Friday, November 8, 2013

Harvest Time

Copyright - Thomas Arensberg
Do NOT copy or share without permission

Fionach knelt in the tenuous shelter provided by the copse of gently-swaying white poplars shepherding his meager reserves of power. As the world upon which he had so long resided but so long not been a part of, wended its way inexorably from Solstice to Equinox his energy diminished as the life force of the planet did as well. On nights such as this where the wind bit mercilessly at his exposed flesh and the cold sank so deeply into his ancient bones, he felt every year of his nearly two millennia of existence weighing down upon him.

Unbidden, his thoughts went to a time when he had not only protected and nurtured the land but had drawn his mystical powers from it. He had worshipped the natural world as a living embodiment of the Goddess imbued by her grace with beauty and timeless wonder. But, his beliefs had proven false and baseless as wicked men of temporal power ran roughshod over all in the name of such profanities as progress, civilization and domestication. Though he chanted the rituals, spoke the prayers, fasted and prayed, the Goddess did not strike down the defilers opting instead, it seemed to Fionach, to languish in impotent silence and crippling indifference.

On the fateful night when the baseless idolaters had come for him and his brethren, he had wept bitter tears and bled out nearly his last drop as he witnessed the burning of their sacred grove and their defilement of all he held precious. That very night, left for dead, he abandoned the Goddess and pledged his essence and his existence to the Dark Powers that drew their power from the selfsame type of suffering and desecration with which he had so recently become so familiar.

Since that night he had spurned all things of beauty, seeking instead to plunge the world into disarray and destruction. He embraced the vile and unspeakable. He cultivated the putrid and the bleak. He fostered the callous and the brutal. Wherever, whenever and however he encountered the vulgar baseness of which Mankind was most capable, he fanned its loathsome flames to a blazing inferno of blasphemy and disfigurement. Such was his goal tonight as he shivered in the midst of the sickly, stunted exemplars of what had once been timber of awesome antiquity and indescribable majesty.

Below him, in a valley crafted by man and machinery rather than by the essential forces of the multiverse, sat a city not unlike so very many others he had both observed and despised over the course of many centuries. Though, within its sterile and lifeless environs, doubtless existed the noble, the selfless, the spiritual souls, it was not that pitiful minority of beings Fionach turned his focus to. Those were no longer the creatures with which he shared an affinity, an understanding, a commonality of any sort.  Such quintessence would not prove acceptable provender to him now. It would not succor him with the sustenance he so desperately needed to renew and extend his unnatural existence.

And renewal and extension of his viability was of paramount importance. His dark Masters had unfinished work in this sphere and he was unrelentingly bound to fulfill their objectives as if they were his own. Over a very long stretch of time, though, they truly had come to be his objectives. He felt a loyalty…steadfastness to the principles that would bring about the greatest debasement of the human condition.

Shrugging off his metaphysical and philosophical ruminations, Fionach bent himself to the task at hand. Extending his arms before him, he splayed and curled his fingers into a claw-like pose. Closing his eyes and steadying his breathing, he began to chant the invocation in a language that not only predated human history but was, in addition, never intended to be spoken by human mouths. The harsh, grating sounds bubbled forth from his lips like liquefied malevolence. Building in both tempo and volume, he felt the energies building.

Between his hands coalesced a globe of virulent, coruscating energy that would have burned his eyes out with its sheer maleficence had he been vulnerable to its influence. But as a scythe serves the hand of the farmer, a sword the hand of a soldier, a scalpel the hand of a surgeon, it was but a tool for him to wield in the furtherance of his work. As such, he embraced its potency and reveled in the wrongness it exuded.

So venomous were its emanations the very flesh sloughed from his finger bones in gobbets of liquefied sludge. As intense as the pain was, Fionach craved the agony, the visceral torment of it…for it focused his mind on that which he sought most.  Slowly…inevitably…the large orb solidified into a dull gray shimmering thing. It drank rather than reflected the crisp moonlight that bathed it, transforming it in a nether, demonic unwholesome manner.

Fionach sensed this change in the supernatural talisman and redoubled his intonations of the diabolical litany until his shrieks assaulted the night with their animal ferocity. As he approached the limits of his spiritualistic endurance, tendrils of doubt began to squirm into his hindbrain and he despaired…until….it began.

Like the first feeble rivulet of water defaces and compromises the integrity of the most stable of dikes, the trickling mounted to a steady flow and reached its full potential as a roaring flood of feelings…emotions…sensations. Fionach relaxed marginally as he was suffused by that he had so strongly coveted.

Into his dry husk came greed, anger, betrayal, envy, strife, lechery, debauchery and a hundred hundred other sentiments which bore no names but existed only as primordial concepts without form or feature. All that was worst in the heart and mind of established society and buried mostly deeply but unavoidably within the core of homo sapiens surged through his festering, desiccated form.

Bathed in the profane maelstrom, Fionach’s ravaged hands healed and strengthened. His gaunt form swelled with eldritch amplification, his wispy hair became again dark and lustrous and his waxy, pallid skin glowed with diabolical radiance. Filled to satiation, he redirected the remainder of the wrongness back upon its sources, making them even more flawed and undesirable than before he had come here.

Mouthing a silent prayer of thanks to his Masters, he rose with a renewed sense of purpose and a restored faith in his cause and went in search of other fields to reap.

This story was written for the Friday Frights website where I am a regular contributing writer. It is presented for the monthly theme for November: Horrific Visons. Please enjoy the contributions of my fellow writers as well. This particular story, in its entirety, was inspired by the artwork of the exceptionally-talented artist, illustrator and creative entity Thomas Arensberg. While illustrators and cover artists, traditionally, add visual life to what we authors produce, I am proud to have been able to entirely reverse the process in this case and bring literary life to Thomas's visual creation. 

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