Chapter Fifty-two

Chaos was the only word that could describe the situation. The shaking was so overwhelming that everyone jumped up and fell every second. It was hard to see anything at all.

A rupture in the soil was torn in an instant and a giant monster emerged. It lacked mouth yet was full of holes that contained the mad void itself. It had four strong spider-like legs and its body was roughly cylindrical in shape.

It didn't make a sound, it just flew upwards until gravity overpowered it and it darted towards the ground, taking a dozen of slaves along with it. They didn't even scream in their confusion.

It was a horrible sight, yet the boy couldn't have done a thing. He could merely try to maintain balance although his effort was nearly futile. He seldom managed to get on his feet, but the quake swiftly kicked him back down.

The creature rampaged, taking a person after another into the void. It wasn't long and it did away with every freed man and woman. The boy was the only one remaining. He struggled to survive and not get crushed, yet as the being flew by him, it missed him. It had no eyes, but he felt as if it had observed him.

Strangely, the monster ceased with the rave, deciding to stop its insanity. It burrowed deep under the ground and silence ensued. The rifts in the soil filled themselves, leaving no trace of the assault whatsoever.

He was alone for a while, allowing him to recover and recollect. What had just happened? A giant creature had attacked and after satiating its hunger, it had departed. It had deprived him of possible sources of information.

Yet before he lamented some more, it reappeared, this time a little bit farther away from him. The epicentre of the tremor was distant enough for him to withstand the reaches of its power.

The boy gazed at it. It darted through the air and sank beneath the black substance. Calm followed afterwards, confusing him. And then it took place again. It was closer than the previous.

He didn't know for sure, but it seemed to him that it was beckoning him to go after its trail. He walked at first, yet as the creature accelerated, he had to run. Eventually, he was sprinting.

He could have left miles behind his legs already, but the single thing he had witnessed was the wasteland. A barren realm where everything was dark and devoid of life. Where every hint of structure was an inexplicable tangle of decay. Transformed rubble and debris, sections leeching energy off others' torment.

However, he wasn't there for sightseeing. His goal was to follow the monster wherever it was leading him. He didn't stop to think about the fact that it had spared him as the only living person.

Yet it was too fast. He had been able to chase it before, but now it was so ahead that it became a mere dot on the horizon. And in the next moment, it disappeared completely, leaving the boy alone in the middle of nowhere.

Although he had attempted it many times in the past without plausible results, he opened the book again. There was nothing much to his dismay, yet as he browsed through the empty pages, he arrived at one spiralling symbol. It was the single thing in the whole book.

It flashed blue and then it vanished. What was its fleeting purpose? The answer to that question eluded the boy during the first seconds of his pondering. Yet the ground in front of him shook.

A tall spire began forming before him, rising up from the old roots. He didn't know what was going on, but he stood still and watched. It was a structure full of ruptures that led to the void, a tower with a narrow platform winding around it towards its top. It wasn't particularly upright, instead it curled and twisted like a poisonous snake, reaching as far as the dim and dreary skies.

The overwhelming tremor ceased shortly afterwards. Whatever was the function of the newly emerged construction, he was aware that it was ready for use and it was there specifically for him.

He went forth and set foot on the colossus. It wooed him up, whispering to him silently. Madness was calling him. And he didn't know whether he heeded it, his confusion or his reason.

In fact, he wasn't even thinking anymore. He let himself be bathed in the wall of eerie sounds gnawing at his mind. His legs did the hard work and he felt that there was no need to be alert.

And so he was ascending towards the top, blindly marching to the unknown with open arms. The book had never failed him in getting forward, why should it now? If he had been a little bit more aware and sensing, who could tell what would happen? Perhaps he would have to struggle against the temptation to jump inside the nearest hole and join the void.