Shuddering Castle Below
_Originally published as part of The Missing Soul
Under the Pseudonym Steven Bishop
One night, on a bloody night -- a night of black and red -- in a shadowed corner with the deafness of sound a decrepit castle rises up from the ground. Its stones made of rot, its windows are filled with void -- blank eyes of no pupils, no lens, stare through the branches of naked trees in the bubbling heat of July.
A miracle of transcension rising up, rising up and above. Simmering in boil of deadly swamp to stand upon earth not to be. As it shudders it settles in comfort of falling and cracking -- it will not be long, and it knows of mortality.
A single bastard of the ancient gods steps into the light of a slivered moon. A faltering beam alights on the earth and slashes across his chest. As he steps forth to tell of his presence -- to call to the rotting walls -- this light from the dark and decaying moon takes an ever pained step to meet his. It will follow his movements in pain and in age, for he is of the gods.
As smoke rises up from the portals of flame, he understands that destruction is near. A destruction that lasts through the night; a destruction that lasts for the moon. But he does not shiver -- he has no fear. A man used to evil, too evil for all other men. A man fights the devil -- the devil again and again.
The god-born, lost of the gods strides forward and forward and into the swamp, and sinks and sinks and drowns. And walks on forth in a mystery to man and is trapped by the choking weeds. And he strangles them back and tears them from root and walks on under water and on. And he reaches a stumbling and crumbling wall of the rot of the peat from below. And this wall, it is covered with scales of beast, and the born of the gods starts to climb. And he struggles and fallows and reaches and climbs till emerging from depths of below, he continues through gaping of eye.
And now the great warrior -- the born of the gods -- is lost from the view of the world. A scream is heard not his. A crack splits the wall from the base.
A cry is heard not his. First dreaded of wood, the rafter above, crashes down on his skull. Split as the wall outside.
An anguish is heard and three more not his. The walls all ashudder will bring him to death -- for each takes his body and makes him to bleed and tortures with teeth all agash. But he never will let the world know -- he holds his tongue, bloody swollen it is.
Though death be nigh, matters not, for the blow comes as stroke from the mighty of men. Cry final cry. Not his. And the walls are brought down and the marsh all around swallows all of the victory above.