snapped from his reverie when his hand slid from the structure as if repelled. He stood there for a long time struggling to reconcile himself with the voice he had heard and the message it had imparted upon him. Discarding his thoughts once more he set his eyes back towards the path.

For the second time in all of his eternal existence the Aspect cried out in shock. The pillars were much closer than they had been before, close enough to walk to before the coming dawn. In the middle of the pillars what had appeared as some kind of dome was in fact an immense tree. It stretched up towards the sky, disappearing in the clouds above. Its branches shown with innumerable strands of translucent silver that glimmered and reflected in countless array, catching the light of the firmament above. Cliff walls were erected on either side as if to funnel any who came along the path towards the tree and the pillars that crowned it on either side.

The path grew more and more rugged underneath his feet as he approached, pebbles and chunks of dislodged shale crunched and cracked beneath his feet as he approached. The fine craftsmanship before made way for neglect and disarray the further he walked and before long all that was left of the road was a strip of discarded shale and mason’s detritus. The path wound around a barren knoll, a rocky outcropping that rose up between the two pillars. Concentric circles lay carved upon the hill, the language etched upon the face of the structure before now lay beneath his feet. He stopped and crouched to his knees, tracing his hand along  the elliptical writings apprehensively seeking out the voice that spoke to him before.

Finding only silence, he looked back up towards the pillars, inset further between the two was a gate of sorts. Immense and ancient it barred his passage forward and to the shimmering tree that stood just beyond, he walked forward and inspected its architecture for some sort of sign of entry.

Smooth and obsidian black it stood before him. Just as the path before it bore no sign of makers mark and seemed to be birthed into existence rather than fashioned by mortal hands. More cyclical writings adorned its face, though he did not know the language, he understood it as a warning of sorts in the deepest recesses of his psyche. A primordial understanding that what lay before this gate was not to be taken lightly.

As he scanned the gate he noticed that along the center where the groove should be concave dais were carved instead. Within the dais different gemstones were inserted. They were fashioned into palm sized orbs and fit perfectly into the holes carved in the gate. At the bottom he saw an amethyst, which made way for a jade, a sapphire and a pearl. He stopped as he noticed that two of the holes lay dormant. The ground below him lay bare and empty, other than some scattered pebbles and course, mountain dirt there was nothing laying discarded beneath his feet. Considering the immense height and scope of the shrine around him he doubted the gemstones had simply neglected to be inserted and further still, he could not imagine any robbers or bandits traversing these lands.

Stepping away from the gate he walked back along the hill to get a better view; the full moon hung high in the cloudless sky like a lantern and shown upon the writings on the hill with unnatural luminance. Peculiar shadows sprawled along the cliff face like raven’s wings enveloping the ancient stone, his divine eyes so sharp that he could observe their minute growth as the moon continued its journey across the stars.  He remembered the pagan tribes of his creation and the many monolithic structures they erected to worship and follow the stars.  “Whoever created this place, intended for the moon to shine upon this exact spot” He murmured to himself.  However he was to press forward, he would most likely find his answer from the heavens.

As he looked on from his vantage point at the crest of the hill he realized there was something in the center of the glyph traced upon the earth. A glimmering object twinkling in the middle of the intricate symbol traced upon the earth. Thinking he had found the gemstones the Aspect strode forward and knelt down before it, a look of confusion and wearied frustration furrowed his brow as he found himself staring into his own face half obscured by the dry earth. Realizing what he was looking at he furiously wiped the earth away from his face and saw that rather than a gemstone, a mirror lay surmounted upon the earth. He reached down to remove it but found it was stuck fast, bolted to the earth in some manner.

He stared down at the mirror in frustrated silence, searching for some sort of hint or sign but all he found was more of the strange writings. As he gazed longer, he noticed there was a hole carved into the middle of the mirror, a tiny reservoir intended to catch something. He looked further still and just along the edge of the reflection, he could make out another distinct glimmer, this time on the top of one of the towers.

