Dissolution

In shadows deep, where moonlight wanes, There dwells a fiend with dreadful stains, A monster born of whispered dread, Who steals the innocent from their bed.

With a claw like a knife and eyes of coal, It prowls the night, its heart so cold, Through silent streets, it slinks unseen, A nightmare woven in the darkest dream.


I would do anything for my kids. Anything. And it was during that tumultuous week that that finality was tested to its zenith. My family and I lived in the town of Kraom; a isolated, tree-shrouded, meagre conurbation in the Aesoteric satrapy of Infricosatorkiti. And it was on this day, the 7th of November, that I, a crime scene investigator, was called to a scene so horrid that it shook me to my core.

The house unto which we were called was an isolated domicile, tilted eerily, constructed of eroded cobblestone. With a crooked gambrel roof, and a generally creepy energy about it. One I could not put my finger upon, which nestled itself within that distorted house. That nearly kissed the all-encompassing woodlands that ominously surrounded Kraom. The road up to that accursed patio was derelict, and there was no sign of any carriage or diesel vehicle. What was especially confuzzling was the state of the house, which clearly had been occupied up until we had arrived. One of the windows, grimy and opaque, had been utterly obliterated with a bestial fury. So much strength, in fact, was exerted that the windowframe and the surrounding cobble had been ripped from its place and now despoiled the interior of the house.

We did find the resident. We could not recognize the resident. For that small house, little more than a bedroom and a kitchen, was defiled by a cacodaemoniacal force. Greatly fetid, it seemed as though every square inch was saturated in blood. The smell was horrendous, and it was a foul stink of rot. Tinged, slightly, by something I could not identify, faintly similar to that of chlorine. But most grim of all was the Body.

Mangled. Masticated. Mutilated. Mauled. All apt descriptions of the splattered organs and parts that were spattered about the kitchen. Like a macabre painting, limbs, kidneys, bits of brain, and intact eyeballs were littered about. Such profanation was beyond that of which I could fathom. It was almost certainly the result of bestial wrath, both the extreme abuse which afflicted the unrecognizable carcass, and the gargantuan aperture torn through the window. At first, we suspected that a large bear had attacked the Man, who we identified as such by mutilated testicles found in the kitchen, either searching for food or in rabid frenzy. However, vertical, slashing cuts on the still-intact legs and hands suggested that something like a tilling blade or scythe had been at least partially utilized.

Indeed, such slashings had been done with such force that bone was cleaved, and what remained of the hands were diced chunks. The fingernails, too, were plucked. The head was detached from the body, found near a chunk of the torso, and it was pulverized. The face, almost entirely either smashed in or flayed, was unidentifiable. The teeth were extracted, with a sort of surgical elegance, and many other bodily pieces had vanished without a trace.

We did not tell anyone of this malignant homicide, and only those of the Kraom Police Department knew of the true nature of the attack. We informed the press that, in lieu of the incredible murder, the Man had gone missing and been mauled by a pack of wolves. Fearing the presence of some sort of roving beast, I advocated for the introduction of a curfew. But that suggestion was dismissed, and I was genuinely distraught. For the first time in a long while, I took my leave. The job was arduous, and traumatizing; I needed time with my children. To protect them. I thought of a horrid beast, beyond imagination, ripping through our window as it did that old hut, and brutalizing ruthlessly my progeny.

My family, until very recently, had consisted entirely of agricultural workers. And the family manor, a rather large thing, with the cottage-luxuries of an isolated aristocrat, sat across town. Overlooking, imposingly, a vast field of wheat which the slaves tended to and harvested. It was a well and ready source of lesser income, even though my primary career was certainly enough to put proper food on my table. The house was two-storied, with a rather roomy attic and a cobweb-encumbered basement. We bordered very little, a small shop with a haggardly merchant, and the little smithy with its cast iron gambrelled roof. It was a similar such position to the Victim, I feared. That fear drove me to sleep with a musket beneath my pillow and a knife in my pocket.

My children were young lads, and after their mother left us became quiet and disconnected from the world around them. Ultimately resulting in their inevitable homeschooling after a series of horrendous fights and cantankerous teasings with and from other students of our ramshackle academy. I taught them best I could, I think, I taught them of the stars, of biology, of the high and great importance of literary arts.

