The following short story is a creation tale unlike most by James Crane. For more strange and gothic horror pop over to The Crumbling Keep for Demon’s, Magical Trinkets, and more. They also have a Patreon that helps support these wonderfully ominous creations. Sit back, grab your snack of choice, and enjoy.
In the days of old, many cultures believed the world was created by demonkind. While the majority of the world today worships the dragon gods, there are still small pockets whose prayers are directed toward the oldest gods. In dark ruins and ancient temples on the fringes of the civilized worlds, those worshipers read from decaying texts, spreading the tales of the very creation of the world itself. What follows is one such account…
In the beginning, there was darkness. The first being existed within it without shape or sense of self. The darkness was the first being and the first being was the darkness.
Ages passed and the darkness yearned for more. It coalesced and collapsed in upon itself, giving the second being substance. Thus, Jeragroth came into being. Aware for the first time in the darkness, Jeragroth sought to scream but had no mouth. The second being willed its own mouth into existence and wailed into the darkness. Unable to hear itself, it next willed itself ears. It heard its own screaming and was pleased.
The darkness was also pleased. Its emptiness was filled with the cries of Jeragroth, the agony of being never allowing the second one to be silent. Many more ages passed with only the darkness and Jeragroth. Ever did the screams become sweeter for the darkness. Its feelings for its spawn grew.
The darkness drew tighter around the second one. It seeped inside of him. He seeped inside of it. For a time, they were but one being again. When their copulation had finished, the darkness had produced offspring. Hence Jeragroth became the father of demons, the darkness their mother.
The union had produced a set of triplets. Luln, Lord of rage, was their son. Braxult, Queen of Death and Peace, was their daughter. Erethalion, Caln of Choice and Chance, was both son and daughter, and neither all at once. They wailed as they emerged into the nothing. Jeragroth was pleased, as was the darkness. It grew in its joy until Sribinet, the first realm, formed. Here they lived in their eternal torment.
Time passed in Sribinet and it did not, as is the way in the demon realm. The passage of ages was not as mortals would one day know. The three grew to adulthood, and they became envious of their parents. Luln wished to be father. Braxult wished to be mother. Erethalion only wished for change. Together, the siblings conspired.
One day, Jeragroth came to inflict harm on the three, for his pleasure and that of the darkness.
“Stand, my children, for I would rend your flesh. Stand, my children, for I would see your blood. Stand, my children, for I would hear your screams.
“I will not, father, for I would rather scream in anger than pain.”
With that, Jeragroth charged forward in rage.
“I will not, father, for I choose not to.”
With that, Jeragroth stumbled, his legs failing beneath him.
“I will not, father, for I would see you rest.”
With that, she stood, brandishing a hidden blade. It flashed forward and sunk deep into his chest. He gasped twice before becoming ever still.
The siblings rejoiced, for their tormentor was slain. Sribinet now belonged to them.
Braxult took the body of her father, as was her duty. She reached into Sribinet and created an endless feasting hall made of wood and bone. She again unsheathed her hidden blade and separated Jeragroth’s soul from his body. She cast his body away from her with such strength that it left Sribinet and became adrift in the nameless spaces. His soul, she placed at the head of an endless table.
“Here you shall sit, father, until all is done.
Your drink shall be dust, your food shall be ash.
You will gain companions one day, and they shall be as you.
Silent and waiting, until all comes to an end.”
And there she left him to wait.
Erethalion had all they desired. All of the future had been freed from the time of destiny. All that had been sure was no longer so. They climbed upon a throne of sand with ever shifting grains. There, they waited.
Luln was free. There was none to stop his rage. All across Sribinet, he caused destruction and pain. Where his siblings crossed his path, they suffered. Where his mother was to be found, she wept from his fury.
And she was pleased.
The feelings between child and mother grew. Luln had wanted to become father. Mother, The Darkness, allowed him his wish. A second copulation happened, the screams and howls tearing the very fabric of being. Thus were the nine born during their fornication.
Where they penetrated each other, Yuzzdil, demon of lust was born.
Where they lost themselves in their lust, their minds completely consumed, Thathtil Grog Mezzserin, demon of madness, was born.
Where their claws pierced each other and blood was drawn, Yarlloth, demon of war, was born.
Where one would lash out, causing the other harm, Faqual, demon of fear, was born.
When they coveted each other, attempting to take more than they gave, Gul, demon of greed, was born.
Where they reveled in their prowess, knowing no humility, Ashtabula, demon of pride, was born.
Where they leaked into each other, infecting each other with themselves, Drexath, Demon of Disease, was born.
When they rested afterward, devoid of all desire, Nuremian, demon of apathy and entropy, was born.
When they regained their sense of self and realized that, despite whatever company they found themselves in, they would forever be alone, Bakuritan, Demon of Woe, was born.
The darkness and Luln had imbued them all with a sense of being. Luln appraised his new kin. He remembered back to his first moments of being, when he had screamed and cried into the darkness. He remembered the joy it had brought her. He decided to give his lover a gift.
