That cursed dark city...

This is the best recounting I can manage of the incredible dream I had last night. I've tried to recapture the Lovecraftian feel the whole thing had. I suspect my subconscious borrowed the little town from A Wrinkle in Time; I think the Jester came from Yakatate Japan; and the insectoids looked a lot like No Face after he'd stuffed himself with food... it's stunning what your mind can put together as it sits there and entertains itself, hmm?

I think the part that is Lovecraftian about it is the feeling of... of greater things being afoot. You get only a glimpse of the true horror and truth of the universe; most of this dream felt exactly the same way...

I do not know from whence I came. I do not remember how I arrived at the surface. I have been told I was madly screaming about a lost city filled with horrible beasts, and unimaginable treasure, and pits of fire. Of that, I have no recollection. My memory begins in darkness, and it ends in darkness – I remember some of my time in that damned city, and I remember… what of my companions? None? I remember having companions, at least for a while… though one was – here, let me try to retell as much as I remember. Yes, I am feeling as well as I can, I expect. You have faithfully tended a delusional stranger for weeks, I owe you as much of my tale as I can recall.

My memory begins in caves – endless, winding caves. I feel as though we were looking for an exit, for an escape, and yet we were being shepherded ever-downward by filled-in passageways and dangerous footing. We – I had companions with me, though who and how many I cannot say – we had the nervous feeling of explorers in unfamiliar territory. Our excitement and fear was as tangible as our sweat. As we descended into the body of the Earth it grew colder – and colder still. We had no light with us, and we were moving based on feeling alone – presumably our torches and oil were long-since used up. We had also ceased to feel hunger, weariness or thirst. I suspect we knew we were heading toward death, but we had no alternatives.

It was all quite sudden – we rounded a corner, there was a skittering of dislodged pebbles, and then we all froze in fear. The tunnel we were following suddenly opened up into a cavern so big it defies human imagination. We reeled at the depth of the pit and the vaulting heights of the damned place. Great, twisted spires pierced to the heavens, enveloped in the mist of distance. The vile pillars reached high enough to support the land above. Had we passed, unwittingly, into the second plane and left noble Earth behind? All the way down were heaps of spires and towers; black as oil, reeking of decay and Magic. Phosphorescent mists swirled beneath us, lending a slight and putrid glow to the City.


Great, twisted spires pierced to the heavens, enveloped in the mist of distance...

We knew what it was the moment we saw it – a black, cursed, nameless City in the absolute bowels of the Earth! Aye, cursed – you could feel the dormant magic; the lurking evil in the damned place. There was a spire nearby. Having nowhere else to go – and still with the flushed awe of explorers – we began to descend. The going was difficult: the stone was wet and slippery, the mists deceiving, the drop ferocious. We descended – down, and down for what felt like days. It may have been mere hours. There passed no time in that forgotten place. Finally, the bottom was in sight... and it was then we realized the City was not abandoned; not all of its inhabitants lay dreaming.

First, I will describe the bottom of the pit. The spire we had descended wasn’t rooted in the earth. A dense band of wickedly curved and horrifically sharp jade and gold spikes encircled the base of the spire, somehow suspending the entire pillar with frightfully old Magic. Other spires seemed to be supported the same way. We had no way to reach the bottom; the drop between the jade talons – should we even be able to navigate them – and the floor beneath was still a fearsome distance. Peering into the glittering darkness, however, revealed that the floor beneath our spire was, in fact, a deep green pool. The fluid seemed sluggish and oily, but it would likely break our fall.

As for the other inhabitants – in the distant darkness were black shapes; figures of insectoid horror: huge, quick and alert. They moved over spires and floor alike, seemingly unhampered by the slippery rock or the darkness. We were fortunate that none of the scrambling horrors were near us. And below, on a massive stone platform inscribed with evil and ancient runes, was a woman. Her hair flowed about her body as if she were submersed in water; it moved according to currents unseen. She wore robes woven from precious gems and metals that also moved of their own accord. She was chanting, paying no attention to us or the black insects that skittered by. She was immersed in a long and deep ritual, and I sensed that she would continue her ritual for centuries yet. Perhaps she was the reason this cursed city slept?


...in the distant darkness were black shapes; figures of insectoid horror, huge, quick and alert.

