Artist’s Sketchbook

“Now calm down there mate, don’t listen to some weird voice whispering to you in your head. It lies to you, the voices won’t leave just because it says so, they will leave if you muster the strength to face them. Face your fears and the voices will stop.” It was the rational way of thinking, or at least so I thought. All of these things around us, the eldritch inky tentacles crawling on the cabin walls, the moving horrifying paintings, the animated creatures, all of them were of his mind, all of them hailed from his imagination. But he was insecure, afraid, fearful and the thing that whispered to him exploited that. Twisting his tranquil imagination into these nightmares that haunted his mind and fantasy. The horrors here were real only because he took them as such. But all of these thoughts were not much help to me now as the twisted maniacal form of the skeleton was standing just few feet away from me, with inky tendrils protruding from his hands and eyes and crawling nearer and nearer. I am no fighter, but I am good at running, so I darted across the room with utmost urgency and quickly escaped from the cabin into the more secure looking outside space. As I was running towards the door I could see that Maestro was hovering in place with uncertainty in his eyes, and some of his eyes began to glow. “Now is not the time for heroism!” I shouted and grabbed Maestro into my hand and barged through the cabin door. We met Squeakly outside. He left before he could see what had happened to the artist, yet his face was struck with horror anyway as he was looking towards the cabin. “Run! Run and don’t look back!” I yelled at him, and started heading towards our ship. Squeakly snapped out of his trance and followed my command, but I still wanted to see what was the thing he saw was. I dared to look back and I saw what caused the fear in his face. The whole cabin was now encompassed by these inky tendrils. And they were getting larger and larger, some of them thicker than a tree trunk. This venture was a disaster, but we still had the chance to escape with our lives if we were fast enough. But then it dawned upon me, we cut off the chains that had bounded the beasts that moved the ship. We had the ship at our disposal, yet no way how to leave the shore, and turning back was impossible unless we wanted to melee with those tentacles. I could only think of two options was, we could run in the water and drown or we could run to the ship and try to hide, or fight if necessary, but I had a feeling that fighting would be a fool’s errand, even with our newfound magical sword. Each of us hid in a different location, Maestro floated in the captain’s cabin were we had been trapped before. Squeakly hid in one of the fish barrels upon the main deck, and I decided to go over the sideboard railing and hang there. So I hanged there, suspended above the reflective water of the Crystal Sea and waited. Perhaps our run had not been seen, perhaps the entity had been fooled by us. But my hopes were buried as soon as I had heard steps coming towards and upon our ship. They were slow and ominous, perhaps to fuel our fear of being discovered. I dared to peek a little bit over the railing to see what was there, but I hastily ducked under it again once I saw what stood upon our deck. Unsurprisingly it was the skeleton, his hands now not bones, but black appendages with his Quill and sketchbook lying in their grasp. The artist was looking into the sketchbook when I glanced at him, but as soon as I did so, he quickly snapped and turned his head in my direction. Please, please, please, tell me that that thing hadn’t seen me. But it seemed that the skeleton stopped in his tracks. My only company now was fear and deafening silence, until it was broken by a deep and menacing almost otherworldly voice that was so strong I could feel the ship trembling. I could hear the Artist in this voice, but it was not his. His voice was merely a vessel for what was talking. “Do you think that you can hide? Do you think that you are unseen? I can see you as clearly as I can see the fear in your eyes. I can see you hanging upon the wood that you hoped would prove to be your salvation. An attempt both futile and foolish.” Suddenly I heard a step coming towards me. “Your fear is my strength.” Another step “Your desperation is my power” One more step. That thing must be less than 10 feet away from me, I looked under and saw the now almost comforting waters of the sea. I almost let go when the voice continued. “Yes! Give in to your fear, let go off this world and welcome the cold embrace of death. Your soul shall be mine to feed on regardless.” This stopped me from letting go, and it made me think of that horrible painting, with tormented creatures being consumed into the flesh of that horrid abomination. The thing was now surely just beyond the railing, I could surely hear my frantic breath now, my deafening heartbeat. My terror reached its peak and went beyond that as I was looking over the railing waiting for those terrible starry vortex eyes to appear and doom me. I could swear I saw an inky tendril grasping the railing when suddenly a different voice sounded. It wasn’t a heroic voice, it wasn’t a strong voice, it was shaking and obviously riddled with fear, yet it had brought me more courage than the battlecry of a hero from the legends of old. “If you want my soul then try to take it!” The voice wasn’t courageous. It wasn’t heroic or strong, yet it had something that brought my back to my senses. It was defiant. Defiant to accept this fate. Defiant to succumb to terror. Defiant to die without a fight. A voice of a small rat with a small sword facing down a god. “You dare to face me puny creature! your torment shall be endless, your suffering legendary, your flesh shall be torn off piece by piece until there is nothing more of you than a broken husk, you will plead for your suffering to end, you will plead for mercy, but more pain will be the only mercy you will ever recieve. For eternity! That will be your fate, unless you fall now on your knees and beg forgiveness for your defiance ” There was immense power in the voice as it spoke and I could see visions of endless torture before my eyes, visions that would make even the most courageous men beg for mercy and forgiveness. Yet Squeakly stood his ground. The anger of the entity seemed to awaken the whole sea and mighty waves started rocking our ship with unfathomable ferocity. “Die then!” Exclaimed the creature and with the speed of an arrow, the tendrils coming from its body began to make their way towards Squeakly. But then a flash of sudden bright orange light pierced the air. The power of this ray of light was concentrated upon this entity which was engulfed by it entirely. Once the scorching ray ended, the skeleton’s bones were black and smoking and the tendrils were burned until a small stump protruding from the skeleton’s inky hands remained of them. “That idiot is not for you to harm you abomination in the guise of a friend. Now begone parasite, lest my powers shall be your end.” I haven’t seen Maestro use his baking ray successfully until now, and I had to say that it indeed was effective. Seeing the damage it caused to the skeleton I thought that maybe we were saved, but time reminded me once again of my foolishness. The tendrils started growing anew and the bones started to regenerate again until the entity looked like no prior damage had been done to it. “Your powers are nothing when compared to the power of imagination, and this vessel’s genius will prove to be your undoing puny mortals!” It was at this moment that I decided to join the fray, I grabbed the skeleton by his shoulders and stepped right in front of him, looking him straight in the eyes. I could see the same dark vortex I saw before, but this time I looked willingly. The courage of my friends led me to my own act of defiance. I looked right into the eyes of the skeleton and through them. Into the eyes of the entity. The things I have seen in that vortex are beyond description and I would not describe them even if I could. They should remain buried within the confines of my mind forever, as even in this moment of courage and defiance I barely remained sane. My hair turned white from the experience and it had even made me almost ridicule me hatred of balls, though that still remains up to this day. As I looked into those gaping pits of ultimate evil, I said: The voice said it itself, this is only your imagination. It is powerless without you. It cannot hurt you as you are the one who is keeping it manifested in this world. You are not its slave, you are its master. It has no power over you.” “No! No! she is lying, you are mine and mine forever” said the Entity, but its voice was not as strong as it was moments ago. “Fight it, face your fears!” I shouted whilst still looking him in the eyes. The vortex started disappearing, and the tendrils around its arms started shrinking. The skeleton grabbed his head and began shouting “You are mine, kill them! kill them!” but then suddenly the voice changed. It was now shouting in desperation and anger “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” and with that last act of defiance, the eldritch cloud forming around the artist faded away. The skeleton fell to the ground and I rushed towards him to comfort him. “It’s okay now, that thing cannot hurt you anymore.” I said. The artist turned towards me and with a calm steady voice said: “The voices…they are gone.”

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