By Brytt of the Golden Brew Appeared on uo.stratics.com - Under Baja News Occured On October 5, 2003 Not daring to breathe any more than necessary, I would have kept my eyes to the floor were I not bound by some unseen force to stand witness. The last thing I had remembered was falling asleep at home north of Justice. Now I sat bound, here, east of Skara Brae in the old lands. Summoned from my otherwise peaceful dreams into a waking nightmare. The Cabal’s eyes flickered to me from across the stone table with a sneer, as if deciding if they would any longer tolerate an outsider’s presence within the walls of the Dark Tower, even if I was only here in dream. As if the dark priest, Adaeth the Torn, could use a third sacrifice tonight, instead of two. “Nûit-lium swïn ahkthilûm,” the soulless priest intoned, pouring the second half of a vial of blood into the other empty eye socket of a parched skull that sat on the stone table before the tower’s dark leaders. The dark mistress, Cymidei Fier, slowly closed her eyes in preparation of the opening of the great gates which tie this world with the Otherworld. Azalin the lich beside her sat silently, hollow eyes taking in the ritual in dark approval. Grave dust marked the corners of a giant pentagram on the floor, and I could hear the coming of a dark unseen wind, chiming low and mournfully. Near the back of the room, two humans lay bound, each held within a series of runes on the ground. The girl had stopped crying, exhausted, and now only whimpered occasionally. “Milirït ûlvirith sach-andôn creth Xehlthêra.”<br> The priest returned to stand at the center of the floor-pentagram. Facing the skull, he raised his arms and hands high above his head as if caressing the black of the universe. “Alandûm bahk-nelïth! Settle here, of the Dark, your essence bore in this focus. Trilik näwin swin thêr-lïn! Welcome thee, do we, your Shadow your splendor, our gift. Drolân, oht, slerkk laendûn! Arrive, thy cunning, and now appear, and may these Gates that part us be open!”<br> From his black robes, he pulled the wings of a bat which he placed one on either side of skull. Turning toward me and all the gathered attendants of the night, the dark priest closed his eyes as a hollow bell intoned. Once. Twice. On the third, the room changed. Darkness wanted to close up my vision, as if thick inky fogs lay around the peripheral edges of my sight, fighting to close in. The dark wind had caught us, and the ice of the room send deep chills through my bones. “Bahk-tâm swönn. These Gates are open, lest I close them. Sekrâh. So mote it be.”<br> “Now, as we are now more connected with the Dark Spirit, let us meditate and welcome its sacred energies. If such a thing does frighten you, then you should by no means be here this eve. Should you wish to leave now, you will not find escape so easily, I assure you. Anyone care to try such a thing?”<br> “I shall endure,” I heard myself say, not sure if it was truly me or not. Inside, I wanted to run! The priest smiled with dark delight. “Splendid. I will now offer a sacrifice to the Otherworld, and the blood and remnants of our victim will be consumed by the Dark Tower itself.”<br> The priest walked to the back of the room where the whimpering girl began to sob again. Reaching down to unbind her shackles, he connected a chain in his hand to a collar around her neck and led her to altar at the front as though leading a pig to the market. The girl was allowed one last pathetic plea for her life. She sobbed and begged as the dark council watched her without empathy. Adaeth paced the edge of the circle, fingering the edge of a wicked dagger. His face was dark and thoughtful. Where to begin? “Allow me,” spoke the dark mistress, eyes opening to regard the young victim. She stepped around the table with a sharp “clack, clack” of her boots on the stone floor, walking to the girl and assisting Adaeth as together they summoned a daemon from the Otherworld to play with the toy of a girl. At the back of the room, the human guardsman stood silent and beyond shock, beyond horror. He knew he was next, and had accepted his fate. I will not discuss what happened after that. Some things are best left in nightmare. When it was finished, the dark priest turned to his gathered audience. “As I did not intend for tonight’s Mass to last excessively long, as it is the first of many, I will end this assembly by reading something the High Priest of the Order of the Ebon Skull, Bal-Anon Dak, taught me many fortnights ago. It is “The Entropic Chant,” which I am sure many, who walk the dark road, know of this chant. It is a hymn of Entropy – the eventual end of all things. “I am the thorn in the foot, I am the blur in the sight I am the worm at the root, I am the thief in the night I am the rat in the wall, the leper that leers at the gate I am the ghost in the hall, herald of horror and hate I am the rust on the corn, I am the smut on the wheat Laughing man's labor to scorn, weaving a web for his feet. I am canker and mildew and blight, danger and death and decay The rot of the rain by night, the blast of the sun by day I warp and wither with drought, I work in the swamp's foul yeast I bring the black plague from the south and leprosy in from the east I am the shrill cold spirit that chills the darkness you feel after dark I am the chaos that tears stars apart. You cannot escape me. You cannot defeat me. You can only embrace me.” The wind howled, a bell chimed, and I awoke, sweat-soaked, back home north of Justice. Had that been real? I wondered. Or at least, I did until I looked down and saw my once white nightshirt now red.