The Tower

All sapient things, those with both wits and emotions, are bound by few things indeed; for they can quell their instincts, their fear, and their hunger. Such creatures can adapt their mental fortitude based upon their experiences, something very many cannot. It is a marvelous thing to witness.

Allow me to paint you the full picture: Intersected by huge asphalt roads, painting scarcely and worn by their use by hundreds of vehicles and draught beasts, was a field. A very, very lush field with fluffy grass that went to waist-height. Barren and desolate, it was, but overgrown with life of myriad phenotype. Too, was it given immunity to the storms, for some aberrant law unseen caused no rain to assail the place. Instead, the thunderous clouds surrounded it — the Eye of the Storm. Nestled in the backcountry roads between polities, between towns, rarely did it meet the gaze of sapient Men; for they were much to busy traveling ever forward. Set so fervently on a destination that they bothered not witnessing the path. Fools.

In the center of that beautifully serene field was a simple structure, formed of dried cement and cuboidal in shape. It contained upon its surface nothing more than a metal door upon a misshapen aperture, conveniently unlatched so to grant passage. What was within? Nobody knew, for not a soul cleaved deep enough into the plumose grass to even see the structure. Which was very much disappointing. The neglected erection was ignored for many years, until the grass was parted and the sweet honeysmell of its blood permeated the air for the first time in 104 years.

“This is the spot,” His name was Atticus, an inquisitive creature and a book worm. He was not generally invested in the sports of his academy, and so he began to explore derelict places in place of that.

Next spoke a creature named Mamarsus, an immigrant of Sep’rath, still adjusting to the newfound humidity. He asked of the structure and its origins (which Atticus could not delineate to him), and then of the “game-plan”. He was a planner, and despite this selective cautiousness he was vulnerable to peer-pressure.

“I checked the place out already, the door isn’t locked.”

“What’s down there?” It was obvious that if this structure was anything but an old toolshed or stormshelter, it would have to sprawl subterraneously.

“I don’t know but I am certain that this structure goes downwards —behold!” With a sort of exaggerated motion Atticus pushed the door open, it creaked with a raucous sound that made the ears bleed. Rusted metal shrieking against stone.

What lay within the structure was enough for Mamarsus to exude an audible “woah” sound, for it was something of utmost peculiarity. First and foremost about the place was the extremely thick plume of dust that came careening forth from the structure. Like a mushroom cloud the rank motes smothered the faces of the two men. After the miasma subsided, still many motes lurked like orbiting parasites, and the entire place scraped at the pores as you breathed. It was very dark, the singular light within, an oil-lamp hanging from the ceiling, had ran out of fuel a long while ago, and now served as a nest for arachnids.

There was a small alcove which could barely fit both men, and as they closed the door behind them the environment became increasingly agitating. For it was akin to being within a crumbling building, a caustic chamber nestled deep within the bowels of some great structure destroyed by a terrible catastrophe. Past the feeble alcove was a deep pit, so deep in fact that the bottom could not be gazed upon, and the only way to descend down was a rusted, yet secure, ladder.

“Holy shit,” Never before had Mamarsus seen something so elephantine, so creepy.

“I know right? I have no clue who could have constructed this.”

Atticus looked down into the yearning abyss, seemingly swirling as though it was a ravenous amoeba. It felt the top of the ladder, the entrance to their descent.

“The top of the ladder should have a cage around it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Y’know.. like the cages around the tops of ladders, so if you fall you can catch yourself? There should be one here.”

He was right.

They thought for a little bit, and after bouts of both inspection and reflection, they came to an aberrant conclusion: the ladder was upside-down. And so too, potentially, was the entire structure. Atticus thought of it no longer as a tunnel or a cellar, but as some kind of tower or lighthouse. He imagined climbing down, reaching the top, of the upside-down compound, and witnessing something never before seen. It made him effervescent to explore. Mamarsus was still confused about the whole thing, and referred to it as a tunnel; perhaps a product of his foreign accent.

“We still going down or nah?” Mamarsus asked.

“We came all this way, what else is there to waste our time on?”

