Friday April 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose that have something to do with: binding.

I've been going to bed early for the last week or so, just in case things happen during the night and I need all the rest I can get. So far all that's happened is I've gotten more sleep. That's a pretty good deal, actually.

Tomorrow morning I've got a two hour training shift at the bakery. Should be fun!

Assuming I'm available to do it.


"You understand the terms of the contract as we've laid them out and agree that by signing here, here, and here, you must abide by them at all times?"

"Yes sir, I do."

"Then I thank you for signing our agreement and remind you that these terms are legally binding and any attempt to bypass, circumvent, or outright ignore them will be severely punished, with the utmost enthusiasm, and without hesitation."

"Yes sir," we shall see about that.


Greg said...

Sounds more like you've been going to the bed at the right time then ;-) Though obviously we've missed you replying to comments as well.
Well, it sounds like the two sides to that contract are planning on having fun in the near future!

"The rare books are over here," the young man produced a bunch of keys and unlocked a door. As it swung open I realised that the door was nearly a foot thick and I could see steel at the edges. "Some of their bindings are a little..." he paused, rubbing his tongue over his lips and his eyes unfocused as he hunted for the right word, "unusual." The signs on the wall were enough to explain: Goatskin, Lionskin and Chimera-skin were over on one wall, while Granite, Plutonium and Ancient ice (probably) were on another.

Kyle said...

The black candles were lit and in place. The incense was almost thick enough to obscure the air. All that remained was the summoning circle; I hand-sprinkled a thick circle of salt just inside the perimeter of the candles.

The room darkened, though the candles' flames did not waiver in the slightest. The incense adopted a slightly sour undertone.

I had spent the entire previous week committing the strange chant to memory. I began speaking in a language not meant for humans, untranslatable into writing. My words flowed through the heavy air in the dank stone cellar, reverberating off of the walls and seeming to amplify with each bounce rather than diminish. I had trouble keeping my chant steady in the growing cacophony. I closed my eyes to focus, clenching my fists tight at my sides.

The echoes fell suddenly flat. I kept speaking, a rising urgency and energy in my voice as I dared to hope the ritual was working. A feeling like that of worms crawling through my veins overcame me, and my voice faltered. I opened my eyes as the smell of the incense gave way completely to that of super-heated metal and sour milk.

My jaw went slack, my verse completely forgotten. Two of the six candles winked out. Before me, within the confines of my salt circle, stood the living embodiment of dread. An amorphous black mass, as if shadows from the corners of nightmares congealed and gained substance. It had only the vaguest suggestion of limbs; no eyes, no face.

It didn't need a face for me to feel its piercing, black gaze.

I knew I had to address it, or the ritual would not hold - and he would either return to his own realm, or break the circle and kill me. I cleared my throat, and held my right hand out in what I hoped to be a commanding fashion, feeling as though my bones were host to a localized earthquake.

My voice broke on the first word when I spoke. "Hear -- hear me, demon! I have summoned you, and in answering, you are bound to me, your new master. Bend to my will, and let this pact be sealed!"

In spite of the onrush of fear, of dread, of loathing emanating from the beast in the circle, a glimmer of hope rose in my chest, knotted in my throat. I had done the ritual correctly. The demon had appeared, hadn't gone on a rampage, and my circle was still intact.

His voice boomed entirely inside my head; he made no sound at all in the chamber. "SPEAK THY NAME, AND PROVE THYSELF WORTHY, MORTAL."

I swallowed hard, throwing my extended arm upward for emphasis, hoping I looked less like a nerd on D&D night and more like Gandalf.

"I am Christopher Johns! I, who have summoned you, will be your master!"

The form seemed to shiver briefly, then I felt the explosion of mental sound again. "SPEAK MY NAME, AND SO SHALL OUR PACT BE."

I spoke the name, which transcribed would best be spelled as, "Xy'llthrax." The entity stilled entirely for a moment that felt like a frozen eternity.

With no warning, I was off my feet and flying backward. I slammed into the door to the cellar with my back. The wind blew out of my lungs in a spray of splinters from the door.

As I staggered, wobbling, to my feet, I felt the voice in my head again. It was less tremendous now, almost sounding amused or cocky.

"You have spoken incorrectly, Mortal. Your power is broken, and you are mine."

The remaining candles snuffed out, and the salt ring exploded outward, my circle broken and worthless. I felt, more than saw - as he had no face - the demon break into a grin.

A slithering, greasy, uneasy trembling consumed me as the black form dissolved, became a grotesque mist in the air, and swarmed around me. The black cocoon enveloped me, closing ever tighter, until I felt apt to suffocate. Then it flew, almost instantly, into my nostrils, my eyes, my ears, my open mouth - feeling like wet, smooth, uncomfortably warm sand pouring into me.

Then "I" became "we." I now know my master's true name. Hail to Xy'lltharaxas. His will be done.

Marc said...

Greg - and now here I am, staying up much too late and replying to comments once again! Things have truly returned to normal...

That sounds like an interesting collection! I wonder what sort of content one might find within those books.

Kyle - great atmosphere and imagery in this one. Really enjoyed your descriptions as well, particularly the parts involving the summoned demon and its... transfer into a new host. Very nicely done!