UNINVITED

A SANTHARIAN MYSTERY TALE

 
Lurking in the Mists   
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  22 pages (Download is available Download text)

Introduction. It is past midnight and darkness reigns in the study. There's an open book on the desk, a glass of blood red wine and a candle is quietly melting away close by. But what about those ominous sounds reverberating through the hallway? Could it be that an intruder has just entered? Is he already leaving? A thief, a murderer even? Chances are, whoever it might be, he's still around - very, very close by, ready to strike any moment. And thus the dangerous nocturnal search begins: A chase with a life at stake...

Additional Note: The short story of "Uninvited" is based on the interactive Santhworld module bearing the same name. The story is also a "Thief III" fan project, marrying the world of "Thief" with Santharia. Pictures used in this module and story are screenshots from the game by Eidos Interactive. All rights reserved.

 
The study

hat–?

For a moment I thought I heard something.

Wait...

There... There it is again! Is it? Or just my imagination?


I look up, find myself sitting at an ancient oak desk, a tattered book in front of me. It is open. The leather of the tome is flaking with age, its yellowed pages exude a strong musty smell.

My hands rub the drowsiness out of my eyes, or at least try to. However, vague remnants of what must have been a nightmare linger. I can't remember the dream, and while its matter is elusive, the dread has remained: I sense a gloomy, oppressive darkness hanging over me, like thick cobwebs that occupy the recesses of my mind. A ghastly monstrous presence seems to be lurking somewhere behind the monster-wrought fabric, like a spider patiently waiting for its prey. Whatever fiend had beset me in my nightmare, I don't want to remember.

The alley outside is mostly pitch black already and so is the hallway next to the small room I'm sitting in, the study. It must be past midnight. There's only some scarce moonlight shining through the milky window pane, illuminating the study somewhat. And there's the candle of course which still keeps me company. Half its original size, melted wax running down on one side, it sits next to the book, the flame slowly dancing around the wick. Judging by the big, bulky shaped lumps that have formed I must have dozed off for a while.

Ah, there's that glass of red night wine, too. Which explains things. It's all in the name, isn't it? Red night wine – an adult, strong and powerful brew they use to describe it. First row ticket to the land of dreams. Nightmares included… – Hmmm… Speaking about the "Land of Dreams"…

I catch a few paragraphs in the book in front of me, which talks about exactly that:
 

"And so it is said that a creature from the Land of Dreams visits those that have fulfilled their existence's purpose in the world.

It's the Kiivosh, the Soul-Gryph, which takes away the spark of life from the dying, with all his memories, hopes and aspirations, cleansing it. It thus prepares the deceased for final judgement in the world that lies beyond. During the hour of death the Veil of the Kiivosh engulfs the fallen, guarding the dead, until the soul is taken to its final destiny.

Some say that once separated from the body the spirit of the dead might still be experienced in this world until his deeds are ready to be judged. Be it as a draft of wind, a whispering out of nowhere or even a serious haunting that offers the dead an opportunity to avenge, understand or redeem himself."

Spooky stuff... I shouldn't read too much of it that late. No wonder I fall prey to bad dreams! Well, I better be –

A muffled howl. A moan. A disturbing distant scraping. All at once…

There! There it is again! That... that... eerie screech! Or is it just a creaking door? But… creaking doors... – in the middle of the night? It seemed so much closer now... – No, it isn't just my imagination, I HEARD it!

Two, three steps and I'm in the hallway.

Without a light source it is difficult to recognize anything properly this late in the day, but it is the sudden silence setting in again that disturbs me even more – almost as if the sound is afraid of revealing its source.

It came from the other end of the corridor… Right? Ha, and now I'm talking to myself, as if I need to hear a trusted voice.

But… – What–? What’s that?


Something's not right here.

At the edge of the carpet a discarded object makes me reel. I take a step back. Even in the half-light I can make out what it is: something long, shiny, sharp and... deadly.

