The Scary Night Visitor.
Not every night could have passed safely since once a Shadow showed to break my warm sleeping. It was first around two after midnight when I jumped out of the bed, that unreasonably. Why have I been awake at such time; whereas, I know only the morning to do so? There may be something wrong about this unexpected disturbance, especially when one is comfortably dormant. It may also be a danger, knowing that I had no company except my books, myself and a big house empty but from walls. Plenty doors, many windows , and rooms that I could not count, alongside with a backyard garden , were all under my eye surveillance day -and- night and nobody else for I really locked myself inside that house . That special night, I remembered but my finger moving to turn the light on. I stood towards a cup of water. I drank. And I plunged again into the bed, trying to recognise sleep as death's brother. However, suddenly, a touch on my shoulder changed this recognition into an overt realization about horror.
It was what I have never imagined to see. Not a monster, not a ghoul, not even a demon whom a prayer may cast off, but rather a body of dense grey smoke that reached the roof. I struggled to be on my feet, to have the room lit again, to chase away this fear that kept all my moves paralyzed. It was impossible for me to stand, and I was still under my bed cover, when that thing began to grow bigger, producing some weird utterances, no human language, a mixture between cry and hissing. These words were to give some meaning somehow close to being understood when they fell this way in rhyme:
Prepare thineself to fear
Before thy face 'nd hear
The screamful calls o' doom
Down 'The Bridge of Khazad-dum'.
I hath of fire a whip
To skin the sinful imp,
To show 'm the depths o’ Hell,
And to burry 'm there well.
‘Bless my soul be alive! ‘, shivered I. ‘For the sake of heaven, what have I done to be wretched by this never seen creature?’ All those calls and answers were as if cut from my breathing, and I could not, of course, remove the cover. It started to weigh heavier as if a mountain upon my chest, squeezing painfully. I visited the depths of underground, the darkness beneath the surface of earth, the Realm of the Dead, and every narrow path leading to sorrow, being in another state of mind. I saw the gates of the Blazing Fire. I could not run. I could not escape. I was as still as a statue and the ground began to swift under my feet. Happenstance, and by a twinkling instance, had I found myself stuck to a half-broken trunk, down an endless valley. ‘By heaven, what more perils may be awaiting me? ‘, was my last call when a silence reigned over.
That silence before every tempest; for this Enemy has caught my leg and thrown I to nowhere. My body splashed against a great rock. I tried to be up but another one knocked my head, and it was all inside darkness. I let my hand guiding me into this grave-like room that could not even fit a dwarf. It was rounded _ I did not know how I found myself there in total dimness, blind though my eyes were open to see _ and like a cage made of stones with only a hole allowing few air. I realised about my loss. ‘Shall I stay here for an eternity? ‘, wondered I with tears able to drop. Nothing else was heard then, but my weeping, my loud broken sobbing and my infinite wailing that made me soaked to the skin by the fluid of my eyeballs. I asked for the help of Himalone: ‘Rescue this weak servant of Thine, O One! Find him a way out! Show him Guidance, for none but Thee can do!’
After a while, I saw a timid gleam, through the small hole, shining tenderly over a strange writing carved on the ground of the cave. It needed some cleaning, but I had myself to scrabble roughly to make it readable. Doing so, my eyes first fell on a word well-known, See, and an expression beyond the reach of my understanding, be 't no Hell, and more ye shall see ! There was another writing but not in our words. It may be the secret say by which this prison shall open its door. It was hard to grasp. A unique form, gathering, like a tree, more than four words at once. Each word was circled by five others, and it stretched forth to three separated sentences. No one could read it under such stressful fear but I managed to have a clear sight of it. It helped no meaning for me as there was no way to know whose language was this. I stayed there in dismay, loathing the days that made my fall so easy, the fact of being a coward rather than a brave one, and blaming my own self for the lack of courage I did not have. Desperate as I were, my decision to look through the hole was finally taken. I saw really nothing bringing hope. The same gleam disturbed my vision of the so other-world. ‘One may live to see one's end potted like this!’ said I in disgust, ‘Damn it, useless words, shall I be repeating “See, be 't no Hell, and more ye shall see!” for the rest of my existence? Then my life ...’ I was interrupted by a vociferous noise to which everything responded by quaking, shaking, cracking, and collapsing into pieces. This was the second unforeseen fall. This time, I kept bounding, leap after leap, on an already burned ground. The grass itself, not green, was a glue-like one. I was full of dirt, even to my nose. I stood with pain and, to my frightening, saw a giant body holding the leach of two giant dogs, to which my blood completely dried up. One bark was enough to make me kneel; more barking and they were unleashed. They came straight to swallow me. I fled hurrily; for shouting whup was not to drive these dogs away. I added to my speed but they were still behind me. Sometimes their biting was too close; sometimes their sharp claws tore my clothes. One more steps and I found myself trapped like an easy prey. The dogs’ feet were upon my body, waiting for their master to show. ‘What are you waiting for? ‘, shouted I, ‘Devour me! Make me your food! Do it!’ Now my hands were able to drop the bed cover out of my face. Now, I woke up almost breathless and trembling like an old. ‘My sakes! Was this really a nightmare, or what? ‘, have I replied to myself earnestly.
