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View Full Version : Citizen Csubak's Story (A lovecraftian reflection in Khador)



volin
04-21-2010, 07:25 AM
Here are the first few chapters of a little story set in Khador. Please do me the favor of ignoring city names until I edit this part of the message out. Haven't done sufficient research yet to make the travel time/railway locations accurate. I'll be posting more in a few days. Enjoy!


Chapter One
The biting sting of another rejection settled on him. The cold gale of the northern winds tore at his flesh as he walked through the blank, white, snow-covered streets of Korsk. Citizen Kolya Csubak was not confident that he could handle the continuation of this path. He swore to himself a number of times not-so-under his breath as he walked on, attracting more than a few odd glances.

This was the final academy in the motherland worth his time. Its history was not long, but its students accomplished, and it had a number of openings for a man with his keen knowledge of many things. The faculty at that small school could have truly gained recognition once he was given the opportunity to show his talents in academic studies. However, as all the other schools they were not seeking new teachers, and they turned him away into that unending winter.

It was Csubak's belief that it was his Kossite ancestry that held him back. His long frame and his small, dark, predatory eyes gave him away. Even with the slight bulge at his stomach, and the subtle amount of extra fat on his face could not soften the sharp features of the wolf people he came from. He always considered this his curse, to be from such a barbaric, violent people. Never would his genius have been accepted among their small villages or their hunters. Thus, this curse kept him an exile among true Khadorans and Kossites alike.

The dark night only made the constant snow fall around him more evident as each balelight caught the fragile, crystalline shapes in their odd green glow. He stopped for a moment at a small tavern to buy any kind of soup they may have in such a backwash town. Sometimes, the warmth of soup, a hot drink and the shelter of a warm fire can heal even rejection's wounds. He spent as little time there as he could, though, fearing that his quality clothing and trimmed appearance may make him a target of theft should he linger too long.

He instead shuffled into his small rented room toward the north end of town. It smelled musty, leaked air, and the bed was an old army cot. But, it was cheap, and his funds were running out. He had spent most everything he had left traveling to each corner of Khador. He hung his coat and hat on the wall beside the cot and laid back. For a moment he just stayed, and breathed, hoping to relieve his frustration and steel him to make further efforts. Of course, however, this never worked.

Csubak's favorite thing was the solitude of a small room and a large book's parchment by candlelight. In the face of his obstinate frustration, he opened the book from his bag and delved into the ancient world. With those pages, ink and firelight he could travel with no coin in his pocket to any corner of the planet, at any time. This book was well known to him, he had look through each page and nearly memorized each entry. He traveled back in time to the fays of the conquerors, imagining he could hear the sounds of the battles, and feeling as though he were involved in driving them out. He quickly turned the pages, his eyes scanning each word more and more quickly, and driving him farther back in time. With each page he escaped his form, and escaped his world, discovering a time when these mundane frustrations were too far away to fret over. A time when just staying alive was the most pressing concern.

His escape was suddenly blocked as a piece of paper slid out of the tome. It was a small note on bright white parchment. An intricate border was embossed all around the edge of the card. In a perfect, flowing script the middle of the page was covered with words written in precise Caspian. They read simply, “The world should be yours. You can break free.” As he read the words the small parchment piece seemed to build weight in his hand. He laid there, staring at the words and the strange symbols written into the borders. The heavy ink caused all of the marks to be raised significantly off the page, and Csubak slowly ran his fingers along each line. There was a certain comfort to them.

In all his knowledge he could not recognize the symbols in the border, though they did have a slightly familiar appearance. He sat up on the cot and propped his feet against the wall, taking a closer look at each stroke. The flowing symbols were sharp and very deliberately drawn out, as though they were a language of some sort. The center of the upper border, however, seemed to be the most important piece. There the many flowing symbols broke and centered on one large rune of some sort. It was of even more intricate design than everything on the outside, and would have taken a great deal of time for the writer to complete so precisely. In fact the border itself was so perfect, with not one stray mark, that the small sheet must have taken an hour to produce.

In this sudden inspection he had not even considered a number of very important questions. How did this note find its way into his old book? He knew he had gone through each page a number of times in the past, and the old tome had not left his possession in years. And, most importantly; was this note specifically for him?

This question was the most painful. He was sure he had been like a ghost to the people he passed in the streets of each town. His whole life had been spent beyond notice, it did not seem likely that he had earned so much as a glance from anyone he passed. And of course, he had traveled alone. Flicking the small paper through his fingers, he contemplated these things, and finally decided that his curiosity would never allow him to sleep. Grabbing his hat and coat he made his way back into those frozen, bare streets.

* * *

He spent the next eight hours in the cramped library near his room. He had burned through a small pot of oil in the lantern at his table before the sun's light made it unnecessary. He searched through each shelf for every book the place had about language, focusing on runic pieces. He found interesting texts about the druids and ancient Morrdh, but nothing about his card. Nothing the language on the card could even have been derived from as neither of these languages looked even vaguely similar.

All this effort made the experience absolutely invigorating! Before, the message seemed a curiosity, perhaps a night's entertainment at best. But now, now the message could hold some value. After all, the writer of those words must know some deep secrets, perhaps some lost bit of arcane lore that would allow Citizen Csubak to do as a the card promised and “break free” after all. Newly refreshed, despite his lack of sleep, he left the quaint library for greater places. He knew that his research could not be completed in this little place. No, he would make his way to nearby Khardov, a place bustling with people. And more importantly, with old knowledge.

He paid for his room while he considered the possibilities before him. To Csubak the message held a promise it was likely unaware of. Should he discover the hidden language in those runes it was likely that it would be his best way of getting a researcher's job at a major university. After all, if he could not read the words it was unlikely that the knowledge of this language was known very widely, if much at all. Whatever power the note meant to imply it had, its most significant feature for the scholar may just be in translation.

He stared at the paper as he walked to the train station. The significance of it would not be denied, and he began to muse on the author. Who would have given him such a treasure, such a gem of potential knowledge? The possibility that it could have been someone from the school crossed his mind as he stepped onto the car, his little note clutched tight in his glove.