The top rungs of the ladder were warped in a way, intended for feet to clamber upon, not hands, and so as the duo clumsily finagled their way onto the ladder. Mamarsus was below Atticus, for his androctonusesque physiology (apparently a relatively common phenotype for Sep’rath Men) made climbing for him easy. Atticus on the other hand, restricted to generally bipedal physiology, had to take periodic breaks and was sluggardly.

There was little chatter between the two as they descended down the shaft, save for the occasional “When the fuck does this end?” or “How’re you doing?”. Other than the pitter-patter of footflesh against metal, it was dead silent. Even the rumbling vibrations of the tectonics were muted here, and it was pitch black above them. For they only had one flashlight, which peered downwards so they could watch for a missing rung or the ground. The dust was absolutely noxious, and Atticus coughed as he breathed it in. Mamarsus felt at home here, for the dust was akin to the apocalyptic sandstorms that befall his native land.

“When do you think we’ll reach the ground?” Atticus swatted motes of dust from his face.

“I don’t know, all I see is more blankness,” Blankness. Mamarsus hesitated on that word, for he could find no other word suitable for the monotone shaft that barreled downwards ad infinitum.

Mamarsus was always an outcast in town, for the nativemen of Sep’rath are akin to hideous creatures like scorpions, centipedes, and snakes. Too, did most have venomous things like stingers, toxicognaths, and fangs, and so many feared that at any point they could die as a result of a vicious attack. That was the stigma that surrounded them, as the Sep’rath men were of significant primitiveness compared to the lands around them; they did not bow to the Coursing Guild or use electricity, and they lived in homes of adobe. So, when Mamarsus arrived to town, a great scorpion thing with many bug-appendages, black spined carapace, and huge clamping chelae, he was shunned. Feared by all, all but Atticus. Who feared not his envenomating stinger or nightmare-appendages, and learnt the story of an intelligent, kindly creature; and for that reason there was nothing to separate them.

“Who do you think built this?”

“Maybe it was some kind of storage place?” Atticus replied.

“Its a tad too well-built for our own town to construct in my eyes, and much too stagnant.”

“We don’t know its past in full,” Mamarsus was right, and was attuned with the tattered history of the town despite his absence from it. The majority of its books were mysteriously burned in a great fire, a horrendous tragedy that took many lives.

That conversation blurred into another, and another as they climbed. They stopped to eat a bit of their lunch, and drink some of their water, although Mamarsus refused any liquids. Atticus thought of the Arid Lands, and what life was like there. How they would likely never travel there, the far east. Their equipment was tailored for this expedition, no one would miss them so a search-party wasn’t a problem, their flashlight was handcranked, and they had rations for a few weeks.

“Fucking finally.”

The abyss-cutting flashlight, whirring from the kinetic force of the cranking, had illuminated the ground.

II. The Labyrinth at the Bottom-Top of the Tower

As previously hypothesized, the ladder was indeed upside-down, for aforesaid cage stood haggardly and rusted without purpose by virtue of its low altitude. Mamarsus was first to reach the ground: a large dome-room formed of smooth grey stone, with algae-soaked carpets that stunk of mildew. Forward of the two was an archway, which gave egress to the room and unveiled the other sectors of the structure. It was sealed by a gargantuan door crafted crudely of antediluvian chickenwire, and it emanated and sort of wicked picturesqueness of decrepitude.

Mamarsus thought to himself: “What lay beyond but ruination? The ground is far too moist and muddy for anyone with our resources to construct.”

Atticus put pressure on the door with his shoulder, the rusted tapestry of metal pressed on his dermis uncomfortably.

“Well,” Atticus began, “This chamber is the only place we can access from here. But there’s no way in shit that I am climbing back up there.”

“I suppose we could try and bash the door down, no?” Mamarsus said.

“I think I need to take a break for a bit,” Atticus sat himself down in the center of the room.

