PREVIOUS: Part 1 here
The afternoon sun raged and stormed as it drifted down towards the horizon, leisurely inching over hours down to earth. As it drifted across the heavens the world below was blanketed in a warm golden-amber light, which painted the surrounding scenery in friendly, saturated tones of colour. This left the environment reminiscent of long summer afternoons, ice cream from corner stores, childhood memories and better days long past.
Meadows of Heaven.
It was Autumn now, and so despite the glowing warmth of the sunlight the air was permeated with a sharp growing cold, driven at times by a chilling wind that scattered leaves the colours of fire and blood across the forlorn grey footpath, past lines of shops with quaint, comely storefronts lined with chained nests of flowers. There was something tragically reassuring about the sight of those flower-nests, suspended from the overhanging roofs like spiders on silk, for they only ever seemed to grow away from the relentless grind of existence, in places that seemed possessed of charm and authenticity, grass-roots places that grew out from the wild expanse of the beyond. Where the grass grew green and the trees yielded to the untamed wind beneath the unbound skies of sea grey or robin red, where the roads stretched ever onward away from the great hives of humanity, where homes grew small and quiet and intimate, there they flourished in front of humble shops with genuine signs that sang with the hum of drink cabinets and smelled of hot frying batters to steel the soul against the cold night.
It was in places like these that he could hear the strings and the pipes and the hurdy-gurdy at the end of the world.
Along this path of sun and cold and memory walked The Blogger, relentlessly striding forward as wandered along the footpath. Behind him was the sea and before him was the road to the city. And beyond that lay the endless all-encompassing insane web of the universe. Though initially a mundane activity purely done out of practical need - for there was little other choice for transportation - The Blogger had long begun to discover that walking held a substantially more intrinsically endemic aspect for himself. As he walked across the wilderness of the world and the wilderness of humanity, he found his mind began to collate and organise itself far more sharply. visions, revelations, ideas and dreams all began to tessellate, fitting together like pieces of a mechanical puzzle. In an hours' walk he could plan an entire campaign, explore whole worlds, craft every turn of a sprawling epic or map out the dire, looming sword of Damocles that was the future.
As he roamed along his adventure, The Blogger began to become unstuck in time and space. As a storyteller he was able to traverse the boundaries between worlds and universes, amongst other strange gifts. There were limits of course - to cross over between worlds was no small matter, despite how easy it might appear, and to do it required finding a suitable crossing point, but The Blogger always seemed to find them in abundance on such walks as he roamed the endless infinity both within and without. Once an appropriate point was reached, and if the individual was gifted (or cursed, from another point of view) in the right way, crossing over seemed and felt as simple as entering a dream; there was no memory of how you got there, or what had come before, and yet you somehow instinctively knew that this was where you were meant to be, and what needed to come next. At one moment you were stepping in one place.
And the next moment you were stepping somewhere else entirely.
The Blogger wandered across all manner of places among the yawning abyss of eternity. He walked across past, present and future. He strode through the battlefields of old, when he had commanded vast armies in titanic clashes against all manner of horrors. Demons, machines, invaders from beyond this earth, all had perished in defeat by his hand. He had led his legions to victory after victory, and the cheers of triumph still roared in his ears. He saw his warriors, comrades and friends hurl themselves forwards to certain death, and emerge from the other side. He saw himself direct them in fiendish defences he had planned against which unstoppable waves had dashed themselves over and over until the sun finally rose. As he went he would at times make slight adjustments to things - shifting a person here, moving a bullet there - so that they were more as he remembered them. It felt like the right thing to do. And throughout it all he saw these people, the mightiest of his warriors, fighting through fire and fury and Armageddon, all because they believed in him.
He broke apart inside knowing where that had led.
The Blogger walked through the foundries of today, where empires were built, where events were crafted and from which all potential outcomes stemmed. He witnessed the ignition of things to come, the first flickering chances that would set into motion tremendous calamities. He pierced the veil and saw around the corner to the production of his own escapades - nightmarish horrors to face, darkened days to come, moments in time where cataclysmic forces would pivot on his actions, the rage and agony of gods, a young woman in a jacket with a taste for music. He saw the formation of endless new worlds to explore, and the plots that would unfurl on them. He walked past memories of joy and pain. He walked into dreams where he adventured and sat laughed and wandered in infinite utter bliss with the brightest star in the night sky.
And the Blogger walked towards the empty darkness of tomorrow. He beheld the incomprehensibly vast all-consuming gaping maw of the future, devouring everything that inevitably reached it. He saw the end of time and crumbling towers. He saw the withering of comfort and felt the sand inside his hourglass trickling into nothingness. He saw himself die, over and over and over again - murder, disease, mercy at the end of his time, the quest from which he would never return. He saw through scrying how he would one day come to be no more than an empty shell, drifting through motions until he could finally rest forever, and how the others would be left - at once in pain, at twice with the indifference of never having known of him. He saw this and a thousand other myriad possible futures, and the bright ones were few and far between.
The Blogger walked through flames and darkness. He walked in the void between stars, and the shadows behind the universe. He walked through love and death, darkness and light, and emerged at a quiet suburban street corner, with trees lining the footpath.