With a hiss of steam, the train left the station a few minutes after he got on. The noisy pistons and the cloud of smoke numbed his mind, and he suddenly remembered his lack of sleep. It was a half day's ride to Khardov, so he sat in his assigned seat for a short rest; holding the small paper to his chest.

volin
04-21-2010, 07:28 AM
Chapter Two
Along the bars of the national railway there are occasional impurities that cause a dent in the track, and make the locomotives that travel on them jump slightly as it rolls over them. It was one such jump that cause Citizen Csubak to wake. His first thought led him to the paper he had fallen asleep thinking about, and he was glad to discover was still crumpled up in his hand. He looked at the words once more, as if some new revelation would come to him after an hour or two of sleep.

As it did not, he laid back and looked out of the small window next to his seat. Steam from the engine mostly obscured any decent view, though what was beyond it did not hold much value. The barren, snow covered countryside seemed to echo Csubak's life. That was, hopefully, until now. He was glad for even the slightest hue of steam to cover his boring waste of a life with some interest.

Across the aisle he saw a man, dressed in very modern, fine clothing reading Csubak's favorite book about Orgoth lore. The man seemed to be reading intently, barely noticing any of the other passengers. He held fast on one page for a few moments, and looked confused at the contents. He seemed to be looking very close at a single line. This was too much of a curiosity for Ctz Csubak, and he briefly considered the awkward moments that could occur from approaching the man. However, the note had made him restless and he was a little bored, so, stooping over and going across the aisle, he sat a seat away from the man. He offered his hand to the man, who looked up at him, and said, “Good day citizen. I though I would offer my compliments to your incredible taste, that is an exquisite tome.”

The man looked slightly amused, and perhaps a bit relieved to have some company, so he took Csubak's outstretched hand. “Pleased to meet you citizen. The name is Mikael.”

Csubak smiled and settled into his seat. “Kolya Csubak,” he responded.

“Well, nice to meet you Citizen Csubak. Yes, this is a very intriguing old work, covering some of the more in depth Orgoth findings. I do wonder though, if a reader such as yourself may be able to help me with something. Here...” the man said pointing out a pencil relief of an Orgoth carving, “is something I found off. Did the author mistranslate, or is it nonsense?”

Csubak suddenly felt as though his luck in this world was changing. He took the tome and had a close look at the ancient inscriptions. The text the original translator had put down either painted the Orgoth as people who would engrave something idiotically obvious, or it was a mistake. “I suppose I had not spent enough time on this page,” he said, indicating the lines in question. “You're correct, the phrase 'True knowledge and power lie in this realm' seems beyond obvious. It's because he left out a word that I don't think he could read. This little scratch here,” he said, extending the book to show Mikael, “is a word meaning exile, outer, or without. It would be more properly translated as, 'True knowledge and power lie in the outer realm.'”

As he was beginning to hand the book back he noticed something in the mouth of a demon face in the relief. Quickly pulling the note from his coat pocket, he compared this new symbol to the central rune at the top of his paper. They were exactly the same! The idea that his, which was not Orgoth text, would have been important in that era only fired his already burning passion to find out more information regarding the little letter.

Mikael, however, seemed more than interested in Csubak's discovery, but the note was quickly thrust back into its pocket. “Well, there you have it,” Csubak said, with a trepidation in his voice that was not good at hiding his excitement. “That does appear to be the proper wording of the whole thing.” He suddenly decided that he had nothing else to say to the man, and that his last sentence was in fact just filler. For a moment, they sat there silently, listening to the clacking of the train under their feet.

Finally, after far too much silence, the man spoke up. “About that note in your pocket...”

“Oh, uh, what note is that?” Csubak immediately responded, cutting the man off.

“Come now, that is something of an unconvincing lie. The one with all the runes drawn around the border. What is it?”

Reluctantly, Ctz. Csubak reached into his coat and pulled out the small paper. He check the entrances to the car, as if confirming there was no way for the man to make off with his treasure. “To be honest, I found it wedged in a favorite book of mine. I'm traveling to Khardov in the hopes of being able to do some research on it. I do not know how to decipher the runes.”

Mikael held out his hand, looking like he wanted to take a closer look at the thing. It took Csubak too long, socially speaking, to make his decision to hand the thing over. The other man just adjusted his thin glasses and made a close inspection of each little rune on the border of the card. “I may know a place in Khardov were you could find some information about this. It is in a little back alley library maintained independent of the government.” Mikael pointed to the page in the Orgoth book that contained the matching symbol, “Especially if there is any real connection to those old conquerors. The Orgoth have left a nasty taste in the motherland's mouth.”

Perhaps fate had been kind after all, Csubak thought, as the man handed his card back to him. The scholar accepted his fellow passenger's offer, and they spent the rest of the ride discussing ancient history, a subject which Mikael was surprisingly well versed in.

As the steam engine's brakes screamed and the passengers rocked forward in their seats, the train came to a stop at the Khardov station. The evidence that a large city lay beyond was obvious in the pace and size of the crowd that rushed around outside the train's window. Csubak stood, stooped over, as he grabbed his hat, and his bag, shuffling off of the train.
In the station, he and Mikael made their way into the less crowded streets, toward that little dark alley.

* * *

The high walls and tall buildings of Khardov dwarf the mehcanikal monsters which regularly walk the streets. The individual people, however, in the face of those great structures, are indistinct and impossible to find. From the towers of the central district, the streets might as well be filled with a swarm of insignificant insects.

One looking down from such a tower might have noticed two small black specks break off from the swarm, into a small section between two of those building. The bright sun did not shine in that shadowed alley, and the cool damp environment there implied that rarely did at any time.

Mikael took off his hat in the shade of the stone towers. He walked slowly, but with a wise and familiar step, and began to traverse the apparently winding back streets and alleys of the gigantic city. He moved around the twisting corridors and maze-light assortment of streets with ease. Neither man spoke as they walked past boarded windows and street gangs gathered in their territory. This was certainly not a comfortable place for Csubak in any way.

Finally, they turned a corner and a strange avenue came into view. At least five or six streets away from any major thoroughfare, and far from the city's normal views, was a very well kept and narrow alley. The buildings were in fully restored shape as far as they eye could see, and the streets were even clear of debris or grime. There was a sense that this little place had been preserved in some way by its far off location. A man sat outside of a small cafe, sipping a warm drink as he read from a thin book. Otherwise, the street was mostly silent, a hollow echo bouncing between the walls of the surrounding structures when the man set his cup back onto its saucer.

