Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Amulet XXI - The Stairs


Tendrils and wisps of the remainder of the early morning fog streaked the ancient stone like the fingers of some long forgotten ghosts. Eerie tails of opaque white curled among the lichen-strewn rocky outcroppings and looped over the dew droplets that clung to the spears of timothy. The air was thick and cool; the morning sun had been shut out by the encroaching gray clouds, yet the wetness of the humid air felt cloying and dank. The pebbled surface of the decrepit masonry was slick with damp moss and ran freely with tiny rivulets of moisture that had collected in the exposed crags and loosed rock. The stairs angled upward into the weighted cloud and disappeared into the spectral gloom of the slowly receding morn.


Ages ago the stonework steps were built as a pathway to enlightenment. Their creators and masons were monks, who desperately searched for a way out of the valley they inhabited. For the valley had fallen to an evil so unspeakable and horrid that they had little choice but to escalate themselves skyward toward the hand of the God they'd prayed hadn't forsaken them. And so they constructed. They meticulously and laboriously unearthed and drug stone and rock from the river at the base of their valley home. They toiled day and night perfecting their last path to salvation. Yet for them, it was too late. They soon fell as the blanketing repulsion suffocated them. And so the staircase stood, as a reminder to what could have been.


At closer glance, the fine scroll-work that ran the length of the ancient and crumbling steps was quite impressive. It also spoke volumes of what the monks who created the massive stairs were working toward. From the moment the sadistic sickness befell their civilization, their lone goal became escape. Their God promised sanctuary, but the people were made to earn it. Freedom from the oppressive bleakness would not come without sacrifice and offerings; their lives wouldn't be preserved, and therefor spared, without a total and complete giving of themselves. And the etchings that looped and whorled up and across the surface of each eroding rise was a true testament to their undying devotion.


Piece by piece, slate by slate, boulder by boulder, the steps slowly and with painful precision fell into shape. Decades passed and the tower of fitted rocks grew ever higher, just as people gave up their lives and plead to their God as they fell. The colony gave up much: celebrations, livelihoods, daily freedoms; all for the defiance of the sinister and the quest to achieve salvation. They lived and died by their powerless struggle between good and evil. But the evil had strength. And the evil was in the earth itself. It seethed, it writhed, it gnashed, and it fought the people every single step of the way... and every way of the steps.


As the afternoon sun burns away the remainder of ghastly fog, the slithering tendrils that caress the exposed roots hanging languidly from the depleting stone evaporate into ethereal nothingness. A step back reveals the perfection of the rising hill. Its corners; perfect. Its angles; uncompromised. Its rises and falls; works of art. And the edging that showcases the precision script winds its way up either side cascading from the top-most stone to the very bottom. The encroaching wind echoes with the broken spirits of a thousand buried voices as it whirls up the steps. The haunting drones of eons past -living with the long dead calls of ancient voices- ebb and flow through the haunted, overgrown valley.


The population slowly died away. The evil of the valley had manifest and entered the spirits and very souls of the adolescents. It crept in and strangled the life out of the righteous; the blank slates who devoted their lives to constructing the stairs and reaching the hands of their loving God. The children began to hate. They began to thoughtlessly punish. They began to commit hateful crimes and destroy the builders of the stairway. With recklessness and deviant amorality, the young overpowered and eradicated the old. But even with the elderly falling, the steps eventually reached completion, much to the behest of the strangling horror from below.


The cryptic designs that ran the length of upward stairwell did not sit idle. Their circular etchings vibrated with a deep, guttural thrum. And they pulsated a dark, haunting red hue that ebbed in rhythm with the beating hum. Each connecting hoop-shape looked exactly like an amulet of sorts. They were roughly the size of saucers with even more intricate artwork; tribal in nature, that encircled a center 'eye'. And it was this eye that truly emitted the most horrific shade of blackened red. Anyone who stood long enough at the stairs, or who made the decision to walk its seemingly endless path, would begin to understand what the long deceased civilization was attempting to reach. And one would be unable to understand how feelings this dire and terrifying could be misconstrued as anything other than pure and complete evil. Maybe it was the Gods within the valley who were the actual true amalgams of truth. Many have fallen as their understandings were shattered. And many have followed the path of the amulet.