Pratio never recovered from the assault of the Regent of The Wretched. On the coast near the windy mountains sat this old town of a peculiar history of daemons, cults and lone dark figures known only as The Wretched. Though this old town was now a quiet sleepy town on the coast, it received its popularity through vengeance and passion. Becoming a popular sight amoung tourists of what was, the town became a hotspot for miscellaneous happenings both good and evil. The Wretched remained no longer in the city as their names were claimed and cast out from the cult, now being the only remaining link to what Pratio was. The Wretched has not shown their faces to the public for centuries though cult members still continue their work.
Now being persecuted, imprisoned and hunted down like animals, Pratio’s cult following--The Coram Morte--is now whittled down to a few sects. Though the remaining many will be the most difficult. The Pratio police predict that the cult following will end in just a few if not one more night. One of the police most vigilant officers, Edgar Halstein, leads the effort though takes the time to visit his father.
I am the watchman over the First City Lighthouse. Being at an old age I have looked after this lighthouse since I was a teenager. It has been my duty and will remain that way till the day I die and my duty has torn apart my family, I have since lived here, as it is now my home. Living in a life of isolation, I have made friends with myself and the local animals that roam the coast of Pratio. Up until recently I have lived in silence warning fishermen and captains of other vessels of the sharp rocks amoung them. I have received a letter no longer than a fortnight ago from my son stating that he will visit me tonight for he does not know how much longer he will live after he takes down the local cult following. Tonight I will break that silence and see my son as he really is with no thought of what he once was.
Sitting on top of the winding staircase within the lighthouse I look around the horizon as the sun passes beneath the waves hoping it will come back tomorrow. As I turn around now facing the city I see a lantern and a man walking up the steep slopes of which head to my home.
"It must be my son!" I said to myself in excitement. "Oh have I longed for this day to see the family I once abandoned." But then I thought of the cult who is said to linger in the darkness waiting to sweep people off their feet and turn them into something wrong and misunderstood. I silently thought to myself and put myself in a position on my knees with my arms folded as I have seen the cults do to their god hoping that there was something else out there other than The Wretched.
I heard a reply but it was far more foreboding than I hoped. It said its name was The Outsider; it talked like a woman but a man as well and it began to tell me that the cults days were numbered and that my son, as successful as he is, will successfully end the sects here in Pratio just by his presence but there are far more sects that worshipped other creatures across the continent still in secret. I thought of using this information to help out my son but how could he believe the likes of a man like me. The voice then spoke again that my son may not live the night unless if I meddle in his affairs. I pleaded to the voice so save him but it was not in its power though it will give me the strength and willpower to do what was right.
"This will be the first time I will see my son in years, I hope it would not be the last." The voice closed stating the evil will be the strongest tonight and days that will follow and I should tread lightly.
There was a knock on the door. The knocks echoed through the lighthouse as my son’s knuckles rapped on the door firmly. I quickly descended the spiral staircase passing my room and then the kitchen till I reached the next floor on the very bottom. I then proceeded down a small and long passageway to open a door to see a man of age. Cleanly shaven and in uniform my son was waiting, posture high and professional. We lived in two different worlds but we were alike in every way as I motioned for him to come in and let him pass me as I followed him into the main room. His uniform was clean and straight as mine was old, torn, and wrinkly. I looked down to his shoes and they were polished and shined in the torchlight and then I looked at my boots that had wear. I did not have the luxury of having clean clothes but my son did and I respected that. Arriving in the main room my son turned around and looked at me.
"Hello father." His voice was young as mine was raspy for all the years I smoked and lived by the water. I reached in my pocket to take out a piece of straight menthol and placed it in my mouth. Stroking my long gray beard I responded.
"It's been a long time Edgar, how are you?"
"Please father, I am your son, you have my respect although you may not have the rest of the families." My knees ached as I motioned for him to sit down and so did I. He spoke again. "I am a man who is married to his job much like yourself but I do not wish to live a life in solitude. My fiancé wishes to see more of me but I do not know what to do."
"A man's work is never done son and if you continue to face this cult it will be the end of you." I said. My son repositioned himself across the table and leaned into the table.
"I am so close father. Soon I will rid all evil of this city and for once I can sleep safely in my own home. I then can have children who will live in a safer world.
"The world will never be safe son. One evil dismissed will only sprout another." He wanted advice from a wise man that he called his father. Was he willing to hear anything I would say?
"So I should quit while I'm ahead? How can a man like me do that?"
"I spoke to some higher power, something bad will happen to you."
"You spoke to a higher power? Only cult members claim to do that. Who were you talking to?"
"I...I don't know. It called itself The Outsider but it told me you were going to die tonight if I didn't do anything to stop it from happening!" Edgar laughed to himself now thinking his wise father was actually a kook.
"After I leave, I am going to take the cult down no matter what you say but maybe I should believe you." He sat on thought for a while. "Maybe you should join me. To prevent this bad that is going with me. Stop it before it starts"
"I would rather you not to do anything."
"I'm already in danger. I have been since I began this task force. Who says fate won't follow me home?" He was much wiser than I previously thought.
"Then I will follow. The Outsider said it will give me the strength to help you, so I know I am capable" I got up from my chair and walked to a closet where my coat was and looked at my cane that helps me to walk but I felt somehow better already so I left it in its box. The coat was dark and had musk and symbols about it that confirmed to anyone that it was the lighthouse watchman’s coat. My cane was old as well but sturdier than the day I found it washed up on the shore, it had a strange language carved in it and it was made of a near black wood of an origin I have never seen or heard of.
