Ben Fugman

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on: 03/21/19, 11:33 AM
When I was young, my mother was a priestess of Shub Niggurath. My youth was fraught with queer occurrences, resulting from my peculiar upbringing.
     -Tior Raimath

This is a story written by Benjamin Fugman in 2018 based in the classic Weird Fiction style. The original summary paragraph is in the voice of the first chapter's narrator, the chapters pass off between different narrators, and an effort was made to give each an individual voice, while maintaining an overall linguistic writing style of classic American weird fiction

Chapter 1: In Terror In A Forrest

I bounded through the verdant sylvan expanse weaving between pine and sycamore trees loping over low brush and crashing through hangings of ivy. I fled as though for my very life, though I was sure it was not in danger, but perhaps my soul...

It was an early Tsathogtog morning, 10th Hasturdan, 9th year of the 3rd Yig Cycle, those who have marked well their history and are familiar with the olden way of marking time will know the significance of that date, others may not be able to reason it. In those days my mother was a priestess to the great mother goddess, something that was meant to be a high honour for our family. I was only a child then and could barely grasp the concept of honour, or the olden ways.

Looking over my shoulder I caught sight of a grayish flash which must have been the fabric of my pursuer's garment, receding behind the trunk of a tall lodgepole pine. Although our village had been here for centuries, a bastion of the old gods, our way of life was under siege. A colony of prigmatic, tecnophobic puritanical foreigners had settled nearby. The foreigners, by their account, had fled their homeland for greener shores, because their king had forbidden the practice of their religion, they believed they would have the freedom to practice their religion, the execution of which, apparently includes the persecution of all other religions, here in our land. The foreigners reject the old gods and despise the olden ways. Being a precocious youth, I was naturally curious about our strange monochromatically clad neighbours, a curiosity vehemently discouraged by my mother, and the rest of our clergy.

I slipped on a slimy pig's ear mushroom and nearly stumbled headlong into a blackberry bramble, fortunately my head wasn't quite long enough to collide with the spineffrous succulents. As I scrambled to my feet I beheld clearly my dogged ferreter's form, only a single, solitary sojourner had taken up my trail, I wasn't sure if that was a good sign or bad, but I knew it would probably be best not to lead my lone pursuer back to our village, this I could handle alone. I'd gone out by the mill early that morning. The mill is the furthest structure from the main part of the settlement, and, I had observed, the miller's daughter arose early each morning to see to a number of the menial tasks which the miller himself avoided on the excuse that he needed to keep his hands clean for his trade, and the miller's wife avoided by excelling at kittchenry. The daughter being stuck with such tasks as she was suited my aim just fine. There was a supple grace about her exertions which held a near mesmeric charm to me. I was especially entranced then, on that particular Tsathogtog morning, watching her draw water from the miller's cobblestone well by pulling the thick hemp rope across a hanging pulley, wrapping each length about a carven spooling board.

Of a sudden a flock of whippoorwills rose out of the wood some ways to my left, converging on the center of the foreign settlement, a detail which would have escaped my notice, if not for the reaction of the miller's long eared basset hound, who gave a stark and resolute alert at the passing of the birds. "Bawoooo, yawp yawp yawp!" Echoing across the supernal gulfs of the Naisance sky the hound's baying was in the classical learnt language of man's canine counterparts, "They go, look, look, look!" The miller's daughter, heedless of the flocking birds, looked about for some more terrestrial source for the beast's call of alarm. I knew the hound was unlikely to bark at me, I had long since purchased his allegiance with some venison jerky and dried roasted potato slices. The miller's daughter though, I doubted snacks would buy her loyalty. Her eyes, sharpened by the state of hyper focus brought on by the dog's alarm, scanned the tree line, where I lay crouched in the bushes. Then she stopped scanning and stared, directly, intently at the bush behind which I was but poorly concealed. I did not know if she saw me or not, but the wind picked up, suddenly and the mill shrieked with indignation as its five great arms were spurred into unnatural animacy. Afraid it would wake the miller I stood bolt up, and I knew the miller's daughter saw me then. For only a brief moment, I stared back at her, then I turned and ran wildly into the great wood.