It was around this time, while I was caring for my children, that a roving band of hooded Men arrived into town. They were few in number, but exceptionally opulent, and their robes were made of fine red silk and gilded with swirling miasmal patterns. Their garments entirely veiled their face, behind a cloak of darkness, and such anonymity feared me. Especially, considering, that they had situated their esoteric camp right across from my abode. They were unmyriad, however, and still they exuded an ominous aura.

My children had very little to do across the lands, they ran about the cropfields, played fetch with the pet greatbeetle, and of course read and studied. They were, to an extent that made me sullen, isolated. But we, not of the race of Men who lived here before us, were outsiders still. Despite generations of habitation. The native Men of Kraom were stout things, with short legs, corpulent abdomens, iridescent chitin and great facial horns. We, on the otherhand, were tall and feline, with ear tufts and great legs for jumping and long claws for cutting. Unlike our neighbors, who feasted predominantly on fruits and vegetables and grain, we fed mostly on meat with some rice. For I am of House Kaerakal, a lesser offshoot of the branch, and as such akin to my insapient kind.

And such descendancy, from opulent and at times tyrannical Lords and Barons, invokes the ire of less fortuitous things. Alas, I held no prejudice, for I was not subject to the amenities of my House. And I was only a member by name. I escaped them, and my abusive grandfather, years ago, and started my own family in this town; far past the reach of those evil cats, who inhabited strictly Gimney-Thoren and surrounding unclaimed territories.

The start of next week was harrowing, and it left my kittens distraught. Our greatbeetle was afflicted with some form of ailment. It had to be put down. A slave found Him in the ricefields, whimpering and spasming, obviously agonized. There was a wound on its beautiful elytra, a huge, gaping wound, that was a seeming comminglement of a slashing and greatstrengthed strike. The wound from which black blood and venomous abyss-hued vapors poured was gangrenous, hideous, sepulchral, and spectacularly foul-smelling. There was no explanation I could give to the children, and even I shed a tear when the little guy’s suffering was finally ended by the sweeping blow of a cinderblock nailed to rebar.

My return to work began the next day, and without that beetle my children had neither protection nor stimulation. That was, until, one of those hooded Men approached me. Despite his ominous appearance, he was amiable, and he talked with a voice that had nothing to conceal.

“Bună! I am Ricsime, a Man of the Cloth. I saw you say departings to your children, if I may ask, where is your wife?”

“She is in the ground.”

“Oh, dear, I am very sorry.”

“You’re fine.”

“Who is to care for these children while you are working?”

“Why do you care?”

“I am a concerned Man, mister..?”

“Kaerakal.”

‘Well — Mr. Kaerakal, I am a concerned Man indeed. I could not stand for something to happen to your children, and we of our Faith follow a tenant; one in which we hold our progeny dear. Please, allow me to supervise them.”

“Sorry, sir, I could not allow that.”

“Very well, then.”

The Hooded Man walked off from where he came, the dark forests. He dropped at his foot a small folded note as he skulked away, and upon it read the following in a crude font: “MY TELEPHONE – 596189”. I suppose he was in it for some extra cash, but as a detective his sallying upon my property was a tad peculiar. No one, until now, had been murdered so viciously, only accidents. I am just on edge. I am just on edge.

II. The Slaughter of the Creek Family.

Beneath the cloak of moon-light sky,
It creeps, its hunger soaring high,
In hushed abodes where children sleep,
It comes to harvest, to steal and keep.

It was a rather indolent first returnday. For we had very little disturbances indeed; a Man had been drunkenly riding about his mount, and was easily apprehended; a multitudinous quantity of methamphetamines were confiscated, but I was not involved; and the search for the Mayor’s Cat was recontinued, for it was temporarily paused after the ghastly mutilations in that hermit-shack. My coworkers, rather corpulent Men, were far less serious about their jobs than I was. For they had indulged exclusively in the splendors of authority, and I, of course, was exclusively subject to the horrors of the most vividly macabre scenes. Of course, that was until they were called to a scene, a scene most putrid, and they were beckoned via telephone by the abhorrent deathwails of Man, Women, and Children alike. Those of the affluent and kindly Creek Family.