Mamarsus took his first drink from the canteen and Atticus finished off what remained of today’s rations. Despite their repugnant appearance, freeze-dried leech was arguably the most scrumptious thing they had. The entirety of that slow and awkward meal was plagued with thoughts of procrastination and false machinations of how they would continue their journey. What was set in stone, amongst that deluge of quickthink, was that they would not be ascending again until they found something. It was of certainty was that Mamarsus and Atticus struggled to find conversation when there was nothing going on. It was, perhaps, a product of their introversion, but most interactions between them were silent unless there was an objective staring them down.

“Marm is a rather burly guy, this should work.”

The two creatures stood against the door, compressing it slightly with their combined weight. Mamarsus was a strong, large creature, as was customary of those of Sep’rath; but still he was lightweight and his tissues spongiforme. Atticus was a bony creature, with a bipedal structure that was rather gaunt, which subjected him in his youth to rather incessant pestering. His face was without a nose, and his head irregular like an apple, and his eyes shimmered slightly with white light. Unlike Mamarsus, his bones were of normal thickness, and for a being of mostly bone he was rather heavy.

There was a snap when the lock broke, a hideously disfigured thing it was, that became a vaguely arachnoid shape as it fell into the fibres of the carpeted floors. Before them now, as they stood at the precipice of that moldstinking abyss, it was evident that this structure belied the serenity of the fields above it. The ceilings were much higher than that of the rounded room, constructed of the same cement monotonously, although now painted with kaleidoscopic veins of mold. What remained of fluorescent light fixtures now hung upon rickety supportstructures and occasionally flickered to life or regurgitated incandescent flecks. Still, in those carpeted halls, huge and now bifurcating into many different pathways as Atticus shined the light, there was no life or sound aside from that exuded by the foreign bodies.

There was nothing left to do but continue down the passage, which was now more akin to some sort of depraved office space. As they explored, too, did they find, that it was extremely complex in its layout, for there were many hallways that bifurcated into more and then tumefied into huge rooms. A kind of venomous hatred seemed to seep through the place, which manifested itself as a black haze that pooled in cankerous conglomerations of eerie material. Atticus shined a light upon it, revealing a sort of iridescence to the congealments, akin to acarrite on water. It reminded him of when the Coursing Guild supplied the town with its fuel, long ago in his childhood.

“When shall we be content with our explorations?” Mamarsus asked.

Atticus thought for a moment with a kind of audible “Hmmm” and then replied, “Whenever we want?”


It was in fact hours, since they had seen the surface, although to them it seemed like mere minutes. A result of the hideous repetition of descending the crooked ladder and shuffling about the venous antechambers and the great officerooms to which they lead. Hitherto unheard of, life was, and so it was an easy task for them to notice traces of it. First, Mamarsus, with heightened senses, delineated it, and then after a small call-out Atticus gazed upon it too.

III. The Trail

What first raised concerns about the complex was its size, for it had been hours since Atticus and Mamarsus had begun mapping out the place, and it seemed to never end. It was also unfathomably deep within the ground, although the exact mileage of its depth could not be delineated with ramshackle equipment such as theirs. What concerned them second was its construction, so many resources, cement, carpet, wood, metal, wasted on this gargantuan honeycomb-network. And, aside from the effort and resources required to built, its design was peculiar as well. For it seemed as though it was built upside-down, as if the labyrinth they navigated was supposed to be on the surface. Atticus was curious but dismissive of these questions, and thought: “This is the weirdest abandoned building I have ever explored,” and answered them only in afterthought.

Mamarsus, on the other hand, was not only inquisitive but also actively exploratory, for the elephantine secrets held here predated the town by enigmatically infinite age. His mind raced with questions, and while he enjoyed the quality time, he most of all desired to find clues of its past. The whereabouts of its creators; deeds to the property; some sort of memento before it was abandoned. Nothing was revealed. Until they reached the end of the carpet.