Stepping back he could now make out archways set along the top of the towers. Within the archways two more mirrors were erected, rotated to face down towards the center of the hill where the other mirror lay. Once he saw this he noticed that the writings upon the hill matched the writings on the gate.

All at once it hit him, looking up at the moon he saw that it was nearing the center of the towers, it’s light refracted as two beams that grew closer and closer to the mirror in the center of the glyph. Quickly he ambled over and knelt down before it, keeping one eye on the moon’s path across the sky. The air began to grow heavy as he waited, anticipation hung with an electric palpability.  All that lay about had been waiting for this moment in solemn eternity and now anxiously counted the minutes for fate’s promise to be fulfilled.   Glancing into his reflection he scowled at the haggard and worn face that stared back, eyes heavy with exhaustion and blood coagulating on his face from the slaughter before.

Finally the moon reached the very center of the two towers. The mirror below him shown with a translucent pale blue and set alight his face with starfire. He quickly drew his sword and ran its keen edge across the star etched upon his palm. Scarlet blood dripped down onto the rivulet carved on the glass, filling the reservoir to the brim.

The earth below him trembled, the air cracked with electricity and a resonant humming could be heard. The land had been enraptured with anticipation for this moment and now that it had been fulfilled it roused from its stasis.

He looked back down at his blood upon the mirror, it had been endowed with the powers of the firmament and turned a vibrant cerulean blue. It hissed and smoked as the shaking earth caused it to drift along the glyph, filling the rivulets carved in the earth with a blazing stream of blood spiraling out and around, the spell that had been cast so long ago had been fulfilled.

He could hear screams and shrieks of various spirits bound to this land being released into the night. A fine mist rose up from the ground baring twisted faces in varying states of despair and agony at their age long interment within the earth. They rose up and flitted here and there around him settling above his head. Briefly they hung there, as if expressing gratitude to their savior before they cast off into the night seeking unfortunate souls to blindly extract their vengeance upon.

He looked back towards the gate and saw that the stream of blood had split off into two rivers, each heading towards a tower in the distance. He walked forth and stood where they had diverted and waited to see if the gate would open.

Abruptly the night was silent, the tremoring had stopped and a peculiar, untrustworthy quiet hung in the air. He looked at the gate and at the two empty sockets along its face, wondering if it had all been in vain.

Suddenly to either side of him a whirring, grating sound filled the air. Mechanical groans and creaks of ancient clockwork rousing after an eternity of neglect. Looking to the tower to the right he saw that its base was oscillating, a door was sliding back revealing some hidden structure within. Taking several furtive steps forward he saw that within the tower a throne lay, obsidian onyx polished to a sheen that glimmered in the moonlight.

Suddenly two pale lights shimmered above the throne, they shifted and abruptly shifted up into the air several feet above his head. The Aspect let out a startled cry and  took several steps back, his severe features furrowed in grim apprehension, drawing his sword he made his way back towards the glyph shining on the ground, hoping the ancient spell could provide some sort of protective shield against whatever he had roused from its age long slumber.

He looked back and saw that a towering being had risen up from the throne; half obscured in the ephemeral moonlight an immense beastile head wreathed in matted fur and curved, forbidding horns raised its chin, panting and gnashing its teeth at the sky. A terrible howl emitted forth from it’s immense jaws as the creature warned the very earth of its awakening, its mouth stretched wide threatening to devour the sky itself.

Gripping his blade tighter and planting his feet firmly within the ground the Aspect could hear the beast’s cloven feet scrape the earth as it approached. Heavy chains around its neck and wrists tossed about as it moved, heralding it’s ponderous approach with every step.  A dreadful gnashing and heaving and panting emitted from its mouth in plumes of black smoke, as if an undying fire burned within the terrible creature causing it unending agony and filling it’s primitive mind with a blind and thoughtless hate.  He remained within the glyph waiting for the beast to approach closer. Reluctant to combat the creature in the pitch dark, he stood his ground, using the arcane light to his advantage.

