III. THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE GOD
I stirred, eyes opening, restless in the dark, my face to the sky. I could feel the wind streaming through my ears like airy leeches attempting to suck out the last vestiges of my mind with every wag of their tongues.
I was slumped into Baphomet’s throne. For how long I had lain there I could not account for. I had fallen into a dead faint and even as my eyes flickered with life and a foggy awareness, days or weeks could have passed and I’d not known it. I could hear voices far behind me on the highest point of the Altar of Seals. Gradually strength ebbed into my limbs and I picked myself off the throne, sluggish and dazed. Whatever Lamia had done to Baphomet and me, it was caught like water lodged in my mouth and nose.
Still, I persisted, pushing past the onyx throne and toward the edge of the landing where the main terrace would greet me and the horror I knew lay in its wake.
When I reached the top I discovered Baphomet bound to the remains of the large table that bore the runic sigils upon its once proud surface. He was alone, but I crept up slowly and place my hand against his pale shoulder. He did not stir, but slept, inert and immoveable. His black and gold wings spilled over the sides of the table, listless and limp.
Wake up, I begged. But he was deep in his submission again. Our brief epiphany in the Void was not enough to relinquish Lamia’s complete sway over him. How easily it had taken hold of me, but to restrain the might of the Craft was impressive. I hadn’t considered her reach could extend so far as to cripple a beast of myth.
I looked beyond Baphomet toward an eerie green column of fire blazing in front of the toppled head of the monolithic deity. Within the pillar of flame, a sword danced, caught in the apex and swirling madly.
Somehow I knew its name.
The dancing sword belonged to me….To us.
The heat coming off the green fire was cold, not warm and it filled my eyes with similar distaste.
I swayed in the face of its glow, my legs quivering. I could barely move. That was the first clue to my unease. I had no bindings strapping me to the stone as Baphomet and yet somehow being in close proximity with him left me unable to fully articulate my limbs.
I might’ve screamed out for help if I could’ve, but I could barely open my mouth. His own was covered in a muzzle of hardened amber slathered across my lips, the taste of it on my tongue like dead skin and rusty copper.
There was some kind of empathic connection to us now. Something I was unaware of that must have transferred to me during our brief interaction and our fingers touched.
Was this the Forge? Perhaps it wasn’t the violence I had anticipated might accompany the ritual as enacted within the horrid Corpsewood. I could only surmise that Baphomet’s touch was my soul trying to reassemble itself within me, but we had been disconnected again, but our mere touch left behind traces like residual energies of ghosts after someone dies. He was apart of me and I apart of him, but our union was not complete.
The marrow in my bones seemed offended by something stirring inside of Baphomet. It darkened and dampened my coherency. I thought to call out to the Craft, but realized that it no longer had sentience in that respect. It was a part of him as vital as the cells in his bloodstream.
And though I could not rouse him, the perception he had come to understand as the Craft and even his own memories were making their way through me.
Still, there was a strangeness, a constant sensation of duality inside, as though when I moved, he moved, and for several moments and I don’t know how long for sure, I had to reacquaint myself with my body as though I were a newborn staring at the wonder of my own fingers.
It didn’t help that with each movement my limbs grew heavier and I began to drift back into the world of sleep. I felt the resistance burgeoning inside of him. I had a hold on myself, but an opposing force was tugging at me, to stifle my awareness and leave me crippled, or at the very least, mentally incapacitated.
My skin shivered. I wanted to stand up, but I couldn’t. An invisible force sat on my shoulders and pinned me at the knees. A growing malaise wafted the air around me, melancholic and reeling with tiny cellular convulsions rocking in my flesh, warning me – warning us, but I remained unable to rise, to do anything except wait for it, my nervousness a thin and brittle shield. I groaned, the fumes of a venomous cesspool puckering the air flaring up my nostrils.
The death scent of the Revenants.
I did not have to feel their wet skin lush with decay to know they were there, surrounding me in the dark. They made no sound as they entered the chamber, but the air is their choir, goose-pimpling my skin with their arrival. I looked around the room from side to side, my head heavy as a boulder and straining my neck. Their plagued shapes emerged from the shadows lurking about on bloody feet consecrating the floors in their filth.
They dragged their stitched and tattered bodies to form a circle of diseased flesh and rusty blades around my bed of rocks. The filed in from either side of the chamber, rallying with violent hails, their musty breaths a mutinous charge on the air. I listened, unable to shut out the congregation of desperate sucking sounds, the sewage litanies of their mad gospels as they bent on their knees in prayer, their leaky limbs secreting black tar and lime green effluence.