As Csubak moved through these streets, it became obvious to him that this was a very unique place. Each shop and storefront looked unharmed by industry's smog or the vandalism each shop on the way there had received. However, as pristine as the conditions of the shops were, each person he saw through each of the spotless windows seemed to regard him with a quiet kind of apprehension. He did his best to look trust-able, but it was apparent that all the normal indicators of such things may look entirely different in this little place.

Toward the end of the bizarre little street, Mikael stopped in front of a small shopfront. The only window in the place was blacked by the back of a long bookshelf from the inside. The library's sign was simply painted over whatever had been there in the past and a solid wooden door with a bronze handle appeared to be the only way into the place. Mikael stood, looking hard at Csubak. “This is the library I told you of. I have a number of appointments in the city, but I will leave you to your research. I truly hope you can find something to help you decipher your letter.”

Csubak nearly voiced an objection to being left alone in a strange place. He thought of the phrase on his note, 'The world should be yours,' and shook the other man's hand with a redoubled confidence. Something new, something else, showed in Mikael's eyes, but it was quickly dismissed. He smiled at the young scholar and turned to go back down those twisted alley's, checking his pocket watch as he walked, slowly, away.

Citizen Csubak turned, reached for the handle of the library door, and pulled the heavy thing open.

volin
04-23-2010, 06:09 PM
Chapter Three

Books are like people, and pages like flesh. The length of a person's life is evident when you look at them. You can see the tears, the stains, and the wear on them. Each major event in their lives keeps a living record of their age, or at least their experience. The other major property that shows this age is odor. They develop a certain smell as they get older. But this is where books and pages prove their superiority. As books get older, they seem to gain this wonderful smell, only enhanced by their years of use. Old flesh, on the other hand, is just weak, pungent and undesired.

Thus, it always seems odd, when, as was the case in this particular place, a librarian is nearly the age of his books. It always seems as though the person is unaware of how insignificant they seem, how useless and finite, among those dusty old tomes.

Csubak considered none of this, however, as he stepped into the library. He made every effort to keep his hands from shaking from trepidation, only to have his whole body shiver from the cold on his first breath inside. The whole place was kept very cold, and in fact the Csubak could not hear or smell any evidence of a fire or furnace anywhere in the dark room.

As he looked around, Citizen Csubak assumed that the library must be some sort of converted tavern. The walls were short, and other than the smell of old books, the room smelled strongly of old alcohol. There was a counter, which was likely a bar before, behind which a very old man sat reading. The rest of the place was covered with shelves and shelves of books. Each bookshelf was made to go nearly from the ceiling to the floor, and they were stacked one next to the other, with a number creating small lanes in the middle of what was a large room before. Each shelf was packed absolutley full of books. Csubak could not imagine they could fit more than a few more books into the room without everything falling through the substructure.

He was, however, in a hurry to figure out his little note, and thus grasp his destiny. He walked up to the wrinkled man, who only seemed to notice him for the first time once he was directly in front of the counter. ?Oh, someone new,? he rasped, placing his book face down. ?That has not happened in some time.? He stopped talking for a few seconds and sat staring at the man standing in front of him. After a few seconds he squinted his eyes, and finally after a few more seconds of silence nearly yelled at the man, ?Well, what is it you're here for??

The good scholar nearly toppled over, keeping hold of his bag and stepping back in surprise. ?Eh, er, yes. The, reason that I'm here,? he stammered, as he finished locating his note. Sitting it on the counter he indicated the central rune as a point of interest. ?This seal at the top, a friend told me I may be able to find answers as to its significance in your library.?

The small man slid his glasses up his nose and closer to his eyes, staring at the sheet. ?Yes, you should not have too much of an issue finding what you need. Over on the shelves by the window there should be a few things you would find interesting if you can read them. Keep in mind, there is no checking these books out of here, no way to trust people will bring them back. You will have to do every bit of your reading in here.? The old man picked up his book, let his glasses slide down his nose a little, and decided that the conversation was over.

Searching around the shelves by the 'window' of the library Csubak started to leaf through the available works. Each one he found he figured to be inestimably valuable. Some of the tomes appeared to predate the Orgoth invasion by hundreds of years, whereas others were well known to be rare to the point of only having two or three remaining copies. With all of this old text, he was glad for the years of study he had put in at school into those ancient tongues he loved so much. Some were written in very old dialects of dead languages, and they took a great deal of time to decipher.

He spent the rest of the evening searching through the books that seemed as though they would apply to the subject, and he read at least six books almost in their entirety. In that time he learned many things about the ancient world he was unaware of. However, no matter how many texts he made his way through, nothing explained the strange symbol. Almost everything he looked for featured the thing at some point, however. He had at least glanced at ten different books in that time, and each one found the symbol among its depictions of the past. Ultimately the night was more frustrating than revelatory.

Long after sun down he returned the books to their shelves, and taking up his hat and coat, left the little candle lit library. He heard the metal lock snap into place behind him as he stepped into the now snow-covered streets. A few inches of snow covered the ground as he was inside, and a number of the local residents were out sweeping the area in front of their homes clear.

Csubak found something to eat at a nearby tavern, and rented a room for the night at the next door inn. He tossed and turned around in bed, unable to sleep, while he dwelled upon the elusive nature of his note. Somehow, he knew that the discovery of its origin would change his whole life.

volin
04-23-2010, 06:12 PM
Chapter Four

A man too deep into any science or study often begins to look much less like a man at all. Stooped over a station, maintaining a kind of constant vigilance, he often seems a construction, specifically built for this one purpose. These people, too engrossed in one concern, have been known to forget basic human necessities, let alone the basic social necessities of grooming and dress.

By the end of his first week in that little, very odd, district of Khardov, Citizen Csubak resembled such a person. His scattered beard, which he kept trim as it never truly filled out, was long in wisps around his face. He sat in the library, reading from more of those old books. He had worn a spot on the wooden floors where his seat was continually pushed out and slid back into place. He had eaten the same cheap bread and gravy from the tavern each day, and it was beginning to have an effect on his breath.

