April 15th, 2004


Chaos working XVII

Part XVI


Her movements were fluid and beautiful. There was no effort in her dance, no fear, no pain, no anger. Every step betrayed a pure desire to dance, every subtle movement of her head gracefully reminded me that she was not mortal. We danced for what seemed like an eternity, watched by the denizens of the forest, enraptured as they were by our motion.

Finally, the woman leaned in and placed her hand on my chin. She drew me close to her, wrapping one arm around my waist, and kissed me. She held me tightly, stroking my face as we kissed. Finally, she broke away from me, smiled, and disappeared into the shadows.

Suddenly a cheer went up from the surrounding company, and Sam was at my side. "My boy," he said, "you've just danced with a special woman!"

I wanted to ask who she was, but my voice would not come forth. I could not force the words to form. I simply stared at where she had dissappeared. I stood staring for a long time, just remembering the kiss, feeling her hand stroke my face. There was no forgetting that. There still isn't.

Eventually, I came back to earth, and was able to sit down. I still could not form the question I was dying to ask though: who was the beautiful woman?

I watched the creatures dance around me, sing, shout, and make love. They spent their night in revelry, enjoying the company of each other. Their lives seemed so simple, so easy at this point, and I knew that this occurred with every moon rise in this forest.

Sam sat down heavily next to me, laughing and winking at various dryads and nymphs as they flashed their smiles and other parts. "You know, man? You've been a huge help. I'd like to give you something." He reached into a russack and pulled out a piece of leather, folded over onto itself. "I've had this forever. It's very special to me, and I want you to take care of it. You'll do that?"

I wasn't sure what to say. I smiled, and simply said, "I'd be honoured."

Sam's smile said it all. He reached forward with his free hand, and pulled away the layers of leather. I caught a reflection of light for a moment, but this was obscured a second later by his hand.

Sam looked at me. "This was my mother's," he said, "and I never thought I'd give it away. You've proved me wrong. Keep this, and remember me." He opened his hands, and in them was a piece of silver. It was about an inch and a half around, and on one side was the impression of a stag. On the other, an eagle. "King of the forest, king of the sky, my friend."

I held out my hand, and he placed his hand over mine, with the silver between our palms. "If you ever need me, friend, just call," he said. Then, standing, "Now, let's go dance, shall we?" He grabbed my wrist and swung me up to his side, and we began looking for partners.

No sooner had Sam found a dryad and I'd found a nymph than everything changed.

To be continued. . .


Other parts:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV
Part XVI | Part XVII

Chaos working XVIII



A darkness began to creep across the clearing, and with it came an unnatural cold. First, the moon became obscured behind a thick bank of clouds, her light no longer shining through. The fire slowly began to die, almost as if it were suffocating from a lack of oxygen. The revelry became quiet, and spirits began to slip back into the woods from whence they came.

Soon, only Sam and I were left.

I don't know what it was, but something compelled me to tell Sam to leave. I turned to my friend, and said, "Sam, you know you need to leave. I have to face this challenge alone."

He looked at me, almost begging me not to send him away. He opened his mouth, seemed to think better of it, and closed it. At last he spoke, "I know, friend. Good luck." And with that he was gone.

I stood alone in the clearing, my mind and heart racing. I didn't know what I was about to face, nor did I think I would know it when I saw it.

The night became colder and the darkness deepened. Somewhere in the distance, I heard the insects that scream in the night, and their words burned into me. The wind picked up and howled over me as the voice of the night began to speak.

It was as if some unknown language was calling out, and I thought of the Al Azif, the book named for the sounds of these insects. This led me through a torrent of memories about it's various and storied misfortunes, and of the great invisible monster that Ebn Khallikan declared devoured its author. I considered the Brood X, but knew they would not rise for several months. What would come on the wind? What thing would I see?

Slowly, the words began to form. One at a time, mixed with strange, otherworldly syllables they came. The words are burned into my memory, but I cannot record them. I was unsure what to do, yet in this moment of doubt, words forming around me that are too horrible to repeat, I sought action in my mind.