To say that this was a simple nightmare sounded doubtful inside my mind. By this moment, the sun began to rise chasing every sample of fear. The room itself was nourished by a humble light. That grey smoke that scared me left no trace, as if nothing has appeared at all. To feel more secured, I disengaged from the bed and went to prepare some hot drink. Once done, I sat by the kitchen window dosing and thinking. ‘Unbelievable! ‘, I said to myself, ‘This place may be haunted, or am I little bit troubled trusting such illusions? It is so harsh a dream to endure, or telling me a dream may come true, I cannot believe it!’ So, I made up my mind, with the last poughs that filled my lungs, to have my hands busy rather than annoying my thoughts by who dares not loom up in daylight. I opened all the windows, which seemed to welcome the day, swept all the dust away, washed some yesterday dishes and entered a room full of tools ready to stay in for the rest of the morning. Not even a fly came to harass me during my work, not even after I had a perfect meal .Later on by the afternoon, everything was silent except some singing birdies, some passing vehicles by intervals of time and a couple of noisy cats meowing as they fought beside a trash . I spent hours balancing in an armchair, turning the pages of a book about plants, contemplating over the neighbourhood and feeling the comfort of the day. The sun did her duty and started to leave. The first flickering stars took place, one after the other, forming a luminous dance in the sky. Then came the night. Everything had to be reordered, windows shut, rooms checked and locked _ two of which were kept lit on purpose _ and the big front door tightly fixed, beside the alarm set in case a burglar may aim the house.
It were no bed time yet. Having brought a woolly carpet and a pillow to one of these countless rooms, I laid myself before a screen changing channels every five minutes. To my pain added the news of a calamity. The loss of hundred lives made me suffer for a considerable time. ‘All the sadness of the world comes by night!’, I said to myself with much grief. ‘Mercy! What is wrong with these days? Fear that thing may show again and I shall have a weapon, a very effective weapon indeed!’ At that I descended the staircase to arm myself obviously with a sword, a real reflecting blade, through which one's face may be perfectly mirrored. I came back to where the news were still announced and put gently that ancient grandparents’ gift beside me, adding a touch of tenderness. ‘Let any one be an inch from me, then I will spare him apart.’, have I told myself in a brave manner when at the same time, unanticipated this befell, I heard a door slumming abruptly. It was that of my bedroom. It repeated opening and closing more than four times, I got startled, as if someone wanted to destroy it.
End of First Night.
It was around nine o’clock in the evening this time. There were approximately more than six rooms before the one into which I couch. It was a long hall and of course shorn of light beams. Only one room at the farther back of this hall was lit. The second room that was lit kindled downstairs. My bedroom door slammed again but now with more noise. I was standing, just at the door of this tiny room where I was following the news, having my mouth looking like an O and really being planted into my place. Something was framed into my bedroom and the reason I was blunted sounded strange to me. There was another force driving me into slow motion. Everything seemed so shallow that even the ground was no more felt under my feet. My eyes were still open but I could not discern what was ahead. ‘What on earth could this be again? That yesterday shadow is present early tonight? Heavens Who created them save me!’ It was my inner voice, it was impossible for me to move my lips, and everything made a pause. ‘Whang!’, repeated the door. I was shaken, brought back from that illusive trance and found myself kneeling with pain. I tried to stand as that slamming noise turned terrific. I felt more pain. I resisted. The pain was real.
