Sunday, January 27, 2013

An excerpt: In the Shadow of the Black Sun, Book 3

For nearly three hours they descended. The touch of the ice tore the flesh from their feet on occasion, leaving smeared crimson prints behind them.
They felt nothing.
The chattering of unseen things sounded out around them, hiding in the dark recesses of the pit, watching the newcomers as they entered their world. The call of their father was so strong here in his home that it blinded their senses, pulled them along like a river's current.
At long last, the crystalline stairway came to an end, a wide translucent floor spreading out in all directions. The light from far above cast a circular shape at its center and at its edge the darkness began to deepen. All was silent, only the whistling of the frigid wind reaching them this far into the earth.
The boy hesitated, his eyes full of uncertainty as he studied the black areas around them. His sister grabbed his hand and moved ahead, skipping out of the light and sinking into the thick shadow. Their eyes adjusted immediately, an apparent gift from their father and all was clear to them. The way ahead led through countless pillars of ice, formed when the waterfalls had frozen. The bones and skulls of beast and man were embedded inside, their shapes distorted by the nature of their tomb.
Among these tall columns, thin figures stood watching, pale and fleshy wings hanging from their shoulders like a cloak of dead skin. There was death here. The smell of it filled the air like a long-slaughtered army of thousands. They soon noticed the shapes of unrecognizable things entombed within the walls of the place, mythic creatures only spoken of in fictional tales. They were preserved perfectly behind the transparent surface.
"Almost there," the girl encouraged, leading her brother down a narrow side passage. "Father is very close."
They passed scores of the Inquitis, the hissing breath of which emanated through the corridors. Their cancerous flesh was as grey-blue as the sky outside, yet the cold seemed to have no effect on them much like the siblings. Vaporous clouds hovered about their skeletal faces for, unlike the children, they breathed. Mournenhile had imbued them with the spark of life or a semblance of such.
The odor of decay grew much stronger and ahead they could see that the corridor opened up into an immense chamber. Then, the screams reached them, faint at first, thousands of voices shouting in agony. They glanced at one another, puzzled. The girl shrugged with an evil grin and pulled him along with a tug.
When they reached the end of the corridor, the floor dropped off and the roof rose to dizzying heights. At the edge, they carefully peered over, the overpowering smell and cacophonous noise sending them back a step. Far below, in the dim light, countless naked bodies thrashed, struggling to stay afloat in an icy underground sea of slush. Even from afar, it was apparent that they had been returned from death's veil, skin hanging like paper upon their bones. Sightless eyes looked to the ceiling of the chamber as they climbed upon each other in a futile attempt to escape the biting water.
They pulled and scratched with nails long rotten, intertwined hopelessly in a mass of broken limbs and ruptured organs.
Kripplemourn, the keep of their father, melted from below.

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