The shadow marched forward with surprising speed, heavy footsteps tromping upon the earth, chains clanging as they swayed about clamoring in the air like iron wind chimes. Smoke billowed forth and filled the air as it panted and heaved down the path and towards the hill where he stood. Eyes alight with pale fire fixed on he who dared pass through the gate that was his eternal charge.  Readying himself the Aspect shouldered his sword and raised his hand, closing his eyes and uttering a silent incantation, entreating the spirits of the air to manifest his bidding. Listening as the beast charged up the hill to rend his body atwain and cast his remains into the wastes.

The beast was but a breathe away when the Aspect shouted forth the incantation and met the creatures gaze. From his outstretched palm a seering white light emitted, casting its penetrating glow directly into the beast’s face and outstretched jaws.

Howling in pain and seething with rage the creature recoiled back, it’s eyes unaccustomed to the light after aeons of slumber and it gnashed and pawed at the air with unholy vehemence. In the lingering flicker of arcane light the creature revealed itself to him, its jaw was that of a lion that gave way to an oxe further up its massive skull. Half rotted and covered with necrotic lesions that oozed and pulsed from beneath its blood soaked mane.  The left side of its face corroded entirely with decay, revealing the bones and decomposing muscle underneath its festering skin. Jaw rotted away in parts to reveal jagged, dagger long teeth that protruded crookedly from its jaw while two long, forbidding tusks jutted forth from his frayed cheeks. Its shoulders were immense, sinewy trunks of muscle and fur and adorning one was a crumbling stone pouldron, the face of a lion etched upon its cold, grey surface. He clawed and rubbed at his face with one hand while the other gripped an immense stone maul, nearly six feet in length and crowned with a rams head at the top. All about him the oppressive stench of death lingered like a shroud, serving as a reminder of what was soon to come to those who challenged the guardian of the gate.

The Aspect quickly struck side long with his sword and pivoted to the right, relishing the chance for the first strike. It had been many an age since he had indulged in violence, but his body was taut, his will unwavering, and a God does not forget.

His sword slashed across the beast’s mottled stomach, inscribing in crimson the script of warfare upon it’s stomach. The matted fur and tawny muscle served as a natural armor but the Aspect noted the blood dripping down it’s abdomen and knew his sword had struck true.

Howling in pain the beast righted himself and jutted forth, slamming his shoulder into the God’s chest like a battering ram. The air left his body as the God felt his back slam into the hard, unforgiving earth, skidding back atop the pebbles and detritus strewn upon the ground. His chest plate had cracked from the force and tore through the chain mail beneath, he could feel the cold steel cut into his body, warm blood trickled down his chest and soaked into his clothing. Knowing he could not take another blow like that he looked and saw the moon shine off the horned head of the maul and rolled to the side just in time.  Dust swirled and stones cracked as the club hit the earth with terrible strength, sending a plume of dirt and pebbles into the air about him.

Leaping to his feet with breathless grace the Aspect rose his sword to block another strike, the impact reverberating across the blade and the handle shook in his grasp. The blow would have broken the arm of a lesser man, but the God absorbed the impact and returned with a jabbing thrust of his own. His eyes hardened to hewn sapphire, gleaning with satisfaction as he saw blood flow freely from the gash rent upon the creatures hand.

The two circled one another for a time, the arcane light of the glyph illuminating their features momentarily as they stepped over the ancient spell beneath them. The creature loomed over him and gazed down, starfire eyes blazing in rage, curled horns and splintered tusks catching the moonlight with their sharpened tips. Grey smoke billowing out from its nostrils as it snorted and panted and tossed its mane to and fro. His strength was returning, where before his movements seemed clumsy and labored from a millennia of neglect now seemed lithe and even graceful as his slumber was shaken off. His cloven feet crisscrossed around him with unnatural grace, his tail cracking and snapping in the air like a bullwhip. Now and then he would strike out with his club with unnerving speed hoping to catch the Aspect off guard.

