Prologue: The Lord of Flies
Water ran through the cracks of the ceiling and dripped down into the abyss below. The sound of it hitting cold stone echoed throughout the immense cavern, gaining volume as it made its way to the ceiling until it grew into a cacophony. More water dripped down the sides of the stone walls, worn smooth over the ages and covered in sopping moss that hung as long and wet as selkie’s hair.
If one were to shine a light from the great hole in the stone ceiling, and into the room, they would be looking into a seemingly bottomless pit that swallowed up the light, and the rounded walls that formed the chamber, only the closest of which could be seen.
To peer from the ceiling to the floor of the vast chamber would be to lose any hope at the chance of seeing the bottom, for after 40 feet of slowly widening walls the light was swallowed by an immense black maw that yawned into the depths of the cavern, as long and as deep as the eternity that dwelt within it.
If one were to, say, by some miracle, make their way from the top of the cavern, by wiggling their way out of the maw at its peak, and climb down by way of a very, even ridiculously long rope, and make the journey down the shadowy maw, then after immeasurable hours of descent, they would set foot upon a surface a thousand times older than the civilisation that resided miles above it in the open air, slick with water that had risen into the sky and fallen back to the earth millions and millions of times over.
The air would be stale and cold, having been barely disturbed since water had first begun to carve out the vast chamber in which it existed for millenia. If one was not careful about where they stepped, then they may slip upon the wet stone, worn smooth by centuries of water, and tumble into a stagnant pool whose waters were as black as the darkness that filled the cavern. Their open mouths would fill with ancient water and decay and rot
of the bodies of those who had once, very long ago, walked miles above, in a place that was the domain of fire and air and life, and that now lurked at the bottom of the pool, a mess of rotting sinew and strings, bones and hair that tangled around each other. Palms, in a panic, would be opened upon the biting teeth of the rocky walls of the pool, and living flesh would be bared to dead flesh, blood mixing with the water.
In this situation, one would eventually succumb to exhaustion, and sink to join the mass of rot that lay at the bottom of the pool. That is, if they were not devoured first by what lay, in a heap, in a dark corner of the chamber.
It was almost motionless, omit the slight rise and fall of a section of the small mass that could be perceived as its chest, and silent, save the buzzing of the flies that crawled over its body and circled above it. The creature was but an ancient heap of rot and decomposition, and still it lived, trapped in a place that was somewhere between death and the process of dying which is living.
It’s body rotted, decaying and decomposing and feeding itself back to it’s flesh own which rotted and decayed again and again, forming a cycle as constrictive and unyielding as an iron ring. It’s back was arced and it hunched in on itself, the form of its bones completely visible as green and greying skin wrapped around them. Some jutted from the surface of its back, stretching towards the ceiling like dark spines from which cords of rot dangled. It’s limbs were elongated and wrapped in muscle that seemed to cling to the bone with a desperation similar to hunger, its hands and feet were huge, each digit ending with a long black claw the length of half of its body that would have shone evilly, if there was a light.
No one had broken the silence in the stale air that hung throughout the domain for years, but still the creature lived, for it fed on the flesh and the life of those that it could not see, nor touch, those that walked upon the surface, following the threads that would eventually lead them down to the darkness, where the threads would entangle themselves in the creature’s, weaving around it and making it stronger. The creature’s teeth caught on the threads of fate and imagined flesh alike, and through hope blocked its own passage to a kinder place. For hope is a powerful vice indeed, it grips the body and makes suffering eternal.
But this suffering would not be eternal.
The creature, the lord of this dark domain, the lord of the flies that circled it and worshipped its decomposing body, could taste it.
Something very large, and very, very chaotic was approaching, making its way through the threads, tangling and snapping them as it tore through the weave.
And for the first time in a hundred years, the Lord of the Flies began to salivate, the muscles around its mouth contracting and twisting its skin over its diseased teeth.
It could already taste what was to come.