On his way to find the sacred texts in the Valley of Quartz, the golden-haired monk passed by a merchant caravan encampment by the roadside. The monk looked up at the sun and estimated that it was nearly lunchtime.
He was eagerly welcomed by the people, and generously filled the simple clay bowl he pulled from his robecloth. They talked about their travels as they ate.
They were recently from the Valley of Quartz and made business with the town near there. They related to him that the normal route to the Valley of Quartz, the one that went through the City of Thanton, has to be abandoned. It’s because the newly built nuclear power plant there melted down, leaving a great crater in the place of the once progressive city.
He listened carefully to what they were telling him, and continued to eat. The chatter between the merchant folk continued. The wife of the caravan’s captain even mentioned the madman they encountered two nights back. The madman said that he’d curse their daughter to be his slave for all eternity if they didn’t give him a tribute amounting to a third of all their gold. They all went into laughter as the caravan captain mockingly imitates how the madman said it. Even the golden-haired monk giggled a bit.
They never noticed the ghastly crow that took the ribbon that the captain’s daughter used to tie her hair earlier. No one saw what was coming next.
Inside the filthy shanty built with bits of wreckage and scrap, it’s crazed inhabitant waited for the return of its horrible pet from its task. Soon enough, it returned at dusk, grasping a blue ribbon in its muck-encrusted talons.
“Well done, Strikzi, well done…” crooning to the creature. It perches on his arm, taking the ribbon from it’s claws. He hurled the bird out the door. It made a blood-curdling shriek, but he didn’t care, he had what he wanted. That was all that mattered.
Placing all he needed on the makeshift altar, he began.
Taking a skull marked with many runes, he put the girl’s ribbon inside. He raised his gnarled, crooked cane and the skull, and began to call out to the Messenger of the dark, mindless gods from the Outside.
Before the warmth of a bonfire, the golden-haired monk was reciting mantras, his fingers running over the beads of his mala.
He suddenly felt something wrong. An acute change in the air. It went cold. Worst, it felt wrong.
A girl’s scream broke the cold, tensed silence. He quickly stood up and hurried to where it came from. He saw the servants crowding outside the tent of their captain.
The captain’s wife begged him to help them as he was ushered inside the tent. Inhuman noises filled his ears as he entered. Growls, moanings and screams, as if a demon from the very bowels of hell….
The monk couldn’t help but cringe at what he saw.
Out of control, rabid and thrashing, the captain’s daughter was being held down by four of the caravan’s strongest, including the captain himself. It was with little success. The air began to fell heavier, colder.
She began to make a spine-chilling cackle.
“You worthless MAGGOTS!!!” she spat at them. “This is all futile, your daughter is MINE!!!” the infernal voice within her said.
“NEVER!!!” The captain shouted back.
It was in vain, they were thrown aside. She dashed towards the exit. But she fell to her knees when the monk threw sea salt at her, her skin burning as the grains touch her.
“Restrain her” the monk says, they were quick to act on his directions and bound her wrists and ankles at her bed posts.
“Get me more salt and five sticks of incense.” The caravan helpers immediately hasted to get what he asked for.
The girl was still trying to get loose. Using all her strength, she pulled, and thrashed and fought. Servants were instructed to pull the bed into the center of the tent, while the monk takes the salt. He enclosed the bed with a ring of salt. The monk was muttering lowly as he lighted the incense.
Purifying himself by wafting the smoke on himself, he called to his masters of old, praying for guidance and strength.
He began to whisper incantations and runes, wafting the possessed with the incense smoke.
The girl’s breathing became more and more labored. She was rasping, coughing, as if being choked. “What are you doing to me?!!!” Her voice, still demonic.
“TELL ME!!!!” She demanded again.
The girl’s family, friends and servants were all told to form a circle around the bed and him, closing it by holding hands. They focused on all their love, affection and memories for her and with her.
The golden haired monk continued to mutter and fanned more and more smoke upon her. She began to choke, and gag as if to vomit.
“Get me a clear, empty bottle, NOW!!!” shouts the monk, and the servants frantically search for such. The captain quickly opens a bottle of rhum and spills all of its contents down to the last drop.
The girl finally vomits, releasing a pillar of thick black smoke. It was just in time for the monk to catch the bottle from the captain and trap the howling screaming smoke. He replaced the stopper before it could rush out again.
The heavy, foreboding sensation in the surrounds was immediately lifted. The girl went limp on her bed. Her mother quickly rushed to her side and wiped off the beads of sweat from her weary face.
Her father couldn’t stop his tears of relief, his daughter was finally safe. He thanked the monk again and again, insisting that he stay one more night with them, since that was one of the few things he could offer. The golden haired monk obliged.
“What did that to my daughter?” asked the captain.
“A fragment of an invading sorcerer’s mind.”
“What are you gonna do with it?” he asks once more.
“Put it in a place where it can’t hurt anyone, anymore.”
The mad sorcerer screamed in pain, in agony. He lost grip of both his cane and the runed skull, and fell flat on the floor. Staring blankly at the mish-mash of metal and wooden planks he called a ceiling, drool dripped silently down his cheek, as his horrid crow pecked at the thick filth encrusting his toes.
-The Black Squid