In the nocked hills of Vyvmsqby @d-pend
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In the nocked hills of Vyvmsq
Me runn inn nockd hillz. Minny strange thinge finde. Gloe rokk, dim rokk. Me gloe rokk hoard. Me dig kave wit klaw. Me playse gloe rokk pyle.
Me watch lowd thinge come, dey no see. Den dey dead. EZ — kill with toothe and klaw.
Minny strange thinge kill. Minny strange thinge eate. Me wate, hoarde shine. Boan and gym and baubel, stoan. Me reste after rome. Nockd hillz I lurn. Nockd hillz me home.
Me liv heer long. Me know all hillz lyke bak of hande. Now affer skrach me sine me sliep. Wate sounde, wate lyte. Wait foode, wait pryze.
Gym pyle maek bedde. Gym touche, fiel nockhillz powwer. It tel me trooth in uglee wae...
"Have you been into these strange nocked hills much, Relf?" Thus came my companion's query, and my first strong memory from that long-ago day. I remember turning my head to my companion, who wore a long orange tunic and an inquisitive smile. I shook my head. "They say gxwygs lurk in these carved cubic outcroppings," I had replied stoicly. Toyn laughed. "Surely you are not frightened by old maids' tales about prehistoric beings that must certainly be extinct, by all indications," he declared jovially, and perhaps a bit pompously.
"Certainly not," I rejoined with a forced laugh, trying on an air of humor to cover my annoyance (which thin disguise I am certain Toyn penetrated easily.) Again he laughed easily, and we continued up the way — passing bizarre, unnaturally square rock formations whose crevices were like glitchily rendered planes in some virtuaconsruct, letting in the subtle harshness of miasmic light from eldritch dimensions.
Following that brief exchange, we trekked through the nocked hills of Vyvmsq in silence. We passed gleaming ponderances: cubic pillars of shimmering black garnet and granite and phase-shifting shiyyev. We saw strange gems, circuits, and tufts of carpet spontaneously building themselves into the bark of trees that appeared one-third organic, one-third mechanical, and one-third insubstantial. Much that we beheld was of a similar composition — including the bizarre land crabs armored with crystal chitin and diodes, the floating cloudcities that seemed to phase in and out of existence, the robotic legged fungi, the grotesque carnivorous plants snapping silica-combed teeth at the level of our ankles as we passed, and even the weirdly unsolid vek beneath our own feet.
The place was unsettling not simply because of these odd sights, sounds and smells broadcast to us through our sense perceptions. There was the inexplicable intuition of a discordant anomaly — as if this place should not, cannot possibly exist. This feeling was to continue to build ever stronger in me until the blessed hour that I finally departed from Vyvmsq, which phenomenon was unlike one's experience in most places and seemed highly unnatural — that being, that even if one should begin with a sense of intense malice somewhere, it would eventually dissipate into a sort of uncomfortable familiarity, followed by hesitant comfort. Not so in this land of contradictions which seemed to bleed the vitality from my very bones.
How many vaguely threatening and wholly insubstantial insinuations of dread malice came to us through the features of this cursed land through gnarling sight, creeping beast-call, damp-steel breeze and cruel minereal atmosphere of scent — who may be able to describe? Certainly not myself, Relf the military man and the ardent builder of things. I am no aesthete of anything in the realm of the insane and the horrifying, let alone this primordially transcendent fuzz zone where conflicting laws of physics clash, and a multitude of potential realities peek out their heads from behind the harsh boulders leaking æth-light.
Whether Toyn shared any of my sentiments I am uncertain, so powerful was his habit of displaying not an iota of weakness or discontent to the public eye — even here, with just myself, his boyhood friend for his only companion. As he was an initiate of strange schools of magic, it is possible he discovered weird nodes of energy that he was able to myndjack for various arcane purposes. If so, did these unnatural surges of power compensate for the grotesqueness of that land, or even mutate the sensation of being there to one of fondness and delight? Alas, were he still here to ask!
Along the way were asymmetrical nests of land crustaceans: hives which would shift geometries depending on how many inhabitants were dwelling within them — now hexagonal, now pentagonal, now dodecahedral. We witnessed them morph as land shrimp with cube-eyes entered and exited. As we passed a particularly large nest, to my shock I saw Toyn dip a red hand into a cell of this enormous hive which seemed to bulge nearly spherical indicating fullness, and pull out a palmful of shimmering evil-looking grubs, only to devour them like some primitive barbarian with an abrasive grinding sound like metal teeth on stone. "Excellent nutrition," he proclaimed to answer my disgusted look, "Deliciously sour!"
Even knowing his brash and fearless approach to the unknown, I could not but suspect that Toyn had long secretly journeyed through these hills. What else could explain his intimate knowledge of the impossible-seeming fauna and flora that flourished here? It may have been only my imagination — but it seemed to me that the longer we were in Vyvmsq, the more hale and boyish Toyn became, while my own form only waned towards greater frailty and decrepitude. I could swear my fingers just flashed briefly elderly even now from the recollection while writing!
After an indeterminate period of time (which I could certainly not estimate with the aberrant movement of the suns — now dayward, now nightward) Toyn announced from behind me on the trail, "You know, a minkbat is not at all like a molebat." I slowly turned around, half-delirious with exhaustion and overwhelm. "Huh?" I uttered, certain I had hallucinated him speaking. We had passed through this unspeakable purgatory for what felt to my legs and my stomach ages now. There was no logical reason anyone would think or speak of either molebats or minkbats in this cursed place.
"Minkbats are quite unlike molebats despite their similarity of name," Toyn elucidated, in quite a serious tone. It was my turn to laugh uproariously to my companion's slight scowl. The sound of my amusement reverberated through the metallic hills, and as it echoed it fan-spread and changed into eerie tritonic harmonies filled with subtle menace. Generally, I did not laugh much, but the combination of our ridiculous trek and this seemingly random and banal statement was enough to break my usually stern composure. "It is a major area of public ignorance," Toyn insisted. "I would comb Vek for a minkbat of my own, while I wouldn't be caught dead within a half-zorm of a molebat. Though, this statue depicts neither, at least not that I can tell, unless the depiction be highly abstracted."
Before I could ask "what statue," I glanced in the direction of Toyn's pointed finger. What I beheld caused every hair upon my body to stand up and my legs to grow unsteady — I, a respected captain, quaking before a metallic-barked monolith! Who could believe it? I am ashamed to admit the degree of my fear at this sight, but it is more important that I am truthful in this record than that I bend the facts to bolster my pride or manufacture some spurious ideal of unblinking masculinity.
The thing was an enormous winged monstrosity of petrified crystalwood, tin, darksteel, fur and feather. I had to admit it did not look much like either a mink- nor a mole-bat, but it was reminiscent of them — if they had been created by some deranged idiot-savant God with the sense of beauty of a craven masochist. It seemed crafted to frighten and lure simultaneously. Though by all indications an inanimate work of art, I felt from it the kind of presence one only sensed from living things. I was quite positive it had not been there when last I turned around in amusement at my companion's seemingly inappropriate comment — which fact caused me to question my mental stability.
If I felt insane then, at the precipice of our further plunge into the gritted vagaries of Vyvmsq through this wyverned monument of metal and mulch, how may I describe the utter fragmentation of my sentient faculties thereafter — in the dimmest moments of the harrowing adventures through which we were to soon pass?
Writing and images synthesized and compiled
by Daniel Pendergraft for Proof-of-Brain
Community on the HIVE Blockchain
published on October 5, 2021.
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