I bend down to pick up the knife. The blade is red all over, red as the night wine I've been drinking. Blood!

Someone must have... Someone might still be...

I whirl around.

Nobody there.

Not a sound either. Dead silence engulfs me.

Only the moon and a lantern's distant shimmer seep through the open doorways along the hallway to my left. Here and there spots are bathed in the faint light coming in, darkness reigns the rest. Every nook and cranny the house has to offer appears like the perfect shelter for shadows, mysterious and foreboding in their blackness, harboring undeterminable secrets. When I look long enough into any such corner I think I notice something… someone… rising, but the longer I stare, the more it becomes clear that I'm hallucinating.

One step, another, along the paneled wall.

There are stains all over the carpet. They appear blacker than black in the half-darkness. And they are blood stains I'm sure. Yes, blood stains: Blood stains smeared on the wooden panels, blood stains it seems wherever the gloom is interrupted by a mere hint of light... They're almost like a track, leading into one of the adjacent rooms to my right.

I wait with bated breath, make another step towards that room, and wait again.

Nothing. Not the tiniest movement, no rustling, no scratching, no breathing.

Another step, uneasiness mounting. Still silence.

One last step.

Whoever is in there, I have his knife. But wounded animals are the most dangerous. Whoever is in there, I...

...almost leap into the library, brandishing my weapon.

Shelves upon shelves of books. A desk, a chair, pools of darkness.

Nothing happens. If I expected an attack, I'm proven wrong. No unbidden guest is lying in wait. No club, no axe, no sword is being raised. Just more dark corners that are staring back at me, pitch black and obscure as is their nature.

I shift uneasily. My fingertips tap over the books that lie scattered over a small table nearby. Another bloodstain is on one of them. Some more on the wooden floor. And on the door on the other side.

A door that is closed right now.

Who closed it? Have I… Did I… – I never...

I can't remember. As if by instinct I reach for the handle. The door rattles violently, resists. It won't budge.

Locked.

I press my ear against it, listen for a while. Not a sound. Squat down, listen for some more. Nothing.

I don't understand...

I hesitate to raise my voice. The intruder might not be in there after all. I don't want his attention if I can avoid it.

Why would he lock himself in?

Taking a few steps back, I end up in the hallway again, always one eye on the locked bedroom door. My fingers curl around the knife.

I have to get out. If I can, I have to get out. That's the only way.

Senses fully alert, I continue to move along the hallway. I sneak towards the dining area, waiting at the end of the corridor.

As I go I hit larger piece of furniture blocking my path: a chest. Realize it has been opened. Glancing inside I see mostly garments, jumbled, thrown around. Oh, and a jewelry case in between, turned upside down. Nothing in it. Not anymore.

A thief! He must have hurt himself while plundering my valuables. But is he gone? Does he know I'm after him? What EXACTLY happened here?

A muffled howling. A moaning. A scraping. Again!

There! THERE! How could a human ever make such sounds? Unless…

The ongoing wailing keeps creeping along the walls towards me. I almost want to turn around in panic and –

But then they trail off again, the various dissonant tones, dispersing somewhere, somehow in the woodworks. As if chased away. Or maybe each single sound has found its respective place to linger, like a flock of birds landing on the boughs of a tree, about to rise again any time.

If only I could be sure about that sound... If only I could locate the intruder...

I leave the chest behind, crawl forward with my back pressed tightly against the wall. Every time I pass another doorway I pause, draw up my knife, sidle past, then freeze again. Stay that way for a couple of moments. Just to be sure. Maybe I'll get a glimpse of something unusual happening behind that door, catch something stirring in the corner of my eye. But the house doesn't want to reveal its secrets.

Not yet...
 

The fireplace

The dining table. Three chairs around it, a fruit bowl on top. The aroma of baked bread and onion soup still hanging in the air. On the other end: the fireplace, cold and empty. At midnight the joys the blazing flames provided are long gone, the logs have crumbled into ashes by now. There's a poker next to the mantelpiece and an armchair in front.