He devised ever new tortures for his children and siblings, filling the darkness with their cries. Be it lust, apathy, war, or even death; Luln, the demon father, inflicted pain without beginning or end on his family, just as his bride did to him.
Braxult recognized the chain. Creator abused created. She reasoned that it was her duty to create and abuse as well. The demon of death needed life to fulfill this need. Only the living would fear dying, which would perhaps be their biggest torment. She stole some of the darkness and molded it with her bare hands. Soon, she had a mass of land floating in a sea of dark, though it barely stayed together. There was no life to be found on it. Braxult realized that, while death can give meaning to life, it can not create it.
She wandered the darklands alone, not knowing what to do. She came upon Yarllath, hammering upon a great anvil. The sparks shot off into the darkness, casting little patches of light.
“Well met, sister.” Said Yarllath. “Have you come to fight me? Have you come to glory in the letting of blood? Let us give our father a river of crimson. Let us give our mother the cries of the dying!”
Braxult smiled, for she knew a secret that none of the rest did. She would be there when they all died, for she was death itself. Though she lived in the darkness, she would one day lead it to its final resting place. Yarllath could do nothing to her.
“No, my brother. It is what happens after the battle that interests me. I shall soothe the loser and praise the winner. I care not for undecided contests. Mine is a place of resolution. Mine is a place of ends.”
Yarllath smiled. “And mine is a place of ferocity and honor. Be gone from me, sister. I think you weak.”
Braxult did as she was told, but not before snatching some of the stray sparks. Cupping them in her hands, she wandered away again, pushing farther into the dark.
Soon, she came upon Yuzzdil, writhing in the darkness. His/her moans alternated between soft and guttural. Braxult listened, but felt nothing.
“Have you come to love your sister-brother, Braxult? Come, and loose yourself in my thighs. Come and be filled by me. I will moan or scream or cry, whatever you wish.”
Braxult smiled. She knew that Yuzzdil would one day send many into her realms.
“No, sister-brother. The dead have no need for the pleasures of the flesh, for their flesh will but rot away. One day, lives will be lost for lust, though I believe it has other powers too.”
“The pleasures and pain of the flesh are all there is, Braxult. Be gone from me, sister. You are frigid.”
Braxult did as she was told, but not before collecting some of Yuzzdil’s spilt seed. Putting it in a little glass vial, she again began to wander.
Next, she came upon Gul sitting upon a pile of his riches. He eyed her suspiciously as she approached.
“Have you come to steal my riches, sister? Have you come to take what is mine and only mine?”
Braxult knew that while her brother always wanted more, he would be all too happy if she would covet what was his.
“I have not, brother. Though beings will one day be buried with their possessions, the dead carry nothing with them to the next realms. They will be born with naught and will end with the same. You will only know them in the middle.
“You lie, sister. Everyone wants something. Now be gone. I think you the fool.”
Braxult did as she was told, but she had lied. While Gul was distracted by his tirade, she had palmed a red ruby and a gold coin. Placing them in a small pouch, she once again wandered.
Eventually, she heard weeping. Following it, she came upon Bakuritan, alone in the darkness.
“You have come for no reason, have you sister? There is no reason to any of this. We our riddled by constant loss, yet even that imparts no meaning,” wept Bakuritan.
Braxult stayed stoic, no emotion on her face.
“The dead need no meaning, sister. The have as little need for sorrow as they do for joy. I have come with reason, sister, though it be unknown to you.”
“May you be next in line for father’s fancy, sister. May he torture you until you know nothing but sadness! Now be gone, I think you deceive yourself.”
Braxult did as she was told, but not before she collected Bakuritan’s tears. Soaking them up in a cloth, she went alone again into the nothing.
The air began to grow cold around her, causing her skin to burn. Braxult knew this as a sign that their sibling Faqual was near, but they could not see them. Braxult moved silently, trying not to attract attention. Ever was she certain that she was being followed. Ever was there movement out of the corner of her eye.
“Greetings, Death. You have become lost.”
The voice came in a thousand whispers, each one cutting into her mind like a knife. Though Braxult trembled, she walked onward.
“You are reminded of where true power lay now, yes? I can cause armies to run. I make warriors scream. Even death feels fear. Do you bow down before me, sister?”
Braxult steadied herself and stood straight.
“No, sibling, I do not. You are strong, it is true, but you are not real. Death is eternal. Death is actual.”
The whispered turned into a roar. “You are wrong, sister! Now flee, sister! I deem you a coward.”
Braxult left, but not before collecting ice from her siblings cold breath.
She did not walk long when loud laughter filled the air. Ashtabula ran forward out of the darkness to greet her.
“Hello, sister. Have you come to race me? You will lose, for I am the fastest. Have you come to engage me in riddles? You will lose, for I am the smartest. Have you come to wrestle me? You will lose, for I am the strongest.”
Braxult shook her head. Ashdula was none of these things, but he could not be swayed.
“I have come to do no such things, brother. Death needs not prove anything. Death’s existence is proof enough and it will someday drive beings to prove themselves against it. None escape it forever, however.”