"It has only been a few minutes father don't you want me to stay longer?" I waved him off and continued to get ready.
"We have the whole night ahead of us son! Let's get started."
As we descended the First City Lighthouse the wind blew heavily pushing the waves further onto the rock land bridge around us. The wind howled and it sounded like a roar of a ferocious animal. The sound sent chills down my spine, as I feared the hours to follow.
"When are you getting married son?" I yelled as I tried to take a cigarette out of my pocket.
"We have already been married in secret but for the public we will soon because we wanted to quell this cult before we went public. Its like posting a target on the back of my wives back." He yelled back. "I hope soon because we already have a child on the way."
"You already live together?" I asked.
"Yes. She doesn't really have a family either."
"What happened to your mother?" I asked.
"She...she moved away. Someplace far away from this city."
"Somewhere with more sun?" I asked again.
"I guess. In reality I think she just couldn't stand my work like she couldn't stand yours but this was a long time ago, maybe months after you left." I left it as is as we started to enter city limits and I saw a contraption I haven't seen before.
"What's that?" I asked. Pointing at the contraption. With one hand and fumbling to take out a match with the other.
"It's an automobile" he said with a laugh. "Imagine a metal horse. It operates off the same machinery as trains and some boats." I haven't been on a train for a long time and even longer if the boat was moving but I understood completely. "Just open the door on the other side and sit, it's that simple." I opened the door and stepped up to the seat where I situated myself. He got on the drivers side, pushed a couple of buttons and then we were off. "No cigarettes in the car." He added as I began to light my match. I threw it out of the window and put my cigarette back in its pack. I took out some menthol and started sucking on that.
We traveled at one steady speed but I noticed there were some foot pedals where my son put his feet and some kind of stick between us that he didn't take his hand off of. All was steady throughout town as we were in the only automobile on the road.
Soon we heard gunshots in the distance and my son sped up the automobile to get to the location of the shooting faster. As our speed increased so did the sound of the automobile. The engine roared as we passed a neighborhood and people began to look out of there windows but they were already awake by hearing the gunshots. For a moments time I could not hear the gunshots and neither did my son but he knew where the gunshots were coming from. We started to go out of a residential area to the town square. This was where the town hall and other assorted government housing was located along with little housing, stores and an old building that barely held onto its foundation that the cult called a church.
Unlike most buildings this old building had no electricity like the rest of the city–my son explained to me–it sat in darkness as the surrounding buildings and park were lit up. Police and other automobiles were stationed outside of this building as other officers hid behind their automobiles surrounding the building in its entirety. The cults church was an old apartment building several years ago but had some serious fire damage. Doomed to be condemned several of the old occupants stayed and started to rebuild with resources they had on them. The rest of the cult has been said to reside here preventing the building to be taken down. Up on a fourth story window a police automobile had its search light positioned showing a rifle pointing out of the window. It shot down towards the direction of the lights source but it didn't hit anything. Police searchlights were lighting up several other parts of the creaking building, blinding the shooters. My son pulled up a ways from the building and the rest of the cars and turned off the automobile.
"Let's go." He got out and so did I following his every move up to a tent in the park where was the police operations center.
"Edgar! Good to see you." Said an officer.
"Wishing for better circumstances I hope." My son said.
"Is this your father?" Asked the officer. My son nodded. "I heard you were going to visit him, not take him along. I'm not sure that this is the place or time to be doing such a thing."
"As inappropriate as it may be my father has claimed to talk to another being that is unlike The Wretched and only he can save my life." Other officers in the command center had started to pay attention to the conversation and scratched their heads.
"I don't believe in any form of gods and nor does any sane person in this city but your father wishes to fight for the cause and that's very noble of him." The officer said suspiciously. Now addressing me, "Do you know how to shoot?" I said yes. "Good. Get this man a rifle and a uniform! We don't want him to get mixed up with these cultists." The main officer that was now to be addressed as Captain Faulks gathered the commanding officers around a large table with a map on it.
"We have got them at their last stretch." My son said. "Now we must deliver the final blow. Commanding officers will take what's remaining of their squads and attack here, here, and here." Pointing at the map respectively, I lit a match to get my well-deserved cigarette. "We have the remainder of the troops at the back. Once we start shooting they will storm the back end and capture the first floor and watch the entrances, windows and stairs. At the same moment you two," pointing at different officers, "will hold your ground and distract the cultists on the remaining floors though we suspect they will be aware we are already in the building. I will take my squad and storm the front once the first floor is taken. We will then take men from the back end and my men to storm the remaining floors. Once you have taken a out a floor, take a match and light a lantern and hang it out the window. You men will not shoot on any floor that is being stormed to prevent friendly fire." Pointing at officers in red uniforms verses the standard tan. "Got it?" The men grunted. "May Calpernicus hold your fortunes."
Everyone spread out and moved to their areas while my son reached for a small gun under the table with the map on it and loaded the gun. Another officer handed me a rifle and a overcoat that had official logos all over it. The officer then handed me a small satchel that was heavy I looked in it and it was full of bullets for my gun. Loading my gun I looked up to my son as he gazed hardly towards his gun. He stopped for a moment then looked up to me and smiled and I smiled back too and nearly lost my cigarette in the change of expression then continued with my rifle as well. Soon shooting acted up again and I knew it was time to take my position by my son. We walked out to the house and positioned ourselves behind a vehicle.