Now Heaven knows why I was not able to be on my feet. The moment I lifted my head towards the hall and the many rooms that made its consistence I was not only shocked. It was horrible and unbelievable. I saw the Shaashaeel, one of the Seven Followers of the Old Serpent. He shouted his name that way. My simple description would not outdo the title of a Monster. It was more than a monster. He was shouting, ‘I’s the Shaashaeel and I’s calling thee.’ He was pointing at me with a finger of fire. The flame kissed my face and retrenched back the hall to where that creature was standing. He was taller than the tallest man on earth, well-built, Cyclopean, with two sturdy arms of course but showing of the most vicious of shapes I have ever seen. He had teeth and red eyes. ‘I’s calling thee clay-made human, filthy water spring! Thou must come with us.’, was shouting that creature once more. I made a heavy effort supporting my right arm against the door and stood. That Shaashaeel thing began to move in my direction. Each step he made shook the whole house. He put his monstrous hand around my neck and lifted me high towards him. ‘I’s telling thee thou must come with us.’, vociferated that Demon. ‘Thou seemest with no ear. I’s taking thee on thy nose.’ All I could do was trying to hit that creature’s scary face, with repeated blows, but nothing reached him. Thus I had nothing else but to yell at his crooked countenance. ‘Slack off your groveling self! I am no afraid of ye. Be whatever! Put me down and ye see, metal of wretchedness!’ He choked me and I spat on his face. His response was that he hurled me in the direction of the hall until I slapped against the wall. He was coming now and his facial expressions got more fretful. My hands of course were bare because I forgot to grab the sword. Though I was aching I hesitated not to defend myself. I was thrown from corner to corner and every time I tried to remain upright I was tortured. ‘Now,’ , said that monster, ‘ye be coming with us or meet thy doom.’ I have lost power to answer back because I was blown.
I did not open my eyes till I saw myself deposited on a bridge. I was alone and the place was unfamiliar to me. The bridge was a sharp rock, extending in front and sundering two big woods. There were for sure a deep ravine, one that daunts the veins in the heart. I was petrified, not because of my natural fear of heights but because of the stillness of the place. It was really dark and only a moon, or something that gives light like a moon, glimmered. My perception of things around me was feeble, except I could peer on high branches from the trees. By this time fog made a heavy march. Within seconds the place turned misty and strange sounds hooted from the wood that was behind me. I had to cross to the other side for safety because I already managed to stand. Yet this was not easy for me to raise my feet on such a bridge. It glided. Without more, I was obliged to curve my body and act like a snake. It took me time to advance and that noise behind me got louder. Not beyond some little inches from my spanning athwart this bridge that these strange sounds produced a long sympathetic yowl. Now as if there were thousands of mouths calling me by name. Their cries turned intimate, though mournful, because I could associate them with those of my family. My name was shouted loud again, consorted with children weeping. ‘Do answer them not!’, said a voice ahead. I could not believe it; I crossed the bridge.