Not hungry, eh, thief? Where ARE you?

Again, I wait, observe. Once I'm sure I'm alone in the room I head over to the other side on quiet soles, trying to make friends with the shadows. In their shelter I hope I'll be the boat they'll carry to the rescuing shore...

Ah, finally, the vestibule. Reeking of damp coats. Worn leather shoes. And roses in a vase for a change. Only a few steps more...

Beneath the front door I see the gap through which spills a lantern's soft light. Ah, a greeting full of warmth, a welcome from the other side. An invitation. My anchor.

Quickly now... Out!

Fierce rattling.

Furious I try once more...
Rattling.

AGAIN! What–!?

Shut and locked tightly! I fumble for the keyhole... No key inside either!

I'm... trapped! I've been locked in! What IS he trying to do?

A ghoulish groan rises somewhere...

Like an ominous plea for help from a bottomless well, resounding by now in bloodcurdling regularity. Almost... as if this warped yell does not emanate from this world, is only passing by.

It's coming from the basement...

I turn on my heel, back I go. Back to the dining table, across the room, this time in the opposite direction. A flight of stairs in the corner leads down into the cellar. It's looking up at me like a gaping maw about to devour its prey.

I pause before I move on, reconsider.

When I listen closely I can hear the sound emerge again. It's much fainter now, but it's still there... actually, its intensity is rising, is falling... it dies away at times entirely, lets the quiet settle, then sets in again... with renewed force, louder, or maybe just because I'm listening now, picking up every nuance of it...

Could it be just the moaning of the wind?

The noise is now transforming, changing into something different... It's always altering itself, never quite the same... always another kind of... of... lament... – a desperate kind of... lament..

Is that what it is?

The noise ebbs away.

As I look down the narrow stairs I notice a peculiar glimmer from below. The darkness down there seems suppressed, subdued.

One more mystery…

Foot upon foot descend the stairs. I feel as if a reluctant me is just following, in wake, unable to object, drawn towards the unknown, my odyssey being dictated by something that lies beyond my control.

An abrupt, aggressive draft charges as I proceed. It shakes my every bone, pierces my very being. I can see quite clearly now in this unexplainable half-darkness, but I don't know what to make of it.

The missing jewelry, the blood, the sounds, locked doors…

I'm not sure anymore what to expect down here.

I stumble through rooms oozing with dampness. There's firewood on one side, barrels, crates, wine racks, on the other, whatever one puts in places like these; most things look like they have remained untouched for ages, stored for good perhaps, never again to see the light of day. A layer of dust covers a row of lined up bottles on a table nearby.

A scraping sound...

I...–

Glass bursts. There's a wild explosion.

I jerk back, thunderstruck. Thousands of tiny shards scatter on the ground, their delicate clinking forming a mosaicish, undirected noise.

Wine is pouring everywhere.

I step back, notice that a bottle has just hit the floor. I must have rubbed against a barrel, with the bottle on it.

There goes the Winter Ice, along with the attempt to catch an intruder off guard…

Once again, I stand stock still, listen for a reaction of my unseen opponent. Any reaction.

...

Dead silence.

Peeking around the corner I spot more crates and barrels covered with cloths. A tiny, oblong window set into the upper part of the wall permits some more light spilling in, emanating from a lantern that holds vigil outside, a couple of feet above. Somewhere from the ceiling water is dripping. In their unhurried rhythm drops keep on pattering away: bigger and smaller splashes alternate. They repeat their monotonous pattern again and again with unerring precision, like a pocket watch’s ticking. With every drop that hits the floor I feel like my despair is being recorded.

... – What was that?

I spin around. Fresh sounds mix with the dripping water, very different sounds, sounds of... – yes, now that I focus on them I can discern what it must be, indeed... – someone's talking!