The Aspect bobbed and wove around his strikes, grasping his sword with both hands he looked up and met the creatures lidless gaze as the two circled around one another. Anticipation flooded his mind like a fermented spirit, he had forgotten how intoxicating bloodshed could be. The journey before had filled him with doubt and uncertainty, he had no answer for the crumbled ruins or the path or even the gate that barred his path. But this? This required no origin or questions, only the cold steel between his hands and the divine judgment to end life that was his birthright. Though his body was weakening and his powers were waning he was still a formidable force and in all his eternity of existence every being who challenged him met the same end.

He made his way around a boulder, putting it between him and the creature as a natural  buffer to obstruct the sweeping strokes of the great club. With a resounding crash the beast struck the rock with both hands, swinging the cumbrous weapon as if it were a broomstick. The rams head crashed through the showering him with sharp bits of stone and flying rock.

The Aspect brought his hands up just in time to save his eyes from the shrapnel that pelted his body like missiles, feeling the sharp fragments embed into his skin and into the cracks in his armor. The beast let out a feral cry and charged forward, head lowered to skewer the God upon it’s formidable tusks. The God held his ground and gripped the horns that came at his chest with alarming alacrity, digging his feet into the earth he wrestled and lurched with the creature’s bowed head trying to topple it over so he plunge his sword into its vulnerable stomach.

With a feral cry the beast twisted and plunged its tusks into the Aspect’s Silver raiment. Entangling it into the plate mail as it tried to skewer the soft skin that lay beneath. The two were melded together, the tusk caught in the God’s armor and threatened to pierce his heart as the  tusk twisted and pivoted, searching for the right position to drive home the killing blow.
Scrambling for his sword the Aspect slid and skidded about, keeping his breast as far away from the sharp tusk he was entangled upon. He felt it slide against his side, knowing that one wrong move would spell certain death.

To his right he saw the gate, their combat had lead them all about the hillside and now the barred gate was directly next to them, bending his knees to a crouch he summoned his strength and hurled himself sidelong, trapping the tusk between him and the doorway he so earnestly sought to enter. With the tusk trapped his grabbed his sword with both hands and drove it into the ivory tusk, piercing through and splintering it against the stone wall.

The beast let out a feral cry, howling and gnashing its teeth as the God twisted and rent the tusk to splinters that fell harmlessly to the ground. Writhing in agony the creature shoock its head back and forth, its blood soaked mane sending crimson deluge upon the Gods face.

The aspect stepped back, catching his breath before picking up his sword and circling the beast as it writhed and howled in pain, clutching the exposed nerve in its broken tusk. Uttering words in a language only tongues of flame can utter the God ran his hand over his sword and immediately white flames engulfed it, sparking and fizzling along the keen edge of the blade in brilliant array, illuminating the scarred battleground.

The creature looked back at him and suddenly snapped out of its agony. All at once the animal barbarity left the beast, replaced with a peculiar wisdom. With a calm forbearance the creature stared at the Aspect. It rose up to its full height, looming above the God with a gaze that was terrible to behold. He carved a circle around himself with the handle of his club making a rhythmic grunting sound. As he went strange runic inscriptions upon its stomach and chest begin to shine a pale blue, illuminating ancient glyphs and spells tattoed across the creature’s body. He raised his weapon up with both hands and slamming it into the earth. A pale blue fire flowed from the circle, entwining around the weapon in vermillion tendrils of arcane light. The eyes of the goat upon his maul shown fiercely with the spells power and white smoke billowed out from its mouth.

The two faced each other with their enchanted weaponry. The Aspect did not expect the creature to know his occulted powers but readied his blazing sword all the same. With a feral cry the beast rushed forth, sweeping his flaming maul forth in a long arc. Instead of ducking the God stood his ground, rasing his blazing sword up with both hands. They stood locked there, their weapons hissing and sputtering soul fire sending their shadows dancing upon the arcane gate and stretched tall on the mountain side.