The fanatic sheep sang their hymns, slouched against their ritual knives, like Christ clinging to the crucifix to Calvary, their masochistic faith impressed upon me to show their devotion dripping from sun-blistered pores, chambers of filth incensing the world around me, their hot breaths spilling from cyanic mouths. The more I attempted to block them out, or even move, the fewer choices I had in the matter.
I could do nothing but stare up at the wounded tarp of sky, listening to their songs carried through the canals in my ears far longer than the visceral visuals of their marred faces.
“THE MAGGOT PRINCE SHALL FEED THE DEAD
AND WE ARE SERVANTS TO HIS FLAWS
IN HIS HONOUR LIFE MUST BE BLED
FINAL DEATH SHALL BE OURS
BELOVED LORD OF WORMS
MAY YOUR HEART QUIET WITHIN THE HOUR
AND OUR SILENCE TO FOLLOW BE JUST AS WARM
HAIL LAMIA THANATAS!
DIVINE MISTRESS OF THE SACRED END
BEND FORTH YOUR NECKS UNWORTHY OFFERINGS
FOR WE HAVE ARRIVED SACRIFICED AND PENITENT
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!”
The chamber filled with hundreds of Revenants, the newly arrived bearing torches illuminating the chamber with brilliant blue-green light.
The destruction of the innermost chamber of the Omphalos was exposed and no longer held the divinity I had witnessed in the dreams before its ultimate fall. Gone was the beauty of sculpted angels warring with great beasts and the gilded foundations of the Altar of Seals and its carved animals lay in rubble. The imbruement of war and the grisly reshaping of the temple into a palace from Hell had left it vandalized beyond repair. The ceiling towering over my head had once been a brilliant firmament with the eyes of the black gems, but the gems were cast aside like fallen stars, their shine cold and lifeless.
Across the mantle of the crippled deity’s crown were the words:
“BORN OF CHAOS, THE BRINGER OF DESPAIR ARISES!”
- spread across the vast, doming overhang like a sick banner Jim Jones might have relished.
The darkness deepened around me despite their torches. A chill raised the hair on my neck and my nerves grew numb. Synapses fired, bursting like Black Cat firecrackers in my hands.
Above me I caught the glimpse of a shadow, and in my mind I uttered Cloak, but this was someone else, quick and large passing over the gap in the Omphalos’ eggshell ceiling. The harsh light above exhausted, blotted out briefly, losing its aching glow and deserted me to the chamber’s own private dusk as I watched the undetermined thing slip through the ceiling’s fractured crevice like a long dark waterfall.
The Revenants bowed their heads in virtuous honor, and I swallowed hard at the sight of the shadow dripping down from the cragged overhang.
Sloping around the maimed statue was the dead girl herself.
Lamia Thanatas edged around the statue’s waist slowly, provocatively, baring her throat and groping her breasts through her formidable, albeit sensual plating of battle armor. She slid her hands down to her half-submerged pelvis to pet the gilded head of the glass serpent whose tongue must have fondled her cleft crevices to entice her to such horrors and venomous charms as she held out her arms and laughed wickedly, filling the temple with her predatory voice.
“Change is coming, Canaan. Can you feel it?” Lamia asked. Her viperous tongue on fire; her face lost in shadows. “Are you ready for the end I have prepared for the three of us? It’s going to be a lovely party.”
“I won’t let you do this,” I said, my voice little more than a cough. “This has to stop.”
“Stop? Oh no, no, no. There’s no stopping. Well there is, but not the way you imply.”
Lamia took to her throne salvaged from the severed head of the great statue, its headless body forever corrupted. She announced herself from the top of its stone helmet, shrouded in a silhouette, nothing more than a long glassy tail glittering under the purple glare and a mane of Medusa curls, lounging at the center of the mantle’s carven crescent moon whose tip split into a jagged fracture during the temple’s destruction.
“Do you like what I have done with the space,” Lamia teased, her voice tinged with witchery. “This was once the gem of the empire, a bastion from which our prayers to the high and mighty Devourer were imparted, but now it is the womb from which a new order will be erected.”
She smiled down at me puckishly. Even from her vantage, it was though she was right beside me, her sharp eyes and fangs poised to strike. She was alive with it, this sadistic joy. She draped her serpent’s tail over the crown of the statue, reclining decadently while her minions advanced to encircle me. A tall, ragged wind-up Butcher clad in a scruffy gray hood stepped forward, a brutish executioner flourishing a heavy blade about the size of a kindergartner to part a path between himself and the Revenants.
