The Künstler

The skeleton sitting in front of us couldn’t be any different from the Gardener. Whilst Gardener was an imposing entity, his intimidation factor only heightened by the plague doctor’s mask he was wearing and with an aura of uneasiness around him if you didn’t know him any better, this skeleton didn’t really strike as menacing. Examining him properly, he was in fact quite tall, but this was diminished by his hunched posture. Our presence was evidently not quite welcome as the skeleton was looking at us with obvious uneasiness and anxiousness. “Who are you, and why do you come here uninvited? Go away, or bad things shall happen to you” The skeleton was shaking a little bit, which is odd because skeletons shouldn’t be chilly, right? Anyway, his voice was quite deep and clear, yet similarly to the body, there was somewhat of a shaky attribute to it. Perhaps he wasn’t used to talking with people, or was anxious of them. No wonder if he spends all his time with his living drawings. Speaking of which, the little hummingbird was still flying around the cabin glancing at him, I noticed that the cabin was filled with drawings and paintings hanging on the walls, yet interestingly enough, all of them were covered by carpets or blankets, so it was impossible to see what is on them. But back to the skeleton, he was waiting for his answer and surprisingly, Maestro was the one who stepped (well floated) forward and answered him. Upon seeing Maestro, the skeleton seemed to have eased up a bit, which is the weirdest thing so far about him, because listening to Maestro was certainly not a moment of tranquillity. “Greetings my old friend, I apologize I have no invitation sent, but the straits were dire and time of the essence, and you know I am no liar. Does this make any sense?” As Maestro was talking the skeleton friend eyed me and Squeakly (who was not showing any signs of fear and was just preparedly holding the pommel of his sword), when I returned my gaze he hastily averted his and started shaking a little bit more, but he then immediately took a swig out of a hip-flask that was hanging around his waist and that seemed to calm him down. Once Maestro had finished, Skelly turned towards him again, but not maintaining eye contact, and replied. “Good to see a kindred spirit after such a long time Maestro, judging by the company you travel with, I assume you are on another quest once again. Please tell me how I may be of service and I will do anything in my power, but please do not stay here for long, you know I have…difficulties with others.” “These poor desperate souls seek shelter from the straits of this domain, and wish to return to their home above, the realm of sun, grass and rain.” The skeleton took another swig and answered: “I would love to be of assistance, but unfortunately I can’t anymore. A few years ago I could have drawn a portal that would take you home, or a fairy dragon that might take you to the stars, but it would be too dangerous now. I am no use to you, please leave. Leave!” His was not just shaking but completely trembling by the end of it and he began looking and turning around as if afraid of something. The hummingbird disappeared somewhere and Maestro obviously knew that something was wrong, and he started floating towards the door. But this one just said that he was capable of doing something that would take us home, I wanted to know what the problem was. “Why are you incapable of doing those things now? I have seen your creations, so you obviously still can do some things, so what is holding you back?” The skeleton took a huge gulp from his flask and turned towards me. Now looking me dead in the eyes…and in that moment, he seemed much more frightening than the Gardener. His empty sockets were empty no more, there was a swirling starry vortex in them now and I had an uncomfortable feeling that there was something in that vortex, something terrible and ancient that wanted to consume me and the whole world. The atmosphere in the cabin was chilly and everything started going dark and black, and the Skeleton started talking again, but this time there was something maniacal in that voice, something threatening. “These last few years something started creeping into my dreams and imaginations. Something dark started permeating my fantasies and ideas. I started walking in my sleep and each time I had woken up I found myself above a painting or a drawing of those terrible things in my dreams. It is whispering to me, it is watching me at every moment and it feeds on my fears. That is your answer young one, If I draw upon my imagination again to create something again, I fear that I might bring this to this world.” He tried to take another swig from his flask, but it was empty. He started panicking and rummaging through the room looking for something. I was taken aback by this speech but I thought that he was being overly dramatic (which, considering that he said that Maestro is his kindred spirit, is nothing surprising). He probably had some bad nightmare and combined with his loneliness it drove him a little bit mad, but I doubted some dark entities were involved. However the vortex in his eyes was disturbing, but that was probably just some trick of the light. I decided that I wouldn’t be denied by someone who was clearly capable of sending us home once he got rid of his insecurities and fears, and I had just the idea how to do it. “Hey, You!” I shouted “It’s normal to be afraid, but you have to face your fears not hide from them. So look” And I tore down a blanket that he covered one of his painting with. “Look, it’s just a paintin…” As I did this, pure fear embedded itself upon his face and posture. That I had expected, however what I didn’t expect was how the painting was going to be. It wasn’t just a painting, it was moving and the picture will never escape my mind again. It was a painting of an unspeakable eldritch horror, grotesque and horrifying. With many tentacles and eyes upon various parts of its mass. And in front of it, as big as ants were millions and millions of people suffering in endless perpetual horror and suffering. People with twisted appendages and forms, that were all in great pain slowly turning into abominations that soon joined the body mass of the creature. I wanted to scream, I wanted to turn away from this horrible torment, but I couldn’t. Yet I felt my life being drained away. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had looked at it for more than a second, but I hope I shall never know. As I was looking at it, suddenly it caught on fire and the canvas was destroyed and no trace of that horrible image remained. I looked behind me, and saw Maestro floating in the middle of the room with his fire eye focused on the painting. I was saved once again by my companions. But things were not over. I looked at the skeleton and it certainly seemed that there was something not right from him. Ink was dripping from his hands like blood, small inky tendrils were now emerging from the vortex in his eyes. And most importantly he was not hunched, now standing straight about 7 feet tall. He looked me in the eyes and I could now see a shape forming behind the veil of the vortex. A massive grotesque shape with many eyes. The skeleton was now frantically twitching and he said with the most maniacal and desperate voice I have ever heard. “He told me the dreams will stop if I kill you. He told me the dreams will stop. Kill, Stop. Kill, Stop.”

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