The cry of the night creatures grew louder, crecendoing to a mighty tumult, and I was forced to my knees. I put my hands to my ears, and I choaked back a scream, fighting for my sanity.

Suddenly, action occurred. I did not cause it myself, nor did I realize what I was doing. I simply, easily, went back to basics. I did what I do every day. I prayed.

The words I prayed are lost on that wind, drowned by the insects' cries. They can't be repeated because I no longer remember them. But the words reached the ears I intended, for suddenly the sounds stopped, and I was deafened by the silence.

Still I huddled on my knees, afraid to look. What would stand before me, and would the thing that had come with such a disharmonic chior try to destroy me?

A hand on my shoulder assured me otherwise.

I knew the hand that rested there before I opened my eyes. The woodcutter next to me was smiling down at me when I finally looked up, and I felt relief wash over me like water. There was still something else that I needed to look at, and I knew it would be horrible, but at the moment I knew it would be tempered by strength.

I stood and faced my protector. He winked at me quickly, and nodded to my right. I clenched my teeth and turned.

Before me stood a mountain of a creature, easily eight times my height. He had wings that stretched to blot out the moon and stars, and in his left hand he held a wickedly curved sword, while in his right was a skull. His eyes were flame, and his tattered clothes hung off his body, and his skin seemed to move with an unnatural rhythm.

I squinted, trying to make out his skin in the darkness, and was shocked to see that this was not one entity, but millions! The skin (and I assumed the vital organs, if any existed in this thing) were all created of creatures of the night: locusts, earthworms, roaches, spiders, and cicadas. The creature loomed over me, and I knew who it must be.

"Erebus," I whispered.

To be continued. . .


Other parts:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV
Part XVI | Part XVII | XVIII

Chaos working XIX



The creature's gaze was centered in two black flames it had for eyes. The speed at which they flickered and burned gave his anger a frightening life, and I stepped back from him, stumbling a bit and trembling in fear.

The woodcutter saw this, and he stepped between the creature and me. His muscles flexed as he hefted his axe, and he squared off as if ready to fight the giant. "You know," he said over his shoulder, "I think he wants your boots."

"Well, they are his," I said. "Can I just give them back?"

The woodcutter thought for a moment. "No, I think he wants the feet inside them, too, but you seem a bit attached to those." His eyes twinkled a bit. "I'm not planning to let that happen, though."

"I appreciate that. He is, um, a bit bigger than you, though."

"You know, size doesn't always matter, kid."

Suddenly, the creature roared out a challenge, and lifted his sword above his head. The woodcutter turned his attention back to the giant and lifted his axe again.

Just then, from behind Erebus' massive body, a sweet voice came.

"Daddy, can I have them?"

Erebus' hand remained in the air. His eyes softened, and he turned around, moving to the side. As he did so, I caught sight of the source of this new voice: Eris.

She smiled at Her father, and went to brush Her hair away from Her face. As Her hand passed over Her eye, I caught a mischevious wink. Here She was, on my side all over again.

Erebus spoke in the language I had first heard him speak. His words flowed like molassas, and I understood none of them. Eris' response was much clearer.

"But Daddy!" She protested.

Erebus began to speak again, ponderously slow over word and phrase. He was interrupted quickly though.

"Daddy, I want them!" She shouted, going into a kind of "pout mode" that I never imagined a Goddess capable of. "If I don't get them, I'll hold my breath until I turn blue!" And with that, an intake of air sealed the deal.

The shear humour of the situation almost made me burst into laughter. Erebus had obviously never encountered this tactic before, and the look on the woodcutter's face showed that he hadn't, either. Erebus tried a few more times to reason with his daughter, but as She wasn't responding at all (and was turning a rather dark blue at this point), he finally broke down, shouted something, and stormed off into the woods.

To be continued. . .


Other parts:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV
Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII

Chaos working XX - Final entry.

