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Archive for the ‘Fragments from the Astral Plane’ Category

(Witness’d by one Malfalmaeon.  Outside yet of true blood he claims for sooth -)

The Abyss of Hell, by S Botticelli

The Abyss sings its’ sad song.

Do my comrades hear it? Would they think to listen? Rufus might, he has the blood. If he is listening I do not see it in him.

I glance at him as we hurtle down. No, I don’t think he is listening. He is pointing upwards, his eyes flit to me and stick needles at me.

His eyes say, “Wake up you fool.”

We fall past the damned and are going somewhere that even has the Celestian screaming.

What does he scream? I am not sure. I am trying to hear the song. I would keep listening too, but Rufus’ glance has me thinking.

Perhaps the song is wrong.

“You can trust them Melfalmaion,” Lethien said to me, and her eyes glowed warm, “they are worthy.”

She answered that many times to my many questions before I finally set out. I wish I could say I was fully convinced but I have no trust for those not of the blood and for good reason. I would need better ones to pivot that trust. Lethien’s assurance was, however, persuasive.

So then, trust Rufus. His eyes now are searching, screaming for life and we fall to death and less than death. Death is rest. We fall into sorrow, the lap of all doubts. We will walk wherever we finally fall to, and hear the sad song of the Abyss and never believe.

I know we are falling Brother. I knew it and know it. Until just now I wasn’t sure that it mattered.

Why try? Each place has its song. The meadow has one, so does a mountain, a brook, a seaside. Their songs speak to what they are, what they are underneath and what they make you into while you are there with them. So too, does this place.

But there is her face, my one, there are her words that only I carry now and every touch she ever gave will be lost for all time with me.

The Celestian screams. I hear it now. He is both begging and ordering.

He would like someone to do something.

Very well.

I tie the length of rope to the end of an arrow. The webbing all around us is falling far far away. Don’t rush it. Take the bow, make the pull, make the sight, let out your breath, shut out the song and the scream and the thoughts. There is nothing now but the shot.

I loose.

The arrow sinks deep and I grapple with the length or rope, making sure it pulls around my arm and not from around our waist. The shock of that could snap our backs.

I feel the rope go taught and I grin a little back at Rufus, he grins back relief and the hope breaks out for breath from under the ocean of his eyes.

Then the arrow comes loose and we are falling again.

What the Celestian screams, I find vulgar and cannot repeat Brother.

With a quick yank I have the arrow. I snort out and breathe in quickly as it comes back to my hand. Have to trust that it will be true still, there won’t be time to tie another one.

I let out my breath and pull.

Again the arrow sinks. Again we stop.

And again we fall, the arrow not getting its purchase.

The Abyss starts to chuckle a little, to chortle, to cajole.

You see?” It hisses, “there is no reason to try.” It has said this kind of thing since we came here. I don’t know that it is wrong. It says what is true, it speaks what it sings, and what it sings is what it is.

Despair. We hurtle through the throat of despair and nothing is stopping us.

Try again. Try again. Think of her. Try again.

I yank the arrow back, snort, breathe, then pull, let my breath out and loose again.

And again we fall.

And now I fear Brother. I fear.

The song sings sweetly. It tells me that it is not my fault, that it is not it’s fault. It is just the way of things. It is where we are. It is almost soothing, in it’s way.

All I trained for and meant to aim at does not matter now. It will not matter. It is over now.

The song is right.

Fortunately, as I listen, Rufus does not.

He does a thing that should not work, but does. Why did it work?

Perhaps because Rufus believed it would.

Perhaps because he has no time for sad songs.

But he takes the Halberd of our inert dwarf and ties the rope and swings it, loops it just so at the last moment. The rope goes tight and we do not fall again.

For want of a hook we were almost silenced.

I think of that as we climb and scold myself for my foolishness. A hook. So foolish.

“Yes, foolish, very foolish.” The Abyss says.

“Away.” I hiss back.

Dain is lifting me up, being just ahead of me on the rope, she pulls me up now.

“What?” She asks, curious. Her eyes, bright with purpose, eternally hopeful. She would sooner break her own back than her word.

“Not you.” I say. To Rufus I say “thank you.”

He looks at me strangely. “Don’t mention it.”

We follow where the Celestian points now and I see with every step that she was right.

And I start to list. I list all the things that might be needed. Some will be easily done, some not, but I will gather them and I will be ready.

My companions are worthy. Lethien was right.

I must be sure to be worthy of them.

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Perched at the undefinable edge of The Abyss hang several fanciful wooden homes. Rusted pipes and long wires trail out from beneath their sodden clapboard siding. Great square sockets punctuate the finely articulated wood walls, but the windows are all dark and empty – save one at the end of the row. As you close in you see strange scrawling script scars several houses, writing in an enormous hand words in purple and black – “FEMA Sucks!” “Fort Apache Lower 9”. Dangling past the last house on a long steel chain you see what appears to be an enormous dogwood blossom, long grey hairs hanging down into the infernal darkness below.

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As you swing low through sulphurous clouds an immense tableau opens before you. Littered with endless ruins the plains spreads out in all directions. Twisted spires of alien towers hang wrecked over dusty promenades of poured granite. Bulbous domiciles perch broken over yawning chasms. Within you espy a jumbled mess, the workings of an ancient machine discarded aeons ago.

Just as the ruins seem to congregate in density they stop. You soar for a time over fallow expanse of dirt, when you see the fortress. Smaller, more compact, less florid in shape and useful in symmetry this doughty plug appears to be made entirely of Adamantite; an incredibly rare and valuable metal. As you close in the walls soar above you, sheets of alien steel hanging in vertical cliffs over the plain. Two dour cloaked figures wielding swords guard a spiraling aperture ten yards across.

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Travelling through space that is not space; vast distances pass you standing still. Composed neither of distance, or time but memory and impression you hurtle with space, non-space into reaches of self and spirit.. Yet detached. This isn’t travel, but a view, a vision of travel? These words don’t work. Visions don’t explode you, a view doesn’t, reincarnate? And it does, across vast tableaus of blue tears, yellow cries. More like falling in love this travel, and it’s already done.

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