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The Alchemist
Chapter 8: Carnival


Chapter: 8 Sitting by his fire, stitching up the fresh injury from a demented cultist's knife slash, the Alchemist cursed with each needle entry. Abruptly, the sound of bells sliced through the air, causing his eyes to widen as he hastily extinguished the flames from the water of his teapot. Swiftly, he rose and concealed himself in the bushes. He was berating his recklessness for camping too close to the road. Suppressing his breath, he blended into the shadows as he waited for them.


A cascade of little silver bells heralded the arrival of an otherworldly spectacle. The sound of the bells grew louder until he could see the first signs of the eerie green glow of the carnival's torches. The Alchemist closed his eyes and pulled from the fragmented long memories, of times from long ago. He recalled carnivals as joyful gatherings where parents would take their children. The excitement, and laughter from the children was like music all around you. Now carnivals were twisted by the blight that had befallen everything and were to be avoided at all costs. Adults were taken and used for grisly cannibalistic feasts.  The souls of the children were stolen, leaving their bodies as empty, wandering husks. The Alchemist always thought the kids were now lost because they could see beyond the veneer of the world that humans could sense. Leaving them open to the real world, and the darkness that resided there.  Occasionally a glimmer of emotion would surface on their faces.  But it was the things of nightmares. 


As the alchemist observed, hidden in the shadows, the carnival's peculiar procession unfolded. The fog-enshrouded them, and the green glow hinted at the soul-stealing flames. They moved in spectral silence. The strange beings had twisted monstrous creatures pulling their carriages through the thick mist. The procession seemed to almost vanish and reappear with the fog's ebb and flow.  Those who inhabited the carnival may have been human at one point. But the blight of the new world had changed them. No emotion from them was shown but it was their eyes that chilled a person to their marrow.  The white of the eyes had turned a pitch back. From a distance, it appeared they had had their eyes ripped out leaving empty sockets. 


Holding his breath the Alchemist sat as the carnival made its slow procession past him.  Usually, you could feel the blight coming off what it had warped.  But the sense of absolute nothing that came from a carnival created a special kind of fear.  Finally, the procession had made it past him. The Alchemist shaken, remained concealed long after the last trace of the carnival dissipated into the night. His only solace lay in knowing he was too far from the next town to hear the people’s screams. 

Beezel and Magnus

I'd like to introduce you to Beezel and Magnus.  The posts are very short but filled with the crazy ramblings of these two old codgers.  This short story sets up the two and their world.

Beezel wandered through the stacks of books lost. He and his brother Magnor had made the library when they were young. But now? Time had seemed to have stolen their wits a little at a time. The two had fought off the Elder beings for so long. They had made the Earth shake with their furry. Now poor old Beezel could not remember how to leave this grand gallery. To be fair this was one of hundreds of galleries. Not the biggest but it was still miles upon miles long and wide. The roof was gilded and adorned with gold leaf and molding. But no one had lit its lanterns in many centuries. So its beauty was obscured in the vaulted darkness 50ft above. Wandering for days through the maze-like walkways between the towering bookshelves.  He had tried to remember why this gallery was so important to him.  The gallery triggered flashes of images, tempting the revelations to come forth.  Flashes of an old battle with a creature so old it had made him seem a youth. It had been gigantic with its shape and mass constantly changing and morphing.  Hints of the final moment when he and the creature were about to clash faded from his mind like sands through one's fingers. And then he was alone again. 


 As he came to the end of the row of shelves he tried to remember if it was left to the exit, or was it to the right? Noticing the old oxidized green brass location plates, at the end of the row of shelves. He squinted trying to read the old greenish oxidize metal.  They had to implement this system after the 5th or 6th person got lost, and died in here. Squinting at the plate on the wall he scratched his head feeling the growth of one of those damnable little flowers. With a sharp yank and a yelp, he ripped it out. Grumbling to himself about the unforgiving nature of the Green Man. Sure he thought, he keeps the world green with new life. But sleep with his sister one time, and be constantly reminded of the blasted man's displeasure. He had hoped for the first few hundred years after, that the curse would lift. Now it was just another annoyance. Scowling now at the plate feeling the trickle of blood roll down his head. He suddenly snapped his fingers and smiled broadly. This was the hall dedicated to the terminal wars. With a big grin, he turned around and wandered off the way he came.  


As he left, the gallery became silent.  Specters had become trapped here after the great war. Slowly becoming corporeal, soundlessly they wailed in the giant hall. They foolishly chose to stay with their beloved leaders after they had died. Feeling they could not leave poor Beezel, and Magnus alone as they lay broken and bleeding on the ground. The pair had survived and carried on with their great works. The specters had been so happy to see them survive that it took a while before they realized they were trapped and could not move on to their deserved resting place. Once this hall had been built it had been like a beacon to them and they all congregated in here. But millennia after millennia had driven them made. The great hall dedicated to their sacrifice had become their prison.  


As crotchety as old Beezel was Magnus had become a happy old fool.  Walking with his cane he had attempted to go look at the shiny hoard of gold the two had collected in their travels.  He came to the only bridge that connected the library to the vault.  Unfortunately, the bridge had collapsed into the deep abyss below. tilting head momentarily confused he sighed. Carefully getting down and sitting on the ledge he let his feet dangle. 


Humming to himself he tried to think back to the days when he was spry and had built this place with his own two hands.  his own two hands and of course a whole hell of a lot of magic.  The library extended down many levels, and the many sections of the library could be accessed by the network of bridges extending over the void between them.  


He sat there smiling lost in his thought for who knows how long.  But eventually, a moth had found its way into the depths.  It glowed a pale yellowish green.  with a laugh, the old man got up and chased after the pretty little light.  well hobbled on his cane more than chased. 

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