CHAPTER THIRTY ONE
In the darkened, smog wreathed alleyways and streets of Dubh, in its hovels and crowded tenements, the shaken population began to recover from the violence which had sent them running from their lives. They emerged from their dark warrens into a world of smoke and shadow, into a twilight world illuminated only by the lanterns they bore or from the flames burning out of control in buildings shattered by Silus Flax’s maniacal army.
There was now almost no illumination from the field wall above them now only feeble, flickering and crackling bursts of energy that marked the dimension’s increasing instability. Holes in the field walls had begun to appear and for instants, beams of light seared Dubh from dimensions beyond, blazing in a short lived existence before the Tallmen compensated for the irregularity.
Ragged tears in the dimension walls above Dubh, occasionally poured material instead of sunlight from above. Sea water, earth, pebbles and leaves rained down periodically, to those who dared to emerge onto the streets. Their attention was not focused on the freak showers for long though, soon it was turned toward the corpses that littered the rubble strewn streets. They offered booty, food and other less clearly defined uses. Corpses were stripped, robbed or dragged off to the lower levels, whose scavenging inhabitants now ventured to the surface where the increasing darkness offered better cover for their acutely depraved activities.
In the dimmed light of Dubh, dark puddles of shadow seemed to swirl and flow as the absence of light had released them from bondage. Murky tar pools of lightlessness began to form where shadows could not truly exist, fed by rivulets of pure night that seemed to drain from rooftops or flow upwards from the portals that led to Dubh’s underworld. They increased in size rapidly and began to cover the cobbles and paving stones thoroughfares completely. The long dead lived in these malevolent reservoirs, the malign spirit of Dubh wallowed there now, strengthened by the terror and destruction fostered in the souls of Dubhians by Flax’s horde.
Now it strengthened in the gathering darkness and called out to those who had survived the bloody massacres on the streets commanding them to continue the violence and depravity upon which it fed. Sporadic violence began to erupt in the Lower City, without the rule of the presence of the Tans, with out subjugation to their social order, the population began to consume itself in a violent, anarchic frenzy of hedonism.
Despite, or perhaps in spite, of their uncertain futures, the inhabitants of Dubh pursued the lust for physical pleasure with a renewed vigour, never had such an intensity of depravity existed even in this fouls world. The people of Dubh lost control completely. The possessed darkness oozed from the cracks in the pavement or rained from the walls and rooftops had taken control of their functions, squeezing out reason and furthering its goals of destruction. Thanatos, the driver of self destruction that lurks latent in us all, rose within them and around hem, the ultimate pleasure was now death, the plunge into the imagined and paradoxical ecstasy of non being. Silus Flax had conquered a city, but lost its people. The forces of evil which resided in Dubh’s depths and channelled their energy through him, aided and cajoled him, marched behind him sweeping up the dark spoils of war for itself, consuming souls, dining upon despair. Flax was one of its puppets, a means to an end and a catalyst for a world’s destruction. He was a key to a door. While he strode in search of his empires, darkness gathered behind him, preparing for the day when Flax would enable its migration to worlds beyond this dying realm, to fertile fields ripe for the disease of despair, a womb in which the seed of corruption could grow.
From the widening pools of pure and distilled corruption came insane gurgles of laughter that echoed around the grim gorges that were the streets of malignant Dubh and reverberated along the lower and deeper lanes of depravity, as an ominous thunder. The people heard it and they laughed with it as they murdered and violated one another.
Such was evil’s lightless intensity now and its anticipation of consummate rule so strong, that when a bright, shining star of purity and untouchable innocence emerged into the very midst of its being, the darkness upon the streets began to howl in puerile indignation. The whole city began to shake with its rage and its own despair.
In the City of the Tallmen Flax heard it howl, outside and inside his head and echo within the vast emptiness of his soul.