It's just something I wrote in my spare time.
I tried to avoid frontloading too much of the world building and exposition, so some elements might not make as much sense as they could.
Comments, questions and critique welcome.
There could be more where this came from if people want it.
Interrogation of a creature of the Between. 23 March, 1774
Observations and transcript recorded by Edward Beaumont, senior scribe, University of Upper Bensheim.
- Stephan Eckhart, head of the School of Sceptics, acting as interrogator.
- Albert Mason, senior researcher, School of Sceptics, present by request as observer.
- Carl Remus, scribe's assistant.
- Senior Inquisitor, name not given. (Note: SI identified posthumously as Wilhelm Bidermann)
- Four hands of the Inquisition, names not given.
- Two of the silenced, known as Walter and Jakob, servants.
- The Subject. Unnamed. Nature and origin undetermined.
The subject was recovered from a coven of Anathema during a raid by hands of the inquisition. Evidence described by the Senior Inquisitor suggests it was in their possession for nearly a decade. Why they obtained it and by what means was not elaborated upon.
Subject is essentially a hunched humanoid in form with distinct head, torso and four limbs. It stands at just under seven feet tall and weighs approximately 570lb. Legs are double jointed and heavily muscled with large, prehensile three-toed feet. Left arm is heavy and muscular, comparable in thickness to the legs, the hand is large and misshapen with two opposing fingers ending in blunt claws. Appears to be missing a third finger. Right arm is thin and wiry, ending in a seven fingered hand with two opposing thumbs. Fingers are tipped with what appear to be retractable claws. Shoulders are broad, heavy and distinctly hunched. Chest is broad and deep. Abdomen is disproportionately thin, reminiscent of a wasp's midsection and does not appear to house any major organs. The body is covered with what appear to be naturally occurring plates of a white substance resembling chitin. Numerous spines protrude from between the plates. The face is mostly concealed by five such plates, one on the forehead, one on each side of the cranium and one on each cheek, leaving only the eyes and lower jaw visible. The eyes are black with no visible iris. The jaw is split into two mandibles, allowing the mouth to open disturbingly wide. The skin, where visible, is mottled grey. Sketches by C. Remus attached. (Note: As yet unrecovered.)
Subject shows multiple signs of past injury. One missing finger, several missing or partially missing plates, crushed and mutilated left hand, what appears to be a poorly healed break in the lower right arm, broken spines, possible acid burns as well as scars and scratches too numerous to count. The Senior Inquisitor informs us that all injuries were present and long healed when the subject was recovered.
Interrogation begins at forty minutes past the sixth hour, in the afternoon.
Stephan Eckhart: Well, all seems to be prepared. Might as well begin.
Senior Inquisitor: Quite. Remove the muzzle!
E: Um… how exactly should I address it? Does it have a name?
I: He doesn't seem to use one.
I: He identifies himself as such, yes.
E: So… you're quite sure he can speak?
I: Oh yes.
E: I see. Err… creature, can you understand me?
Subject: I can. [Subject's voice is soft, resonant and oddly distorted.]
E: Good Lord! It does speak! I must admit, sir, I was doubtful.
I: Indeed. Exactly how he manages without a tongue I would very much like to know.
E: Creature, my name is Stephan Eckhart, I am…
S: You are known.
E: I am… what?
S: Your name is known to me.
E: How do you… sir, how does it know my name?
I: Well, you have been talking in his presence for well over an hour. I daresay he overheard you.
E: It was listening?
I: Master Eckhart, I believe I made it abundantly clear in my letters that we are not dealing with a speaking ape here. It is quite as intelligent as yourself, quite possibly more so, and decidedly attentive. Now, would you kindly proceed? We are here for information, not small talk. Thus far your much vaunted expertise is rather failing to impress.
E: Of course, of course. You're quite correct. Well then, creature… I wish to ask you of yourself and from where you come. Will you answer me willingly?
S: I will.
E: That's… that's good. Well then, to the heart of the matter. What are you?
I: "What are you?" Is that really...
E: Oh come, we have to start somewhere. Unless you have a better suggestion?
I: Very well.
E: Once again, what are you?
S: I am made, I am born, I am enduring, I am released, I am here.
E: I… see. Er, endured what exactly?
E: Ha. Don't we all, eh?
S: You live, but you do not endure. Not as we do. Not here.
E: I'm not sure I understand you.
S: Here you may live without the need to endure. Where I was made and born, to endure is all.
I: And where is that?
E: I beg your pardon?
I: We do not understand your term.
S: The little ones called it the Between.
E: And who are these little ones?
S: The ones who released me to here.
I: That is how he refers to the Anathema.
S: Ana-the-ma. Yes. The little ones who sung to me.
E: They sing? Those little wretches? That's an odd thing to imag…
I: We are not here to learn of the Anathema, Master Eckhart.
