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Talk and songs in tongues of lilting grace.

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(From the guy who wrote, and is still writing Superpositions, I present this. Like the other, feedback is encouraged, and I'll be adding more as I go. Without further ado, this is a horror story.)


Prelude: Look beyond the broken bottles, and past the rotten wooden stairs.


Were Beatric Reid the sort to prattle, she would tell you a story of a young woman who lived outside a great, and forbidding series of buildings.


Through cracks, and unattended windows, I would say, this young woman would half-glimpse the comings and goings of not just others like her, but of things just beyond sight.


I would tell you that in every crack and crevice, she saw something grasping and desperate to pull us all into the waiting dark. I would tell you that she knew, deep down, if she just understood the people locked in these structures well enough, she could warn them of what was on the horizon.


But all of that would be totally untrue, cliche, without merit, and perhaps most egregiously, a bore.


Instead, I will talk on something that deserves the effort: The world beyond ours is not entirely indecipherable, and I intend to prove that.


Correction. I've proven it, sometime in the future, and now I must re-trace my steps in order to re-arrive at my as of yet unconcluded conclusion.


My notes, in this waking dream I have been quite lost in since my arrival in Ul'Dah, are quite scattered, and littered with mocking asides, baseless grammar and spelling corrections, and a recurring chant of "No Face". I've made my case to these unseen harriers that I do, indeed, have a face, but it occurs to me that the Gridanians typically used masks in a great number of their rituals involving anything sidereal.


Clarification and Addendum: A number of cultures, beast tribes included, utilize masks when partaking in anything one might deem "mystic". I will endeavor to procure something with which to cover my visage. I expect this will be difficult, as the world, or the world's worse-for-wear reflection seems devoid of much beyond unusable rubble and ruin.


I would also note that there is a wind here that continues to stir dust, though I can't interact with it at all. While I attempt to make a "face", it may do me good to review my notes.



Entry 1: Once, it held dreams.

I see that I have and will write here that I came to this place through means of an alchemical cocktail consisting of a soil sample from an Idol I was able to locate in Amalj'aa territory, a feather, lightly sprinkled in the blood of a dying man from one of the Primal Garuda's assaults in the 'Shroud, a variety of finely ground lightning crystals, a drop of Ceruleum taken from the good Captain Jacobi without his knowledge, two spoonfulls of honey for taste, and water from a Serpent Reaver hold.


My goodness, this must've tasted awful. However, it does explain my current state of perception. For all I can guess, I am currently staggering about the Ruby Exchange in a stupor, drooling on myself, and pawing at passers-by. That, or I am collapsed elsewhere, dangerously near death, and experiencing this hallucination as a result of entirely too much Aether in my system.


Nothing about why, though. Perplexing as it is, I have decided that I will fashion a face from one of the few objects I can interact with. It will take a bit of chewing, but I believe I can bite holes through my shoes, and string the leather over my eyes with the laces.


I find it fortunate that I abhor these heavy boots, and that my feet will not feel the shards of glass and stone that litter the streets. The wind has changed direction no less than seven times as I have recorded these observations, and I believe the letters scrawled by the others here, whoever they might be, are in some form of disagreement with the paper itself.


It tugs, and bends. Curls, and contorts, and struggles against...nothing. Against itself. I've opted to silence the incessant crinkling by beating the things with my now free shoe soles.


Entry 2: Why didn't you come when I beat my drum?


The mask has worked. I see them. They see me. We cannot touch yet, but we are close. They point my way down the road, toward the Gate of Thal. I don't believe I am dead, so I am left to assume that I am requested elsewhere.


While walking, I stepped on another page of my notes. Almost illegible, as the others have implored me to make different noises. They write that I cannot know what I know. They say that these doors cannot be opened.


From what I can gather, I was attempting to call to something. The Amalj'aa in particular were adept at calling upon their God, and the demi-magic influence of the Bard's songs of old held promise. If one knew how to speak to the stars themselves...find the right cadence, the right meter...well, we might fight the monsters of yesterday with the monsters of tomorrow, mightn't we?


This was sound reasoning, and well within my grasp, if only I could keep the sentences and notes from running away. Or vanishing. Or killing themselves off, as was the case with the S's and K's. Engaged in some manner of overt warfare with one another, and evidently unable to cope with the horrors wrought by either side, they leapt, strangled, and skewered themselves on whatever possible. I would have to give up on chasing them. The gates were my only option.