He would have left, would have gone to find other libraries with different information, except that he was making progress. He found pieces that not only referenced the symbol but also made mention to its great power. Whatever this power, something in its ability helped to drive off the Orgoth invaders so many years ago. That discovery had been made days earlier and he knew he was only getting closer to finding something more significantly useful.

Finally, by the end of his seventh day of study, he came upon the most important text he could. He discovered a book about powerful people, who were notable during the Orgoth rebellion. One chapter of the large tome had a title which was simply the symbol he sought. As soon as he saw it he felt light-headed, and brought his candle closer to the text. He read each word carefully, looking for any hint of its significance to him.

?This symbol, located in warriors' ancient tombs refers to the infernal curator Queltorat'Zhelun. Infernals are powerful beings from another realm, which can offer great rewards to those of us in this realm, often in exchange for our souls or the souls of others. This one, being a curator, is often responsible for writing the contracts of these deals, and they negotiate directly with us mortals.

?This specific curator has been active and influential in the workings of our own, long history. He was involved in a number of technological breakthroughs, and his power was bargained for to allow the kingdoms to win a number of important battles against the Orgoth invaders. Since those ancient times, it seems that Queltorat'Zhelun has shifted his focus away from such macroscopic goals. Any modern account of his appearance is usually in reference to his actions concerning individuals, often picking specific people he would like to have dealings with.

?According to that dark being himself, his actions have put lowly, untalented people upon thrones, and given the weak the strength to prosper. Whereas many infernals will work their arts behind the curtain, and shift the events of the nations and its people in subtle ways to fulfill their part of a contract, this curator tends to simply improve the individual. This tendancy has led him to be sought out by many infernalists and other cultists, all seeking temporary, but immediate, power. It has been theorized that he has made the majority of the contracts between humans and those of his realm, but there is no way to confirm this information.

?All of this popularity among those who dare to summon these dark beings has made him very powerful. One should exercise caution when dealing with all such beings. Perhaps more so with this one.?

This small entry was more than Csubak could even have hoped for. He read the words over a second time, to solidify them in his mind. Of course, it all made sense. A being as powerful as this Queltorat'Zhelun would be more than capable of making him the powerful and imposing person he deserved to be. From his description, Csubak figured that he would be able to wrench a wealth of scholarly power, something very few people likely request, for very little sacrifice. However, he knew that there was one problem. He knew nothing of infernalism, except that it was taboo in the motherland to even discuss the practice of such magic.

He started wandering the library, hoping to find at least a few books discussing the practice. Of course, no above ground library in the kingdoms would contain anything too useful, but he had time left in the day to find out as much as he could. As he ran his fingers along the spines of each volume, looking at their titles, he simply thought of what things he may want to ask for when the day came that he would be able to bargain with such a creature. He was not even sure that he knew exactly what he wanted, but he knew the possibilities must be endless.

He turned a corner, still considering his options when a very surprising book came into view. It was a book on the history of infernal summons, which discussed important deals drawn between specific individuals and specific curators. The next book in the section detailed full contracts, kept and copied onto the pages, as a warning of common infernal tricks to ply more from their deals. As he looked at the next five books, and then the rest of the shelf, he found that all of the books discussed the subject of infernalism in some major way. In fact, looking around, it appeared that that entire section of the small, dark library was devoted to texts on the study of infernalism.

This finally explained the nature of the dark, out of the way streets, and the quiet, barely noticeable library. This indistinct, and very small little place contained an archive of infernal knowledge. If the motherland were to discover what was residing in its most important city, the whole street would be burned to the ground. And yet, Csubak, in all his meager status, had access to these forbidden tomes. He smiled as he began to examine the shelves for the sorts of books he would need. He soon found four thick tomes that described the process of summoning an infernal, and he quickly removed them from their shelves.

He went back to his small desk, pulling his chair back along its worn track in the floor, and let the dusty books down with a loud and triumphant thud. He took the first book off of his small stack and savored the moment that would lead to the rest of his life. He unsnapped the clasp which kept its contents hidden, and slowly, hearing the hard leather bend at the spine, he bent back the cover. He passed his fingers over the first page, which was barely yellowed with age, and only slightly marked. He breathed in deep, taking in the aroma of the rare moment, and turned the first page.

It had become apparent that the library had only been closed each night as he left, and he tested the limit to that policy as he poured over each page of those books. It seemed that this craft was far simpler than he ever would have imagined. One must simply make contact through a simple ritual with one of those beings from across the borders that divide the various realms. After making contact and agreeing on basic terms, the parties then agree on a time that the contract should be negotiated whereupon the infernalist must summon the being into the natural realm.

There was one very difficult part of the whole procedure, he found, and it made him smile when each book spoke of this obstacle. Many take months trying to find the name of an infernal that he could summon, often meeting with few results as the information is so sparse. Csubak took out his little note each time and thanked the symbol written into the border for his luck. For some reason an infernal had chosen him to negotiate with, and it had made the process entirely simple.

He read a significant amount of time past midnight, and finally the old librarian approached him huddled at his little desk. Csubak's first instinct was to try and hide the forbidden texts in front of him, but the old man barely seemed to even notice them. He simply came by and picked up the scholar's candle from the desk, taking it with him back toward the counter. ?It is past the hour for you to leave Mr. Csubak,? he said, sitting the candle down.

Csubak was tired, despite his excitement, and stood from the table. He had considered offering an objection, or offering to purchase one of the old tomes, but to be true his eyes were trying to close as he sat there. He put on his hat and wished the old man who had been his only companion for the past week a good night as he glided out of the library.

The night outside was cold, and a harsh, driving wind was blowing hard. It was as though it was focused in the tunnel of the thin alley. Though he nearly toppled over as its force hit him, he stood and looked out into the night. The gusts seemed to him to be the force behind his research, the power which would thrust him forward into a new life. As he had that thought, the wind gusted again, and he had to steady himself on the library door to keep from falling over.

volin
04-23-2010, 06:13 PM
Perhaps this force represented something deeper, but though he did not know where the feeling came from, the wind was also sobering Csubak's enthusiasm. While in the secret of the library, all he learned seemed to be just knowledge, or at best, potential power. In the cold, public streets, there was suddenly something in his mind reminding him that he now knew forbidden secrets. If anyone he did not trust learned of the information he had uncovered he would be hanged, or worse. He steeled himself to keep tight-lipped, and hold onto his secrets as the precious resource they were.