A few minutes passed as we had our heads down and several shots occurred between police and cultists I lit another match to light another cigarette and then a big bang sounded in the distance–an explosive near the building. I wasn't expecting them to use explosives but maybe it was the cultists. I looked up from behind the vehicle and saw that smoke rose from the first floor nearly setting the house on fire.
"Was that us?" I asked my son.
"No. No it wasn't." He responded. He looked up to and nobody shot back at us. He thought for a quick moment and started to yell. "Change of plan boys! Head to the building now!" Captain Faulks agreed and a few soldiers began to yell and others yelled back preparing themselves for a possible death I threw my cigarette to the ground and stomped on it then everyone charged to the house scanning windows looking for movement and a few saw some cultists peeking out of their perspective windows and the soldiers began to shoot at those in the building but the cultists didn't return fire. In the distance I could hear sirens of the fire division coming near thinking there was a fire due to all the smoke. As we approached the building Captain Faulks squad began to kick down the door. I watched the door standing ready to fight while my son was still making his way to the building then everything happened too fast.
Before everyone knew it, another explosion went off behind the front door and wood fragments, shrapnel and fire went flying in the opposite direction we were heading and pushed everyone onto their backs. People were covered with blood and bare bone came flying off of some of the men's limbs. My vision came and faded of me struggling to get up. I lay on the street and some people left the building speaking in foreign tongue in which I could not understand. Few of the men who exited the building poked their rifles at my body and I could only assume wonder why an old man fell into the comfort and fought with the police. I reached for a cigarette shakily and one of the cultists helped me light it. They then spoke several words together. One word sounded like "souls". As if they needed souls for whatever vile plans they have. Cultists left us to die but soon the fire division entered the scene trying to extinguish the now starting fire and dragged our bodies from the streets and back to the command center.
Visions of blood and darkness came unto me in my slumber but I felt somewhat at peace. The trauma of my wounds began to take over my thoughts but all at once everything disappeared. I heard a voice in the distance. It was The Outsider.
"Poor Watchman. It looks like you have come to your end but have no fear for we have made a mutual agreement. I help you, you help me. Consider all your faults healed. You are no longer a worldly man but a man of worship. Praise my name and you will continue to be blessed as long with your sons family but your son I cannot guarantee as there is something I did not expect." I lay motionless visioning that The Outsider stood before me.
The Outsider told me that inside the attic was a beast made by The Cultists from unholy blood sacrifice. The creature was once a woman but is now lost to find its child. I was to let it loose into the city as I would follow natural selection of the beasts killings of the remaining cultists. It would not pick a side, which is why it was locked up, and he began to tell a tale of the woman who was captured and how they killed her unborn child to turn her into a monster.
"They will never be kind to women of purpose until the flock is returned to its fold." I thought of what that meant and it could mean many things but he said I was never to find out until I searched for council once I turned into a Wretched.
"Until?" I asked. A pit in my stomach opened up.
"I have already chosen you to be the dawn of a new beginning. You will prepare the world for the second coming of The Wretched."
The betrayal was real. I could feel it under my skin as it began to crawl and take shape something under my skin rushed to every corner of my body like a blood rush to the head. I could feel something take control over my body but it let me be. Waiting for my next move to turn against me. The Outsider began to talk again speaking of an infection.
"You will no longer bleed blood once the blood leaves your body. You are now an immortal though not a Wretched as Wretched cannot inhabit the world at this moment. You are a Wretched and human. You are a Cremata. Kill that creature my followers claimed to be a worthy upbringing and then kill the remaining members. Take all their hearts and their metal idols and their bones and put them in a great fire. Fuel the fire with the creature’s blood and its head to summon the Cremiticus Imperium, a device to help you and your followers live forever. A new generation of followers is coming and you will create them yourself." I first felt sick about what he was telling me but I soon became resistant to the sickness and began to agree with him. I thought it would be a struggle but I was obedient in an instant. What have I become? "The Cremiticus Imperium is pertinent for a Cremata's survival. You must do everything I said."
The dream ended and I woke up in a gurney at the checkpoint in front of the cultists building. I examined myself to notice there wasn't a scratch on me "Thank you Outsider" I whispered to myself. A man sitting on a makeshift bed beside me was shocked that I woke up.
"How did you survive that? Everyone by the door got too injured and are now in a hospital or dead!" I shrugged. "You are one lucky old man!" I stood up and a few medical officers tried to make me to stay laying down stating there may be internal injuries or shrapnel still in my body. I knew I was unaffected by the blast so I ignored everything they said and looked for my son. He was nowhere around so I ran to Captain Faulks to get an idea on the situation
"Where's my son?" I asked. Captain Faulks was getting many cuts and scrapes tended to as he sat on the side of another bed.
"He's gone." He said. Taken by those damned cultists. He shouldn't of been in the attacking force but that man was too stubborn." A panic attack grew through me and I started to search my body for a cigarette by reflex but I thought longer after I couldn't find them on my person and realized I didn't need it.
"I need to investigate that building!" I said trying to struggle away. "There can be evidence in where they went. Some medical officers gathered around me forcing me to sit down beside the Captain.
