By Portrait 6 Comments
Act I, Part II: In which a dream becomes a nightmare
The room was a great vault that stretched up and up without end into darkness… if Dorian looked up, he thought that he could see the cold stars that perpetually encircled the wastes of Kadath. Or perhaps they were merely the Mi-Go, circling the heavens in search of something lodged in their ancestral memory, but which they were unable to name. A cold wind blew, scented with obsidian dust, motes of which glimmered darkly in the moonlight. The moon. The bloated fungoid moon, leering down from the sky in cruel mockery of the harmonious moon goddesses of times gone by. Even the frosty huntress Artemis showed more mercy, more compassion, more joy. The moon was his eternal watchman, for it was always night here…in the far lands of dreams, the Cold Wastes of Kadath, there was nothing but crystallized malice and the leering moon.
Dorian Gray, bound in ropes of shoggoth skin, tied to a chair of polished bone. For years. And years. And years. For no real reason at all, other than to make him suffer. But even that had fallen by the wayside as other matters of higher importance had reared their heads….and so Dorian Gray was left alone, in a fortress on the highest mountain in the Cold Wastes of Kadath, where even ghouls feared to tread.
And now Dorian Gray was going to break free. He had finally found the trick to splitting shoggoth skin ropes…they reform quickly, you see, so as soon as you split one, the fibers have already drawn back into place, tighter than before.
In one fluid motion, Dorian Gray shed the shoggoth skins, raking his nails along the tar-like surface quickly enough to part them, pushing the writhing tendrils away in the same gesture. The doors still stood open, for who would want to enter this beleaguered place? And with the horrors that lurked outside…who would want to leave?
As Dorian ran, the moon began to howl.
As he hurtled past immense pits (the quarries where the obsidian was mined, shafts so deep not even echoes were able to escape) the moon went out. The sound of rotting feathers filled the air. The byakhees were here.
Horrid, rancid, their own flesh sloughing from them with each oiled wing beat, the byakhees flew in the spaces between the very stars. They fed upon death. Not carrion…for death has left those sorry corpses…but upon death itself. The moment when the soul leaves the body, the byakhee will tear it to shreds. And then it is said, it will take on the deceased’s face, until that too crumbles away….
But it was the Abyss that truly hungered. Staring at the byakhees, Dorian failed to notice the gaping maw of the quarry directly before him…one step was on chittering stone, the next…nothing. He closed his eyes and prepared for the endless fall…never growing old, it would truly be for the rest of eternity.