I picked my way across the jade and gold spikes; my companions followed suit. I finally hung suspended over the murky green pool below, steeling myself for the drop… then there was a shout above me. I looked up in time to see one of my companions flung out into the dead air with a cascade of jade and gold shards following him. It seems that one of those ancient spikes had broken and he had fallen from the spire. He hung frozen in the air - impossibly, - a mask of terror stretched over his face and then – and then he and the precious shards simply faded from existence, like ghosts moving to another plane. Startled at the prospect of the remaining spikes shattering, frightened by my companions disappearance, I dropped into the green pool…

Some time later I was standing near the great stone dais, surrounded by my remaining companions. Here, at the bottom of the treacherous pit, the decay of the City was more evident – rotting wooden walkways covered the cavern walls; crumbling ruins stretched far into the distance. Horrific stains and unidentifiable nests spoke of the scuttling terrors that now called this City home. And an overwhelming sense of dark magic, barely contained – of horrors about to be unleashed should the City decay any further. We were now desperate to find escape.

Up one of the cavern walls, to one side, was a small patch of light unlike the putrid glow that permeated the cursed place. We made our way towards it, careful to stay hidden in the shadows. We found a great wooden doorway set into an alter, inscribed with ancient text we could not decipher. It glowed and pulsed with energy. It drew us to it; one of my companions reached out a trembling hand for the handle and then –

A bundle of shadows near the door moved; a small impish boy peered at us. I say boy, but likely this… this creature was far older than any of us. He was curly-haired, friendly and yet... beneath the surface of his eyes there lurked a dangerous personality. He was a trickster; a manipulator – but he was not an immediate threat to us, at least not in the way the scrambling horrors were. “The portal,” he warned, “Will kill you if not opened to the right world.”
A portal to other worlds; of course such a thing would exist here, in this sleeping City. Small hope alighted in our breasts; perhaps this portal could take us to safety? Perhaps it would return us to the surface... With little alternatives, we pressed th trickster to help us. He recited an incantation at the alter and the glowing door flew open, revealing… a small barren room featuring only a second simple door. He followed us through the open portal as we tread carefully into the new world.

The second door opened into what my confused mind identified as a garage or a storage room of some sort. I was certainly not expecting to find such an ordinary place at the other end of a portal from a cursed City in the depths of the Earth… Puzzled, we exited through yet another door and found ourselves in a pleasant kitchen, with a delicious-smelling bird roasting in the oven. Bright tablecloths covered the tables and everything was clean enough to gleam. In the living room adjacent, a pleasant-looking lady was resting in a chair. She smiled politely at us, but her eyes revealed a deep and terrible fear – she knew from whence we came. She was not in any mood to explain the meaning of anything to us, regardless of our urgings, and I soon found myself at a loss for words. I complimented her tablecloths, which seemed to put the lady at ease, and we left the house.


I complimented her tablecloths, which seemed to put the lady at ease, and we left the house.

At the doorway, a man met us – evidently the man of the house. He had two children with him who gawked while he challenged us. “We came through the portal –“ was as far as I got, before he flushed red and made a gesture that was very easy to understand. I ceased my explanation, but our mere presence was attracting the attention of neighbours. More children appeared, and a few more men from nearby houses.

“Who are you? Where did you come from?” The growing crowd obviously didn’t like strangers; in fact I sensed that they vehemently hated strangers. I sensed our lives were in danger if they did not receive a satisfactory answer. I had none, of course; the only answer I had involved the portal. My companions, the trickster and I were quickly overwhelmed; the crowd pressing in and starting to work itself into a fervour. Their reaction was frighting; it was as if our arrival had challenged their very view of the universe, and they hated the challenge very much. These people could sense that we didn’t belong, and it was beginning to drive them mad.

We were interrupted by fearsome noise from overhead.

They all – every one of them – froze and stared at the sky. A dark flash appeared on the horizon, and then sirens began wailing. War? Were these people at war? They scrambled for safety – most retreating to their own homes, and others running into the house belonging to the first man and his lady. “No!” shouted the man, trying to keep the other men and children out, “There's no room!” The panicked crowd pushed past him anyway, seeking shelter in what I now understood was his bomb shelter - that also housed our portal. I got the clear impression that these people would be driven mad if they knew such a thing existed – and I was right.

The first wave of men and children reached the room containing the portal, and faltered. There was a moment of silence, broken only by the roaring of distant bombs. “You…” someone said in a guttural growl, “you brought these strangers here?”

The trickster was by my side at this point, and he began pushing me through the edge of the crowd, getting closer and closer to the portal. It was at this point I knew I could trust him; my other companions were already marked for death. With his help perhaps I could survive…

Our first man snapped at the accusation. He grabbed a chair that was nearby and crashed it into the head of the nearest crowd member. The crowd started seething with unholy anger and madness – the portal had long-since driven this man and his family mad, and our presence had begun to drive the other townsfolk insane. A vicious fight broke out as the trickster and I ran for the glowing portal. I looked back in time to see one child strangling another against a wall; a third child disembowelling the one that was pinned. The mob became a violent and seething mass that began literally ripping itself to shreds. The house shook as bombs fell on the town; bits of plaster falling like snow into the increasingly bloodied scene. We dived through the portal.


