Carcosa was a trap, placed inside of a book that was given as a gift. A gift from the only person that had my back when I was at my absolute worst. I refuse to believe it was on purpose. It is crushing to even consider a betrayal, but from Chad?
Jackie says the book was enspelled to transfer the mind of the reader to a pocket dimension. A realm that is made to cancel abilities and where death is real. And the risk of your body starving in the real world and wasting away. She said it is a powerful, old magic not seen much anymore. It is keyed to adepts with power and a normal person would just read the book.
Apricus believes it was a back up plan in case the wendigo and his infection of madness ever wore off. Or if I somehow accidentally woke up my latent ability. Apparently ever since the night we first met it had been beginning to build up inside of me and would have eventually manifested, wendigo or not. The madness that tainted my heart and filled me with depression was supposed to stamp it out and keep me so afraid of Apricus that I would try and stay as far from her. A brilliant plan. Too brilliant. It filled me with so much dread and malaise I decided to end my life. And that brought Apricus back into my life.
The best laid plans can fall apart.
That skull faced bastard must have gotten to Chad as well and twisted him with dark magic. It is the only explanation I can think of. He is the only member of my family that was always there for me. Beside a couple of friends that I kept my darker thoughts from, everyone else abandoned me to my sorrow. But it was not their fault. Hell, it wasn’t my fault either. I had always been slightly depressed. All the taint did was magnify that. Took it from being a seasoning in my life into the main course.
I need answers. I have been reacting for so long and have not had any knowledge necessary to succeed.
It has been three days since Carcosa. It has taken all of my will to not call Chad and see if I can get to the bottom of this. Both Apricus and Jackie insist he is an enemy and our only lead into finding out the plan of the agents of destruction. I just want a chance to get my hands on the wendigo and have him undo whatever he is responsible for. And to prove Chad did nothing wrong.
I have been in the library these last three days. The idea of betrayal and incomprehensible odds that seem stacked against me reigniting my feelings of depression. But instead of wallowing in them I am harnessing them. Using the inability to sleep as an aid to study, the frenetic energy as a means to train. I will not roll over and show my belly to these feelings inside of me any longer. I cannot. I gave in before, caved to the internal pressures that could have molded my heart into a diamond, my spirit into a weapon. I missed the opportunity, allowed the taint to spread.
Jackie never seems to sleep either. She has been my constant companion in here, finding pertinent books to my studies and more than likely guarding me at Apricus’s behest. She left on an errand two days ago with promises of answers and help. Her absense only fueling the emptiness.
“Jackie, can we remove the trap aspect of the spell from the book?”
She cocked her head and focused her twelve unblinking eyes on me, “Theoretically yes. But why in the world would you want that?”
“Haster hates the elder ones, and he also knows them. He could be a source of information and possibly a partner.”
“We don’t even know for sure that he exists. He is probably just a construct.”
“I don’t know, much of anything to be honest and less every day but what if it is? Carcosa has been featured in too many stories by authors that were touched by Al Azir. Haster features prominently in more as well. The Yellow Sign showing up in at least fifteen stories i Have found so far. What if the elder ones did purge the city and left the King in Yellow mad and trapped in another dimension, repeating the same events over and over? He hates the elder ones and agents of destruction as much as we do. When I told him about Dagon he was beside himself with joy.”
She pondered my words, “And if the trap can be reworked maybe we can free him. If, and this is a big if, we could do it he would make a great ally to say the least. Let me work on the calculations and see if it is feasible. More than likely if I can remove the trap aspects ofnthe spell the entire pocket dimension would collapse onto itself. Unless I took into account the structure…”
“Thank you Jackie.”
I may have just broke the spider goddess.
I threw myself back into my studies. The Wendigo was the face of my issue at the moment. From Native lore to psychotic break and then to metaphor the colonization of North America; this bastard has been around. If there is a four horsemen of the apocalypse, he is the basic personification of famine. Everything I have read about it comes back to insatiable hunger.
In my research I stumbled upon a journal written on yellowed and strangely textured paper. I started to peruse and found myself instantly hooked. The text has been through the ringer, missing chunks and burnt in other places.
My first memories were of the hunt. My tribe brothers and uncles taught me to track from a very young age. I could follow a trail through the plains nearly after my first steps. My uncles hunted the large buffalo, my brothers and cousins the deer, while I learned to trap rabbits and use a sling to hunt squirrel when we were near the wooded lands.
Our tribe moved regularly with the seasons and went where the animals did. Rare was the time we set up our tents for more than a few weeks. Our travels took us all around the land but we always came to Ulm Pishkin for the early summer months. Ulm Pishkin was sacred land we shared with fellow tribes with a large cliff and limestone caverns. Here my uncles drove the mighty buffalo towards the cliff and we harvested the broken bodies at the bottom. From the corpses we ground hooves for glue, used brain for preparing hides for clothing and tents, and dried the meat for the lean winter months. The hunt…
…rst time I witnessed death was here. The women of the tribe would slit the throats of the dying beasts and we children would play amongst the caves. One day as I sat in the shade of a cave opening, listening to the screams of dying beasts and looking down upon the future of the tribe one of the buffalo in a last frightened action before death kicked out and caught my mother in the head.