Upon that phone was heard something so utterly accursed, weeping and crying. The horrendous thwack of a heavy weapon upon skin, and finally low, croaking utterances followed by a stygian whoosh and then complete silence on the other line. We were dispatched immediately, all of us, in fear that the depraved murderer of that hermit struck again. Our carriage-beasts ran with great fury, but alas, we did not arrive in time to see even a single survivor. There was a feculent smell, and a very dark and very grim aura bouncing about that Wretched home. I was first to open the door, the gateway, that led me unto a scene so horrific that I fell to my knees and heaved. As did my partners, who silently wailed things like “Oh God!” and “My Lords!“.

For what we saw was brutal beyond comprehension, partaken in by a beast certainly not of this Town. No! Not of this World. The entire house was vandalized to a great extent, not a single closet was unopened, not a single pot unshattered. Oh god, the Smell! It was horrible, venomous, foetid beyond bounds. Such putridity, to believe it made its home Here in Kraom. There were many brutalized parts — laid bare and bleeding — in an ovate and rather ritualistic formation. Fingers, Toes, Eyes, Tongues, all enveloping an accursed symbol hewn into the floorboards, into which was poured exsanguinated juices. The Symbol, one with many loops and rings, enveloped by a circle and impaled by an inverted cross, filled me deeply with dread. For that hideous thing, with its demonic oscillation and putrescent shimmering in the evil window-filtered sun, filled me with great dread and mystique. That accursed sigil held within itself many secrets, of those hideous nightwalkers, of the horrible Black Gods I heard only of in tattered grimoires, and calamitous tales of invaders from Outer Space.

The bodies we found, or more accurately what remained, were easily discernible and sent about the house’s voluminous chambers. The perpetrator, a surreptitious thing, infiltrated the house through the basement — somehow. Or so that is what we suspected, for all windows were locked save for one from which the youngest of the Creek Family was defenestrated. And indeed, so too were the doors unharmed, aside from the one which lead up from and down to the basement. Which had been gruesomely bashed inwards upon itself, as if something great and malformed had breached. Indeed, upon inspecting that dreadful chthonic chamber we found a very large, seemingly bottomless, aperture. Which was surrounded by many great pustulous furrows. The abomination entered through this sarcous hole; and all of us among the department of Kraom immediately agreed that whoever responsible was not a Who, but a What.

There were no survivors of the Creek Family, who were named after the squamous streamlet which winded gently behind their property. And it was from that creek that the smooth algal stone used to construct the ancient home was collected, which were not sullied and bloodstained. Aside from the aforesaid boy, whom was about eight or nine, whom was badly contorted, crunched, and shrapnel-perforated from his fall, all carcasses were found in the building. Each scene was grim, fetid, and lacking in any decency, and I was certain that the grim homicides were to haunt me for the remainder of my days.

The matriarch of the family, Alyissa Creek, was found in an extremely violating state. Her body was badly bruised, entirely nude, and plucked of lesser appendages such as fingers for the aforementioned ritual-circle which defiled the lower floors of the Home. She was found in her private chambers, now mysteriously lacking in furniture, bound against the wall by some strange membrane. Her arms and legs were spread apart, so that she resembled an X, and her breasts and genitals were entirely removed with a butcher’s precision. Her body was covered in huge chopping wounds, reminiscent of those that covered the corpse-chunks of the Hermit. Indeed, so horrible and great were these slashes that Mrs. Alyissa’s body was barely held together by loose muscle fibres.

The patriarch of the family, Piotr Creek, too was found badly mutilated like his partner. So, too, were his injuries incredibly ghastly, and it seemed that alike all the unfortunate victims, his body was tinkered with. For he, like his partner, was plucked of multiple of his lesser appendages, and was missing his genitals and breasts. The latter of which had been peeled off in such a way that the innards of the body could be viewed perfectly — the heart and liver were missing, and bits of the intestines hung loosely like vines. He was also bound in such a way that he resembled an X, but was hung far higher than his wife. The smell, O god the smell! That evil cantankerous vaporous scourge that attacked my olfactory bulbs with great demonic fury, it reeked of chlorine and other such unnatural scents, as apparently customary of these killings, and of course the sanguine fragrance of freshly spilled blood.

The sheriff of Kraom ordered that house of the Creek Family be searched for evidence of a murderer, so that the instigator of these so-called “X Killings”, named after the position in which the family progenitors were bound, could be found and brought to justice. I searched the attic, while my partners tore up the boards of the house. It was that action, which led to the discovery of the final two missing bodies. The subadult sons of the Creek Family, about 18 or 20 respectively, who had been wrapped in silk so firmly together that the string dug into their skin. They had, by process of decay and pseudoembalming, commingled into one mummified mass of flesh. Their faces, undeniable proof of identity, were curled into a desiccated scowl, and dried vomit oozed from one of the Man’s lips. These Men wee alive for the binding, a process apparently so disgusting that it caused them to regurgitate. I could think not of the horror that they experienced, I wished not to. Never in my career did I ever see anything of this nature; nor was I trained to see anything of this nature.