Entry 3: Lying pictures, screaming metal.


The gates lead to Aleport. Aleport is not on the same landmass as the city of Ul'Dah. On the shores, men in billowing red coats prodded and poked at an ailing machine. Shaped like a man, but it's features were unclear. They melted and swayed. It was broken. Leaking some manner of inky solution.


My mouth produced no sound as they closed around the thing. It loped and struggled to stand on it's one useable leg. It lashed out when it could retreat no further, yelping like a wounded dog. Three fell. Then it fell. The others, walking out of an ocean of boiling silver, turned as one and marched to a drum I could not hear.

I saw, in the machine's grip, another of my notes.


When I pulled it free, something churned within it. Weakly, one gear pushed another. A few fingers dug into the sand, and it's fluids...it's blackened, glossy blood, traced a message.


"Why won't they let me help them?"


I told the thing I did not know. I asked if it knew where more pages were. It did not respond. As I turned to leave, I felt a pang of guilt. Hallucination or not, I could not leave it to sit at the beach. I drug it, heels first, away from the waters, and toward what was a cavemouth at one point. The page was slick with the machine's ichors. I could not read the words.


Tracing my steps, bound by some force of habit I had not yet developed, I came upon it's words in the sands.


"I didn't want for this."


There was an echo of pain in this place. Of fear. I did not want to see further, and so I removed my mask, and threw it to the sea.


Entry 4: Turn back, turn back.


I wandered the landscape aimlessly, trying to wipe the blood of the construct from my notes. I had to know what they said. But with no face to see this world, I had little hope of finding additional clues.


The taunts followed me, impish little fingers drawing their insults in the sand. I fought with them. I bellowed my own profanities. This seemed only to spur them on. I felt some desperate longing to escape these things. A half-remembered nightmare from childhood, perhaps. Knowing only that something is chasing you, and that it must not catch up.


Through the streets and walkways of Limsa Lominsa I ran. No direction. No conscious hope of escape. I stopped once I reached the ferry docks. The boats were all present, but there were no sails, and they tumbled freely through the air, bouncing off one another in an endless, clumsy dance.


In the distance, something coiled and snaked through the liquid-metal sea. It ceased it's churning long enough to raise it's head.


It could see me. I was certain.


"No face. No mark. No master. No hope."


It drew closer to the docks, dissolving ship and pier alike into churning, bubbling silver.

"Unwelcome pilgrim. Trifling sham of a woman."


I dropped all but the ichor-soaked note. I fled.

Entry 5: The cellar door is an open throat.


This world, whatever it was, was dissolving. The S's and K's still standing raised arms against the thing from the sea, and were turned to fluid. The men in their billowing red coats formed wall upon wall of proud jaws, and determined brows.

The very ground they stood on swallowed them hole, as piece after piece of everything became one with this furious metallic ocean.


It was through a crumbling floor, and into a half-dissolved basement that I found my refuge. The floor of the Lominsan Port Authority was where I found myself lying. One by one, the bricks fell away. I expected oblivion, and I was not disappointed. I was surrounded by stars. A yawning nothing. A howling everything. The ocean had stopped. The serpent ventured no further.


I approached it. Curious as to why it had stopped, and it recoiled. It spoke in a language...a song, that I did not know. And the nothingness answered in turn. There were things moving around me. I could feel them. The tingling of other presences. The songs repeated again and again, and I begged them to explain. How did it halt the serpent? Where was I? What had I learned?


But my words were lost. I had discovered how to see, but I had neglected to give myself a mouth. I did not give myself ears, and now, it was clear that I was mistaken to throw my eyes away.


I could not allow myself to discard these things in the future. I twisted my remaining note into something that looked like a pen. The machine's blood crackled and squealed, but held firm against the boiling metal. With screams and curses directed at nothing, I created. I drew.


I would give myself eyes so that I might see.


A mouth, that I might speak.


Ears, that I might hear.

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(From the first time I clicked through from the link on the Misericorde linkshell listing to Jacobi's short stories, I felt there was a certain Lovecraftian-tang to your tales.  The above writing does not diminish this opinion for me in the least.  Sorry if you were going for the Kafkaesque...+1 ;) )

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