Scampering over roots and stones, shaken up a bit after my little tumble. She was gaining ground behind me much more rapidly than I would have expected. She seemed to be the only one following me, nor could I detect anyone following her. The Miller's daughter was nearly a megalithic foot taller than myself, and her resultant speed advantage was staggering. A little over a week before that, on the Azatog before last, the last day of Yog Sothdan I had sneaked up to the hillock around the olden temple, not that I was really alone at least half the youngsters of our village had crept up to those old stone apertures to behold, the rites of the holy mother goddess, Shub Niggurath. As I have said. My mother was a priestess, as such she wore about her head the many horned mask of The Black Goat, that being her singular item of attire. Likewise her duties as a priestess also required her participation in every facet of the rites, with every adult in our village, rites which were simultaneously public, and intimate.

Bursting through a furrow of crisscrossed branches I found myself in a small clearing. Surround on all but the side I had entered from with thick growths of switchwillows making exiting the clearing a trickier proposition than entering, I had reached my destination. The hairs on  the back of my neck pricked like the heckles of a trapped boar, the the taste of a copper oblation ladle permeated the surface of my tongue. With a crash my solitary huntress shot through the veritable door of crossing branches, then with a hop and a skip she leapt at me from behind, tacking me into the switchwillows ahead which sprung back in resistance flinging the both of us on our backs, side by side in the soft grass and dandelions.

"Why'd you chase me?" I demanded.
"Why weret thou watching me?" Retorted the confident golden haired grey mantled girl.
"You folk are different. I's fascinated how you go to all that trouble pullin' up buckets and wrappin' that rope, instead of puttin' in a tap and hand pump. We done it for nigh on two cycles now out my village." I hoped that this elongated display would help hide the threadbare nature of my excuse.
She smiled at me, you might call it a knowing smile. "Knowest thou not? Idle hands are the devil's playground."
"Well," I scratched my head, "I ain't never met no devil. So I couldn't say where they spend their time, but if they like idle hands there can't be none on yours."
She leaned close to my ear and whispered, practically breathed, "These hands are less holy than thou might suspect." After that I stared long and intently into her eyes, as deep and as blue-green as the ocean.
We both were silent for a time, then the whippoorwills rushed past above us zigzagging and cavorting in a pseudofluid mass, more akin to a river rapid than a flock of birds, darkening the sky above the clearing for nearly three seconds this time their presence was heralded by a deep abyssal cooing, interspersed with earslicing shrieks. For a moment after they passed all was silent, the wind seemed to cut off sharply, as though the birds had taken it with them...
"Tell me," she broke the silence, "is it true what they say about your people?"
"Is what true?" My expression of shock must've made my face the very caricature of old Tsathogua, eyes bulging, chin drawn back and my mouth pulled into a terrapinean frown, all framed by my, I was sure, massive, somewhat pointed ears. The other youths in my village often called me donkey ears, so they must've been large.
"You know," her right eye twitched as the right corner of her mouth raised in a momentary smirk, "how you're all savages?" This last word seemed to fill her with some taboo sort of thrill.
"Well I wouldn't know what a savage is." I blurted out, "But when I think about it, it don't sound like the nicest thing to call folk."
"You know." She smirked again as if she really expected I knew. "It means you eat raw meat with your bare hands, wear the skins of animals, all that sort of thing."
Those two things were true, I had eaten raw meat on many occasions, and my clothes were made primarily of leather, "Well sure, but I don't see how that makes me a savage." I tried to mimic her thrill, I'm sure it came across as sarcastic. "Anyway," I added, "whadda you figure your shoes are made of."
Her face was flush as she glanced downward and pointed her toes skyward.
"And they say you chant blasphemous intonations to false gods." Her thrill remained, but her words were beginning to drudge up offense from the dark corners of my soul.
"I never heard worship called blasphemy before," pivoting off my knee and elbow I swung myself over, above her, not touching her directly, but effectively blocking her ascent. "And what do you figure makes your new god more real than the old gods?"
"They.." She squeaked, "also say that your people practice indiscriminate acts of deviancy."
"What are you getting at?" I indignated as I drew back to a crouched posture before her.
"I think you know." She smirked again, higher than before, this time winking her right eye and raising her left eyebrow. Then she sat up first supported on her elbows, then on her palms. Leaning forward until the gap between our faces was less than it had been when I was slung over her. Slowly she pursed her lips into an o, brought them just against mine quickly made a pop with the inner part of her lips. And she sank slowly back wrapping her hands about her chest. If this was a kiss I'd never seen its like amongst my people, but perhaps it passed for a kiss amongst hers, because she appeared as one in the throws of ecstatic bliss.
Her hands slid from her chest apart and down to her hips which she momentarily supported above the rest of her body, then spread her knees as she slowly lowered her hips back to the ground. Then she slid her hands 'round her hips into the middle of her thighs, pressing the fabric into the space between her legs, joining her hands in a mudra of prayer, and creating a Y shaped depression in her dress. I was filled with a hunger beneath my stomach such as I had never fealt. She began walking her fingers in place, bunching up the fabric of her grey dress and white skirts. Once she had the last skirt gathered, she rapidly pulled them up, then pushed them down again. Quickly I caught sight of the same vibrant gold which wreathed her headstrong confident visage. Slowly she pulled the lot up again, revealing a total absence of undergarments, save for her thigh high cotton socks. I fealt saliva welling up around my tongue and teeth looking back to her face I saw her eyes widen, and her lips parted in a beckoning grin. I gave in to my instincts, and I ate the miller's daughter.