He began to walk across the alley to his room, having made up his mind, when he saw a lone figure advancing up the narrow street. The man's gait and quality of clothing announced his identity despite the darkness, and the short time that Csubak had known the man. Mikael smiled and waved as he came into the light of the alley's gas lamps. His coat flailed about him in the wind and he rushed to the entrance of the inn for some shelter, where Csubak moved to meet him. “Citizen,” Mikael yelled over the wind, extending his hand. “How has your research gone?”

* * *

Both men sat at a small table in the tavern, talking to each other by the dim light of a candle. Looking in at them from the outside, it would appear as though two very old friends had found each other, and indeed even from the inside their familiar tone would imply that same relationship. The tavern owner had long ago gone to bed, and the two were just to pay for any drinks they consumed as they did so, leaving the money behind his counter.

“The basics seem quite simple,” Csubak said, smiling through his patchy beard. “There are a number of rituals which one must perform in order to make contact with the creatures. Then you must simply summon them forth and begin negotiations. Often, I have read, the rewards are instantly awarded, while the summoner's portion of the contract is given some time to be completed.”

Mikael walked away to refill both of their cups and remarked, “With this level of complexity that you say it has, why is this practice not more widespread?”

“Well, of course it would be difficult to determine just how widespread it in fact may be. However, since the information is so rare and volatile, I imagine few would even know where to begin. In addition, the only truly difficult aspect was already prepared for me. The symbol on my little note,” he said, indicating the paper which had become yellow and worn from constant handling.

“So it appears that this being has selected you personally, then?” he said, handing Csubak his coffee before sitting down. “That is all rather impressive, but what do you intend to do about it?”

“That is very simple, dear citizen. There is no time in this life to sit about taking things one step at a time. I intend to begin the process of summoning this Queltorat'Zhelun being tomorrow night.”

“With what intent?”

“Power, my friend. Despite my considerable talents and drive, I have found myself somewhat powerless to affect my own fate. I believe this to be my opportunity to do so, and I have no intention of slowing down, or delaying the process. I will not shirk in the face of this moment.”

Mikael looked impressed by this sudden confidence. Despite the condition of his hair and beard, or the stale breath he had, the man had changed to someone not so fragile. “Well, perhaps I could help in some way, or at least look on during the ceremony. I must admit that I am very curious about the whole thing.”

Csubak sat back, eying the man as if to gauge his intentions. He decided that through it all, he had said far too much to avoid anything Mikael wanted to do to wreck his plans. “Of course. We will have to review the rituals tomorrow, and perhaps your aid can provide a kind of editing to my work. I do want to be sure everything goes perfectly.”

Mikael finished his drink and stood up. “Excellent! Well, I will meet you before the library just after sun up. However, I must retire to bed for now, the last few days have been endless business and I need to shut my eyes for a few minutes. Especially if I am to be fully aware tomorrow.”

Csubak shook his hand and watched the man walk out of the door. He stood up and refilled his coffee holding the cup there in his hand for a moment. He couldn't bring himself to sleep, he knew that from his state. The excitement of the next day would rest on him in bed, and instead of facing the frustration of a sleepless night he just sat back down. The night faded as he watched the snow begin to fall once more outside his window.

fire4effekt
05-05-2010, 07:01 AM
Great stuff, now give me MOAR!!!!!!!!


(also is Mikeal the Curator? ;) )(don't tell me)

volin
06-16-2010, 08:43 PM
Woops, forgot that I didn't post the ending. Here it is (in the next few posts). Hope you've enjoyed this little horror story in Khador.

Chapter Five
When Citizen Csubak left the tavern it was just beginning to become light again. The rest of the night had been spent in the lonely kind of contemplation he was used to. Sleep never seemed more necessary or possible as the night drew on, and though his perception was slightly hazy, the coffee was keeping him alert. Mikael was finishing a piece of bread that was apparently his breakfast while his scarf blew in his face as he crossed the street. He looked excited to see Csubak and likely eager to begin the research.

From within the small library, they spent the rest of the daylight going over the various rituals. A few times Csubak caught himself nearly dozing, but he never fully let go. He fought through the obviously exhausted state he was in, and thankfully Mikael seemed to pick up the rituals without much direction. He had not worked collaboratively on any projects in a very long time, and he was not going to waste a moment of that chance.

Finally, by the end of the night, both men seemed satisfied with their familiarity regarding the spells. Mikael knew the librarian from some time ago, and he had procured the use of the library's cellar to their activities. He went down to prepare the place for the ritual, while Csubak went out to gather the necessary supplies. Specific sorts of plants and candles were needed for each step, and very little of it was often available on hand. By the time they had both finished all of their work it was an hour prior to midnight. They had decided earlier that this would be a good time of day to perform the task.

Each one took a piece of chalk and began to draw out the symbols and circles needed to contact the being. The markings were very similar, and often the same, as the scratches etched on the border of Csubak's little note, and he almost felt as though having seen that paper so many times made this process easier for him. It only took about half an hour to complete the circle. At the end of that time, Csubak was completing the symbol signifying Queltorat'Zhelun and Mikael was lighting the ritual candles all around it. The thing was a sprawling series of runes that nearly covered the floor of the small cellar. From the stairs going down, the whole thing could be seen at once, and it was a sort of artistic masterpiece.

Having completed the first step, Csubak stepped into the middle of the circle. He gave Mikael a confident look, and both men held their breaths for just a moment, considering what was about to occur. Finally, Csubak began, and started saying the necessary phrases to complete the ritual. With each word the room seemed to become warmed, and the chalk around the circle began to levitate as a powder all around the speaker. As the ritual was nearly half finished there came this feeling as though the room was in a distinct place. Csubak could no longer hear any of the environmental noises, like the old man walking around upstairs, or the roar of the fireplace. As the ritual began to finish, he reached for the pure silver knife he had purchased and said the final phrase as he let his blood spill onto the circle.

His head suddenly shot back, and he breathed in deeply. An image of another place filled his mind, as though he had traveled in some way when he blinked. For a moment, he had a feeling as though his body were being pulled into the air. Suddenly, the image of the strange being he had sought after was all he could see.