Mamarsus and Atticus stood in a hallway, expansive in constitution but otherwise bland. About 3 meters ahead of them the red carpet, as aforesaid, ceased completely, making way for floors of a different shape. Which matched the walls, which also changed seamlessly as if one walked from the colon to the jejenum in one single step. For the hallway before them had floors made of thin metal grating, which rattled and groaned as you stepped on them. Below that grating was a patchwork of pipes and wires, which barreled forwards and backwards like succulent exsanguinated lamprey. About the walls was a cyclopean arrangement of machines: cogs, breakerboxes, switches, buttons, whirring things of unknown function, all connected to one another with wall-mounted cables and tubules. The ceilings were not exposed, and too were covered by the industrial carapace, and unlike the previous halls, huge caged lamps vomited cacodaemoniacal crimson light upon the metallic narthex.

“What the hell?” Atticus did not like that their customary silence was now broken by the whirring of machinery, the hissing of jettisoned steam, and other such profanely cacophonous ululations.

“I have a theory on what this place may be,” Mamarsus had a confident pitch in his voice, the kind that Atticus adored, the kind of tone he spoke in when helping someone with homework.


“Well,” It took him a bit to articulate his thoughts, “The space behind us seemed largely bureaucratic — think about it: Carpets, Cheap lighting, and the rooms had what looked to me like remnants of chairs. And this, well, it seems to me like the entrance to a kind of factory sector.”

Atticus looked back at the carpets, the office-place as Mamarsus called it in his head, and then back at the moaning tapestry of synthetic contraptions, “That makes sense to me,” he nodded and shrugged.

There was something on that grated floor that Mamarsus had failed to notice (for those of Sep’rath struggled to see darker shades), and something that Attics ignored: A kind of trail, a thick and raggedy trail of red fluid that snaked about the machine-hallway and stunk strongly of iron. Atticus at first hesitated to mention it, and in response it puzzled Mamarsus greatly.

“Is it organic?” Guided by Atticus, he tapped his chela on the trail, it was thick like tar or fountain ink scrawled upon parchment, “It smells to me like old blood.”

“In truth I am concerned, Atticus. This smells to me like hemolymph, and according to you it looks akin to blood.”

“Its a bit eerie.. Its almost as if somebody died and their body was dragged away..” The thought filled Atticus with trepidation, perhaps warranted, for he was a squeamish Man indeed. Something to do with his genetic memory, for his family suffered under the regime of Phantaheim in the ancient past.

“If this is a homicide, it is likely old, if we find the body we can report it to the authorities.”

“If he is still down here?” Atticus asked inquiringly.

Mamarsus grunted and plopped his satchel on the ground, “You bring things to survive in isolation, and I get that because you have never lived anywhere but here. But in Sep’rath, the matriarch of the family always taught us to bring something to defend ourselves.”

Atticus loved to hear of Mamarsus’s excursions, perhaps it was curiosity, or perhaps it was the start of some sort of romantic attraction. If so, it was certainly one-sided. Within the satchel was something simple: A machete. Firearms were not legally to be purchased in their town, so simple melee weapons were all that were available. Regardless, plate armor and fuel-powered shields were becoming exceptionally more common. A handheld firearm had no place in most conflicts.

“We are going to follow the trail.”

The satchel was beige in color, sewn of rough canvas and it had many compartments. From one of them, a holster-like thing, came a sharp machete with a heavy end and a thick handle designed for exotic grasping appendages. It was a rather meagre thing, but handheld firearms and huge weapons above a certain weight were outlawed in this part of the land. With the advent of thick plate armor and fuel-powered shielding, handheld firearms were becoming irrelevant anyways, and gargantuan weapons were much too unwieldy in these confined halls.

The accursed expedition into the heart of the factory was 3 hours in length, and only two things of note were found in those hours. Varying mechanical shapes fastened to the walls that discombobulated putrescently into metallic excrescences upon the walls that pulsed and throbbed, and an increasing “freshness” of the bloodtrail. For it became brighter and brighter, wetter and wetter, like the fresh writing of a scholar on paper, and alongside the newfound techno-organic growth it formed a cyclopean mound of terror.

Atticus thought to himself that the throbbing was too much to bare, for the cancerous pulsations that were once machines oozed and throbbed in fiendish splendor. There were many branching paths, which were either blocked by swollen mounds or ignored in their quest to find the source of the trail.

“How are we going to find our way back?” Atticus asked.

