The initiation was going poorly, to put it succinctly. Wrynn was dying, his mojo being torn away by the black beast before him. His dark skin had paled to gray, his astral reflection covered in bites from the grasping, lamprey-like mouths gaping and snapping at him from long mutated tentacles. His body, so many planes away, shadowed the wounds, dripping blood onto the cot where he lay.
His astral quest had begun so much easier than prior attempts. The studying, the research, it had all been paying off so well. He had drawn a seal around his cot in a mixture of chalk and his own blood, copying the thaumaturgic geometry from the seventh chapter of Arbatel de Magia Veterum, and a prayer/spell from Liber Ivonis. Lastly, he had drunk a tincture of Salvia divinorum and Psilocybe cubensis in absinthe, from an amber bowl, inscribed with a second seal, this from The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. As the hallucinogens began to take effect, he lay back on the cot, folding his hands on his chest.
In contrast to his first initiation, years ago, he found himself floating over his body, as soon as his eyes closed. He floated up, through the ceiling, through the apartments above him, until the night sky bathed him in moonlight. A distant tinge of fiery haze at the horizon signaled the traditional start of his quests. Not tonight, however, as instead he mouthed the words of release, stolen painfully from the Voynich Manuscript, and his body levitated further, leaving terra behind.
First the Cascades, then Rockies appeared on his left, while the Pacific grew and grew. Below him, he could make out a spider’s web of ley lines, crisscrossing the Earth, from point of power to point of power. He concentrated on the design, the pattern just hinting at him, like a piece of knowledge forgotten—and then, he remembered.
Zen enlightenment was once described to Wrynn by a neo-hippie girl, high on sex and marijuana. The next morning, a professor had expounded on the idea of “rapture”, preaching the literary works of the Romantics. Both had been defined in his head as a simple moment in life when everything, *everything* made perfect, simple sense. Wrynn was having that moment of rapture. He could see the pattern. He was the pattern. He could control the pattern. And then, it was gone, leaving a soul-sucking melancholy that permeated his bones. Tears appeared at his eyes, as his body still rose, leaving the world behind, speeding up, as he entered the Aethyr.
He was passing Jupiter, the Earth little more than a blue and white marble, before he became concerned about his rise. With a start, he tried to change his course of direction, but panic had already set in. His reflection sped faster and faster out, as he tried desperately to reign in his thoughts. The earth had disappeared by the time he finally came to a halt, drifting towards the icy plains of Pluto. He hovered there, composing himself.
His peripheral vision sensed it first, something moving, out in the dark. His head slowly turned towards whatever was causing his heart to pump loudly in his ears. Nothing to be seen out there, but darkness and dim stars. Their flickering reminding him of broken glass in the moonlight surf. And then, another pattern. The stars were not flickering, they were being blocked out by some black shape, an amorphous black shape that grew as it hurtled towards him.
This time there was no hesitation, this time the adrenaline focused his mind with laser-like intensity. He focused on the sun, so very far away, his reflection instantly moving towards it. He almost made it.
The tentacle wrapped around his throat while he was mere moments above the Earth. In the flesh, the abrupt change in velocity would have sheered his head off, but instead, he simply stopped, the safety of the world a Tantalus torture. The member drew him back, swinging his body round, to face the horror of mass and eyes and mouths and feelers. A trio of eyestalks snaked towards him, one closely examining him from head to toe. An invocation rose to his lips unbidden, “Tibi, magnum Innominandum, signa stellarum nigrarum et bufaniformis Sadoquae sigilim.” The eye burst into blue fire.
The limb around his neck jerked open, then snatched a better hold around his waist, the pain merely irritating it. Other tentacles now dangled danced around him, a swarm of round mouths, full of pointed teeth, all pointing in towards the center. The pain, when the first one bit him, was nothing short of grotesque. The pain, as he tried to fend off the frenzy of the rest, was nothing short of insanity. His form grayed, as his soul was taken apart, tiny mouthful by tiny mouthful.
The epiphany that saved his life arose from the last rant of Ludwig Prinn, shouted as he was burned at the stake. Wrynn shoved his thumb into one of his bites, and smeared a branch-like pattern in blood on his chest, a prayer to Mana-Yood-Sushai thought, but only spoken as a sob. The mouths instantly released and withdrew, silently snarling, mutated children tasting their first lemon. The amoeba cloaked itself in its arms, shrinking, tightening, until it resembled so much, a horse-sized ball of yarn. Wrynn willed himself forwards towards it, fear replaced with rage and anger giving his reflection a burning halo.
His hand, wreathed in flames, speared into the viper's nest, a sensation of squid, then shattering chitin, a cockroach smashed under his shoe, his hand into the goo underneath the hidden shell. His voice shouted out to the stars, in hate and hubris “Kali Ma, motherfucker!” And then, he clenched down, entrails like spaghetti between his fingers.
The scream reverberated from a thousand mouths, his head echoing with it, the force and surprise, hurtling his reflection back into his body. Wrynn’s eyes snapped open, focusing on the apartment ceiling above him, his body on fire from the pain of flesh and sweat. His eyes drifted down, past the spines of books, to his hands, covered in quarter-sized bites. To his hands, splashed with strange black ichors. To his hands, holding, still beating, a seven chambered heart.