Chapter 2: Terror In The Forest

I made my way slowly back through that ancient and secreted wood, slowly and carefully, though I could feel the hot acid breath of Kerberos on my back. Slowly because it is easy to become disoriented in the unfamiliar and suddenly cold woods. Slowly because I knew I had committed a mortal sin. I needed time to think of what I would say if my absence were noted. Though even moving slowly I tried to hurry, because each minute I tarried longer increased the likelihood I would be missed. It's easy to go fast when you're following someone going fast who knows the way, easy to dash and dive when filled with the energizing folly of youth. Not so easy when returning guideless and humbled with guilt and contrition.

An owl called out from a treetop. "Hark! Wrongdoer abroad!" A chorus of owls in nearby trees responded, "Who?! Who? Who?!" The one above me answered promptly, "Autlander!"

Then a black mockingbird landed on the branch directly ahead of me spread its wings, and in Pastor's voice it cried, "Below!" Then discharging the burden of its breakfast the wretched black imitator flitted to a higher branch and declared, "Below lies hellfire!"
I quickened my pace. What did those avian busybodies care what I'd done, oh Thazzos! What had been done to me... For me... With me! That I had betrayed my honour, my family, my God! I passed by the silk things I had left by a tree trunk, I was on the right track bits of moss clung to them so I left them be. Father, Pastor, everyone! They were right! The were right about the savages about their depravity, about their indiscretion. Worse yet they were right about me, I am a wicked creature filled with lust and devious fancies. I committed a mortal sin and loved every minute of it. In the moments following our iniquitous encounter, my new savage friend and I resumed to conversing.

"So," the other stared inquisitively into my eyes, with disarming attention. "Is it true what they say about you folk." This in clear mockery of my earlier inquest.
"I know't not. What do they say?" I couldn't imagine what savages would have to say about sojourners.
"How y'all only read one book, only pray to one god, never wear colours?" The questions came in rapid succession, much as I had done moments before.
"Well, yes but..." I trailed off. Somehow at that point I fealt that the straight and narrow way I had been taught to respect seemed utterly indefensible.
My new friend looked more grave, suddenly. In a hushed and graveled voice asked. "Is it true you folk kill your own if they don't do like your book says?" A chill wind picked up rustling the switchwillows that surrounded us.
"I don'..." I started to try to say something to object, but how could I? I'd seen it happen. Then I heard the screech, the low distant rumble. My father's mill coming to life again. "I must return home!"
"Yeah, I better head out too.." My friend reluctantly agreed.

I reached the trail we'd turned off of, towards the clearing. I looked first down the way homeward, then up the way to the heathen village. And I saw it! A bull moose, tall as a house, as wide from antler to antler as father's mill. The moose pawed the ground before him with a forehoof as wide as a literal dinnerplate. Then stomped hard and shook its massively antlered head, snorting forth clouds of tangible vapor. And with a thunderous declaimation it bellowed. "Boar-oak! Due-wall!" All thought left me for a moment, I sprinted down the homeward path like a possessed infidel.