The thing was tall, slender and dressed in dark reds. Its features were smooth, but still in some way hard and strong. The luster of its skin made it almost appear artificial, somehow unreal. Its eyes were like deep pools of water at night, you could see nothing in them except their infinite depth. None of its facial features showed any sort of emotion as it acknowledged the man. “Citizen Csubak, you finally found me,” it said, staring seemingly directly into his eyes.

What felt like an hour passed as Csubak stared at the thing. It was alien, entirely unknown, and very frightening. All he could stammer as his tired mind seemed to reel before this creature was a very faint “yes.”

The creature continued to stare into his eyes. “And now you seek to find out how to make the world yours, as the words on your small note had promised?” Its voice had a certain resonance that made them echo in his mind long after they were spoken.

Trying to pay attention through the cacophony of endlessly overlapping words he barely whispered the word yes again. He focused, clenching his teeth, and in the face of a changing destiny repeated his response, only with more confidence. “Yes,” he said, standing as straight as he could manage.

“Good, you are a man of conviction I see. I am, however, very occupied with matters in my own realm, and cannot make any appointments in yours for another six months at the very least.” It bent down, retrieving a tablet from a creature Csubak had only then noticed, looking it over.

Csubak nearly panicked. This was longer than he could afford to wait, he had drained nearly all of his funds in this research. “Tonight. The contract could be tonight. I would only require the three hours I need to finish the ritual.” The desperation in his voice was not at all disguised.

For a long moment the creature did not respond. The moment seemed to drag into an hour as Csubak stood there, feeling his desperation increase. “This is acceptable,” it finally responded. “However, it is a sacrifice of my time I was not expecting to account for. I will require the soul of one sentient being as payment for my summoning. We all have our superiors to answer to, and I would need to account for my time.”

Without thinking, Csubak blurted out, “Of course. Consider it a deal.”

As suddenly as his mind had been thrust into that other place, he was pushed back into the basement. The chalk from the ritual had dispersed and Mikael rose to his feet from the box he had been sitting on. Csubak collapsed to the ground as his mind fully returned.

Mikael rushed over and helped the tired, and now overwhelmed, scholar to a seat. “What happened? Did you make contact with it?”

Speech seemed strangely comforting coming from a human's mouth, and the echoing in Csubak's head was finally fading. His eyes began to close, and he nearly fell asleep in his seat. He blinked hard, shook his head, and looked up to see Mikael looking very concerned. “Yes,” he finally said. “I spoke to it.”

He looked hard at Mikael, wondering if the man should be his sacrifice. He quickly shook the thought from his head, and felt as though the alien's influence must have clouded his thoughts. He would not betray his only companion. It did factor in that Mikael was in much better shape than him. “The summoning must occur in three hours,” Csubak said, staring at the ground. “And we must have a sacrifice prepared.”

volin
06-16-2010, 08:45 PM
Chapter Six

The basement was quiet and suddenly cold. Both men sat on old wooden chairs deemed too weak for use in the library. The silence in the room felt thicker than the visible chalk dust floating in the air. The candles still burned brightly, illuminating both faces with a dancing shadow.

“We have come too far to simply leave this for such an inconvenience. We knew we were on questionable moral grounds. Do you really feel as though we can give up now?” Mikael asked, breaking a ten minute silence.

Csubak was staring at his boots, covered in thick white chalk. His mind was having a difficult time keeping all of the events straight. Sleep was constantly gnawing at his consciouness, and despite the gravity of the situation he had felt himself nearly slip into it a number of times in those ten minutes. “No. I am not entirely sure that we can afford to; I am unclear as to how much of an option has been left open in the situation. An appointment has been made, and terms have been agreed upon. It may come seeking some reparations if we are not very careful.”

Upon this agreement both men slumped over in their seats again. “But, what person would be our victim?” It was a simple question, but one both men had been avoiding the entire time.

Csubak tried to concentrate on his response, and he finally stood up. Perhaps being on his feet would all his mind some clarity. “We do not have long to decide. We have less than three hours, and we have to consider the amount of time it would take to abduct this person.”

Mikael looked hard at his fellow scholar. “I know who you're thinking, but, honestly, we know the man!”

Csubak was taken back by the response. It was perfect. The librarian was fragile, and he had already lived a full life. This was truly the only solution. Almost best of all, he was upstairs, probably sleeping. One strong shot to the head and he would not put up any kind of fight, or make any noise. “No, it is the only choice. We don't have time for anyone else, or to go find someone!”

“Well, I will not be the one to do it. I agree, it is our only path, but I cannot bear the action of it.” He stood to his feet. “However, I will begin to inscribe the runes while you go take him. Here,” he threw a rope from among the basement supplies, “you will need this to tie him up.”

As Csubak caught the rope he swallowed hard. The object in his hands was thick fiber, and he could imagine its cords ripping up the thin flesh of the old man as it held his hands together. This was something real, physical, and the act was going to happen soon. Csubak could not see souls, there was very little about offering the man's soul which seemed to be reality. Like the wind the night before outside the library, this was a powerful reminder that his actions were going to have weighty consequences. He reminded himself many times of his rejections by his peers as he began to climb the wooden stairs.

For the first time, he was truly thankful for the librarian's dark, secluded nature. He could see that the latch had already been drawn on the door, and only the faintest slivers of moonlight were shining from behind the shelves that covered the window. At the counter the old man had fallen asleep reading. The candle beside him had nearly burned down and his arms were tucked under his head. A half empty glass of water was sitting beside him; as though the night had claimed him in its slumber.

Csubak looked down at the man's grey hair and for the first time noticed a wedding band on his right hand. He looked at the bookend holding up a stack of books against on the the wall across the counter and he picked up the heavy thing without making a sound. He raised it, slowly, over his head, with his heart pounding so hard he could hear the beating. He tried to imagine the sound it would make as it came down onto the man's head.

He found, very quickly, that he could not. His instinct was to wake the poor man so he could take his aching bones to bed; or even to scoop up his fragile frame and bring him there himself. For the past week he had left his doors open each night, almost without limit until Csubak was finished with his daily research. The old man had trusted them to his library, had let them stay after his store was closed. He was obviously striving to stay awake until their departure.