I move closer to the building's outer wall, as that’s where the muffled noise seems to originate. And while I have difficulties with understanding at first, the longer I listen the more pieces of a conversation I manage to pick up:

"If I tell you, captain!" It’s a man's tremulous voice. "It cannot be undone now!" He's whining, speaking in a quiet tone. He says more, but the rest is unintelligible.

"It's been taken care of then, you say?" answers someone else, his words booming in contrast.

"Oh yes, yes. I fear it has been! But what will happen now? I can't, I can't... I just can’t..."

"Well, scum to scum, right?" The other says flatly.

Silence.

They must be out in the street, right in front of the house. Guards!

A memory hits me like a flash. I recall the afternoon. Remember the hanging of the murderer from Craeywock Alley. Right there on the square. The big crowd… Hundreds watching, cheering. Celebrating when that dastardly beast finally lost the ground under his feet, left dangling from the beam, flailing with his arms for a few moments before being robbed of his life forever.

They're talking about him...

For a moment I consider finding a way of getting their attention, but I think better of it. The thief can't be very far anymore. If he hasn't noticed me yet, he'd for sure hear my hammering on the walls and my shouting for help.

I have to confront him myself. There is no other choice.

The footsteps already walk away on the cobblestone.

"First things first," are the last words I can still understand.

Then I'm alone with myself again.

Onwards.

But the moment I try to make another step I falter, sink back.

I'm overwhelmed by a powerful, inexplicable sensation: a dreary melancholy grips me, so intense is it, so bitter I feel its pain, that I almost crumble under the weight. I've never felt anything like it. I have difficulties staying on my feet.

Somehow it's as if I'm suddenly confronted with the prospect of inescapable doom. Like a prisoner who understands that the four walls he finds himself in will be all he'll ever see for the rest of his life.

I don’t know where all this is coming from.

Then, within an instant, a hazy phantom, a shadow, or a shapeless vague mass, whatever it is, peels itself out of the semi-darkness – like a hole that suddenly appears, stays there, hanging in the air. It is lacking any outlines though, is pure blackness of immeasurable depth. The specter wafts past me, plunging whatever it touches into obscurity... It drifts... shifts... moves... skirts the barely visible objects in front of me, as if keen on devouring them...

I shrink back. An icy shiver runs down my spine.

The thing surges towards me, and as sudden as it has come into existence, is swallowed again by the half-darkness, or simply seeps into its surroundings, dissolves, falls back into oblivion.

In its trail a muted, unreal sounding whimpering.

Then silence.

I must be delirious, imagining things. I’m so tired. And probably still drunk. I’ve had a nightmare, read too many weird tales. Can’t think straight. I... I...
 

Crates upon crates

I brush my contradicting thoughts aside. The rogue has only one more room to hide in. Bracing myself I walk towards it.

Boards, and more boards leaning against the wall. A crate, large and makeshift, and a rusty bird's cage. That's all I can detect as I enter.

I shove the cage aside, move towards the crate. Something rustles inside...

Got you! Now come and show yourself!


My knife is ready to charge.

Out with you! OUT!

The crate cracks as I hit it with all the force I can muster.

A rat scurries away.

One... single... rat.

Grain spills all over the floor, the sole contents of the crate I just attacked.

I hack at the wood once more as if it had wantonly failed me. Hit it again and again, with increasing desperation. More grain spills out until half of the crate’s contents cover the whole place. I rifle through what’s left.

Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU?

No thief hiding here. The whole basement – empty.

I reel in agony.


As I turn around I’m struck by another dizzy spell. The full impact of my futile efforts comes down on me.

My feet are wobbling, I can barely stand, have to hold on to something. Listlessly I totter back to where I’ve come from, feel like falling, sinking, as if I’m floating, or try to, out somewhere on a turbulent ocean, far away from any land, any boat, anything I could hold onto; I’m out there on a murky sea of fear surrounding me, with waves about to cover the drifting, helpless, lost creature with their wet embrace... The depths beneath are dragging me down, the black abyss has opened.