At the end of the horizon, lost among the sands of an ancient forgotten desert stood the store that was The Blogger's current destination. In truth this was not the full building, but rather the one aspect of it that was closest to The Blogger at the time. The shop itself had fronts in multiple dimensions, situated as it was upon a nexus between realities, very hard to reach - which was only fitting given its name. It was a whimsical place, a simple looking two-story building of painted wood with a front door at the bottom flanked by two wide windows. Inside there was a small counter cornered in by the towering shelves and piles of books that filled the remainder of its interior.
As he entered the Blogger was greeted by a tall, slender young lady with an expression that was at once both kind and wise, with the hint of secret knowledge. Her hair was short and light, a contrast to the night-black nails that tipped her fingers and the dark loose-fitting garments she wore draped between a white shirt and a grey scarf. The Blogger did not recognise her, and could only assume that she must be new to the staff, but he already liked her - she radiated dark metal, black magic and arcane wisdom. Only the total delectability of Berry and Biscuit Whittaker's was missing. The Blogger had long since learnt that there was nothing that could not be made better with Berry and Biscuit Whittaker's.
After leaving his bag with the counter, The Blogger travelled up a forlorn wooden staircase to the shop's upper floor. It was this part that he usually had the most interest in during his visits to the store, for it was here that the items most valuable to him were contained. As a storyteller, The Blogger maintained a keen interest in strange and ancient knowledge, and had over the ages amassed a sizeable collection of dark grimoires and eldritch tomes of forbidden lore. Stored safely in secret caches and repositories among The Blogger's many places of refuge that were scattered across existence, these mystic volumes held immense power - True Names, the dark arts of scrying and necromancy, spellcraft and words of power, rituals for summoning and binding any manner of creature, forgotten languages, guerilla warfare, sigils of warding, astral projection, thaumaturgy, the very deepest workings of reality and much, much more were all able to be unlocked from them. This arsenal was vast, but The Blogger was always looking to add to it, either to prevent such items from falling into the wrong hands, or to use for his own purposes. To this end The Blogger would visit the shop from time to time, for all books passed through it sooner or later and it would often accumulate such tomes of eldritch lore. What The Blogger was about to find, however, was beyond what he would ever anticipate.
He felt it more than he saw it, at first. It lay buried behind a pile of other publications in a large cardboard box, so that only the barest hint of colour peeked through to the light of day. It was just a tiny sliver of deep moss green and rich blood red, but to one with second sight like The Blogger it was more than enough to identify its true form. In the recesses of the box, where shadows pooled, its colours glowed in the darkness, the radiance pulsing at the pace of a fading heart. Light touching the upper parts seemed to prism as if through stained glass, and if The Blogger focused enough on it, with his hearing attuned as it was to non-diegetic sounds inaudible to most, he could faintly hear music coming from it. It sounded distant, but unmistakably loud, dramatic and dark. And he sensed a presence that he had not felt since...
The Blogger swiftly flicked through what lay in front of it, dexterously parting the many publications that were lined out upright, and pried it out for a closer examination. It was a bound volume, roughly A4 in size. He felt its cover, hard and glossy and cold to the touch, dark red and ivory green, with thorned roses and fallen angels, with a woman in leather and a peek-a-boo, skulls adorning her clothing and tears trailing in anguish across her face. It resonated dark rock and old Vampire gamebooks. It was pure crystallised underground 90s. He turned it over in his hands. The back was entirely in shades of blood and horror, patterned in yet more roses. On the spine was an etched sigil, a stylised eye crying three tears. Below that was the volume's title, concerning none other than the Devil, and something of crucial importance to it. He looked over at the blurb. Below it was etched in scratchy lettering a publisher, the name of a star. The Blogger keenly scanned the blurb's text. It was a codex of life roles, angels and demons, goddesses and New York. Now for the real test. He turned the volume over and opened it. Immediately inside were chains and more crimson flowers, beneath a macabre drawing and an inscription - EVERY TIME I DIED I THOUGHT OF YOU. The Blogger could not help but relate to that statement. As he flicked further through the volume, the non-digetic score that permeated the world soared, and he beheld a fantastically bizarre world - light, darkness, magic and beauty (though with some perhaps regrettable costume choices). He knew now that what he was holding was ancient, and very, very powerful.
The Blogger collected his bag and left the shop with haste. He travelled back homewards and made all speed to all the information centres that he knew of. He arrived at vast gleaming silver archives, decrepit dust-filled crypts, colossal shining temples and incomprehensible libraries, and scoured every one of them for any information there might be about this mysterious volume. To his pleasant surprise he did not need to search far, and began to learn more about it. He learnt that it was not the only one of its kind - there were at least two other companion volumes, which themselves were derived from earlier writings, as well as numerous related artefacts floating within the ether. He also learnt more about what was contained within - secrets to planar travel, summoning gods, the cycle of life and death, and the nature of heaven and hell.
Clearly, The Blogger thought, this volume could be of some use...
NEXT: Part 3 here.
Ace Of Clubs
Hi Welcome to the blog of the Mangere Bridge Teen Book Club. We call ourselves Ace of Clubs. We meet once a month, normally on the third Thursday 4.30pm @ Mangere Bridge Library. We talk about books, hang out and have random fun. This blog will tell you what we have been up to, what is coming up and of course lots of stuff about books. All teens are welcome so if you are around come along and join us.