Csubak began to shuffle a little, the heavy weight above his head faltering and beginning to be lowered to his chest. However, the movement was enough to knock a small metal hook attached to the rope against the floorboards. A short, mostly quiet vibration shook through the wood, which was enough to rouse the old librarian, who opened his eyes. From reflex, Csubak smashed the bookend down on the man's skull, catching it between his arms and the counter. It made a dull thud. As if afraid of some reprisal he quickly hit him once more, and the man simply shook in his seat from the blow. Citizen Csubak simply dropped the thing to the floor.


He stood silent. The thick smell of blood overpowered the smell of the man's pocked, putrid skin, and even the nostalgic comfort of the old books all around him. Nothing else happened. No alarm was raised in the city to apprehend him for his crime. No god smote him where he stood. Just silence. It had taken seconds that seemed to be hours, but the man would not rouse for some time, maybe never should he not wake before the ceremony.

Csubak's breathing stuttered, and he tried again to calm his breath as he advanced towards the barely breathing body. He could feel pressure in his chest and around his eyes as he tried to contain the sheer adrenaline and the rush of thoughts that came to him as he completed his task. He took the old man out of his seat and set him, gently, on the ground. There, he wrapped the rope around him twice, securing the length in place with the metal hook that had given him away.

Csubak sat in the man's chair, taking in the room. The exhilaration and horror was slowly beginning to give way. A week prior to this moment he was just walking into the library, clueless about everything he had learned, and the old man had ignored him, even going as far as to be fairly rude. How many people in Csubak's life had done that to him? He had constantly suffered ridicule, scorn and mockery at the hands of the lowliest people, and he had done nothing every time. He had gone as far as to forgive them and attempt to move past the situation. For the first time, he acted. Yes, his decision that it must be this man involved the old man's initial rude response. It was him sticking up for himself. Or, maybe it was all a justification.

No matter the reason for his thoughts, he was not sure how long he had sat there, dwelling on his act and trying to find other reasons to have done it. He checked his watch and realized he had sat for nearly an hour. He couldn't tell if he had fallen to the sleep that had been after him for the whole night, but he was in a hurry. He took up the fragile form of the old man and carried the light body down the stairs without issue.

Mikael was drawing a final chalk line on the floor as Csubak descended the stairs carrying his victim. The circle was complete and the other man was simply finishing configuring the candles. “It looks like you've finished our regrettable task. It will be worth it tomorrow, I'm sure of it,” Mikael said, putting a hand on Csubak's shoulder.

Csubak felt sleep once again tearing at his mind, as he sat the man in the middle of the circle. He was sure he must have responded to his companion, but he suddenly could not recall what he said. He just stood up and inspected the circle for any flaws. He looked as close as he could and found that it was perfect. Every mark. All he could think was that he was thankful for the first part of the ritual being easy. His mind was not in a place to be so precise.

“We should begin citizen,” Mikael said. “The hour is drawing near.”

The scholar nodded in response. “The world should be yours,” he said to himself. He began to recite the ritual words. This time the light from the room seemed to fade with each phrase and a cool chill settled into the already cold room. The circle began to glow a bright crimson color as the ritual neared its finish. As he completed the final words a gust of wind blew through the place, and the candles were suddenly extinguished.

volin
06-16-2010, 08:47 PM
Chapter Seven

The sound is the first harsh disturbance. It is a howling, high pitched, uncontrollable wail, like a powerful wind being pushed through a small opening. At first, it alone takes all of the sense. The vibrations ring out, making it difficult to adjust, and causing a distinct dizzy feeling. The sound's fury is accompanied by the noise of splintering wood as any object in the room not strapped down is thrown against the walls. The imminent danger from such a violent reaction is the first thing that frees the senses from the terrible sound of it all.

After this, though, the full force of the unnatural gale becomes all too apparent. At first it is too much to simply understand the sound forcing its way through your mind, but then it registers; the sound is being caused by something much more physical. A rapid, blowing wind sweeps around the small room, with no apparent source. As the impact of the wind begins to settle in, it becomes apparent that it is a guided force rather than some chaotic gust. The wind maneuvers all of the objects in the room toward the exits, quickly and efficiently cutting them off. The alien nature of it is inescapable.

Other strange factors finally begin to occur to the overburdened senses. Strange lights seem to float through the blustering air, seeming farther away than they actually are, if they exist at all. A faint wailing can be heard in the wind, as though someone is crying out. A powerful smell of burning sulfur attacks the nose, and makes it even more difficult to breathe steadily than the air rushing in with each breath.

Finally, the physical form of the being itself becomes the permanent object of nightmare. It is an impossibly thin, tall creature. As the room rushes about in the chaos of this strange presence, the flowing robes and long straight hair of the Infernal itself seem entirely unaffected. It stands straight, emotionless, and outside of its surroundings. Its skin is a pale white, with an almost reptilian sheen.

Behind its eyes, however, it holds the most terrifying aspect. There is no compassion there, though none would expect there to be. However, there is no joy, no pleasure, no excitement at this meeting. There is nothing, just a blank, intelligent stare. It is the picture of apathy and the center of absolute fear.

This was the figure before the tired and worn scholar as he discovered himself collapsed on the floor. He pulled his hands from his ears and blinked his eyes a number of times, trying to pull himself back into the room. The whole experience was much more than he was expecting, and the combination of factors had been over powering. The presence of the infernal carried sway over him in ways he never could have imagined.

As the thing stood before him it moved only slightly, glancing at him. Each small twitch of whatever it used for muscle was perfect, intentional and completely fluid. There was a grace to its movements that brought moments of admiration from Csubak, as he sat staring at it. Despite his fear he could not help but find something about the terrible thing beautiful.

Finally, the thing, which had been floating slightly above the center of the circle, silently glided down to the ground. As its feet touched the center, the wind died down, and the room suddenly felt very uncomfortably quiet. Chalk, sawdust and smoke hung heavy in the air, making the air thick and cloudy. Csubak's ears were ringing as he managed to force himself to stand up straight. He tried his best to look confident as he stared into the eyes of the alien thing before him.

?Kolya Csubak.? The voice came from the figure as its mouth barely opened. It seemed at first a curse to hear his name uttered out loud by such a thing, and he caught himself suddenly breathing very quickly. ?Your summoning ritual is complete. And, I see before me the one I presume to be your sacrifice??