The killings were bestial, but so surgically precise and sadistically brutal that in no way could this be the work of a beast. It was something far greater and far more horrid, and now we had a general estimation of the targets that this fathomless terror preferred. Isolation. That fact inebriated me with profane horror I had never before experienced, for I lived alone with my children in a tree-kissed manor alike the previous victims. I would rather detonate my skull with a gun than see them see me as a foul art project for a psychopathic horror. Whose cyclopean capacities and tactics still have yet to be delineated.

It was then, unclouded by sadness and delusion and anxiety of coming work, that I fabricated a grim inference: Our greatbeetle, healthy and full of vigor, was suddenly stricken by a great slashing blade of gargantuan girth. Whose cleaving, venomous wounds, matched those of the sickly black skin of the bodies. It was in my cropfields.

III. Yuraq the Photographer.

In raucous fury I rung the number given to me by that mysterious hooded Man. The frame beneath his cloak was thin, and he was shorter than I, and he certainly did not fit the depiction of the Killer we had at the moment. For we thought of Him as a tall, horrible thing, with immense strength and imposing stature. Perhaps, too, with accomplices to help with the act of butchering the body.

I stood besides that sessile phone for a silence that seemed endless in the unfathomed depths of my trepidation; and when his amiable voice sallied forth from the phone I silently let out a huff of relief, “Is this Mr. Kaerakal?”

“Listen, I have come to — wait, how did you know it was Me?”

“You, I believe, are my soon-to-be first client. I see that you are paranoid of your kids, yes? A photographer.. sneaky sneaky.. snapped photographs of a boy violently thrown from some old Manor down the road. If you are calling me with such fervency, then clearly you have heard?”

“Yes, I know well of it, please go to my Home and watch them. I will pay you good coin when I arrive. I need to finish my work — my keys are under the patio-pot.”

“Yes, yes, I understand your fear my friend. A childmurderer in so small a town, what a feculent thing. I understand. I will do anything to protect them and tell you of the slightest whimper. I will call you when I arrive at your domicile.”

It was an abrupt call, but a comforting one. And his call, was, in fact, insightful. For I was so busied with lifting every stone that I failed to read the paper. The Babysitter mentioned a photograph capturing the young Creek boy’s defenestration, and upon looking into the matter I surmised the talk was of a particular spokesperson named “Yuraq Mohanna”. I asked my coworkers about the Man, and they gave me records of such a creature. Who was a tall, thin thing with cybernetic enhancements in the legs — transmuting them into very narrow manysegmented appendages. Apparently, the guy, whose head was too akin to that of a camera through gruesome surgeries, was hired by a variety of independent benefactors. And now that I knew his home credentials, I was going to talk to the Man myself.

He lived near the townsquare, a rather sprawling district, with many apartments and bazaars leaning in on themselves. Tilted and crooked they were, constructed of various types of stone and of leaning architecture — as though they weighed more on one side. One such apartment complex, rather tall and very derelict, was perhaps the only building still standing straight. It was the home of this Yuraq. It was a relatively recent erection, with simplistic and rather brutalist architectural tendencies. It was made from white brick, stained yellow from the grime of the last Hyphomycetes. Most windows were boarded shut, and the scaffolding which encompassing the structure like carapace was very rusted and decayed.

Reception, as it was called in that building, was a very simple and cramped room with a singular timber desk. Behind which sat a rather dreary lad with a hunched posture and very prominent serrated vertebrae. His face was rather weathered, lacking a nose where one should’ve been (as in, rather disturbingly, he was wounded and the nose was torn or sliced off), and he had a plumose mane of raggedy cilia.

“Welcome to Budget Kraom Living, what is it that you need?”

“I am looking for a Man by the name of Yuraq Mohanna on forensic business. I believe that he lives here?”

“Room 108,” The receptionist slinked from his desk and undulated towards a plastic veil, leading into a compartment I could infer to be the staffroom. He was a squamous thing, and his lower corpus trailed behind him like that of a siphonophore. This apartment complex, rather cheap to reside within, was a microcosm of a ghetto. For all those unfortunate enough to not be native of Kraom and be without currency resided here.