Once there in safety land I filled my lungs with pure air. I sent forth all the pain that was unnerving me. There was an old shape standing on the ground, offering his hand in salute. ‘Thou escapeth the worst of thy life me kid, welcome thee to the Third Forest! Here no harm may betide thee if ye trustworthy. I am Syofan, the Old of the Dard’abyss.’, uttered this new creature. I felt more secure because he introduced himself in such a gentle way. I was obliged to answer him but inquiringly. ‘But O Old Syofan, what kind of creature are you, an Elf?’, have I told him in amazement. He started laughing and told me, ‘Elves live in the First Forest, an age of travel to be there. The voices thee heardest awhile in the other wood are those of Ghilyan, the Guardians of the Old Grave. They have no mercy on humans like ye. Heel mine steps me kid! I am telling ye more on the way.’ Thus we entered a passage through this Third Forest as it was called. There was a gentle breeze that admitted with pleasure our lazy tread. The Old was walking very slow that I had to appear below my usual speed, turning my head around every little instant. ‘Be no afraid!,’ said the Old Syofan. ‘We the People of the Dard’abyss are the only creatures who could cease them the Ghilyan. We are the sole beings who could rout them. Thou seest the bridge, we made it.’ The Old of the Dard’abyss began to talk while he was still moving slow. ‘My folk are an old creation of the Only Lord my kid. We are not the Angels, nor the Demons you see, nor those elves, hobbits, goblins, fairies and all strange forms ye know. We are mortals, yes, like the rest but we dwell much more than all of ye together. I myself have witnessed the War of the Two Falling Stars, which was long enough before the creation of any of these species, a Time unknown to ye Men, when the Angels fought The Compact of the Coveter, greedy powerful inglorious spirits and I was a fresh youth like ye are now by those days. We saw how humans peopled the earth. We speak all the tongues ye have, all those of demons, our languages are more than thousands ye count and we can speak the Angels’ tongues, except those of the High Exuberant. We live in woods and in mountains. We move and have the ability of flight. We can change time and place in a twinkle of an eye. We can go to the furthest point in the universe and come as ye shout. We have cities of our own; we have everything a life requires. Yet we do not fight each other or go to war. We only guard the balance of creatures against the Ghilyan and their allies. These ones we battle. We are wise creatures who could but speak in wisdom. Ye come with me this way and I show ye.’ At this, he turned on his right and a strange door opened in the wood. It was a gate made of black crystal stones with a sign carved on its top, stranger than this gate itself. It read, because the Old Syofan uttered the name, Aazmarata. There I stood shilly-shally for a while. Through this gate everything was shining and everything was heaven in appearance.
‘Do step thee my kid in the Land of the Dard’abyss! My folk be awaiting thee.’, expressed my old companion. ‘This to be the First of our Eleven Lands, we people of the Dard’ possess. It is called Aazmarata as ye heard me delivered. The name must be spelt after the door opens if ye may heed.’, continued Syofan. ‘It means in our tongue the Land of Defence. Here stay our troops against the Ghilyan. Everywhere else is a peaceful place. The surface is huger than where ye live humans, this be another earth. The other Dard’abyss lands have these names Ghazar, Mazharim, Shakeen, Shazaarata, Ayoaadan, Qafarzaghar, Alus, Aluszahim, Zadagh and Zadaghqafar.’ I got confounded by these names I was told. I have never heard of them. This new world gave me the slight recollection of wonder and dream. I wanted to learn more from this old unknown creature. I was asking him. ‘O Old Syofan, if I may beg a question, why do ye fight the Ghilyan, ye be wise creatures, and who are they anyway?’ He stopped, looked backward, high in the sky or a cover like the sky, sighed and said, in poetry this time:
The Root of every Evil,
The Spark of Hatred,
The mean meander of lowest level,
The Foe who faltered,
The Darkness, the upheaval,
When the True dost altered,
The Shame of Times, the Damnatory Rival,
Alas! The True gave and catered.
There were time there were only Heaven,
Love were abundant, Love existed;
The True gave, and there were no leaven
Of dismals, of blundering souls that insisted.
There came Fervent Spirits, count Eleven,
Jealous why the True their home made misted.
He knew them, He knows them already driven
By wrath and hate and perfidy and all sin listed.
The old prolonged another heavy sigh. He said then, ‘My kid, do not ask about these Traitors. They are a Branch of the Coveter. They are the Hell dwellers themselves. Hell has been created for them and for their likes. Hell not like you know: it is where they will dissolve. It is their final eternal home. It is them who first sowed malevolence in this universe, in the very first of Times. They guard that grewsome ossuary. The one who can touch it, it will open, will find a scroll, read it and may change the whole life. There will no more be evil in the earths and skies. But this one who would be able to do this must possess of the Ancient Sword. “Bahal Iidah!” This is in our tongue. It means ‘Woe upon ye Enemies!’ Let us O me kid see the Magnificent Chieftain of Aazmarata. He is in the Exalted Tower, glad to inform ye. He is a Soul of Wisdom and War.’ With these words the Old Syofan kicked the ground using his stick, three times. At once we were able to defy the rules of gravity. Looking downward, feeling bit uneasy about the flux of altitude, I found myself flying beside the Old like a paper gently flown by the wind. It was eerie experience.