"You can't go to the cults building, it's not safe anymore. We need to know where the cult went and everything in the building blew up in the explosion. Search the alley, do not go further." I thought to myself about the cultists and I figured they would be somewhere in the Windy Mountains but they could have been anywhere in the mountains like Wreched's Cavern to the west or the Stripped Mine in the north. There were also several abandoned buildings at its base on its southeastern side and ruined villages too on and around the mountains. I was offered new clothes and I put them on and began to approach the building, this time at a slower pace from before, cautious I would get shot at or worse but there was no one looking out the windows. Some parts of the building were fallen off but others were just charred black but the further you look up more together it held on its ruined foundation. Some officers of the fire division were still in the building making sure it was all cooled off and that the fire wouldn't start up again while others sat by the front entrance playing cards on a small charred table.
"You want to go inside?" Said a man with a cigarette in his mouth. Just before he threw down a high-ranking card in front of his coworkers.
"Yes I do. Has anyone found anything?" I asked.
"You can't come in, Faulks orders."
"I am here to check the alley can I enter?"
"Just the first floor, nothing else." As he pointed behind him. I walked past the ruined doorframe and into what looked like a lobby. Stairs up were to my right, a charred desk to my far left, burned down chairs and tables which were now just firewood to my direct left and in front of me a few fire division officers were poking through piles of burnt objects and then a doorway to the back behind them. I walked up to the officers and asked them if they found anything. One led me to a pile through the back door and to the left.
The ground of where I stood was part charred black from the explosion and the rest was red with blood much like the front of the building I sifted through the pile and discovered guns, papers, dishes and books presumed to be cult texts. I looked through one and it talked of the first Wretched known as Bale but he was referred to as Wretched not a Wretched. At one point he was the one and only and now the cult worships many. It talked about his original resting place in the actual Mountain itself in which people called Mount Solus and that it crawled out of its heart. Able to change his image at a whim he manipulated the people of Pratio and took over the original empire that once controlled over this land. I soon began to realize that this was not just some story but an autobiographical account. I became interested in the story and fell more in between the pages believing every slight word that was written by some thing this cult claimed to be a god, whatever that meant. I dropped the book as I heard a piece of the building crash down to the floor.
"There are chains and a lock on the top floor door to the attic. It's locked from the outside, they were trying to keep something in there." I heard from inside as a officer said while walking down the steps to the first floor.
"I wonder what it could be." Said one of the officers already on the first floor. I wandered back into the building and waited for the officer to finish descending the stairs.
"What do you think is in there?" I asked.
"I'm not sure. I couldn't see any lights under the door jam."
"I guess we should look into it." Said another officer.
"We need some equipment first, lets go get it." Most of the officers left the room almost making it a easy job to go upstairs. I searched around the floor and grabbed a lantern. I ascended the stairs onto the second floor when one of the officers left to another room and it looked much like the first. Heavy burning all over the walls, floor and ceiling. You could see where the cult tore down the walls to the apartments to make one big centralized room. In the middle was a large table where I guessed was where they did their meetings. There were also several empty bookshelves in which I assumed were previously filled with the pile of books that were now outside. I ascended another staircase to put me on the third floor. Fire damage was now not as apparent. Most of the floor was untouched though it being a rundown building was still visible. I could see down the hallway where there were several rooms on either side of the hall. There were no doors as I felt they would share everything there were several miniature sculptures of obelisks and triangular towers. There were also several bedrolls in all the rooms and desks. There were no windows except on the corner rooms to let light in but everything seemed to be in a visible shade. Knowing it would be a fire hazard I lit some candles so I could see more of the rooms--I knew they were coming up here soon but I needed to find out where and fast. Several of the books were personal accounts of cult members. I began to read them hoping to find their whereabouts. Some talked about a settlement for cult members just outside a spiral path up the mountains called Regents Fire and others mentioned there was a palace up inside mountain Solus where I assumed Bale lived but there was no exact point on where it was. I figured if I was to find them I was to do it by trial and error.
I walked up to the fourth floor, which was the last floor before the attic. This floor looked similar to the third except there were several decorations all over the walls that were the colour of blood and white. Towards the end of the hall were robe closets of white fabrics, which I assumed to be their ceremonial clothing that a member mentioned in his accounts. There could have been at least a hundred robes within all the closets. I wondered if they were for potential members or already existent members who just didn't take them. I heard something move in the attic, as its chains rattled against each other I then began to fear what was next. I began to search in the cultist’s rooms for a weapon the floor was very cramped. It was a short hallway with curtains section off all the rooms. Around a corner was another skinny hallway and another. I was confused where I was but I continued to look for a weapon. I soon found a small stiletto knife that already had dried blood on it and wiped it off. I could see blood drip from the floorboards above me that was within the attic and new I was close. I looked around another hall and saw the staircase to the attic. I heard some footsteps under the floor so I knew the other officers were close.