Csubak nodded, which received no response. He picked up the old man, still unconscious and tied up, presenting the body. The edges of its mouth curled up only slightly as he did so. There was a terrible horror in its apathetic stare as it first came into the room, and he had thought that alien expression to be its most frightening trait. He felt an atavistic fear, like being hunted as defenseless prey, wash over him. It consumed his thoughts for a moment, and he took a few steps backwards.

The thing moved its arm to a fold in its long robes. It began to spin as its hand grabbed something underneath. Extending its reach full as it came around it used the momentum of the movement to grant extra power behind its slashing gesture. Csubak could only barely see the blade it used, and may have missed that in the perfect maneuver if not for the momentary shock of the sword tearing through the skin of the man he held. After this, the being stood still, arms at its sides, and the blade gone, as though it had never moved. Csubak's hands were suddenly warm, and red blood flowed over the ends of his fingers that were holding the old man erect. He dropped the body immediately.

The old man had awakened moments before his end. His eyes bore a horrified shock, and his lips were twisted in the agony of his painful death. Csubak stood above him, his mouth agape, looking at the frail figure he had delivered. As the blood flowed onto the chalk lines of the ritual circle it glowed brighter.

?One soul has been paid.? The infernal looked at Kolya Csubak, staring into his eyes. ?Now, tell me, why is it that I have been summoned into this place??

Csubak steadied his breathing, and stood up straighter. This was the moment his last week had led up to, and he would not shirk. He cleared his throat and considered the uselessness of the old man's death if he attained nothing from this meeting. ?I call you forth, great being, to take what is mine in this world. I would make a contract which solidifies my place in Khador, and leaves a place for me in the histories of its conquests.? He had practiced that speech in his head all of the previous night. He was glad to have simply remembered the entirety of it.

?And so you enter into a contract willingly??

?Yes.?

?Then it is done. Mikael, I congratulate you on your success.?

At first Csubak was sure he heard his own name uttered. He nearly cheered himself in his mind as the sudden realization of what had been said occurred to him. He had entirely forgotten about the other man in the room, and as he spun around he saw Mikael looking unaffected by the recent events. He stood, just barely smiling, and with an absolute calm.

?Yes, this is the fulfillment of our bargain. As promised I offer the soul of one who was tricked into summoning you for his own purpose,? he said, walking forward to address the infernal.

Csubak's mind was racing. He thought back to the note in his book and remembered the time he spent in the small restaurant. He had walked through the streets, cursing, obviously dejected. Anyone could have slipped something in his bag. The note had no names, no specifics. It could apply to anyone!

?And, as an added payment, the additional soul you stipulated in your terms was actually provided by the sacrifice. It was a twist I thought you may enjoy.?

The words being spoken were echoing in Csubak's head, but none were sinking in. The weight of things he had missed, he had assumed were falling on him, and he could feel a pressure in his chest. The train meeting was no circumstance, he was coaxed into coming there. And the back alley library was a perfect set up. It was off the path where Mikael would not be reported should Csubak try to turn him and the library in. After all, he was not even aware of how to escape the little street without some guidance. It was all just a trick.

?And now, so as to protect myself from a number of enemies, I request the Quelvitar construct as per the terms of the contract.? Mikael stood, smiling, and looking at the Infernal without flinching.

The creature stepped toward Csubak and the scholar immediately fell to the ground. It reached out its hand, twisting it slightly. Csubak could feel a deep, warm pain radiate throughout his whole body, and he was aware very suddenly that he had begun screaming. The warmth increased to a white heat and the pain became a numbness as he felt himself begin to fade.

Suddenly, he could see his body below him, and he felt as though he were floating. A heavy weight pulled down on his neck, and for a moment, he felt a sort of peace. The moment was taken from him instantly. His soul was suddenly ripped into from below as the infernal's hand took it. He could feel his ethereal form being ripped as if parts of it were being taken away. He felt as though he could feel his spine snap, and each bone was broken as his new form was being mutilated.

Then, it all began to take shape. His arms were extended, pulled as the muscle spilled out of the skin, barely holding onto the spiked tips that were formed of his bone. His legs were woven together, the skin and sinew spinning and becoming one formation that ended in a kind of stinger. He could feel this happening, he was aware of each horrifying change, and he could feel his mind beginning to fade.

volin
06-16-2010, 08:48 PM
Somehow, he became aware that his soul had been transformed, and he could feel the ground beneath what had become of his arms. He drew breath. Each muscle was energized, more powerful, but his mind was beginning to fall to it. His thoughts were beginning to get hazy and that dull tired feeling he had from his sleepless night persisted. He felt his betrayal, and only then became fully aware of how far he had been convinced to fall with so little.

“The contract is complete. You have the services of this Quelvitar as bodyguard or assassin, should it suit you, for a full five years beginning on this date. It is entirely under your command. Should it be destroyed before that time, the contract is concluded.”

As the words finished, he could feel his mind attach to Mikael. He lost the last shred of will he once possessed, and though he could no longer feel the breath of his new body or the ground beneath his new legs, he could see everything. He still felt that exhaustion, and though he had thoughts, he had no control. He was trapped in this form.

All he could think is how he wished he could just fall asleep.





Couldn't fit chapter 7 in one post. That's all of it. Hope you enjoyed it, and let me know in the comments if so, or any nice criticism if no. ;)

Mercykiller
06-17-2010, 10:08 AM
Quite good! I enjoyed it, and it certainly has the twists and turns to count as Lovecraft in the IK ;) The only thing I'd change is that the final sentence be set off as its own paragraph to give more of a kick as the final word on the matter.

bassman
06-26-2010, 03:16 PM
Wow, great story, had me going till the end. quite a nice way to spend a day at work. thanks

fire4effekt
08-12-2010, 09:26 PM
Really dug the twist, very nice man.

kingston
08-16-2010, 01:42 PM
I liked it really had me wanting to finish it. Whats a Quelvitar? Is it just another term for minion or slave or some such.

volin
08-30-2010, 11:00 AM
Even worse than all that. He has become some terrifying monster than can be ordered to murder people, or really whatever Mikael wants him to do. There is no official source that Csubak necessarily has any sense of self after transforming, but it fit the Lovecraft feel.