Monday, June 16, 2014

Day Seven-Twenty-One: Something's strange in this neighbourhood

I thought meeting Kierkegaard in Pagan's mansion and seeing his... transformation... would be the creepiest thing ever. I'm still not wrong - I've never been so scared in my life.

But this place... it comes a very close second.

I don't know if Iko was deliberately misleading or honestly mistaken, but saying that this city of the dead is not quite as large or as grand as Rodentia was wrong. Below - which is what I've decided to call our new home, since its name is apparently lost - is absolutely enormous. It could be as large as the desert above it, for all I can tell.

Similar to the murals we saw earlier, Below is filled with tall, stone buildings, all of them easily as tall as those found in Rodentia. Some taller, even. Yet these structures are old, probably a thousand years or more, and they have not preserved well. The roads are cracked and packed with sand; many of the tallest towers have toppled into adjacent streets, blocking off entire intersections; and the artistry of the architecture, doubtless so prominent when this place lived, has been worn away by friction and time. Every edge is smooth, smooth, rows and rows and miles and miles of smooth.

It's creepy. Very creepy. Ghost-city-under-the-jungle-where-we-got-imprisoned-by-Grayson creepy. But it's creepier even than that place, because where that metropolis was filled with self-aware spectres, this metropolis is blanketed in dull, vapid, pale rats.

Dead rats.

Ghost rats.

Millions of them.

They don't appear all at once, and they seldom appear nearby, but these ghost rats are everywhere. Floating in large squadrons through the streets, seemingly without purpose or brainpower, the rats only phase into existence when you're observing them at a distance. Get too close and they fade into nothingness. Consider what it's like to see a cloud atop a mountain, and then pass through that cloud, and you'll understand the effect.

The rats largely ignore us. I don't know if they live in this world or the next, but wherever they are they barely register us as present in their city. Not once have I noticed one of them looking at us, and the only reaction we've gotten to our presence came when Celine dashed at a cloud of the things. They swerved out of her path for a brief second before vanishing. Not as a living being would avoid a crazed princess, mind, but as mist curls before wind. 

Part of my brain - a biiiiiiiiiig part of my brain - wishes I could think of them as decorative, and nothing more. But, well, yeah, I can't do it. I know they are... were... living things. And knowing what I know about rats... yeah. At least their spectral glow keeps Below bright enough to navigate.

Logan managed to scale one of the surviving towers, and he tells us that the city stretches for many long miles in all directions. He can see the sandy ceiling, but the far walls of this place? Nope. No chance. Our only hope of finding the old man down here is Plato, as he still seems to have a bead on Iko's location.

No turning back. No running away. Doesn't matter how often I piss my pants. We have a job to do. I have a job to do.


I fucking hate this place. The nightmares are worse than ever.


Dragomir the Wanderer

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