The Summoning: A Faendryl Horror Story
Title: The Summoning: A Faendryl Horror Story
Author: Silvean Rashere
What follows are the written notes for a story told by Silvean Rashere on Niiman, Day 30 of the month Jastatos in the year 5114 graced by the Patriarchal reign of Korvath Dardanus Faendryl, honor to his name.
The Summoning: A Faendryl Horror Story
Decades ago, long before I had come to Wehnimer's, I found myself requested and required to assist a Palestra investigation. For those of you unaware, the Palestra are those Faendryl engaged with tracking down uncontrolled demons and rogue sorcerers.
My experience with sorcery at this time was limited to books and laboratories. Optimistically, someone put me on the assignment to broaden my horizons. More realistically, someone considered me a fair writer and thought I would prepare an excellent report of the investigation. The Faendryl have made the preparation of such reports into something of an artform and let my personal testimony assure you: we love to see our names in print.
And so it happened that I was introduced to the Palestra in charge of the investigation and another sorcerer who had been working with her for some time. I had never seen a giantess at that time but this Palestra was as close as it gets among the Faendryl, thickly-muscled arms the size of temple columns. She could have palmed a Dwarf's head! The sorcerer, by contrast, was at least a foot shorter than me and from a less respectable family. He laughed and joked about everything except the honor of our people and I liked him immediately.
We had been asked to look in on a man named Yshryn who was approaching the end of a brief commitment in our asylum for the thaumaturgically unsettled. The bare facts were presented to me: he had been researching new valences, his young daughter had gone missing, and he was convinced some malevolence had been set loose in his home. Others had looked into both the home and the daughter without finding anything and Yshryn had somehow ended up in the asylum after insisting on the incompetence of prior investigators.
We were to escort Yshryn back from the asylum and thoroughly inspect his home. The Palestra told me our best hope for action would be in providing a bruising to whichever boy the daughter had run off with in the night.
I had never been in the asylum until that day and it was a place of horrors. Neverending screams echoed down its halls and the sounds of violence came from all sides as the staff employed magic and brawn to restrain the chaos. I saw a man dressed in noble finery smearing his own excrement along the walls in pale imitation of sorcerous circles. I saw a once beautiful woman unable to move her limbs because she had smashed her own brains out against her cell walls.
Yshryn was not in such a sorry state and had been given leave to take the air in a garden. On our way to that place a woman blocked my path and when I attempted to beg her pardon, she turned to reveal horrendous scars in the place of her eyes and a gaping, tongueless mouth. I did not know it at the time but those stricken with valence madness will sometimes become convinced their vision and voice are not their own. The woman in question had quietly excused herself from a dinner party before tearing out her own eyes and tongue with a bread knife.
Yshryn himself was a frail man of several hundred years and a generally quiet if understandably anxious manner. He touched my arm several times to assure me of his sincerity and continually used my name; every sentence: Silvean, Silvean, Silvean. He explained to us that he could feel a malevolence in his home, that he could hear it skittering and scratching along his walls in the night. He said that this creature, this walker in the walls, could only be glimpsed for a moment in the angles of the darkest rooms.
The Palestra questioned him at length about his daughter, the other sorcerer joked with me about which rooms we would take when it was our time to move into the asylum. In the early evening Yshryn led us to his city home and served us tea himself in a well-furnished parlor. All of his staff had fled when he first began his talk of loose demons. He provided a tour of the home and showed us the corners, the angles where he thought he had glimpsed the walker in the walls. We saw nothing more than a few cobwebs.
It was the plan of the Palestra to extinguish all light in the home and crouch down in the main hallway for the duration of the evening to watch and wait. I had never done anything of this sort before and four hours into the vigil, I thought I might be the one to go quite mad. Yshryn himself waited with us and I counted into the hundreds while watching him clench and unclench his trembling hands.
At two hours past midnight I heard the first noise. A light scratching as if someone were dragging a fingernail along the inside of the walls. Over the course of another hour this noise became gradually louder, so slowly. At one point I realized it seemed like two nails, perhaps three after yet another hour had passed.
Yshryn, at this point, was trembling all over and he kept glancing around the corners like an agitated dog. Obeying a hand signal from the Palestra, I led him quietly into his study and told him to latch the door. I opened the window before I left to give him an escape route if necessary but I was not yet convinced there was any real danger. I have never been so wrong.
As soon as I left the study, I saw that the Palestra and the sorcerer were standing and staring into the corner on the far side of the hallway. The shadows of that place seemed darker than those in the rest of the house and they were moving in a pulsating rhythm like a beating heart. The scratching noises had surrounded us at this point and it seemed that all the walls were filled with desperate, dying rats.
The Palestra removed a vial from her belt and hurled it into the shadows. Containing some manner of light spell, it exploded in white brilliance! Once my eyes had adjusted, I saw that the shadows had gone and noticed that the scratching had stopped as well. It was then that I saw Yshryn's daughter just as she lept from the wall nearest to me and tackled the Palestra with animal strength!
Rampaging across the floor on all four limbs she moved with swift but grossly uneven steps. Her tattered nightgown looked like rotting flesh, her hair was greasy and matted. With a shriek like nothing of this world she whipped herself around to face the three of us and I could see that her jaw was completely unhinged, her face a tattered mass of lacerated flesh.
I was frozen at the sight of this horror and could not devise any coherent defense. The creature whipped its head backward and spat a glob of black ichor directly toward me. On instinct I summoned a barrier of wind. It seized hold of the missile and slung it to the right of me, directly into the face of the other sorcerer. Immediately his skin was ripped asunder and I remember thinking a most horrible thought, in this death he almost looked to be grinning. It was then that I realized the Palestra was no longer behind me and then that she reentered the hallway from a parlor behind the creature with her axe in the air!
She struck the demon daughter such a below that it was nearly divided in two. Behind me I heard a wailing scream just as the blow had landed and saw to my everlasting sorrow that Yshryn had reopened the study to witness all that had transpired. He ran back into that room and bolted the door once more while I gave chase. This is a great blur to me still. Mustering all of my sorcerous authority, I made a laughable effort at ordering the Palestra to smash the door but she was entirely consumed with despair over her fallen comrade. Truly alone, I somehow managed to break the door myself and earned a dislocated shoulder for my trouble. I burst mightily into the room but found it empty. Yshryn was never seen again.
Over the span of many meetings it was officially determined that Yshryn had vaporized himself in his grief but I know better. My experience with sorcery was limited to books and laboratories but if I know anything in all the world, I know summonings. I know the charge of the air, the acrid odor. I know that Yshryn was summoned and seized against his will.
And so, I leave you with this. The next time you are in your bed at night on the edge of sleep and you hear a scratching in the walls. The next time you glance at a corner and the shadows seem to move. Reflect on the story of Yshryn and consider if the demons could summon one of us, why not more.
Why not you?