WHEN DROMGYDDRU GETS HERE
by Stephen Walker
I am dead but I am here.
For I am within this world, within its rocks and shores, within its smallest of creatures. I am within its skies and stars above. For I created it all.
I am within the only house upon this world, the one that stands on high atop a rocky crag almost too steep to climb. A house sharp and jagged, as though seeking to tear a gash in the purple sky that frames it. Although I did not create that house, I am in there as well.
But another is here.
It enters as a shooting star, blazing across that purple sky. It arrives with noise and fire and, when its energy is spent, it crashes to the earth.
But this is not the Earth, pretty wanton, nor any other world ever trod by mortal men. For this is Curulath, and it is a tiny world.
It is a harsh world.
And it is home to only two beings who know their own names.
Zykalon stands by the crater, a tall, gaunt creature; his head, the skull of a long dead animal. But, within those empty eye sockets blaze twin fires that could burn the soul. Blood red robes cover his body and his fingers are as long as the scythes they resemble.
Beside him stands Crattos, monstrous, huge, a creature of living rock. I made him too, as I made all things that belong on this world.
Zykalon and Crattos gaze down at the thing that has just smashed, from on high, into the slate hard ground. Smoke rises from it. Even in the night's darkness, it is clear that it is a strange and fearful thing. Even Zykalon, all wise Zykalon, has never seen such a thing before.
But he has his suspicions. Is that nightmarish tangle before him a creature? Is it an object? Is it alive? And, if it is, has it ever been truly alive?
These are not known.
But Zykalon, must know all.
So he orders Crattos lift it from its crater and take it back to that lofty house upon that peak.
Crattos slings it over his shoulder and, accompanied by Zykalon, carries the new-found thing up the one thousand and five steps carved into the side of the peak that supports the house. Having conquered the steps, he carries their find into the entrance hall then up narrow, twisting staircases till they reach a room high in the building's solitary tower. There, he flings the thing down onto a bed.
Zykalon chides, 'Well done, my friend. If this creature was not deceased before, the force of that fling has no doubt finished it off.'
Crattos says, 'I was not created for gentle acts.'
'So it would appear. But this thing we've found, let us assume it still lives. Chain it to the bed. For I fear I shall not deem my dreams safe to keep until I know our guest – if guest it be – is properly secured.'
Crattos says, 'It is her.'
It is morning, and Zykalon and Crattos have returned to that room.
But things have changed. No longer chained to that bed is the fearful thing they pulled from a pit last night.
Instead a woman lies there; so pale of skin that snow itself would deem itself dirty beside her. Her hair is the colour of the skies outside, as are her lips, and the fingernails that some may almost call talons.
Stood beside her bed, Zykalon leans forward and studies her face from up close. In response to his servant's comment, he says, 'It is who?'
'Her,' says Crattos. 'My creator.'
Zykalon says, 'Your creator is dead. You, of all beings, should know that. And I fear that even the likes of her cannot return from centuries of oblivion.'
Hours mean nothing to the likes of us.
The creature awakes with a start.
It sits up.
It pulls a lop of hair away from its face and tucks it behind one ear.
Then it realises that, to do this, it must have a face and it must have an ear and it must have a hand.
It studies the back of that hand, then turns it over to study the palm. It looks itself up and down and realises that, whatever it once was, it's now a woman - of sorts.
That woman tries to move her other hand.
But she can't because that arm is chained to the bed. She gives a quick tug at the chain.
To no avail. It seems that, for the present, she's going nowhere.
But now she spots something.
In the corner of the room, in a chair, sits a collection of bones and robes assembled into a simulacrum of a living being.
Her gaze narrowing at it, she says, 'And who might yoube?'
It says, 'I might be many things but I am called Zykalon. And you might be?'
She says, 'I might be even more things, but you can call me Arcadia.'
'When I found you,' he says, 'you were a thing unrecognisable. But it seems you have since taken on the appearance of one long since dead.'
'I tend to do that.'
'Oh I know what you are,' he says. 'I was in some doubt last night but subsequent events have confirmed my suspicions. Though I have never before encountered your ilk, I have heard whispers and rumours. I know from where you come. I know of the things you serve. It is said they send emissaries into our worlds for purposes unknown. To observe? To report? To hinder? To assist? No one knows. But I do know a chain of iron would never hold you. You'd merely slip through it like air passing beneath a door. But a chain of gold, like that one, well that's a whole other matter.' He watches her for a moment, and then he says, 'Tell me, Arcadia; why are you here?'
'I don't have the slightest clue.'
'You fell from the sky.'
'I never seem to arrive with much dignity.'
'Arcadia, are you a threat to my dreams?'
'I suppose that depends on what you dream about.'
The twin balls of fire within those empty eye sockets watch her for a moment.
He shouts out, 'Crattos!'
The door opens and Crattos is stood there.
Zykalon tells him, 'Release our guest.'
The monster enters the room. He crosses to where Arcadia kneels on the bed and, with one tug, he snaps the chain.
As she frees her wrist from the last remnants of the chain, Zykalon says two words. He says, 'Hit her.'
Crattos's huge fist rams into the side of her cheek, knocking her off the bed and onto the floor.
Rising to his feet, Zykalon says, 'You are an honoured guest in this house, Arcadia but if you seek to do anything that threatens my dreams, I will have Crattos tear you limb from limb.'