I try to compose myself, clear my thoughts. Get back on my feet.

Rats don't steal, bleed over your carpet and lock doors! And thieves don’t just disappear! If only I could think straight and get rid of those headaches...

Bit by bit the gloom that befell me retreats, and allows me to scuffle back.

I press on. Past the shards of the bottle I broke, the wine racks and the logs stacked in a corner, past... –

Another unsettling feeling steals over me.

Voices again...

The corners of the room come alive. Voices... unintelligible voices everywhere: whispering gibberish, talking over each other as if they are only intent on speaking, don't have to listen, solely concerned with themselves; but what they have in common is a vehemence, a forcefulness, a torturing frenzy that they make my hair stand on end. There's nobody here of course, just...

...those voices...

...ever droning on in their relentless monologues, relating nothing in particular, but repeating it over and over again.

I need to get out! Out of this cellar, this house! Out of this – whatever it is...

It's my own voice I now hear screaming amongst all the others, drowning everything else out. What remains is a strange awareness of being pursued, played with, threatened by something superior. It’s as though the thief and the voices conspire against me and the walls are closing in on me.

I pound up the stairs. Rest for a moment, breathe deeply.

Which is when I hear it loud and clear, as clear as a sound can be, right above me:

CRACK!

The sound of splintering, wood breaking… And there, once more! Followed by a dull, solid thump... Then a scraping and scratching...

He’s up there! Up in the attic!
 

Discovery!

I race back along the hallway, past the library, the study and its guttering candle, clutch the rungs of the ladder leading up: one step, two steps, three... creak... creak... creak... two more to go... creak... creak...

I don’t care whether he hears me. I have a knife, he’s wounded. Simple as that.

I emerge on top, blade gleaming.

If he hasn’t moved, he must be further back...

I sneak past beams, boxes, barrels, sacks smelling of dust. There are paintings covered with linen, a rocking horse, a broken bed... Carefully I place one foot in front of the other.

This time there will be no escape!

One step, another. One more.

THERE!

I stop dead in my tracks.

I KNEW IT!

A large hole in the roof greets me, almost half a man’s size. Through it moonlight pours in: The thief's work! Pieces of burst wooden planks lie around everywhere. The traces are still fresh...

Quickly I scurry towards the hole and peer out into the cold night.

Where is the intruder? Has he just escaped again through the hole he came in? Am I too late already?

I hope to get just one glimpse of a shadow retreating somewhere, a fellow stricken with panic trying desperately to climb down, hurt as he is, trying to get away from me.... How I long to finally spot him, grab him, confront him, and satisfy my hunter’s pride!

But there’s no so strange shape. Not a single sound either that would hint at the villain’s flight. Looking down I consider how the thief must have got up here: on a stack of crates, holding on to a ledge here and there, yes...

My eyes narrowed I search the alleyways I can see from my position. The square is empty too, with its gallows still conveying a gruesome warning. The body they hung this afternoon is gone by now, but they’ve left the rope.

But... why... – I begin to think – why isn’t there any blood around when the thief escaped through the hole he came in? By the Twelve... He might be still up here!

I get back in the attic, pull some cloths to the side, but...

More noises! This time from below!

Will this chase ever end? Someone is... fumbling at the door! Would you believe it?

I rush towards the hatch where I came from, listen some more.

A key is turning, a lock snaps open...

It’s the front door! How could he fool me AGAIN!? I...

But as I’m about to climb down and rush after the man, I freeze, bewildered.

Footsteps! Footsteps of someone coming IN!

What...?

Someone is walking towards me! Moving around as if he's searching for something...

And there's another pair of boots joining in now!

I withdraw from the hatch with bated breath, hiding in the shadows. Only after a while I dare peeking down again.

“See?” I hear someone talking. “All that blood...” And after a while: “Here: That’s where he must have come in!” I can’t see the one who spoke, but whoever he is, he’s probably pointing towards the hatch.