E: But it said they brought him from, well… from the between. Surely it's more than relevant to…
I: Must I repeat myself? Matters pertaining to them are my concern, not yours. You, scribe! You are to cease
Record resumed at forty eight minutes past the sixth hour.
E: Yes, yes, I take your point sir.
I: Good. Continue.
E: Of course. Creature, what can you tell us about where you come from?
S: [unpronounceable]… the Between?
E: That's right.
S: What would you know?
E: Well, whatever you can tell us. Everything.
S: [unpronounceable] (laughter?) Too great. Too much.
I: We have ample time. Start wherever you see fit.
E: Perhaps a comparison? Is it different to what you see about you now? If so, how?
S: It is different. It is the torn dream of a screaming mind.
E: That's… not terribly helpful. You're going to have to be more specific.
S: Cold. No warmth but in the huddling of kin. Unstable. The ground heaves beneath our feet. No order. No day, no night. Light comes, or not. Entire lives may see only utter darkness or blinding radiance. Time is counted only by the beat of our hearts.
I: And you claim to have lived in such a place?
S: Yes. Endured. Lived. Everything is living there. Creatures of infinite variety. Some are small, too small to see. Others big, big enough that one may run across their backs for a lifespan. Very many, and all are hungry. Always hungry. There is no… water. No green. The only food is the warm flesh of lives. All must hunt and all are prey.
E: All are prey, including your own kind?
S: Yes. Always. We are among the least, the weakest. You think me strong, terrifying. You shudder when you look at me, you will not move within my reach. But in [unpronounceable] it is we who are terrified.
E: But clearly you survive somehow. You... "endure" as it were.
S: Yes. We survive because we change. It is so with all that live there. When my kind entered the Between we counted our numbers in the millions. Within a heartbeat we were being devoured by the hundreds. Desperate, those that lived began to weave the flesh of their unborn young, reshaping small bodies while still in the womb. They stood to form keening walls of living meat to shield those first precious infants from the feasting hordes. Those first born into [unpronounceable] were my first kin. With each generation of brutally altered offspring we became ever less like our hapless ancestors. For every poison, we changed to resist. For every armour, we grew a blade. I am the result, a weapon formed of muscle and fat and bone. If you think me a horror, it is because I was made for a place more horrible than you can know.
I: Fascinating. Now we are making progress.
E: Unless I'm much mistaken it seemed to be suggesting that its species is not indigenous to the Between.
I: Indeed so.
E: Is that correct, creature? Your kind did not always dwell there?
S: No. All that live Between entered from elsewhere. Several times in each lifespan new creatures enter, soft and unready, and we feast on them as once others did on us. We have endured there for only two hundred generations. Some of the beings within have endured for millions. Some, the deepest, the worst, may be native. But my kind, we do not belong. We have not yet purged the the desire to escape from our blood, though we have long tried. When we hear the soft songs of the little ones worming through the mists it is a promise that gives birth to madness. Every being that hears their call rushes to them. Every being fights with silent desperation for their glance, to be chosen and released. To escape.
I: So am I to understand that you allowed the Anathema to bring you here?
S: You do not know. You cannot understand. My kin ran ourselves nearly to death when we heard their voices. We ran as every being did. A desperate stampede as far as could be seen. We trampled the small, hurdled the dead, not stopping to feed. We tore through legions to reach the little ones. Finally, last alive among the heaped dead, I was chosen. I was released. I was brought here. I tasted the breath of this paradise.
E: You call this a paradise?
S: Yes. This place of colour and taste. The sweet softness of it. The seductive alien scents. A place where food sprouts from the very ground, and does not claw itself free from your stomach. A place where you need not feed on the corpses of your own young. It is a place fit only for the dreams of a mewling whelp, and I am here! It exists!
I: So when you found your paradise, what did you do?
S: At first… I went mad. I wallowed in it. I writhed in the soft warmth. I feasted on flavoursome fleshes. I basked in the voices of the little ones. When I recovered my sense, they taught me your speech of sounds. They wished a compact with me and my kind. Then your masked ones came with blades and sounds and killed them in the dark. Now I must seek others to make the compact.
I: That is what you would do, if you were free? You would seek out other covens of the Anathema?
S: I am free. I will.
I: You consider yourself free?
S: I am free.
E: Good Lord! Sir, it's breaki
Note: It is out conclusion that the above record is a genuine transcript of the events immediately proceeding the Bensheim University incident. Materials match those recovered from Edward Beaumont's office. All of the deceased identified thus far appear on the list of persons present, as does the injured survivor, Jakob. Given the silenced's limited utility as a witness, this may represent our only primary account of the incident. Copies are to be made and distributed to Senior Inquisitors Swann, Werne, Roth and Allmers. Original is to be archived.