Thought returned, however, as it is wont to do in moments when it is least welcome. "Baroque dual..." Why would a moose say such a thing? What could it mean, such pointless notions, Moose don't talk, he was only bellowing. I became cognizant of a rythmatic thumping, dadadump, dadadump, dadadump, dump, dump, dadadump, dadadump, dadadump, dump dump. God above how pitiful must I have looked to the moose, how ridiculous? Hurling myself forward at what I was sure was my top speed whilst he, with his long legs, was gaining ground rapidly, at a mere trot. As the voluminous drooping snout,  entered my field of view from the right, I was forced to reevaluate my top speed. Both feet left the ground with each stride, the snout and the consistent thumping receeded to a more comfortable distance. The path curved ahead a fallen log lay along the side, supported by two stumps the ground beneath padded with dry needles. I saw my opportunity, and grasped it by the proverbial antlers. I dropped to my knees and slid under the raised log, bending backwards to fit. Then, Carrump! Carrump! First the forehoolves, then the hind hoolves clomped down on the log and he launched himself over me, sailing through the air, as smoothly as the Lilly White had sailed across the ocean, conveying us here. Then came a thunderous, Carrump! Carrump! As the bull moose landed ahead of me. He trotted off into the forrest, self reliant as you please. I looked back at the log, it had buckled out at the bottom two long thick splinters crossed where my neck had been moments before, forming a more than suitable guillotine for the likes of me. I crept around the log, back to the path home. My joints ached, my muscles burned, salt water poured forth from the creases of my hands, never the less I spurred myself into a wholehearted jog. At least I'd gotten an idea what to tell my father.

I emerged shaking from the shadowed vale of the wood, my father stood beside the mill with his thumbs hooked into the corners of his black apron nearly white down the center with the collected dust of flour. My mother stood halfway out the door of the house, with a glance from father she retreated tacitly within. Like the moose, he bellowed, "Cornelia! Where hast thou been?!"

"I-I-I--" I stammered at the total reality of the inquisition I knew was coming, but could never prepare myself for the severity of. "I beheld a moose in the wood." Tears were already dampening my cheeks. I had committed a mortal sin that morning, and then I committed another sin by lying and dishonouring my parents, but they could never know. "It was s-s-so majestic I longed for a closer vantage, so I entered the wood, but..." I could feel him seeing through my fabrications like light passing through a cheesecloth. "It chased me! Oh father I was so frightened!"

There was no sympathy in his eyes, no empathy, no humanity. He was like his stone grinding wheel incarnate. "You see?! The lord thy god has punished thee for neglecting thy duties!" He scowled a scowl which radiated ill humour as the sun radiates light and warmth. I trudged through ankle-deep liquessent regret to the side of the well and finished drawing the water I would need to rinse the chamberpots.

Chapter 3: In The Temple An Upheaval

I sat on the black sheep skin covering of the big stone chair in the center of the old stone temple. I shifted my position trying to find some semblance of comfort. The black goat mask I wore for rituals sat to my right upon the broad carven arm rest, I wore the blackbird down brassiere and black hog loincloth which constituted the expected daytime attire of my office, for the Naisance season. Coal braziers burned on either side of me, each around two megalithic yards removed from the position of the chair, serving practically no purpose, as the morning light streamed in through the broad apertures in the upper part of the temple walls, and neither the sunlight nor the fire were doing much of anything to combat the chill in the air. I suspect the seasons may have undergone some migration of pattern, since the formation of the olden calendar, Hasturdan always fealt like part of Fridgidation, to me. Even the ignorant outlanders set the seasonal transition in late Nyarladan upon the day and night of equal length, yet, for reasons beyond my ken, the older calendar sets the transition to Naisance always on the first day of Hasturdan. And on that day each year am I expected to retire my Frigidation robes in favor of the less concealing Naisance accoutrements.

A cold breeze whirled through the temple, raising gooseflesh all about my person, but also providing a momentary respite from the smell, the smells of old love, of sick and slough residue, of dried blood, of damp furs, and of the ever present mildew in the corners. I casually picked out a cone of incense, from my incense chest, and tossed it into the brazier on my right, for all the good it would do... Valcaz, an ignominious obtrusive fellow, ambitious enough to land himself a position as emissary to the high priest of Ithaqua, stood on the cobbled walkway of the old stone temple, quill in hand and papyrus ready on a plankboard, awaiting my reply to his master's declaration. "Be gone, Valcaz, tell your master I will send a messenger with my answer when I am good and ready." That's what I wanted to say to him, but he would surely tell Thogue my exact words, whether they constituted a formal reply or not.