Room 108 was the first floor, arguably the safest of all elevations, and it held the proportionally wealthiest of the people of this place. Indeed, the room was at the end of that dank, mycetal hall, and it was evidently rather spacious. I rang the antediluvian doorbell and waited for a result. And a result was not what I found, for there was silence. Irked, I knocked upon the door with my fists, “This is the Kraom town police, let me in!”

At last, came a rather nasally voice, “Hold it! Hold it! I am coming!”

The malformed door squealed as the creature behind it timidly peeked towards me. He was a rather short thing compared to me, even with his voluminous enhancements; and he was almost certainly a native of Gimney-Thoren. For he had the dorsal scales, bioluminescence, and squidlike face of the Men of those lands. He gazed upon me, upon and down, with strange camera-eyes that were without doubt exorbitant. I questioned why a Man with the currency for cybernetic augmentations living within this dumpheap. He gestured me into his abode, which was as I inferred rather commodious. I sat upon a mold-splotched couch while he sat across from me in a rickety chair.

“Please, do not mind the termites and other such creatures. I am yet to deal with them.”

I cleared my throat, “Yuraq, I am here to—”

“Please, call me Yuri.”

“Apologies, Yuri.. I am here to inquire about the photographs you took of the Creek Boy, for the paper.”

The molluscoid skin on his squidface turned from a green hue to a pale one. He knew of the photos, I know it. I wondered still however about lesser details to be uncovered — I continued questioning. Until, rather readily in fact, he began spewing upon me a plethora of answers.

“Well, as you know, the first half of this November was very cold, and it was a perfect stopping point for snow macaques on their migratory ventures towards the mountains. And..”

He continued to yabber about the monkeys, who made reststops here when the snow melted before continuing onwards to other frigid places. Yuri told of following a troop of the monkeys until eventually being led to the Creek Home, wherein, with his own eyes, he saw the boy be thrown from the house.

“Why did you not come forth?” I demanded to know.

“It.. saw me!” Yuri spoke with such fear that I knew he was not lying nor was he attempting to worm his way from persecution. It was a horrible, evil, truefear that was infectious in its constitution. I cleared my throat again and calmed myself, feeding kindling to the roaring nightmare within would only make him hesitate.

I spoke as calmly as I could, “What did you see?”

Yuri breathed for a moment and then spoke, “What I saw was not Man nor Beast,” his voice cracked, but he regained his composure, “It was very tall and very robust, and it lacked a lower body. All it had was an upper torso.. with this ghastly, profane face that sunk in on itself, and it had only one working arm.”

“One arm?” I asked.

“Yes, only one, a big beefy thing that bifurcated near the elbow into a smaller arm. I could not tell, but the larger of the appendages was extremely strong, and he threw the Creek boy from his window by the scruff.”

“What of the other arm, was it there, or was it entirely missing?”

“O, it was there, alright. It was so.. so.. long, as if it was a foreleg. And it was extraordinarily skinny and knotted, like a gnarled branch. There was no hand, but some sort of dull curved blade; perhaps a contorted cudgel or tilling blade.”

That description of the weapon matched the wounds found on every body. This was certainly the monster, if that was not already proven, but I was unconvinced that it was truly as inhuman as alleged. Perhaps, it was a rather lanky fellow from Lakshadbi or Phantaheim. I had seen the version of the photograph in the paper, it only showed the boy plummeting with that horrible, traumatizing expression of terror. Yet still, I requested for further insight.

“It is my burden.. alone.. to have seen that thing. I cropped the monster from the photo when I published it. I could not live with myself if I knew that anyone else saw it.”

I knew not of what to say, but I thought of something on the fly, “For the sake of us all, I need to see that picture. Do you still have it? Please, show me it. If I can at least sketch it, or send the photo anyw—”

“No.”

It was a crazed outburst, one which I had failed to predict. He yelled at me, screamed, wailed, and finally it escalated until he began hurling pillows upon me. I knew not to fight back, and will I considered taking him in for questioning, I knew now that he was incredibly distraught. Incarceration would not lead anywhere noble, and so I continued to deflect his wanton hurlings, and listened in on the gibbering gesticulations so as to extract as much information as I could. Eventually, he calmed down, and I approached slowly and steadily. I put my hand upon his shoulder.

