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The Valley of Lost Souls

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Across continents I have traveled, in a search of what occult secrets I dare not disclose. In all my journey, I have encountered things not of this world... and some of these things, it is now for me to disclose in this, my account of the final trek that I did undertake for understanding. This was to transpire in the summer months... but: it was autumn when our ship so sailed into cold, icy waters I know not where. Our navigator had perished of frostbite... or so the physician we had on board said, before he too died. I knew the land around the icy stretch was most perilous, filled with rocks and shoals of every stripe. Would this hardship be worth it for us, mayhap for all mankind? I would know... soon enough... for our little craft ran aground on the ice, and we were forced to head inland in search of food. Soon, the ice and snow grew so horrible that we thought our deaths would be ensured. But, like a miracle, this condition of weather ceased, and the terrain became green and lush... the air warmer, and breathable like upon a fair spring day.

Thus, did I come to the place known as the "Valley of the Gods": which, is not found on any one map of our world that I have seen. From the Dales, we hailed, and as men of the Dales we were fond of green fields and grassy plains, dotted with flowers, and trees. That was what we first saw of this valley, and it did but little to tell of the beauty of it. Often, though, beauty is deceptive and so it proved here. We lost most of the crew, who had survived thus far in our walk across this lovely landscape, ever where fell beasts lurked unseen and as could not even be harmed, by silver. I had taken to thinking that, should one fall upon me... I would fall on my own blade, rather than be savaged by their wicked jaws. But, they did me no harm! In a strange way, they all appeared to regard me with kindness, if one could call it that... and so: it came to pass that before these lands were crossed, I walked alone and in the dire company of beasts. My feral guides had led me to a ravine, and within it I so beheld ruins lining this expanse like crawling ants.

Literally, did alien-seeming buildings fill the entirety of the rugged ravine, from lip to base... down below. I could not fathom the true depth of it, for it seemed to get much deeper as it neared the center in a way that so defied easy perception. I neared the edge to take a look, and one of the wild beasts I had forgotten about nudged me over so that I fell into the ravine, so rolling and crashing my way... along what once were buildings... of the most foreign design that I did not recognize. Oddly, it was the layout of the ravine that saved me from death, for as I said I had rolled rather than fell to the bottom, where a large hole in the ground opened up just before where I regained my feet. And in front of the hole, as well as in front of myself, was to be beheld a very big and grand temple with a mighty crystal dome and upon the face of it, doors of purest jade. The dome, was also a pale green, and this thusly lent the whole structure the appearance of being lit up slightly by some ethereal glow from within, for when the sun struck these parts it seemed that something inside of it responded in kind to that touch.

Within moments, I so stood knocking at those large doors... laughing at myself for expecting any answer. The old doors were unlocked, predictably, and I then entered. Within... was a great circular chamber, upon which was the most finely polished floor as decorated with a vast painting of the cosmos, with all of it showing the constellations, which were outlined in jade and lit by some unseen source of magical power. Soon, I heard a rustling... and knew I was not alone. Robed figures stood, like darkly hooded spirits, floating the circumference of the chamber, flitting thus amongst the columns in that manner like unto ghosts who float upon the air. Soon, they had surrounded me... and I saw one of them draw near as he pressed into my hand a key made from a bone, upon which was a mystical sigil that even all my arcane scholarly learning knew naught of. The spirit beckoned me unto a set of doors; these made from obsidian; and bade me to enter through those unusual portals.

Those cold, black doors were decorated with images of countless entwined human souls, naked, and in an unending sea of shadow that was likewise so haunted by things that did look like fiends of the Abyss itself. I so put the key into the lock, and the doors lumbered open, soon to reveal that inner chamber... which I shall never forget. It was, at first... blacker than the night sky. And I could make out nothing! Then... I realized: I was not alone. A shrouded figure moved, like those others had done, towards me. It was taller in stature than they, and an aura of such mad malice came from it that I am frightful, even now, to speak of it. This being was lit by that kind of aura, that beings not of this world possess; and when it pulled the shroud back, it revealed an inhuman face, red and demonic. "Welcome, oh stranger, to this forbidden place... wherein I have been confined. Allow me to show you the wonders of my realm, which others have discovered before you. Behold!" and at this command... the chamber was lit by pale green light, and what I saw within strained my very sanity to the brink of monstrous madness. I shall describe it!

A cavern it was, and: it was as filled with humans as the image on the doors I had passed through... every one a shade but as utterly solid, and fresh, in his or her appearance as if they did still live. Many horrors with tentacles, and countless serpents of every kind, were wrapped about a multitude of them, the lost souls, and all of them as together were entwined in an unending serpentine writhing. As I had looked above, flying demons both reptilian and hideous flew to with long spears, and dove into the masses below... increasing their agony. To some, this state seemed pleasurable. In my maddest of mad nightmares, I had never imagined any place like this! The green glow was sickly to behold, making this sickening scene even far worse. So high was the ceiling, that clouds of a pale color formed, lit as green by the radiance of the room; from those clouds came very beautiful and angelic beings, which did descend to kiss some of those ensnared below. But the unlucky few saw another side to these, and what had so been angelic to others appeared to them as skeletal and demonic. A bite, rather than a kiss! At once, I averted my eyes and told the being with the red face to stop showing me all of this terror. But he only chuckled, and did so wickedly.