Thogue, the high priest of Ithaqua, lived high on the peak of The Cold Mountain in the temple observatory of Ithaqua. Valcaz had come on this morning to present me with a message from the decrepified ancient hierophant, concerning a threat he believed the outlanders presented, it told of how he had espied a ship docking at the other settlement of outlanders to the south, the one called Jacobston and that six men had carried two boxes, too short and thin to be caskets, but as heavy as three whole bodies up the coast to Rocksmouth, the settlement nearest our village. He believed these boxes held some kind of weapons that he feared would make the outlanders stronger than us. He proposed that we gather together all the priests and priestesses of all the tribes, here, at the old stone temple, and summon Yog Sothoth, and ask for weapons that would outmatch those of the foreigners. It didn't altogether make sense to me. The folk in Rocksmouth hated the Jacobites even more than they hated our folk. Most of all they hated the Jacobites' industries, without which I saw no way their weapons could make them stronger than our warriors. And if they did have weapons like the folk down in Jacobston then the show of light and thunderous sounds I'm told accompany the summoning of Yog Sothoth would only serve in tempering their resolve to attack us. It's important to understand, while the message was phrased in the form of a request, Thogue does not make requests, so I could reasonably assume he intended to hold the summoning ritual at my temple, regardless any protest I should attempt. So I was attempting to compose my thoughts carefully to formulate a response to Thogue's unabashed insult that would not be construed as overtly insulting to Thogue.

"Lady Tirague," Valcaz intoned in his accustom sickening, saccharin, sing-song with its wavering phlegmy timbre, "We humbly await your affirmative."

Perhaps his two guards, armed with bills, were humble, but Valcaz as far as I knew, did not know how to do anything in the spirit of humility. The wind whipped around the temple again, ruffling Valcaz's lavender coloured wool robe, and displacing a lock of my hair in front of my face.

I pursed my lips and blew the errant strands aside. "Very well, you may take this down, I certainly agree that the old stone temple is our most ancient and holiest site, and would be ideal for a summoning of such magnitude. I do have a notable concern, that the performance of such a ritual might instigate a conflict that might otherwise have been avoided, but if--"

A ruckus became audible near the temple entrance. A group of children could be heard shouting, "Heehaw! Heehaw! Heehaw!" A taunt I recognized all too well.

"Pardon me, exalted emissary, but I must look into the welfare of my child." Pushing off the seat with the palms of my hands I sprung up and took the three steps down from the chair's pedestal at a leap, dashed past Valcaz, and between his suddenly bewildered guards, then out the great arched portal of the old stone temple at the bottom of the front stoop I could see a circle of unruly youngsters, most of them still chanting, "Heehaw! Heehaw!" Their apparent ring leader, a girl named Zolaxia, was shouting, "Hey ass-ears! Take in any interestin' palaver eavesdropping on them strange folk?! C'mon we know that's where you go, to spy on all them black-hatted heathens, so what'd ya learn."

"Answer Zola's question, you buck tooth donkey!" Shouted another.

"Enough!" I shouted, projecting my voice as I would for a ritual. First 'Zola' turned around, then all the rest that weren't already facing me, those that were looked up, then they all scampered off leaving only one youngster sitting on the ground. Arms wrapped about knees, face wet with perspiration and tears, caked with dirt, which had apparently been kicked up from the thoroughfare by the bullies was my child, my daughter, Tior. I ran down and embraced her. Valcaz and his guards were leaving, I didn't care. He'd gotten enough from me he fealt confident faking an affirmative to the high priest.

Chapter 4: Omens, Portents, Questions, Resolutions, And Suspicion.

Upon this Tsathogtog, Tenth day of Hasturdan, year Nine, Third Yig Cycle, I, Thogue, am, as I do every day, putting down in writing the most significant events of the day.