“We have many rations and this place is unpopulated, we will follow the trail back and then retrace our steps through memory.”

“What if there is something formidable at the end of the trail?” Atticus could see now that the trail was becoming remarkably radiant, glistening in the false-illumination of their lighting machine.

“I don’t know, but we have the means to fight against it.”

IV. The Shape

Much to the grievance of the travelers, an obstacle had made its way into view, a very hideous one indeed. The path before them was collapsed, the floor sunk in on itself and the surrounding machineflesh throbbing and bleeding. The majority of the obliterated architecture was not discernible, however, for like a ruined vein it was flooded. Tubules and strange intestinal vessels fused to the ceiling had burst or torn, and now bled their contents. The way before them was a nasty marsh, flooded with noxious black sludge: oil.

“This is oil!” Mamarsus was stunned at the prospect.

“I thought it was all gone.. we have the Coursing Guild for a reason,” Atticus replied.

The bloodied line slumped into the umbral swamp, very fresh now, as though whatever its source may be had been yanked through here only recently.

“The trail goes into the flooded parts, the body was either dragged here before the flood, or after and through the flood. I am more haunted by the latter option,” Mamarsus had started calling the Source of the trail a body, assuming the worst of the situation. Fear and superstition lived inside them both.

“Fuck it,” Atticus continued forward into the petroleum putridity, where he soon delineated that it was very fresh oil, perfectly black. Very different from the processed acarrite used nowadays.

Mamarsus followed.

Questions scuttled about his mind as creeping cockroaches would: “Why is there oil down here?”, “Why is it so fresh?”, “Who built this place?”.

The pool was shallow despite appearances, it went to about waist height. The slimy muck was also a gelid, viscous mass that made feeling about the cable-textured floor difficult to feel. The sopping vestibule made time slow, so that Mamarsus and Atticus felt as though it was an infinity of oafish meandering.

“Do you see that?” Mamarsus was referring to the shore of the sunken chamber, for while colorblind in some places his vision was far superior in the dark and it was in the light. Such were compound eyes.

“Yeah, I do,” The shore was similar to the threshold previously passed, for it was hunched and irregular, as if the architecture melted into the oil akin to wax or butter. It only took a few more minutes of wading for them to reach the dry land, their legs now dyed a malevolent black.

“Shit,” Atticus looked down to his legs, now stained black with the reflective and slick liquids.

“You’ll be fine, it’ll be proof we were here.”

They both turned from each other carefully to the trail, which now seemed as though the exsanguination just begun. Continuing on, that melodious cacophony, which had been drowned into ambient silence, was interrupted by something. Gurgling, perhaps, coughing and choking, the weird wails of a man whose throat was filled with blood. It came from around a corner, laced with ulcerous tubing. It grew fainter as the two hesitated, it was moving away.

Mamarsus called out, “Hey! We know you’re there.”

The noises stopped. What they had failed to notice amidst the croaking was my footsteps.

What turned round before them was something that, in their minds, was so putrescently hideous that they immediately turned to run for their lives. Obviously, as you may have noticed, I know everything of their story despite not being an active witness, their fate is evident as such. But I still find it consistently entertaining to jump into their shoes whenever the encounter does occur, and I do just love seeing the resplendent assemblage of words given to describe me. So, for the entertainment of you, for the dead cannot talk, I shall recreate their thoughts in their final moments.

“It was a horrific thing, maimed and scarred as though it was blasted apart by an explosion or blast..”

“It was just a torso, clambering about with great gangly arms adorned with huge talons..”

“Its guts leaked from its body, O god it was the trail, O god!”

“Its head was crushed.. perforated.. like an anvil that fell upon a watermelon.”

They were fast runners, despite appearances, and I can only travel so far with my old arms. Atticus was first to fall at the shore, I would love to bore you with details of his death but I feel it unnecessary. Mamarsus made it to the oil, but alas I could swim much faster than he, and the abyss claimed him too. I remember his last words, and now I know his last thoughts.

“O Atticus, O Atticus, what have you done.. what have I done? I am so.. so sorry.”

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