Of Oaths...

The room was cold, Spartan, and mostly bare of furnishings.  There was a single chair in its center… it showed signs of much abuse, an uncounted number of sittings and risings, its arms were threadbare and puffs of dusty stuffing poked out of it here and there.  Situated against the back wall there was a small table made of mahogany wood so dark that it was almost black.  The table was covered with random equipment of dubious origins: glass tubes, stoppered bottles of unidentifiable liquids, powders, and oils, cuttings of dark silk cords, and arrangement of keys all fashioned from blackened iron.  Opposite this table, on the front wall of the room, there was an ornate mirror in a setting of obsidian, onyx, and dull silver accents; the glass of the mirror was dark as well, and the reflection of the room within it may or may not have been exactly to proportion.  The carpet was old and threadbare itself, the no-color of dust or rain.  There were many a curious idiosyncrasy to be seen, as well... such as the lack of a bed, or a bureau full of clothing, or even a door or window with which to leave or enter the room.  In the ceiling there was a single light fixture, a bare bulb around which a translucent gray drapery had been hung to give the room a sullen gray ambience.  This place was known as Room with No Doors by those few who had dwelled in it for a time, a mystic place of sanctuary with the unfortunate habit of driving those who dwelt in it overlong mad with alienation and loneliness.  Its current inhabitant, perhaps its current prisoner, had existed (in the Room with No Doors, you cannot really call it living) here for an unknown span of time.  The man, his name as forgotten as the majority of his past, current sat in the seat with a book in his hands, his lips tracing the syllables the words as he read them.  The spell was complex, its steps demanding the hand and eye and attention undivided.  The man whose name was forgotten had studied the spell for days or months or centuries, over and over he read the words, gestures, and ingredients that would release him from this gray purgatory.  At first there had been hunger and thirst, but those passed away after an interminable age of useless rage and frustration; following that came a cold clarity and he had begun reading the Book.  The few objects in the room had been cataloged and, over time, had acquired a titanic importance to the man in the chair.  There was the Mirror, the Chair, the Keys on the Table, and the Implements of his craft… and finally there was his prize, the Book.  The Book was thick and it was old beyond the ages themselves, its leather covering had been sewn and re-sewn over the years, different color stitches attesting to the many hands that had borne it.  It has added to the man’s already prodigious and dangerous knowledge, for the Book whispered the secret names of gods, it taught how to bind the wave and the wind, how to rip the souls from unsuspecting strangers and weave them into weapons of war if the reader so desired.  There were black words that brought death to their listener if they even ventured close to porches of their ears; there were incantations that could set bones, restore health, and drive away the ill humours of disease.   

“The Spell of Opening.” The man intoned to himself, and he closed the book gently.

He walked to the table, clearing away the Implements and the Keys, and took the Letter from beneath them and read it one more time.  The Letter had awoken him from some form of stupor, the ink of letters cried out in a harsh tongue that, when he had first read it, had made him bite his knuckles to keep from screaming uncontrollably.  When it had arrived it had been a blinding white, but time spent in the Room with No Doors had the effect of turning the paper an ashy gray.  He read it again, then again, trying to tease further sense from the words.




            So I have found you, I did not expect to.  The price was higher than I thought it would be, and still I thought you would elude me.  But Love finds its own, so you taught me, and so I remember with clarity.  The Book has the words, my old love, remember yourself and find your way back to me.


-          E


The writer of the Letter knew him, and no doubt (she) expected that he would recall (her) them as well.  And when he did not, would he be scourged and beaten… would the Letter’s writer chase him with claws of brass?  He shook his head to clear it of the cloying insanity of a thousand years of lonely silence, his only defense against the realization was constant vigilance against the oppressing strangeness he was pregnant with, a ripe madness that washed against the shores of his sanity and grew stronger with every passed moment.  In his deeper mind, he knew the Room wanted to keep him; he could feel its nameless and insensate hunger, the rumbling of its gut as it contemplated its meal.  The Room was just another predator, disguised with walls and tattered carpet.  The man walked to the mirror and stood before, completely unsurprised that it did not return his reflection to him… it never had.  He spread his hands out in a strange benediction, and be began to speak in his toneless voice.

            “I stand before the Door, and I speak to you in the voice of Command.”

            The room shook violently at that, beneath the sound the man could hear a faraway growling; as if some tooth-ringed maw existed far below the Room’s floor.

            “I stand before the Door, and I speak the words to Open the Path… I Open the Ways of the Eldest, and invoke the Oldest Compact.”

            The rumbling increased, now feeling as if a localized earthquake were rocking the Room.  Cracks spread in the plaster of the walls, eager fingers of entropy eating at their substance and strength.

            “I am the Walker-In-The-Wastes, and I carry the Authority of the Eldest.”

            The howl came then, at first it was distant and vague, but within seconds it grew close and more urgent.  The cracks in the wall spread faster and faster, chunks of ancient plaster and powder spilled from those that spread to the ceiling.  The man produced a Key from his pocket, a silver key that was finely filigreed and covered with etching that seemed to move and writhe of their own accord.  

            “I come with Key to the Gate, and I will leave this place… now!”

            He hurled the Key at the Mirror, and when it struck its surface it seemed as if, for a moment, the surface of the Mirror would yield like water.  But then the illusion faded the glass shattered all at once, razor-sharp shards shooting from its surface propelled by malice and hatred unending.  At the exact same moment, the back wall of the Room fell away, crumbling to nothing in an instant.  It revealed a dark space behind the Room, and in that darkness the titan-blasphemy could be seen.  Its maw opened, an irregular circle of teeth guarding the path into the oblivion of its endless gullet; tendrils of its gray and questing flesh flooded into the room.  The sounds of its idiot hunger filled the world, a squelching, mewling sound of mindless articulation.  The man looked over his shoulder at it, his thin lips curving into a smile that was handsome and wicked.

            “Fuck you, dead god.” He spoke quickly as he stepped through the portal that the Mirror offered up, falling through strange spaces but away from the Room at last.  Behind him came the scream of the dead god as it tipped the Room and its contents into its maw, slowly swallowing everything into itself.  But the man, the Sorcerer, had escaped it… and its flailing bulk shook the emptiness around it with its impotent rage.  The man fell, falling away from the empty spaces of the Uncreated Wastes; falling back toward the twilight and certainty of Creation.  He had been called and now he was returning.


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