“You are wrong, sister. I am the best and you just accept mediocrity. Now be gone. I find you to be inferior.”
Braxult did as she was told, but not before collecting the air from Ashdula’s boasts in a leather bladder. She walked again into the darkness.
As she walked, the darkness took on a purplish hue. Flecks of color punctuated with, the likes of which Braxult had never seen. Thathtil Greg Mezzserin sat alone amongst the swirls. Sheb plunged a needle in and out of her stomach, trailing thread behind it.
“Greetings, sister, lover, hornets nest. Have you come for prophecy? Or a song or painting? Perhaps you’ve come to hear my secrets that none other know. For instance, there is no real difference between a color and a sound. My name means bringer of poisons. My name means bones of the raven. My name means nothing. Will you come play with me, sister? Will you come walk in my fields and burn my mountains?
Braxult stepped back.
“I will not, sister. You, of us all, are truly more terrible than me. Your familiars will pray to be released into my care.”
Thathtil Grog Mezzserin looked up at Braxult. She flicked the needle and thread toward her.
“You will leave me now, Braxult, but you will take this needle and thread before you do. The road is winding and ever changing. The blood will be born with my gifts. You will know my poetry by its hollow bones. Now go.”
So Braxult did, silently and without reply.
The colors faded as she traveled farther away from Thathil Grog Mezzserin. Braxult was quiet and disturbed as she picked her way through the dark lands once again. She was lost in thought, a side effect of seeing her sister. The insanity was contagious and she struggled to shrug it off, her mind swirling in quiet subdued panic.
So distracted was she that Braxult did not notice she was no longer alone. Her foot slammed into something physical, pulling her back into her current reality. Looking down, she spotted Nuremian, sitting upon the ground. He looked to have lain there a long time. The skin on his ribs clung to them, his stomach distended. Though he could truly not die, Nuremian was starving. A hollow blank look hung in his eyes. He made not a sound, despite the impact.
Braxult’s eyes swayed a foot away from him. There, on the ground and easily within his reach, was an apple. His hunger obviously caused him great discomfort, yet he could not be bothered to eat. Braxult thought to protest, but realized it was meaningless. Without a word, she picked up the apple and left.
She wandered then for an age. When she had thought all that she needed to think, Braxult returned to her cold creation. Standing before it was Drexath. Her skin was covered in boils, her breath coming into her lungs in raspy gasps. She seemed frail, yet her strength was found in the frailty. She hissed out her words before Braxult had a chance to inquire as to her presence.
“You have sought gifts from each of your siblings, save me. You have stolen from them all. Gul must be pleased. Why, sister, have you not sought out a boon from me?”
Braxult lowered her gaze. She always found her sister’s appearance pleasing, though she was quite certain Yuzzdil had something to do with that. She hesitated for a moment before she spoke.
“I seek to defy my nature, sister, and create. I do not know that you have anything you can do to assist me. Ours is not the hand of making.”
Drexath smiled, stepping slowly toward Braxult. The demon of disease’s leathery hand moved to the demon of death’s face, crinkling as it caressed.
“You will receive a gift from me, sister, though I will happen after your creation is done. I will send to you countless souls over time. War will ravage them and greed with be their undoing. Lust will drive them into madness. Pride and Apathy’s kin will forever remain lovers. It is disease, however, that will offer a bounty unto death.”
Drexath leaned closer, her bloodied cheek wiping against her sister’s. Her mouth puckered and whispered into her ear.
“It is I who will fill you, sister.”
Without another word, Drexath walked away. Braxult watched her until she disappeared into the darkness. She starred in the direction for a long time. Then, she began her work.
With the needle and thread, Braxult strengthened her creation. It created great depressions in the ground where it crashed into this new world. She opened the vial of tears to fill them, creating Oceans and rivers.
Braxult hung the spark in the heavens and watched as light and heat bathed her creation. Next she hung the gem and gold piece so that they might reflect the light of this new sun into the dark places of the world. The light would keep the Sribinet from entirely consuming it, keeping it forever hers until even the sun and the moons died.
Next, she packed the ice along the northern part so thickly that the sun may never melt all of it. Then Braxult opened the leather bladder, leaking out the whirling air of boasts to create the skies. Into these winds, she crushed the apple. The seeds of the fruit spread out amongst the lands, causing food and trees to grow. This was followed by the winds blowing the northern ice down over the world, putting those plants to bed until it would melt and allow them to grow again. The world now had water to drink, heat to warm it, and food to eat. Her creation needed but one last thing.
She retrieved the spilt seed of her sister brother. He fingers smeared the paste-like substance all over the planet. There, the sun warmed it until it started to grow. Out of this ooze, humans, the first people, were born. Braxult was satisfied. The demon of death had created life. It was the life all others would spring from. She could not keep it secret forever, however. The other demon kind would find her prize.
Her kin soon discovered what she had done. Delighted, her brothers and sisters claimed dominion of this area and that, taking delight in torturing these newly made creatures. Yuzzdil kept quite busy inciting the humans, making sure the demons had a good supply of victims. The world, just like the Sribinet, was filled with the screams and tears of its beings.