We found a great wooden doorway set into an alter,
inscribed with ancient text we could not decipher.
It glowed and pulsed with energy...

“I want to explore more of this place,” I announced, shortly after escaping from the strange war world. The trickster grinned at me; I suspect he knew I had finally gone insane. I no longer cared to reach the surface – the surface was but a vague concept to me, at that point; little more than a fading dream. I would unlock the secrets of this place, with his help. He would help me because I was interesting to him - guiding me was more entertaining than waiting by a dormant portal, I suspect. He led me down to the floor of the cavern, sneaking through the old ruins and dust. I then heard a strange noise and he pulled me down behind a piece of rotting wood.

A pair of the scuttling terrors were close – as close as I had ever seen them. It was only now that I realized these damned beasts made noise as they moved – each sounded as a musical instrument, half-strangled and broken. This one buzzed as an unholy horn, and that one sounded like a demonic plinking piano. Each step it took was another note – and it had a multitude of legs with which to play. A herd of the beasts would sound like an orchestra from Hell itself.

A more distant pair spotted us. The wretched things are alert.

The trickster grabbed my hand; “RUN!” he yelped. We ran – up half-rotted stairs, across a landing, up more stairs, and then we threw ourselves down behind a pile of boards, hoping the beasts didn’t see our hiding spot. No such luck, of course – the damned things descended upon us, all multi-jointed legs and a body that was somehow more black and oily than the vaulting spires. These insectoids sounded like tense and high pitched violins, their humming filling my entire world, penetrating my thoughts. This is the end, I thought crazily, death by violin-bugs.

Not so. A demon jester leapt from the back of one of the violin-bugs, and pounced upon my trickster companion. Clawed hands gagged the boy, and the jester perched on his chest like a cat. “Weeelllll…” purred the jester, “Look what I’ve caught. Maybe you can help me with my problem?” My trickster stared at me with huge, wild eyes. A battle of wits with a crazed demon jester in a black, forgotten City, to save the life of an impish creature I had met only recently? There is no way I could possibly win; my brain had been so addled by the preceding events that I… well, perhaps only a madman could do battle with such an opponent. I would have to try.


Clawed hands gagged the boy, and the jester perched on his chest like a cat.

The jester tilted its head and pouted; a disgusting expression on such a foul creature. Its arms and legs were long and spider-like; its face caked with white fungus; its eyes and lips blackened with charcoal and dust. When it smiled, it revealed teeth that were filed to points. But the worst part was its eyes – glowing yellow things that pierced to your soul, eyes that were filled with an unimaginable amount of wit.

It began in a singsong voice: “I have this problem, you see. When I count – one, two, three – should I dare go any more, and utter any more than ‘four,’ I bloat right up, full of gas, the only way out is through my – “ here it made a vulgar movement and pointed at its rear. It gave me a mischievous wink and grinned. The world around me began to grow darker... or at least my memories of what follow grow darker.

I suspect the absurdity of the situation is something my mind can no longer cope with. I have vague recollections of actually competing with the vile jester; I seem to remember hearing my voice reciting rhymes with a jarring lilt. I remember laughing, and the jester laughing, and the trickster laughing, and the world full of the humming of the violin-bugs… but that is all I can remember. That cursed dark city; a portal; a trickster and a demon jester. I know not of any treasure, or lakes of fire – at least, not yet. Perhaps in time I will recall more of what passed in that terrible, cursed place. Yes, it sounds like a nightmare, does it not? And yet, as I was insane, not all of it was so terrible. It began to make sense, in a way. I feel no fear recalling the horrors now; only curiosity. Part of me wishes… dare I say it? Part of me wishes to return…

3 things about

That cursed dark city...
  1. liked it.......

    what more can one say? much else and it would detract from what was meant.

    FYI -- I got a kick out of the three bug pic near the top -- I play a game called StarCraft and those three look like "Zerg" creatures in the game. LOL

    Dreams can be SUCH a TRIP

    Danny
    Anything at Anytime

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy crap... guess I am not the only one with some crazy ass dreams, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dan: When I was searching DeviantArt for a suitable picture, I got a lot of famous creatures; some video game bugs; some movie bugs; some Lovecraftian horrors... I was so hard to choose! These guys apparently aren't fanart, but *any* insectoid aliens are gonna look a bit familiar, eh? There was some beautiful artwork on that site... and a LOT of naked people for some reason. Haha.

    Bio: I don't usually get anything so... coherent and detailed; but I had gone to bed drunk and full of pizza, maybe that was it? Lol.

    ReplyDelete

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