Baru the Alchemist followed with the beast-man, Rhada Khar faithfully at his side like a loyal dog. The Rhylian wore his most fearsome set of armor, a black knight serving his blind faith to these monsters. My arm ached at the sight of him, though I couldn’t understand why.
Baru sauntered behind the pillar of green fire, a vicious court jester, his face concealed behind the rusty breathing apparatus. He traded his former filthy rags for a conforming black laboratory smock, a bizarre sort of elegance to his madness.
This was a moment they ached to savor.
“I have to admit, I didn’t think you’d come.”
“Fear. Even now I can smell it on you.”
“I’ve come to stop you and end this nightmare once and for all.”
“Such a Brave Little Toaster,” she laughed turning to Baru. “He’s darling, isn’t he? Almost a shame to do away with this much fun.”
Baru passed through the pillar of flame and stood alongside Baphomet. He placed his hands on each corner of the table and the glint in his monocled eye pulsated till all I could see was the lime green putrescence. It flooded out and at its center a black inkblot wriggled out like a swarm of flies moving outward to mask his face.
I shivered as I watched his face vanish beneath a black cowl and his form billowed out like Cloak’s.
“Curious,” he said in the Theurgian voice of many. “How trusting of that old fool you’ve been when once again he places his ward right into our hands. And not just anyone, the true Vessel.”
“I made the choice to come through his portal. Cloak just showed me the way.”
“And drops you off at the party without an escort,” the she-devil continued to taunt. “You can always dance with me.”
“Not tonight, bitch.”
“Now is that anyway to address your host,” she said feigning offense. “After all I’ve done to orchestrate and put into action your party. I’m appalled, really.”
Baru resumed his decrepit form and moved aside as the Butcher dragged its blade. The screeching of Scavenger birds called out like an overture of death parading through the holes in the ceiling to take perch among the rest of Lamia’s flock. The nasty brute carved its path towards the stone table where Baphomet lay against his will, a Mayan sacrifice.
“I am very fond of you, Canaan, and if we’re going to defile your soul and go out with a bang, I think the true Vessel should be there to watch it all come down.”
“You heartless bitch! Is there anything of Jackie left inside of you?”
“Jackie,” she frowned. “What are you talking…?”
“My lady,” Baru interrupted. “Shouldn’t we proceed with the festivities?”
It took her a moment. Her eyes flickered with something I hadn’t seen before: confusion.
Then: “Oh yes,” she squealed, shaking out her giddy hands. “But first I absolutely must complete a little project I’ve been working on.”
The Lamia snapped her fingers and waved toward someone behind me.
“Bring her out. I want her to witness this, even if she can’t see it.”
My heart sank.
A second butcher appeared with Eos slung over his shoulders. Her mouth was gagged and her hands tied. They had stripped her down again, shaming her as the monster thrust her to the ground grunting and then kicked her brutally in the side.
I lunged forward to Eos’ aid, but another of the shambling hulks rose up behind me and loped their arms around mine.
“Do not resist. You are as much a part of this as anyone. After all, he is your soul and once we have finished disfiguring it and hand Baphomet the Threads, he will ascend to his proper place as our beloved Simu’la Re, Sustainer of Wounds and you will never feel fear or despair again. We were nearly ready when you arrived, but then you had to go and wake him from his much needed slumber. But we can adjust the dosage and redirect his path. You will join us and rejoice before the throne and the giver of the Final Death.”
Lamia slinked down the statue’s mantle and smoothed her glassy vermillion scales along the floor, her elegant body sleek and defined, a gorgeous form housing such evil. The light of the Revenants’ torches danced on the glass head of the serpent, the fangs so deep into Lamia’s pelvis I could see her wincing with delicious revelry with every swish of her hips. Her compulsion to pain was astounding, seductive and tempting.
A dark flower riddled with thorns.
She steered forward, her conniving eyes lush with the sinister desire to inflict pain and suffering. Her head lifted proudly as she stood over the fallen Oracle.
“Poor sister, it really is a shame to see you in such a dismal state,” she said clutching a fistful of Eos’ hair and bent her neck back cruelly. “It breaks my heart. Truly it does. I can honestly say that I am so happy you can’t see the shape you’re in.”
With a fluid movement of her long lustrous tail she thrust Eos back onto the ground and sashayed up beside the crumbled altar with the effortless poise of an opera diva swishing the long train of a flowing gown, and produced from a small velvet pouch hanging around her wrist, Eos’ eyes.