This morning despatched Valcaz to procure use of the old temple for imminent summoning of Yog Sothoth from the outer realms. His success is imperative, if indeed, the puritans have obtained Jacobean armaments our own meagar iron blades will not be sufficient to waylay them. Only the raycasters Yog Sothoth can deliver will outmatch the speed and ferocity of Jacobite rifles. And only if they have designs against us would they dare break their taboo against obtaining such implements.

Made water shortly after. That peculiar violet shade again, far off from the healthy daffodil one comes to expect. No precedent for this phenomenon found, neither in our own scrolls, nor the Jacobite medical encyclopedias obtained at last sally to trading post. I have grow fearful these months of an impending death. Not of my body, not yet, but in this instance a death of reason, and with it a death of purpose, and without reason or purpose, am I still the voice of Ithaqua, or merely a shell put upon by dumb instinct to ejaculate incoherent noises?

From my long-glass did observe a flock of whippoorwills rising up from The Round Mountain to the south and west. Did see them dart hither and thither, then alight upon the settlement of Rocksmouth. If the devil the outlanders speak of exists, his name is Gtangatua, and his servants grow stronger, even now, within the round mountain, the fuel the Yulggothans need is the distillate of heretic souls, and the whippoorwills are the vessel by which that fuel is gathered. The gadoffel restrictive nature of the puritans' dogma makes them a fertile breeding ground for heresy. And their habit of executing the accused makes them an ideal self harvesting fuel source for the Yulggothans. This is why it's all the better that we ensure as many of them as can be, be allowed to die fighting for their beliefs, at least then they will not quicken the empowering of that neigh unstoppable diabolic beast.

It was by beholding Gtangatua that the deathless Old Gods were driven to and endless slumber. the Yulggothans have never announced their intent. But, for myself I have no doubt that it does not bode well for we, the legacy of the Old Gods.

Did witness through the long glass some nameless mischief of frivolity, which bears remembering, but surely not setting down, at once did see whippoorwills returning from Rocksmouth to The Round Mountain. 'Tis clear enough they got what they were after, or they'd have dispersed to gathering and spying, but they returned to that Round Mountain in haste, no doubt fat on the gluck of the vital energies of a soul liberated from flesh in doubt of its final destination there to bring it to that all hideous metalic monolith The Gtangator, set up on the stone slab in the middle of The Round Mountain, Gods alone know what the Mi-Go have planned for it, legend tells that after it was built, over three mythotic cycles ago, Gtangatua himself moved into it. Every since then I know they send out them whippoorwills whenever anyone dies hereabouts, and if that one dies in doubt of the faith their soul holds strongest to them birds claim the soul with their cacophonous chant, and when they get one they fly it straight back to The Gtangator where them Mi-Go take and latch onto it with positron arcs and drop it into an antiprotonic ectoplasmatic container, at least that's how the old scrolls put it. Them Mi-Go don't show up too well through the long glass, but their machines show up just fine, and watchin' you can tell just what they're doing, it matches up to what the scrolls seem to mean, and it must be to some sinister purpose, for I know right well that the Mi-Go use the stuff distilled from those ghosts to flit about and spin their lassos but besides that the stash most of't away in The Gtangator. A series of twelve blue lights run the height of the obelisk. From the time it was built, over three cycles ago, until the time I became High Priest of Ithaqua and my predecessor showed me the tower through the long glass only six of those lights had become illuminated,  however one more lit up shortly after my appointment to this office, and three have come on just in the ten years since outlanders breached our shores, two just in the eight years since the puritan's arrived. And now... Today, even before my eyes, after the latest, "witch" was refined, I, Thogue, sound enough in mind to set down these words, did witness the second to last light flickering to life.

Supped, good corn, good roasted venison, chilli sauce was too strong, so refrained, must ask cook to prepare milder batch.

After supper made water again, not merely violet, but also slightly luminous in the evening dark. Gods what's happening to me?!

Valcaz returned shortly after, bringing affirmative for ritual venue. I have no doubt Yog Sothoth will be our salvation.

In bed now ready to retire for the night, I cradle the raycaster I obtained so many years ago, for the war with the Imeks. More powerful than a thousand spears, and still has some charge left. If worst comes to worst, I know I can still depend on this.

