The Story From Beyond

A short story by Richard Brooksby, 1992-02-08.

It is not without some trepidation that I sit and inscribe this tale, for I fear they it may beguile the reader and that he shall end up enslaved, as I have been, by the dark machinations of some evil mind. Therefore do I seal these papers in a brazen box and seal it with pitch, burying it deep beneath the ground in the hope that none shall ever read thereof.

A blight had come to the peaceful land of Chreston where betimes I stayed and tarried. A great black cloud welled up in the southern sky and rolled evilly above the fair vistas of that balmy land, and it appeared to glow from within with a fiery internal flow. The good crofters were distraught and murmured in their crofts -- it was clear that they needed a hero.

I volunteered before they asked, for I knew that I had been appointed by fate to rid Chreston of this evil menace. Swiftly and with trepidation I climbed into my strange black armour made of a fabric unknown to terrene science, and strapped my great sword to my back. Without a backward glance I strode southwards into the gloom, toward that strange inhabited region known as The Graunch.

Many were the perils I faced on my journey, beyond the imaginings of mortal man. I shall not relate them here for fear that they will sear the parchment on which I write and entrap the mind of the reader. Be it sufficient to tell of my journeys end, for I can upon a daemonic place; dark, black, evil, and malevolent, and belching dark, black, fiery smoke from great towers. It was utterly dark and black, save for a sickly muffled glow from an upper window. As I looked at it I felt a strange feeling in my sickened heart, and smelt a malodourous smell that seemed to come from within rather than from an external source.

I drew my twelve foot blade, Querm, and it shone dully in that baleful light, and I approached the black portal of that dread place.

Once inside I ascended the steps that surely lead toward that solitary light, and I heard strange malevolent sounds. A great wooden portal with a beady eye stood before me. Fearlessly I pushed it open and stepped beyond. The scene was strange indeed. From strange dark vessels on the walls there came the hideous wailings of imprisoned daemons, and the baleful light shone from an imprisoned sprite which hung in a glass vessel from the lofty ceiling.

But this is as nothing compared to the occupants of the chamber, all of whom sat hunched and chained, scritching with long quills onto great scrolls. I could not guess their purpose, but their haunted features chilled my soul to my very soul. I spoke of the occupants, but did not mention the strangest and most evil in aspect. He fixed me with a vile stare which numbed my mind, and Querm evapourated from my hand at a gesture from his pallid hand. As if in a dream I walked forth and sat with the other scribes, and took up a quill and a scroll which lay before me as if appointed beforehand. The sorcerer chuckled and poured black ichor from a great vessel into a smaller one.

"Will you have some tea?" he said.