Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dead Spaces - Prologue

**** WARNING: Contains Spoilers from The Spaces Between ****

As such, here is a pretty picture, and the spoiler text below:

The following is (c) 2012 Martin D. Gibbs
Dead Spaces (A Drunkard's Journey, Part II)

**** Click Here to Reveal Spoiler ****


Madness consumed all. Where once there were flickers of madness between the spaces of sanity, now the slivers of sanity were only speckles in the black void of madness.

Her voice.

HER voice! Her VOICE!

It grated. It charred. Like a fire, it burned me, then froze me as if I were being dangled out over the ramparts, left to flounder as a greater, unseen hand clutched my tail.

The horde called, the horde beckoned. It willed out. Without any direction it clawed closer and closer to the surface. What would happen if they reached the surface without my direction—without my control? What would happen to me? Would they kill me? Tear me limb from limb in their ecstasy of murderous rage? I was a prisoner, trapped inside of myself, trapped by the woman I had killed. Why? Why?
I was Ar'Zoth! I had mercilessly slaughtered anything that remained of Bimb. Bimb? Who was Bimb? Why was that name familiar? Had I killed someone already? No, wait! I do remember that name… it was a name that was forced upon me, a name that forever doomed me to a life of idiocy and despair. That is, until Ar'Zoth saved me from myself. Memories, perspectives, understandings, even music, was put to the flame. Bimb was dead. Ar'Zoth remained. Ar'Zoth and madness. Madness and demons.
Let us out, they hissed in sonorous unison.
"I will," I promised with a strained whisper. Magical spells, once forgotten, came back to the fore, but each time I began to take action, her voice would grate and grovel and beg and plead and cry and cry and cry and cry and CRY and CRY!
STOP! I tried to will the voice to stop, but was greeted only by pain and torment.
I will stop you, the voice whispered after an hour-long fit of rage.
"You will never," I panted. "I will find a way. Ar'Zoth will find a way!"
No, you will be stopped, Bimb.
Bimb! That name again. No, no, NO! Bimb was dead!
"Bimb is dead—Mother."
Then Bimb will have to die again.

* * *

"So where is he?"
"He's in the North, hopefully dispatching a dangerous warlock."
He spread his large hands. "It had to be done. No one else would believe the truth."
"Possibly because it was a lie all along?" the stranger sneered, balling a fist. "You sent him to his—”
"He's a strong man and will survive… he has aid. A little mage, a very powerful mage, is helping them. And again, I didn't send—"
"I have connections to the Counsel Guard and to the Archives. I know a thing or two." He paused, glanced around, and nervously continued, "This is far bigger than any of us, and we are better now that he has journeyed. And yes, it was my doing."
"But why?"
"It had to be done," he repeated flatly.
A huge fist slammed down on the pine surface, rattling glasses and sending various liquids into the air. "But he—he was a like a son to me, and you sent him…"
"I didn't send him anywhere," he replied, bristling. "He went of his own accord. And trust me; it was for the betterment of everyone. Everyone."
"He could be…"
"No, we still stand here. This building and this city are still here. It would be much worse had he failed."
The rough hand pounded the bar again, this time with less force. "If I find out that he is dead, you will—"
"I will what? Answer to you? Go to the restraining house?" He chuckled deeply and shook his head. "If he dies, he will die a hero. Do you understand? You will wake up in the morning because of the sacrifice. Remember that."
A once-proud head hung low for a moment, then rose up, eyes glistening in the odd flashes of firelight. "Aye. I will try."
"I would like to speak no more of this," the man replied, lowering his voice. "Thank you for sharing your concern, but things must continue."
The stranger turned and walked to the door. He paused for a moment and looked back at the rough man. And for a mere moment, his lips broke into a smile before curling back into a frown. He carefully shut the door behind him.

Part I
Ravel and Unravel

In which Zhy realizes he's not quite dead and finds himself in strange company on a return journey northward. Additionally, the demons are loose, and we find out just how unstable Bimb has become.

Do you stop for a wayward soul? For he who is lost? For the traveler who has wandered afar? If you choose to stop, or if you choose to continue, you create for yourself additional knots. Which is better? It cannot be known. Each may create for you a dangerous future.

Prophet Zhera, IV Age

Blinding sun hammered his skull. Fierce and unforgiving light knifed into the backs of his eyes, sending tears flowing to protect against the onslaught. Even with lids tightly shut and an arm draped across his face, the intensity of the sun was enough to push him to his knees, sobbing. His knees screamed in throbbing pain as they smashed into the crumbling stone porch, but the brutality of the light was enough to quickly wipe away the sudden shock. With an arm outstretched in pleading, he moaned, "Who are you?"

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