How... What–? Is that accursed thief now trying to frame me?

“Let me see,” a deep voice answers.

Heavy boots clacking on the floorboards quickly draw nearer. Someone’s playing with a sword: I can distinguish the sounds of a weapon being pulled partly out of its sheath and then let go again. Ready to draw and strike if need be.

Then I see him: The city guard appears just a few handspans below the hatch, inspecting the floor.

Instinctively I withdraw further, cowering in the shadows.

Should I reveal myself? Talk to them? I... I need to sort my thoughts. What fabrication has that dratted thief told them? I have no idea what’s going on...
 

A city guard

The guard looks up.

I’m in the shadows, I'm in the shadows, I tell myself. He cannot possibly see me...

I don’t dare to breathe.

The guard addresses the other man, probably a guard too, asks a few questions. However, I don’t catch what he’s saying, all tense that he might spot me any moment and make use of his weapon.

The second man calls the first away. He follows, the footsteps depart.

Relieved, I exhale, look down. The spot beneath the hatch is empty again. Further back another lock snaps open: It must be the bedroom door...

How come the guards have my keys?

They continue talking, but there’s no way I can understand a single word from up here. So I wait, crouched in my corner, all kinds of confusing thoughts running through my mind.

After what seems like an eternity the two pairs of boots get in motion again, exiting the house, their owners still talking. At least now I can pick up a few things:

“Go, fetch yourself a drink then, you’ve gone through enough for a day!” one of them says. “I’ll take care of the rest. The coroner will be here soon.”

Coroner?

I gasp. Then the front door closes and I’m alone again. Alone with nothing but my questions.

I climb down the ladder. Dash through the corridor.

I need answers. Who was murdered? How? Why?

As I pass the study I catch something in the corner of my eye: It’s a shiny object, lying on the floor. I stop to look at it, only to discover that it’s a knife: a blood covered knife. Glancing at my hand, I realize it is empty now, though I could have sworn holding this very knife just moments ago.

Something's not right here.

For the Gods' sakes, I’ve held that knife all the while I’ve been pursing the intruder!

I pick up the blade, again as I’m sure, then stagger along the hallway.

Upon reaching the library, an uncanny sensation sneaks up on me, almost demanding me to turn around. As I do, I see the knife still on the floor, untouched.

My skin prickles as I look at my hand: empty.

...

I storm into the library and into the now unlocked bedroom...

Whispers assault me as I enter, wailing, whimpering whispers, incessantly muttering, lamenting, moaning and groaning. They reverberate once, twice, multiple times, begin anew with whatever they have to say or rather fail to say, starting again while their echoes still haven’t ceased, again and again, in circles... It’s as if all these voices are murmuring inside myself now, deep down inside, trapped, trying to break out of their prison, with their unrelenting forcefulness determined to remind me of their existence, their pain, their torment... There are other sounds too amongst them, familiar ones, sounds I can recognize, though they all seem to be coming from within: the rustling I’ve heard down at the cellar, the splintering of wood in the attic, and another one I can’t put somewhere: a hoarse voice of a man yelling in agony...

I step closer to the bed. As I move around the bedpost and lower my gaze I discover someone lying on the floor. Blood is on the clothes, on the carpete, bathed in an eerie light owing to a greasy oil lamp at the nightstand.

The body is not moving.
 

A body

I shudder. Inside of me the torturing voices are welling up, their torment turns more intense, ever more urgent as I approach.

I kneel down, bend over to peer at the face.

The eyes are still open, staring back at me.

An unforeseen flood of sensations hits, an onslaught of once buried impressions coming back. Rampant, raging in their immediacy, everything washes over me: deeds and thoughts that seem distant, strange at first, like stories one hears but considers to be nothing more than that, yet they bob up here and there and remind of details, details that link to other details, forming a whole, and the once distant, strange impressions become trusted, and, eventually, real.

Images rush by...