The sounds she made as I watched. A wheezing wet sound kept coming from her ruined face. I was in a trance staring at her. I should have felt sorrow but all that filled me was fascination. The tribeswomen surrounded her, not knowing I sat just above watching and slit her throat like they did the buffalo. The red poured across the ground in weakening spurts. It was beautiful. All I wanted was to taste that spray. The women finally saw me as I leaned out to watch closer and they shooed me away. They made the sign of the…
…y father had died before my birth and his brothers took to train me as a man of the tribe. Now my mother was gone and I was an orphan of the tribe. As I grew so did my new hunger. I found myself not just killing the rabbits I trapped. I would cut them, removing limbs or see if I could skin them before they perished. I would eat the bloody pieces freshly cut off of them. But small animals began to not be enough…
…I learned to hunt with bow and arrow and joined my cousins hunting deer as the fall season grew chill. Taking down the elegant creatures was more satisfying. The screams of the dying deer musical to my ears…
…his blood poured from his chest, the arrow quivering from the wound. His eyes found mine and they spoke of betrayal. I smiled and my tongue ran across my lips. He mouthed something to me and my only response was to rip his throat out with my teeth…
…banishment. The elders found my appetites disturbing. Idiots. They cursed me as outcast…
…given the power to get my vengeance on those that sent me away, to pass my hunger and so much more. They feared what I was before, but what I have become now is so much more…
…Pishkin is mine. When they retu…
…mn Her! She seeks to stop me at every turn. When she least expects it I will be the instrument of her and her lovers destruction. I grow ever more powe…
“Hey Jackie, what is this?”
She scurried over, her spider form growing less horrifying to me as time passes. Still scary but less so than before. Ish.
“Old. And written on an odd parchment that doesn’t seem to hold ink very… skin. It is human skin. And I would say a minimal of two hundred years old.”
I had looked for hand sanitizer the second she said skin. Ew “It is in english. So I guess that means the skin was a choice not last resort, right?”
Her head bobbed as she studied it and she said, “This is from North America, indigenous people by pigmentation of the skin. Where was it located?”
I pointed to the corner where I had found it, “Under some books, kind of smashed back against the shelf. That vibes with the story as well. Have you hward this tale before?”
“No, but if it was from her private collection that makes sense. Apricus tends to do that to manuscripts she does not care for. She trwats them likeher opinion on the subject. The way She handled Shakespeare was atrocious.”
“Meh. He is over rated though, a little right?”
If looks could kill I would be mildly murdered.
“This writing style is unique, careful. English is not the writer’s native language. An abomination to use human skin as parchment. Does not hold ink well, fades and becomes illegible after time.”
“And is, you know, human skin.”
“What? Yes, that too.”
Just because someone seems humanesque in mannerisms, does not a human make them I suppose.
“I have read every piece in here, or so I thought. This is very interesting. I can only recall two other pieces written on human flesh in the entire library. Always a source of evil. This is perplexing that I have not seen it before.”
“Maybe it goes with the others.”
“Jackie, I’m going for a walk.”
“Be careful,” she replied, not really paying attention.
“Gonna get some baby seal eyes and leprechaun souls. You want anything?”
“No. I am good.”
I kept walking. As I opened the door I heard her mutter, “Seal eyes? That does sound delicious…”
Spiders man, fucking spiders.
As I sat down at a table in the courtyard I let lightning play from hand to hand. Over the last three days I have been trying to become more able with my power. It arced between my fingers and I played a variation of cat cradle. I kept going back to Chad, to wendigo and as I thought about them and treachery the voltage increased. I concentrated on my vague memory of when I was poisoned, tainted on the bridge and sent to my death in the waters below. Rage rising in my chest and I concentrated on it, shaped it, let it form itself into a blade of pure electricity. It is beautiful, weightless and as I have it a couple practice swings it burned through the air. I memorized this feeling. Inazuma burned into my mind.
I had never heard nor read the word but when I looked it up on Google I found it meant lightning in Japanese. Like when I first thought of Her and said Apricus I felt a rolling toll of a bell in my center. Like another piece clicked into place, a further definition to who I am becoming.
I had asked Apricus and Jackie about the reason why my power seemed to manifest as electrical or ice. They explained that the ice was from my connection to Apricus. But the electrical was because it was in something from the core of me. I had always been drawn to it. As a technician it was my speciality. My father taught me the basics and I continued working with it until rather recently. I understood it, the reason it behaved as it did. I thought of the rare thundersnow storms that occur. Violent and beautiful. Like my love. And now, like my manifesting power.
I walked out of the castle and found a boulder sitting forlorn by itself at the edge of the woods. I stood by it and whispered Inazuma and the crackling blade appeared in my hand. I swung it and the rock turned purple and shattered. The air filled with that ozone scent anyone who has worked with voltage will recognize.
Now I have a weapon to use, one forged from my very soul. Electricity is simple, invisible and deadly. It seeks a return to ground, to home. And danger to anything that dares stand in its way.
I need to find the wendigo and accomplish the next part. Answers and an end to his existence. But I need information first. A way to find him, the nature of his ability and to make sure he would stay dead. Not a simple list by any means, but one that need a done.