Suggested Audio Torment:
David Arkenstone In The Land of Shadows
Blackness then searing light. My eyes swing open, jostled from their recline by a vision which has haunted my phantasms for months now. Every dusk it is the same, same personnel, same outcome…same. There are three ever-presents in these lucid imaginings, each representing a fear of mine. There is a figurine which lurks in the darkest recesses, a pandemic more vile than the bubonic plague and far more clandestine. She skulks from one inked quarter to the next, jingling like a cheery reprobate as she goes and clad in the livery of a Harlequin. She is Pestilence.
Engagement comes in the form of the second of my kindred. It is he who lights the fire of my darkness, fanning the flames with animus and causing widespread misery with his declarations. Blood spills freely from his blade, running in rivulets around his clenched fist as he unsheathes with discord, slaying non-believers with not a flinch of humanity and/or repent. He is War.
The third ghosts around my cerebral cortex with tormenting tenacity. Symbolizing expiration, she encourages quietus with her elongated sickle. Scythe dances around waning fortunes, intent on applying that final coat of Crimson sheen and tearing the beating hearts from the cavities of those longing for certitude. She is Death.
This triage of terror have become a mainstay in my nightmares for some time now, all three weaving my dreams with constancy and dark purpose. As my eyes flicker open each dawn their image fills my senses, courting madness and sapping any last remnants of my sanity with ominous regularity. There is no respite and neither is it requisite as I play my own part in this demonic debacle.
For I am Famine, my place around this table is already set and I too feast on the fickleness of humanity. Accepting of my mantle, I frequent the same bloody circle and, ultimately, I bask in the banished blood of charlatans with the same blackened delight as my three fellow Horsemen. One cannot exist without the other three, it is the natural order. Whilst this causes perpetual discombobulation with many, for the Keeper of The Crimson Quill there is only clarity of mind. This is my purpose and unerringly I champion this cause.
Blessed are the meek and my crusade is not against anyone faltering but instead those that flourish. Souls already starved of light, which eclipse the illuminations of those in their safe-keeping, pursuing their singular goals. Bottom-feeders and lowly urchins don’t interest Famine and I focus on the upper tier of the food chain. You see I am rather selective. Whereas Pestilence spreads the odious plague, War cites skirmish and Death…well…Death ultimately comes to us all, my part in this process is to strip those culpable of molesting their positions of authority and leave them bare and branded, ready for the toe tag should they not heed the warnings offered.
Above my sleeping quarters is a customized branding iron bearing the insignia CQ. Its charring rejoinder is swift, its judgement climactic and its effect devastating. Should it not sufficiently relay its intent then a hatchet lays in wait below where I lay my head each night. Its blunt edge fashions gaping apertures through its persistence, thudding pelt without ever capping its usage…banging away until breach, drinking in the free flow of crimson and wearing each scar with brutal pride. There is one other instrument which offers no such polite door-knocking and that is a self-stylized leather mitt, entwined in barb. It rips and shreds with each glancing swipe and punctuates with precision and justification. Whereby branding suggests torment, this handy harasser cuts to the chase with far less elegance. This trinity of tools supplies Famine its voice, leaving the gargling death twitches to the Reaper of Essence herself. She who slays.
I seek counsel this dusk, searing solar rays can’t disguise my dismay as the shadows fit more snugly. Preparation is key to advancement and the road ahead is one littered with the sheared flesh of heathens. We must confer before the sun sets in the East this night as our dark work is merely in its infancy. After Pestilence has teased her prey sufficiently and War has ravaged their spirit, it is Famine which steals their will and Death which grants their final wish.
I desire to lock horns with my beloved, flick my tongue into each crevice of their collective cerebral matter and taste that familiar tang of gunpowder and cherries which intoxicates my palette so. Every droplet we spill is gathered and made use of, strengthening the river’s flow and keeping it on course. Our brood paddle on the quayside, wading through this palpable red smog and quenching on its plentiful fruits. Maleficent others congregate and emulate, sending out voluminous ripples which nourish all who ingest. I gather my utensils, wrapping them in a crimson handkerchief and sheathing them from discernment. Famine prefers to travel light, never over-encumbered as I delicately traverse the silken gossamer, leaving nowt but vague bloody footprints dyed in the wool behind me. With great fleet of foot I embark on trailing the blood spattered before me back to its source.
This has the makings of Death’s foul work and the blackness of the claret stream suggests she cut deep this time. She is beyond any kind of therapy; Scythe knows nothing of mercy and plenty of suffering. It speaks with metallic tongue, a foot-long half-crescent of agony which slides through pelt with reckless glee, painting its pale canvas with tantalizing crimson brush strokes as she cackles with erogenous delectation. I must restore order, prey are deserving of perspective before meeting her serrated termination although Death is begrudged to compromising for any man. My pilgrimage is underway, daylight hours fading fast like childhood memories as sun begins to ebb away once more leaving just its burnt-orange hue as one final reminder, soon to be consumed in the blackest darkness.
I facilitate such, sucking the coloration out of anything flourishing which falls beneath my shadow and leaving behind ashen reminders. At the dead of this night there shall be copious blood, an abattoir of anguish free-flowing from many a hacked off appendage. The Four Horsemen cometh this eve, each pledging their allegiance to the night and hell-bent on doing his Master’s cruel work. I step forth into eternal darkness and set off into the coal.
Four Horsemen sin,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013