“Yuri, please, if you do not want anyone to see, then it will be my burden alone to bear. To bear with you, so that we may find and persecute this depraved killer. Please, Yuri, I will not tell a soul.”

IV. The Photograph.

Oh my God.

It was true. Every very abhorrent intricacy of the crude and monstrous figure described. And, still, even verbal invocations of its physicality were incapable of portraying the shuffling, venomous, putrescent horror that had mercilessly slaughtered the innocent family across from the streamlet. And now, I doubted fervently that the post-mortem mutiliations, such as the ritual circle and the plucked limbs, were the consequences of attacks. For this monster, an unfathomed terror from Beyond, seemed to lack the fine motor capacities required for such grim necrobutchering. Indeed, it was certainly possible that someone had entered the houses after the fact, to further mutilate the bodies; meanwhile, I hypothesized, the Hermit’s carcass was the more ‘natural’ state of a victim.

Shaken, I thanked the rather kindly but eccentric journalist, and departed for home. I knew now of the power It held, I needed to come home to see my children. For that photograph raked my mind, and some quiet time at home, perhaps, could at least in part remedy the unshaken trepidation. In my fear I had possibly made a mistake, too, for I still knew almost nothing of that strange “Ricsime” nor of his true motives. He and his enigmatic clique arrived into town silently, only a few days after the grisly first-murder. Perhaps, they were responsible, and dressed in a great costume; or maybe they were following the true perpetrator.

When I at last rode into view of my home nothing seemed awry, and Ricsime sat rocking upon the patio-chair standing guard. Relieved, I approached him, “Has anything of — peculiar nature, occurred?”

“All is good. The children are playing inside with games,” his accent was, now that I had heard it further, starkly avian. He was certainly, despite the invisibility of his corpus, a birdman from the West.

He was a rather amiable Man, and his religious background, I presumed, would give him splendid openmindedness. Perhaps, too, he had resources to help me.

“May I confide within you something?”

“Of course.”

“Well.. I.. the murders,” I struggled to speak, that eldritch knowledge weighed heavily on my psyche.

“Go on..” Ricsime croaked, amused.

“I think I have a lead, and it is something that I am certain my fellows at the station will belittle or deny or expunge. So, mayhaps you ma—”

I was startled by the crunching footsteps of a rather burly Man walking down the path towards us. He wore the covering trenchcoat and gambeson of an Aesoteric policeman, but upon his neck was a rather peculiar pendant with a strange swirling symbol. His face was obscured by a leather mask, with a rather large “beak” of sorts, likely filled with herbs, and a wide-brimmed hat. A customary piece of uniform in less relaxed and more affluent parts of Infricosatorkiti, but upon the cheek of the uniform was another strange symbol. I could delineate its origins.

“You are Mr. Kaerakal?” His voice was firm, strict, and monotone.

“Yes? What are you doing here, I can see you are of uniform.”

“We are tracking a madman from across neighboring oblasts, we’ve been directed here. You have encountered grisly murders, no?” While waiting for a response from me, the policeman and Ricsime locked gazes with one another. It was a quiet, silent, and long exchange that occured even after I continued speaking. A muted hostility, as if they recognized one another. I assumed that Ricsime’s travelers must have had altercations with this particular officer.

“Yes.. I am a detective and forensic analyst. There have been six murde—”

“I believe, this conversation is not for my ears,” Ricsime spoke with his mouth, but his body language told a different story. For he spoke the Language of Hands, a rather ancient tongue for the deaf or the hidden, where each word was a flick of the finger. Most strangely, it was generally extinct, and only those of the upper class knew of it.

“Do not trust him.”

That is all he said before entering the house.

“Excuse me, for just a moment, sir,” I started towards the door, unsettled.

“No, this cannot wait!” The enigmatic policeman spoke irately, and grabbed my shoulder.

“You have no authority over me!” I yelled, throwing his hand from my shoulder. I shuffled inside quickly, locking the door behind me.

“Mr. Kaerakal, I believe that I was not truly honest with you,” Ricsime stood ominously across from the door, and spoke monotonously.

“What..?”

“I am not here to spread the Faith.”

“Excuse me?”

“I am here, alongside my peers, here to correct a mistake. And that Man outside your door is here to maintain its existence,” He gestured to that horrifically uncanny policeman, who now stood imposingly just outside my window, peering in.