I began an assent to the attic and every board creaked as I touched the steps up to the attic. There was no light up here so I turned up the lantern hoping to see where I was going. By the time I reached the top of the steps the lantern dimmed to a small light as if the darkness around me began to consume the light. The door at the top of the stairs was metal with a little rectangular hole with bars on it. Looking through the hole I saw complete and utter darkness. My lantern wouldn't even penetrate the room as I used it to see what was inside. I could hear growling that was similar to a big animal and occasional speech that sounded like a lion’s roar but a woman at the same time. Looking at the handle it was chained and screwed into the doorframe, which was metal as well. I used the bolt cutters to cut the chains that was sitting by the door–must have been left from the previous officer who just went downstairs looking for backup. I guided the bolt cutters through the door handle and placed the chains on the floor. I pushed the door open to see nothing but the blackness that filled the room. I swept the light back and forth in the black but the light would only go so far. It seemed the blackness consumed the light as if it was a nutritional treat. I heard a growling further back in the attic and I feared for my life knowing that this thing was willing to kill anything around it. I took out the knife from out of my pocket and pointed it at the dark knowing that it had to end here. I took a couple of steps inside pointing the knife at every creak I heard but I dared not to go in any further and that's when I saw it.
I saw a mouth full of teeth growling at me just enough to show the stains that covered the pearly whites but soon thereafter the teeth vanished in the darkness. I soon realized that there was something like a dark aura around the beast that prevented the light penetrating the darkness around the creature. Its eyes opened and within the darkness its eyes seemed darker like two black holes sucking in all the light of the world. I thought of what I got myself into but it was something The Outsider will see me do whether I liked it or not. I adjusted the grip on the knife in front of me preparing for the kill but before I knew it, the creature jumped over me and the darkness followed. Before I could turn around I heard screaming downstairs and outside of the police force that was sent to finish the cultists. This was supposed to be the final blow but this was only the beginning I looked out the window in the attic to see a dark cloud moving swiftly on the ground.
I left and ran down the stairs quickly and while I looked around to see the damage I noticed dead bodies lied in the monsters path. I worried of my son as he was in the middle of the fight but the bed he was in was now flipped over and he was nowhere to be seen. The Outsider spoke; “Your son has been held at ransom by the cultists, but you have something new to fear. That beast. It will destroy anything and everything in its path but your son. It knows what the goal of your son is and would like to see the end of the cult on its own. When your son returns he will be of good health as long as you do what I have asked of you.” Somehow I knew that my son was to be held hostage by the beast but maybe it was just the darkness in me that knew this.
I ran down the steps frantically seeing blood cover every surface as if it imploded all the officers heading up the stairs. I got outside to see most people scattered on the ground. Dead or alive I ran down the street to follow the beast. I heard a scream of horror in the distance not more than a few blocks down so I ran towards the cries to help to see that more people fell in its wake. I checked the bodies to see if they were still alive but they were cold, nearly frozen. Just then I saw a movement in black in the house in front of me, I looked toward the doorway and it was ripped off from its hinges. I ran inside and heard a scream of a child. Quickly I ran up the stairs to see the creature cornering a child in her playroom.
As I entered the room I saw the cherub face of a young daughter. I didn't know her name but I remembered her face from the many children who visit me when the schools hold trips to The First City's Lighthouse. Her face shinned through the darkness of the monster sitting in front of her. I could see she was carrying some doll that a family could have made for her. She gripped onto it with all her might hoping that everything was going to go away. I wanted the best for her but the monster left no room.
“Stop!” I yelled. “Leave that child alone!” It turned around and smirked in its darkness. Turned back to the child and flew through her as if it were a ghost then pushed through the wall pushing it outside. The wall flew outside leaving boards to fall from the sky as the child fell on the ground besides me. I felt for her pulse but her skin was too cold to the touch that I couldn’t look for any signs of life. I ran towards the wall and looked down. We were three stories up and the creature ran to the north further through the city. I looked back down to the pedestrians and all the boards and I could see a man and a woman holding hands looking up to what could have been their daughters room. I felt remorse and wanted to speak with them but the body count will only rise if I didn't continue to chase the monster.
I looked around the corner and onto the roof to see how sturdy it was and it looked good. I threw myself over and onto the mansard roof and tried to climb to the top while breaking ground to the next roof, which was flat. I could hear those below me gasp and yell hoping I would be careful but there's nothing they could have done to make me do better or worse. Jumping over to the next roof, I gained a good footing and began to run to one to another. Examining the horizon I could see the monster gallop a several yards ahead of me at the end of the street then to take a left. Chasing it past the turn I saw it cross the street and run through a building to the other end and down an alleyway. I couldn't make the jump across the way looking behind me I saw a brick and metal chimney moving up and over the house. I jumped to the other side of it and tried to push it over. It felt hot to the touch because there was most likely a fire at the bottom of it. The chimney collapsed with my given might and it created a limp bridge across the way.
I continued to chase further down the alley trying to keep an eye on the monster until I heard a boom behind me. The boom came from the house previously with the knocked over chimney and it set a house on fire which set others on fire but the biggest boom came from underneath me and I noticed the room the monster ran through was a movie theater. The heat was touching the movie reels, which inevitably started a mass fire. I turned around and began to run faster hoping I would not blow up with the theater. The roof underneath me began to crumble so I ran faster across the roofs but I could only cheat death for so long. I tripped and fell over the edge.
I woke up attached to a iv drip behind several bars laying on my back on a concrete bench. Opening my eyes I noticed I was underground, sirens sounded in the air and guards stood around my prison.
"How long have you been talking to this Outsider?" A man asked in the dark.
"How do you know his name? I asked
"I heard you thanking him while you were at the checkpoint hospital. How long?"
"My son is your commanding officer. Let me go!" I yelled.