She rolled them in her hands like a pair of Chinese medicine balls and kissed each of them before showcasing them to her Revenant mob. The crowd cheered and the birds cawed. She beamed maliciously triumphant.
“These are the eyes of the future. The eyes of the last Oracle to grace these chambers. But now I shall take up that mantle and as the ancient rituals of prophecy demand, I shall consummate my first prophecy with our Savior!”
She brandished the eyes madly, and her dark congregation roared like a rock arena screaming for an encore.
She held the eyes on the salver of her palm and opened her free hand. Baru emerged behind his mistress and placed a slender dagger into her open hand. Delighted, Lamia glowered down at me and before I could understand her intentions drove the blade into her sockets.
Her agony rippled through the temple, an orgiastic moan that sent her minions to their knees with consummate devotion. With the Oracle’s eyes still in her opposite hand, she drove her fingers into the gouged socket and pulled out her own eye, nerves and all. She repeated this bloody act with her second and flung the mess out to the congregation as though she were passing out communion wafers.
I shuddered and had to close my eyes when she began to insert her new, stolen eyes into the wounds, her mouth emitting deeper, extended whimpers of dark passion.
Baru took the bloody dagger from her crimson fingers and replaced it with a vial of white blood.
She poured the salve blindly over her hands like a lotion and then smoothed it over and inside her eye sockets, groaning as the mystical convalescence went to work to mend her wounds and with them give her stolen sight through the true Oracle’s eyes.
When it was does, she wiped her eyes clear of the red tears dribbling over her gold painted cheeks and squealed like a little girl receiving her pony.
“Yay me!” she cried out to much applause.
The temple shook with their glee.
“How do I look,” she asked Baru, batting her eyes like a Hollywood starlet.”
“Beautiful my lady, simply beautiful.”
“It just goes to show that spoiling yourself can be a good thing. Now, where were we? Oh yes. Consummation.”
She bent over, sure that I could see her newly acquired eyes swimming with stars, cosmic dusted the way Eos herself had expressed when I first encountered her within her grove. It was wrong, all terribly wrong, and as Eos lingered over Baphomet’s body with her fingers, I was reminded of the Oracle and Baphomet’s coupling, the memory of it now mine.
“There is no eternity in the shadow of the Divine Devourer’s lies,” she lifted her voice like a monstrous Evita. “The road has led you to this point and by the act of supreme divination I seek to ensure our destinies see fruition.”
She leaned close to Baphomet’s ear and whispered deftly as a night wind, “Inside, you gestate all our hopes, but I have to know, I have to see that what I have worked for comes to pass. And I’m dying to get my hands on that nasty little beast now dwelling so securely inside of you.”
She placed her chilling hand to his abdomen and up to the glass like hole in Baphomet’s chest.
“We placed darkness into Baphomet, darkness that lived in your own heart, Canaan, and now it’s returned to its owner, waiting to end the world. Too long our efforts have gone unrewarded. How earnestly we have served despair. Waiting, praying for so long for freedom from the flesh, freedom you can give us. Do not make us suffer any longer for our crimes. You yourself know what it is to be contrite.” For a moment she seemed piously solemn, her lips lingering near my soul’s cheek, the silken petals tickling the skin. The sensation running cold over my own.
“Flesh is such a cruel cage…Set us free of these shells.”
I stiffened unconsciously at her touch, watching Baphomet swell tumescent and full. She traced circles around his belly, seducing me empathically. Fear and pleasure entered my limbs, wanting her to touch me and yet terrified that at any moment she might split both of us open like a C-section and scrape our insides out.
But she didn’t. Instead, she bent forward and nuzzled against Baphomet’s chest, her thick curls tickling my flesh. With her hands she groped him by his thick organ, massaging my cock, coercing me to harden under her clammy touch, and uncontrollably enticed, I felt Baphomet squeal behind his muzzle of honey as I feel her mounting him, slithering up the ruins and opening herself up to him, by what means I dared not to witness. Lithe limbed and sensual, the dead girl brings us both into her world. She gathered me into her slender arms and pressed us to the cold steel of her breastplate.
I could feel her stealing into my mind and beyond that into the future. She is alien to the power she wrongfully inherited, but she searches, communing with celestial bodies, caught in the throes between pleasure and the ultimate awareness.
I writhed, helpless as a baby in a mother’s arms, and she controls me and Baphomet, leaning my neck back, exposing my throat. My head was so heavy, resting against the Butcher’s chest, feeling her moving over Baphomet, over me in a strange metaphysical three-way.