"I cannot but show you this, for it is to be your fate. You have perished, in my valley, and so my beasts brought you hither unto me. You are dead, and your soul is forever within my icy realm now and cannot return to it's former state. But, I do not "solely" rule this place! If you would be spared the eternity as these others know, you will so have to prevail upon our queen, who also rules here... to spare you of that suffering. However, you must bow before her... and pledge her eternal service. Naught else will deliver you from here as content." And so, I was answered darkly, once his laughter ceased. He took me to see this queen, and soon, I stood within a long, columned hallway wherein a black throne sat upon a bloodstained dais, bedecked with many soft red cushions and scarlet draperies. Upon that throne... attended by more of the odd angelic things I had seen in the chamber of suffering... was the queen herself. A short woman; with jet-black skin, pointed ears, and hair of snowy white was she. Young and fair did she seem, but her eyes were red as embers, and filled with an unspeakable hatred which she could barely control. She was clothed in silken garments of the purest and softest white: a loose blouse, and pantaloons of the eastern variety, all of which seemed as to flow about her as she walked nearer towards me, with the grace of a skilled dancer.

The dark woman spoke, with a fair and lilting voice... like a silver-tongued bard: "Once was I the matron of a noble house, so that once my name was feared and respected. But, I so turned against the goddess of my people, and she sent me to this place, as punishment for my transgressions. You know us... as dark elves, I believe. But here, I have long since become something more than I once was. My eternal punishment has become my eternal reward; and, I am a goddess here in my own right, now nameless and powerful. Why... does my seneschal thus bring you before me, mortal? Are you so here to escape your rightful suffering, perhaps! Do tell me, and I shall not be unmerciful to you, even in my imperious judgment of your worth." I bowed, then; overawed, by something in her presence, which mastered my reason; and so I did ask to be spared of the torments that I had been shown. The dark goddess, then placed upon my face both of her hands, and said almost tenderly: "Do allow me, to lessen your pain!" and I so felt my face burning as if on fire, surrounded by sickly green flames. I screamed, at the intense pain of this new, and very piercing experience... and when it had subsided, I felt my face with my hands and they came away bloody, even though no pain was felt anywhere. I looked in a mirror upon one of the walls, and saw that my skin was blackened and my ears made pointed. Not just my face: but my entire body had been transformed until I had become like a dark elf, with the bloody remnants of my humanity falling away from me. "Consider yourself spared of the horrors of the cavern. Consider yourself my slave, you who were once a man! I would have, at last, a lover in this place: one who is as worthy of my attentions as I am of granting my favor to. You will do, dear one. Attend me!"

And, dear reader, that was how I came to be the sole consort of the nameless goddess of the lost Valley of the Gods, which has I have noticed in the recent years come to be called the Valley of Lost Souls and this due, no doubt, to the fact that all who do venture where I have gone... never return. If anyone should discover my tale, which I have penned and left in a chest at the base of the ravine, just at the foot of the doors of the temple, I urge you to turn back if you be among the living. If you be amongst the dead, then know that you are lost... and at the mercy of a cruel mistress. Aye, she is so brutally cruel beyond measure! But... she has shown me such pleasures, that the pain involved is a delight to me now. So it is in my blood, since my transformation... and I heed the call of it like a sailor heeds the siren that is about to devour him. The ruins wherein you do walk, is the haunted wreck of a once-glorious dark elfin house. Respect this, and do not defile our halls should you come here still in flesh. As the dead, here, are still living! Let my fate serve: as a reminder to those who enter forbidden tombs. There is no escaping the undead.

Thus, was the odd account found by the second expedition to the Valley, funded by the Lords of the Dales and headed by a party of renowned adventurers. All as they found was this old manuscript, and upon returning home from their cold and otherwise fruitless voyage, they spoke of some great old temple with a large, shattered dome and huge broken doors of jade; a monumental room, also, in which was seen a massive and faded map of the cosmos, highly impossible to make out, now. And, more terrible still had been a colossal cavern filled with the bones of those long dead, beyond which lay in a hidden hall: an ancient throne room. Upon the throne, amidst ruined finery no longer at the splendor of past days, sat the bones of the queen spoken of in the account, all of her silken garments but tatters; and, chained to the throne at her side... was a much more recently deceased man, who seemed to have hailed from the Dales: he had been the author of the manuscript that had thus come to light. Perhaps he had but imagined what occurred, for clearly he had been alive when he had been chained to the queen's throne, not dead like he claimed in his writing; for indeed, how was he able to write it if he had not been alive to do so! But, one nagging question remained to be answered: who chained him to the throne, if all these people are as long dead as they seem to be? For, indeed... the shackles were as new and of a dark elfin craft common to the subterranean realms of that race. Plus, what had he seen in truth, which had caused him to hallucinate such terrible things! Truly we may never know, but the legend of it has prompted no further expeditions as sponsored by the Dales. Whether or not others will undertake such a journey to that place, this scholar cannot say... but thus far it has not reached my ears that anyone has expressed a desire to. Perhaps that is for the best. Let the dead rest, I say, for they appear not to be trifled with when they are angry!

The Valley of Lost Souls © Chaos_Theocrat

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