With a ferocious kick the creature sent a cloven hoof into the God’s chest sending him reeling back. Instead of righting himself the Aspect allowed himself to be flown back a couple steps, catching his balance before raising his sword. The beast charged forward, head lowered to finally skewer the intruder knowing this blow would finally end the battle.

Crouching low the Aspect gripped his sword with both hands and plunged it forth into the creature’s path.

Their eyes met and for a brief moment a heavy acknowledgement was shared before the blade slid into the creatures throat.

The God remained crouching, the beast impaled upon his sword. At first all was silent and the creature remained motionless, its hot breath panting against the God’s face. A thin rivulet of blood dripped onto his hand and spilled onto the earth.

The God grasped the creatures head and withdrew his sword, sending a geyser of blood spilling onto the rocky ground. It stood straight for a while, trying to breathe as blood gurgled and bubbled out of the gash on its throat. With a look of pained gratitude the creature fell to the earth with a last, mournful howl before bleeding out onto the earth.

Panting and shuddering the God composed himself before walking over to the dying creature. Lifting his head up he hacked through the beasts neck with one, fluid motion. He raised up the creatures head and stared into its dying eyes. The God reveled in his victory and opened shouted an incantation into the coming dawn. The beast dead mouth opened and from within its soul came forth, flowing into the God’s mouth and nose with a shrieking hiss as he breathed in the creatures essence. The God devoured its soul hungrily, taking and pillaging its strength and essence as it’s own to delay his death a while longer.

When the deed was finished the God reached into the creatures eye sockets, the soulfire had left its eyes but within the lidless sockets two gemstones resided.

Clutching them in his hand the God walked over to the gate and looked at the two vacant pockets along its surface. And as the dawn peered over the horizon and the first gold beams of morning warmed his face, the God placed the gems into their proper place. As the ancient gate stirred it creaked and groaned, granite sliding upon the rocky earth. With a rekindled confidence and the newly devoured soul mingling with his own the Aspect stood, waiting as his path opened once again

Dreamscapes of the Aspect: Teil III

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.

Dreamscapes of the Aspect Lied II

“I have already perceived my own death,” the aspect voiced to the vacant landscape, “and it is neither this hour nor this place” his voice barely above a whisper yet carrying far into the wastes with an authority all its own, an authority born from the deepest recesses of primordial wellspring. ”

If I am truly to die, let it be in the lands of my own creation, let it be among all I have breathed life into so I may at least witness that which may surpass me”. the stirring and snapping of discarded dead-fall and brittle sage ceased, his echo seemed to distort and reverberate in a hollow discord, distorting further with each repetition of his command. He did not know whether or not he expected a response, in truth he did not know what to expect in these unfamiliar lands, but the sudden stillness about him served as an answer all it’s own yet did nothing to either identify itself or grant clarity to his predicament.  “Had I only granted tongues to stone and language to dirt” he mused to himself. “Maybe then I would be provided some sort of guidance, then again I do not think I would find much help in these parts. Whoever is responsible for this defilement is no kin of mine.”

He stood there for a while, waiting for whatever creatures to reveal themselves, running his hand through his dust strewn hair as he gazed into the horizon. The uneasiness of this place began to take a toll on him, it seemed to get worse the more he progressed. The  discomfort had began as a slight pulling in his heart and a thickness in his throat, like there was a serpent coiled around his throat that prevented him from swallowing. powerful as he may be the dread of the unknown bares down on all who draw breath God(s) he may be but still susceptible to such mortal fears.  The serpent’s breath bore a chill in his stomach and a ragged hole in his chest, widening the more he acknowledged it until it seemed as an abyss that eclipsed his body, forming a gravitational pull that sucked his thoughts and lifeforce into an endless vacuum that threatened to devour him and spew him forth into a starless void where his principality and prominence would be irrelevant and powerless.