"He's gone missing and you released the monster the cultists created. Captain Solus isn't happy. You're worshipping what everything he is against. That's not okay."
"The Outsider is not good! I've been crossed! I am supposed to kill it!"
"Really? Getting a taste of your own medicine I see." Just then the lights in the cell dimmed and I remembered the monster.
"The monster out there, it's coming!" I yelled while shaking the chains that tied me down.
"Let it come." An officer said. "Maybe it will get its revenge."
"I have to stop it. I'm the only one who can!"
"Were well trained in the manner of cultists and monsters. We can handle it." A sound of a explosion and a yell happened and a voice came.
"Nonbelievers. You are doomed to repeat your own mistakes." The guards stood up and tried to figure out where the voice came from.
"What was that?" One asked
"It sounded as if he was standing behind me!" Said another. The leader took the pistol from off his hip and pointed it at me.
"You want him alive right? Well show your face or I will kill him!" Just then a figure began to appear in front of them outside of my cell. He was less of a monster and more like a man. Wearing fancy clothing of that of a noble, The Outsider looked fairly normal. His hair was as black of the creatures aura and his skin was abnormally pale but seemed rather fitting. I could not see his face but he was inches in front of the leader of the soldiers.
"If you call, I will always answer." I heard something of a whirlwind of sound coming from The Outsider and before I knew it the bodies of the soldiers became wilted and old as if The Outsider was sucking out their souls then disappeared. The lock to my cell opened and the door swung open I thought to myself that I was still locked to the bench and as I looked down there were no chains to be seen. I got up and walked to the lifeless men and took the leaders pistol. It's time to finish this.
I ran upstairs unknowing where I was locked up to see I was in an abandoned building that could have been used by the police department. The cities logo scattered around the walls along with graffiti and human fluids. Walking outside I realized where I was. I was in an unused part of town that was previously used when I was a child. Buildings crumbled in the distance falling under their own weight if steel and bricks and I noticed the night sky was more lit up than normal. I walked into one of the neighboring towers that littered the city and went to the top floor to see what was going on. The city was on fire and the beast was just in the neighborhood. Looking in the distance the fire consumed everything that was within it, which was well more than half of the city. I began to listen and I could hear sirens in the distance but the smoke had not reached this part of the city yet. Looking at the landscape around the city, I could see that the Windy Mountains and ultimately Mountain Solus was nearly behind me away from the city. I was lucky that I didn't have to go through the city though I wanted to check and help everyone that was still within the city.
Following the destruction from the beast and having left the city nearly an hour ago I looked back to see that the fire was somewhat quelled. The fires had died down but Pratio was still clearly on fire. Preventing any new buildings from lighting on fire was most likely the tactic then stopping the fire, no man could stop a fire like that. Taking my attention back to the Windy Mountains I was approaching an abandoned city named Regents Fire that was the home of many cultists on the mountain from before the war. As I was ascending the mountains earlier I saw a dim light coming from the large estate that was within the city. There must have been people here but they also could be dead by now knowing that the beast was on a warpath.
I approached the gates of this great walled city to see the gate was opened and nearly destroyed. Blood sat on the solid metal gate and some interdemential black goo like the darkness of the monster was shedding off of it. I followed the trail a few blocks through the city till I entered the town center. A black obelisk surrounded in a blood stained pool sat in the center. A strange language was encrypted on the obelisk but I could not make it out but it was very similar to the inscription I had on my cane. Some bodies that have been long dead littered the square as if they were slaughtered unknowingly and I thought of the atrocities that Pratio could have commuted to the cultists and I began to feel sorry for them but I had a mission and I couldn't get feelings now.
Just a few more blocks from the center was the large estate that was rumored to have been inhabited by The Wretched as the cultists settled in Regents Fire. Being carved out of the mountain the estate stood nearly underneath the mountain leading to the center of the mountain. Did all The Wretched appear like The Outsider or do they look different from each other like people in the city. My brain started to hurt from the questions I had and I intended to ask The Outsider but he responded before I could ask.
"Here lies the beast, your last trial. I watched them be slaughtered mere minutes ago by the beast they made. Some grateful creature they made. The creature made its home here and used their corpses to decorate. Tred lightly as this is its home. Do not descend into madness." All grew quiet and then the doors to the estate I saw within and darkness covered the walls and most of the furnishings. I walked in and the doors closed revealing that there was no turning back as I tried to open them back up.
The floor plan looked simple. In front of me down a wide hallway was a large room that had a staircase winding to the left and right in the room to make a new floor. Balconies covered all the walls two floors up. To my immediate left and right were a library to my left and a dining hall to my right. I did not know what was further than those two rooms. I went into the library to my left and looked over the bookshelves that encompassed every wall. Most books were not titled but when I opened them the title was on the first page. The first one read Beneath The Metal Sky, I was curious what it entailed but as I flipped to the next page it read "Yet to be written". I was disappointed. Opening other books they had titles like "–Somnia", "May Be Sharper Than The Sound", "Burn The Forest", and even "Sanguine". All of which were not written yet. I opened another to see it titled "The Wretched" I was surprised to see it was written, at least some of it was. It talked of a child named René Delacroix who looked up to a uncle named Ferdinand. His uncle was a maritime explorer and then it just stopped. I was unsure where the rest was but I could no longer read it. I was confused but when I put the book back on the bookshelf a click sounded behind the bookshelf and the bookshelf pushed out and let out a dusty air.