I scrambled to close the blinds.

“There is a Monster in this town, a great evil. Which has dredged up every agony to feed itself. It killed the Creeks, and it killed the hobo.”

“How.. do you know?”

“We have been watching. We have seen everything, my friend, and I assume that this is what you wished to confide?”

“Yes..”

“Excellent, for we on the same page, at least. This abomination is known by one name and one name alone, spoken only by the rattling trees and the hissing myriapods it beckons..”

The Daramadous.

V. The Lurking Terror in Kraom.

No lock nor bolt can bar its way,
No plea nor prayer can make it stray,
For it is bound to its cruel fate,
To haunt the night and desecrate.

“It comes through these forests every few decades, when the population is corpulent and content. Feeding grounds, that is all this place is to it, and everywhere we speak and walk and commune until we escape this place.”

My heart pounded, what the fuck was going on? How did this Man know of this thing, certainly, his extensive insight lended him credibility. I had no choice but to believe him, and thankfully, the children had scurried upstairs. They would not hear of this. I tried to speak, but I could not.

“For generations we have tried to capture it, to amend our mistake. But it is slippery, and we are far fewer in number than we were before. And it has.. servants.. who hold great authority around these parts, and are granted mercy from the killings.”

“What is it?” That was the most frequent of the curious utterances that rattled about my terror-stricken cranium. And at last, I built up the courage to vocalize it.

“It is as ancient as all of us. The perfect predator, the perfect organism. Its prey cannot be reasoned with, and it shall consume the souls of the infidels, or so that is said. It will kill all it targets, those who live near the tree-kissed outskirts. We need to stop it, you have knowledge we do not; firepower we do not.”

“Will guns do?” I asked.

“No!” Ricsime shouted at me, angrily, before regaining his composure, “I am sorry, but guns will not do.”

“I must protect my children, somehow.”

“I.. will get my things,” He hurried upstairs, abruptly.

I followed him up those winding and claustrophobic steps hastily, for I found myself rather untrusting. Where I found him searching rather frantically through his bags, which were of a significantly higher plethora than I initially believed. My children were opposite the room, accessible by a long hallway, likely playing in their rooms. I wanted badly to tell them not to leave, but I simultaneously wanted not to leave this mysterious Man unsupervised. Ricsime pulled from a rather voluminous satchel a generally primitive and antediluvian revolver.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

He turned around, confused at my intrusion, “That Man is going to try and kill us. We need to stop him.”

“I don’t know about thi—”

“Hush, do you hear that?”

The silence that ensued was rather horrific; for it was occasionally interrupted by the creaking of wood, as if something was above us. Above is us in the attic. Dust gently careened downwards from the ancient planks, and both I and Ricsime went pale. For we heard not the inhuman callings of an effervescent fiend, nor did we here the crazed rummagings of a blood-starved beast. No, both I and Ricsime heard emanating harmoniously from the attic a mellifluous lullaby. Sung by a feminine voice with a hint of androgyny, subtly supported rhythmically by many lesser voices. Which mimicked, in rather unnatural tempos, the song sung by the greater voice.

“Veniți la mine, copii. Voi fi lumina ta călăuzitoare. Te voi ghida prin necunoscut. Când ești Unul, nu vei fi niciodată singur. Liniște, va fi când te voi lua. Taci, pentru ca familia ta nu va ridica nicio piatra in cautarea ta. Căci ei știu bine despre soarta care le va avea.”

I turned to Ricsime, and for a second I scrutinized his attire. For I recognized the tongue spoken by that enigmatic siren-call. It was the very same spoken by him in greeting to me, and the same I had heard him converse with his fellow with. His cloak was a crimson red, the standard attire of a monk, but upon it were strange details embroidered in some gilded metal. Plumes of smoke, it seemed to depict, which ran across his lower body and legs, before solidifying into rather skeletal patterns. His right arm’s pattern bifurcated in a sort of branch-like manner, and his left arm’s pattern was rather gnarled. I knew now who I could trust.