Unable to bear the serpent’s coil any longer he again set his jaw and addressed his vacant surroundings,. futility was a feeling  with which he was all but unacquainted with, he did not like this creature or this place that refused to heed his call. aware that he would most likely receive no response to his command he nevertheless rose his voice to a fever pitch, eyes flashing like firmament’s flames adorning celestial bodies unknown to man.
   “I have withstood the long, slow defilement of all I have loved by its own hand.” The Aspect proclaimed with a voice terrible to behold, “I have perceived the slaughter of infants and rape of whole generations. I have bore witness to every anguish and every spilling of blood that flooded the earth in crimson river’s calling out my name, all finding origin and genesis from these veins! Every skull split atwain, every entrance and exit of the human body raped and mangled beyond recognition, the beating heart who’s steady march is cut short by the malice and blade of man. All created and brought into being in my own image. After every holocaust, after every long, sleepless night where it seemed the earth would consume itself, still I witnessed the sun rise in the morning just as I ordained it to be many aeons ago.

As his voice finally faded the despair had changed to a mounting jealousy. Who had created this place without his knowledge, was there another God(s) birthed in preparation for his coming demise? One that would cast such profanity in response to what he had created and tended to all these aeons? He wished to seek him out and slaughter him, rend his flesh from his bones and devour his very soul to sustain his own and maybe grant himself another thousand years or so of omnipotent rule.

“My creation and I have withstood all we have brought upon ourselves, I will withstand this place and after, banish it to the void between dimensions.” His voice raised higher to an invocation that seemed to split the sky in two and call the sun down from his throne within the clouds. I will rip these lands from existence and sweep all trace of its filth into oblivion, this I vow to you. This time the land seemed to receive his message. The heaviness subsided and somehow, all about seemed to abate, retreat within itself.

Reassured by these stirrings the Aspect opened his left hand and gazed at the glyph carved upon it. He clenched it tightly before setting down on one knee, seeking a flat piece of earth. He drew his sword and slit his right hand with its blade, muttering spells and stanzas unknown to man as the blood flowed down the rivet carved in the center of the blade. With utmost reverence he rose up and began to draw a circle upon the dying land. The blood so hot it scorched the earth, causing tendrils of smoke to spiral up to the sky. When the circle was complete he began to carve marks and runes of various origins unto the earth, invoking the spirits of the earth to hearken to him and submit to his iron will. His sapphire eyes glazed to a translucent ivory as he completed the spell and set his left hand firmly upon the earth. He wove the inherited wisdom’s and antiquated ephemeral crafts passed down throughout the generations, as powerful as they were ancient. He gazed through the rift and opened his mind to that which lay within, feeling the world within with the familiarity an infant holds with his mothers breast.

The circle seemed to vibrate beneath him, a warmth flowed forth and brought vitality to the little patch of land he knelt upon. eyes closed in reverence his mind perceived the various spirits he commanded to rush forth and join him. Lidless eyes of various indescribable creatures seemed to appear about him and flitted here and there. from the distance the clomping of hooves could be heard, stomping and gnashing at the earth,  snarls and bellows of some inhuman entity voiced it’s disdain and defiance to his inescapable will. Primordial cries and throaty, guttural moans punctuated by the snapping of jaws resounded forth, filled the silent air with a terrible tumultuous clamor .

He could catch glimpse creatures of horn and fur flitting in and out of the tear between dimensions he had created. Sulfur and burnt flesh filled his nostrils along with the scent of pine needles and morning frost. Spirits of the forest were the best when unsure of where to go, the way-lines and paths of the earth formed the architecture of their being. However they were often the most feral and temperamental. The beings he summoned were often ambiguous in nature and sometimes resented his authority over them, they would do his bidding as they were bound to do, but not gladly and often voiced their wishes to cast off the ancient yolk he had set upon them with a thousand snapping, rending teeth. But It was because of this hatred for his authority that he loved and respected them the most. For how different was he from the likes of them? Being bereft of any bindings or master it was the creatures resentfully spilling forth, braying their desire to devour his flesh that he related with more than any other, a strange kin to love from a far.

