Contributor: E.S. Wynn
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You will find the box in the dust and webs at the far end of the attic– you know the one, crouching under a stained and moth-rotted rag that will disintegrate in your hands as you touch it. Eager fingers will trace the lines and sigils burnt into the lid, move along the sides, flow with the patterns of the arcane script, tracking each glyph, almost tasting them with your fingers as you absorb the antiquity of the ageless box. Lips will purse as levering thumbs are driven to find purchase, to free the secrets locked within. Your tongue will set between teeth as you work at the age-pitted and neglect-rusted hinges, the thickly swelled lid, ignoring the strange way that the entire box seems to reek of time’s own feeble attempt to keep it sealed, to rot the box into oblivion and cast into the void whatever is sealed within. Thumbs will flex and harden, work loose the cracking wax seal, forcing movement, prying and cracking. All around you, time will seem to slow, reality to tense, and then the final catch will gave way, lid coming free, hinges shattering in a flash of crimson light.

For one terrible moment, you will catch a supernatural inkling of what you have done, the brush of dread and fear that comes from some other, deeper sense still as yet undescribed by science. You will hesitate, your hands frozen, unmoving. Within the shattered box, a wad of impenetrable void will seethe and flex before your eyes, stirring and swallowing the light as it reaches out of its pitted prison in thick, ropy coils, bending and obliterating the very fabric of reality wherever it touches. Fingers will jerk involuntarily, spasm on the current of a pulse, a throbbing blast of vibration that will crack suddenly and roll through the air around you, raising the tiny hairs on the back of your neck. The call of potential and power eager to be released will thunder somewhere within your skull, move and spread steadily, sweeping through flesh like the touch of some cold, spectral hand. Electric chills will cascade across arms, charge the air with tingling bites that slice into nerves, spasm through fingers. All at once, your sight will begin to blur, to darken, to turn red at the edges and then burn to black again. You will draw one last deep, gasping breath, fighting it, fighting the darkness, the blurring, the cold spreading outward from your chest, sewing its way viciously through your arms. All at once, you will stand, try to put some distance between yourself and the box, the darkness, but even then you will not escape His grasp. Hands will raise, flex before searching, sightless eyes. Lips will part, quivering on an edge of growing fear. I cannot see, you will think, and the thought will drown as the tingling within you turns slowly to burning, a throbbing stitch of pain working its way through every limb, every vessel and vein in your body.

And then a chorus of a thousand voices will call out as one, echoing from nowhere and everywhere at once, rising on a rapturous howl that pounds inside your head like the throaty call of the hollow and formless depths of some forgotten, otherworldly hell.

Hic iacet L’Thaaun. Rex L’Thaaun! They will cry out, and the sound will freeze your skin, turn your blood to jagged ice. Forgotten instincts will awaken, the overwhelming urge to cower, to contort your body into a fetal ball and scream, to rip at skin and slash flesh, letting the blood flow, letting it run free to coat the unseen world with viscous crimson. The chorus of voices will rise in a terrifying cry, almost screaming for the spill, clamoring for the sacrifice until a single voice rises above them like the embodiment of a moldering plague, a breath that rots flesh and turns bone to ash and sand. The words will have no sound, no meaning your ears can grasp, but to some forgotten part of your mind, some fragment of instinct passed on through untold eons, the words will come as unignorable instructions, instructions whose execution only that darkened vestigial corner of a forgotten past will understand how to perform.

Mortal anchor: Receive your god.

And then. . . nothing.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over thirty books and chief editor of Thunderune Publishing.
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