I opened the bookcase more to see something of a stone prison. I walked in cautiously and I felt cold air pushing through me and I could start to see my breath. I walked up to one of the cells I saw a pile of old bones laying on the floor with a knife beside them. I walked in and examined the knife on the floor.
"The blade that created the beast. Take it and finish the job." Said The Outsider. I picked up the blade and it was warm to the touch. I examined the writing on it and like the obelisk outside I did not understand the language. It looked as if the blade was made of bone and old metal almost sacrificial in nature. I looked down to the bones and noticed there was enough for an entire body. Blood stained the stone underneath the bones and it occurred to me that this was where the transformation happened from that woman to that monster. I heard the scream of the monster further in the house but this was not the place to continue forward. I walked out of the cell and back into the library closing the path to the bones and I felt lightheaded. Looking around everything looked different as all the books were now ruined and papers scattered on the floor. There was now a piano in the center of the room that took up most of the space in the library. I touched it and it made a loud thump as the lid to the piano came slamming down.
"What was that?" I heard in the distance. His footsteps grew louder as he got closer and it sounded like he used some cane or walker to help him move. He turned around the corner and I saw an old man. "How did you?" He asked but everything changed within him before he spoke as it sounded like some demon. His eyes were pitch black and his mouth was filled with pearly white sharp teeth. "Why did you come here, we have nothing of yours?" I was confused in what was happening but there was one thing I knew, he was a cultist. I took out the pistol that was on my hip and shot him square on his forehead. He fell to the floor limping over himself like a rag doll and I continued forward stepping over his body.
Looking into the dining room I saw that the table in there was full of foods liquids and a naked human body as if was made for consumption. I could not make out if it was make or female because it was mutated in every aspect like the cultists were experimenting on themselves as well. I heard a noise in the room connected to it and I rushed in with my pistol ready. It was the kitchen. Food was cooking on several pots and pans and there was a woman hiding underneath a table in the center. She looked evil too so I shot her in the chest and she fell out from under the table. I walked out of the kitchen and back into the hall and ascended the stairs and went into the respective rooms on both sides. They were bedrooms, bathrooms, and other assortments of accommodations to complete the compound of the estate but there was no one there. Having checked all the rooms I walked back downstairs and was curious where the path into the mountain was. I head another scream from the monster. Curious I walked around the staircase and looked behind it and examined the space between the wall and the staircase and there was a doorway out of sight that I couldn't see until I got closer to it.
Walking down the new hall the hall soon turned from finished walls to stone walls into something like a cave system it soon became very dark within the cave but I could see candlelight in the distance or what I assumed to be candlelight. I crept around the corner and looked towards the light; I could hear a few people talk
"There's no getting inside, the place is locked up."
"I need to see Edgar, the monster is coming."
"Look!" Another man yelled while pointing at me.
"How did they see me?" I said to myself but there was nothing I could do. I rushed from the corner of the darkness and shot everyone one by one to soon face the door. It was a large stone door with golden inscriptions and illustrations of a big battle with a creature that tried to kill everyone. I could not make out what ended but it was a tale of despair rather than victory. I put my hand on it, hearing a hum coming from the door itself and it imploded like I now had powers at my fingertips. Passed the doorway was of a nature I didn't understand. It was a large cave with no end but it seemed like a entire ecosystem lived here rather than darkness. Everything flashed peaceful to post apocalyptic within seconds and back as if time was confused here. I saw visions of war of dark beings, beings that were mechanical in nature and some indescribable third party who looked like shapeless blobs of white and gold. Darkness grew with every step and war continued around me. Halls and lands were covered with blood as technicolor objects fell from the sky. I saw a creature in the distance fall from the sky that was complete blackness onto a civilization that was highly advanced as the sky turned from blood to black. Figures whizzed past me and I turned around to see a ruined city and a tower that seemed to go on forever in the distance. Smells of fire but old meat stung my nostrils as a large squeal echoed across the sky. I covered my ears to realize that I was no longer a being but an object sitting in a field. A river of blood came rushing in the distance but it was stopped by a figure of light.
"She has come!" I heard in the distance. "Seven. Sixteen. Six. Twenty-one. Fourteen. She will be proud!" An explosion happened in the distance from what I assumed to be the end of everything living. Everything turned black and I could see some mutated creature crawl out from a crevice of what I assumed to be two large rocks.
"So be it." It said struggling to get out. "Idemity will kill us all." I came back to holding out my hand to my son. My hand was not my own. It was blackness incarnate. My son sat in a dark corner of a cave that we were both within
"Mother? Is that you?"
I came to knowing that the beast I hunted was my very own wife from years previously and she was looking for Edgar. I didn't expect anything like this to happen but soon I had to strike my wife down. I was still in the cell looking at the bones and I instantly knew that they were her bones. I walked out of the cell and into the building to see several bodies of cultists. One by one I gathered the men, women, and children and put them in a pile to create that box The Outsider wanted. Soon I had a pile of every cultist consuming most of the space in the room. I had thoughts of the children who didn't get to live their lives and woman that had to watch their children die in front of them. I thought of all the arguments I've had with my wife and if I did anything different this would have not ended in death. I thought of the Halstein name and how it would end if I didn't save my only son but I felt nothing about his presence and sensed that he was already dead.