Chapter 5: An Execution In The Square

This morning I dreamt a dream most ominous and hideous, in the dream I was a hide clad savage with beads and feathers tied into my greasy hair. I did not see, but knew that I was a warrior of the Ornek tribe. I somehow knew that we were at war with the the fairer skinned Nyagal from the north region around the cold mountain. I remembered, rather than experienced previous battles in which their metal pikes had cut through the wood of our stone headed spears, and claw-swords easily, but this time would be different, we'd gotten ahold of enough metal weapons by raiding their war camps in the night to put up a proper fight, or so we thought.

The dawn was blazing scarlet, not peach or pumpkin, like a dawn aught to be. The dawn wind which should be stone and surf, was instead copper and dry lightning. I could feel the tension in my entire brigade as we crested the southern hill of Clover Valley we expected to see the pikes and bills of the Nyagal first cresting the northern hill, but instead we saw the plumes of their helmed heads, they weren't wielding blades of steel, instead, they carried large rectangular objects of some dull unlustrous metal painted with red and blue accents. For an eternal moment we stared in stunned curiosity then, it happened... An un-forking bolt of stark white lightning errupted from one of the mysterious boxes, it tore through our ranks bursting half a dozen men like gourds, showering the rest of us with hot blood as the thunder sounded with deafening proximity, from that moment it was chaos. Some advancing, some retreating, and all helpless against the rain of destruction produced by the Nyagal's front lines. In a blind rage, I charged across the valley. I spotted out one of the Nyagal whose weapon had ceased firing and had commenced to whirring in protest, I piked him with my stolen pole-arm, his peculiar weapon discharged one final time as I set him down, liquidating the line of shooters to his right the last of whose weapon exploded with massive concussive force, enough to fling me against the Nyagal to the left of the one I took out. I managed to struggle to my feet first and liberate my foe of the bizarre armament The mechanism for firing was little different from a crossbow or, the conscious part of my mind thought, a musket. I cut several paths of death through the Nyagal forces, those not directly struck were cut up by the burst fragments of their comrades' metallic armor. I saw their general in the back he was dressed in steel scaled armor with red dyed fur. His helm was ornamented with boar tusks on the cheek guards, ram horns on the sides and goat horns on the top, his face was covered by a red cloth he carried none of the strange weapons of the frontline combatants, instead all he carried was a twisted wooden staff topped with what seemed to be the skull of some unspeakable beast, equal parts baboon antelope and gazelle, with the fangs of a prehistoric tiger. I got a sudden vision of the thing alive, charging across the valley toward me, glistening red and blue muscles bulge out amid its grey and black fur, whipping its bifurcated prehensile tail, and shaking its horned mantle with massive toothy jaw, as it roars the sky appears to shatter revealing a cold and cloudless night behind the day, then shatter again the stars fell away in plates revealing a bright blue day with scattered white clouds and a massive pale yellow sun, that did not sting the eyes to look upon, this too shattered in the space of the roar, the pieces faded away, ultimately giving way to the vermilion dregs of dawn the vision of the beast also faded and the general pressed his twisted staff into the soil as effortlessly as pressing a straight stake into soft loam. I aimed the deadly alien object at him and compressed the firing mechanism no sound of thunder no flash of blinding light, he did not explode. Instead I fealt, more than heard, the same whirring that had previously afforded me my opportunity to attack. Their general, however did not take advantage of the window to rush me and loose his dagger, instead he waved his hands over the blasphemous devil beast skull staff, and began to dance, waving his arms from side and bouncing at his bent knees, concealing his face behind his elbows at the extreme of each swing, all at once red flames seemed to surround him, twisting and crackling, as the flames reached a zenith, he stopped dancing and let them whirl around him as he placed his left hand upon the staff and raised his right to the sky, a tiny star began to coalesce in the palm of his right hand. I compressed the firing mechanism again this time a beam of light did issue forth with a thunderous clash but it reflected off the red flames as easily as sunlight off a mirror and struck the ground a meter in front of me, knocking me off my footing, as the star in his hand grew he chanted, "Ayah ayah ghashtathoc Nayar-Lat-Hotep bhas bhas vheed vis yeet!" The star swallowed all the red flames from around him and the star seemed to keep getting bigger and bigger, swallowing him, of course it wasn't, it was getting closer to me, I knew as I fealt the brightness and heat of its rays overtake me.

