MOUNT ASNER


     It was a stormy night when the old man climbed Mount Asner. His white hair flowed behind him as he hobbled, sometimes crawled towards the summit. He wore what had once been an embroidered silk robe, now reduced to dirty rags. His right hand clutched a small book to his chest. Jinn, like streaks of flame, danced with the lightning. Their laughter shook loose boulders that came raining down from on high. The old man swore a vicious oath as he dove headfirst into a nearby thorn bush, it was that or be crushed to death by an oncoming boulder. He lay in the bush for a time, too tired to move. Gathering his strength he tore himself free and resumed his staggering ascent. He reached the bottom of the storm cloud. All was darkness within.

      One step.

      Another.

      Rest.

      One step.

      Another.

      The Jinn had left their dance.

      One step.

      Rest.

      Another.

     The storm was beneath him. The path rose higher and steeper than before. The old man walked quickly now. His step was light. He held the book loosely and his hand no longer trembled with palsy. The path made a sharp turn, and he found himself eye to eye with a surly looking mountain goat. It shook its head and then leapt off the side of the mountain. The man leaned over the edge; the animal was nowhere to be seen. There was only a roiling ocean of darkness. Shaking his own head, the man turned to finish his climb.

     The summit of Mount Asner housed a cave above a mesa. A rod of weathered brass rose from the center of the mesa. Jagged cracks radiated from its base, as though a titan had hammered it into the earth. The most ancient and decrepit of wise men called this rod the Daemonium Virga. They hinted that once it had a different name and that the blood of hundreds of victims had coursed down its length and seeped into the mountain.

     The old man ran up the uneven steps to the cave where he pried loose a stone. All was as he had left it, he retrieved a leather bag from which he drew an object wrapped in black silk. He removed the silk cloth to reveal a wand of brass as long as his forearm, crowned with a single fire opal. Armed with his book and wand, the old man turned and made his way back to the Daemonium Virga. He opened the book and began to read in a clear, unwavering voice.

     "O Ilzesisthur, we fly to thy abode! O Ilzesisthur confirm this work! I conjure thee, O Spirit Onaul, demiurge of the five worlds. Fortified by the strength of Almighty Ilzesisthur I conjure thee by K'araos, Uatiyeboath, Ekek, Sadvious, Sabbious, Gdimnom, and the seven dead gods of Mount Ash-neieur!"

     Lifting his arms on high, the old man screamed the final verse of his first incantation. "O Demiurgos Onaul, come unto me and reveal the Law of the Aeon! Five ages of men have risen up only to be ground into the dust. Now the sixth age dawns and still the Law is withheld. By the word that burned like the Sun and destroyed Mount Ginnolioun, I conjure thee O sacred and ineffable Lord. Come faster than the greyhound and swifter than shadow. Appear to your child and hear his speech. By the divine word that even the lurkers in darkness dare not utter, I summon and abjure thee: Quiannthiounthkannkalexinthoun!"

     A bloody light shone in the old man's eyes and from the depths of the fire opal. Using his wand to cut words of fire into the night air the old man circled the great brass rod. As he walked he chanted his second incantation. The words bubbled forth from his lips like malignant black ooze.

     "O Spirit Onaul, by thy secret name I command thee to appear and reveal the Law of the Aeon. Thou art the Lord of the Law. In each age of man thou dost enter the Chamber of H'ger and select which of Ilzesisthur's commandments shall be exalted above all others. That is thy sacred purpose, but thou art a most stubborn and contrite spirit. It pleases thy wicked heart to choose but not to tell, so that mankind must keep all the laws for fear of breaking the one. On this night a child of the earth demands a reckoning! By thy secret name O spirit Yildaboath!"

     For a dozen heartbeats all was still; then the night was awash in blood. It boiled up from the depths of the mountain, and gushed from the cracks around the Daemonium Virga. A crimson fountain that coated the length of the rod and stained the mesa red. In the darkness, the cave above was a bloody mouth, toothless and mute. A shape took form within the fountain and fell to earth with a thunderous crash. A great winged serpent with the head of a lion rose slowly from the ground, it's ebony scales flashing as it tested its coils. Then it spoke.

     "Any foul worm of the earth that canst bind its own maker is a worthy creation indeed. Give unto me thine own right hand and the commandment that damns forever shall be thine."

     The old man drew an eagle quill from an inner pocket, touched the tip to the bloodstained rod to wet it, and then bowed his head in assent. Onaul's grim and weary face shone with joy, he rose to his full height and pounced upon the man. In a brilliant flash of light he was gone, leaving the man crumpled and broken. The old man shook violently. His right hand was no longer his own; moved by another will, it opened the book of incantations and scrawled a single line over the text of the final page.

      Thou shall not deface the written word.

© Tobias Loc 2018