We were hovering over a great landscape, grey in colour. From time to time, a gorge or two made appearance. There were dense smoke, noise, fire and a symphony of crumbling metal. ‘What is happening down there in these gorges O Old Syofan?’, had I to shout for him due to the speed of the wind. We were getting more faster as these gorges began to multiply. ‘These are the Armies of the Thousand Taverns. They prepare their heavy shields, and for this they melt iron and rocks. They guard the Strong Doors below the Bridge of the Third Forest. No one can slip through those doors because these soldiers fight worst than monsters. They are fear itself that moves with arms and weapons. They have never taken a rest from any battle, and that is since I was born.’, explained the Old Syofan. Our speed augmented and ahead we could see high dreadful mountains. The Old made us land on one of these mountains and right above our noses was the Exalted Tower. It seemed to me as if we were going to force a way into the skies. It was beyond the limits of mind lofty.
I was wandering to whether we were going to fly another time to attain to one of the Keeps of this Exalted Tower. I kept studying this majestic building, a huge mountain, chiselled to fit the form of a column and moulded into a real fortified citadel. There on the foot of this mountain another massive portal spread with noise again. This time it revealed a body of soldiery. Onward was another old shape with a larger white wooden stick. This one walked faster and in a moment he stood in front of us. ‘I am Syowan, the Master of Soldiery, here to serve thee. Mine Lord, the Magnificent Syodan, be in his court, ready for thy reception. I show thee where, this way.’, declared this new Master. We followed him tunnel after tunnel, turning in every direction, having the troops and guards behind us lifting torches, and that was until we came to a wide fathomless pit. There was fixed a wooden elevator, straitened with strong ropes and poising in the void. It could only be in trim of the three of us, the two Olds, Syofan and Syowan, and I. The rest of the company, the soldiers I mean, was regaining their positions. Leading foot into that wooden elevator the Old Syofan spoke. ‘This is the Little Well. The one who falls visits the End of the Worlds if he would be still able to fancy a visit. Hold thy self tight me kid, we are to mount with real haste.’ As a matter of fact this is what happened. A rope was cut, and a giant rock was lowered, when it fell, our small shuttle was hoisted in an explosive manner. I felt all my blood hardened to my toes. I was about to faint when suddenly we landed. I had no idea the way we did that but the small wooden elevator was steady on a bridge of iron. A dazzling door showed at the end of this iron bridge, and we made our way. It was all as if my eyes scintillated.
At this door the Old Syowan spoke these words. ‘“Aslym Aazar!”’, said he. And again the door made itself apart. By a wave of his hand the Old Syowan drove us inside. It was a bright palace of splendour. No one would think a war leader would enjoy such residence in clover, having an enemy like the Ghilyan behind or in front of him. Yet he was living there as a soul of worries and wisdom. Inside that palace extended a luminous hall at the extreme of which was placed a precious Chair. It was the Seat of the Magnificent. The Chieftain stood, as well as those of his courtyard, girdled with a golden sword, wearing his silver helmet and produced an intuitive grin. We made way towards him and when we were within a little of his Seat, the two Olds greeted the Chieftain in their tongue. “Aslym Sadan!”, they pronounced. Then knowing not how to speak the Dard’ language I inclined my head in respect. The Chieftain gave a real affectionate smile, he was about to laugh kindly, and spoke to me. ‘Son of Adam, thou knowest nay how to speak our language. It is nay matter, we can speak yours. Dost thee know why ye be here? Well son of Adam, procure a seat on my right and I tell thee. I sit with blithe to have thee among us.’, said the Magnificent as he gained his Chair. I followed the order and found myself a seat between who seemed to be other war leaders. The Magnificent of Aazmarata began to speak and everyone was with real ears towards him. ‘Son of Adam, the Seed of Goodness, the Creation of the Only One Who loves thee, Who made Heaven for thee, Who bestowed upon thee all His benefaction, Who blew onto thee a Spirit of His, son of Adam, son of Adam thou art performing all wrong against thyself. Thee I mean thy race: why do thee kill each other? Thy Elder