I grieved for the ones who lost their lives and not just the cultists but also the people in the city. I began to feel again and thought that there was a way I could prevent myself from turning into a monster. I took out the knife that was supposed to be used on my wife and I pointed it at my gut. I shed another tear knowing that this was going to be the end and I thrust it into my stomach. I felt nothing and I feared this wasn't the end so I thrusted the knife across my stomach making me lose all my entrails. I felt lighter but I soon realized that I was still alive. I looked down to see that there was no blood but black ooze. It bubbled on the ground and smelt like sulfur until it disintegrated entirely. I looked down at my wound and it was healed already as the knife lay on the ground beside me.
"I see you have completed the process." The Outsider said. "Trying to kill yourself just sealed in the curse. You are now truly a Cremora. Remember to do this frequently as it will keep you young and you will live forever. If you don't you will be consumed by darkness and will be a prisoner of The Wretched." I began to cry again but I only felt darkness and no tears left my eyes. "The beast can smell your darkness now. It is coming." I heard a scream in the distance and wished not to fight but my will was no longer my own. I craved to kill something. "You now have bloodlust, there is only one cure." The Outsider said. The beast came tearing through the wall and through the staircase to the upstairs. I picked up the knife and got defensive.
"Honey, can you hear me?" I asked. The beast did not reply and swung at me with its big arms. It's darkness faded and it was straight black and shimmered. The candles flickered and blew as a breeze arose and darkness began to suck up into the beast again leaving a black aura around it. It faced me again and screamed at me while lunging on all fours. I rolled out of the way dodging its sharp teeth and claws as the beast landed the darkness faded again and I knew it was time to strike. I slashed at one of its arms and it screamed in pain and I slashed again before the darkness gathered around it again. As it jumped at me again I ran at it and slid under it and trusted at its belly as it passed me. It fell down and screamed and I jumped on its back to stab it again but instead of an ungodly scream I heard a yell of a man. Looking at its back it looked as if someone was tethered to his back. I looked closer and it was my son. He was alive and I killed him. Some sort of trick by the monster. I began to greave again but just then the beast tried to get back on its feet. I walked up to it and said I was sorry as I slashed at its throat.
It was over. Everything had ended. I pulled my son of the beast’s corpse to see if there was anything I could do but he was lost. I noticed there was a ring on his finger and I took it off to get a better look at it. It was a wedding ring as if my son had the chance to marry his fiancé. I sat there in disbelief and remembered my son said there was a child on its way. I grew exited but I knew I couldn't show my face because I killed my own son. Putting my son on top of the pile of bodies I lit a match and placed it on the pile. Everything caught fire fast and I left leaving everything behind. As the building burned down I began to walk out of town leaving the building and the Cremiticus Imperium that it would create and ventured to the lighthouse.
It took about the rest of the night for me to reach home going around the city because I knew I was now a wanted man. Approaching the lighthouse I could see the large waves crashing against the rocks it stood on as the lighthouse beam penetrated the dwindling darkness, as it was becoming morning. As I wandered to the doorstep I could see a package wrapped in burlap and bloody piece of string. Opening it up I could hear whispering and loud drums coming from inside of the box. As I opened it I realized it was supposedly the Cremiticus Imperium The Outsider was telling me to obtain. All grew quiet as I examined the box.
It was heavy and big enough I had to hold it with two hands. It was in the shape of a octagon and the base was made out of a wood that was stained with blood. Golden swirls were imprinted into the wood making it seem precious. The top of it looking into it I could see gears and gizmos twisting around each other that were solid white. Feeling the gears they seemed organic like bone. A slither sound came from the box and I could see it fill with blood. I was surprised to see this but as it filled the octagon began to close as flaps closed off the top in eight sections. I walked inside with the. On in hand and walked upstairs to the top of the lighthouse. I opened up a window to breathe in the salty air and threw the Cremiticus Imperium out of the lighthouse to the waves below. Felt with relief I went downstairs to my bedroom to see the box on my table. It came back. I picked it back up and watched it close with blood filling it up again and I headed back upstairs to throw it out the window. Heading back down it seemed as if it never moved from the spot but this time I saw a letter by it.
Opening up the letter it read;
“To Mr. Halstein. It has been weeks since I have heard from you or my husband; he told me that he was going to visit you more than a fortnight ago and after witnessing the great fire within the city I could only fear the worst. There have been multiple sightings of you and there is talk that you have become a monster and began to worship the cult that my husband desired to destroy. I can see the lights in your tower, I know you are there and I care not what they say. All I want it to hear from my husband again. The last request I have heard was to name the child after you, Ville. If you killed my husband I’m afraid I cant honor that request. Naming your child after your husbands killer, it will be a cold day at the Dawn if that will ever happen, Sincerely Helen Holstein.”
I knew what I needed to do. I took out a quill and prepared a paper and wrote about our tale leaving one vital detail out, her husband’s death. I soon wrote that he has simply left town to defeat the rest of the cults and he could not say goodbye for fear of what they would do to her but he has found true magic that the cult was using. The Crematus Imperium would bless her with long life and maybe one day, he will see her again if only she used it and that I would help her. I wasn’t sure how I was going to live with myself but I longed to see my son’s child. I placed the Crematus Imperium in some paper and prepared for the next visit, whoever it may be. It may be a long time but for the survival of my family it will be well worth the wait.