I awoke to the sunlight streaming in my bedroom window and set to work at once on this entry. Often I worry the nature of my dreams recorded in this journal might call into question my efficacy as a prosecutor, nonetheless I am compelled to record them, I cannot help but feel that this dream may have been inspired by the events of yesterday morning.

Yesterday, February, tenth, fifteen hundred and five Anum Thazzodesic, I was called upon to prove one Maurice Blackwell a witch. He was not the first accused witch I had prosecuted, and I doubt he'll be the last. What is a witch, really, but someone that somebody wants dead? I just facilitate the process by stating, loudly, whichever excuses the witchfinder helped the accusor contrive. I don't believe the magistrate or the crowd care what those excuses are, or how improbable they are, they just want to see someone hang.

The courtroom was full to capacity nearly every man in the settlement were packed into the benches, most of the rest, along with several women and children, in fact, only the miller and his family were absent, which was not at all conspicuous, as the mill was a good ways out of town, the miller says too many buildings nearby block out the wind, and I can take his word on it. Besides, if I had a daughter like his, I would take steps to keep her far from young men like my son. The defendant was bound and sat fidgeting clinkingly in his restraints, his barrister grimaced and smirked uncomfortably the magistrate had yet to arrive, the crier stood in front of his bench and read aloud from a scroll, "Gentlemen, today we are here to find cause with a witch, whose filthy kind degrade our society.  The accused is Mister Maurice Blackwell, a Jacobite name if ere I Heard one, who as you all know had a wife last year, and this year she is no longer among us. Presenting the argument for his defense is local advocate Chuck Brinig, and representing you, the good people of Rocksmouth, your district prosecutor, Willyrd P. Johnson." After a momentary pause he proceeded. "All rise, please, for your honorable magistrate Harcord Harold Henrys." Everyone rose quickly to their feet, except for the defendant, who's restraints may've forbade him rising. Magistrate Henrys entered the court from the Judge's prep-room,  carrying his heavy gavel that better resembled a staking mallet than one of the flimsy tack pushers used in the king's courts. I recalled a dream I once had in which I was myself, and the witchfinder accused a woman as a vampire, and magistrate Henry's drove a wooden stake into the accused with his gavel on the spot, in the courtroom. As unrealistic as the particulars of the scenario may be, I have no doubt but the hammer would stand up to the use, and the Magistrate himself was brawny enough to facilitate its employment in such an endeavor. My wife once joked that she wondered whether he was compensating for something, later she reported that she had repeated the same jest in private company with Mrs. Henrys, who assured her the gavel was rather more of an understatement. "Be seated!" The crier declared as the Magistrate settled into his bench. All were at once seated, but for the crier, the bailiffs, and one other man, Reverend Denham Mallow, the witchfinder.

"I have new evidence, your honour." Mallow declared "This object, retrieved from the home of the accused in the company of warranted officers." Mallow held up a small tin box with a red cross painted on it, the paint was worn and chipped in places, bare shiny metal showing through in spots. Any other man would have been called to order for such a disruptive display, but not the witchfinder, Reverend, lawyer, doctor of Christian theology, associate fellow of eastern studies, son of the revered Witchfinder General, Marshal Mallow. Actually when our magistrate called for a witchfinder he expected Marshall himself, despite the young reverend being his second choice, Magistrate Henrys always gave due reverence to the witchfinder, even permitting him to make of the court a near circus.

"You may approach the bench, witchfinder Mallow." Harcord announced, showing signs of repressed annoyance.

"Approach the bench!" The crier parroted. I don't even think I know that man's name, how often do I think of wringing his neck? More, perhaps than would be considered healthy.

The witchfinder brought the box up to the front of the courtroom. "This will be highly pertinent to the testimony of the accuser." He proclaimed. A bailiff took it from him and set it on the evidence table. "Your honor, may we bring forth the accuser now?"

"By all means, witchfinder, summon the plaintiff to the stand." Magistrate Henrys conceded, with a tone of un-abated authority.

"Come forth, Ibram Merrit!" declared Mallow.

"The court calls Ibram Merrit  to the stand!" cried the crier, only slightly louder than the witchfinder.
« Last Edit: 09/24/20, 08:13 AM by Ben Fugman »