“We are so similar, in so many ways, you and I,” she whispered into our minds as we set adrift across the vastness of space. “Once innocent, once fragile, scorned and abandoned. But, now that’s behind us. We have a new facet to share, my dark angel…Oblivion.”
Maybe, it was the swoon of her voice singing like a flute, or the blood rushing to my head, but I lulled into a stupor, helpless under her charms. Her cold, clammy hands gripped Baphomet’s weakened shoulders like meaty hooks and the clever reptile drew us both close as though she may nurse us on her supple breasts well guarded behind her gilded cage.
But she didn’t move to feed me.
The succubus wanted to bury her fangs into our flesh.
Excruciating as it was - being limp and useless as an insect in a black widow’s web - it didn’t really hurt when she slid her long, viper fangs into our flesh, my life-blood a fountainhead in her mantis mouth. The sensation was like a sting, a pinch hard enough to break skin, but the ache quickly gave way to elation. Under the succubus’ thrall, I experienced various shades of emotions, all intoxicating and sexually perverse. This was sex, unprotected, unbridled sex, and with a woman! I was flying, my body rising off the ground, suspended in the air, closer and closer to the opening in the Omphalos. The purple skies called and I wanted to answer, to scream Yes take me! Take me away from all of this!
I soared above the Revenants, their eyes glazed with awe, but I was not flying. It was the Lamia and Baphomet who rose off the ground, his wide wings hanging down like loose shutters. She was standing on the length of her tail, her arms enfolding me in her lush, violent embrace.
The Blood Countess fed from him and still I bled, blood trickling down my neck. She supped at his throat, long healthy drinks, sucking sounds like a baby calf at its mother’s teats, insatiable to the last possible squeeze.
We were but worms to her, a cockroach in her clutches, and she toyed with us, made us feel unbelievable pleasure as if bouncing on clouds.
Then I felt the tumble back to earth and it’s no longer fun anymore.
It’s burning, molten and searing. She raked her nails against Baphomet, her hunger turning fierce and enraged as though she’s searching for something. Reared to claw it out. She was inside me; I could feel it. This was not like Cloak’s tender hands caressing me to know my wounds.
She was seeking them out to exploit them!
It’s wrong. All wrong. Have to break through, but I can’t. I’m not moving and he’s not waking.
I think of my arms and legs resisting her, but I’m not moving. I’m lame. I’m collapsing.
“THERE IT IS!” she wailed fanatically, wrenching from Baphomet’s throat an agonizing retreat that expelled from my mouth. “There it is, bundled up, slumbering,” she gasped exploding with passion, and Baphomet and myself physically and mentally deep inside of her, her lips stained in our pearly vampire’s kiss.
She laid Baphomet back on the ground, her hair flustered over her face. I could feel his mystical blood knitting his wounds together, but it was slow. I oozed out of the Butcher’s embrace onto the floor, watching white blood seeping like tiny pin drops of rain over the side of the broken table.
“I have tasted a sea of darkness inside you. You deny it, but it is there. Let me encourage those waves to swell, give in to its pull. You cannot resist its undulation. Simu’la Re craves as you crave, and he must be sated.”
She nuzzled Baphomet’s cheek and moved her lips to his forehead, kissing him gingerly.
As if, I could stop her.
With her vulture’s claw she began carving into Baphomet’s forehead, scrawling her finger along the skin. I felt the branding against my own flesh like someone finger tracing a letter onto me.
I didn’t have to guess the shape taking form on my forehead: The Seal of Truth.
And it was etched on me as it had been engraved upon Baphomet. The lasting symbol of the Architect’s power, defiled and corrupted as she had maligned my very soul.
I was helpless, forced to watch and to experience yet again the further defilement of all that I am and could be, beneath her meddlesome fingers.
I called out to Baphomet, not with words, but with thoughts. Loud, screaming thoughts as her laser hot nail branded me with the sigil.
Baphomet, wake up. The only hope I have lies in you.
“The hurt cannot be much,” said Lamia, detecting my disdain. The blood pooled out from the wound, thin and cold, cycling down the bridge of my nose and forking off to drip and gather in the shallow valley just beneath my bottom eyelid like tears yet to fall.
“Squirm, squirm. Just like the Craft wriggled before being silenced,” she said lapping up the blood staining her fingers. “But look at me dallying away when the time has come to put aside childish fantasies and hope, Canaan. Our fate is intertwined. I have seen it. And we must together greet the dawn of a new era. One of absolute self-destruction!”