they continues their reluctant spial dance, drawing forth the esoteric wellness of  the earth to flow into the designated place he had carved upon the wastes. As he his palm rested upon the earth life seemed to flow towards him and into his body. It began as a warmth and soon little sprouts of grass formed underneath him, ferns unfurled towards him and bluebells sprouted with unnatural speed. The beings about him ceased their defiance and scorn and began to gaze at him in trepidation, they grew in clarity and for brief  secodns he could see these manifestations of his creation. With skins of oak and eyes of glowing emerald they looked at him with abject reverence. As the vegetation grew more and more vibrant they raised horned skulls to the sky and cried forth exaltation in a terrible sound that was both a wolf’s howl and the mournful bray of an oxe. They ceased there clamour and stood in respectful silence, acknowledging his dominion over them once again. He smiled and dismissed them, glancing down at the patch of life he had set up in contrast to the death and despair all about, a God(s) simple solace in the shadow of Death’s hand.

“I will leave this here, he muttered to himself, as a testament to my divine power and will, whoever is master of these lands is no god of mine and will soon bow to my countenance.” His smile abated as he began to feel something, a pulse lay beneath the earth, a sort of churning like waters flowing, a stream of sorts. A pulsing, resounding beat reverberated beneath his palm. He got down and placed his ear to the earth. He could hear it, a heartbeat and some sort of stream flowing beneath him, it seemed to beckon him, draw him forward and into the horizon. He stood up and gazed once more at the land before him, the creatures stalking him now a distant memory, a mistake that would reveal itself soon in the journey to come but for now? The Aspect had found his way

 

 

 

Valhaske I: Dreamscapes of the Aspect

Ashen horizon stretched forth unhindered, gray skies surmounting a land in the voiceless throes of decay, broken intermittently by silent flashes of skeleton’s fingers, rapidly grasping and clutching at the empty air like a drowning man’s feeble bid for salvation. An expanse of empty and discard sprawled forth in either direction; So still and quiet, so unfettered by the slightest sound or breeze that the silence and empty became a companion in it of itself, an inanimate witness to his aimless journey. What little life had been there manifested as long dead birch and vacant sage devoid of any foliage or fruition; they spotted here and there about the dead land like tombs and cairns erected for long forgotten kin. Decrepit flora spaced far from one another, with no source of sustenance or water as if it was for the sheer purpose of reiterating Death’s prevalence and principality in these lands that they existed to begin with. After all his wanderings, he had finally found a land that was truly and wholly God forsaken.

Solemn, trudging footsteps broke the silence as he made his way along the unsure path. Though he had no definite destination in mind, he knew he must be here, he knew that in the end, he would find what he was looking for; whatever it may be.

There was a definite sentience in this place, not one living thing but many acting as one, malignant, dissonant entity. It was made up in the earth and the shriveled trees and the tepid, stagnant air, like a sick, lifeless parody of the ecosystems all life subscribes to. An antithesis to the machinations of his creation, a defiance in answer to the accordance of his design and manifestation of his will. All that lay about him scorned his presence and whispered about to one another various ways to desecrate his spirit and reduce him to a lifeless husk. This scorn manifested as a heaviness in the air that muddled his thoughts with toxic clouds and made every motion seem aimless and without purpose. There was a very tangible feeling that something was watching him with a seething anger and a malice beyond measure, that the very earth beneath his feet despised his presence. Every hope within him seemed far and away, as if it belonged to a different aeon and was wholly irrelevant in this place. The air felt shallow and seemed like he could not draw enough with each breath, bringing a claustrophobic panic even though the land stretched forth unhindered in each direction.

Little hills and knolls of ashen earth and dead branches from long gone trees obstructed his view from time to time, offering a hope of escape that grew more and more hollow as he climbed over them. He could hear the snap of branches and animal bones underfoot, breathing in a harsh plume of sawdust and detritus that scored his lungs with every step. Yet each time he would look out onto yet more miles and miles of empty, decaying earth.