Brother repented his deed. Why do thee still kill each other, sons of Adam? Thy Father taught the Angels and us. Thy Father taught all that is moving and all that is still. He taught them that after every mistake the next one is not to be committed. He taught them in forgiveness there is love. He taught them love; he did not teach them hatred. O sons of Adam, children of the same Father, why do thee not join us in the fight against Evil? I will tell thee son of Adam. Be fair to thyself, be fair to thy brothers, thy neighbours, thy glebe that ye destroy, thy hearts that you nourish with hatred; for thou hast received the Eternal Grant of Wisdom. Howbeit, thee makest not the most of it. Thou hast been given Seven Sacred Books and thou hast not brought the Light to completion. Thou art still blind about the Real Life and that all thy crimes lead to Apostasy. The Only One obviated thy sufferings when He first created thee out of earth-clay. He made thee able to think. Thus think of what you have done to each other, what you have done to thy lives, what you have done to thy orb and think and think. Some of thee worship idols; some of thee worship wealth; some of thee self-willed worship to their contentment anything scanty. Little Appolyon is thy friend. The strong evil one ye fear and thy weak ye punish. Thou art living a life of grievance. Thou art joyous, gleeful, menial, invalid, plaintiff, bigoted, tawdry and none but morbid to see other humans live as vandals. The crook of the sons of Adam is the one who keeps an ignorant. Why do thee leave thy brethren ignorant? Why do thee not teach them the Truth? Son of Adam, there be a burden upon thy head. Birds may come to feed on thy small brains. Worms and serpents will visit thee when thou inurn. Do call some wisdom to thy minds! Do have thy eyes open for good! The Time of thy destruction be nigh. Repent before the Gates are shut, alas, thou will find no one to blame but thyself. Knowest thee why ye be here son of Adam? It is to rescue thy race from Pandemonium. We saved thee from the Third Gehen, that Shaashaeel monster, and now thee must come back to fight him. He is in the Island of Fire. It is thy duty to kill that monster. Use my golden sword, go to that island, and my soldiers will accompany thee. Thou must stab him while he is still asleep. The Old Syofan will teach thee the spell of invisibility. Learn it so well: that is thy shield against the Guardians of the Island of Fire. Thou mightest go for now. I have ended my say, thou might free.’, concluded the Magnificent of Aazmarata.
We were escorted, the Old Syofan and I, to another chamber of this palace. Once there the Old opened a large book and started turning its uncountable pages. He put his finger on one of them and designated a specific number of lines. Assuredly I could not discern that language and the Old Syofan read it to me through words I understand. It was in the form of rhyme de novo.
We shroud thy eyes in order not to see
That in thy teeth or abaft everything be wee,
That around thee, among thee, we pass, we flee
Whence every time ye think ye see, we gee.
‘Here,’, said the Old Syofan. ‘Ye have to repeat these words to yourself until you learn of them. In our Dard’ tongue it is difficult for ye to save such expressions. And if ye do not remember these little words I told ye, ye will be caught in that island. Only Him the One knows what will become of thee. Now there is a boat in the Red River waiting for thee to embark. It will sail right to the Island of Fire after crossing the Doors of the Dormant Sea. Keep my advice in hand! Do not forget the spell whenever a strange shape shows before thee. The soldiers of Aazmarata are invisible, but not thee son of Adam. They will take thee to that island, thou will find a horse, and wait for thee to accomplish your task. Be brave, thou hast power inside thee.’ The old Syofan brought to an end our company. He handed me over to the soldiers of Aazmarata.
By this time I found myself shaking from cold. I was lying over that woollen carpet in the same room where I was watching the news. The small cover was thrown away and the television set was still turning the events of the day and the night. “War is in the East and war is in the West.’, was shouting a reporter. I was truly dreaming. It was around four in the morning and only ten minutes to the dawn. I could not talk for a while; I was examining myself and that small room. ‘What on earths and skies was this Azmarata and those worlds?’, have I exclaimed to myself. I was astonished and could but stay into my place for a long deep meditation.
End of Second Night.