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Friday, December 4

Isles of the Damned: Part 5b – R’lyeh

R’lyeh brought its own weather. When it appeared in the archipelago, the sunlight dimmed and the skies filled with rolling purple storm clouds that delivered a constant downpour as they approached the island. A thick, soupy fog poured off the waves, occluding the island and reducing visibility to a matter of yards.

Through the forbidding mists, hints of shapes were visible. The stony inclines of mountains, rugged and vast, lurked beneath the fog. At their peaks, crags suggested themselves like faces under a shroud.

They came upon a coastline of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which could be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth's supreme terror - the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars.

Only as they approached did the scale become clear: the fearsome summits soared many hundreds of feet into the air and began almost at the waterline. They formed a high, unbroken wall around the island, a formidable gate around the treasures of R’lyeh.

Sebastian landed on the deck of the Naoke. “It’s difficult to tell with the fog, but about halfway up the cliff face is a hole gouged into the rock. It’s at least as big as the ship. There’s a dim red light coming from inside the cavern.”

The dark-kin whispered “inlumino!”

His fist glowed with a reddish light. Sebastian took to the air, and although he was no longer visible in the fog, the red light served as a beacon for his companions.

“Looks like we’ll have to climb it,” said Beldin. He dusted his hands, relishing the thought of pitting himself against a mountain, no matter how strange.

“Speak for yourself,” said Kham. He crouched and then launched himself skywards, disappearing into the mist.

Vlad, who was far less enthusiastic about climbing the mountain, exchanged glances with Beldin. “Something’s different about Kham. That Leviathan Pistol has changed him somehow.”

“And Sebastian too,” said the dwarf. “He seems…less human.”

They rowed from the Naoke to the cliffs.

They clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks that could have been no mortal staircase. The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarizing miasma welling out from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance showed concavity after the first showed convexity.

“Is it just me, or do these handholds look strange?” asked Vlad.

“It’s not just you.” Beldin grunted with exertion above him. “They seem a little too well-placed to be natural. The nooks in the rock have been scratched out with stone.”

“Judging from the flecks of blood, fingernails,” added Vlad.

“Strong fingernails, then.”

They climbed on in silence, with Sebsatian’s beacon occasionally coming into focus, until they reached a zigzag path that led steeply but surely to a tunnel.

Vapur curled from the cave’s lip and a dim red light came from inside the cavern. In the shifting half-light of R’lyeh it looked like an open wound.

Sebastian and Kham landed. Sebastian looked the val up and down.

“Since when can you fly?” he asked.

“Since when can you?” asked Kham nonchalantly. more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:06 AM


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