Part XIX


Eris busted out laughing, and ran up to the woodcutter and myself, throwing Her arms about us and dragging us to the ground. "Wasn't that great?" she crowed in a sing-song voice. "Father is such a pushover!"

"Goddess, you're good!" I shouted, smiling. I turned to the woodcutter, currently being smothered in kisses by Eris. "Esus, you protect me well. Thank you for all you've done."

Esus pushed the Goddess off of Him. "That's my job, kid. I don't mind it one bit."

Eris looked at Esus with a sly smile. "You know what?" She asked. "You should really consider cutting that beard off. It's itchy to kiss!"

Esus looked at Her with indignation, and decided to ignore the comment. Turning to me, He smiled, saying, "You have a destination, kid. But you have to be there before day break. Those boots won't get you there fast enough."

"He's right," Eris said. "You'll have to get there faster. I suggest you call in a few favours."

And with that, both were gone.

I stood for a moment in the clearing, looking around. The mountain I was supposed to reach was far away, and the two Deities who had just left were right: I'd never make it on time. I thought hard about the place I needed to go, and how I might get there. I shoved my hands hard into my pockets.

My hands didn't fit.

I turned my attention to this new problem, and I opened the pockets carefully. Inside (and now falling to the ground as well) were hundreds of blackberries. I didn't know which Deity had left them with me, but I thanked them kindly in my heart, and began to call out, "Blackbird! Blackbird! Will you return your favour?"

A moment later, the bird appeared. He landed in the clearing, and I held out a handful of blackberries, and he began to eat.

Between bites, he looked up at me. "What can I do for you?"

"Can you carry me to that mountain?" I asked hopefully.

"I can do better. I can put you on top of it!" He crowed. I handed him another batch of blackberries. "Climb atop my back, and we'll get you there in a moment!"

I climbed onto his back, and we were off.

We flew over the fields quickly, low to the ground. I looked up at the mountain, and its eye opened to stare at me. I called out to the bird about this.

"Why does the mountain look at us?"

"It sees all that happens here, even when the eye is closed. It seems harmless to me, but it can see anything, even your heart's desires!" he shouted back.

On we flew, until finally we came to the top of the mountain, out of the view of the large eye. I slid off the blackbird, tripping over the irregular ground, and stood on the rocks, looking out.

"I'll leave you here, now. Good luck!" the bird shouted, and with that he was gone.

I watched his retreating form as I stood atop the mountain. When the blackbird disappeared from sight, I sat down on a rock, kicking my feet over the nothingness. I stilled myself, and thought about why I was here. Each event played out in my mind again, and the reality of it was reinforced.

Why was I here? Because I wanted to be.

Was this real? As real as any thought.

Should I stay? I should not.

What was the mountain? I don't know if I'll ever find out.

Perhaps it was me, or maybe my mind. Perhaps I was over-analyzing, or under-analyzing. Who knows?

But I knew that it was time to leave. Time to get up. I relaxed myself, and rememberd who I was. I followed the paths back to myself, back to my own world.

When I awoke from that dream of reality, I was still seated on the floor. The time had not changed, but the candles on the altar were out. The house was cold, and I was unsure for a moment whether I had actually woken up.

I stood up, and stumbled out of my room. My legs were in pain, and my body screamed. I checked the clock in the kitchen, and it confirmed: no time had passed.

But sitting on the stove was a newspaper. I had started this on a Saturday, and before me sat the colour comics. I'd been out for 24 hours.

I laughed, and started to make eggs, wondering if this counted for one or two days of Chaos workings?


Other parts:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV
Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX

And now for some peace and quiet

And so now, tomorrow, I leave for Trillium.

Because of this, I'm going to be incommunicado for the next few days. Like, say, until Sunday.

The story is over, and you can find each part here. I suggest you start at the beginning, because that makes the most sense:


Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV
Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX


I expect that I'll have the full version up on my website on Monday or Tuesday, so if you want to read it all at once, you can do that, too.

But for now, I will go to bed, and dream of hotties I get to meet at Trillium!