He had found himself in a valley utterly eclipsed by the shadow of death, an endless, wretched place bereft of all hope, life, or vital force. Just the ever present, listless prose of absence.

It was the perfect place for a God to die.

His silhouette cut a stark contrast across the wastes, a robust, virile frame atop a desolate expanse of tepid earth and endless decay. Hair so blonde it seemed as shimmering silver pulled tight over a symmetrical skull. His shoulders were as pommels, immense and stalwart with arms like two oak branches coming out from beneath a black cape inscribed in a translucent silver blue. Ancient runes and glyphs adorned the raiment and all along its border lay spells written in languages only the wind remembers. His jaw set in grim determination and wistful longing as he looked out across the horizon, eyes like cut diamond shone from within sockets chiseled out of stone. His gaze cut through the hearts of man and perceived the constellations as they continued their spiral dance around the sun. His countenance bore such reverence and regality that it seemed to  consume all who met it with  a cold fire, stripping them bare of all the facile trappings and deceits of man. His right hand bore a five pointed star, carved into his flesh at his conception far beyond our realm and within the crucible of time and being. That furnace where life’s primordial forces clashed and clamored at one another, birthing worlds and galaxies in their wake.  In his left he carried a sword. Long and elegant with a double edged blade forged from a dead star and refined in the fire that lies within the hearts of all men. Upon its pommel an onyx was set, so black it shimmered as well as any diamond.

His stature and prominence surpassed that of any man, yet for all his majesty, for all his abject principality he was beginning to feel the vermilion bindings of time draw the life from him, he began to know the mortality he had doomed upon all his creation, he began to feel the degrading weight of desperation within his breast.

With a grim forbearance at his brow and the inescapable burden of time at his chest The Aspect walked.  He knew not why he wandered, or where his journey would meet it’s end yet still he continued.  For he knew all too well, that oftentimes it is on the path without form or reason that one finds fulfillment. Though his body was as ancient as humanity itself he did not falter in his step,  countless years he had wandered and still he showed no signs of either stopping or slowing. A being without need of rest or respite he set his heavy gaze ever towards the path ahead, with a rueful glance that pierced past the horizon itself and perceived the conception of constellations being forged in the very place of his origin.

Yet for all his omnipotence, for all his disregard for mortality and though he had given birth to all of mankind and forged the genesis of being itself, he was wholly and readily aware of his coming demise. Ordained long ago by powers beyond even his reach and revealed to him through occult practices of his own design he perceived the very day of his death.  And so he wandered, searching for meaning in the world he had created, demanding from creation the same answers it had sought from him. It is now, in this principality of death that he began to understand what he had always felt within the countless corridors and catacombs of his consciousness. The eternity of existential anguish he carried with him, the same yearning, gaping maw he had carved  in man.

He walked further along the path of rot. The ground seething and writhing at the presence of a heartbeat in this place. from time to time he would hack a path through a dead fall, his sword snapping and cracking through the logs as if they were the sun-bleached remains of some long dead creature. Glancing at the sunless sky he could see the violet tones of dusk painting the drawing firmament. Taking a gamble  that there would be no moon to alight the heavens or stars to guide his path he stopped to gather some tinder for a small fire. pacing back to the deadfall he had cut through he stooped to collect the fallen wood when suddenly a loud cracking was heard. something was moving about him, worse yet, it did not make any attempt to mask its presence. He stood up to survey his surroundings when again he heard it, only this time far behind him.  Feeling the oppressive weight of whoever stalked him grow undeniable he squared his shoulders and set his feet in the earth. Though a stranger in these lands he was still sovereign. Even with finality drawing close he still held dominion over all others. A furtive scurrying resounded all around him, there was not one being but many and if he were to make it through the night he would have to make a stand. With no kin at his side and with his lifeforce waning he readied himself for the promised violence ahead. Feeling the presence devising his demise he gripped his sword and readied to meet it