(If you are new to the story please check out part one here!)
It is at this point that my mind runs blank. For all the intensity of my vision, it is just a dream and like any such projection of the mind, runs the risk of being forgotten or misremembered ere the sleeper wakes. I do not know with all certainty that this is the case, for I do recall the figure in the dark, though its form is foggy and twists madly within in my head with every attempt to describe it. Perhaps it is simply that I cannot put the words on parchment, for any that spring to mind appear inadequate to me.
Yes, that must be it. The alternative bears not thinking about.
I recall that I was once more alone in the tunnels, standing in the dimness of the torch and staring wildly into the abyss that lay beyond. Though I do not fully understand the nature of the thing that I saw, or how it could disappear from existence with such speed and fluid ease as to appear to have never existed in the first place, this is precisely what happened.
The voices ceased as well, as though linked to the thing in some form. I find this unlikely, though my first thought was that it had been the stranger that had spoken. As I reflected on this I came to the conclusion that the voices had not emanated from anywhere within the tunnels. Had they done so they would surely have echoed, as mine had done when I attempted to reply.
Understandably this line of thought troubled me greatly, and so I decided to exile it from my mind and focus on more pressing things. The events had shaken me greatly, and I decided then that the mysteries of this wretched place would serve me little if I were to be overcome by whatever foulness lurked therein.
I am not a coward. I say this because it has been suggested of me before now in matters of state and times of conflict where I have chosen the route of the pacifist and the diplomat rather than that of the warrior. Never have I encountered a situation where my own blood need be risked to appropriate a necessary goal or outcome, and thus I have avoided these situations as best any might. I repeat that I am not a coward, but the preserving of one’s self and one’s interests is a justifiable and laudable act.
With haste I made for the spiral tunnel that I had come from. To my surprise and dismay I discovered that the track was wet and slippery, though there was no clear reason for this. My fingers dug into the mud as I moved, for it was closer to that by then than the solid material it had previously been, and with every scrabbled movement I began to sink.
Warm, trickling liquid spread across my fingertips, through the gaps between my fingers and later began to seep into my boots. There was a strange texture to the muddy water, the unexpected heat aside, that I found disquieting, though I knew not why. My nostrils filled with the tangy smell of copper, and another sweet yet also vile stench of unknown origin. The contradictory scent churned the contents of my stomach.
From then on I struggled more frantically, and found that while my increased efforts brought me further up the winding path, they also saw me dragged deeper into the sludgy substance beneath my feet. It appeared, most disturbingly, as though the earth was attempting to pull me down.
I believe at this point I began to scream, a natural reaction to such an unnatural situation. Contrary to expectation it appears that a scream does not always cause one to wake, for I screamed within the dream for many minutes, and began to feel my throat run dry and hoarse under the pressure.
Still, perhaps it was my persistence or merely the luck of the gods that I did eventually awake from that maelstrom of horrors. The cold light of my bed chambers was a welcome sight after such a terrifying ordeal and though I assured myself that what I saw and what I experienced was merely a dream, maybe simply a product of too much of the house’s wine, I… admit I am uncertain.
It is a troubling thing, and as I put quill to parchment I find that I am once more haunted by those terrible visions. The room is still now, as all the servants are now in their quarters and I alone remain in sleepless vigil. Truthfully I do not wish to sleep. I know that the second my eyes close those tunnels will sprawl out before me once more. I know that I will see the dread darkness of them, those hideous bloody minerals within its walls, and worse… that thing.
That thing that spoke my name, and greeted me by it like it knew me. Like it knew me. That thing so terrible that I dare not think of it… and even as I try my best not to, it creeps into my mind…
Human, of a sort. Of human appearance? No, no. Not human, but similar. Not of the inhuman stock or nosrec, or forest dwellers. Not them, not them. It walked like a man might walk and looked like a man might look… but I say it was no man. It was not.
For the briefest moment it as it stood before me, my fearful eyes were drawn to a gaping toothy maw that grinned at me with rotting yellowed teeth. It did not seem to breath, yet in spite of this it exhaled decay. Obsidian eyes stared through me with the intensity of a dead star, and in those reflective globes I saw my own terrified face contorted in an expression of pure terror.
Alas, that was not all I saw, for though the word held no meaning before that moment… I saw Akcryn. I know now what that abominable word means. I saw it… I saw it… and that image will remained trapped within my skull until the day I pass. Oh, Black God take me but I know I will now…
I wish that I could write its meaning, and by so doing remove this tainted knowledge from my mind forever. I would burn this paper, burn the whole damned room if I had to. I would bring this building to the ground and destroy everything I hold dear to forget what I have seen.
How am I to sleep tonight? How am I to sleep ever again? Knowing that when my eyes close I will see it again and hear that dread cry within my head.
S’ha Akcryn! S’ha Siyahn!
It is decided. There is but one course of action open to me now. I will not see that thing again. I will not… yet I must sleep. I have taken from the cabinet a number of medicines that shall cure me of these traitorous thoughts, and the need for sleep. Never again will I see the ancient tunnels sprawling out before me, or hear those blasphemous words.
This night I have learnt a terrible and damning truth, that there are places within this world where even the Black God dares not tread. These are dark and twisted places, where the gloom is lit by crimson, and things that should not exist do in stark defiance of all our knowledge and wisdom.
Beware the creeping horrors that may find their way into your sleeping mind. Beware the ancient tunnels, and pray that you will never see the thing that lurks within them.