VI. The Intruder.

I was lockset upon my children, as I scrambled to reach the room opposite me and Ricsime. I had made a splitsecond decision, I could hear them screaming in their room. I unholstered my weapon and shot Ricsime. It was then that I saw it. A gelatinous, foetid, abyssal thing that shuffled from in-between the very cracks and gaps of the ceiling planks. Its body slowly formed from the pool of pestilential black mist. It towered over me, gazing upon me with an infinite malice I could not ponder — only attempt to escape. Then, from that vaporous column came many clawing hands, that pulled Ricsime into the unfathomed abyss. I could not bear the horror, and much to my relief the beast slammed the door with great strength so that my torment may end even for the briefest moment. For its face, worst of the visible sector of its corpus, stared without eyes. Ate without jaws. For it was a horrible, fungal, venomous thing, that sunk in on itself like a singularity and wept horrible fluids and finger-appendages that served as pseudopodial denticulation.

My children had locked the doors, fearful of the extraterrestrial malignancy that exuded infernal cacophonies and rapturous lullabies. It took some effort to break the door down, and when I saw them for the first time in what seemed like days I nearly collapsed upon myself. I scooped them into my arms and comforted them for a brief moment, before resituating myself. While the beast opposite Me continued its defilement I sought to use the phone in the bedroom to call my fellows at the station. I taught my children well of the security and how to act in the event of a home intrusion. But this was something far beyond that in scale and malice. Hastily, and as though my fingers were caterpillars, I clumsily spun the numberwheel until finally I heard the savior-voice of a fellow on the other line.

“This is Kaerakal! It’s at my house! It’s come to kill me! Good Heavens it’s come to kill me! Send everyone! It will not be killed by guns!” The squirming fear left my body as I turned to see that door creak open, and it manipulated rather heavily my pleas. For the Daramadous stood in that room, almost so tall that its head touched the doorframe. It had for a left-hand a huge tilling blade, and its other two hands were clawed and spindlefingered. The eldritch thing, with its gazeless stare, inebriated me with a lurking horror.

It was not a thing of this World, a suspicion I already had which was now proven. For it was but an upper torso with all forms of cataclysmic appendages sitting upon a cloud of black fog, and from that mist came much horrid things. It hovered towards me, slinking, slithering, crackling, and twitching. I had to act quickly; and, intoxicated with adrenaline, and I opened the window and jumped from it with my children in hand. Just as the beast came for us, dredging itself forward with its tilling-blade foreleg and an uncountable quantity of insectoid appendages and raptorial claws that erupted from its misty lower body, we had escaped. It swiped at me, I felt that tilling blade shave the fur of my neck.

Oh God! Oh horror! I thought now of our slaves. Who, in hindsight, we treated with significantly more dignity than our neighbors. They helped us and we paid them in good currency and freetime; and I cared for a good deal of them. It was their bodies I landed upon, butchered and contorted; their limbs snapped and twisted and weaved into a great tapestry-patchwork. Upon that rug of flesh was carved the very same symbol we had seen in the living room of the Creek Family. I, and my children, now stood upon it. It was then that I noticed that cop, who I both mistakenly and regrettably shunned — decapitated and hung loosely upon a great crucifix. Rustling in the ricefields signified that we were not alone, Ricsime was not the only one “Babysitting”. I knew what was to occur, we were to be tracked down if we ran. The abomination could travel impossible distances to hunt prey.

“Hurry, my children! Run far, far away! Never come here again, get out of this town. Run from the ricefields! Run so that you may never see the house or its accursed fields again, I love you!”

That was the last thing I said to them, and the last I saw of them were their small and beloved figures running into the woodlands. It was then that a legion of those dreaded hooded Men crept from the ricefields. Some held banners, most held torches, all rushed upon me in a frenzied craze to restrain me. I struggled against the metal cuffs, which were putrescently grafted to the arm of one of my servitors. I squirmed and yelled and screamed, but all that came of it was the hushed chatters of those horrible Men. And then, in an instant, it was as though my voice was stolen.

In utter silence I sat, as did those dreaded madmen, as a pool of darkness dyed the dirt before me. And from that muck came a claw, a hooked tilling blade, and many other such appendages. I could not think, I tried to escape, my ears were blinded by horrible chanting.

“AVE DARAMADOUS AVE DARAMADOUS AVE DARAMADOUS.”

And as those squamous hands and raptorial claws dug into my flesh, and pulled me into that abyssal muck. I thought, for the first time in awhile, not of the horrors I faced. But of my children, my Wife, my Home, the triumph of escaping my family; of my friends, of Yuri who helped me. I too, felt, as though it was exuded from that muck, anger. For I feared it not, not anymore.

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