There’s an alleyway, derelict buildings in Voldar’s poorest quarter. Night time. A bridge. Guards patrolling. Keys jingling with every step they make. An aura of danger...

Then other images, other sensations...

Of a house, a dark corner. Someone perched in there, waiting. Peeking out. The motion of shrinking back, diving into the shadows, as footsteps are passing by. The beats on the cobbles again fading in the distance. Rustling in the shadows. A hand touching a garbage can, a foot testing the sturdiness a crate. Crates upon crates. A foot, another, climbing those crates.

Another image...

Inside an old house. Pushing broken wood aside. Sneaking past beams, boxes, barrels, sacks smelling of dust. Past paintings covered with linen, a rocking horse, a broken bed... Tiptoeing, tiptoeing.

Comprehension dawns on me that I know the hatch that is now being pulled open. And I know the hand opening it...

I realize that I see visions of... myself. No, not visions... rather, it become clears now to me, memories...

I remember descending down the hatch, looking around. I remember that I was convinced having found an empty cottage. That I opened chests and drawers, that I took coins and gems and jewelry. That I entered the library, the bedroom, picked up more gold there. The fool hid most his stuff under his bed!

Until... the fool suddenly showed up himself! But it wasn't the jester on the king's court...

I hadn’t heard him, hadn’t seen him as I came in through the hatch, but he was there when I wanted to head back. Standing inside the doorframe, unsure what to do with me. He was as afraid as I was. But his being there was enough to thwart my plans of easy escape. Greed makes a man blind, they say. And deaf too perhaps. I had made a terrible mistake.
 

Duel

I remember drawing my dagger.

The man shouted, begged for his life as I approached. I didn’t want to do this. He left me no choice. My hand trembled, but I had to follow through.

“Help!” he yelled in that hoarse voice of his. “Help me!” Making it only worse. Forcing my hand to silence his tongue.

“Don’t! Let me be... I give you everything!” Well, I already had everything. “Please!” Sounds of sheer fright. The palpable fear of death.

A blade to do the terrible deed...

I remember how he lunged at me in his desperation, his final attempt to escape his fate. I remember how he tried to wrangle the dagger out of my hands, but it was to no avail.

He was doomed. The dagger struck. Hard and deep.

Poor chap.

He didn’t deserve to die that way. By the hands of a negligent thief like me. But he had to, he just had to... He might have had a life to envy him for, a life I never managed to lead myself.

...

But why...

Why is all this coming back to me now, so fresh, so clear? How come I have forgotten? Why is it returning? In fragments, in memories, like a... haunting? Something... doesn’t make sense.


I gaze at the blood on the floor. A chorus of discordant voices reverberates in my mind. Something hidden behind the fabric of existence is screaming at me. As if it’s... yes, as if it’s beckoning me...

I look up, at the mirror above the dresser.
 

A dead body

But there’s no reflection of someone standing in front of it. Only of a body lying there, in his own blood.

And I remember: the cold steel in my side when the man was fighting for his life. The cold, icy steel that put an end to my thievery, when the trembling hand turned the knife against the attacker.

That body... it is mine.

Everything blurs and for a fleeting moment I catch the sight of a strange, otherworldly creature gliding by, and yet it’s a moment that will stay forever with me: There’s that tentacled, faintly glowing kind of bird, iridescent with sparkling purples, lush greens, and shimmering golds. Gently, majestically it sails through space carried by its gigantic, almost endless veil-like wings, which with the beat of each flap are dancing elegantly alongside the creature, swirling like languid, spiraling fumes and filling the enormity of the void with their august beauty.

In passing the bird’s magic engulfs me, enwraps me, and finally drags me away on its flight... It all lasts just a moment for the mortals, but for everyone else it’s... eternity.

The Soul-Gryph... So it is true...

And then... I'm gone.


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 Date of last edit 28th Sleeping Dreameress 1676 a.S.

Mystery tale written by by Artimidor Federkiel View Profile